ERA, guns, marriage: What you missed this week in the General Assembly

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise nationwide, Gov. Ralph Northam enacted stricter guidelines for the commonwealth. Photo illustration by Rey Carlson

Hannah Eason, News Editor

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

Firearms subcommittee halts Republican-backed gun bills

In a Tuesday meeting, the Democratic-led subcommittee killed several gun laws backed by Republicans. Provisions included loosening concealed carry permit requirements in House Bill 161, allowing guns in places of worship in HB 596, and allowing those injured in a gun-free zone to file a civil claim for damages in HB 162

Bill seeks to ban holding cell phones while driving

A press conference was held Tuesday in support of HB 874, which aims to prohibit holding a personal communication device while driving a motor vehicle. Current Virginia law prohibits reading or typing messages on such a device while driving, although holding one is legal, except while driving in a work zone.

Senate offs Lee-Jackson Day, favors Election Day holiday

The Virginia Senate voted 22-18 to remove Lee-Jackson Day, which commemorates Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and make Election Day a holiday. The measure was supported by all Democrat senators and Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico.

House bill eliminating race from marriage records assigned to health subcommittee

Friday, HB 180 went into the Health, Welfare and Institutions sub-committee. The measure would eliminate the requirement to disclose race on marriage records filed in the State Registrar. The bill — sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria — is in a committee with a 6-3 Democratic majority.

GA Passes Equal Rights Amendment, more than 4 decades after Congress

On Wednesday, both chambers approved the Equal Rights Amendment, becoming the 38th state to back the measure that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. While the amendment passed in Congress in 1972, only 35 of the necessary 38 states had ratified it by the 1982 deadline.

Women in Virginia celebrated the passage — which Gov. Ralph Northam and Democratic legislators have stated as a priority in this session — but Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said the resolution is no longer before the states.

Northam declares state of emergency

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in Richmond that was enforced from Friday until Tuesday, effectively banning firearms from Capitol Square ahead of the Citizen Defense League’s Lobby Day pro-gun rally.

The deadline for filing legislation in the 2020 session was Friday, Jan. 17.

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