Two-week checkup: What bills are moving through General Assembly?

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RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — It has been two weeks since the 2020 Virginia General Assembly convened and several bills have passed through the state Senate.

With the Equal Rights Amendment being the only resolution to be ratified this session, other bills are expected to be discussed ahead of the session’s midpoint, also known as “crossover,” on Feb. 11.

“Crossover” is the last day for each chamber, the Senate and House, to act on its own legislation. If a bill does not pass, it dies for the session.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: 2020 Virginia General Assembly

8News has been tracking how legislation proposed during the 2020 session has progressed so far.

Below are a few bills and resolutions that have passed in the Virginia Senate:

SB 35 – Firearms, etc.; permitted events

Control of firearms by localities; permitted events. Authorizes any locality by ordinance to prohibit the possession or carrying of firearms, ammunition, or components or any combination thereof in a public space during a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit. The bill contains technical amendments. (Senate Passed 21-19)

SB 69 – Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty

Purchase of handguns; limitation on handgun purchases; penalty. Prohibits any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period and establishes such an offense as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill exempts from this provision (i) persons who have been issued a certificate by the Department of State Police under certain circumstances and with an enhanced background check, (ii) law-enforcement agencies and officers, (iii) state and local correctional facilities, (iv) licensed private security companies, (v) persons who hold a valid Virginia concealed handgun permit, (vi) persons whose handgun has been stolen or irretrievably lost or who are trading in a handgun, (vii) purchases of handguns in a private sale, and (viii) purchases of antique firearms. (Senate Passed 21-19)

SB 70 – Firearm transfers; criminal history record information check, penalty

Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty. Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and directs the Department of State Police (the Department) to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers. A transferor who sells a firearm to another person without obtaining the required background check is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The bill also provides that a transferee who receives a firearm from another person without obtaining the required background check is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill exempts transfers (i) between immediate family members; (ii) that occur by operation of law; (iii) by the executor or administrator of an estate or by the trustee of a testamentary trust; (iv) at firearms shows in accordance with law; (v) that are part of a buy-back or give-back program; (vi) of antique firearms; (vii) that occur at a shooting range, shooting gallery, or any other area designed for the purpose of target shooting or for use during target practice, a firearms safety or training course or class, a shooting competition, or any similar lawful activity; or (viii) that are temporary transfers that (a) occur within the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm or (b) are necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. The bill removes the provision that makes background checks of prospective purchasers or transferees at firearms shows voluntary. The bill also provides that the Department shall have three business days to complete a criminal history record information check before a firearm may be transferred. (Senate Passed 23-17)

SB 111 – Absentee voting; no excuse required

Absentee voting; no excuse required. Permits any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he is qualified to vote. The bill removes the current list of statutory reasons under which a person may be entitled to vote by absentee ballot and removes references to those reasons from other sections of the Code. (Senate Passed 31-9)

SB 112 – Public schools; standard diploma requirements, dual-enrollment and work-based learning options

Public schools; diploma requirements; dual-enrollment and work-based learning options. Requires the Board of Education to include in its graduation requirements the options for students to complete a dual-enrollment course or high-quality work-based learning experience. (Senate Passed 40-0)

SB 238 – Public schools; increases kindergarten instructional time

Public schools; kindergarten instructional time. Increases from 540 hours to 990 hours the minimum instructional hours in a school year for students in kindergarten, beginning July 1, 2022. The bill directs the Board of Education to adopt regulations by July 1, 2022, establishing standards for accreditation that include a requirement that the standard school day for students in kindergarten average at least 5.5 instructional hours in order to qualify for full accreditation. (Senate Passed 32-6)

SB 617 – Absentee voting; voter satellite offices for absentee voting in person

Absentee voting; voter satellite offices for absentee voting in person. Authorizes the establishment of voter satellite offices by governing bodies of counties and cities for purposes of absentee voting in person. No change in any voter satellite office, including the creation of a new voter satellite office or abolishment of an existing voter satellite office, may be enacted within the 60 days immediately preceding a general election. The bill requires general registrars to post notice of the locations of all voter satellite offices within the locality, and their days and hours of operation, not later than 55 days prior to any election. Requirements for polling places, including accessibility for persons with disabilities, changes of location due to emergency circumstances, and funding, apply to voter satellite offices. The provisions of the bill are applicable to elections beginning with the general election on November 3, 2020. (Senate Passed 40-0)

To track other bills still active in the 2020 session, click here.


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