Advocates for the automatic restoration of voting rights to nonviolent felons notched a modest victory Tuesday morning when legislation to make that state policy narrowly cleared a Senate subcommittee. Despite that, the proposal supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell remains on life support in the General Assembly after a similar measure to amend the state constitution for that purpose was killed by a House of Delegates panel Monday. A day later, an amended version of Sen. Louise Lucas’ SJ 266 escaped the Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee on a 3-3 vote without a recommendation on it.
Virginia Beach Republican Sen. Jeff McWaters — he chairs the seven-member subcommittee — joined two Democrats in voting for the measure.
Three other Republicans opposed it, and one Democratic senator on the panel wasn’t present for the vote.
Lucas’ bill incorporates similar proposals by Democratic Sens. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen of Fairfax City and Donald McEachin of Henrico County.
She is hopeful it will gain traction this year due to McDonnell’s backing and because she wants to honor the late Sen. Yvonne Miller, a Norfolk Democrat who long championed that cause.