Republican leaders want special session to talk restoration of voting rights

virginia general assemblyIn a letter to Governor Terence R. McAuliffe (D), Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) today called for the convening of a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to consider the Governor’s “Order for the Restoration of Rights,” issued Friday.

Article V, Section 5 of the Constitution of Virginia gives the governor the authority to call for special sessions of the General Assembly.

The letter from Speaker Howell and Majority Leader Norment calls Governor McAuliffe’s order “a matter of great consequence to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” characterizing the action as a “flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia.”

Governor McAuliffe issued the order despite determinations by previous governors, including then-Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D), that the Constitution of Virginia restricts the governor’s power to restore rights to a case-by-case basis.  Republican leaders claim Governor McAuliffe’s order violated this limitation on his power, simultaneously restoring these rights to 206,000 convicted felons.

In addition to the request for a special session to be convened, Speaker Howell and Majority Leader Norment are requesting detailed information regarding those to whom the order applies.  Specifically, they are calling for a list of the individuals to whom the order applies, with information on the offenses for which they were convicted and the complete sentence imposed.  Since Governor McAuliffe’s order restored these rights without requiring the convicted felons eligible to have paid their fines, court costs, or restitution to victims, the General Assembly leaders are also requesting that information.

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