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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New law paves way for delivery robots

Having your groceries delivered by a robot sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but that prospect is not as futuristic as you may think.

For the second year in a row, the Virginia General Assembly has passed a law to legalize the operation of autonomous vehicles. Beginning July 1, “electric personal delivery devices” will be allowed to operate on sidewalks and other shared-use paths throughout Virginia.

> Read more.

Virginia schools must soon test for lead in water

With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, safe drinking water is a high priority nationwide, especially for children. Beginning July 1, schools in Virginia will be required to test their potable water for lead.

Senate Bill 1359, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on March 20, seeks to ensure that local school boards test the drinking water in schools and that it meets federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that the level of lead not exceed 15 parts per billion. > Read more.

Business in brief


The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) has announced its officers and Board of Directors for the 2017–18 fiscal year. At-large Board members include: Anne B. Hagen, CPA, of Masonic Home of Virginia in Henrico. The officers and directors were sworn in at the VSCPA’s annual business meeting on May 16 in Williamsburg. > Read more.

Free weekly 5k coming to Henrico

The Richmond metro area is no stranger to 5k races and events. To participate in most 5k events, runners must register and pay a fee. But the Parkrun organization will be providing Henrico County with a free 5k every Saturday at Deep Run Park starting June 3.

Parkrun began in England in 2004 and eventually found its way to the U.S.

The Deep Run Parkrun program will be the 10th one in the U.S., said Darrell Stanaford, the country manager for Parkrun USA. > Read more.

State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

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May 2017
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Lavender Fields Herb Farm, 11300 Winfrey Rd. in Glen Allen, will offer daily tours (closed Sundays) June 1-30 of the lavender field at 11 a.m. The field is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance fee to the lavender field is $5 per person and includes 20 fresh cut lavender stems and a sample of lavender ice cream. Family entrance is $20 and includes 80 stems and four sample ice creams. During the tour, learn about the lavender plant itself, as well as about the oil and flowers it produces and how the farm uses them. No registration necessary. For details, call 262-7167 or visit http://www.lavenderfieldsfarm.com. Full text

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