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Governor McAuliffe, Please Call a Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly Immediately!

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I’ve been thinking about this for several days now, and at this point I think it’s essential: in light of events in Charlottesville this past weekend, Governor McAuliffe should call a special session of the Virginia General Assembly — immediately if at all possible. The purpose should be to debate – and hopefully pass – the following bills, at the minimum.

  1. Del. Mark Levine’s idea to “allow localities the power to ban the carrying of weapons by non-law-enforcement within 1000 feet of a permitted political protest where law-enforcement is present.”
  2. A bill to, as Sen. Adam Ebbin suggested this morning, “[allow] localities to address these [Confederate] symbols in the manner they deem appropriate.” In other words, there should be a bill that grants Virginia localities blanket authority to take down Confederate – or any other offensive – monuments at their discretion.
  3. A bill that grants Virginia localities blanket authority to change the names of state-controlled roads, just as Jefferson Davis Highway, Lee Highway, etc.
  4. A resolution condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the so-called “alt right,” and making clear that there is no equivalency between fascists and those who turn out to peacefully protest fascists (what Trump bizarrely and falsely calls the “alt-left”).
  5. Last — but certainly not least! — there should be a resolution honoring the lives of Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a far-right domestic terrorist in Charlottesville on Saturday, and the two Virginia State Police officers – Trooper/Pilot Berke Bates and Lt. H. Jay Cullen – who also died on Saturday when their helicopter crashed as it assisted in the response to the white supremacist “rally.” These three are all heroes and should be honored as such NOW.

I just got off the phone with Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), and he strongly agreed that now is the time for a Virginia General Assembly special session to consider these bills, and possibly others. As Del. Hope said, right now these conversations are going on all over Virginia and there’s a real “sense of urgency” — and for good reason. Del. Hope noted that if we have a special session now, with emergency legislation if necessary, the laws could go into effect immediately, as opposed to waiting until July 2018 for any new laws to take effect if they’re passed in the regular 2018 General Assembly session. According to Del. Hope, we can’t and shouldn’t have to wait that long to deal with these urgent matters. I couldn’t agree more, and hope that Gov. McAuliffe will call a special session immediately.

P.S. How about hold this entire session in honor of Heather Heyer and the two law enforcement officers who lost their lives last weekend in Charlottesville?

  • Dan Sullivan

    Add to yours: A bill that prohibits the forming and/or assembly of militias or similar military, para-military, quasi-military or security organizations without sanction and commission from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    • Yeah, that one would be fun (to watch Republicans squirm). 🙂

  • 1st CD Democratic Congressional candidate Ryan Sawyers endorses my call and adds the following excellent suggestion:

    “Great post by Blue Virginia. Richmond should also help local school districts with the costs of renaming schools after Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate soldiers who were wrongfully honored during Jim Crow and Massive Resistance.”

  • Philip Whitman

    I’m unfamiliar with how special sessions work in Virginia. Is the governor responsible for setting the agenda, or could legislators introduce any bill they please?

    • http://law.lis.virginia.gov/constitution/article4/section6/

      “The Governor may convene a special session of the General Assembly when, in his opinion, the interest of the Commonwealth may require and shall convene a special session upon the application of two-thirds of the members elected to each house.”

      • Other than that, I believe it works similarly to a regular session, although a special session is normally for a very limited duration and for a very specific purpose, so adding other business would extend it and take away focus.

        • Philip Whitman

          Thanks. I think this is a good idea, although I do worry about more unscrupulous members introducing all manner of bills specifically to take focus away from the stated purpose of the session.

          • Yeah, except they’ll probably want to get in and out of there pretty quickly…

  • Jason Rylander

    Well said, Lowell. I endorse the idea.

  • Local Candidates Praise Arlington County Board Stand Against Racism and Bigotry

    Democratic candidates unite in call to action to rename Jefferson Davis and Lee highways

    Today, Arlington’s five Democratic candidates for local and state office applauded a powerful statement from the Arlington County Board rejecting racism and bigotry, adding their voices to the call for authority from the General Assembly to rename both Jefferson Davis and Lee highways within the county.

    As a county, Arlington is not authorized by law to name state highways such as Jefferson Davis and Lee highways. Next door, however, cities such as Alexandria have the power to do so. Arlington residents were recently appointed to an Alexandria advisory group established to recommend a new name for its section of Jefferson Davis Highway. Interested Arlington citizens and businesses are encouraged to submit suggested names in an on-line survey through September 15.

    Erik Gutshall, Democratic nominee for Arlington County Board, said “I am proud to live in a community that has long shared the values of diversity and inclusion. I fully embrace the County Board’s determination to garner local control of the names of our roadways, as I know Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly do.”

    “It’s long past time for us to rename highways that were labeled to send a hateful and divisive message to people of color in our community,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49th District), House Democratic Whip. “I look forward to working with the Arlington County Board to make sure they have the necessary authority from the General Assembly to make these important changes.”

    Delegate Patrick Hope (47th District) said, “I have long-supported the renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway and Lee Highway in Arlington and commend the Arlington County Board for this bold statement of leadership. I look forward to supporting legislation to grant Arlington and all localities the freedom to rename buildings, roads, and to remove monuments that do not reflect our values.”

    “Giving localities the authority to rename highways — like Jefferson Davis Highway — is long overdue,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan (48th District), “This is not about erasing or trying to change history — indeed, we must never forget the evil that led to our Civil War. Rather, this is about a community choosing who in our history we want to honor and celebrate. Arlington County should have that choice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ This matters, and I applaud the County Board for choosing not to be silent on this important issue.”

    “I’m very pleased that the Arlington County Board is committed to renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway, “ said Delegate Mark Levine (45th District). “Changing those street signs will no longer honor the Mississippi traitor (with little or no connection to Arlington) who was President of a rebellious group of states that seceded from the union to enforce and protect their cruel and odious institution of slavery. Street signs bearing the current name of this highway do a gross injustice to Arlingtonians who are loyal to their nation and who abhor slavery. I know the vast majority of us are looking forward to seeing these signs no more.”

    There does not appear to be any Confederate statues on County-owned land, according to the statement issued by the Arlington County Board.

  • Barry Fitzgerald

    While your at it, amend the Code to add as an impeachable offense: 1. Violation of an Order from a U.S.District Court, as McAuliffe did. 2. Failure to keep the peace then lying about it. 3. Issuing false statements about “out of staters” associated with the group which had the permit causing violence. 51% of the residents of Virginia were not born in Virginia. Had a Conservative said that he would be crucified.

    Who was killed or seriously injured with: firearms, batons, and other objects the Governor want to ban? I recall a automobile as being involved in the one death. It is not a closed case either that the driver is guilty of anything. If that Marxist crowd surrounded his car, bashing it with bats as I saw, he could have feared for his life and used the car to escape. If someone was killed it is self-defense. If he had “weaponized” the car, why didn’t he keep running over people as in Spain?

    Leftist like Terry McAuliffe always want to divert attention from their own misdeeds by making another law, Try enforcing the laws you have and not violating court orders. Had you and your ilk in Charlottesville not stated this iconoclast movement to remove General Lee, then none of this would have happened. Blood is on your hands Governor.