Get up to speed on legislative efforts in Richmond, starting with these quick summaries. Link directly to media reports for more context on the votes and debate in Virginia’s House and Senate.
Fox 5 DC – Lawmakers push to end solitary confinement in Virginia (Feb 6, 2023)
- Republican Del. Glenn Davis Jr. and Democratic Del. Don Scott have come together from opposite sides with one goal: to end the use of solitary confinement inside prisons in Virginia.
- Delegate Scott says there will be protections for prisoners who have been put in solitary confinement for their own safety. The house bills passed with both democratic and republican support, and there is a version making its way through Virginia’s senate
WTOP – Virginia could ban solitary confinement in its prisons (Feb 6, 2023)
- HB 2487, co-sponsored by Del. Glenn Davis, Jr., a Republican from Virginia Beach, and House Minority Leader Don Scott, a Democrat from Portsmouth, is headed to the state senate.
Virginia Pilot – Reforming solitary confinement in Virginia gets bipartisan push — led by 2 Hampton Roads lawmakers (Feb 6, 2023)
- “I didn’t understand enough of the process and the procedures and inner workings to really address the issue,” said Davis, R-Virginia Beach. “So I called Del. Don Scott, and he said, ‘let’s go.’”
- Scott, a Portsmouth Democrat who spent seven years in a federal prison before becoming an attorney and legislator, took Davis to Sussex 1 State Prison. They toured the facility and spoke with staff, prisoners and advocacy groups. Davis then introduced a bill with various reforms, and an amended version of it passed the House of Delegates on Friday.
Virginia Mercury – After controversial start of charity poker, Virginia might change the rules yet again (Feb 6, 2023)
- Under questioning from Del. Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria, a representative from VDACS acknowledged the cash poker bill would exclude any charities formed after 2022, as well as preexisting charities that offered electronic gaming machines but not bingo.
Virginia Mercury – Dulles Greenway bill clears House but faces uncertainty in Senate (Feb 6, 2023)
- The House version of the Greenway legislation, House Bill 1858, from Dels. David Reid, D-Loudoun, and Michael Webert, R-Fauquier, is poised to clear that chamber this week before heading back to the Senate for further review.
Richmond Times Dispatch – Warner, Kaine urge assembly to repeal constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage (Feb 6, 2023)
- The constitutional resolution would face likely defeat in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, which refused to take up a House version of the legislation—House Joint Resolution 553 introduced by Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax.
- “It is long past time that Virginia’s governing document conveys to same-sex marriages the same freedoms, rights, and responsibilities that are afforded to all other constitutional marriages,” the senators said in a letter to House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, R-Scott; Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax; House Minority Leader Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth; and Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City.
VPM – GOP kills Virginia lawmaker’s attempt to ban Jan. 6 rioters from public positions (Feb 6, 2023)
- The Republican-controlled House of Delegates didn’t give a hearing to the bill from Del. Dan Helmer (D–Fairfax) ahead of Monday’s procedural deadline, effectively killing it. In an interview, Helmer argued the lack of hearing was proof that GOP lawmakers “are continuing to seek to appeal to an extremist base.”
- In a brief interview Monday, Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert said he wasn’t familiar with the bill.
- Three GOP delegates have publicly said they attended the rally leading up to the Jan. 6 riot: Del. John McGuire (R–Goochland), Del. Dave LaRock (R–Loudoun), Del. Marie March (R–Floyd). All three said they did not participate in the riot that followed.
- Helmer said his bill would have gone further than current law by making the bans permanent if someone is convicted of insurrection under state or federal law, or of similar offenses in other states and Washington, D.C. Helmer said if Republicans had issues with his bill, they could have aired them in committee.
- “Instead, they refused to take a position on what happened at the [U.S.] Capitol on January 6, and I don’t think voters are gonna forget in November,” Helmer said. All 140 seats of the General Assembly are up for re-election this fall.
- A Republican-led House subcommittee quashed a separate bill from Del. Rip Sullivan (D–Fairfax) that would have required electors — individuals chosen to represent their political party in the Electoral College — to choose the presidential and vice presidential candidate nominated by their party. In a Feb. 1 meeting, Sullivan said the bill had “very little to do with the 2020 election” and pointed to a series of episodes from 1796 to 1972 involving “faithless electors.”
- But Del. Wren Williams (R–Patrick), a lawyer who helped former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully mount legal challenges to the 2020 election in Wisconsin, argued electors should be given more latitude.
- “We’re talking about people breaking their oath,” Williams said. “But this is a representative democracy. And we expect people to vote their conscience.”
- Del. Candi Mundon King (D–Prince William) was unpersuaded. “Your conscience does not supersede the law,” she said. “It does not supersede what you agree to.”
CBS 19 News: Hudson on House Republicans’ refusal to vote on abortion bill (Feb 6, 2023)
- Delegate Sally Hudson (D-57th) says that this is a major concern for women’s reproductive rights. Delegate Rob Bell (R-58th) decided not to vote on an abortion bill, which Hudson says is not a surprise, but this also means they don’t see eye-to-eye.
- “Delegate Bell and I work together every well on a wide range of issues, but we don’t see eye-to-eye on this one. And as chair of the Court’s Committee, he has the right to bring that bill up for a vote, and for the second straight year, he’s chosen not to. And it’s probably because they’ve seen the polling. The latest statewide poll of Virginia voters shows that less than 30 percent want tighter restrictions on abortions in Virginia,” Hudson said.