Governor OKs, amends school safety bills
Gov. Bob McDonnell has approved at least six bills and proposed revisions to at least three others aimed at improving school security and creating a safe campus environment. McDonnell had until midnight Monday to act on legislation passed by the General Assembly during its 2013 regular session. Among other measures, the governor signed a half-dozen bills that had been recommended by the School and Campus Safety Task Force that he created in December. These bills will take effect July 1:
• SB 1078, sponsored by Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, will require the State Board for Community Colleges to craft a policy to raise awareness about mental health needs among community college student and faculty members. The law also requires each community college to have at least one individual who acts as a contact point on mental health issues.
• SB 1376, introduced by Sen. Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, will exempt school officials and individuals from civil liability for reporting or investigating the threat of another individual on school property as long as it is done without malice.
• HB 1582, introduced by Delegate Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, will allow security officers hired by schools to carry firearms on school property. The law also prevents the Board of Social Services from preventing day-care centers from hiring an armed security officer.
• HB 1871, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, provides a legal definition for “bullying” and requires public schools to enforce penalties related to incidences of bullying. The definition of “bullying” includes “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate or humiliate the victim.”
• HB 2343, introduced by Delegate Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, will establish the School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and the Local School Safety Fund. These funds will be distributed in the form of grants and loans necessary to enhance a school building’s overall security as well as violence prevention measures.
• HB 2346, introduced by Delegate Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale, requires public schools to undergo inspections by a school safety audit committee in accordance with a standardized checklist. The law also requires all public schools to conduct at least two lock-down drills each school year.
McDonnell also wrote recommendations for a number of other bills suggested by the School and Campus Safety Task Force. These proposed revisions will be considered by the General Assembly when it reconvenes April 3. The governor recommended modifying such bills as:
• SB 1378, introduced by Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Lynchburg. It would increase the penalty for “straw purchases” of a firearm, in which the buyer intends to resell the weapon to someone who is ineligible to have a gun. McDonnell’s recommendation makes it clear that this would not apply to adults buying guns for their children or grandchildren.
• HB 1609, introduced by Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Centreville. As passed, the bill said, “The governing board of each public four-year institution of higher education may establish a written memorandum of understanding with its local community services board or behavioral health authority and with local hospitals and other local mental health facilities in order to expand the scope of services available to students seeking treatment.” McDonnell recommended changing “may” to “shall” – thus requiring colleges and universities to forge such agreements.
• HB 2347, proposed by Delegate David Ramadan, R-South Riding, would allow school principals to pass along to campus police officers information provided by juvenile intake officers about the criminal activity of currently enrolled students. The governor’s recommendation makes it clear that private school administrators also could share this information.
McDonnell created the School and Campus Safety Task Force in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The group submitted an initial round of recommendations to McDonnell on Jan. 31. It will issue a final report by June.
The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.
The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.
The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)
The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.
The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.
Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise
Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.
They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.
As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.
Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.
- More Henrico News