From the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus:
SENATE DEM CAUCUS CHAIR STATEMENT ON FIRST WEEK OF SPECIAL SESSION
RICHMOND — Today, as the Senate of Virginia wrapped up the third day of the 2020 Special Session, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton) released the following statement:
“After some powerful testimony from members of the Senate and from citizens across the Commonwealth, Senate Democrats are proud to announce that we are making some real, tangible progress toward a more equitable justice system. Over the last three days, we have moved over 70 bills through the committee process. We heard bills to address policing reform, prosecutorial, sentencing, and prison reform, racial profiling in traffic stops, mobile crisis co-response teams, citizen review boards, and more. We are genuinely surprised at how little bipartisan support these measures garnered. Meanwhile, we find ourselves having to extend our work because our colleagues across the aisle refuse to allow any readings to be waived, which would allow us to pass bills more swiftly and efficiently. Not only are they prolonging opportunities for COVID exposure for members, Senate staff and Capitol police, they are wasting taxpayer dollars in the process. They would prefer to spend taxpayer money unnecessarily extending our presence in Richmond than fund meaningful criminal justice reform.”
The Senate is now adjourned until Friday 08/21 at 10am. The Senate will be meeting on a pro forma basis until Wednesday 08/26. The Senate is then expected to meet in person on Wednesday 08/26; Thursday 08/27 and Friday 08/28.
The Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations will meet virtually on Monday 08/24.
VSDC Criminal Justice and Racial Equity Agenda
1. Bringing Equity to Virginia Policing
- Senator Mamie E. Locke’s (D-Hampton) omnibus policing reform proposal, SB 5030, reported from Judiciary 9Y-5N-1A (party line) and was re-referred to Finance.
- Senator Scott Surovell’s (D-Mount Vernon) SB 5032 revises the penalty for assault and battery on law enforcement. The bill reported from Judiciary 9Y-5N (party line).
- Senator L. Louise Lucas’ (D-Portsmouth) SB 5024 authorizes the AG to investigate police departments that deprive persons of rights, privileges or immunities. The bill reported from Judiciary 9Y-6N (party line) and was re-referred to Finance.
2. Expand Local Authority to Respond to Mental Health and Regulate Law Enforcement
- Senator Jeremy McPike’s (D-Prince William) SB 5038 grants localities the authority to establish mental health mobile crisis co-response teams. The bill incorporates Senator Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) SB 5084. The bill reported from Judiciary 12Y-0N-1A and was re-referred to Finance.
- Senator Ghazala Hashmi’s (D-Chesterfield) SB 5035 creates a local option for citizen review boards empowered to investigate, fire or discipline officers. The bill reported from Judiciary 8Y-6N (party line) and was re-referred to Finance.
3. Restore Courts’ and Prosecutors’ Flexibility to Effect Mercy
- Senator Scott Surovell’s (D-Mount Vernon) SB 5033 confirms prosecutors’ authority to drop charges. The bill reported from Judiciary 12Y-2N-1A.
- Senator Creigh Deeds’ (D-Bath County) SB 5043 enhances courts’ ability to expunge charges for dismissed charges, substance convictions, and pardoned offenses. The bill reported from Judiciary 14Y-0N and was re-referred to Finance.
4. Work to Eliminate Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement
- Senator L. Louise Lucas’ (D-Portsmouth) SB 5029 tackles racial profiling in traffic stops. The bill reported from Judiciary 9Y-6N (party line) and was re-referred to Finance.
5. Restore Equity to the Sentencing Process
- Senator Joe Morrissey’s (D-Richmond) SB 5007 reforms jury sentencing, making it available at the option of the accused rather than mandatory. It also eliminates the Commonwealth’s right to demand a jury trial when jury trials are suspended for a State of Emergency. The bill reported from Judiciary 10Y-5N and was re-referred to Finance.
- Senator Scott Surovell’s (D-Mount Vernon) SB 5045 requires agencies to determine cost savings for introduced criminal justice legislation. This bill reported from Rules 12Y-3N (party line).
6. Restore Equity to the Virginia Prison System
- Senator Jennifer Boysko’s (D-Fairfax) SB 5034 expands earned sentence credits for good behavior. It also creates discretion for compassionate release for terminally ill or permanently disabled prisoners, as well as geriatric release. The bill reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services 8Y-7N (party line) and was re-referred to Finance.