Statement of GOP Leadership on Conclusion of the Special Session

The 2020 Special Session that was called to address the Commonwealth’s budget shortfall, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and criminal justice and police reform concluded today. The Special Session, which lasted nearly 90 days — significantly longer than an even-year regular session — saw a raft of legislation that will undermine our law enforcement and prioritize criminals over the victims of violent crime, while refusing to address the ongoing crisis of our children being locked out of the classroom.

“The Special Session has been clarifying, and Democrats showed Virginians where their priorities lie,”  said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). “Democrats seem more concerned with protecting criminals rather than victims of violent crime, covering up for a Parole Board acting illegally, and weakening Virginia’s public safety system. They made life easier for criminals and harder on police. It was also disheartening to watch Democrats completely ignore the ongoing issue of students struggling with virtual learning. Our plan to help these students by using existing CARES Act funding was killed with no debate. Not prioritizing our children’s education during a pandemic is abhorrent.”

“We had no illusions of how far Democrats would go in their efforts to weaken public safety and demean the good men and women of law enforcement,” said Caucus Chair Kathy Byron (R-Bedford). “Republicans were prepared to support common sense reforms, but our suggestions fell on deaf ears. The actions taken by Democrats will result in less safe communities. Law enforcement professionals will quit, retire early, or no longer look at entering the profession. I fear the consequences of the special session will be felt for years to come.”

“Republicans presented legislation for common sense reform to public safety to make it easier to remove bad officers and to ensure that police unions couldn’t protect misconduct,” said House Minority Whip Jay Leftwich (R-Chesapeake).  “Democrats rejected these ideas in favor of special interest groups. The special session saw Democrats favor criminals, paint all of law enforcement as harmful, and refuse to bring transparency to a Parole Board confirmed to have disregarded the law. Republicans sided with parents, children, victims of violent crime, and the good men and women of our law enforcement, and will continue to do so.”