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.

Virginia mulls in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants

It is the American motto – the premise the country takes pride in: If you work hard, you can accomplish anything, be anything. But for some who consider themselves Americans, the rule does not apply.

Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children face an obstacle when trying to accomplish their educational goals. When they graduate from high school, they must pay out-of-state tuition at Virginia’s public colleges and universities — a difficult feat since they usually don't qualify for financial aid programs either.

Bills would ban smoking in cars with kids

A bill to forbid smoking in cars carrying children is dead in the House, but a similar proposal remains alive in the Senate. House Bill 1366, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Morrissey, D-Richmond, would have made it illegal to smoke in a car if a child under 13 were in the vehicle.

The legislation would have made violations a secondary offense, meaning drivers could be cited only if pulled over for another reason. Violators could have been fined $100 under Morrissey’s bill.

A toast to Virginia’s record wine sales

Gov. Bob McDonnell has good reason to break open a bottle of Virginia wine and celebrate: Wine produced by the state’s vineyards posted record sales last year.

Virginia wineries sold about 485,000 cases of wine during the 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30. That was up about 2 percent from the previous record of 477,000 cases in 2011. And wine exports, to both other states and other countries, jumped a combined 39 percent.

Bills would let schools start before labor day

Lawmakers from across Virginia are pushing a half-dozen bills this legislative session to let public schools start classes before Labor Day.

Delegate Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, is among legislators sponsoring bills to repeal Virginia’s “King’s Dominion law,” which prevents local schools from opening before Labor Day unless they get special permission from the state.

Survey from students: No guns on campus

Eight out of 10 college students in Virginia are against allowing guns on campus, according to a statewide survey conducted by the advocacy group Virginia 21. The organization, which represents young adults in Virginia, has been surveying college and university students about hot-button issues that may crop up during this year’s legislative session.

One such issue: whether guns should be permitted on campus. Some Second Amendment advocates say armed students could protect themselves against school shootings like the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Democrats unveil plans for Assembly

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus is calling for higher taxes to boost funding for transportation, education and other services. The caucus outlined its legislative agenda for the 2013 General Assembly at a news briefing Tuesday. Seven senators from the Democratic leadership spoke, each championing different issues, such as Medicaid, gun control and a “Dream Act” to help the children of illegal immigrants.

Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw of Falls Church presented a plan to increase funding for transportation.

Committee will consider restoring felons’ rights


A Senate subcommittee tied 3-3 Tuesday on proposed constitutional amendments to restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who’ve completed their sentences. The vote occurred in the constitutional amendments subcommittee of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee. The tie vote is adequate to send the matter to the full committee for consideration.

The subcommittee considered constitutional amendments proposed by Democratic Sens. Chap Petersen of Fairfax, Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and Donald McEachin of Richmond. The panel combined the measures and then voted on them.

Cuccinelli backs human trafficking legislation


Legislation to curtail human trafficking in Virginia has gathered bipartisan support early in the General Assembly’s 2013 session.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli called the offense one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the country. He said Tuesday that Virginia was feeling the effect.

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