2021 Redistricting in Virginia

You may remember voting “yes” or “no” on last year’s ballot to amend the state’s constitution and authorize the establishment of the Virginia Redistricting Commission to develop new electoral maps for Virginia’s state and congressional legislative districts. That measure passed and marked a significant change to the redistricting process, as the General Assembly has been responsible for drawing maps in the past. The bipartisan commission, which is composed of four members of the House of Delegates, four members of the Senate of Virginia, and eight citizen members, began work this year, but has faced delayed Census data, multiple procedural issues, and a consistent lack of consensus, all while operating under a tight deadline. So, if you are confused as to where they are in the process, you’re not alone.

The commission must submit new state House and Senate maps to the General Assembly for approval by October 10, 2021 and new Congressional maps by October 25, 2021. When drawing the maps, criteria that must be followed include guidelines related to population equality, voting rights and political participation, communities of interest, and political neutrality.  A Democratic consulting team and a Republican consulting team have each drawn draft maps to present to the commission for review. While the goal was to submit one House and one Senate map to the public for comments prior to the deadline, the commission was unable to agree on what those maps should look like; therefore 41 different maps are now available online, including several submitted by citizens.

Without a doubt, for both commission members and the general public, this is an overwhelming amount of data to digest. Fortunately, the Virginia Public Access Project has done an excellent job at covering the current redistricting process. Just by inputting your address here, you can see how the different plans would impact your representation.

Concerned about how the plans may affect you or your locality? The commission has presented several opportunities for public comment:

Written Comment

1. Submission through email. Comments may be emailed to varedist@dls.virginia.gov and will be posted on the commission’s website at: https://www.virginiaredistricting.org. These comments will be available to the commission for review and consideration.

2. Submission through regular mail. Comments may be sent by regular mail to the following address:

Virginia Redistricting Commission – Pocahontas Building, 8th Floor 900 E. Main Street – Richmond, VA 23219

3. Submission through public comment portal. The various proposed maps are posted on the commission’s website. These interactive maps have a feature that allow members of the public to select an area of interest on the map and enter their comments about that area.

Live Comment

1. In person. At in-person public hearings of the commission, members of the public can attend the hearing and provide live, in-person comments to the commission. Sign-up will be on site, beginning one hour prior to the hearing start time and ending one hour after the hearing begins.

2. Virtual. At both in-person and virtual public hearings of the commission, members of the public may attend the hearing virtually and provide live comments to the commission. Those wishing to provide virtual comment at a hearing must sign up prior to the hearing, using a link that will be provided in advance of the hearing on the Meetings & Public Hearings page of the commission’s website. Members of the public must register at least 24 hours before the time of the in-person or virtual public hearing.

A public hearing schedule by region can be found here, and public hearing FAQs can be found here.

More to come as this process continues to unfold!

Stefanie K. Taillon – Senior Assistant Director, Governmental Relations

Sunday hunting sees its shadow in House subcommittee

 Just like Punxsutawney Phil this morning, Sunday hunting saw its shadow last night –all four House bills regarding Sunday hunting were tabled in subcommittee, including:

♦  HB921(Lingamfelter) that would allow hunting on Sunday on both public and private land.

♦ HB369 (Webert) that would allow Sunday hunting on private land with permission of the landowner.

♦ HB1002 (Ramadan) that would allow hunting on Sunday on private land in the counties of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William.

♦ HB989 (Morefield) which allows for hunting on Sunday between 2 p.m. and midnight.

 In the packed subcommittee room, hunters, landowners, horse enthusiasts and people who want to enjoy a peaceful Sunday displayed their opposition to the bills by wearing buttons that said “No Sunday Hunting” and “Save Our Sunday.” Many also took to the podium to speak out again Sunday Hunting.

When people were asked to stand to show who was in opposition to Sunday Hunting, nearly the entire room rose to its feet. Less than 10 people stood up with proponents of the issue were asked to stand.

Again, thank you for responding to our action alerts and contacting your legislators on this issue! As you can see, your voices really made a difference!

Our work is not done, though. We’ve only won a battle so far, not the war. SB464 (Northam, Puckett, Petersen and Wagner) will be heard by House subcommittee during crossover. Also, people may try adding amendments allowing Sunday hunting to other bills. We are monitoring everything very closely to make sure we continue to uphold the policy that you all developed and voted for.

Wilmer Stoneman: Sunday hunting poised to be a hot topic in the General Assembly

Hello, everyone! My name is Wilmer Stoneman, and one of the issues I cover for Farm Bureau is game laws.

With the first day of the 2012 General Assembly behind us, there are already rumblings of several bills to be introduced regarding Sunday hunting. It’s too early to tell any specific details, but the Farm Bureau Governmental Relations team is monitoring the situation and will send any updates through the Capitol Connections Action Center. So please keep an eye on your e-mail!

Historically Farm Bureau, through our grassroots policy process, holds the position: “We oppose hunting on Sunday.” Representatives of a vast majority of our farmer members have annually discussed and voted for such a position since 1993. In the discussions, our members cite faith-based beliefs, as well as the ability of horse owners and riders and landowners to use the outdoors one day a week without worry from hunters.

Below are some questions that frequently get asked regarding Sunday hunting. It’s important to remember these points as we move forward in the General Assembly.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday increase the number of hunters?

There is no definitive evidence that indicates allowing hunting on Sunday will increase the number of hunters. The same number of hunters will simply adjust their schedules to hunt when the conditions are suitable to their individual desires.

Shouldn’t Virginia follow other states by allowing hunting on Sunday?

Other states allow a variety of methods and practices for hunting that are not allowed in Virginia (e.g. baiting and others). There is no reason to conform our laws to other states and no reason to turn away from traditions like family, farming and the use of the outdoors by all citizens in favor of an expanded opportunity for a few.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday affect the number of wildlife?

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries staff have stated that hunting on Sunday will not impact the population of wildlife, which also means there will be no significant relief of crop damage from wildlife by hunting on Sunday. Game department staff consistently cite that there is no biological reason not to hunt on Sunday because wildlife has no concept to the day of week; however, wildlife learn habits of hunters and avoid them by feeding at night and other times.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday increase tourism or economic activity?

It is impossible to judge whether hunting on Sunday will lead to more tourism and economic activity; most traveling hunters are willing and have the means to take time off from work to do so.

Will this encourage more youth to start hunting?

We question the assertion that there will be an increase in youth hunting as a result of Sunday hunting. With ever-increasing demands on young people’s time for various activities (school, sports, religious, etc.), allowing hunting on Sundays is not likely to increase the number of younger hunters. Currently, the core of the hunting season is dictated by school holidays in November and December and, therefore, allowing hunting on Sundays will not lead to a significant increase in youth hunting.

2012 Virginia General Assembly convenes Jan. 11

This busiest time of year for the Governmental Relations team is upon us. The 2012 Virginia General Assembly will convene next Wednesday in Richmond, and we’ve been busy preparing to fight for the legislative priority issues that you, our producer members, deemed the most important.

A big thank you goes out to all of you who attended our Senatorial District meetings across the state, as well as our Field Services Directors who helped set up the meetings. We had a great turn out this year and were very successful educating our legislators about our issues.

We will be updating you on the statuses of these issues and other issues that affect agriculture as they arise in a few different ways. We will be updating the blog every Tuesday and Thursday with important articles, so please make sure you bookmark this page under your Favorites folder or subscribe by e-mail on the left of this page.

 We will also be sending out important action and information alerts on Wednesdays and Fridays. I can already foresee us calling on your support and action several times during this session, so please make sure you are receiving these important e-mails from the VFB Capitol Connections Action Center by e-mailing kelly.pruitt@vafb.com.

There is a change this year–we will only be sending out three paper General Assembly update mailings. Those will be on: January 27, February 17 and March 23. These are the only times we’ll be sending out updates through the mail, so, if you can, please sign up for the blog and the Capitol Connections Action Center when you can.

Legislative Day is January 24. We have an exciting day planned starting with the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance training session in the morning, lunch with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, meeting with legislators and delivering the Stand Our Ground: Property Rights postcards, and ending with our legislative reception hosted by the VFB Women’s Committee. I know a lot of you have registered, and we look forward to seeing you at the Capitol.

Thanks to your action and support, we’ve had much success over the years at the General Assembly. We hope you will step up again to help us keep you and all of Virginia agriculture in business.

Thanks for all that you do,