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House subcommittee buries felons' rights measure

Monday - 2/11/2013, 6:11pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow automatic restoration of nonviolent felons' civil rights is dead for the 2013 General Assembly session.

A House of Delegates subcommittee refused to act on the Senate-passed measure Monday, ensuring its demise and disappointing Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The Republican governor surprised lawmakers in both parties when he championed the historically Democrat-backed legislation in his State of the Commonwealth speech to open the session. The same subcommittee that rejected the Senate bill previously killed similar House legislation.

Currently, only the governor can restore felons' rights. McDonnell lamented the legislature's failure to enact what he called a "common sense reform" to restore nonviolent felons' rights to vote and serve on a jury. He vowed to continue advocating for automatic restoration, although his term ends in January.

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