An impasse over appointees to the state parole board could end up hurting potential parolees, but that could be decided in an upcoming special session.
State Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Chester) said he plans to support any future appointees of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to the board, saying the current situation reminds him of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Someone has to be the bigger person,” he said, noting he worked the back channels among his party in the Senate to try to break the impasse.
“I thought what was done by both parties was disgraceful,” Morrissey said.
Former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) nominated 11 for the board, which the House Republicans rejected. The Senate Democrats then rejected Yougkin’s five nominees in an apparent tit-for-tat.
Morrissey said he stood with his party on the latter vote, but he won’t if Youngkin nominates four more to fill vacancies. Currently, only the parole board chairman remains, which has prevented the board from conducting business.
Also in regard to the parole board, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R) said the General Assembly passed two bills that she supported. One would make the board’s votes subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The other would require the board to publish any action regarding parole of a prisoner within 30 days.
Gas tax suspension?
On another issue, Morrissey said he doesn’t support Youngkin’s proposal to temporarily nix the state gas tax for three months. Morrissey called such a move “symbolic and nothing more.”
Morrissey said he supports giving state revenue back to the people rather than spending it. That would likely be decided in an upcoming special session that Youngkin is likely to call but hasn’t as of yet. The House proposed $5.3 billion in cuts and the Senate $2.5 billion. Both are related to the as-yet-unapproved fiscal 2023 budget.
Morrissey is optimistic that an agreement to conduct a study of Petersburg hosting a casino, while preventing another vote in Richmond, will remain in the budget, noting that the Senate Democrats support it. He said he also has the commitment of two prominent House Republicans.
Chase said she co-sponsored a bill, SB656, which would require parental notification for sexually-explicit material in schools. It passed the Senate 20-18 with the help of two Democrats, Lynwood Lewis of Eastern Shore and Monty Mason of Williamsburg. It passed the House 52-46.
Chase also co-sponsored a bill that requires K-12 principals to report certain misdemeanors to police. The bill, which passed the House 65-34 and the Senate 27-13, reverses a law that Democrats passed to give principals more discretion in such reporting. Incidents in Loudoun County Public Schools prompted the move.
Catalytic converter theft
A bill, HB740, would make tampering with or theft of catalytic converters a felony. The bill passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 57-38. It was seen as needed due to a rise in such thefts, related to the price of metals.
A session where the General Assembly will consider overriding any Youngkin vetoes has been scheduled to be held April 27, according to Morrissey’s office.