Henrico County VA
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General Assembly 2012

New law aims to improve breast cancer detection

Beginning July 1, women getting mammograms will learn whether they have dense breast tissue that could hide cancer. This is due to recent legislation that addresses the test’s failure to detect certain cancers in women with dense breast tissue.

Under the new law, if radiologists conducting mammograms find dense breast tissue, they must send the patient a letter noting that fact – and that dense breast tissue can hide cancer. The letter will urge women to talk to their physicians about the matter.

The new “patient inform” law resulted from efforts by a breast cancer survivor, Cathryn Tatusko of Fairfax County, with support from an aptly named national awareness organization called Are You Dense.

Bills would outlaw new designer drugs

Legislators and medical experts are concerned about the rising use of synthetic drugs known as “bath salts,” which cause a cocaine-like high – and in rare instances can cause death.

The stimulant, promoted by some YouTube videos and websites, is not to be confused with everyday bathing products. After smoking, inhaling or injecting the designer drug, users may experience euphoria – as well as nausea, seizures, paranoia and other side effects, experts say.

Panel kills bill to allow Sunday hunting

A House subcommittee has defeated a Senate-approved bill that would have permitted hunting on Sundays in Virginia.

A subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee recommended Wednesday that Senate Bill 464 be tabled.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, would have allowed hunting on Sundays on private property by the landowners, their immediate family or people who have written permission from the landowners.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Natural Resources Subcommittee, Northam proposed an amendment to limit Sunday hunting to state or federal military bases and wildlife management areas.

Bills undercut reproductive rights, Democrats say

Democratic leaders and women’s right advocates sounded the alarm Thursday about three bills they said would limit a woman’s reproductive freedom in Virginia.

They said House Bill 1, which would grant individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception, would be a step toward making all abortions illegal.

On Tuesday, the House of Delegates passed the measure on a 66-32 vote.

House, Senate disagree on teacher contract bills

The Virginia Education Association, which represents the state’s teachers, can breathe a little easier about legislation to overhaul how teachers are hired and evaluated.

VEA leaders were alarmed Monday when the House voted 55-43 for a bill that would end what critics describe as a tenure system for public school teachers. Under the bill, sponsored by Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, new teachers and principals would receive three-year contracts instead of continuing contracts – making it easier to fire them.

Local officials weigh in on ‘Tebow’ bill

Henrico Del. Jennifer McClellan said home-schooled children could have an unfair advantage over other students under a bill that would let them participate in public school sports.

“It doesn’t create a level playing field because public school kids have a lot of regulations they have to live by,” said McClellan, who voted against the bill that passed the House last week. “Home-schooled kids could spend two hours in the morning at the gym. You have two different sets of kids competing for spots on the same team.”

Pet lovers howl at classifying dogs as livestock

Canine friends may be safe this year, but their legal status in the commonwealth may be questioned again next year.

Animal welfare advocates recently voiced concerns over legislation to redefine livestock animals in state law to include hunting, show and breeding dogs. Senate Bill 610, sponsored by Sen. Richard Black, R-Sterling, also sought to place all animal care oversight under a single state agency – the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Several hundred people converged on the Capitol on Jan. 26 for Virginia Humane Lobby Day to oppose SB 610, said Robin Starr, chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA, one of the event’s organizers.

McDonnell, Cuccinelli call for ‘School choice’

Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and other Republican officials called for more “school choice,” including helping low-income students attend private schools, at a rally at Capitol Square on Tuesday.

They were joined by several hundred students from Richmond-area private schools and other school choice supporters.

The rally was organized by the Family Foundation of Virginia, a nonprofit group that espouses conservative principles and religious values. The rally was held to support two bills before the General Assembly: HB 321 and SB 241.

Senate votes to repeal gun purchase limit

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