State Leaders Weigh Equity Policies Amid Political Scandals

Feb 13, 2019

In the wake of the blackface scandal, Governor Ralph Northam is asking Cabinet members to come up with ways to address inequality.

Is this moment — when the eyes of the world are focused on Virginia — the ideal time to address inequality? Governor Ralph Northam wants to transform chaos into opportunity – taking advantage of racially charged scandal to address inequality.

Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran says now is the time for criminal justice reform.

“I welcome the renewed focus on this. There are a number of initiatives we’d like to pursue, and with this determination and hopefully resources, I think we can do great things.”

Specifically, he says, he’d like to see Virginia decriminalize marijuana possession — making it punishable by a fine and no longer a jailable offense. That’s an idea that lawmakers considered this year, although it quickly went up in smoke. Republican Senator Mark Peake voted against it.

“I’m happy to look at the laws regarding marijuana — how we treat it, how it’s sentenced, whether we look for a more treatment-based approach to marijuana. But I’m not in favor of legalizing it.”

Moran says he’d also like to see people who owe court fees get to keep their driver’s licenses. That’s an idea that passed the Senate this year but never got out of the House.

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