Senate approves Martinsville referendum

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 6:42 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia General Assembly continues to advance a referendum for voters in the city of Martinsville.

Thursday afternoon, the State Senate passed legislation that would give city residents the chance to vote on Martinsville becoming a town.

“Let the people decide,” Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin Co.) told members of the Senate. “It is their right in a free and Democratic society.”

Stanley said he introduced the legislation at the request of Martinsville residents who felt they had no say in the decision.

But a majority on Martinsville City Council continues to support reversion. And Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath Co.) said the General Assembly shouldn’t take sides.

“The negotiations are already underway between Martinsville and Henry County,” Deeds said during the debate. “This referenda is an 11-and-a-half hour effort to delay reversion, which is inevitable.”

Other lawmakers from outside western Virginia also weighed in on the legislation.

“And I think there is great merit, not only letting the citizens decide in a referendum, but then after that referendum is held, then honor it. And that’s what SB85 does,” said Sen. Joe Morrisey (D-Richmond).

“So there’s been agreement, and MOUs (memorandum of understanding) hammered out between all of the localities, until the last moment when they figured out they can use this as a stall tactic and put the brakes on it all,” said Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-Woodbridge).

Despite the objections the bill passed on a vote of 32 to 8.

A similar bill has passed the House of Delegates, so it appears the legislation will soon be on its way to Governor Glenn Youngkin.

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