Virginia Democratic Ticket for November: McAuliffe, Herring, and Ayala

Former governor Terry McAuliffe will again be Virginia Democrats’ nominee for governor, according to the Virginia Public Access Project which called the race on Tuesday evening. Incomplete unofficial results showed McAuliffe soundly beating all four of his challengers.

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VMI Independent Investigation Finds ‘Racial and Gender Disparities’ and Risk of Sexual Violence

A new report on the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) says the school has refused to change or question traditions and that “racial and gender disparities persist.” Recommendations include a call for accountability from the General Assembly; increasing diversity in leadership and corps; adjusting institutes and traditions; tempering associations between the school, the Civil War, and the Confederacy; addressing racist and sexist speech and actions; improving transparency; celebrating other cultures; and addressing tensions between athletes and non-athletes.

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Norment, Saslaw Discuss If Virginia Will Remain Business-Friendly in the Future

In a post-session virtual luncheon hosted by Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) expressed alarm at erosion of Virginia’s business-friendly status while Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said moderate pro-business senators were helping protect Virginia’s business environment — for now.

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Virginia Legislators Lay Out Priorities for American Rescue Plan Funds

The American Rescue Plan will provide $7.2 billion for Virginia: $2.9 billion allocated for municipalities, and $4.3 billion for the state government, according to a Tuesday announcement from Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic General Assembly leaders released their priorities for the $4.3 billion, including upgrading public health infrastructure, funding the Rebuild Virginia small business recovery plan, adding funds to the Unemployment Trust Fund, modernizing public schools, and deploying broadband across Virginia.

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McAuliffe, Chase, and Cox Announce Significant Endorsements

Governor Ralph Northam endorsed his predecessor to be his successor. Gubernatorial candidate and former Governor Terry McAuliffe received Northam’s endorsement in a week with several key gubernatorial endorsements. On Thursday, the governor appeared with the former governor in Norfolk.

“We need a leader that can continue this progress. We need a leader that will bring us out of COVID-19, a leader that will help small businesses. A leader that will promote equity in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Terry McAuliffe will do that,” Northam said.

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Democrats Approve Northam’s Investigation into Parole Board Investigation

Democrats approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal for an investigation into a 2020 investigation of the Virginia Parole Board. In Wednesday’s veto session, legislators passed a Northam budget amendment funding a $250,000 investigation into the 2020 Vincent Martin parole investigation. Although both Republicans and Democrats have been calling for a new investigation, Republicans said the proposal was too narrow and criticized the decision to allow the Attorney General any oversight.

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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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Chase’s Censure Lawsuit Has Hearing in Federal Court

Amanda Chase

A federal court heard a motion to dismiss Senator Amanda Chase’s (R-Chesterfield) lawsuit over censure on Thursday. The arguments took hours, and the judge said he would take some time to consider the motion before issuing a ruling on whether the suit can go forward, according to an update from Chase and her lawyer Tim Anderson.

The motion to dismiss argues that censure is a political question outside the jurisdiction of the court, and that the defendants — the Senate and Senate Clerk Susan Schaar — have sovereign immunity. However, Anderson argued that Chase was censured for things she had said, making the censure a violation of her First Amendment rights.

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Online Sales and Big Jackpots Put Virginia Lottery on Path to Record-Breaking Year

The Virginia Lottery’s new online offerings are driving an increase in revenue for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which runs until the end of June. By February, online sales hit $436 million, about 21 percent of overall sales for that same period, according to lottery spokesperson John Hagerty.

“Fiscal Year 2021, which ends on June 30, is on track to break sales and profit records,” a Tuesday press release from the lottery states.

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Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee Kills Ban on Cyber Flashing

Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler’s (D-Virginia Beach) HB 2254 passed with unanimous support in the House of Delegates. The bill would ban people from sending unsolicited obscene images to others. But after the House sent the bill to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted eight to five to table the bill February 17, citing concerns that the bill could be applied too broadly.

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Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Repeal Moves Through Virginia House and Senate With Bi-Partisan Support

Bills to repeal Virginia’s same-sex marriage prohibition have passed in both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support this week. HJ 582, introduced by Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Franconia) and SJ 270, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) seek to amend language in the state constitution passed in 2006 saying that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“For several years now, I have introduced this resolution because I know millions of people want to either take back their vote that they made in 2006 or they weren’t old enough to vote in 2006 and want to weigh in on this,” Sickles said in subcommittee.

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Senate Passes $134B Budget Bill Allocating Funds for Local COVID-19 Relief, Criminal Justice and Policing Reforms and Law Enforcement Bonuses

The Senate passed its $134 billion budget on Friday with funding for criminal justice and police reforms, bonuses for law enforcement, coronavirus relief payments for local school divisions and language eviction and utility disconnect moratoriums. 

Senate Bill (SB) 5015 passed the Senate by a vote of (Y-24 N-15) with three Republican members voting alongside their Democratic colleagues on the prevailing side. 

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Bill to Allow Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Passes Senate

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that allows localities to establish law enforcement civilian review boards with outlined oversight duties. 

Sponsored by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield County), the bill passed by a vote of 20-Y 15-N along party lines of the present senators. 

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