Richmond, VA: Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has signed legislation (Senate Bill 2 | House Bill 972) decriminalizing marijuana possession. The new law takes effect July 1, 2020 and reduces penalties for offenses involving personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil violation – punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record.
Senate Bill 868, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit.
“I am grateful to Governor Northam for signing the Virginia Values Act, which represents years of dedicated work by activists, legislators, and progressive members of our business community to ensure full protection for every Virginian under the law,” said Senator Adam Ebbin. “Sadly, during times of crisis like these, discrimination rises, and its effects become more apparent. When jobs are scarce and housing unaffordable, the reality of who you are must be an additional hurdle to putting food on the table or providing shelter for your family. This law provides important new protections.”
Trash on streets and in waterways, most of it plastic and styrofoam, is an increasingly common sight in Northern Virginia. But local legislators, and activists like Le Menestrel, have something to celebrate. Looking back on the session, not all of the proposed anti-plastic bills passed, but some of them did:
SB11 - by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-39). Local disposable plastic bag tax. Authorizes any county or city, beginning no earlier than January 1, 2021, to impose a tax of five cents per bag on disposable plastic bags provided to consumers by certain retailers, with certain bags being exempt from the tax.
Editor: I am writing to thank state Sen. Adam Ebbin for voting in favor of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a bill that sets a blueprint for a 100-percent clean energy standard by 2045.
This historic legislation is now off to Gov. Northam’s desk.
This is a huge win for birds and people as climate change threatens the very existence of the commonwealth. Warming temperatures make it harder for humans to live happy and healthy lives, and put at risk our feathered friends like the cerulean warbler and the red-headed woodpecker. The measure is a practical, ambitious climate solution we need now more than ever.
It’s been a long-running fight for Ebbin, who represents parts of Arlington and has frequently proposed decriminalization laws with limited success.
“This is going to make a tremendous difference in up to 30,000 Virginians lives who receive a criminal charge each year,” Ebbin told ARLnow. “They’ll no longer have the repercussions that come with a criminal charge. I think we’ll be in a much better place with a modest fine.”
As the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly draws to a close, it leaves behind several major pro-LGBTQ measures that include sweeping nondiscrimination protections and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
“In 60 short days, the most diverse coalition of (Virginia Democrats) to ever control the General Assembly permanently changed the future of Virginia for the better,” tweeted state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria). “And we’re just getting started.”
This means close to 30,000 people a year will no longer be labeled as criminals and no longer will suffer the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who carried the legislation in the Senate.
Both the House and the Senate agreed to study legalization proposals and take them up again next year. “As soon as we get these studies concluded, I think we’ll have a better sense of how quickly that sort of thing can move through,” Ebbin said.
Insurers will be limited to charging a maximum of $50 a month for the drug after Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, who represents Manassas and part of Prince William County, urged colleagues to accept a Senate amendment to his bill. The price is a little higher than his original cap of $30, but still the lowest ceiling for insulin in the country, he said on the House floor.
Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-30th, of Alexandria, pointed to reports of some patients paying up to $1,200 a month — including a Virginia man who died after switching to a lower-cost and less-effective form of insulin to save for his wedding.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-35th, of Fairfax, said the bill would be accompanied by a letter to the state’s Commissioner of Health, asking for a review of insulin price caps in other states.
Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, recalled his first visit to the General Assembly about 30 years ago to lobby for gay rights.
“Very few lawmakers came out of their offices to meet with us, and I don’t think it made a difference — at least at that time,” he said. “Now we have five members of the LGBT caucus, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.”
Voters in Virginia may no longer have to carry a photo ID with them when they go to the polls.
On Tuesday, the Virginia state Senate voted 21-19 to pass a bill from Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) that would repeal current voter ID requirements.