Lawmakers bustle as General Assembly session draws to a close

Lawmakers were due to meet again on Saturday for what was to be their last day. But with dozens of unpaid bills and an outstanding budget, it seemed unlikely that they would finish in time.

Lawmakers could agree to extend the regular session, or Governor Glenn Youngkin could call a special session at a later date.

Here’s a look at some of the laws that resulted in a resolution on Capitol Hill this week:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

House Republicans have resisted efforts by Democrats to revive measures that would have allowed voters to decide whether to remove legally outdated language banning same-sex marriage from the state Constitution and automatically restore the franchise to women. criminals who have served their sentence.

Legislation that would have allowed voter referendums on proposed constitutional amendments was defeated by a subcommittee earlier in this year’s legislative session. But Democrats made a last-minute effort to change House rules and bring the measures to the tightly divided floor for a vote. Republicans also defeated this effort.

The defeat of both proposals ends a two-year legislative process and restarts the clock. Proposed constitutional amendments must be passed by the General Assembly two consecutive years before they can be submitted to voters.

Proponents of the suffrage measure were particularly hopeful that it would gain passage this year after a Republican delegate sponsored a version of the legislation.

Delta-8 has recently exploded in popularity. In many places across the country, including Virginia, products containing the substance are marketed as legal, even in some places where recreational marijuana is not.

Republican Senator Emmett Hanger’s measure has undergone a wide range of changes. It started out as a way to regulate marijuana products in forms that would appeal to children. But it was rewritten to expand the definition of marijuana to include any substance that contains a total concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol greater than 0.3% or a certain amount per serving or per package.

Hanger said he aimed to clarify that a license would be required to sell such a substance. Virginia has a medical marijuana program and decriminalized the drug last year, but has yet to establish a framework for recreational sales.

Supporters have called Hanger’s bill a consumer safety measure, saying delta-8 products — including edibles — lack accurate labeling and have sickened the children who got them. It faced opposition from some players in the cannabis industry who argued that it was too restrictive.

Dylan Bishop, a lobbyist for the Cannabis Business Association of Virginia, said the sale of certain CBD products, including non-consumer salves or balms, could be impacted.

“It would be very difficult to find products that fit those definitions,” he said.

The measure also directs state regulators to make rules prohibiting marijuana products in the form of a human, animal, vehicle or fruit.

A 2020 law that called for the creation of statewide teams of behavioral health workers to respond to people in mental health crisis was amended to allow smaller locations to opt out of the program.

The ‘Marcus Alert’ law was named after Marcus-David Peters, a 24-year-old teacher who was fatally shot by a Richmond police officer after running down a highway naked and then charged the officer while he suffered from a mental illness. crisis.

The legislation aimed to increase the involvement of mental health professionals and minimize the role of the police in responding to people in crisis.

The amended bill allows communities with a population of 40,000 or less to opt out of the program. Proponents of the amendment said smaller communities cannot find enough behavioral health workers and cannot afford the costs of the program.

Several Democratic lawmakers have objected to small towns opting out. Sen. Jeremy McPike said he voted in favor of the legislation despite the opt-out provision because lawmakers pledged to work together to secure additional funding for smaller communities to participate in the program.

SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL

The General Assembly approved a measure to crack down on unsolicited sexually explicit photos and videos.

The measure sponsored by Senator Jennifer McClellan would make any adult who knowingly transmits an “intimate image” electronically to another adult without their consent subject to damages. Under the bill, a court can also block the sender from re-sharing those photos or videos.

Squat trucks will be banned in Virginia under a bill approved by lawmakers following an accident that killed a 27-year-old man.

Legislation prohibits the use of any pick-up truck, van or car on public roads if the suspension, frame or chassis has been modified to raise the height of the front bumper four inches or more above the height of the bumper – rear shocks. Critics of the modification – sometimes referred to as the “Carolina Squat” – say drivers may not be able to see clearly ahead of them due to the upward tilt of the front of the vehicle.

The family of a man killed in an accident last month in Mecklenburg County have been pushing for the legislation. BJ Upton died on February 16 after his truck was hit by another motorist driving a crouching truck.

Virginia State Police said they are investigating whether modifications to the truck contributed to the accident.

A similar ban went into effect in North Carolina last year.

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