CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - A controversial piece of legislation will soon be back in front of Virginia’s General Assembly. A bill aims to permanently end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court costs.
Earlier this year, Governor Ralph Northam passed a budget amendment to end the practice. However, that was only a temporary solution.
Thanks to Northam's amendment, on July 1, hundreds-of-thousands of Virginians whose licenses were taken away for unpaid court debt were able to get them reinstated without cost. They were, however, expected to pay outstanding court costs.
That amendment expires at the end of the budget session in July 2020. Now, a Republican senator from Moneta is pre-filing a bill that would make this policy permanent.
It's not the first time legislators have tried to pass something like this, but advocates are hopeful that this time they can get it done.
“I think that, as you know, people have started paying more attention to this system. As advocates have pushed these issues forward in courts and elsewhere, that lawmakers just look at it and think, ‘this is not working.’ We need to do something different, because it’s creating more harm than good,” Mario Salas with the Legal Aid Justice Center said.
The people at the Legal Aid Justice Center say this is a bi-partisan issue, and that both Republicans and Democrats see several reasons to end the practice.
The General Assembly will re-convene on January 8, 2020.