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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.

Bicyclists push for share-the-road laws

Brantley Tyndall, a Richmond bicyclist, used his only form of transportation to show up in support of Bicycle Action Day at the Capitol. This session, Virginia legislators have introduced several bills that advocates say would make biking safer across the commonwealth.

Tyndall says he relies on biking as his means of transportation, because it’s fast, cheap, fun and environmentally friendly and it keeps him healthy. While Tyndall himself hasn’t been involved in a bike accident, he knows several people who have.

Resolution offers tax exemptions for spouses of fallen soldiers

The House passed 99-0 a joint resolution bill today that offers tax exemptions for spouses of soldiers killed in action. The bill provides a real property tax exemption for their primary residence.

This bill adds to the current legislation that provides tax exemptions for spouses of any veteran with a “one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability.” HJ 551 extends these rights to the spouses of soldiers killed in combat.

Senate OKs soccer goal safety law

A bill that aims to prevent death or injury from falling soccer goals has cleared the Senate and is now being considered by the House.

The Senate voted 33-6 last week to approve Senate Bill 933, known as the Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act. A movable soccer goal is a freestanding structure that consists of at least two upright posts, a crossbar and support bars but no secure form of support or restraint.

Virginians rally for those with mental disabilities

Amy Jones, 38, had a 4.0 GPA in school but dropped out after her insurance stopped covering the costs of her medication. She suffers from a mental health disorder and substance abuse.

“I ended up self-medicating, and I ended up here in Richmond at a facility center, which is helping save my life, because it’s helping me to get back on track, get my medications again, so that I can be productive again,” Jones said.

Farrell’s bill would give localities right to establish retirement plans

Del. Peter Farrell, R- Henrico, is sponsoring legislation that would give local governments the option to establish and maintain a defined retirement plan for its employees in lieu of other retirement plans. Farrell said this bill was part of his priority to give local governments the option of having more power to govern its own citizens.

“Respecting [local governments’] ability to self-govern in a measured way is important,” Farrell said. “They have the right and capability to make decisions on their own.”

Critics say bills would suppress voting rights


Augustine Carter spent six years working to get a Virginia identification card so she could vote. Carter had no birth
certificate; the only evidence she had of her birth was a certificate of baptism.

“I went to get my state ID renewed, and I carried this church document, and I was turned down completely. They say the law had changed, and I could not use that. Now what am I going to do? I didn’t know what to do,” Carter said.

2013 Va. General Assembly Q&A

State legislators have returned to Richmond for a 60-day session of the General Assembly, with questions about funding for transportation, education and the state’s retirement system taking center stage as the session began earlier this month. The Henrico Citizen invited each delegate and state senator whose district encompasses a portion of Henrico to provide their thoughts about the 2013 session. The answers of those who responded appear below.

VPA opposes moving public notices online

At their annual lobbying day, members of the Virginia Press Association opposed two House bills that would let local governments post their public notices on their websites instead of publishing them in local newspapers.

The VPA, which represents the state’s newspapers, says the bills are a threat to the public’s access to government information.

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