Significant COVID-19 support, police and criminal justice reform passed during Special Session
RICHMOND, VA—Today, the General Assembly voted on additional Special Session legislation, passing eight House Dem bills which reported out of conference committees. The measures will go to Governor Ralph Northam for further action.
Each of these bills furthers the Caucus’ Special Session priorities, which included providing support for Virginians dealing with the public health and economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reforming the policing and criminal justice systems across the Commonwealth.
House Democratic leadership released the following statements in response:
“We began this Special Session with a promise to Virginians that we would pass meaningful laws making our Commonwealth safer and more accountable,” said Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. “Today we passed a number of bills that will reform policing in our communities and address disparities in our criminal justice system. I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments in this Special Session, and I thank all of the members of the legislature for their hard work and dedication in passing these historic pieces of legislation.
“House Democrats listened to Virginians who called both for urgent assistance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and urgent action to deal with racial inequities in the Commonwealth, especially in the areas of police and criminal justice reform,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “We spent this time pressing our colleagues in both chambers to act boldly, considering the suffering radiating throughout the Commonwealth. I am confident that our work during the Special Session is another step towards the progress our constituents voted for and deserve.”
“The Commonwealth is facing economic, health, and social crises that have touched each one of us uniquely, and the Democratic Caucus has responded thoughtfully and substantially during this Special Session. House Democrats worked together to produce a groundbreaking set of legislative results for Virginians on issues ranging from policing reform to the coronavirus pandemic,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan. “Our achievements embody our mission as a Caucus — to make Virginia a better place to work, live, and raise a family.”
Here is a summary of the House Democrats’ legislation passed by the General Assembly today:
- 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.
- HB 5064 (Price) Providing rent payment plan opportunities for tenants negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- HB 5068 (Ayala) Prohibiting garnishment of stimulus relief checks.
Policing and Criminal Justice Reform
- HB 5049 (Helmer) Demilitarizing police departments by prohibiting the acquisition and use of certain weapons and military equipment by law enforcement agencies.
- HB 5055 (Herring) Strengthening laws related to Citizen Review Panels.
- HB 5099 (Aird) Prohibiting no-knock search warrants.
- HB 5104 (Price) Strengthening the assessments and review of prior law-enforcement employment records required before hiring law enforcement officers.
- HB 5148 (Scott) Increasing earned sentence credits.