Civil fines bill for violating Northam’s executive orders advances in House

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Virginians could face civil fines up to $500 for violating the governor’s emergency executive orders through legislation advancing through the House and the Senate.

A House committee Monday advanced Senate Bill 5117, which establishes the civil penalty. The penalty would apply to the governor’s COVID-19-related executive orders and any other order associated with a state of emergency. The bill already has passed the Senate.

A Senate committee advanced the House version of the bill, House Bill 5093, last week.

Current law allows for someone to be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for violating one of the governor’s executive orders, which is subject to a penalty of one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. Although these bills permit a lower penalty, some Republicans have said they likely will lead to more enforcement for less severe violations for which the state does not want to charge a misdemeanor.

The bill advanced Monday in the House’s Public Safety Committee, 21-1.

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