Constitutional amendment; qualification of voters and executive clemency (first reference). (SJ223)

Introduced By

Sen. Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg) with support from co-patron Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); qualification of voters and executive clemency. Provides that the civil rights of a person convicted of any nonviolent felony, as defined by the General Assembly, shall be restored upon his completion of service of his sentence and any modification of that sentence, including any period or condition of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, and his payment in full of any restitution, fines, costs, and fees assessed against him as a result of the conviction. The amendment also eliminates the power of the Governor to remove political disabilities. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

  • 09/01/2016 Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17100420D
  • 09/01/2016 Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
  • 01/20/2017 Assigned to P&E sub: Constitutional Amendments
  • 01/31/2017 Reported from Privileges and Elections with substitute (8-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
  • 01/31/2017 Committee substitute printed 17105064D-S1
  • 01/31/2017 Incorporates SJ222
  • 01/31/2017 Incorporates SJ319
  • 01/31/2017 Incorporates SJ243
  • 01/31/2017 Incorporates SJ272 (Hanger)
  • 02/02/2017 Reading waived (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/03/2017 Read second time
  • 02/03/2017 Committee substitute rejected 17105064D-S1
  • 02/03/2017 Floor substitute printed 17105195D-S2 (Norment)
  • 02/03/2017 Reading of substitute waived
  • 02/03/2017 Previous question ordered (26-Y 13-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/03/2017 Substitute by Senator Norment agreed to 17105195D-S2
  • 02/03/2017 Substitute Agreed to (21-Y 18-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/03/2017 Passed by for the day
  • 02/06/2017 Engrossed by Senate - floor substitute with amendments SJ223S2
  • 02/06/2017 Read second time
  • 02/06/2017 Reading of amendments waived
  • 02/06/2017 Amendments by Senator Norment agreed to
  • 02/06/2017 Engrossed by Senate - floor substitute with amendments SJ223ES2
  • 02/06/2017 Printed as engrossed 17105195D-ES2
  • 02/07/2017 Read third time and agreed to by Senate (21-Y 19-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/09/2017 Placed on Calendar
  • 02/09/2017 Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
  • 02/09/2017 Assigned P & E sub: Campaigns
  • 02/16/2017 Subcommittee recommends reporting (4-Y 3-N)
  • 02/21/2017 Left in Privileges and Elections

Video

This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 2 clips in all, totaling 1 hour.

Transcript

This is a transcript of the video clips in which this bill is discussed.

LEGISLATURE TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. AND WE ARE SEEING THIS AND WE HAVE SEEN IT DECADE AFTER DECADE , BOTH AT THE STATE -- PEOPLE ARE DISSATISFIED AND THEY'RE DISHEARTENED AT THE FACT THAT THEY NO LONGER CAN ELECT REPRESENTATIVES WHO REPRESENT THEM AND WHO PASS LAWS. NOW THERE ARE UNELECTED BUREAUCRATS WHO -- WHO ENACT THEIR OWN LAW WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE LEGISLATURE. I REALLY THINK -- THE ESSENCE OF THIS, THE ESSENCE OF THIS SHIFT TOWARDS REGULATORY AUTHORITY, WHICH IS UNCONSTRAINED, DIMINISHES THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE. IT DIMINISHES THE POWER OF VOTERS TO THROUGH THEIR -- INFLUENCE THEIR GOVERNMENT. WE LIVE UNDER THIS THEORY, AND I KNOW IT'S SOMEWHAT THEORETICAL, THAT POWER DERIVES FROM THE PEOPLE. BUT WHEN WE GET TO THE POINT WHERE POWER DERIVES MORE FROM REGULATORY AGENCIES THAN FROM THE PEOPLE ACTING THROUGH THEIR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, THEN WE HAVE LOST THE ESSENCE OF WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS ABOUT. AND SO I STRONGLY SUPPORT THIS MEASURE. THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR FROM WESTERN FAIRFAX I RISE TO SPEAK AGAINST THE BILL -- AGAINST THE RESOLUTION. THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR. THIS IS VERY DISTRESSING. WE'VE BEEN VOTED THE BEST MANAGED STATE IN THE COUNTRY, AND PART OF THAT IS BECAUSE WE HAVE BALANCED FAIRLY WELL THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, THE JUDICIAL, THE EXECUTIVE, THE LEGISLATIVE, AND WHAT WE'RE SOCIETY GO UP HERE IS A SITUATION WHERE WHEN ONE PARTY IS IN CONTROL, THE REGULATIONS ARE OUT; THE NEXT PARTY COMES IN , REGULATIONS ARE IN. BACK AND 40 WE -- FORTH WE GO. I DON'T KNOW WHAT PROBLEM WE'RE TRYING TO SOLVE. I KNOW REGULATIONS CAN BE FRUSTRATING. IT MUST HAVE BEEN NICE A COUPLE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, WHEN YOU GOT FED UP WITH REGULATIONS IN YOUR COMMUNITY, YOU PACKED UP THE WAGON AND MOVED WEST WHERE THERE WAS NO REGULATION AT ALL. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE. WE'RE STUCK WITH EACH OTHER. WE HAVE TO LIVE IN A SITUATION WHERE WE ARE REGULATED. AND TO HAVE PROFESSIONALS DOING THIS, WE CERTAINLY HAVE REMEDIES IN TERMS OF OUR ELECTIONS AND ELECTIONS OF OUR GOVERNORS, PEOPLE CAN RUN ON A CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE THE REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT AS A GOVERNOR, BUT WE'RE MESSING WITH THE BALANCE OF POWER HERE. IT'S VERY DISTRESSING. IT'S VERY DANGEROUS. I URGE YOU NOT TO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION. THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR IN SOUTHERN FAIRFAX COUNTY, SENATOR BARKER. MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD SAY THAT THE STATEMENT THAT REGULATORY AUTHORITIES AREN'T CONSTRAINED IS NOT TRUE. WE HAVE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL, AND IF SOMEONE THINKS A REGULATORY AGENCY OR BODY HAS EXCEEDED ITS AUTHORITY UNDER THE LAWS THAT HAVE BEEN PASSED, SIMPLY SOMEBODY HAS TO GO TO COURT AND THE COURTS HAVE NOT BEEN SHY ABOUT IDENTIFYING REGULATIONS AND AGREEING WHEN THERE HAS BEEN REGULATIONS THAT WENT BEYOND THE AUTHORITY THAT THEY THOUGHT WAS PROVIDED IN THE LEGISLATION. BUT IT DOESN'T STOP THERE. IF SOMEONE GOES TO COURT AND IS UNSUCCESSFUL, THEIR NEXT STEP IS TO COME TO US. COME TO US, THE LEGISLATIVE BODY WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY, IF WE THINK THAT A REGULATION IS SOMETHING THAT IS IMPROPER, TO CHANGE THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW THAT THE REGULATION APPLIES TO SO THAT WE ADDRESS IT THAT WAY. BUT WE'VE DONE IT THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS THEN, RATHER THAN TRYING TO INSERT OURSELVES INTO THE EXECUTIVE. I THINK IT IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS FOR THE BALANCE OF POWER FOR THE LEGISLATURE TO STEP INTO THE EXECUTIVE ROLE AND MAKING THOSE REGULATIONS WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE TWO OTHER OPTIONS, ONE IS TO GO TO COURT, AS THE REGULATORY BODY HAS EXCEEDED ITS AUTHORITY, AND THE SECOND, THE REGULATORY BODY NOT EXCEEDING THEIR AUTHORITY BUT SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE THE REGULATION, THEY CAN COME TO US TO CHANGE THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW. AND THAT WAY WE DON'T IN EFFECT TIP THE BALANCE IN ONE DIRECTION THAN ANOTHER. WE MAINTAIN THE BALANCE AMONG THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, SENATOR WAGNER.

Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach): THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. SPEAKING TO THE BILL.

[Unknown]: THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR.

Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach): I DON'T NORMALLY SPEAK ON THESE AND JOIN THE BACK AND FORTH GOING BACK AND FORTH. I WILL NOTE THAT I DID GO ONLINE WHEN I HEARD WE WERE THE BEST MANAGED STATE, AND THE LAST THING I HAD SAID THE 17th BEST MANAGED STATE. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER WE'RE BEST MANAGED OR NOT BEST MANAGED, WHEN WE PASS A LAW, AND I THINK THAT'S A GREAT PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE, WE NEVER LOOK BACK TO SEE IF THE REGULATIONS FOLLOWED THE INTENT OF THE LAW. THERE IS NO LOOK-BACK. AND SO WE BASICALLY TURN OVER TO THE BUREAUCRACY WRITING THOSE REGULATIONS, AND WE'VE DEALT WITH THEM IN JOINT COMMISSION ON ADMINISTRATIVE RULES MANY TIMES WHERE THE REGULATORY AGENCIES HAVE EXCEEDED THEIR AUTHORITY AND WE TRIED TO REAL THEM BACK, SOMETIMES WE'RE SUCCESSFUL, SOMETIMES NOT SO MUCH, BUT WHEN A REGULATION IS PASSED, BECAUSE THE FULL FORCE OF IMPACT OF THE LAW, IT HAS. AND I WATCH AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL WHAT WAS ORIGINALLY THE INTENT OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO REGULATE THOSE AND A HALF GABLE WATERWAYS IN THE UNITED STATES, I WATCHED THAT BUREAUCRACY AND THE RULES AND REGULATIONS. NOW TO COME TO EVEN DRY SCREEN BEDS THAT MIGHT HAVE WATER FLOWING IN THEM AT SOME POINT IN TIME, NOW HAS FALLEN UNDER THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS JURISDICTION, WHICH IN EFFECT MEANS PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT ANY TYPE OF PROJECT, WILL HAVE TO COME UNDER THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS REVIEW. WAS THAT WASHINGTON'S INTENT WHEN THEY WANTED THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO LOOK AT AND A HALF GABLE WATERWAYS AND DECIDE WHAT PROJECTS MOVED FORWARD ON THOSE AND A HALF I GABLE WATERWAYS? I THINK IT'S INSTRUMENTAL THAT THE LEGISLATURE STAND UP FOR ITSELF AND SAY, HEY, THAT WAS NOT OUR INTENT. THAT WAS NOT WHAT WE MEANT BY THE LAW. YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO WRITE THE LAW IN THE FORM OF REGULATIONS WHEN YOU PUT THEM OUT, YOU'RE NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL. AND WE HAVE THAT AUTHORITY AND YOU HAVE THE EXPRESS AUTHORITY TO CARRY OUT THE LAWS THAT THE LEGISLATURE PASSES. AND SO I THINK IT'S ABSOLUTELY INSTRUMENTAL, PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF MANY WHAT I CALL BUREAUCRACY RUN AMOK, THINKING THEY CAN WRITE LAW IN THE FORM OF REGULATION THAT WE HAVE A DUTY, A FUNDAMENTAL DUTY TO PASS THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT SO THAT WE MAKE SURE THAT WHAT REGULATIONS COME OUT DO IN FACT COMPLY WITH THE LAWS THAT WE PASS HERE IN THIS ROOM. AND SO I WOULD HOPE YOU'D PASS THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S LONG OVERDUE AND SOMETHING WE

[Unknown]: THANK YOU, SENATOR. VERY MUCH NEED. THE SENATOR FROM RUSSELL COUNTY, SENATOR CHAFIN.

Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon): I RISE IN FAVOR OF THIS RESOLUTION, AND I WILL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE OF WHY I THINK THAT THIS RESOLUTION IS LONG OVERDUE. THE OTHER DAY IN COMMITTEE, I WAS LISTENING CAREFULLY AND I HEARD THAT THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WAS ALLOWING 130 MILLION GALLONS NATURALLY -- AND WALLY OF RAW SEWAGE TO GO INTO THE WATER. I ASKED THE DEQ THE SIMPLE QUESTION, MR. PAYLOR, IF ONE FAMILY IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA HAS A STRAIGHT PIPE THAT RUNS OUT OF THEIR HOUSE AND INTO A RIVER OR INTO A CREEK, IS THAT LEGAL OR NOT LEGAL UNDER YOUR REGULATION? AND HE SAID, OH -- IN A SHEEPISH SORT OF WAY, HE SAID, THAT WOULD BE ILLEGAL. THAT WOULD BE IN VIALS OF THE -- VIOLATION OF THE LAW. BUT IT'S COMPLETELY FINE UNDER THE REGULATIONS FOR 130 MILLION GALLONS FROM A CITY TO GO IN A RIVER. AND SO, TO ME, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WHEN WE TALK IN THIS ROOM AND WHEN WE CONSIDER THINGS IN THIS ROOM, USUALLY COMMON SENSE RISES. USUALLY. USUALLY THERE'S A DISCUSSION AND THERE'S SOMEBODY THAT GETS UP AND THEY TALK ABOUT COMMON SENSE I'M NOT SO SURE, MAYBE NOT SO MUCH WITH SOME OF THESE REGULATORY AUTHORITIES THAT PASS SOME OF THESE RULES BECAUSE IT MAKES NO COMMON SENSE WHATSOEVER TO ME THAT YOU PENALIZE SOME POOR GUY WHO CAN'T AFFORD IT, BUT YOU ALLOW ONE OF THE WEALTH IEST CITIES IN THE COUNTRY TO PUMP RAW SEWAGE OR LET RAW SEWAGE GO IN THE PRO POTOMAC -- POTOMAC. I HOPE IT WILL BE THE PLEASURE OF THE BODY TO PASS THE REST RESOLUTION.

[Unknown]: IF NO ONE ELSE WISHES TO SPEAK, I WAS JUST HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM FAIRFAX AND I CANNOT BELIEVE HIS GOOD FORTUNE. HE DOES NOT HAVE QUITE AS MANY PEOPLE AS I DO WHO COME TO HIM AND HAVE ISSUES OF REGULATIONS. MANY OF MINE ARE OF A LOCAL NATURE BUT MANY OF THEM ARE ALSO ISSUES WITH STATE REGULATIONS. AND IT IS OFTEN THE CASE THAT THE ADMINISTRATION IS EXCEEDINGLY HELPFUL. PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS AS WELL AS THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION, IN HELPING WITH CONSTITUENT SERVICE MATTERS. BUT TO ADDRESS SOME OF THE ISSUES RAISED ON THE FLOOR FIRST , I WANT TO SAY, THIS IS NOT, I REPEAT, NOT A RADICAL DEPARTURE FROM ANYTHING THAT, FRANKLY, WE ARE CURRENTLY ATTEMPTING TO DO NOW BUT THAT I WOULD ARGUE WE DO POORLY. AND THAT IS, WE CAN ALREADY COME IN AND PASS LEGISLATION TO BUT WHAT ULTIMATELY ENDS UP CHANGE A REGULATION. HAPPENING IS THAT WE HAVE CONSTITUENTS WHO ARE MUDDLING THROUGH A PROCESS THAT IS DIFFICULT, EXPENSIVE, THEY DON'T ALL HAVE EASY ACCESS TO THEIR REPRESENTATIVES TO GET ASSISTANCE TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HELP THEM WITH AN ARCANE, INEFFECTIVE BURDENSOME REGULATION, AND IF THEY HAVE TO GO TO COURT, IT'S INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE. AND THE SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA BEACH MENTIONED THAT WE HAVE DROPPED TO NO. 17, AND THAT'S AN ISSUE FOR VIRGINIA. OUR ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS, I BELIEVE JUST VERY RECENTLY WE'VE GONE FROM FIVE TO 13, AND I THINK OUR GROWTH IS NOW AT 38 IN THE NATION. PEOPLE TALK ABOUT OUR ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS BEING INCREDIBLY IMPACTED BY THE REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT THAT WE FIND OURSELVES IN. AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY THE CASE THAT WHAT WE ALL SAW HAPPEN IN NOVEMBER, IN MY VIEW, WAS ABSOLUTELY A REACTION TO WHAT PEOPLE BELIEVE IS ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS GONE WILD AND GONE UNCHECKED. AND I WILL TELL YOU THAT, AMONG ALL OF THE EXPERIENCES THAT I HAVE HAD IN HELPING SHAPE HOW I VIEW OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS LEGISLATORS, AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, WAS AN OPPORTUNITY I HAD TO GO INTO THE ADMINISTRATION BACK IN 2000 AND I WENT IN AS THE DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, AND I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY COMING IN BOTH AS ETHICS COUNSEL BUT ALSO AS COUNSEL RESPONSIBLE FOR ONE YEAR DOING A REGULATORY EVALUATION OF A WHOLE SERIES OF REGULATIONS THAT HAD BEEN RUSHED THROUGH AT THE 11th HOUR BEFORE THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION WAS DEPARTING. AND I THOUGHT, WELL, THIS WILL BE AN EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATION. AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO GO THROUGH AND DO WHAT WAS GOING TO BE A REGULATORY EVALUATION BUT IN MANY WAYS ENDED UP BEING A MASSIVE REGULATORY ROLL BACK BECAUSE I BROUGHT IN ALL THE REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE INDUSTRY, WHETHER IT WAS DISH WASHERS OR CEILING FANS OR AIR CONDITIONERS AS WELL AS CONSUMER GROUPS, AND IT WAS ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING BECAUSE WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING, ALL THESE REGULATIONS WERE RUSHED THROUGH, THERE WAS NO SUN LIGHT, THERE WAS NO OPPORTUNITY FOR REAL COLLABORATION, AND THAT IN MY MIND IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ISSUE IS. AND IT NOT ONLY WAS DEVASTATING FOR THOSE WHO WERE IN THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, NOT ONLY DEVASTATING FOR BUSINESS, BUT IT WAS DEVASTATING FOR CONSUMERS. WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY SOME OF THEM WERE GREAT GREAT, YES, ABSOLUTELY, AND THIS IS NOT ABOUT TRYING TO DUMP, YOU KNOW, KEROSENE INTO THE WATER. THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. THIS IS NOT TRYING TO DO DAMAGE TO REGULATIONS THAT ARE ACTUALLY THIS LEGISLATURE, THIS BODY IS GOOD. HERE TO DO GOOD. AND I BELIEVE IN THE GOOD INTENT OF ALL OF US WHO ARE HERE, WHO ARE HERE TO REFLECT THAT. BUT INDEED IT IS ACTUALLY HERE TO TRY TO REBALANCE WHAT, IN MY VIEW, IS INCREDIBLY OUT OF BALANCE. AND THAT IS, THERE ISN'T A LOT OF SUNLIGHT. THERE'S NOT A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY FOR COLLABORATION. AND THERE ISN'T MUCH OPPORTUNITY TO REIGN REIGN IN WHAT -- REIGN -- RAIN IN BY WHAT IS ADMINISTRATIVE RULE MAKING. THAT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATION THAT I HAD OVER THE COURSE OF THAT YEAR, AND I WOULD ENCOURAGE MEMBERS OF THIS BODY TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT A RADICAL DEPARTURE. WE CAN ALREADY PASS LEGISLATION TO IMPACT A REGULATION, AND WITH THAT, I WOULD URGE THE BODY TO PASS THE RESOLUTION. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon): THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE THE QUESTION IS, SHALL S.J.R. 295 BE AGREED TO? ALL IN FAVOR OF THE MOTION WILL RECORD THEIR VOTE AYE; THOSE OPPOSED, NO.

Del. Bill Howell (R-Fredericksburg): ARE THE SENATORS READY TO VOTE? HAVE ALL THE SENATORS VOTED? DO ANY OF THE SENATORS DESIRE TO CHANGE THEIR VOTE? THE CLERK WILL CLOSE THE ROLL.

[Unknown]: AYES 21, NO'S 19. THE RESOLUTION IS AGREED TO. SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION, PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 1 -- OF THE CONSTITUTION OF VIRGINIA RELATING TO THE QUALIFICATION OF VOTERS AND EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY. THE SENATOR FROM JAMES CITY COUNTY, SENATOR NORMENT.

Sen. Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg): I RESPECTFULLY ASK THAT S.J.R. BE AGREED TO.

[Unknown]: THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR.

Sen. Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg): MR. PRESIDENT, I THINK THAT ALL OF US IN THIS BODY BELIEVE IN REDEMPTION AND GRACE, WHETHER IT'S BASED ON RELIGIOUS TENETS OR WHETHER IT'S BASED ON SPIRITUALITY. ONE OF THE CURIOUS THINGS ABOUT THIS BILL -- EXCUSE ME, THIS RESOLUTION, AT LEAST FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, HAS BEEN WHAT I REFER TO AS A POLARIZATION. YOU HAVE A CONSERVATIVE VIEW AS CONTRASTED WITH A MORE LIBERAL VIEW. THERE ARE THOSE THAT ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT CONVICTED FELONS UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED. THERE ARE THOSE THAT BELIEVE THAT CONVICTED FELONS SHOULD HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED WITH CERTAIN CRITERIA. AND THEN THERE ARE THOSE THAT BELIEVE THAT CONVICTED FELONS, WHETHER THEY'RE VIOLENT OR NON VIOLENT, SHOULD HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED WITHOUT ANY STIPULATIONS OR CONDITIONS WHATSOEVER. ANOTHER CURIOUS DISCUSSION THAT HAS GONE ON, WHETHER OR NOT THERE SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABILITY -- OR THE ABSENCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. AND I SUGGEST TO YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT MY PERSONAL VIEW , AS REFLECTED IN THIS RESOLUTION, THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE SOME ACCOUNTABILITY, AND THAT ACCOUNTABILITY INVOLVES THE PAYMENT OF FINES, COSTS, RESTITUTION, AND THAT ANY PROBATION OR PAROLE HAS BEEN SATISFIED, THAT IS TO BE CONTRASTED WITH LESS ACCOUNTABILITY. I REMEMBER WHEN THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS HEARD THE RESOLUTION, I WAS DISTRESSED AT THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS THAT CAME AND TESTIFIED BEFORE THAT SUB COMMITTEE THAT HAD NO IDEA, NO IDEA IN THE WORLD, WHAT THE RESOLUTION SAID AND CANDIDLY, I LAY THAT AT THE FEET OF A PARTICULAR ORGANIZATION THAT HAD BROUGHT THOSE INDIVIDUALS IN AT A BREAKFAST AND HAD NOT EXPLAINED WHAT THE RESOLUTION DID. BUT THERE WERE THOSE WHO SAID, FROM AN ACCOUNTABILITY STANDPOINT, HEY, I DID THE TIME AND I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE REGARDLESS OF WHAT A JUDGE OR JURY MAY HAVE SAID, AND I JUST RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE AND THEN IT SEEMS ALSO TO BE RATHER CURIOUS TO ME THAT THIS IS BROKEN DOWN ON A PARTISAN LINE. AND I DO KNOW THAT HIS EX LESS THAN SUNNY THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN CHATTING WITH SOME INDIVIDUALS, ENCOURAGING THEM TO VOTE AGAINST THIS RESOLUTION. ACTUALLY, IT MAY SURPRISE YOU THAT I AM A APPRECIATIVE OF THE ACTION THAT THE GOVERNOR TOOK EARLIER IN THE YEAR WHEN HE ILL ADVISEDLY ATTEMPTED TO RESTORE THE RIGHTS OF 200,000 CONVICTED FELONS IN ONE EFFORT. AND THE REASON I COMPLIMENT HIM, AND IT'S NOT CRITICIZING HIM, ALTHOUGH I DID RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE WITH HIM, IT REALLY CAUSED ME TO PAUSE AND THINK MORE THOROUGHLY ON THIS ISSUE THAN I HAD EVER DONE BEFORE. AND ULTIMATELY AS WE ALL KNOW, THE CASE WENT TO THE VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT, AND THEY MADE THEIR DETERMINATION AND THERE WAS A REACTION FROM THE GOVERNOR TO THEIR DECISION. I SUGGEST TO YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, AS I DID THE OTHER DAY, THAT THIS REALLY IS NOT AS MUCH OF A PARTISAN ISSUE AS SOME HAVE SUGGESTED. IN RESPONSE TO COMMENTS THAT WERE MADE, I DID OFFER AN AMENDMENT THAT TOOK OUT THE VOTER FRAUD SITUATION AND I DID THAT AFTER CHATTING WITH SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES WHERE THERE HAS BEEN MINIMAL SITUATIONS, WHERE THERE'S BEEN VOTER FRAUD CONVICTIONS IN VIRGINIA. BUT ON THE PARTISANSHIP EFFORT, AS I SHARED WITH YOU, BACK IN 2013, THE SENATOR FROM PORTSMOUTH INTRODUCED SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 266, AND IN SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 266, AS THE SENATOR FROM ROANOKE HAD SOME COMMENTS ABOUT, WELL, THERE WAS NO DEFINITION OF VIOLENT FELONY AS CONTRASTED WITH NON VIOLENT FELONY, THE LANGUAGE IN THE RESOLUTION BEFORE YOU TODAY ABSOLUTELY REFLECTED THE LANGUAGE THAT WAS BACK IN 2013, USING THE TERM VIOLENT FELONY. IT ALSO PICKED UP THE LANGUAGE THAT IS INCLUDED IN THIS BILL WHICH CALLS FOR THE PAYMENT OF FULL RESTITUTION, FINES AND COSTS AND FEES. AND THAT LANGUAGE WAS PICKED UP AS WELL FROM THE BILL THAT THE SENATOR FROM PORTSMOUTH INTRODUCED IN 2013. AND WHAT IS PARTICULARLY CURIOUS TO ME, AS IT HAS DEVOLVED DOWN TO SOMETHING OF A PARTISAN ISSUE , AND I WILL REMIND YOU THAT THE CURRENT MAYOR OF NORFOLK VOTED IN FAVOR OF THAT BILL, SENATOR BARKER, SENATOR DEEDS, SENATOR EBBIN, SENATOR EDWARDS, SENATOR FAVOLA, ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATOR HOWELL , SENATOR LOCKE, SENATOR LUCAS, SENATOR MARSDEN, SENATOR MARSH, CONGRESSMAN McEACHIN, THEN SENATOR MILLER. MR. PRESIDENT, YOU VOTED FOR IT AND PERHAPS THAT'S HOW YOU GOT TO BE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. SENATOR PETERSEN, SENATOR PUCKETT. ALL INCORPORATING THIS LANGUAGE ON THERE. AND I WOULD SAY --

[Unknown]: MR. PRESIDENT -- I WILL NOT YIELD. AND I SAY, MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE BEEN AROUND HERE AND BEEN AROUND THE HORN ONCE OR TWICE, AND I UNDERSTAND HOW THE WORM CAN TWIST SOMETIMES, BUT I JUST SUGGEST TO YOU THAT I'VE TRIED TO PICK UP MANY OF THOSE PROVISIONS THAT WERE IN SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 266 AND I WOULD SAY TO YOU, BE MINDFUL WHERE WE ARE IN THE PROCESS. THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR IN A TWO-YEAR PROCESS DEALING WITH A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, AND I THINK THAT THERE IS A GENUINE OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THIS BODY, IF WE PASS THIS RESOLUTION, YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OVER THE NEXT YEAR TO REALLY MEASURE THE SENTIMENT OF THE CITIZENS IN YOUR DISTRICT TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT THEY WANT SOME INCREASED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE RESTORATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS OR WHETHER THEY THINK THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO ACCOUNTABILITY. AND IF YOU LOOK AT IT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THOSE CONVICTED FELONS WHO ARE SEEKING TO HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED, THINK ABOUT IT FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE. RIGHT NOW IT VARIES FROM GOVERNOR TO GOVERNOR; THERE IS NO CRITERIA BY WHICH IT GOES FROM ADMINISTRATION TO ADMINISTRATION. AND CONSEQUENTLY, THERE IS NO CONSISTENT EXPECTATION ON WHAT I MUST DO AS A CONVICTED FELON TO HAVE MY RIGHTS RESTORED BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS ARTICULATED AS TO WHAT IS REQUIRED OR EXPECTED OF ME. AND I WOULD SUGGEST TO YOU THAT THAT IS ALMOST A CAPRICIOUS SITUATION, AND FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A FEW YEARS, I WOULD SUGGEST THAT THE APPROACH OF OUR CURRENT GOVERNOR ON THE RESTORATION OF RIGHTS IS PROBABLY FAIRLY DIFFERENT AND REMARKABLY DIFFERENT THAN PERHAPS WHEN GOVERNOR GEORGE ALLEN WAS HERE. AND SO I WOULD SAY THAT THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ESTABLISH SOME CONSISTENCY SO THAT IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR YOUR RESTORATION OF YOUR RIGHTS, THAT YOU KNOW WHAT CRITERIA WILL BE CONSIDERED AND IT WILL GIVE EACH OF YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEASURE THE SENTIMENT OF YOUR CITIZENRY BEFORE WE COME BACK AND VOTE ON THIS FOR A SECOND YEAR. SO WITH THAT, I'D BE HAPPY TO YIELD. THANK YOU, SENATOR. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK THE GENTLEMAN, IN 2013, ON S.J.R. 266, IS IT NOT TRUE THAT THE REPUBLICANS THAT YOU'RE NOW COUNTING ON TO VOTE FOR YOUR BILL, VOTED AGAINST THAT BILL? THE SENATOR FROM JAMES CITY MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD COUNTY. RESPOND THAT IT IS TRUE, AND I'M HOPEFUL THAT I CAN BE PERHAPS MORE PERSUASIVE THAN I WAS IN 2013. AND -- THE SENATOR FROM NORTHERN FAIRFAX COUNTY. I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, BUT I WOULD ASK THE GENTLEMAN, DID HE VOTE FOR THAT BILL. THE SENATOR FROM -- I WOULD SAY IF I LOOKED DOWN HERE THAT I WOULD SEE THAT MY NAME IS NOT IN EITHER PLACE. THE SENATOR FROM NORTHERN FAIRFAX. THANK YOU. I SAY, MR. PRESIDENT, SOMEWHAT WHEN I AM -- THAT I HAVE THE VOTE IN FRONT OF ME -- OH, ACTUALLY, ACTUALLY, I DID VOTE FOR IT IN 2013. I'M SORRY I COULDN'T READ IT QUICK ENOUGH. SO PERHAPS -- I WOULD INVITE ALL OF MY FRIENDS WHO JOINED ME IN 2013 TO CONTINUE TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR ENLIGHTENMENT AND TO SUPPORT IT ONCE AGAIN. THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR FROM AUGUSTA, SENATOR HANGER.

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon): THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I'D LIKE TO SPEAK TO THE BILL.

[Unknown]: THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR.

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon): THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I'LL BE FAIRLY BRIEF BUT I FEEL COMPELLED TO SPEAK TO THIS RESOLUTION BECAUSE I HAVE -- I'M ACTUALLY LISTED AS THE CHIEF CO PATRON ON THIS, HAVING INTRODUCED THE BILL THIS YEAR FOR SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE COMPARABLE TO THIS, BUT I WOULD HAVE TO SHARE THAT THE BILL THAT I INTRODUCED BASICALLY WAS PATTERNED AFTER A BILL THAT I HAD SUPPORTED SEVERAL TIMES WHEN THAT FORMER -- THE FORMER SENATOR FROM NORFOLK, SENATOR MILLER, HAD INTRODUCED A NUMBER OF TIMES AND THAT I HAVE VOTED FOR SEVERAL TIMES. WHEN IT CAME OUT OF COMMITTEE INITIALLY IN THE INCORRECT FORM, BASICALLY I SAID, WHOOPS, I DIDN'T MEAN TO HAVE MY NAME ON THAT ONE, BUT IT -- MR. PRESIDENT, MR. PRESIDENT, IT HAS BEEN FIXED. AND I NEED TO MAKE SURE MY COLLEAGUES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS RESOLUTION HAS BEEN FIXED, IN MY OPINION. AND LET ME SHARE A LITTLE BIT OF MY HISTORY WITH THIS. I CAME TO THE SENATE SOMEWHAT NAIVE, PERHAPS MANY OF YOU WOULD THINK THAT I DIDN'T GET OVER THAT, BUT I AM HERE AND HAVE LEARNED FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF WORKING ON THIS ISSUE. I HAD A FRIEND WHO WANTED TO HAVE HIS RIGHTS RESTORED, SHORTLY AFTER I WAS ELECTED, SO, I THOUGHT, WELL, NO PROBLEM THERE, I'LL CONTACT THE GOVERNOR , I KNOW HIM. I'M A SENATOR NOW AND I'LL SEE WHAT WE CAN DO. WELL, I FOUND IT INTERESTING, HAVING THAT TAKEN CARE OF. SO I INTRODUCED A BILL IN 1997, A BILL BASICALLY TO -- A STATUTE THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THE LEGISLATURE TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS. WELL, THAT DIDN'T GO ANYWHERE. IN FACT, A COUPLE OF MY COLLEAGUES SAID, WHY DID YOU INTRODUCE SUCH A BILL BE, REPUBLICANS DON'T DO THAT TYPE OF THING HERE. THAT WAS AN ACTUAL COMMENT THAT I HEARD AFTER MY BILL WAS SOUND LY DEFEATED. ALL RIGHT? SO I CAME BACK AFTER THAT, AND -- WITH A STUDY IN 1999 I PATRONED A STUDY WHICH STUDIED RESTORATION OF RIGHTS TO FELONS. THAT STUDY BASICALLY DETERMINED AND RECOMMENDED THAT WE NEEDED A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT IN ORDER FOR THE LEGISLATURE TO HAVE A SAY IN THE RESTORATION OF THESE RIGHTS. SO, OKAY, IN 2000 THEN, I INTRODUCED A RESOLUTION COMPARABLE TO WHAT WE HAVE IN FRONT OF US NOW THAT BASICALLY WOULD HAVE RESTORED -- IF IT WOULD HAVE PASSED, THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED THE LEGISLATURE TO ESTABLISH STATUTES TO GIVE THE LEGISLATURE ITSELF SOME AUTHORITY RATHER THAN HAVING THE CONSTITUTION SPEAK ONLY TO THE AUTHORITY THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD. THAT WAS DEFEATED. THEN THE SENATOR FROM NORFOLK, SENATOR MILLER SHOWED UP, IN 2001 I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO IT ANYMORE, SHE INTRODUCED THAT IN 2001, 2002, AND PROBABLY EVERY YEAR THEREAFTER, UNTIL HER UN TIMELY DEPARTURE FROM THE SENATE. INITIALLY, THERE WAS RESISTANCE, BUT AFTER A TIME TIME, WE'VE HAD CHANGES, AFTER A TIME, IT BEGAN TO TAKE LITTLE BIT LITTLE BIT MORE HOLD ON MY SIDE OF THE AISLE, THAT SIDE OF THE AISLE, WHICH IS MY SIDE OF THE AISLE MOST OF THE TIME. AT ANY RATE -- AND SO IT BEGAN TO PASS. AND IT WOULD GO OVER TO THE OTHER BODIES, PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE, AND BASICALLY DIED WITHOUT A HEARING WITHOUT A LOT OF INPUT ON THAT SO SENATOR MILLER OF COURSE LEFT RESOLUTION. SENATOR LUCAS, THE ONE THAT HAS BEEN REFERRED TO A LOT, HAD A RESOLUTION IN 2013 WHICH, BY THAT TIME, HAD GAINED A FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SUPPORT. THERE WERE A FEW MORE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE AND MY SIDE OF THE AISLE THAT DID SUPPORT IT, SO IT WENT OVER TO REACH THE SAME FATE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BODY. MY CONCERN THIS YEAR, MR. PRESIDENT, FROM A PARTISAN PERSPECTIVE, NOT THAT MY COLLEAGUES ON EITHER SIDE OF THIS AISLE WOULD BE A PARTY TO KILLING THIS RESOLUTION, BUT THAT IT MIGHT RECEIVE THE SAME FATE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LET ME TELL YOU WHY IT'S AISLE. IMPORTANT WE PASS THIS RESOLUTION AND THAT WE WORK WITH OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE AND GET IT ON THE BALLOT. WHEN I REFERRED TO THE GOVERNOR IN 1997, HE WAS A REPUBLICAN. I WILL TELL YOU THAT EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE AN EXCEPTION TO THAT RULE RIGHT NOW, WITH THE GOVERNOR WHO HAS MADE THIS A HIGH PRIORITY, IN FACT, EVEN PUSHED THE LIMIT FURTHER THAN PROBABLY IT SHOULD HAVE GONE, THE COURTS HAVE ATTESTED TO THAT , MOST GOVERNORS, BE IT REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THIS. WHY? MOST OF THEM WANT TO RUN FOR U.S. SENATE. SO THEY DON'T -- THIS IS NOT A POPULAR ISSUE, WHETHER YOU'RE REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT. WE HAVE A GOVERNOR NOW WHO IS SEEMINGLY NOT INTERESTED IN RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE SO HE SAYS, LET'S HAVE AT IT AND HE'S BEEN VERY AGGRESSIVE IN THIS AREA. I SAY TO THE MEMBERS OF THIS BODY, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY AND IT IS OUR FAULT THAT WE HAVE A GOVERNOR NOW THAT HAS FELT IT RESPONSIBLE TO DO WHAT HE HAS DONE. WE SHOULD AUTHORIZE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO GIVE US AUTHORITY. IF WE BELIEVE IN RESTORATIVE JUSTICE, WHICH I DO, WE SHOULD PROVIDE A PROVISION IN OUR CONSTITUTION WHICH WILL ALLOW US TO PUT STAT IT'S -- STATUTES IN PLACE TO ALLOW US TO CORRECT THIS PROBLEM WE'VE CREATED WHERE WE'RE NOT ABLE TO PRACTICE RESTORATIVE JUT OR GIVE -- FORGIVE OUR FELLOW MAN FOR HIS ERRORS AND ALLOW HIM TO BECOME A PRODUCTIVE CITIZEN. WITH THAT, I CERTAINLY HOPE THE BODY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE WILL SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION.

Sen. Yvonne Miller (D-Norfolk): THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR FROM HAMPTON. SENATOR LOCKE.

Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton): THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I RISE IN OPPOSITION TO SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 223. AND WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE GENTLEMAN FROM JAMES CITY COUNTY , THIS RESOLUTION DOES NOT CREATE AN AUTOMATIC SYSTEM FOR RESTORATION OF RIGHTS. THERE'S NOTHING ABOUT IT THAT MAKES A PERSON'S RESTORATION OF RIGHTS AUTOMATIC BECAUSE IT REQUIRES A PETITION PROCESS TO THE GOVERNOR, WHICH IS GENERAL ASSEMBLY WOULD DICTATE, AND LEAVES CRITERIA OPEN TO FURTHER LEGISLATION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. THE MAIN PURPOSE OF SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 223 IS TO OVERTURN THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP'S LOSS IN THE VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT WHICH HAS ENDORSED THE GOVERNOR 'S CURRENT INDIVIDUALIZED PROCESS FOR RESTORING RIGHTS. IT ALLOWS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO SET THE RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR WHEN AND HOW SOMEONE CAN APPLY TO HAVE THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED. IT REQUIRES THE GOVERNOR TO RESTORE RIGHTS IN CERTAIN CASES, NONVIOLENT FELONS WHO MEET CERTAIN CRITERIA TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL SET, IT PREVENTS THE GOVERNORS FROM RESTORING RIGHTS TO ANY FELONS WITH VIOLENT OFFENSES UNTIL LONG AFTER THEY ARE OUT OF PRISON AND OFF PAROLE OR PROBATION. THIS IS A CYNICAL, DISHONEST, AND DISINGENUOUS PROPOSAL THAT THE PEOPLE OF VIRGINIA WILL SURAL REJECT. OVER 60% OF VIRGINIANS HAVE SUPPORTED THE GOVERNOR'S RESTORATION OF RIGHTS INITIATIVE WE WILL NOT BE GOING BACKWARDS ON THIS ISSUE THAT MR. GLASS LET US KNOW HIS PURPOSE IN PUTTING FORWARD, WHICH IS ALL THAT THIS RESOLUTION DOES. FINALLY, MR. PRESIDENT, I AM SOMEWHAT BAFFLED AS TO WHY, IN A DEMOCRACY, WHICH MEANS GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE, THAT WE CONTINUE TO CREATE BARRIERS TO CITIZENS PARTICIPATION IN A BASIC PROCESS OF THAT DEMOCRACY, WHICH IS VOTING. IT HAS TAKEN CENTURIES FOR THIS COUNTRY TO LIVE UP TO THE CONCEPT OF "WE THE PEOPLE" AND BECOME INCLUSIVE, YET THIS MEASURE SEEKS TO ENGAGE IN VOTER SUPPRESSION OF THE HIGHEST ORDER WE SHOULD REJECT THIS MEASURE. AND I'M ALSO SOMEWHAT BAFFLED THAT, IN 2013, WITH A SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 266 ON THIS FLOOR TODAY SINCE WE WERE CALLING NAMES, SENATORS BLACK, CARRICO, MacDON'T YOU GO ALL, OBENSHAIN, NEWMAN, CRAZY AND STUART VOTED AGAINST SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 266, SO WHAT IS IT IN THIS RESOLUTION THAT CALLS FOR THEIR VOTE TODAY? I SUBMIT TO YOU IT'S PARTISAN RA NCOR. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

Sen. Yvonne Miller (D-Norfolk): THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM RICHMOND CITY, SENATOR McCLELLAN.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond): THANK YOU, RECOMMEND MR. PRESIDENT. SPEAKING TO THE RESOLUTION?

[Unknown]: THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond): I RISE IN OPPOSITION TO THE RESOLUTION FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS. IF THIS RESOLUTION WAS LIKE SENATOR MILLER'S RESOLUTION, IT ESTABLISHED A LEGISLATIVE PATH FOR RESTORATION OF RIGHTS IN ADDITION TO THE GOVERNOR'S PATH, I'D VOTE FOR IT. AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS RESOLUTION AND THE ONE INTRODUCED BY SENATOR LUCAS WAS, THIS RESOLUTION LIMITS THE CRITERIA THAT THE GOVERNOR CAN ADOPT AND ENSHRINES THAT IN THE CONSTITUTION BY ADDING THE WORDS "WHERE THEIR CONDITIONS PRESCRIBED BY LAW". WITH THIS RESOLUTION TODAY, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY CAN UNDO THE PROGRESS WE HAVE MADE ON MAKING IT EASIER TO RESTORE RIGHTS FOR NONVIOLENT FELONS. NOW, WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT AND WHY THE CHANGE BETWEEN 2013 AND 2016 ON WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE TO PAY FINES, FEES AND COURT COSTS? BECAUSE THE GOVERNOR LISTENED TO THE ADVOCATES AND THE PRACTITIONERS WHO FOR YEARS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE RESTORE THEIR RIGHTS. AND THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM IN AND IF YOU LOOK AT WHOSE RIGHTS MY DISTRICT. WERE RESTORED IN THE GOVERNOR'S ORDER IN APRIL, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THEM WERE IN RICHMOND. A LOT OF THEM REACHED OUT TO ME OVER THE YEARS, AND THE BIGGEST IMPEDIMENT TO THEM GETTING THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED, VIOLENT OR NON VIOLENT, UP UNTIL RECENTLY, WAS THEY CAN'T PAY ALL OF THE FINES, COURT COSTS, RESTITUTION. AND YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS ONCE YOU HAVE THE WORD FELONY SLAPPED ON YOU. WE'VE HAD BILLS TRYING TO DEAL WITH THIS, TOO. YOU CAN'T GET A JOB BECAUSE MANY OF THE JOB APPLICATIONS ON THE COVER ASK YOU, HAVE YOU BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY. AND FOR FAR TOO MANY VIRGINIANS, WHEN YOU CHECK YES, YOUR APPLICATION GOES IN THE TRASH. IF YOU CAN'T GET A JOB, YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO PAY YOUR FINES. AND SO WE'VE HAD TOO MANY PEOPLE CONVICTED OF SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED 30, 40, 50 YEARS AGO, BECAUSE OF -- THEY DID SOMETHING STUPID, ADMITTEDLY WRONG, AND MANY OF THEM WILL ADMIT IT, BUT THEY SERVED THEIR TIME AND DESPITE THEIR BEST EFFORTS, THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO PAY THOSE FINES AND COURT FEES, AND UNTIL THIS GOVERNOR REMOVES THE REQUIREMENT FOR THEM TO PAY THOSE FINES BEFORE THEY COULD GET THEIR RIGHTS RESTORED, THEY COULDN'T GET THEM RESTORED. IF THIS RESOLUTION PASSES, A GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEXT YEAR, THREE YEARS FROM NOW, FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, COULD PROHIBIT ANY GOVERNOR FROM EVER DOING THAT AGAIN. AND THAT IS WHY THIS RESOLUTION GOES A LITTLE BIT TOO FAR. AGAIN, IF IT WAS JUST A PATH TO SAY THE GOVERNOR CAN DO IT OR THE LEGISLATURE CAN DO IT, I'D VOTE FOR IT IN A MINUTE. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS DOES. AND I OWE IT TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN MY DISTRICT, WHETHER THEY CAN VOTE OR NOT, TO HELP THEM WHEN THEY HAVE A PROBLEM. AND I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY OF THE CALLS HAVE COME IN MY OFFICE OVER THE PAST 11 YEARS HAVE BEEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE SAID, I SERVED MY TIME, I MADE A MISTAKE, I SERVED MY TIME, BUT I WANT TO BECOME A PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF SOCIETY. AND ONE THING STANDS IN THEIR WAY. PAYING THE COURT FINE. AND THIS ENSHRINES THAT BACK IN THE CONSTITUTION AND MAKES -- OPENS THE DOOR, ENSHRINES IT IN THE CONSTITUTION FOR A VIOLENT FELONY THAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL DEFINE AT SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE, AND IT OPENS THE DOOR TO ENSHRINE IT IN LEGISLATION DOWN THE ROAD. FOR THAT REASON, I CAN'T VOTE FOR THIS AND I ASK YOU TO VOTE NO. THANK YOU.

[Unknown]: THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR FROM WESTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY, SENATOR MORRISON. IT'S HARD TO FOLLOW THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM RICHMOND, BUT I'LL TRY VERY BRIEFLY. WHAT I CAN'T GET PAST, 1902, WHEN SENATOR GLASS EXPLAINED THAT, DON'T WORRY, WE HAVE TAKEN CARE OF -- AND HE DIDN'T USE THESE WORDS, HE USED VILE WORDS -- THAT WE HAVE TAKEN CARE OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTING PROBLEM HERE IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA. I DON'T KNOW ALL THE HISTORY, YOU KNOW, WHAT WENT ON BEFORE OR SINCE, BUT IT SEEMS TO ME NOW WHAT WE'RE ATTEMPTING TO DO IS GIVE BACK IN STAGES WHAT WE TOOK AWAY ALL AT ONCE FOR THE VERY WORST REASONS IMAGINABLE. I HOPE YOU VOTE AGAINST THIS RESOLUTION. THANK YOU, SENATOR. THE SENATOR FROM ROANOKE CITY, SENATOR EDWARDS.

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke): SPEAKING AGAINST THIS ILL THOUGHT OUT AND ILL DRAFTED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

[Unknown]: THE SENATOR HAS THE FLOOR.

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke): I HOPE I'M BEING PLAIN. MR. PRESIDENT, IT LOOKS LIKE THE MAJORITY DOESN'T SEEM TO LIKE OUR CONSTITUTION, GIVEN THE FACT THERE ARE SO MANY PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF VIRGINIA, BUT THE FACT IS, THIS PARTICULAR CONCEPT OF RESTORATION OF RIGHTS OF CLEMENCY ON THE PART OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE HAS BEEN IN THE CONSTITUTION OF VIRGINIA GOING WAY BACK TO THE 19th CENTURY. OF COURSE, IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM IT'S BECOME PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT IN SO MANY ERAS. GEORGE WASHINGTON, THOMAS JEFFERSON, JAMES -- JOHN ADAMS, JAMES MADISON, ANDREW JACKSON, THESE ARE SOME, IN THE EARLY PART OF OUR COUNTRY, WHO USED THE POWER OF THE EXECUTIVE TO GRANT PAR DOZEN AND CLEMENCY AT APPROPRIATE TIMES THAT MADE IT IMPORTANT TO -- THESE CHIEF EXECUTIVES FOUND IT IMPORTANT TO USE TO PRESERVE PEACE AND MAINTAIN PROGRESS. AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND ANDREW JOHNSON USED THE EXECUTIVE POWERS TO GRANT CLEMENCY TO -- IN FACT, ROBERT E. LEE AND PEOPLE WHO HAD REBELLED AGAINST THE UNION. SO THIS CONCEPT OF EXECUTIVE HAVING BROAD AUTHORITY OVER CLEMENCY OF DIFFERENT FORMS, INCLUDING RESTORATION OF POWERS, GOES WAY BACK IN OUR HISTORY. ONE OF THE MANY PROBLEMS OF THIS PARTICULAR S.J.R. 223 IS, IT CONFUSES THE MATTER. NOTHING IS AUTOMATIC ABOUT IT. IT TAKES AWAY THE AUTHORITY OF THE GOVERNOR WITHOUT GRANTING ANY CLARITY AS TO HOW YOU WOULD SEEK A RESTORATION. PRESUMABLY THROUGH A PETITION PROCESS, BUT IT EMPOWERS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO SET RESOLUTION AND REGULATIO, NO'SP

[Unknown]: SENATE BILL 1574. SENATOR, NO'S 2. AYES 38, NO'S 2. THE BILL NS REQUESTING RESTORATION OF RIGHTS WHAT ARE THOSE RULES AND WE DON'T HAVE THEM YET. REGULATIONS? WE'LL HAVE TO COME BACK AND HAVE LEGISLATIVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. SO IT CREATES CONFUSION, MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, NOBODY KNOWS WHERE IT'S GOING TO GO. I COULD GO ON WITH PROBLEMS ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR MEASURE BUT I WANT TO FOCUS ON ONE THING THAT THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM RICHMOND BROUGHT UP AND OTHERS HAD MENTIONED AS WELL. AND IT IS, I WOULD CALL IT THE INEQUITY TO THE INDIGENT. WE USED TO HAVE A POLL TAX. THAT WAS WIPED OUT BY THE SUPREME COURT. BEFORE YOU COULD VOTE. WELL, UNDER THIS PROVISION, YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY YOUR FINES AND COSTS AND RESTITUTION AND SO FORTH BEFORE YOU COULD EVEN APPLY TO GET A RESTORATION OF RIGHTS TO VOTE. THAT'S NOT UNLIKE A POLL TAX. NOW, THE PEOPLE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ARE PROBABLY BY DEFINITION THE REASON THEY'RE IN THE INDIGENT. SITUATION THEY'RE IN, IN PART, AND NEEDING TO HAVE RESTORATION OF RIGHTS, IS BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY MAY NOT HAVE A JOB OR CAN'T PAY OFF THEIR FINES AND THEIR COSTS.

Comments

ACLU-VA Voting Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes this bill. The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports passage of legislation that permanently repeals the felon disenfranchisement provision in the Virginia Constitution and that would automatically restore the civil rights of Virginians convicted of a felony. Legislators should replace the provision with an affirmative right to vote for all Virginians who are citizens of voting age.

Rachel Gatwod writes:

No one should be forced to pay a fee to regain the right to vote.

Kristin Worsham writes:

Those who have been convicted of a felony have shown they cannot follow the law and should not then have the right to vote to elect those who will make laws. I fully support this bill.

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