Virginia House of Delegates Quickly Passes American Rescue Plan Act Spending Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates met, passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by a 71-25 vote and adjourned in 30 minutes on Wednesday. Facing 107 pages of proposed amendments, a photo-op, and a series of lengthy recesses, the Senate had not completed its debate by press time Wednesday evening although it convened at 10 a.m.

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Former Governor Harry Byrd, Sr. Statue Removed from Virginia Capitol

The statue of former Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Byrd, Sr., was removed from Virginia’s Capitol Square on Wednesday. Byrd was a renowned Democratic politician who helped stimulate economic growth and a better road network. But he’s more well-known for orchestrating efforts to fight integrating Virginia’s schools despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.

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Effective in July, Virginia Legalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

RICHMOND, Virginia Simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal in Virginia, effective July 1. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to expedite legalization from 2024 to later this year. But legislators warned that doesn’t mean there will be a marijuana free-for-all.

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Northam Proposes Legalizing Marijuana in July

Marijuana legalization is back on track for July, after Governor Ralph Northam announced amendments to legalization legislation. In February, legislators surprised marijuana policy watchers by delaying the effective date of legalization until 2024, leading the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to blast the bills as worse than nothing. Since then, legalization advocates have lobbied Northam to amend the legislation to go into effect in July, when most other recently-passed bills take effect.

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Virginia Abolishes Death Penalty

Virginia became the first state in the south to abolish the death penalty when Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he signed twin death-penalty repeal bills introduced by Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) and Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). Virginia joins 22 other states that have also repealed the death penalty.

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Northam Signs Bill to Remove Statue of Democratic Governor Harry Byrd, Sr.

Former Democratic Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Byrd, Sr., is finally leaving Virginia’s Capitol Square. On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam signed Delegate Jay Jones’ (D-Norfolk) HB 2208, which directs the Department of General Services to place the statue in storage until the General Assembly decides what to do with it. Byrd is known for his decades of political power, which he used to boost Virginia economically, build roads, and fight desegregating schools.

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Virginia General Assembly Votes to Remove Statue of Former Governor Harry Byrd, Sr.

The Virginia Senate voted 36 to 3 Tuesday to remove the capitol’s statue of former Democratic Governor Harry Byrd, Sr. His legacy is marked by his expansion of Virginia’s economy and roads, and is tarnished by a battle to block desegregating schools. The House of Delegates had already voted in favor of the bill, HB 2208, introduced by Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk.) Governor Ralph Northam is expected to approve the bill.

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Virginia General Assembly Approves Bill That Would Require Absentee Provisions at Conventions

The Senate and the House of Delegates passed HB 2020, a bill that, after it goes into effect in 2024, could effectively ban completely in-person nominating conventions like the one the Republican Party of Virginia is planning to hold this year. On Tuesday, the Senate passed their version of the bill, and on Wednesday, the House approved the Senate’s changes. Sponsor Delegate Dan Helmer (D-Check) said the bill isn’t meant to target any specific process, but rather to ban processes that don’t allow legitimate voters to participate.

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General Assembly Votes to Make Virginia First Southern State to Abolish Death Penalty

The Virginia General Assembly passed a death penalty repeal on Monday. Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign the bills, which would make Virginia the first state in the South to ban capital punishment. Advocates have argued that the death penalty is vulnerable to wrongful conviction, is expensive, cruel, and applied unfairly, but opponents say some of the most heinous crimes require a death penalty to make sure the criminal doesn’t get free. During the 2021 session, House Republicans have emphasized the names of victims of particularly serious crimes, who they say are being ignored by Democrats.

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