Crossover

The 2021 General Assembly session has reached its halfway point, known as crossover. This is the point where the House and Senate complete work on bills originating from the respective chambers, and the successful bills “crossover” to the other chamber.
 
Debate on Repeal of the Death Penalty

On Thursday, House Democrats began their push to eliminate the death penalty in Virginia. The power of the state to take a human life isn’t something that we consider lightly. It is the ultimate punishment, and it can’t be taken back. That being said, there is a place for this sanction in cases where a killer has committed a truly heinous act or will be a danger to society or even his fellow inmates going forward. We spent a great deal of time on the floor arguing that we cannot and must not forget victims and their families in this debate.
 
Democrats insist that life in prison is enough to keep offenders locked up and protect our society. But given the number of convicted killers who received that very sentence but are now out on the streets thanks to our Parole Board, I have strong doubts that this is the case.
 
Repealing Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Virginia Democrats also began their final push to eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences for crimes in Virginia. As of now, someone who sells drugs to children, someone who commits a second offense involving child pornography, someone who uses a gun in the commission of a felony, and other crimes face a mandatory minimum sentence — a floor that a judge or jury can’t go below — if they’re found guilty.
 
Mandatory minimum laws are in place to prevent a runaway jury or judge from letting someone get away with a slap on the wrist. For example, in a famous case from California, a young man convicted of rape served only a few months in jail. Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates and rates of recidivism in the nation. Repealing our mandatory minimum laws will likely reverse that and lead to a less safe Virginia.
 
Legislation Leading to Forced Union Membership
 
One bright spot from this week was a spirited defense of Virginia’s Right to Work laws from an unexpected source: the Democratic majority. One House Democrat, a self-described socialist, attempted to force a vote on his bill which would have repealed Virginia’s Right to Work law. Had he been successful, Virginian’s would no longer have the freedom to work without the possibility of being forced to join a union.
 
But most Democrats, realizing the serious blow to Virginia’s economy this repeal would mean, joined Republicans to defeat the measure. For now, at least, Virginians can continue to work and choose to join a union, or not join a union, as they see fit.