FILE - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures Monday, May 4, 2020, during a news conference at the state Capitol in Richmond, Va.

(The Center Square) – Virginians could face civil fines up to $500 for violating the governor’s emergency executive orders through legislation advancing through the House and the Senate.

A House committee Monday advanced Senate Bill 5117, which establishes the civil penalty. The penalty would apply to the governor’s COVID-19-related executive orders and any other order associated with a state of emergency. The bill already has passed the Senate.

A Senate committee advanced the House version of the bill, House Bill 5093, last week.

Current law allows for someone to be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for violating one of the governor’s executive orders, which is subject to a penalty of one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. Although these bills permit a lower penalty, some Republicans have said they likely will lead to more enforcement for less severe violations for which the state does not want to charge a misdemeanor.

The bill advanced Monday in the House's Public Safety Committee, 21-1.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.