Assembly continues funding for PBS
Lawmakers uphold 66 of McDonnell's 86 amendments to state budget
The state Senate has ensured that Virginians will still ask that age-old question: “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”
The Senate on Wednesday night overturned Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to eliminate state funding for public broadcasting over the next two years.
The Senate’s 27-13 vote doesn’t alter the 10 percent cut in funding for public broadcasting approved by the General Assembly during its regular session in February.
However, senators rebuffed McDonnell’s call to eliminate fully half of the money that public radio and television stations would receive during the coming fiscal year – and the remaining half the following year. The governor’s office said his plan would save taxpayers $4.2 million.
The House of Delegates upheld McDonnell’s budget amendment to phase out state funding for public broadcasting. However, the amendment dies if one chamber rejects it – as the Senate did.
The votes came during the General Assembly’s “reconvened session,” a one-day meeting to consider vetoes, changes to legislation and budget amendments made by the governor.
In all, the House and Senate upheld 66 of the governor’s 86 amendments to the budget. The other 20 were nixed.
The General Assembly also voted on one of the most controversial amendments – a provision that would block insurance coverage for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening health concerns.
The Republican-controlled House easily passed McDonnell’s abortion-restricting measure on a 61-36 vote. But the issue was the subject of heated debate in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority.
Two Democratic senators voted with the Republican minority in favor of the restriction. The result was a tie vote that was broken by Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, allowing the restriction to pass.
Bolling also cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of McDonnell’s amendment to allocate $380,000 for an abstinence education fund.
Two of the governor’s four vetoes this year dealt with the environment – and the General Assembly upheld both of them.
One bill would have allowed the state Department of Environmental Quality to impose civil penalties of up to $30,000. The other bill would have authorized the State Water Control Board to impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 on people who fail to report certain water withdrawal information.
Since the General Assembly sustained the governor’s vetoes, both bills are dead.
Both houses approved four of the five amendments that McDonnell made to a bill requiring governments and large employers to include autism services in their employee health insurance plans.
Legislators upheld McDonnell’s proposals to create a licensing board for autism therapists and to require prior authorization for services.
Lawmakers rejected McDonnell’s amendment that would have gutted the entire law if part is “invalidated by state or federal law or a court of competent jurisdiction”
For more than a decade, parents of autistic children in Virginia pushed for a state law requiring insurers to cover autism services.
The legislation will require health insurers to pay for a set of therapies, known as applied behavior analysis, for children age 2 to 6 with autism.
The new law will apply to businesses with more than 50 employees; it also will cover public employees. The statute won’t apply to individual or small group insurance policies. Under the law, annual benefits will be limited at $35,000.
The Senate upheld McDonnell’s veto of a bill that would have required 150 minutes of physical education in elementary and middle schools.
The measure was widely criticized as an unfunded burden on local school systems.
In a letter to the governor, several educators and school board associations wrote that “Many elementary schools throughout the Commonwealth do not have gymnasiums or other facilities sufficient to meet the requirements of this bill.”
Both the House and Senate voted to give the University of Virginia almost $2.7 million in state bond funds to repair its landmark Rotunda. The House voted 98-1 in favor of the measure. The Senate voted 40-1.
Both the chambers of the General Assembly shot down McDonnell’s veto of a bill to raise the amount that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill will raise the existing $2 million cap by $50,000 a year – until it reaches $3 million in the year 2031.
To overturn the governor’s veto, both houses must achieve a majority of two-thirds.
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.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > 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.
Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.
A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”
The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.
The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.
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