General Assembly 2017

Equality groups to host House of Delegates candidate forum Oct. 24


Four equality organizations are partnering to host a Virginia House of Delegates candidate forum in Henrico Oct. 24.

The forum is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Ridge Elementary School, preceded at 5:45 p.m. by a "Meet the Candidate" session.
> Read more.

Bill lets women get 1 year of birth control pills


The Virginia Senate on Thursday passed legislation allowing pharmacists to provide women a full year of birth control pills at once if prescribed by a doctor.

HB 2267, was sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield. The bill, titled the Birth Control Access Act, will now be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to be signed into law.

Women’s right activists praised the measure’s passage. Many insurance policies currently limit women to a 90-day supply of birth control pills.
> Read more.

Assembly OKs amendment to help surviving spouses of disabled vets


A constitutional amendment to expand a tax exemption for surviving spouses of disabled veterans has passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

The amendment cleared the Senate on Friday after winning approval from the House on Feb. 6. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who will have until late March to act on the measure.

Currently, surviving spouses of disabled veterans get an exemption on the property taxes for the house in which they and their partner lived.
> Read more.

Over Democrats’ objections, Senate OKs ‘religious freedom’ bill


Democratic officials and the American Civil Liberties Union blasted Republican senators after they passed a “religious freedom” bill that would protect people who refuse to marry same-gender couples.

HB 2025, sponsored by Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper, cleared the Senate on Thursday on a party-line vote of 21-19. The bill protects organizations and their employees who refuse to participate in the “solemnization” of marriage based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Freitas said the legislation was a response to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order that prohibits state contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
> Read more.

VanValkenburg to seek 72nd District seat


Democrat Schuyler VanValkenburg recently announced his intention to seek the party nomination for the 72nd District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. VanValkenburg is a government and civics teacher at Glen Allen High School and has worked in the school system for 12 years. He is a University of Richmond graduate.

The 72nd District seat has been held by Republican Jimmie Massie since 2008.
> Read more.

Legislators designate Suicide Prevention Week


Joshua Alburger grew up in a large, supportive family in Goochland, Virginia, says his sister, Marcie Allen. “We were nurtured, loved, respected and made to feel safe.”

Their parents had five children of their own while raising an additional five, Allen said. She said that later in life, Alburger developed a mental illness and struggled with suicidal thoughts. In 2013, at age 32, he died by suicide, leaving behind a wife of 10 years and three children.

“Joshua’s death broke my heart,” said Allen, who now works to raise awareness about how to prevent suicide.
> Read more.

Assembly passes bill to allow sale of 151-proof liquor


The General Assembly has given final approval to a bill that would allow the sale of 151-proof liquor in Virginia – a choice available in almost all other states, but one some fear could increase binge drinking and other problems on college campuses.

“I am glad to see Virginia join the ranks of 48 other states that have legalized clear, 151-proof alcohol. The law banning the legislation is a law left over from the days of Prohibition,” said Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, who sponsored the bill.
> Read more.

Supporters say Planned Parenthood is for everyone


Pink signs, chants, “pussy hats” and a Wednesday afternoon rally served as a reminder to Planned Parenthood supporters that their fight is not over.

About 60 people attended the Stand With Planned Parenthood rally in the Virginia Commonwealth University Student Commons Plaza. The rally came one day after the Senate narrowly passed HB 2264, a bill some see as an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

“We are bracing ourselves for the attack we are sure to see over the next four years on women’s health care,” said Elizabeth Childress, Richmond City chair of the Young Democrats.
> Read more.

Senate passes bill to defund Planned Parenthood


The Senate on Tuesday narrowly passed a bill to curtail funding for Planned Parenthood and other health centers that perform abortions.

The Senate voted 20-19 along party lines in favor of HB 2264, sponsored by Del. Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst.

The bill states that the Virginia Department of Health “shall not enter into a contract with, or make a grant to, any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where non-federally qualified abortions are performed.”
> Read more.

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VCU's Office of Continuing and Professional Education will offer free events during 3rd Wednesdays at Regency Square. Today’s topic is “Virginia529 Plan: Saving for Continuing Education.” Learn how you and your family can benefit from the tax advantages of a Virginia529 account. Sessions for the 3rd Wednesday series will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Garden Room adjacent to the food court. For details and to register, visit http://www.ocpe.vcu.edu/community. Full text

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