General Assembly

Equality groups to host House of Delegates candidate forum Oct. 24


Four equality organizations are partnering to host a Virginia House of Delegates candidate forum in Henrico Oct. 24.

The forum is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Ridge Elementary School, preceded at 5:45 p.m. by a "Meet the Candidate" session.
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Senate committee rejects 2 pro-choice bills


Five days earlier, half a million protesters showed up for the Women’s March on Washington. On Thursday, two pro-choice abortion bills were defeated 8-7 along party lines by a Senate committee.

The Senate Committee on Education and Health rejected SB 1424, which advocates had dubbed the Restoring Dignity to Informed Consent act, and SB 1549, aka the Whole Woman’s Health Act. The panel limited testimony on the bills to two minutes, women’s rights activists said.

SB 1424, sponsored by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, would have allowed a woman who had received medically necessary information about abortion from her doctor to choose not to receive additional, non-medical information.
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Panel rejects expansion of seat belt law


Virginia auto safety groups are criticizing a House panel after it killed a bill that would have required every passenger in a car to use a seat belt.

“This is a low-hanging fruit in traffic safety, getting people to buckle up,” said Kurt Erickson, president and CEO of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a group that fights drunken and irresponsible driving in the D.C. area. “Virginia is constantly below the national rate of people wearing seat belts.”

Erickson said efforts to strengthen Virginia’s seat belt laws go back to the early 1970s. He called the General Assembly’s hesitance a “libertarian defense.”
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Legislators seek to curb ‘distracted driving’


A coalition of Democrats and Republicans called Tuesday for new laws to discourage Virginia motorists from using their cellphones while driving.

The legislators unveiled several bills targeting “distracted driving,” which they said caused thousands of traffic accidents and killed 175 people in the state last year.

HB 1834, sponsored by Del. Rich Anderson, R-Woodbridge, would make it illegal for drivers to “manually select multiple icons or enter multiple letters or text” in a handheld device – meaning they couldn’t check Facebook, send a tweet or view a video on YouTube. Current state law prohibits drivers only from sending emails or text messages.
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School security gun bill passes House


School security officers could carry firearms in schools under a bill passed Tuesday by the House of Delegates.

The GOP-controlled House voted 78 to 19, with several Democrats joining Republicans in support, to pass HB 1392. This is the second time in as many years that a version of the bill has made it past the House and into the Senate.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the measure last year.
> Read more.

Senate panel OKs bans on LGBT discrimination


Legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment and housing cleared a Senate committee on Monday and now will go to the full Senate for consideration.

SB 783, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, would prohibit public employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted 12-3 in favor of the bill.

SB 822, filed by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, would prohibits public housing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identification. The committee approved the proposal, 11-3.
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Animal tethering bill tabled by subcommittee


A bill to prohibit the tethering of dogs and other animals was rejected Monday by a subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1802, filed by Del. John J. Bell, D-Chantilly, would have allowed tethering only if the owner of the animal were outside and within sight of the pet.

The meeting of the committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee brought out both supporters and opponents of the tethering bill.
> Read more.

Lawmakers aim to increase access to opiate antagonist


Virginia lawmakers are attempting to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic with a slew of bills that aim to widen the availability of the opiate overdose medication naloxone.

“We are facing a crisis in Virginia and in the nation, losing more people to opioid overdose than to car crashes,” said Rep. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax.

She is sponsoring HB 1449, which “will allow individuals trained and authorized by the Department of Behavioral Health, in coordination with the Board of Pharmacy, to go into the community with the life-saving antidote naloxone so they can get to the people who are most at risk,” Boysko said.
> Read more.

House of Delegates OKs ‘Tebow Bill’


The Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Tuesday that would allow home-schooled students to participate in high school sports and other extracurricular activities.

HB 1578, commonly known as the “Tebow Bill” after former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, passed by a 60-38 vote on the House floor Tuesday. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

The proposal, introduced by Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, would eliminate a statewide ban prohibiting home-schooled students from participating in high school athletics and other interscholastic activities.
> Read more.

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RVA UsToo Prostate Cancer Support Group meets the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Ridge Baptist Church, 1515 E. Ridge Rd. near Regency Square Mall, in the Fellowship Hall at the back of the church parking lot. Dr. Charron, VCU director of nuclear medicine, will discuss the clinical advantages of the recently FDA approved Axumin fluciclovine (F-18) scan for imaging of prostate cancer recurrence just adopted at VCU. Physicians, men, family and caregivers are welcome. For details, contact Peter Moon at 346-4407 or visit http://www.rvaprostatecancersupport.org. Full text

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