On Tuesday, the General Assembly passed “Crossover,” the session halfway point by which each chamber must complete work on its own bills and begin considering legislation passed by the other body. The Senate has passed eight pieces of my legislation and we’ve secured some victories for progressive values. From advancing non-discrimination in public employment for the LGBT community, to promoting research in the emerging field of energy storage, I am confident these bills would move Virginia forward. We’ve faced some challenges as well. Nonetheless, I came to Richmond knowing working for criminal justice reform, equality for all Virginians and gun violence prevention, would be an uphill, but important battle. I also introduced legislation to make it easier to vote, promote good government, and cut red tape for small businesses.
We’ve made serious headway on marijuana reform this year. Currently, those charged with first time marijuana possession face a six month suspension of their driver’s license, in addition to fines, community service and other penalties, whether they were behind the wheel or not. This poses a serious threat to employment for many Virginians. With the support of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys and the co-sponsorship of Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), the Senate passed a bill (38-2) I’ve been working on for several years that removes that mandatory suspension. But, we still have work to do. Nearly 80 percent of people in Virginia support marijuana decriminalization, according to a poll released this week by the Virginia Pilot newspaper. A bill I introduced to decriminalize marijuana was referred to the State Crime Commission for study, and I’m hopeful that the commission will see the benefits of moving in the direction of many other states.
My legislation to forbid discrimination against LGBT government employees in Virginia was once again passed by the Senate. Three of our last four governors have issued executive orders to protect state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexuality orientation, gender, and other protected classes. This bill would codify those protections and extend them to local government employees as well. Unfortunately, two pieces of legislation I introduced, which would have removed the outdated ban on same-sex marriages from the Virginia Code and Constitution, were referred to the Code Commission. The commission, which reviewed the same issue in 2016, sent legislation back to the General Assembly, stating it was our responsibility to act on these bills. We cannot allow this ping-pong game to continue. Failure to act on this legislation tells LGBT Virginians that they are not equal, and that is not acceptable.
I’m continuing my efforts to advance sensible gun violence prevention. I introduced a bill that would’ve made it a crime for adults to allow children under five to handle guns. This failed to advance out of committee despite the fact that, just in the last year, more than 50 people were killed in the U.S. by toddlers handling firearms. Unfortunately, all bills that promote gun violence prevention continue to face unyielding opposition from by groups like the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
My agenda also includes a range of other topics. I advanced a bill through the Senate which saves a step for small businesses in obtaining their ABC licenses. In partnership with the Virginia Young Democrats, I also put forward legislation to mandate Family Life Education in all Virginia school divisions to reduce teen pregnancy.
Please consider following me on Twitter @AdamEbbin, emailing your views to me at email@example.com and visiting AdamEbbin.com.
It is my continued honor to serve the people of the 30th District,
Join me and other area legislators where we will provide an update on the 2017 legislative session and answer your questions.
- Mt. Vernon: Saturday, Feb. 11, 9:-11 a.m., Whitman Middle School, 2500 Parkers Lane, Alexandria, with Sen. Scott Surovell and Del. Paul Krizek.
- Arlington: Saturday, Feb. 11, 2-4 p.m., Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 S Dinwiddie St, Arlington, with Del. Alfonso Lopez.
In case of severe weather, check my Twitter feed (@AdamEbbin), AdamEbbin.com/TownMeetings, follow me on Facebook at www.Facebook/EbbinCampaign or call my office at 571-384-8957.