Senate approves Martinsville referendum
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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