General Assembly

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.”

Future public servants observe lawmaking firsthand


For the past two months, they showed up every day at the state Capitol, dressed in matching blazers and carrying pen and paper at the ready – the next generation of public servants carefully observing their superiors.

These young adults are known as pages. They are middle school and high school students from around Virginia who assist in everyday tasks at the General Assembly to experience firsthand how the legislative process works.

The program dates as far back as 1850, when the one page who worked was paid $2 a day.

Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run.

Assembly poised to OK state budget on Friday


Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.

The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies.

ACLU urges McAuliffe to veto anti-immigration bills


Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.

At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.

Governor signs bills to fight Virginia’s opioid crisis


Capping off a signature issue of the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed five bills Thursday to help arm the fight against opioid abuse and fatal overdoses in Virginia.

The bills address the crisis in various ways. They include SB 848 and HB 1453, which allow community organizations to dispense and train individuals to use naloxone, a drug that can treat an opioid overdose in emergency situations.

“We recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing,” McAuliffe said.

New law lets concession stands sell cans of beer


Beginning July 1, Virginians will be able to buy a can of beer – not just a cup – at indoor and outdoor concession stands that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

That’s the effect of a bill that Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on Monday. Senate Bill 1469 will add “single original metal cans” to the list of disposable containers that can be used for the sale of beer, wine and mixed alcoholic drinks.

State lawmakers pass laser hair removal regulations


Laser hair removal in Virginia would have to be done under the supervision of a doctor or other health professional, according to a bill approved this week by the General Assembly.

House Bill 2119, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, would require that laser hair removal treatments be performed by a medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner – or by a “properly trained person” working under one of those professionals.

Assembly amends description of ‘dangerous dog’


Both the House and Senate have unanimously approved a bill that would change the legal description of a “dangerous dog” and possibly put fewer animals on a state registry.

HB 2381 cleared the Senate, 40-0, on Tuesday after winning approval in the House on Feb. 6. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Del. Matthew Farris of Rustburg, wants to give a dog the benefit of the doubt if it bites a person or another animal.

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March 2017
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