Concerns about a lack of due process and mental health treatment weren’t enough to stop the Virginia Senate from passing a bill Wednesday that would allow police to temporarily take people’s guns away if a judge deems them a threat to themselves or others.
The bill, an extreme risk protection order commonly known as a “red flag” law, passed on a party-line vote after a nearly hour-long debate and now heads to the House of Delegates for consideration. A lawmaker there, Del. Rip Sullivan, has his own version.
As he embarks on what likely will be an easy journey to re-election, Del. Rip Sullivan says he has been effective in the minority and will be more so if Democrats win the majority in Richmond.
“I have gone to Richmond and been a leader,” Sullivan (D-48th) said in campaign-kickoff remarks to about 175 people at the March 6 meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
They’re limited to just 15 bills each in the 2019 General Assembly, but state delegates from the local area still plan to advance a wide array of bills on gun safety, gubernatorial succession, solar power and voting rights.
L}left unconsidered by the House Courts of Justice Committee by crossover day was Del. Rip Sullivan’s second attempt at a law that would allow judges to issue warrants that would allow police to search for and seize weapons of people found to pose a danger to themselves or others.
Sullivan is trying again, but this time with a somewhat different approach. Instead of proposing a kind of search warrant on steroids, as he had in the 2017 and 2018 sessions, he’s suggesting the 2019 session think about a new kind of protective order.
Thanks to election victories last fall that put Democrats within one seat of parity in the House of Delegates, this year’s General Assembly session was more pleasing and productive than recent ones, members of the all-Democratic local legislative delegation said.
Two state Senate members and four from the House of Delegates regaled Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce members April 5 with tales – both cautionary and uplifting – from the 2018 session.
A Democratic “wave” election that almost but not quite swept away Republican dominance in the General Assembly had an effect – albeit a limited one – on proceedings in 2018, several local legislators believe.
“We had trouble making progress, but there were not a lot of bills that were mean-spirited and divisive,” state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) said during a post-session huddle hosted April 4 by the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
As state lawmakers pack for a return to Richmond in an effort to finalize a budget deal, one of the key players in the process is decidedly downbeat on prospects.
“We are nowhere. Quite literally, nowhere. It’s really a serious and sad situation – we’re spinning our wheels,” said state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) at the April 4 meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The Virginia General Assembly agreed Saturday to give Metro $154 million a year in permanent, new funding, on the condition that Maryland and the District make somewhat larger contributions to provide the transit system with a total of up to $500 million more annually.
Democrats in Virginia’s House of Delegates invoked the recent school shooting in Florida to demand that Republicans revive gun-control measures that died in committee this year. But GOP leaders said it is too late in the legislative session to act.
Guns have been the one area that has resisted all compromise in a General Assembly session otherwise marked by bipartisan dealmaking. A host of bills, many of them favored by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), have disappeared in committees in the House and Senate.
As Republicans in Florida and elsewhere warm up to the idea of using court warrants to take guns away from people who may pose a threat, Virginia Democrats are calling on the Republican-controlled House of Delegates to reconsider a similar bill that never got a hearing.