HJ 628 will allow restoration of voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. It awaits vote in the Privileges and Elections committee. Contact members to urge them to vote yes and end this holdover from the Jim Crow era. After all, shouldn't it be the policy of the New Dominion (as opposed to the Byrd era) to restore people to the community and to encourage voting? If HJ 628 passes the House, its chances are excellent in the Senate.
HB 2465 protects the right of citizens to petition the court for removal of a public official without fearing dismissal or sanctions because of a minor clerical or procedural error. It passed the Privileges and Elections Committee by a vote of 13-8 and is before the full House. Contact your delegate to urge passage.
SB 810 allows in-person absentee voting without giving an excuse. It passed the Senate 24-16 but faces an uncertain future in a more hostile House. It is never too early to begin lobbying your delegate for passage.
SB 1470 passed the Senate yesterday. It prohibits payday lenders from making open-ended loans. It does not include the car title lenders as SB 1490 would do. SB 1490 is still in the Commerce and Labor Committee. Contact your Senator and tell them to include both payday and car title lenders. Better yet, tell them to impose a mandatory 36% maximum APR, which includes all fees. More info.
SB 961, Senator Mark Obenshain's bill to eliminate the "triggerman rule" passed the Senate. It would allow the imposition of the death penalty not only for the shooter, but also for accessories and principals in the second degree. The death penalty is morally wrong, an ineffective deterrent, and usually results in long and expensive appeals. Virginia has one of the broadest death penalty laws in the country and its expansion will not make us any safer. SB 961 will probably pass the House, but Governor Tim Kaine has indicated he will veto it. Stay tuned and urge the Governor to stand strong.
Senator Obenshain's bill to privatize Virginia's ABC stores died yesterday in the Rehabilitation and Services Committee on a 13-2 vote. Splitting from his neighbor, Senator Emmett Hanger voted against the bill. CCC supports the concept of private ownership of liquor sales but there are significant problems to overcome. Some are known, but as always, beware unintended consequences! Obenshain says no jobs would be lost, but current employees would be displaced and/or potentially lose retirement benefits. Obenshain says it will increase state revenues, but would that be true a decade or two from now? We might replace the state monopoly with a oligopoly where a few big dogs control alcohol sales for private profit. Some states have experienced corruption in the ownership and transfer of licenses. Perhaps the time to privatize ABC stores will come in the future, after more study and more than a half-baked attempt to anticipate problems that could adversely impact Virginia and valued state employees. Maybe it is time to refer this issue to JLARC for an in-depth and bipartisan look.