Privileges and Elections Committee (House)

Privileges and Elections Committee 2

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Va. House panel expands felon rights proposal to allow voting after release
Virginia Mercury, Graham MoomawJanuary 25, 2021 (Short)

A Virginia House of Delegates panel on Monday expanded a felon voting rights proposal to allow former inmates to vote when they’re released from incarceration, a change potentially allowing their rights to be restored years earlier than envisioned under the plan’s prior rules.

As originally drafted, the proposed constitutional amendment would have automatically restored felons’ civil rights after they had completed their sentence and any period of supervised probation.

But some Democratic lawmakers said they preferred a simpler solution, one that wouldn’t complicate the rights restoration process by tying it to a probation period or an ex-offender’s ability to pay fines and fees after their release.

“To me, completion of sentence of imprisonment is a very clear, bright-line standard,” said Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, the chairman of the House’s subcommittee on constitutional amendments.

During a subcommittee hearing Monday, a representative of Gov. Ralph Northam told House members the administration would support that approach. The panel amended the proposal accordingly.

The proposal has not yet been voted on by the full House, and a similar measure in the Senate has not yet been taken up in committee. But Monday’s hearing offered a glimpse of how key policy decisions on felon voting might play out over the rest of the General Assembly session.

Some Democrats and voting advocacy groups are pushing to end felon disenfranchisement altogether, arguing the right to vote is so fundamental that people convicted of crimes should be allowed to continue to cast ballots from their cells.

“It’s time for you to be bold and move this conversation from restoring votes to giving people the right to vote,” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga told the subcommittee Monday.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, the chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, said he supports that concept generally. But because the amendment needs final approval from voters in a ballot referendum that could happen in 2022, he said, making the conversation about voting from jail could jeopardize the larger reform effort.

“I would hate to risk this progress, which I think is really important,” Simon said.

Whatever form the proposal ends up taking, the General Assembly would have to approve the exact same version next year before it could be sent to the voters.

Many Republicans have been supportive of relaxing Virginia’s policy, which prevents all felons from voting unless a governor has taken action to restore their rights. But some have also cautioned against blanket restoration, insisting the nature of the offense committed and whether debts have been paid should factor into the process.

Del. Chris Head, R-Roanoke, said leaving some limitations in place would prevent a major erosion of conservative support.

“As a Christian, personally, my faith is all about grace,” Head said. “That means that there is a point where you have to have a road back.”

Summary

Meets on: Friday at 9:30 a.m. in House Room 3

Members:   (Chair)    Dawn Adams  –  Les Adams  –  Alex Askew  –  Rob Bloxom   –  Mark Cole   –  Kelly Fowler    Christopher Head   –  Paul Krizek  –  Mark Levine   –  John McGuire  –  Israel O’Quinn  –  Bobby Orrock  –  Cia Price  –  Sam Rasoul  –  David Reid  –  Chris Runion  –  Nick Rush  –  Mark Sickles  –  Marcus Simon  –  Shelly Simonds  –  Schuyler VanValkenburg

(13 Democrats and 9 Republicans)

Subcommittees:

  • Campaign Finance
  • Constitutional Amendments
  • Elections, Gubernatorial
  • Appointments
  • Redistricting

About

Web

VA Legislative Information Systems (LIS), https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php?committee=H19

Bills

Bills in committee  

(none at this time)

Bills reported out 

(none at this time)

Bills passed

Commissions

Commission on Civic Education

Source: Webpage

The purposes of the Commission are to (i) educate students on the importance of citizen involvement in a representative democracy, (ii) promote the study of state and local government among the Commonwealth’s citizenry, and (iii) enhance communication and collaboration among organizations in the Commonwealth that conduct civics education.

Subcommittees

Campaign Finance Subcommittee

Meets on: Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in 300-A Subcommittee Room

Members: David Reid (Chair),  Christopher HeadPaul Krizek,  Sam RasoulDavid Reid,  Nick RushShelly Simonds

 

Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee

Meets on: Monday at 4:30 p.m. in House Committee Room

Members: Marcus Simon (Chair),  Dawn AdamsLes AdamsKelly Fowler,  Mark Levine,  Israel O’QuinnCia Price,  Chris Runion

 

Elections Subcommittee

Meets on: Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in House Room 1

Members:  (Chair),  Dawn AdamsLes AdamsAlex AskewRob BloxomMark ColeKelly Fowler,  Christopher HeadPaul KrizekMark LevineJohn McGuireIsrael O’QuinnBobby OrrockCia PriceSam RasoulDavid ReidChris RunionNick RushMark SicklesMarcus SimonShelly SimondsSchuyler VanValkenburg

 

Gubernatorial Appointments Subcommittee

Meets on: Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. in 400-A Subcommittee Room

MembersSchuyler VanValkenburg (Chair),  Alex AskewRob BloxomMark Cole,  Mark Sickles

 

Subcommittee on Redistricting

Meets on: the call of the Chair

Members:  Kelly Fowler (Chair),  Dawn Adams,  John McGuire,  Bobby Orrock,  Sam Rasoul,  Mark Sickles

 

Bills in committee   

(none at this time)

Bills reported out

HB 1952 – Campaign finance, prohibited personal use (January 27, 2021)

  • Delegate Simon sponsored a bill that which prohibits any person converting money or security contributed to a candidate or campaign committee for personal use or on anyone of a candidate’s immediate family.
  • Voted to report bill 20 – Yeas 0 – Nays.

HB 1890 – Virginia version of federal voting rights act (January 27, 2021)

  • Delegate Price sponsored a bill that which would prohibit voting qualifications from being impulsed that would deny any voter right from race or language of origin.
  • Voted to report bill with substitute 11 – Yeas 9 – Nays.

HB 2125 – Pre-registration for voting (January 27, 2021)

  • Delegate Price sponsored a bill that would require pre-registration for persons 16 and over, effective October 1, 2021.
  • Voted to report with technical amendments 11 – Yeas 9 – Nays.

HB 2198 – Qualified voters of a locality (January 27, 2021)

  • Delegate Price sponsored a bill that which would allow any qualified voter of a locality to vote for the at large candidates and in a locality that elects its governing body form districts or wards, only voters in that district or ward will be qualified to vote for those governing bodies.
  • Voted to report with substitute 14 – Yeas 7 – Nays.

HB 2020 – Nomination exception meetings (January 27, 2021)

  • Delegate VanValkenburg sponsored a bill that which provides that a method of nomination for elected office may not be selected if such effort would have a practical effect of excluding participation in the nominating process by qualified voters who are unable to attend meetings because they are serving members in the military, student attending higher education, person with disability, person who has a communicable disease.
  • Voted to report bill 12 – Yeas 9 – Nays.

 

Bills reported out 

(none at this time)

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