Virginia House Dems file voting rights, gun safety, equality bills ahead of 2020 session

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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — Virginia House Democrats filed several bills ahead of their first session in 2020 as pre-filing opened on Monday.

“Over the past year, House Democrats have been working to formulate our 2020 legislative agenda, and we are looking forward to rolling it out over the coming months as the majority party,” said Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn in a release. “For years now, House Democrats have consistently pushed to build a Commonwealth that works for all Virginians, and the first bills filed reflect our commitment to equality and uphold our accountability to Virginia voters.”

The first bills to be filed include:

• HB1: No-excuse in-person and mail absentee voting; Patron: Del. Charniele Herring
• HB2: Universal background checks; Patron: Del. Ken Plum
• HB3: LGBTQ+ Housing Nondiscrimination; Patron: Del. Delores McQuinn
• HJ1: Equal Rights Amendment; Patron: Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy

Virginia Democrats have been attempting to pass a bill ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment for years, with no luck. If Virginia manages to pass it, it would be the final state needed for the original quorum of states needed to add the bill to the Constitution. There are serious legal doubts that it would still work, given a 1982 federal deadline, but it's been a long-going attempt that has its best chance this coming year.

“Similar bills have been introduced by House Democrats in the past and were unfortunately blocked, despite receiving widespread support from the majority of Virginians,” said Majority Leader-elect Charniele Herring in a release. “Finally, these bills will get the consideration they deserve in the House of Delegates, and we can take our first steps toward improving voting rights, preventing gun violence, and recognizing all Virginians as equal regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The House Democratic Caucus will announce its 2020 legislative agenda before the session begins on Jan. 8.