Respected political scientist Larry Sabato is calling Virginia’s Republican lawmakers “the most conservative in the party’s modern rise,” saying their control of the state legislature led to a “dramatic change in priorities and emphasis,” ranging from economic to social issues.
The resulting partisanship on both sides of the aisle created some of the most contentious legislation and division ever seen in Virginia politics, the University of Virginia professor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch
“There’s a different tone,” Sabato said. “It’s a more aggressive tone and a much more partisan tone, and I think it’s fair to say the partisanship’s on both sides.”
“And we’re seeing this around the country, not just in Virginia,” he said. “The state legislatures are starting to look like the polarized Congress. And this is a major change.”
Virginia Republicans, emboldened by their control of both the state House and Senate, began the year by passing legislation that lifted a 20-year-old ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month.
They also passed an ultrasound bill aimed at curbing abortions, and they tried but failed to pass a so-called “personhood” measure that defined life as beginning at conception.
The efforts sparked a series of large protests and rallies on the Capitol grounds, the likes of which Sabato said he had not seen since the turmoil of the Vietnam and civil rights protests.
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