The Virginia Senate approved legislation on Wednesday that would downgrade the legal penalty for a suspect found guilty of assaulting a police officer.
Senate Bill 5032 would, if signed into law, eliminate the state’s six-month mandatory minimum prison sentence for assaulting an officer, and also gives a local judge or jury the authority to downgrade the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. The Virginia Senate voted 21-15 to approve the bill.
Senator Scott Survell, a Democrat who proposed the legislation, said the bill was not meant to apply in cases of serious injury suffered by police officers.
“What we’re talking about here are situations that involve much more insignificant minor touches,” Survell said in comments reported by the Associated Press. However, state Republicans slammed the legislation in light of ongoing efforts nationwide to “defund” police departments.
“What in the world are we doing?” Senator John Cosgrove Jr. said. “Have you seen the attacks on police officers?”
The bill will now move to the House, where Democrats hold a 55-45 majority.
Democrats took control of the Virginia legislature in 2019 for the first time in decades, with Democrat Ralph Northam in the governor’s office. That newfound power has led state Democrats to attempt to pass a flurry of liberal legislation, including stricter gun-control laws. The Washington Post noted in February of this year that Democrats were submitting so much legislation that lawmakers were working overtime trying to process the proposals.