By Ashley Jordan and Stefani Zenteno Rivadineira, Capital News Service 05/12/2015 General AssemblyGeneral Assembly 2015
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.
Central Virginia residents packed a legislative committee hearing Wednesday to call for more funding for child mental health services, more help for individuals with intellectual disabilities and tighter regulations of private homes providing day care.
Parents and other citizens voiced those concerns at a joint meeting at Capitol Square of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees. It was one of five public hearings held across the state on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed amendments to the state budget.
By Cort Olsen and Michael Melkonian, Capital News Service 01/15/2015 General AssemblyGeneral Assembly 2015
Gov. Terry McAuliffe called on Virginia legislators Wednesday to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses and to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges and universities.
McAuliffe laid out those goals in his State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, which kicked off its 2015 session earlier in the day.
McAuliffe, who is beginning his second year as Virginia’s chief executive, wants the assembly over the next six weeks to pass several measures concerning education.
A Senate committee on Wednesday defeated a bill to include sexual orientation and gender identification in the state’s definition of hate crimes.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 7-6 against Senate Bill 799, which was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. All six Democrats on the committee supported the measure; all seven Republican committee members opposed it.
SB 799 would have expanded the definition of “hate crime” to include offenses committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification. It would have required law enforcement agencies to report such crimes to State Police.
As the Virginia House of Delegates convened Wednesday for the General Assembly’s 2015 session, House Speaker William Howell welcomed newly elected delegates, set out the chamber’s goals and reminded legislators of their position as public servants.
“It is said quite often – public service is a privilege. None of us are entitled to the seats we hold in this body,” said Howell, a Republican from Fredericksburg.
He told lawmakers to live up to the standards expected by their constituents.
Citizen Staff Reports 01/08/2015 General Assembly
Charles City Democrat Kevin J. Sullivan and Henrico Republican Matt D. Walton will compete in a special election for the 74th District House of Delegates seat Jan. 13, and they’ll be joined by the man who resigned the seat late last year – Joe Morrissey, a Democrat who is running as an independent while serving a six-month jail term.
The winner will be sworn in the following day, when the General Assembly returns to session, and will serve the final year of a two-year term.
The somewhat strange scene was set when Morrissey entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (not admitting guilt but admitting that there was enough evidence to convict him) after his relationship with a then-17-year-old girl who worked for him was questioned.
By Tom Lappas, Citizen Editor General Assembly
DEC. 23, 11 A.M. – Henrico County School Board member Lamont Bagby fell several votes short in his attempt to win the Democratic nomination to seek the 74th District House of Delegates seat in a Jan. 13 special election.
Bagby lost by eight votes – 24 to 16 – in a firehouse primary to Charles City resident Kevin Sullivan, a former International Brotherhood of Teamsters political coordinator. Former 74th District representative Floyd Miles finished third.
Only about 100 Democrats in the district (which spans portions of Henrico and Richmond and all of Charles City County) were eligible to vote – those who are active members of the Democratic committees in one of the three localities – and only a few more than 40 turned out.
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.
Members from each branch of the Virginia legislature and health officials from across the commonwealth collaborated on improvement and implementation of mental-health crisis response at an April governor’s taskforce meeting.
Despite ongoing turmoil throughout the state government over the issue of including Medicaid expansion in a final budget, legislators from both chambers and the governor’s office agreed that the recently-passed mental health crisis response bills should receive ample funding.
"Even though we don’t have a budget, we have a basic consensus between the House and the Senate as far as funding level (for mental health crisis response bills)," said Sen. Emmett Hanger, R - Mount Solon.
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