General Assembly

House OKs bill to ease rule on concealed gun permits


The Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Wednesday to allow members of the military to obtain concealed handgun permits at age 18HB 1582, introduced by Del. Jeff Campbell, R-Marion, passed by a vote of 78-19. It will now go to the Senate for consideration.

The bill would allow active-duty military personnel and those with an honorable discharge between the ages of 18 and 20 to receive concealed handgun permits, provided they have completed basic training. The current minimum age for a concealed handgun permit is 21.

Proposed budget boosts employees’ pay


Virginia teachers, state troopers and other state employees would all receive pay raises thanks to a state budget agreement moving toward approval in the General Assembly.

Teachers would see a 1.5 percent pay raise while State Police officers and other state employees would receive a 2 percent increase under the conference report crafted over the weekend by House and Senate negotiators seeking to amend the state’s 2014-16 budget. Final votes may be held as early as Thursday, General Assembly leaders announced Monday.

Sen. John Watkins, R-Chesterfield, said Virginia was fortunate to have thousands of committed state employees whose day-to-day work is integral to the efficient and effective operation of government.

Virginia lawmakers eye new laws on drones


As the federal government establishes national guidelines for commercial drones, the General Assembly is considering whether and how to restrict drones in Virginia.

At the start of the legislative session, five bills regarding drones had been submitted – two affecting hobbyists and the others affecting government agencies.

House Bill 2017, proposed by Del. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, and Senate Bill 937, proposed by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, sought to allow local governments to ban individuals from flying drones under 55 pounds. However, both measures are dead for this session.

House kills bill to legalize selling switchblades


Any Virginians using this week’s snow days to start planning a “Warriors”-style gang – complete with throwing stars and switchblades – must now put the jean jacket back in the closet and go back to the drawing board.

On Wednesday, the House of Delegates reversed itself and killed a controversial but virally popular bill – SB 1130, which would have repealed the state’s ban on the sale of (or possession with intent to sell) novelty handheld weapons including brass knuckles, “oriental darts” and blackjacks.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, originally passed the House of Delegates on Tuesday by a vote of 56-42 and appeared to be on its way to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Governor signs law allowing Uber, Lyft to operate


After operating under a temporary agreement for the better part of a year, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft now have a law allowing them to transport passengers in Virginia after Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that sets licensing procedures and standards for drivers.

“I am proud to sign this legislation, which supports innovation in our transportation system while also protecting the safety of citizens across the commonwealth. Virginia is leading the way on attracting and supporting innovative companies in every sector of our economy,” McAuliffe said Tuesday.

The signing of House Bill 1662 and Senate Bill 1025 formalizes an interim agreement that the governor and Attorney General Mark Herring reached with the taxi-like companies last summer.

Assembly blocks access to handgun permits


It is now up to Gov. Terry McAuliffe whether to sign into law legislation that would prohibit certain out-of-state police agencies from accessing information regarding concealed weapon permits issued by the commonwealth of Virginia.

The House of Delegates gave final approval Tuesday to the measure, Senate Bill 948. The vote was 66-33, with Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposing it. SB 948 now advances to McAuliffe for consideration.

If signed into law, states like Maryland would not have access to concealed weapon permit data from the Virginia Criminal Information Network. Maryland does not recognize concealed handgun permits issued by Virginia.

Senate passes ‘Tebow Bill’ for home-schoolers


The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, debate and band at their local public school.

Senators voted 22-13 in favor of House Bill 1626, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Albermarle. The bill had already passed the House on a vote on 57-41.

The legislation, known as the “Tebow Bill,” states that public schools could allow students under home instruction to engage in extracurricular activities.

Virginia still deciding if women are equal


In 1972, when Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and asked states to ratify it, “The Godfather” was No. 1 at the box office, people talked on rotary telephones and women made up about one-third of the U.S. workforce.

Today, “The Godfather” I, II and III are quotable classics, people surf the Internet with their smartphones and almost half of American workers are women. And Virginia is still deciding whether to ratify the ERA.

The ERA would put in the U.S. Constitution a guarantee that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The proposed amendment was never added because it was not ratified by the requisite 38 states.

Few women hold seats in Va. legislature


After winning her seat for the first time in the Virginia General Assembly, Del. Jennifer McClellan was asked to give a speech on the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade. After initially agreeing to speak about it, McClellan changed her mind and declined. She decided it was important for her first speech as a delegate to be about an issue that was not stereotyped as a “women’s issue” such as abortion.

Instead, her first speech was about payday lending.

McClellan, D-Henrico, said she wanted to prove that women were capable of discussing other pressing matters than what are considered “women’s issues,” in fact, she said she has tried to make every issue a women’s issue since taking office.

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