Henrico County VA
General Assembly

Governor creates center for mental health services


Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed an executive directive to create a center that will foster collaboration among government agencies in providing behavioral health and justice services for people with mental illnesses or other problems.

McAuliffe announced the establishment of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice during the final meeting of the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response.

“Nearly a year ago, I asked this task force to continue its work and develop bold ideas to help the commonwealth address the gaps in our behavioral health system,” McAuliffe said Monday.

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.

Delegate admits not reading gun rights bill he proposed


Rustburg Republican Del. Matt Fariss admitted to not reading his own proposed legislation restoring Second Amendment rights to federal felons and thinks that contributed to the bill getting killed.

“I did not read the bill before it went to the Committee. The Committee said it was too broad but all I wanted was to allow nonviolent criminals to be awarded gun rights back by the federal government,” Fariss said. “The way the resolution was worded included people that were violent.”

Brian Malte, senior national policy director at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, felt a wave of relief at the news of the failure of the bill, HR202.

Bill would help taxpayers, Habitat for Humanity


Delinquent property owners could settle their tax bills by donating their property to Habitat for Humanity or a similar nonprofit, under legislation moving through the General Assembly.

The Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity has pushed for the measure (HB 2173), which won unanimously approval from the House of Delegates last week.

Known as the Habitat Bill, it would enable delinquent taxpayers to exchange their property for the taxes they owe, explained the legislation’s sponsor, Del. Robert Orrock Sr., R-Thornburg.

Senate may increase vehicle registration fee


The Senate is considering a bill that would impose an additional vehicle registration fee in Virginia and use the money to fund the State Police.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 10-4 last week in favor of the measure, which would establish a new fee of $1.25 this July, on top of the standard cost of registering a motor vehicle. The bill is now before the full Senate and must pass by Tuesday night or else it is dead for this legislative session.

Under Senate Bill 754, the additional fee would increase by $1.25 each year until 2024, when it would be capped at $12.50. The resulting revenue would go into a newly created account called the Public Safety Trust Fund and allocated to the Department of State Police.

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