A demonstrator stands on the sidewalk before a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. There was a light crowd early morning Monday outside the Capitol ahead of the rally. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Thousands of gun rights advocates attend pro-gun rally
02:55 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The Virginia legislative session comes to a close Saturday, as state lawmakers will adjourn their 60-day session.

Since taking full control of the state’s government for the first time in more than two decades after the November elections, Democrats have pursued a more progressive agenda, passing legislation that tightens gun control, expands reproductive rights and offers protections for LGBTQ individuals.

Virginia lawmakers also ratified the Equal Rights Amendment this session after years of trying and rolled back a number of laws Democrats described as “archaic.”

“Our policies are now beginning to match what’s happening around us,” Democratic Del. Hala Ayala told CNN in an interview Thursday, adding, “We were able to make progress with the policies that have been waiting to be passed for 10 to 15 years, and also the ideals that the newly elected have brought to the table. We’re catching up.”

A number of the bills passed don’t become effective until July 1. Some bills approved by the Virginia General Assembly still await enrollment and final action from the governor, while a number of key measures, including legislation raising the minimum wage, are still being tweaked in conference committee.

With such a short session, Virginia lawmakers have been slogging away this week to get through the overwhelming amount of legislation – some of which has already been put off until the 2021 session, after which all state lawmakers are up for election that November.

On Saturday, the legislature approved a background checks bill and one-handgun-a-month policy, key parts of a gun control package backed by Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. The two bills will be enrolled and passed to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Northam in a statement Saturday called it a “historic day,” also saying that the gun measures “will save lives.”

Here’s a list of some of the bills Democrats passed in 2020, pushing the commonwealth in a more progressive direction:

Gun rights

Northam has prioritized a bundle of eight gun measures, known as the “Governor’s Package” – legislation he had wanted lawmakers to act urgently on in a July 2019 special session following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach. Seven of the eight bills he backed have been approved, with a measure banning assault weapons failing to move forward earlier in the year. The seven measures await the governor’s signature.

  • House Bill 2: Requires background checks for private firearm sales and transfers, with some exceptions
  • House Bill 9: Requires a person to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 24 hours
  • House Bill 421 / Senate Bill 35: Grants localities the authority to adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution or motion governing the possession, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms
  • House Bill 674 / Senate Bill 240: Allows for removal of firearms from a person posing substantial risk to themselves or others, also known as an “extreme risk protective order”
  • House Bill 812: Limits the purchase of handguns to one a month
  • House Bill 1004: Extends firearms prohibitions for those under permanent protective orders
  • House Bill 1083: Raises punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony; raises the age of the child from 14 to 18


  • House Bill 980 / Senate Bill 733: Removes regulations requiring a pregnant person to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion and to get counseling on alternatives to abortion; strikes the requirement that facilities providing more than five abortions per year be designated as hospitals


Voting rights


Race/rollbacks of outdated laws

Bills in conference

Minimum wage

  • House Bill 395: Raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023
  • Senate Bill 7: Raises the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by 2023; yearly increase is then indexed to the wage region with highest median household income

Voting rights

Criminal justice

  • House Bill 477: Increases the minimum age that a juvenile must be tried as an adult in circuit court for murder
  • House Bill 1150: Removes provisions requiring jail officers to ask and report citizenship of persons charged with certain crimes
  • House Bill 972: Decriminalizes simple marijuana possession and provides a civil penalty of no more than $25
  • Senate Bill 2: Decriminalizes simple marijuana possession and provides a civil penalty of no more than $50 or five hours of community service


  • House Bill 534: Imposes a statewide fee of 5 cents per bag on disposable plastic bags
  • House Bill 1406: Creates commission to remove Robert E. Lee statue from the US Capitol and recommend replacement

This story has been updated with additional bills passed by the state legislature and comment from Northam.

CNN’s Kelly Mena and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.