Henrico County VA
General Assembly

Governor approves bipartisan mental health bill


A month after being approved by the General Assembly, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed House Bill 206 into law at the beginning of April. The legislation requires each four-year public institution of higher education in the commonwealth of Virginia to create and feature on its website information dedicated solely to the mental health resources available to students at the institution.

The bill was drafted and proposed by a group of students from the University of Virginia, including Hannah Bondurant, a third-year student at the university.

“It’s an easy solution that hopefully will bridge treatment that is available and people actually getting help,” Bondurant told the Cavalier Daily.

Budget would boost teacher pay, Medicaid waivers

The Virginia House of Delegates released its proposed amendments to the 2012-2014 state budget Sunday, seeking to pump more money into the commonwealth’s “rainy day” fund, education and Medicaid.

The proposals include a $95 million deposit in the state’s rainy day fund, which is used for contingencies. The plan also would provide $45 million for pay raises for teachers and school support staff, funding for school security and funding for an addition 250 Medicaid waiver slots.

Law would tell parents about eating disorders

The House has passed a bill requiring Virginia school boards to give students’ parents information about eating disorders.

Delegates on Thursday unanimously approved House Bill 1406, which states, “Each school board shall annually provide parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through 12.”

The bill’s chief patron is Delegate Richard Bell, R-Staunton, a retired high school special education teacher and coach. Democratic Delegates Mark Keam of Vienna and Kaye Kory of Falls Church are co-sponsoring HB 1406.

Cracking down on texting while driving

Members of the House and Senate are optimistic that at least some of the 10 bills to crack down on texting while driving will make it past the legislative deadline called crossover day.

At the start of the session, three such bills were filed in the Senate bills and seven in the House. If a bill has not made it out of the House or Senate by Tuesday, it is left on table for the year. Beginning Wednesday, the House can consider only bills approved by the Senate, and the Senate can consider only legislation passed by the House.

House, Senate disagree on ‘King’s Dominion Law’

The House and Senate are headed in different directions when it comes to repealing Virginia’s “King’s Dominion law,” which generally prevents public schools from opening before Labor Day.

On Monday, the House will consider approving a bill that would make local school boards responsible for setting the school calendar and authorize them to start classes before Labor Day if they want.

Panel nixes tax credits for hiring Virginia graduates

Students receiving degrees from Virginia’s public colleges and universities may struggle to find employment, after a House subcommittee killed legislation that would have given small businesses a $2,500 tax credit for hiring such graduates.

House Bill 1303 was introduced by Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who proposed an incentive system for small businesses that hired people holding an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a public institution of higher education in Virginia. In her eyes, small businesses are the cornerstone for moving graduates from the classroom to the real world.

Adopt school safety ideas, governor tells Assembly

Gov. Bob McDonnell is urging state legislators to approve recommendations from his School and Campus Safety Task Force that would increase sentences for illegally buying guns, require mandatory lockdown drills at schools and establish more comprehensive suicide prevention programs.

McDonnell sent the General Assembly a letter Friday outlining the panel’s initial recommendations.

Governor rejoices as transportation plan moves forward

Gov. Bob McDonnell has reason to celebrate after the House Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a key part of the transportation plan that he hopes will define his term.

“Our effort to enact a long-term solution to Virginia’s transportation funding challenges took a major step forward,” McDonnell said. “I am pleased that legislators from both parties voted in support of our plan.”

I-64 may get millions to ease congestion

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation budget would provide millions of dollars for road and rail projects along Interstate 64 from Newport News to Richmond to ease traffic congestion. According to McDonnell’s office, his transportation budget would allocate $64 million for reconstructive paving and $85 million for capacity improvements on I-64. Capacity improvements would widen the lanes so cars have more room to travel.

McDonnell’s transportation plan, dubbed “Virginia’s Road to the Future,” would invest a total of $3.1 billion into the state’s transportation network over the next five years. About $1 billion would go toward more than 150 rail and transit projects.

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