(The Center Square) – Before his deadline expired, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam took action on legislation to further restrict firearms in the commonwealth and a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to receive state identification cards.
Northam signed House Bill 2081, which will prohibit a person from knowingly possessing a firearm within 40 feet of a polling place or an electoral board meeting to certify the results of an election. A violation of the rule will be punished by a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail or up to a $2,500 fine or both.
The legislation exempts current and retired police officers as well as private security guards whose employment or duties fall within the prohibited location. If a person’s private property falls within the restricted location, a person would also be exempt while on his or her property.
Democratic leaders supported this legislation because they said it would help ensure people’s safety. Republican leaders staunchly opposed the legislation, arguing it could cause people who are carrying weapons to accidentally be in violation of the law if they are not aware that they are within 40 feet of such a location.
Northam offered an amendment to House Bill 1992, which would prohibit a person who has been convicted of assaulting a family member from buying a firearm. The amendments would clarify that this extends to any domestic partnership and extend the prohibition period from three years to five years.
Violation of this law would also be punishable with a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The governor offered a technical amendment to House Bill 2138, which would allow illegal immigrants to receive a state identification card if the person filed tax returns within 12 months of seeking the card. The person would also need to have an application for legal status pending.
Legislation amended by the governor will head back to the General Assembly for consideration.