2021 General Assembly Session

Legislation to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than solid waste management is on its way to the governor despite early resistance from the House of Delegates.

The hotly contested bill, which supporters say will encourage the repurposing of plastic waste while creating jobs and opponents say will allow the fledgling industry to sidestep regulation, passed the House Monday on a 90-8 vote.

Key to its success was a move by lawmakers to yoke the advanced recycling bill to a proposal from Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, that would ban all food vendors from using plastic foam food containers starting in 2025.

Virginia Senate punts on campaign finance bill, but lawmakers agree to study future reform
Virginia Mercury, Virginia MercuryFebruary 23, 2021 (Medium)

A proposal to make it illegal for Virginia politicians to use campaign funds to enrich themselves failed in the state Senate Tuesday, the latest sign of the legislature’s continuing wariness on campaign finance reform.

Several senators said they agreed with the proposal generally, but insisted policymakers should take more time to study it before imposing new rules on candidates running in Virginia’s wide-open fundraising system.

“The critical component here is to actually get it right,” said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, an election lawyer who noted that she sponsored a similar bill in the past and wants it to be wrapped into an upcoming study on comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Under Virginia’s existing laws, political candidates are free to take as much money as they can get from any willing individual donor or corporation. But they don’t have to use it for their campaign.

When Virginia senators passed a bill requiring local school divisions to provide in-person instruction by the summer, some anticipated the legislation would face an uphill battle in the House.

Nearly a month later, though, the same legislation is now on the verge of passing both chambers after several rounds of revisions — and mounting pressure to return children to school buildings.

Just a few days after the Senate vote, Gov. Ralph Northam directed Virginia’s 132 local divisions to begin offering in-person classes by March 15, saying that months of remote learning was “taking a toll on our children and our families.” Northam’s announcement followed a pledge from President Joe Biden to reopen schools within his first 100 days of office, and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in buildings.

Virginia legislature sends death penalty repeal to Northam
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 22, 2021 (Short)

Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to legislation abolishing the death penalty Monday, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he’ll sign it.

Northam’s signature would make Virginia the first state in the South and the 23rd in the nation to end capital punishment.

“This legislation says a lot about who we are as a commonwealth, what kind of values we have as a commonwealth,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It says a lot about how we value human life. It says a lot about how our commonwealth is going to move past some of our darkest moments in terms of how this punishment was applied and who it was applied to. This vote also says a lot about justice.”

Push to extend minimum wage increase to farmworkers voted down by Virginia Senate
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 23, 2021 (Short)

When the General Assembly voted last year to ramp up Virginia’s minimum wage to $12, agricultural employees were among a handful of groups excluded from the increase — an exemption that traces its roots to Jim Crow-era segregation.

Lawmakers in the Senate said Monday they stand by that decision, voting down legislation passed by the House of Delegates that would have extended the state’s employment laws to farmworkers for the first time.

“I understand the exuberance and I understand the need to move forward, but we just had a robust discussion on this last year,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, one of 10 lawmakers on the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee who opposed the legislation.

Electric utility rate reform efforts quashed by Senate committee
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 15, 2021 (Short)

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday swiftly killed the last of more than half a dozen bills this session that aimed to reform Virginia’s system of electric utility rate review, which is seen by Wall Street investors as favorable to the utilities and by critics as an example of legislative capture by companies with an outsize influence over the General Assembly.

The move angered the growing number of groups and lawmakers of both parties in Virginia that over the past few years have been lobbying to roll back regulations seen as enabling excessive profits for the state’s two largest electric monopolies, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.

“It’s a shame that the committee decided that it should not be the policy of the commonwealth that monopoly utility rates should be just and reasonable,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who frequently argues against the utilities before the State Corporation Commission. “It was clear that the Senate committee had no intention of debating the merits or the policy of the bills today.”

Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.

That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.

Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.

At General Assembly’s halftime, consumers hold a narrow lead
Virginia Mercury, Ivy MainFebruary 6, 2021 (Short)

Virginia is, famously, a state that prides itself on being business-friendly. That makes it all the more interesting that a number of bills favoring consumers have made it through the House. Democrats have led the charge, but several of the bills earned bipartisan support even in the face of utility opposition.

This doesn’t guarantee their luck will hold. Democrats aren’t just more numerous in the House, they are also younger and more independent-minded than the old guard Democrats in control of the Senate. The second half of the session is going to be a lot more challenging for pro-consumer legislation.

The action will be especially hot in the coming days around five bills dealing with utility reform and a customer’s “right to shop” for renewable energy (HB2048). All these bills passed the House with at least some Republican support. But they are headed to Senate Commerce and Labor, which, though dominated by Democrats, has a long history of protecting utilities.

This post has all the bills passed by both the House of Delegates and the State Senate during the 2021 General Assembly session.

You can also find these bills in each of the committee posts in this Virginia onAir Hub. If a bill is not signed by Governor Ralph Northam, it will be noted in the appropriate committee post.

The curators for the committee posts are George Mason University students who are interning with Democracy onAir as part of their Schar School Global Political Fellows program.

Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619.

The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.

Here is an excellent concise summary  by Wyatt Gordon of how the Virginia General Assembly works.

2021 General Assembly Session2021 General Assembly Session

This post has all the bills passed by both the House of Delegates and the State Senate during the 2021 General Assembly session.

You can also find these bills in each of the committee posts in this Virginia onAir Hub. If a bill is not signed by Governor Ralph Northam, it will be noted in the appropriate committee post.

The curators for the committee posts are George Mason University students who are interning with Democracy onAir as part of their Schar School Global Political Fellows program.

Legislation to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than solid waste management is on its way to the governor despite early resistance from the House of Delegates.

The hotly contested bill, which supporters say will encourage the repurposing of plastic waste while creating jobs and opponents say will allow the fledgling industry to sidestep regulation, passed the House Monday on a 90-8 vote.

Key to its success was a move by lawmakers to yoke the advanced recycling bill to a proposal from Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, that would ban all food vendors from using plastic foam food containers starting in 2025.

Virginia Senate punts on campaign finance bill, but lawmakers agree to study future reform
Virginia Mercury, Virginia MercuryFebruary 23, 2021 (Medium)

A proposal to make it illegal for Virginia politicians to use campaign funds to enrich themselves failed in the state Senate Tuesday, the latest sign of the legislature’s continuing wariness on campaign finance reform.

Several senators said they agreed with the proposal generally, but insisted policymakers should take more time to study it before imposing new rules on candidates running in Virginia’s wide-open fundraising system.

“The critical component here is to actually get it right,” said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, an election lawyer who noted that she sponsored a similar bill in the past and wants it to be wrapped into an upcoming study on comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Under Virginia’s existing laws, political candidates are free to take as much money as they can get from any willing individual donor or corporation. But they don’t have to use it for their campaign.

When Virginia senators passed a bill requiring local school divisions to provide in-person instruction by the summer, some anticipated the legislation would face an uphill battle in the House.

Nearly a month later, though, the same legislation is now on the verge of passing both chambers after several rounds of revisions — and mounting pressure to return children to school buildings.

Just a few days after the Senate vote, Gov. Ralph Northam directed Virginia’s 132 local divisions to begin offering in-person classes by March 15, saying that months of remote learning was “taking a toll on our children and our families.” Northam’s announcement followed a pledge from President Joe Biden to reopen schools within his first 100 days of office, and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in buildings.

Virginia legislature sends death penalty repeal to Northam
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 22, 2021 (Short)

Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to legislation abolishing the death penalty Monday, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he’ll sign it.

Northam’s signature would make Virginia the first state in the South and the 23rd in the nation to end capital punishment.

“This legislation says a lot about who we are as a commonwealth, what kind of values we have as a commonwealth,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It says a lot about how we value human life. It says a lot about how our commonwealth is going to move past some of our darkest moments in terms of how this punishment was applied and who it was applied to. This vote also says a lot about justice.”

Push to extend minimum wage increase to farmworkers voted down by Virginia Senate
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 23, 2021 (Short)

When the General Assembly voted last year to ramp up Virginia’s minimum wage to $12, agricultural employees were among a handful of groups excluded from the increase — an exemption that traces its roots to Jim Crow-era segregation.

Lawmakers in the Senate said Monday they stand by that decision, voting down legislation passed by the House of Delegates that would have extended the state’s employment laws to farmworkers for the first time.

“I understand the exuberance and I understand the need to move forward, but we just had a robust discussion on this last year,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, one of 10 lawmakers on the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee who opposed the legislation.

Electric utility rate reform efforts quashed by Senate committee
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 15, 2021 (Short)

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday swiftly killed the last of more than half a dozen bills this session that aimed to reform Virginia’s system of electric utility rate review, which is seen by Wall Street investors as favorable to the utilities and by critics as an example of legislative capture by companies with an outsize influence over the General Assembly.

The move angered the growing number of groups and lawmakers of both parties in Virginia that over the past few years have been lobbying to roll back regulations seen as enabling excessive profits for the state’s two largest electric monopolies, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.

“It’s a shame that the committee decided that it should not be the policy of the commonwealth that monopoly utility rates should be just and reasonable,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who frequently argues against the utilities before the State Corporation Commission. “It was clear that the Senate committee had no intention of debating the merits or the policy of the bills today.”

Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.

That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.

Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.

At General Assembly’s halftime, consumers hold a narrow lead
Virginia Mercury, Ivy MainFebruary 6, 2021 (Short)

Virginia is, famously, a state that prides itself on being business-friendly. That makes it all the more interesting that a number of bills favoring consumers have made it through the House. Democrats have led the charge, but several of the bills earned bipartisan support even in the face of utility opposition.

This doesn’t guarantee their luck will hold. Democrats aren’t just more numerous in the House, they are also younger and more independent-minded than the old guard Democrats in control of the Senate. The second half of the session is going to be a lot more challenging for pro-consumer legislation.

The action will be especially hot in the coming days around five bills dealing with utility reform and a customer’s “right to shop” for renewable energy (HB2048). All these bills passed the House with at least some Republican support. But they are headed to Senate Commerce and Labor, which, though dominated by Democrats, has a long history of protecting utilities.

Top News

Legislation to classify chemical recycling as manufacturing rather than solid waste management is on its way to the governor despite early resistance from the House of Delegates.

The hotly contested bill, which supporters say will encourage the repurposing of plastic waste while creating jobs and opponents say will allow the fledgling industry to sidestep regulation, passed the House Monday on a 90-8 vote.

Key to its success was a move by lawmakers to yoke the advanced recycling bill to a proposal from Del. Betsy Carr, D-Richmond, that would ban all food vendors from using plastic foam food containers starting in 2025.

Virginia Senate punts on campaign finance bill, but lawmakers agree to study future reform
Virginia Mercury, Virginia MercuryFebruary 23, 2021 (Medium)

A proposal to make it illegal for Virginia politicians to use campaign funds to enrich themselves failed in the state Senate Tuesday, the latest sign of the legislature’s continuing wariness on campaign finance reform.

Several senators said they agreed with the proposal generally, but insisted policymakers should take more time to study it before imposing new rules on candidates running in Virginia’s wide-open fundraising system.

“The critical component here is to actually get it right,” said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, an election lawyer who noted that she sponsored a similar bill in the past and wants it to be wrapped into an upcoming study on comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Under Virginia’s existing laws, political candidates are free to take as much money as they can get from any willing individual donor or corporation. But they don’t have to use it for their campaign.

When Virginia senators passed a bill requiring local school divisions to provide in-person instruction by the summer, some anticipated the legislation would face an uphill battle in the House.

Nearly a month later, though, the same legislation is now on the verge of passing both chambers after several rounds of revisions — and mounting pressure to return children to school buildings.

Just a few days after the Senate vote, Gov. Ralph Northam directed Virginia’s 132 local divisions to begin offering in-person classes by March 15, saying that months of remote learning was “taking a toll on our children and our families.” Northam’s announcement followed a pledge from President Joe Biden to reopen schools within his first 100 days of office, and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on safely reopening schools and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in buildings.

Virginia legislature sends death penalty repeal to Northam
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 22, 2021 (Short)

Virginia lawmakers gave final passage to legislation abolishing the death penalty Monday, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he’ll sign it.

Northam’s signature would make Virginia the first state in the South and the 23rd in the nation to end capital punishment.

“This legislation says a lot about who we are as a commonwealth, what kind of values we have as a commonwealth,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “It says a lot about how we value human life. It says a lot about how our commonwealth is going to move past some of our darkest moments in terms of how this punishment was applied and who it was applied to. This vote also says a lot about justice.”

Push to extend minimum wage increase to farmworkers voted down by Virginia Senate
Virginia Mercury, Ned OliverFebruary 23, 2021 (Short)

When the General Assembly voted last year to ramp up Virginia’s minimum wage to $12, agricultural employees were among a handful of groups excluded from the increase — an exemption that traces its roots to Jim Crow-era segregation.

Lawmakers in the Senate said Monday they stand by that decision, voting down legislation passed by the House of Delegates that would have extended the state’s employment laws to farmworkers for the first time.

“I understand the exuberance and I understand the need to move forward, but we just had a robust discussion on this last year,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, one of 10 lawmakers on the Senate’s Commerce and Labor Committee who opposed the legislation.

Electric utility rate reform efforts quashed by Senate committee
Virginia Mercury, Sarah VogelsongFebruary 15, 2021 (Short)

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday swiftly killed the last of more than half a dozen bills this session that aimed to reform Virginia’s system of electric utility rate review, which is seen by Wall Street investors as favorable to the utilities and by critics as an example of legislative capture by companies with an outsize influence over the General Assembly.

The move angered the growing number of groups and lawmakers of both parties in Virginia that over the past few years have been lobbying to roll back regulations seen as enabling excessive profits for the state’s two largest electric monopolies, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.

“It’s a shame that the committee decided that it should not be the policy of the commonwealth that monopoly utility rates should be just and reasonable,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who frequently argues against the utilities before the State Corporation Commission. “It was clear that the Senate committee had no intention of debating the merits or the policy of the bills today.”

Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.

That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.

Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.

At General Assembly’s halftime, consumers hold a narrow lead
Virginia Mercury, Ivy MainFebruary 6, 2021 (Short)

Virginia is, famously, a state that prides itself on being business-friendly. That makes it all the more interesting that a number of bills favoring consumers have made it through the House. Democrats have led the charge, but several of the bills earned bipartisan support even in the face of utility opposition.

This doesn’t guarantee their luck will hold. Democrats aren’t just more numerous in the House, they are also younger and more independent-minded than the old guard Democrats in control of the Senate. The second half of the session is going to be a lot more challenging for pro-consumer legislation.

The action will be especially hot in the coming days around five bills dealing with utility reform and a customer’s “right to shop” for renewable energy (HB2048). All these bills passed the House with at least some Republican support. But they are headed to Senate Commerce and Labor, which, though dominated by Democrats, has a long history of protecting utilities.

Summary

This post has all the bills passed by both the House of Delegates and the State Senate during the 2021 General Assembly session.

You can also find these bills in each of the committee posts in this Virginia onAir Hub. If a bill is not signed by Governor Ralph Northam, it will be noted in the appropriate committee post.

The curators for the committee posts are George Mason University students who are interning with Democracy onAir as part of their Schar School Global Political Fellows program.

All Bills passed

Source: VA Legislative Information System (LIS)

See Committees for all bills passed that were reported out by a committee.

 

Agriculture, Chesapeake, Conservation, & Natural Resources

Appropriations

Communications, Technology, and Innovation

Counties, Cities, Towns, & Local Gov’t

Courts, Judiciary

Education

Finance

General Laws

Health, Welfare, Rehabilitation, & Social Services

Commerce and Labor

Privileges and Elections

Public Safety

Rules

Transportation

Joint Committee Hearings

2021 Senate Sessions

2021 House Sessions

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Virginia General Assembly 1Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619.

The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.

Here is an excellent concise summary  by Wyatt Gordon of how the Virginia General Assembly works.

Summary

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619.

The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia’s clerk is known as the “Clerk of the Senate” (instead of as the “Secretary of the Senate”, the title used by the U.S. Senate).

Following the 2019 election, the Democratic Party held a majority of seats in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1996. They were sworn into office on January 8, 2020.

Here is an excellent concise summary  by Wyatt Gordon of how the Virginia General Assembly works.

Capitol

Source: Wikipedia

The General Assembly meets in Virginia’s capital of Richmond. When sitting in Richmond, the General Assembly holds sessions in the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1788 and expanded in 1904. During the American Civil War, the building was used as the capitol of the Confederate States of America, housing the Congress of the Confederate States. The building was renovated between 2005 and 2006. Senators and Delegates have their offices in the General Assembly Building across the street directly north of the Capitol. The Governor of Virginia lives across the street directly east of the Capitol in the Virginia Executive Mansion.

History

Source: Wikipedia

The Virginia General Assembly is described as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World”. Its existence dates to its establishment at Jamestown on July 30, 1619 by instructions from the Virginia Company of London to the new Governor Sir George Yeardley. It was initially a unicameral body composed of the Company-appointed Governor and Council of State, plus 22 burgesses elected by the settlements and Jamestown.

The Assembly became bicameral in 1642 upon the formation of the House of Burgesses. At various times it may have been referred to as the Grand Assembly of Virginia. The General Assembly met in Jamestown from 1619 until 1699, when it first moved to the College of William & Mary near Williamsburg, Virginia and later met in the colonial Capitol building. It became the General Assembly in 1776 with the ratification of the Virginia Constitution. The government was moved to Richmond in 1780 during the administration of Governor Thomas Jefferson.

Salary and qualifications

Source: Wikipedia

The annual salary for senators is $18,000. The annual salary for delegates is $17,640.

Under the Constitution of Virginia, Senators and Delegates must be 21 years of age at the time of the election, residents of the district they represent, and qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly. Under the Constitution, “a senator or delegate who moves his residence from the district for which he is elected shall thereby vacate his office”.

The state constitution specifies that the General Assembly shall meet annually, and its regular session is a maximum of 60 days long in even-numbered years and 30 days long in odd-numbered years, unless extended by a two-thirds vote of both houses . The governor of Virginia may convene a special session of the General Assembly “when, in his opinion, the interest of the Commonwealth may require” and must convene a special session “upon the application of two-thirds of the members elected to each house”.

Redistricting reform

Source: Wikipedia

Article II, section 6 on apportionment states, “Members of the … Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district.”  The Redistricting Coalition of Virginia proposes either an independent commission or a bipartisan commission that is not polarized. Member organizations include the League of Women Voters of Virginia, AARP of Virginia, OneVirginia2021, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Organizing Project. Governor Bob McDonnell’s Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting for the Commonwealth of Virginia made its report on April 1, 2011. It made two recommendations for each state legislative house that showed maps of districts more compact and contiguous than those adopted by the General Assembly.

In 2011, the Virginia College and University Redistricting Competition was organized by Professors Michael McDonald of George Mason University and Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University. About 150 students on sixteen teams from thirteen schools submitted plans for legislative and U.S. Congressional Districts. They created districts more compact than the General Assembly’s efforts. The “Division 1” maps conformed with the Governor’s Executive Order, and did not address electoral competition or representational fairness. In addition to the criteria of contiguity, equipopulation, the federal Voting Rights Act and communities of interest in the existing city and county boundaries, “Division 2” maps in the competition did incorporate considerations of electoral competition and representational fairness. Judges for the cash award prizes were Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.

In January 2015, Republican State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester and Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth sponsored a Senate Joint Resolution to establish additional criteria for the Virginia Redistricting Commission of four identified members of political parties, and three other independent public officials. The criteria began with respecting existing political boundaries, such as cities and towns, counties and magisterial districts, election districts and voting precincts. Districts are to be established on the basis of population, in conformance with federal and state laws and court cases, including those addressing racial fairness. The territory is to be contiguous and compact, without oddly shaped boundaries. The commission is prohibited from using political data or election results to favor either political party or incumbent. It passed with a two-thirds majority of 27 to 12 in the Senate, and was then referred to committee in the House of Delegates.

In 2015, at Vesilind v. Virginia State Board of Elections in a Virginia state court, plaintiffs sought to overturn the General Assembly’s redistricting in five House of Delegate and six state Senate districts as violations of both the Virginia and U.S. Constitutions because they failed to represent populations in “continuous and compact territory”.

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