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State Democrats using last-ditch effort to move forward amendments referendum

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Two significant changes to Virginia’s Constitution are being considered by the General Assembly. But it's an uphill battle. Democrat legislators are hoping a last-ditch effort will move the referendums forward.

Voters have to approve constitutional amendments in a referendum. But first, the General Assembly has to pass them not once, but twice.

Two measures that were passed last year are on the agenda this session. One would allow those convicted of felonies to vote after they’ve served their sentence, and another would remove the state Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Last year, several Republicans voted to put both possible amendments before voters. But on Tuesday, Republicans on a House subcommittee killed those measures. Senator Mamie Locke sponsored the effort to put the voting amendment on the ballot.

“They’re afraid of you the voters, they're also afraid of members of their own caucus and allowing those members to vote their conscience,” Locke said.

Now Democrats are pushing a parliamentary measure to bypass the subcommittee and allow the whole House of Delegates to consider the amendments directly. Debate on that measure should come on Wednesday. Time is running out though. The General Assembly is scheduled to conclude on March 12th.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.