House Democrats made their priorities clear early in this week’s special legislative session on gun control — block aid to the City of Virginia Beach and victims of the May 31 shooting.
During the opening moments of the session on Tuesday, House Republicans introduced a resolution to govern how the session would proceed. Such “rules of the road” resolutions are common for special sessions.
These resolutions lay out what can and can’t be introduced or considered, and in some cases a timetable for how long the session will last.
House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, brought forward a resolution that would allow public safety bills to be considered, as well as legislation regarding mental health, and other bills that would provide relief for the City of Virginia Beach and the victims of the shooting.
Republican bills would have begun the process of making donations to the victims’ fund run by the United Way of South Hampton Roads tax deductible, and money paid out to victims or their families would be tax-exempt.
Other bills opened the door to millions of dollars in aid help the city remodel Building 2, the site of the shooting which took 12 lives in May.
City officials have requested millions in state aid in some form to overhaul the building.
Democrats would have none of it. Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, introduced a Democrat version of the resolution which would have blocked relief bills out of the gate.
“The reason we are assembled here today is to address issues of gun violence and gun violence prevention,” Simon said. Tax relief for victims — or help for the City of Virginia Beach — should be pushed off to January, when the assembly meets again.
In the end, 44 Democrats voted in favor of the Democrat version of the resolution — including Dels. Kelly Convirs-Fowler and Cheryl Turpin, D-Virginia Beach.
The Democrat version of the resolution would also have blocked any consideration of mental health issues — despite Democrats like Del. Chris Hurst of Montgomery County making speeches about the need to deal with the tragedy of suicide via firearms.