© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State lawmakers getting an early start on filing legislation and constitutional amendments

The General Assembly session is only a few weeks away, and lawmakers are already starting to introduce legislation. Two constitutional amendments are among the first pieces.

Amending the Virginia Constitution is kind of a big deal, and it's designed to take a long time. So, now that Democrats will be in control of the House and Senate, they're taking early action now to introduce amendments on abortion and voting rights. Olivia Gans Turner at the Virginia Society for Human Life says the amendment on abortion goes too far.

"Vermont, New York, California. Other places actually have these amendments in their code now, and we have seen that it is impossible to uphold even something like a parental consent law where a parent can protect a minor-age girl during her pregnancy decision making process," Gans Turner says.

The amendment on automatic restoration of voting rights for people convicted of felonies is also a high priority for Democrats.

"When the discussion is being had around the country about election denial and the way that the right to vote is being used to punish individuals, this is the perfect time to have the discussion about how we change our constitution," says Sheeba Williams of NoLef Turns.

Voters could eventually get to weigh in on both of those amendments, but only after the General Assembly passes them twice with an election in between. So, that means several more election cycles where abortion is a key campaign issue.

Among the other early legislation filed Monday are bills to increase the minimum wage and to ban the sale of assault-style firearms. Democrats filed those. A bill to prevent enforcement of electric vehicle and emissions requirements was filed by a Republican Delegate.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.