Virginia Democrats spurn ‘personhood’ bill


Virginia Democratic leaders are speaking out against Republican legislation that they said seeks to make abortion illegal and even might restrict access to some forms of legal birth control.

The Democrats lashed out at House Bill 1, which would define a human embryo or fetus as a person under state law. The bill, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, states that, beginning at conception, unborn children have “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth,” regardless of their stage of development.

The bill also declares that, “Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.”

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin of Richmond and Henrico County and Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria held a conference call Thursday to discuss the bill and what they describe as “efforts to advance dangerous, divisive and distracting personhood legislation by state and national Republicans including George Allen and Mitt Romney.”
McEachin calls the bill “an abhorrent attack on women’s rights.”

Herring agrees.

“It could have the effect of limiting access to reproductive health care, even in the case of rape, incest or possible death of the mother,” Herring said. “It could also limit women’s access to common forms of FDA-approved forms of contraception.”

(However, Marshall’s bill states that “Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.”)

HB 1 was the first piece of legislation submitted for consideration by the House during the General Assembly session that began Wednesday. The measure has been referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee.

In previous legislative sessions, bills of this nature have been passed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates but were halted in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Such measures often died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

But because of last fall’s elections, Democrats lost their 22-18 majority in the Senate. The 40 senators now are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who presides over the Senate and can cast tie-breaking votes, is a Republican.

As a result, measures like HB 1 have a greater chance of being passed and becoming law.

“We’re not in a position to stop bills like this as we once were,” McEachin said. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why it’s important to get the word out to Virginians.”

Herring said she considers the bill a distraction from problems such as poverty, joblessness, underfunded schools and roads needing repair.

“With [Republicans’] newfound power, you might expect them to get right to work in creating jobs and improving education, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” Herring said. “This kind of legislation … won’t help Virginia business, won’t make college more affordable for young adults, and it won’t make our streets safer.”

To track of comment on Delegate Bob Marshall’s bill, visit Richmond Sunlight: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2012/hb1/
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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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The Weinstein Jewish Community Center will host a free Community Purim Celebration from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come dressed in costume and enjoy free carnival games and prizes, moon bounces, clowns and face-painting, arts and crafts, and more. Food will be available for purchase. The schedule includes Megillah Readings at 11 a.m. (before the carnival) and 12:15 p.m., a costume parade and dance party with DJ Bob at 2 p.m. and a Purim Shpiel presented by Congregation Beth Ahabah at 3 p.m. Bring an individually wrapped food or snack item to donate to Safe Harbor Shelter. For details, visit http://www.weinsteinjcc.org. Full text

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