VA News Digest 2/3/2020 to 2/9/2020

VA News Digest 2/3/2020 to 2/9/2020

Summary

Clockwise from Upper Left:

“Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

“With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus” – Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Federal

Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – February 5, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has survived impeachment, but he didn’t emerge unscathed.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday acquitted Trump on charges that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. presidential election and then obstructed a congressional investigation into his actions.

The vote was almost entirely partisan, but Democrats scored a major political coup by winning the support of Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. And Democrats will continue to use Trump’s behavior and his status as an impeached president against him heading into the 2020 election.

Issues

Criminal Justice

General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – February 5, 2020

The General Assembly shut down proposals to legalize marijuana for the year, but lawmakers said this week they would study the issue and potentially move forward when they reconvene in 2021.

Both the House and the Senate are instead advancing decriminalization bills that would punish possession of a half-ounce or less of the plant — presently a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail — with a civil fine. The House is proposing a $25 penalty and the Senate is proposing $50.

Redistricting

With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – February 6, 2020

Virginia Democrats haven’t decided whether they’ll put an anti-gerrymandering amendment in the state Constitution, but the possible paths forward on redistricting reform got a little clearer Thursday morning.

A House of Delegates subcommittee narrowed three options to two, keeping alive one bill tied to a constitutional amendment and an alternative bill meant to stand on its own for the 2021 redistricting process.

Environment

After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – February 6, 2020

After weeks of behind-the-scenes talks, Democratic lawmakers on Thursday night finally unveiled the details of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a 75-page plan to get Virginia to zero carbon by 2050.

The legislation was hailed by its sponsor, Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Fairfax, as a “historic” step on energy policy.

“This is an achievable roadmap,” he told the House Labor and Commerce Committee. “It’s an achievable directive from this General Assembly.”

Democrats agreed, passing the bill along for further consideration on a 13-9 party-line vote that frustrated some backers’ hopes for bipartisan support.

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