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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- A bill that grants Virginia localities blanket authority to change the names of state-controlled roads, just as Jefferson Davis Highway, Lee Highway, etc.
- 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”).
- 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?