Northam takes action on Virginia’s revised state budget and final special session bills

Virginia Politics

FILE – In this Feb. 2, 2019 file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, gestures as his wife, Pam, listens during a news conference in the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. A law firm has completed its investigation into how a racist photo appeared on a yearbook page for Northam. Eastern Virginia Medical School said in a statement Tuesday, May 21 that the findings of the investigation will be announced at a press conference on Wednesday, May 22. Northam’s profile in the 1984 yearbook includes a photo of a man in blackface standing next to someone in Ku Klux Klan clothing. Northam denies being in the photo, which nearly ended his political career in February. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed three new laws, sent 10 amendments to the state’s biennial budget to the General Assembly, and proposed changes to another bill.

These actions are Northam’s final moves on legislation resulting from the General Assembly’s special session, which began Aug. 18 and focused on the budget; measures to advance equity, reform policing; and the safety, health, and welfare of Virginians during the coronavirus pandemic.

The biennial budget was revised to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget amendments also include language that allows the state to begin redistricting reform in the state constitution, which was passed by voters Tuesday.

Northam also proposed an additional $1 million for an independent investigation into the culture at the Virginia Military Institute.

“In August, I called legislators back into session to tackle some of our Commonwealth’s most pressing challenges,” said Northam in a prepared statement. “This revised state budget will do tremendous good as we battle COVID-19 and work together to continue building a stronger, fairer Virginia. I am proud of the meaningful progress we made to enhance police accountability, advance criminal justice reform, invest in our economic recovery, and provide critical relief to Virginians amid the ongoing public health crisis. I thank the General Assembly for their ongoing partnership in delivering for the people of our Commonwealth.”

Here are details on the bills Northam signed into law and a proposed amendment to another:

  • Senate Bill 5007 aligns Virginia with a majority of other states in allowing judges to decide sentences in criminal cases, except in sentences by juries. This change aims to make fairer sentences and reduce over-incarceration.
  • Northam proposed changes to House Bill 5106 which protects certain tenants that have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Northam added a technical amendment to clearly define the “adverse actions that may not be taken against tenants based on payment history or an eviction for nonpayment of rent that occurred during the pandemic.”

To read Northam’s full letter on his recommended amendments to the revised state budget, click here.


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