Committee will consider restoring felons’ rights


A Senate subcommittee tied 3-3 Tuesday on proposed constitutional amendments to restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who’ve completed their sentences. The vote occurred in the constitutional amendments subcommittee of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee. The tie vote is adequate to send the matter to the full committee for consideration.

The subcommittee considered constitutional amendments proposed by Democratic Sens. Chap Petersen of Fairfax, Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and Donald McEachin of Richmond. The panel combined the measures and then voted on them.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and other officials spoke in favor of automatically restoring the voting rights of nonviolent felons. Currently, felons must petition the governor to get their rights back.

“Thank you to the governor’s policy staff and Attorney General Cuccinelli who both came today to speak in favor of the bill. They were joined by the ACLU and Catholic Conference, so it was a pretty wide spectrum politically,” Petersen said.

The three subcommittee members who voted in favor of the proposal were McEachin, Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County and Republican Sen. Jeffrey McWaters of Virginia Beach.

Voting against the proposal were Republican Sens. Ralph Smith of Roanoke, Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg and Stephen Martin of Chesterfield. Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell, was not present for the vote.

Under Petersen’s proposed amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 266, nonviolent felons would have their rights restored after serving their prison time and completing probation.

Petersen stressed the importance of the proposal as it heads to the full committee for consideration.

“One thing to note: It is important that restoration be automatic and without strings attached for qualifying Virginians,” Petersen said. “That is what the governor requested during the State of the Commonwealth address.”

The Senate subcommittee’s action came a day after a House subcommittee voted down similar measures.
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It’s a great weekend to get outside! The Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society is offering two events this weekend. Accompany the group to find and document native plants present and blooming in Echo Lake Park on Saturday or take a “Sunday Stroll” at Dorey Park to observe the seasonal changes taking place. Other outdoor events this weekend include the final summer concert at West Broad Village and “Fridays on the Patio” at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen. If you’re going to be outside, don’t forget the insect repellent! To learn more about avoiding those pesky mosquitos, check out Henrico County’s “Fight-the-Bite TODAY” event tomorrow. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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