General Assembly

Assembly sustains all of McAuliffe’s vetoes


The General Assembly failed Wednesday to override any of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes of legislation championed by Republicans, including bills to defund Planned Parenthood and let home-schoolers participate in public-school sports.

Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. That was doable in the House, where there are 66 Republicans and 34 Democrats. But it proved impossible in the Senate, where Democrats hold 19 of the 40 seats.

Massie’s bill seeks to enhance colleges’ responses to sexual assaults


A bill proposed by Henrico Republican Del. James P. Massie III would increase the number of school officials required to respond to college sexual assaults and exclude some information about such assaults from public records.

“We are just trying to improve the communications between the universities and the local law enforcement: the more communication, the better,” Massie said.

Massie’s bill, HB 1016, would exclude the records of a sexual assault response team from required public disclosure and require additional college officials on that team.

House Republicans outline education agenda


House Republicans outlined their agenda for education on Tuesday, saying they want to expand early education and charter schools and give parents more options on where to send their children to school.

Speaking before the House, Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta, lauded his colleagues for a successful bipartisan effort in 2015 that brought “more money into the classroom.”

Landes, who chairs the House Education Committee, said he hopes to continue to work across the aisle to improve what Education Week ranked as the fourth best public education system in the nation.

Here’s a bill beer-drinkers might celebrate


Do you have an expensive bottle of wine you’ve been holding onto – one that you’d love to uncork at your favorite restaurant on a special occasion? What about a special case of beer or cider?

In 2011, the General Assembly passed a law allowing Virginians to bring a bottle of wine into a restaurant and have it uncorked to be served with their meal, usually for a fee at the restaurateur’s discretion. Now legislators are considering a bill to expand the corkage law to beer and cider.

Bill would remove sales tax on tampons


Virginia’s sales tax covers almost everything you buy, from athletic socks to zippers. But it doesn’t apply to medicine, contact lenses and certain other personal health items. Now, the General Assembly is considering adding feminine hygiene products to the list of exemptions.

Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, introduced House Bill 952, which seeks to remove the sales tax on tampons and sanitary napkins in Virginia. Currently these items are taxed at the standard rate, like most other items: 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and 5.3 percent in the rest of the state..

Bills seek ‘religious freedom’ to reject same-sex marriage


A group of Republican lawmakers on Monday touted a bundle of legislation that they said would ensure religious freedom but that critics said would sanction discrimination against gay couples seeking to marry.

Led by Sen. Charles Carrico Sr. of Galax and Del. Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah, the GOP legislators held a press conference at the Capitol to discuss their bills. The proposals were prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June to legalize same-sex marriages.

The Republican-sponsored bills would allow ministers and groups to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings on the basis of their religious convictions.

General Assembly Q&A


State legislators have returned to Richmond for a 60-day session of the General Assembly, during which they will work to craft a two-year budget and are expected to address a handful of prominent topics, including charter schools, higher education, health care, gun control and economic development, among others.

The Henrico Citizen invited each delegate and state senator whose district encompasses a portion of Henrico to provide their thoughts about the 2016 session. The answers of those who responded appear below.

O’Bannon’s bill would double fines for texting while driving


Next time Virginians text and drive, it might cost more than just a data plan.

Henrico Del. John O’Bannon (R-73rd District) has proposed a bill that would double the fines for texting while driving from $125 to $250 for a first offense and from $250 to $500 for a subsequent offense.

O’Bannon did not hesitate when asked why he decided to introduce the bill, HB 73.

Republicans decry Virginia as ‘Soviet Union of health care’


A group of Virginia lawmakers called for legislation to reform Virginia’s “monopolistic” and “inefficient” health care system. “With the Affordable Health Care act taking place several years ago, we’re hearing outcries from people about the high deductibles and the out-of-pocket costs,” Del. Kathy Byron, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce and Labor, said during a press conference Wednesday.

“And although we have our hands tied as to being able to do much with the federal legislation, there are things we can do on a state level to have policy in place that creates competition and choice for the patients of Virginia that will ultimately result in lower costs for them,” said Byron, R-Lynchburg.

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