Dogwood Daily: Legislators reach agreement on "Red flag" law

By Matt Blair

February 24, 2020

Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all of today’s Virginia news coming right up.

But first…

The fate of Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. The court began hearing arguments today that would ultimately decide if the pipeline’s construction can go proceed. The debate hinges on what land is officially considered to be part of the Appalachian trail.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Red flag law agreement reached– Lawmakers say they have reached an agreement on the “red flag” law that sets it up to pass the General Assembly. The bill would grant police the authority to seize guns from people determined to be a risk to themselves or others by a judge, and was the subject of intense debate in both the House and Senate. Key legislators say they worked out an agreement, and the updated bill passed out of committee Friday. It is set to be taken up by the Senate this week. The Virginian-Pilot
  2. Bills removing racist language move forward– Lawmakers are moving to remove racist language still on the books in Virginia. The Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law, which was established by Gov. Ralph Northam, found “racist and discriminatory” provisions in several pieces of old legislation. Among those found were one law allowing public schools to close rather than integrate, and another requiring the separation of races on trained and steamboats. While most of the laws had effectively been overruled by later legislation, lawmakers are sponsoring bills to have them formally struck from the books. -VPM 
  3. Bill would parents to be notified before active shooting drills– Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-Henrico) is sponsoring legislation to require schools to notify parents at least 24 hours before holding active shooter drills. VanValkenburg, who is also a teacher, said parents had asked him for advance notice, after previous drills left their children scared. VanValkenburg offered assurances that the notification wouldn’t compromise the effectiveness of the drills, just give parents time to reduce their children’s stress. The bill already passed the House and cleared a Senate committee Thursday. -The Virginian-Pilot
  4. Lawsuit by Unite the Right leader tossed– A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the leader of 2017’s Unite the Right rally against the city of Charlottesville. Jason Kessler argued that officials failed to adequately protect his First Amendment rights, saying the city knew of plans to disrupt the rally and used the chaos to shut it down. U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon ruled Friday that the defendants did not restrict Kessler’s right to free speech. -WHSV 
  5. Debate over prison population in redistricting– State lawmakers haven’t reached an agreement on redistricting reform, but some of the plans being considered would call for changing the way people in prison and jail are counted. Democrats have sponsored legislation that would count prisoners at their last home address rather than a correctional facility. Some Republicans in southwestern Virginia argue that such a plan would shift population count away from rural areas of the state where many state prisons are located. Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Russell) alleged that is “a way for the Democrats to shift population away from us and shift it to them.” -The Roanoke Times
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