16th House District
This week the Virginia General Assembly concluded its constitutionally prescribed regular session, adjourning sine die, but with each body failing to yet deliberate on the hundreds of bills passed in the opposite house. As you may recall, the Republicans in both the House and Senate all insisted on limiting the session to the 30-day boundary imposed in the state constitution, denying to the majority the customary 45-day length for odd-numbered years available with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members.
Of course, any legislation, to become an Act of Assembly qualified for endorsement by the governor, must be approved by both chambers. But rather than conform to a 30-day schedule, Democrat legislators appealed to the head of their party in the executive branch, the governor, and have secured from him a proclamation to call for yet another special session. Summoning all legislative members to assemble on February 10, the call is specifically issued to, as explained in the accompanying press release, “coincide with the conclusion of the 30-day session.” And so, the Democrats, undeterred by Republican objections, proceed with their agenda to remake the Commonwealth. That is to say, widespread bipartisan agreement and consensus building are not featured objectives by the leadership at our state Capital, similar to what we see these days in Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, this lawful action is another consequence of the one-party governance to which Virginian’s have been subject since January of last year. Besides partisan objections, this next, as yet unlimited special session, is disconcerting for a number of reasons. Foremost among those concerns is that it follows the exceptionally long special session of last year where, initially accepted as a needed assembly to address budgetary issues related to the pandemic, it became instead transformed into a vehicle for radical “social justice” efforts to “reimagine public safety.” That propaganda translates into measures that would reverse the Commonwealth’s successful victim-centric approach to criminal justice, redirecting the focus of our system to one that views offenders as the actual victims, and a perspective that treats police officers like oppressors.
Although not reflected in the governor’s call, the new special session has allowed the adjournment of the recently completed 30-day session to effectively serve as what is known in the General Assembly as “crossover,” when the bills passed by the House and Senate move to the opposite body. You would not know that, however, by relying on the rationale for the special session given in the press release referenced above. The intent there expressed is to “ensure the legislature can complete its work on the state budget and pandemic relief.” And yet, as everyone in Richmond knows, multiple other issues, including the ongoing efforts at “police reform,” are the true reasons more time is claimed by the majority party.
In fact, criminal justice is just the start. Bills are advancing to repeal religious protections, allow coverage for abortions at taxpayer expense, and end the death penalty. Importantly, all Democrats seem intent this year to pass a massive piece of legislation, literally hundreds of pages long, to legalize and propagate marijuana. It is as important now as ever to remain vigilant.