Virginia Senate passes amended version of bill to end many mandatory minimums


Legislation to abolish mandatory minimums for drug-related crimes and other offenses passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday.

The chamber passed an amended version of Senate Bill 1443, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke. The offenses for which mandatory minimums would be eliminated in the House version are “less controversial” than the Senate version, according to Sen. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News.

The amended version fully conforms the legislation to his own bill, House Bill 2331, which already passed the Senate. The House has also considered the House version, but amended it to conform to the Senate version when it reached the chamber.

If lawmakers fail to agree on which offenses should not be subject to mandatory minimum rules, then lawmakers from both chambers will meet in a joint conference committee to establish compromise legislation.

Both bills received strong Democratic support and strong Republican opposition. Supporters say the legislation grants judges more discretion to take into account unique circumstances regarding a case, but opponents have portrayed the bill as being soft on crime.

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