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Lawmakers sustain Northam’s vetoes

RICHMOND, Va. - Overshadowed by the sexual assault allegations surrounding Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Virginia lawmakers upheld all of Gov. Ralph Northam’s vetoes.

The General Assembly convened Wednesday for just one day to consider Northam’s vetoes of bills passed during the Assembly’s regular session.

Some Republicans challenged their Democratic colleagues before the session about whether they would stick with Northam, who came under fire after a racist photo from his 1984 yearbook page emerged in February.

Lawmakers agreed to Northam’s amendment to stop suspending driver’s licenses of people who failed to pay court fines.

That means more than 600,000 Virginians will have their licenses restored on July 1. The House and Senate were divided over Northam’s amendment to ban handheld cellphone use on all Virginia roads.

The Senate supported Northam’s proposal, but the House Speaker ruled it out of order. The bill, which only banned handheld cellphones in work zones, now goes back to the governor, who can agree to the original bill or veto it.

Wednesday’s session was dominated by the accusations against Fairfax. Two women have accused him of sexual assault and called for a hearing where they can testify under oath. Fairfax again denied the charges and called for prosecutors to investigate. He said he would cooperate with investigators and testify under oath.

A hearing has not been scheduled.

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