Dearth of vetoes reflects McDonnell’s success
At midnight Monday, the deadline passed for Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto or amend the nearly 900 bills that cleared the General Assembly this session.
So far, he has announced just one veto: of a bill requiring schools to provide at least 150 minutes of physical education per week. And McDonnell recommended mostly minor changes in 35 other bills. Legislators will reconvene in the Capitol on Wednesday [April 6] to vote on the governor’s actions.
The light agenda for the “reconvened session” may reflect McDonnell’s bipartisan success in dealing with lawmakers. During the assembly’s 2011 session, the first Republican governor in eight years worked cooperatively with the Democratic-led Senate as well as the GOP-controlled House.
McDonnell said that the 47-day session – running from Jan. 12 through Feb. 27 – was productive and that 92 percent of his legislative agenda passed.
“In just six productive weeks, the General Assembly has worked diligently to pass, in a strong bipartisan manner, legislation that will greatly improve Virginia’s transportation system, increase access to higher education, streamline and reform government, and help grow opportunities in our economy,” he said in a statement.
Since the session adjourned, McDonnell has been scrutinizing the legislation that emerged from the General Assembly.
He has signed into law the vast majority of bills. They range from House Bill 2040 and Senate Bill 1109, which will allow inmates to maintain Virginia’s 41 interstate-highway rest stops; to SB 924, which will impose stricter standards on clinics that perform first-trimester abortions.
McDonnell also signed into law the bills that make up his transportation plan, which will pump $4 billion into financing roads, bridges and rail projects across the commonwealth over the next three years. It will be Virginia’s largest infusion of cash for transportation in a generation.
Although most of his legislative agenda passed, the session wasn’t a complete success for McDonnell.
One of his most prominent issues, an attempt to privatize state-run liquor stores, was derailed. The governor proposed a couple of privatization bills; they died after lawmakers in both parties raised objections.
Delegate Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, says McDonnell may try to resurrect the ABC privatization issue during next year’s session. But to win over legislators, any plan would have to be substantially different from this year’s proposal, Surovell said.
“The governor would be better off taking this in small steps with pilot programs instead of a wholesale change,” Surovell said.
Governor Flexes Veto Pen on PE Bill
The only veto announced so far by Gov. Bob McDonnell takes aim at Senate Bill 996, which, beginning in fall 2014, would require public schools to provide at least 150 minutes of physical education per week in kindergarten through eighth grade.
McDonnell said school districts and teachers opposed the legislation. He called the bill an “unfunded mandate” imposed by the General Assembly on local governments.
“While I strongly agree that we must encourage exercise and physical activity, I oppose unfunded mandates, whether they come from Washington or Richmond. In the fight against childhood obesity and preventable disease, we all have a role to play,” McDonnell said.
“Government cannot just pass legislation and make this problem go away. Kids need to get off the couch and away from the computer and onto a soccer field or basketball court.”
SB 996 was sponsored by Sen. Ralph Northam, a Democrat from Norfolk. It incorporated proposals from two other Democrats – Sens. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and John Miller of Newport News.
The Senate voted 37-2 for SB 996. But it had a harder time in the House – passing 55-40.
A Republican delegate, John O’Bannon of Henrico, sponsored a similar measure in the House. His proposal, House Bill 1644, cleared the House on a 65-31 vote. But O’Bannon withdrew his bill when it was under consideration by the Senate because Northam’s legislation was further along.
McDonnell, a Republican, said the bill’s objective is “laudable,” and he noted that his wife, Maureen McDonnell, “has made combating childhood obesity and inactivity, and promoting preventative healthcare, one of her chief issues as Virginia’s first lady.”
“However, we should not attempt to achieve important goals by disproportionately placing the burden of implementation on others,” the governor said.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.
The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.
But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.
That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe film “Oliver” will play at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Rd. Tickets are $1… Full text