Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

January 15, 2013

Felons' rights bills barely clears Va Senate panel

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Legislation to automatically restore nonviolent felons' voting rights is barely alive after a Virginia Senate subcommittee hearing.

A motion to recommend the bill failed on a 3-3 vote Tuesday. That means the measure will go to the full Privileges and Elections Committee without a recommendation.

The action comes a day after a Republican-dominated House of Delegates subcommittee rejected the legislation, which Gov. Bob McDonnell backed in his State of the Commonwealth speech. Democrats have long championed automatic restoration of nonviolent felons' rights to vote, serve on a jury and hold public office. In Virginia, only the governor can restore those rights.

The measure in the Senate applies only to voting rights. It gives the General Assembly authority to specify which nonviolent felonies are subject to automatic restoration of rights.

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