General Assembly 2013

Poor pay more to fund roads, report says

Virginia’s multibillion-dollar transportation funding package will put a heavier burden on lower-income households than on more affluent families, according to a Richmond-based think tank.

“The tax increases in the package would require low- and moderate-income Virginians to pay a bigger share of their earnings for transportation than wealthier households,” the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis said in a recent analysis of House Bill 2313.
> Read more.

Debating the math on education funding

During the General Assembly’s 2013 session, state legislators debated how much to spend on public education. But has education funding been going up or down? It depends on whom you ask. Democratic politicians and the Virginia Education Association say funding for the commonwealth’s public schools is at its lowest level since 2008.

Gov. Bob McDonnell disputes that.
> Read more.

Middle school students to get help in math

Middle-school students who are struggling with math will soon get extra help.

In July, a new state law kicks in that will require public schools to provide “mathematics remediation and intervention to students in grades six through eight who show computational deficiencies."
> Read more.

New law cracks down on bullying in schools

Beginning in July 2014, each school board in Virginia must include in its student code of conduct a prohibition against bullying, including cyberbullying. Moreover, school divisions must educate teachers and other employees about bullying and “the need to create a bully-free environment.

Those requirements are contained in legislation that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law last month. The legislation is House Bill 1871, introduced by Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond. It easily passed the House and Senate in February.
> Read more.

State budget increases funding for education

During the final hours of Wednesday’s reconvened session, the General Assembly approved a state budget that boosts funding for Virginia’s public schools next year.

Legislators considered changes that Gov. Bob McDonnell wanted them to make to House Bill 1500, which lays out the state budget for the 2013-14 biennium. The assembly had passed the bill in February, but McDonnell recommended 52 amendments.
> Read more.

Assembly approves anti-abortion amendment

The General Assembly on Wednesday narrowly approved an amendment by Gov. Bob McDonnell that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion.

McDonnell added the anti-abortion amendment to House Bill 1900, sponsored by Delegate Thomas Davis Rust, R-Herndon. The assembly passed the bill in February to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the system, Virginians who cannot afford health insurance will participate in a federally operated health insurance exchange.
> Read more.

New rules for mopeds down the road

Moped operators in Virginia would have to wear helmets and eye protection, carry a government-issued photo ID, and title, register and put a license plate on their scooters under a bill waiting to be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Senate Bill 1038, passed by the General Assembly during its recent session, is based on recommendations from a yearlong study conducted by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
> Read more.

New law declares parental rights ‘fundamental’

Starting July 1, parents in Virginia will have “a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care” of their children.

Gov. Bob McDonnell signed two identical bills on the issue: House Bill 1642, sponsored by Delegate Brenda Pogge, R-Williamsburg; and Senate Bill 908, sponsored by Sen. Bryce Reeve, R-Fredericksburg. The bills formally declare parental rights as fundamental, meaning they will have the highest level of legal protection.
> Read more.

‘Siri, how will the texting law work?’

Virginia drivers should get used to hitting “send” on their phones before they get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Beginning July 1, a new state law will crack down on texting while driving. Gov. Bob McDonnell approved the law Monday but recommended that the General Assembly reduce the proposed fines for violators.

During its recent session, the General Assembly passed two bills to change texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense.
> Read more.

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Voices of Lee, an a cappella group from Lee University, will perform at 6 p.m. at West End Assembly of God, 401 N. Parham Rd. Admission is free. For details, call 740-7042 or visit Full text

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