Virginia Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond

The General Assembly will hold a special session on Aug. 18 to address the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s budget and introduce additional criminal justice and policing reform measures.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) called for the special session on July 17. A special session is necessary to adopt a budget based on the revised revenue forecast in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement the governor’s office. The General Assembly will adopt a final budget, a process that was postponed earlier in the year due to COVID-19.

In April, lawmakers froze more than $2.2 billion in new spending in Virginia’s new biennial budge to allow time for the commonwealth’s fiscal outlook to stabilize. Legislators will now consider a number of items previously considered for funding — including investments in early childhood education, tuition-free community college, affordable housing and broadband.

“While Virginia’s revenue hasn’t been as negatively impacted as anticipated, COVID-19 has still hurt our state economy,” said Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-10th). “During the special session, we will have to figure out what to do with frozen budget items so that we can help as many Virginians as possible while being fiscally responsible.”

The special session was initially intended to deal solely with the budget, but the focus has now been expanded to include proposals on criminal justice and police reform.

Criticism of the criminal justice system has amplified in recent months after the May death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. His death has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

According to the governor’s office, policing initiatives are expected to include measures aimed at police accountability and oversight, use of force, increased training and education as well as officer recruitment, hiring and decertification.

“After George Floyd’s tragic murder, there were calls across the commonwealth to take up criminal justice in the special session, as well. The Virginia Black Legislative Caucus has really led on this issue and have released their policy proposals for the upcoming session. I intend to support their efforts to address racism in our criminal justice system,” Gooditis said.

Northam has directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Virginia African American Advisory Board and the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law to assist the administration in developing policy initiatives.

“General Assembly leadership is being very thoughtful as they craft the legislative agenda for this session,” Gooditis said. “There will be three virtual public meetings of the Joint House Courts of Justice and Public Safety Committees in July and August to hear expert testimony regarding criminal justice reform. I am hopeful we will have a productive and meaningful special session.”

The Washington Post reported that House Minority Leader C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, criticized Northam for not including schools in the mandate for the special session.

Northam “issued a statement on the special session today with no mention of addressing the looming crisis in public education and the thousands of children who will be negatively impacted,” Gilbert tweeted, according to The Post. “Hoping things will improve is not a plan of action, and kids need to be in school.”

(17) comments


Has there been a wave of serious LEO improprieties in Virginia?

OR is this just another idiot move by the (D)s to push a nonsensical agenda at the cost of Virginians' safety?

And yeah, what about the school-age children in Virginia? Why isn't that social priority NUMBER ONE with the (D)s?


Ace- the BOS have a script. If they don’t follow it they may be blamed for having their own thoughts and opinions.


I guess you follow your own script too because this article has nothing to do with the BOS.


Do you read or watch the news? You would think anything the D’s did was wrong so it isn’t even worth responding to. Republicans are pushing the ‘in school agenda’ because that’s what trumpster wants and could care less about the health impact. Why?? The “very stable genius” who thought the questions on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment were very difficult is their shepherd. In case you didn’t know the school systems are set up by county not by the state and it I up to them to deal with educating children during the pandemic, not the state.


Fair question. One of the reforms being recommended at the Federal level is to maintain a database of incidents and improprieties. This could serve two purposes. (1) It could help identify those individuals that may not be cut out for dealing with the public as a LEO and (2) it could provide real statistics as to the level and magnitude of improprieties. Right now too much of this debate is based on an incident here and there that is immediately made to seem it is occurring all the time in large numbers. Real data and statistics would provide arguments either way. The problem is too many people don't want to believe real data if it doesn't fit a narrative.


That is a positive, They should have body cameras so that their narrative wouldn't matter.


Different issue but that is fine. You can not solve a problem until you have real data that is reported, categorized and available to the public to analyze. The facts may or may not bear out that there is a large problem or isolated to a few who are repeat offenders (like the policeman in Minnesota). Let's get the data across every state, county and city. Right now it is not possible to get this type of data as either it is not collected or if it is it is not shared.


Race baiting and raising taxes - a winning democrat formula.

Congratulations Governor Coonman!


Looks like Phyllis got a little bit ahead of the Governors plans. Who cares about the school mess and the crisis on Covid. Let’s go for the trifecta and take out law enforcement as well.


How is that? Reform has nothing to do with restructure. Schools are run by the counties and has nothing to do with state reform.


Police Reform is going to end up being the death of Police being Proactive. Instead all the police will do is respond to 911 Dispatches to put up police tape after the crime has been commit. Preventing crime will be a footnote in history books.


It will become something resembling an administrative function.

The people who are unwilling or unable to defend themselves will be on their own.

Loudoun Observer

It's already happening. Officers know that any use of force results in jeopardizing their employment status and gets no support from the administration while letting them go is fine. Suspects know this and in many jurisdictions they just wind up walking away from cops routinely.


pulse and ace. You guys should be carrying a sign about the world ending and walking the streets barefoot in tatters.

Barry Hussein

I guess police reform is another attempt for Northam to rid himself of the title "Governor Blackface"


Let the awful comments begin

Loudoun Observer

Well... there will be some awful proposals put forth down there.

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