Virginia House Democrats tried one last time to pass a rule change to bring constitutional amendments to the floor for a vote on Wednesday. The amendments would automatically reinstate felon voting rights and to eliminate Virginia’s defunct gay marriage ban. They were passed for the first time in 2021, but needed to pass again this year to go to Virginia voters for approval. House Republicans killed the bills in committee, a tactic used by both parties to prevent a few moderate legislators from joining the minority party to pass bills on the floor.
Democrats have tried the rule change before during this session, framing a vote against the change as a vote against the underlying amendments. On Wednesday, Republicans voted 51 to 49 to kill the change, with Delegate John Avoli (R-Staunton) joining Democrats in favor of the change, which would have allowed delegates to pull constitutional amendments to the floor after a two-thirds vote.
Without discussion, Republicans moved to kill the rule change as soon as it was introduced, but House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) spoke for two minutes before the vote.
“This is the last chance that my colleagues across the aisle have to vote on the constitutional amendments that some of you support, that some of you introduced, co-patroned, or even wrote op-eds on. This is our last chance to do what is right,” she said. “This is our last chance to vote our conscience. This is our last chance to do something that the majority of our constituents want. And this is our last chance to do something that the majority of our constituents want.”
The amendments could be reintroduced in future sessions, and they would likely get some bipartisan support. But because the bills need to be passed twice before going to a referendum, the death of the amendments in 2022 delays potential implementation of similar amendments until after the 2024 elections.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “John Avoli” by John Avoli. Photo “Eileen Filler-Corn” by Eileen Filler-Corn. Background Photo “Virginia House of Delegate Floor” by Antony-22. CC BY-SA 4.0.