Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox raised over $2.4 million in 2018, outpacing Speaker Bill Howell’s 2016 total by over $700,000. House Republican members are entering 2019 with over $5.7 million cash on hand, approximately $2.2 million more than House Democrats.
By Brandon Jarvis
Today, the full Virginia Senate chamber voted in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment 26-14. The House of Delegates now has to get some cross over votes from Republicans on Committee and the full floor for this to pass. Read more about the pressure being put on the House from last week, here.
See which Senators voted for/against below.
VRS says Northam's budget plan to boost law enforcement health credits would raise liabilities by $76 million
The governor's budget proposal already has drawn fire from House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, who called the increases for state police, sheriffs and their deputies, and other state law officers "fiscally irresponsible" and unfair to other public employees who receive the credits after retirement to help pay for health insurance.
A Senate resolution for Virginia to become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment passed a committee with bipartisan support on Wednesday, indicating that it’s likely to pass the full Senate and head to the House.
Virginia is one of seven states that do not require record keeping for segregated prisoners. Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, has introduced a bill that would require DOC to annually submit data reports to the General Assembly and governor regarding the length of confinement, inmate demographics and disability treatment. Hope said the bill would increase transparency and improve inmate mental health care.
The 2019 General Assembly session marks Northam’s second year in office and the 400th anniversary of the House of Burgesses, the first democratically elected legislative body in the British American colonies. His speech didn’t shy away from acknowledging the state’s “long and complex history” while connecting several of the session’s proposals to health and safety.
Resolutions for the Virginia General Assembly to ratify the ERA did not get out of GOP-controlled committees last year, even with ERA supporters packing committee rooms and pressuring lawmakers to take action. Since then, ERA supporters have done a flurry of lobbying across the state, including a bus tour, and enlisted support from more Republicans in anticipation of a major push this year.
The Senate is likely to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and send it over to the House where it died almost immediately last year. Three Republican Senators, Sen. Richard Stuart, of Stafford, Sen. Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, and the bill’s sponsor Glen Sturtevant of Richmond support the ERA, essentially ensuring the amendment will pass the Senate once again.
On Wednesday, the Virginia House of Delegates gaveled in the 2019 General Assembly Session, reaching a historic milestone of 400 years of uninterrupted lawmaking for the people of Virginia. The House of Delegates, formally the House of Burgesses, is the the oldest continuously elected law-making body in the New World, established in 1619.
Marking this historic milestone Speaker Kirk Cox addressed the 100 members of the House of Delegates. His remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
It started months before the beginning of the 2019 session, the trend and rhetoric that implied Speaker Cox and GOP leadership would not entertain any talks to address gun violence. When Speaker Cox convened the select committee for school safety, he gave them one specific directive: stay away from guns. Last summer, Cox said his reasoning for steering the committee away from gun talks was because “Once we go there, that’s all we’ll discuss.”
Ahead of the General Assembly session that convenes on Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam presented legislative proposals that he is pushing with assistance from legislators. The main chunk of his agenda include protecting voter rights and campaign finance reforms for the state of Virginia. In all, the package includes proposals to implement no-excuse absentee voting; repeal the requirement to show a photo ID to vote; limit large campaign contributions; ban direct contributions from corporations or businesses; and prohibit the personal use of campaign funds.
“Participation makes our democracy strong—we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult,” said Governor Northam. “I am also hopeful we will be successful working together this session to increase the transparency of our elections for Virginians by imposing reasonable limitations on campaign contributions.”
Senator Mamie Locke and Delegate Charniele Herring are patroning bills that will help reduce lines on Election Day and expand access for more Virginians to exercise their right to vote. It would permits any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in any election in which they are qualified to vote. This bill removes the current list of statutory reasons under which a person may be entitled to vote by absentee ballot.
Legislation repealing the law requiring individuals to present a photo ID in order to vote is another bill that is being pushed by Sen. Locke, along with Del. Kaye Kory.
“Voting is the constitutional right of every American citizen. Lawmakers should be working to increase access to the voting booth, not inventing ways to keep voters away from the polls,” said Delegate Kaye Kory. “The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard.”
Legislation to limit large individual campaign contributions will be patroned by Senator Chap Petersen. This bill caps campaign contributions at $10,000 per candidate over the course of a given primary and general election cycle. Thirty-nine other states and the federal government have set limits on how much a single person can contribute to a campaign. In Virginia, no limit currently exists.
“There’s too much big money in politics,” said Senator Chap Petersen. “We need some reasonable limits on what people can contribute in order to keep the process honest.”
The proposal to ban direct corporate and business contributions to campaigns will be patroned by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman. To ensure enforcement, the bill also bans corporations and businesses from making direct contributions to their own political action committees. Contributions from individuals would be unaffected by this legislation.
“Our Commonwealth has an opportunity to reform campaign finance laws by banning direct corporate and business donations,” said Delegate Elizabeth Guzman. “Virginians want legislators who represent their interests, and this reform will foster more trust in the legislative process.”
Legislation to ban the personal use of campaign funds will be patroned by Delegate Marcus Simon. This bill prohibits candidates from using campaign money for personal expenses, which is currently allowed under Virginia law.
My name is Brandon Jarvis and I am the managing editor at Richmond2day.com. However, I will also be working with RVA Dirt as I report on the General Assembly. RVA Dirt has an excellent grasp on Richmond City politics - being my main source for information as it is happening in the city since 2016. They have presented real-time news and facts from City Council and School Board meetings to forums and town halls.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to help them expand their coverage that is already unique in Richmond’s media market. However, while I work as a reporter and team up with RVA Dirt, Richmond 2day will continue to have a team of reporters and citizen-journalists covering the General Assembly and any other political news across the state, from Congress to the local local School Boards.
The media and the press are the most important tools of democracy. Transparency is necessary for a government to govern and lead effectively. My goal is to present a reader with the facts and details that they need to create an informed opinion on a subject. Thank you for allowing me to do that.
Follow me on Twitter @Jaaavis for real-time updates.