Vital Voter Protection Legislation Goes to Governor Northam

Richmond, VA—Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed 16 pieces of legislation that advance the House Democratic Caucus’ Special Session agenda, by providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, making improvements to policing and criminal justice, and creating a more equitable Commonwealth. With the successful passage of SB 5120 through the House today, crucial protections for Virginia voters in the November elections now go to Governor Ralph Northam for final action. 

Many of the measures passed today focus on changes that will strengthen law enforcement education, bar procedures that have caused deadly harm to citizens, and improve transparency and accountability in policing. Examples include standardization of law enforcement academy training and mandating topics for in-service training for officers, banning no-knock warrants and neck restraints, and requiring law enforcement officers to intervene or report when they see wrongdoing from colleagues.

House Democratic Leadership released the following statements:

“Today, the House of Delegates moved one step closer to providing much needed COVID-19 relief and equity reform to our Commonwealth. We also sent to the Governor’s desk critical legislation to protect Virginians’ right to vote this November,” said Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. “Our constituents are counting on us. We will continue to deliver on the critical imperatives we set out to achieve this Special Session.”

“This legislation advances House Democrats’ longstanding efforts to make progress on the urgent issues we face, and the valuable input we’ve received from voices throughout Virginia,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “With all the uncertainty and distress people across the Commonwealth have experienced in 2020, the House Democratic Caucus will remain steadfast in our mission to make Virginia a better place for everyone.” 

Here is a summary of the bills which passed today:

COVID-19 Relief

  • HB 5068 (Ayala) Prohibiting garnishments for stimulus relief checks.
  • HB 5059 (Willett) Providing certain liability protection for assisted living facilities in relation to COVID-19. 
  • HB 5028 (Jones) Establishing a presumption of workers’ compensation eligibility for first responders, teachers, and other high-risk essential workers who die or become disabled due to COVID-19.
  • HB 5050 (Helmer) Authorizes the Governor, during a declared state of emergency due to a communicable disease of public health threat, to purchase and distribute PPE to private, nongovernmental entities.

Protecting Virginians’ Voting Rights

  • SB 5120 Senate companion bill to HB 5103 (Sickles), funding safe and secure methods for Virginia voters to return absentee ballots during the upcoming 2020 General Election.

Policing and Criminal Justice Reform

  • HB 5045 (Delaney) Banning sexual relations between officers and arrestees.
  • HB 5058 (Hope) Eliminating certain pretextual police stops.
  • HB 5062 (Mullin) Codifying prosecutorial ability to dismiss charges.
  • HB 5099 (Aird) Prohibiting no-knock search warrants.
  • HB 5112 (Levine) Mandating the duty of one officer to report the misconduct of another officer. 
  • HB 5029 (McQuinn) Mandating the duty of one officer to intervene to stop the use of excessive force by another officer.
  • HB 5051 (Simon) Requiring decertification of a law enforcement officer who is terminated or resigns for violation of law, violation of departmental policies or procedures, or during an internal investigation.
  • HB 5069 (Carroll Foy) Banning the use of neck restraints by law enforcement.
  • HB 5098 (Askew) Expanding the definition of hate crimes to include false 911 calls or reports to law enforcement against another person made on the basis of race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin.
  • HB 5104 (Price) Strengthening the assessments and review of prior law-enforcement employment records required before hiring law enforcement officers.
  • HB 5109 (Hope) Standardizing and enhancing training by criminal justice academies and establishing required in-service training standards for law enforcement officers.
Categories: Press Release