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General Assembly special session concludes with Senators vowing to represent Virginia voters

The General Assembly reconvened post-election, after the July special session was cut short without hearing any legislation. Monday’s session ended faster than in July – with both House and Senate adjourning after minutes. From the sparsely populated Senate floor, both a Republican and Democratic senator spoke briefly about their opposing goals for gun legislation in the upcoming 2020 session.

Capital News Service

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By McKenzie Lambert

Nineteen of the state’s 140 General Assembly members were present Monday when the legislature reconvened at the state Capitol following the July 9 special session on gun violence that recessed in 90 minutes.

Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate held meetings in their respective chambers. Both pro forma sessions — sessions in which no business is conducted — were adjourned in less than 10 minutes.

The House started its meeting with a prayer and pledge of allegiance led by Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, who then called on outgoing House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, to recess the special session.

The resolution outlining the session was offered July 9 following the Virginia Beach mass shooting in May, and originally intended to only introduce legislation related to gun violence, public safety, mental and behavioral health, and matters of the General Assembly. Fourteen delegates were in attendance, and the motion was approved.

In the Senate chamber, five senators attended, including Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who took the floor to speak.

“On July 9, with parliamentary shenanigans, this session was gaveled shut before I even could speak,” Ebbin said. “Ostensibly, we were there to give full and careful consideration to bills filed, or I should say they were referred to the Crime Commission for ostensibly extensive and careful consideration as though we didn’t know already that keeping guns out of the wrong hands could save lives.”

Ebbin then referenced the recent three-page Crime Commission report: “The absence of recommendations should not be interpreted as meaning that no changes to Virginia’s laws are necessary, but rather that any changes are policy decisions, which can only be made by the General Assembly.”

“I’m only here today to promise that come January the people of this commonwealth will see action,” he concluded.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, expressed a different viewpoint, saying that her district, along with others around the state, spoke loud and clear.

“The laws and the restrictions that the other side of the aisle want to put forth are going to do nothing more than hurt law-abiding citizens,” Chase said. “And for that, we will continue to vocally express our grave concerns that those will be pushed forward and we will do everything in our ability to challenge those thoughts and ideas.”

On Nov. 9, Gilbert tweeted that the special session would proceed as pro forma, and that “going forward with a session that has no chance of producing legislation that will become law would be a waste of taxpayer resources.”

“The incoming majority will have the opportunity to propose and make their case in January for policies that reduce gun violence while hopefully protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Republicans stand ready to propose our own ideas for reducing gun violence just as we have done this special session,” Gilbert stated in the tweet.

Several bills were filed Monday including HB2, introduced by Del. Ken Plum, D-Reston, which calls for universal background checks when purchasing firearms.

The General Assembly will reconvene on Jan. 8.

Imani Thaniel contributed to this report.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Richmond Then and Now: 114 E. Broad Street

A then and now snapshot of Richmond.

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Original Image from Souvenir views: Negro enterprises & residences, Richmond, Va.
Created / Published[Richmond, D. A. Ferguson, 1907]

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Library of Virginia reopens to researchers by advance appointment beginning today

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm.

RVAHub Staff

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The Library of Virginia has announced that its reading rooms will reopen to researchers by advance appointment beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm. To make an appointment, please call 804.692.3800.

COVID-19, which prompted the Library’s closing to the public in mid-March, continues to pose a serious public health risk. The Library’s reopening plan includes new health and safety protocols based on the latest guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What to expect when returning to the Library:

  • Appointments required to use the reading rooms in order to ensure space availability on a researcher’s preferred date
  • Signage describing coronavirus symptoms – Please do not enter the building if you feel unwell or have a fever
  • Face coverings required in the building at all times
  • Physical distancing of six feet required in all public spaces
  • Face masks and hand sanitizer available for the public
  • Frequent cleaning of restrooms and surfaces in public areas throughout the day
  • Returned books quarantined for three days before being available for use again
  • The Exhibition Gallery, the Virginia Shop, our conference rooms, and the reading room at the State Records Center will remain closed

For additional information about what to expect on your visit, take a look at the COVID-19 Update: Guidelines for Researchers, page, which will be updated regularly.

For more on how to use the collections, click here.

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New report finds Virginia Capital Trail generated $8.9 million in local economic activity last year

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

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The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation recently released an economic impact report by the University of Richmond in collaboration with the Institute for Service Research, the findings were significant.

The report concluded that the Capital Trail contributed approximately $8.9 million in economic activity during FY 2018-19. The Trail which has seen a 65% increase in trail usage in March and a 46% increase in April over last year, is a driving stimulus for local business, tourism, and economic activity, the report found.

The full economic impact report can be found here.

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