“We’re still waiting for people to come to us,” said Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, a nurse-practitioner who was among a handful of Republicans who supported the bill. “This gets help to people who need it.”
The only drama on the final day came in a Senate showdown over legislation proposed by Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, to allow criminal defendants to ask for sentencing by a judge after trial by jury.
Morrissey, a criminal defense lawyer, said the legislation would end what he called “the jury penalty” that defendants risk when they are convicted and sentenced by jury, which can recommend sentences that he and other critics say far exceed what they would have received under sentencing by judges under sentencing guidelines.
For example, Morrissey said that in Hanover County a jury “could light you up for 30 years in a New York minute.”
House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said, “Many Virginians are taking plea deals because there really are no good options.”