Henrico County VA
General Assembly

Dating violence is a growing problem


Married couples are not the only ones affected by domestic violence. A nationwide trend of dating violence is on the rise. Dating violence can take many forms, including psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. This is something Morgan Carey of Richmond knows firsthand.

Carey said the dating abuse she suffered was primarily emotional but started to take a more dangerous turn. So through Meetup.com, she started a support group for women in similar situations.

Starting the group had an unexpected benefit, Carey said. It helped her heal while it provided support for others.

Panel OKs law to protect bicyclists


The House Transportation Committee approved a bill Tuesday to make it illegal for the operator of a motor vehicle to follow a bicycle or moped too closely.

The committee voted 20-2 in favor of House Bill 1342, sponsored by Del. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Under current law, motorists are forbidden to tailgate other motorized vehicles. HB 1342 would prohibit motorists from following non-motorized vehicles – such as bicycles, scooters and electric-powered mobility devices – “more closely than is reasonable and prudent.”

Lawmakers seeks to restrict drones

Five bills before the General Assembly would restrict the use of drones in Virginia, including two that would let localities prohibit even hobbyists from flying small unmanned aircraft.

Bills proposed by Del. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, and Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, would allow local governments to ban individuals from flying drones under 55 pounds. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration allows hobbyists to fly such model aircraft as long as they follow safety guidelines.

Bill outlawing housing discrimination fails


A Senate committee on Monday killed a bill making it illegal for landlords to reject potential tenants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 917, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, failed on a 7-7 tie vote in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. Six Democrats and one Republican voted for the bill; seven Republicans voted against it.

Wexton, who sits on the committee, said the bill would have included sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under the unlawful practices in the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

Panel OKs bills aimed at college affordability


Two bills aimed at making college more affordable were approved unanimously Monday by the House Appropriations Committee.

The bills, both introduced by Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, would cap student athletic fees and give certain schools more administrative flexibility. The measures won endorsements Monday from the Appropriations Committee’s Higher Education Subcommittee and then from the full panel. They now go to the entire House of Delegates for consideration.

Bill would address reporting of sexual assaults


A state legislator from Northern Virginia urged her colleagues Tuesday to pass a bill requiring that campus sexual assaults be reported promptly to the local commonwealth’s attorney instead of being handled solely by campus and local police. Under House Bill 1343, sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, campus and local law enforcement authorities would have 48 hours after receiving a report of a sexual assault on a college campus to notify the commonwealth’s attorney.

“By getting the commonwealth’s attorney involved, it’ll make sure that the investigation is properly pursued and victims are given the resources that they need,” Filler-Corn said at a press conference on the eve of the start of the General Assembly’s 2015 session.

Bills would regulate license plate readers


Police could retain for only a week the data they collect from license plate readers, under legislation proposed by a pair of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Northern Virginia.

Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Rich Anderson, R-Prince William, introduced bills last week to put limits on the collection and retention of LPR data by police departments in Virginia.

Currently, Virginia has no limits. As a result, for example, the city of Alexandria keeps license plate data for up to two years, while the Virginia State Police delete their data within 24 hours, according to Petersen’s office.

Transparency efforts designed to help citizens (and legislators)


Delegate Dickie Bell faces a quandary every Monday. As a member of the House Education committee, he has a weekly meeting at 8:30 a.m. He’s also a member of the House Finance committee, which meets at the same time.

“I’m often forced to miss one committee meeting, depending on whose agenda is more important,” said Bell, R-Staunton.

Sometimes he’ll try to catch some of each hearing, climbing the stairs between the first and ninth floors of the General Assembly building, where the meetings are held.

Governor outlines ‘opportunity’ agenda


In a move he said would boost the state’s economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking legislators to remove the requirement that Virginia women get an ultrasound before having an abortion and to “create a more inclusive environment for LGBT Virginians and business owners.”

McAuliffe announced his “full equal opportunity agenda” on Monday, calling on the General Assembly to:

· Remove references to “husband and wife” or “man and woman” in Virginia laws about marriage. Such terms would be replaced with the word “spouse” now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

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