Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Virginia cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday, passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on 10-4 vote, with nine Democrats and one Republican supporting the measure.
Supporters of the bill, which include Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration and an array of faith leaders, argued the death penalty has been disproportionately used against Black defendants and noted the sentence has repeatedly been handed down in cases where defendants were subsequently exonerated.
Gov. Ralph Northam won the first battle in what's likely to become a political war over tax policy in the General Assembly.
Faced with a potential loss in state revenue of close to $1 billion, the House Finance Committee voted along party lines on Monday to adopt legislation the governor is seeking to conform state and federal tax policy, with a major exception - a provision of the emergency relief bill Congress adopted last month that would let businesses deduct expenses that were paid with tax-exempt federal grants.
A bill aimed at moving all local elections in Virginia from May to November is moving forward, despite strong opposition from mayors whose cities will be affected.
On Monday, legislation overriding election dates set by existing city and town charters was passed by the Senate Committee on Local Government Monday by a 12-3 vote. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), says starting in 2022, a voter will elect mayors, City Council and School Board members during the November general election, no matter where they live in the commonwealth.
A House committee voted Monday to approve a bill requiring new cultural competency training for Virginia educators — part of a sweeping effort to reform the commonwealth’s what critics says is outdated curriculum on African American history.
The legislation, sponsored by Del. Clint Jenkins, D-Suffolk, would help codify recommendations from the Virginia Commission on African American History Education. The workgroup, formed through an executive order by Gov. Ralph Northam in 2019, spent nearly a year developing comprehensive reforms for how Black history is taught in K-12 schools — driven by long-standing concerns that current state curriculum fails to contextualize, inaccurately describes or simply omits key moments and nuance from a centuries-long struggle for racial equity.
Gun-rights supporters — some armed — gathered around the state Capitol in Richmond on Monday. But blocked by police barricades, a caravan supporting their cause that formed just outside downtown was unable to get close to the seat of state government.
One man, Karl Golovin of Alexandria, drove around Capitol Square earlier, his car festooned with flags bearing the logo of the group behind the event, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. He said a similar gathering last year made Golovin feel “as proud as I’ve ever been to be a Virginian. … I couldn’t have felt more safe or among friends.”
As each new armed group arrived in downtown Richmond Monday, they were greeted by a swarm of cameras and interviewers asking why they had come out to stand near the Capitol with their guns.
“I’m just trying to get on TV,” said one young man wearing camouflage, drawing laughs from his group of about five armed associates. “Joke’s on you guys.”
One year after more than 20,000 gun enthusiasts swarmed Richmond to protest new gun laws, Monday’s sequel was smaller and stranger.
The pro-gun caravan that was supposed to send thousands of vehicles pouring into Virginia's capital on Monday turned out to be a sporadic affair, as clusters of flag-bedecked cars and trucks were slowed by the humbling force of traffic lights.
“We were hoping it would have a continuous flow, like a funeral procession,” gun rights advocate Kevin Hulbert said, standing on a street corner with several supporters holding “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
Instead, groups of pro-gun vehicles passed intermittently along Broad Street, too few in number to dominate traffic and separated from one another by the need to stop for red lights.