Henrico County VA

Panel kills bills to restore felons’ voting tights


Gov. Bob McDonnell and other key Republicans, as well as Democratic legislators, say they are disappointed that a House subcommittee Jan. 14 killed proposals to automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have served their prison sentences.

“I am very disappointed in today’s vote against these constitutional amendments. Once individuals have served their time and paid their fines, restitution and other costs, they should have the opportunity to rejoin society as fully contributing members,” McDonnell said.

The constitutional amendments subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections Committee considered eight proposals introduced by delegates to restore the civil rights of felons who have completed their prison terms.

All of the proposed constitutional amendments were folded into one – House Joint Resolution 535, sponsored by Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria.

The subcommittee, made up of five Republicans and two Democrats, then voted 6-1 to recommend that Herring’s amendment be “passed by indefinitely.” That means those proposals probably won’t be considered again this legislative session. Only Delegate Algie T. Howell, D-Norfolk, voted against the motion.

The vote took place less than a week after McDonnell, in his State of the Commonwealth address, urged the General Assembly to support the restoration of voting rights for nonviolent felons.

“I believe strongly, as a matter of conscience, in protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens. And I believe that it is time for Virginia to join the overwhelming majority of states in eliminating our bureaucratic restoration process and creating a clear predictable constitutional and statutory process,” McDonnell said in his address last week.

Herring also expressed her frustration over the subcommittee’s decision.

“The House Republicans’ actions speak louder than words,” she said. “Instead of finding common ground on an issue like the restoration of voting rights, they are working to make it harder to vote while they think no one is watching.”

The restoration of voting rights has been on the Democrats’ agenda for years, but key Republicans now support the issue as well.

Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb of Salem sponsored one of the constitutional amendments that had been incorporated into Herring’s proposal. He still hopes that the General Assembly will approve the idea.

“I am disappointed in the outcome this morning. However, our work does not end here, and I am optimistic about the future of this legislation. In the years ahead, I will continue to push for a more efficient and less burdensome re-entry process in the commonwealth,” he said.

Habeeb’s proposal would have automatically restored rights to nonviolent felony offenders after the completion of their sentence, including the payment of any fines or restitution.

Although the House subcommittee voted down the proposals, the idea isn’t completely dead.

Four constitutional amendments to restore felons’ civil rights are pending in the Senate. If the Senate approves such a proposal, it will come back to the House for consideration.

Both McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a fellow Republican, said they will continue to push for voting rights restoration.

"Though I am disappointed with this morning's outcome, I will continue to keep up the fight on this important issue,” said Cuccinelli, who is running for governor this year.

“I would welcome the opportunity to testify before members of the Senate in an effort to underscore the importance of the restoration of civil rights to these individuals. I encourage other members of the General Assembly to join me in this important fight.”

How they voted

Here is how the constitutional amendments subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections Committee voted today on House Joint Resolution 535, a package of constitutional amendments to automatically restore the civil rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies.

The subcommittee voted on a motion to recommend that HJ 535 be “passed by indefinitely” – meaning postponed for this session. That motion passed, 6-1.

All five Republicans on the subcommittee voted for the motion. They are Delegates Jackson Miller of Manassas, David Ramadan of Dulles, Timothy Hugo Centreville, Israel O’Quinn of Bristol, and Mark Cole of Fredericksburg. Democratic Delegate Johnny Joannou of Portsmouth also supported the motion.

Voting against the motion to kill the resolution was Delegate Algie T. Howell, a Democrat from Norfolk.

To track or comment on HJ 535, visit the Richmond Sunlight website: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2013/hj535/
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


It’s Halloween! Ghosts and goblins are everywhere…especially at Dorey Park’s Monster Mash and the annual Pumpkin Festival at Gayton Crossing Shopping Center. But don’t let the fun stop on the 31st – the Latin Ballet of Virginia will present El Dia de los Muertos Family Festival on Nov. 1. And if you need a break from the candy, enjoy some classical music at the University of Richmond and the Weinstein JCC on Sunday. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

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Richmond’s David Bailey will present “Mark Twain, Alive” at 4 p.m. at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2880 Mountain Rd. From Missouri in the 19th century to Virginia… Full text

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