2019 General Assembly Session – Amending the State Constitution

Lucky number seven.  Virginia has rewritten its original constitution (1776) six times thus making our current constitution (1971) the seventh state constitution.  While there is no serious movement afoot to get to the eighth constitution there are plenty of carry over, first reference and first resolution bills that propose to modify our present constitution.

Right to vote.  HJ578, Keam D-Vienna (first reference).  Provides there is a right to vote and requires the Commonwealth to provide all resources necessary to assist qualified voters in the exercise of their right to vote.

Redistricting Commission.  HJ 582, Heretick, D-Portsmouth (first reference).  Establishes a 13 member Virginia Redistricting Commission.

Governor’s term of office.  HJ584, Keam D-Vienna (first reference).  Permits governor to succeed himself or herself in office.  Permits two terms, either in succession or not.  Prohibits a third term.

Joint election of Governor and Lt Governor.  HJ585, Keam D-Vienna (first reference).  Joint election of Governor and Lt Governor.  Both candidates to appear jointly on the ballot similar to the US president and Vice President.

Reapportionment after redistricting.  HJ591, Cole – R-Fredricksburg (first reference).  Reapportionment of legislative electoral districts following census-based redistricting.  Limited to getting districts to coincide with voting precincts.

Definition of marriage.  SJ1, Ebbin – D – Alexandria (carry over).  Repeals language defining marriage as”only a union between one man and one woman” based on ruling oif US Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).  Legislation refiled as first reference under SJ251.

Qualifications for Governor.  SJ2, Chase – R – Midlothian (carry over).  Increases from five to eight years the time a person must be a resident of Virginia before becoming eligible to be governor.  Legislation refiled as first reference under SJ252 and as a first resolution under SR82.

General Assembly term limits.  SJ3, Chase – R – Midlothian (carry over).  Limits members of the Senate to three full terms and members of the House of Delegates to six full terms.  Legislation refiled as first reference under SJ253 and as a first resolution under SR83.

Restoration of right to vote for non-violent felons.  SJ5, Lucas – D – Portsmouth (first reference).  Allows the General Assembly to enact a law automatically restoring the right to vote for non-violent felons who have completed their sentences.

Governor’s term of office (see also HJ584).  SJ8, Ebbin – D- Alexandria (carry over).  Permits governor to succeed himself or herself in office.  Permits two terms, either in succession or not.  Prohibits a third term.  Legislation refiled as first reference under SJ250.

Qualifications to vote.  SJ9, Locke – D – Hampton (carry over).  Removes restrictions on the right to vote from those convicted of a felony or adjudicated to be mentally incompetent.

Qualifications to vote.  SJ12, Lucas – D – Portsmouth (carry over).  See SJ9 (above).

Virginia Redistricting Commission.  SJ25, Hanger – R – Augusta (carry over).  Established seven member redistricting commission.  Establishes standards to remain in compliance with state constitution requirements for districts.

Restoration of right to vote for felons.  SJ27, Hanger – R – Augusta (carry over). Allows General Assembly to legislate automatic restoration of right to vote for felons who have completed their sentences other than in cases of “barrier crimes” (to be defined by the General Assembly).

Virginia Redistricting Commission.  SJ34, Barker – D – Alexandria (carry over).  Establishes an eight member redistricting commission.

Seized drug assets used to promote law enforcement.  SJ39, Reeves – R – Fredericksburg (carry over).  Proceeds from the sale of forfeited property for drug offenses be paid into the state treasury and distributed for the purpose of promoting law enforcement, the purpose of promoting law enforcement shall be as defined by general law.

Virginia Redistricting Commission.  SJ51, Deeds – D – Bath (first resolution).  See HJ582 (above).

Criteria for electoral districts.  SJ68, Vogel – R – Warrenton (first reference).  Provides criteria for drawing electoral districts including “contiguous and compact” territory.

Political reform.  SJ258, Chase – R – Midlothian (first reference).  Prohibits the establishment of electoral districts that intentionally or unduly favor or disfavor any political party and requires the General Assembly to regulate the role of money in elections and governance to ensure transparency, to prevent corruption, and to protect against the buying of access to or influence over elected officials.

— Don Rippert.

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12 responses to “2019 General Assembly Session – Amending the State Constitution

  1. The process requires that a proposed constitutional amendment pass the Assembly twice, with an election between the two considerations. Only then is it put on the ballot for a general public vote. So this is the year to push something through, setting up the second consideration in 2020. Sometimes a popular (populist?) proposal passes during the election year, gets used as a campaign issue, then quietly disappears before the second round and never gets to the people. Shocking, I know….

    • All of which has me wondering about the various Virginia Redistricting Commission proposals. I think (but don’t know) that the timing would be:

      1. 2019 – pass the amendment the first time
      2. 2019 – election
      3. 2020 – pass the amendment the second time
      4. 2020 – census
      5. 202o – put on ballot (for national elections)
      6. 2021 – Redistricting Commission draws the new electoral boundaries
      7. 2021 – New electoral boundaries used in Virginia elections

      Is that right?

  2. Great compilation, Don. Obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with our system of governance. Unfortunately, there’s not much consensus on what do do about it.

  3. Former felons not disqualified from voting based on the nature of their conviction should also have their rights to possess a firearm restored. Or are the Democrats just trolling for votes?

    • There are three different forms of the restoration of rights amendments. One would automatically restore the rights of felons convicted of a non-violent crime, one would allow the General Assembly to define “barrier crimes” which would be excluded from automatic restoration and one would restore the rights of all felons. None mention restoring gun rights as far as I saw.

      • Either we restore an ex-felon’s rights or we don’t. I have no trouble with a law that allows an ex-felon (non-barrier crime) who has completed the entire sentence, probation and parole from being allowed to vote and serve on juries. But one of the other rights that we take away from a person sent to prison for a felony is the right to own and possess a firearm. If the felony conviction is for a non-barrier crime, how do the Democrats justify refusing to restore all rights?

        Sounds to me as if the Democrats are just trolling for votes.

        We have a much longer history of free people (chiefly men) being able to possess arms than we do free people (chiefly men) voting. Some of us took English Constitutional and Legal History in college. And from what I’ve studied, the English had a lot more rights and earlier than people of most other countries.

    • If the restoration of rights is to “non-violent” or non-“barrier” felons, why aren’t ALL rights restored including possession of a firearm? Put another way, what rights should NOT be restored once the non-violent criminal has done time in full?

  4. looks like there is support to differentiating between violent and non-violent in terms of restoration of rights – as well as differentiation even for non-violent on which rights to restore or not.

    On voting in particular , I LIKE the idea that the State has a responsibility to engage/contact each person on registering to vote. This will not only assure that everyone who wants to vote – can but it is also where the State can assure the identity and residency of prospective voters so we can deal with the so-called “fraud” issue up front and at the same time not let it be used as a basis to suppress votes.

  5. I can see not restoring the right to bear arms to a person who was convicted of a violent felony. But if we don’t want an ex-con who used a handgun in an armed robbery to have the right to own and carry another firearm, why do we want this person to vote and serve on a jury?

    As far as the obligation to produce a photo ID to vote, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law back in 2008 in the case of Crawford v Marion County Elections Board.

    • From Adam Ebbin’s pending marijuana decriminalization bill …

      “A civil violation will be treated as a conviction for prohibitions on the purchase or transport of a handgun and disqualification for a concealed handgun permit.”

      So, it’s a $50 fine and a loss of gun rights? What’s next? Loss of gun rights for getting a speeding ticket?

      All part of the new liberal scam to outlaw guns without having to outlaw guns.

      • Democrats only like rights that are found in penumbras and emanations. Senator Ebbin ought to be ashamed of himself. Yet he’d probably argue that committing a felony should not disqualify an illegal alien from citizenship. Another reason to leave the state upon retirement. As I recall, the Nazis and Soviets had lots of gun control.

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