Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: March 25, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation That Would Impose a Permanent Penalty on Individuals Convicted of Certain Felonies

RICHMOND—Governor Northam today vetoed Senate Bill 1782, which would prohibit individuals convicted of certain felonies from serving as a notary public even if such person’s rights have been restored. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

March 25, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1782, which would prohibit individuals convicted of certain felonies from qualifying to be a notary public even if such person’s rights have been restored.

When a person convicted of a felony has served his or her sentence, that individual has paid his or her debt to society. This bill would impose a permanent penalty on certain individuals by barring them from becoming a notary public, a civil right that, currently, is explicitly restored. Furthermore, this prohibition would exist without any avenue for a person to regain their ability to become a notary public. This lifetime punishment undermines the significance and meaning of having one’s rights restored.

Being qualified to act as a notary public can be essential to a person’s profession and is a prerequisite for certain jobs. Losing the ability to earn a living in these careers only continues to punish an individual who has served his or her time and had his or her rights restored. Furthermore, this bill unfairly hurts the livelihood of former Virginia felons who currently work as notaries public and are positively contributing to society.

Permanently prohibiting a person from exercising a civil right without a process to fully regain that right is antithetical to the concept of restorative justice and the belief that returning citizens deserve a second chance.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

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