January 2012

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31 Jan 2012

A Scorecard on the Voter ID Bills

At least a half-dozen bills before the General Assembly are causing alarm among voting rights activists. They see the proposals as part of a broader trend in state legislatures across country. Last year, lawmakers in states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Tennessee passed laws requiring voters to show more identification before voting.

30 Jan 2012

Activists Turn Out for Equality Virginia’s Lobby Day

Gay rights advocates have been active at Capitol Square this legislative session, seeking laws that would ban discrimination in employment and adoptions on the basis of sexual orientation. About 75 people turned out last week for the annual Lobby Day held by Equality Virginia, which advocates for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

30 Jan 2012

House Passes Bill Lifting HPV Vaccine Rule

The Virginia House of Delegates has voted to repeal the law requiring girls to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine before entering the sixth grade. On a 62-34 vote Friday, delegates passed House Bill 1112, which would rescind the state law mandating the HPV vaccine.

30 Jan 2012

Officials Fight for Human Trafficking Victims

A bipartisan coalition, including legislators and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, urged the General Assembly on Monday to increase penalties for human trafficking in general and underage sex trafficking in particular.

29 Jan 2012

Businesses May Be Paid For ‘Lost Profits’

Several state legislators are sponsoring proposals to require governments to compensate property owners when public works crews block roads or sidewalks and prevent customers from getting to businesses.

29 Jan 2012

A Tasty Tradition: Legislators Enjoy Brunswick Stew

The Red Oak Stew Crew braved a chill in the early morning air to begin cooking their award-winning Brunswick stew at the state Capitol for the 10th annual Brunswick Stew Day.

28 Jan 2012

Town Hall Meeting for a Ghost Town?

When U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood held a “town hall meeting” at Virginia Commonwealth University to discuss President Obama’s State of the Union address, the turnout implied more of a ghost town than a bustling institution of more 32,000 students.

28 Jan 2012

Mandatory Ultrasound Bill Reaches Senate Floor

A bill requiring a woman to get an ultrasound before having an abortion has cleared a crucial committee and been sent to the Senate floor for a vote next week.
All eight Republicans on the Senate Education and Health Committee voted in favor of the measure, Senate Bill 484, which was sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester. All seven Democrats on the panel voted against it.

28 Jan 2012

Bills Would Mandate Drug Tests for Aid Recipients

If some state lawmakers have their way, Virginians seeking social service benefits may have to submit to mandatory drug tests before receiving public assistance. It would allow local social services departments to conduct drug tests if they have “probable cause” before allowing an applicant to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

28 Jan 2012

Bill Would Let Professors Carry Guns

Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas has proposed a bill that would allow full-time faculty members to carry guns on college campuses. House Bill 91 would ban policies by public institutions of higher education that prohibit full-time faculty members with Virginia concealed handgun permits from packing heat.

28 Jan 2012

Transportation Chief Says Oil Supply ‘Unlimited’

In remarks that raised some eyebrows in the audience, the nation’s top transportation official said this week that there is an “unlimited supply of oil” in parts of the world. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made that statement Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth University at the end of a town hall meeting attended by about 75 students, staff and faculty members.

27 Jan 2012

Senate Approves Lifting Ban on Sunday Hunting

Virginians are one step closer to being able to hunt on Sundays. On a 29-11 vote Thursday, the Senate passed a bill that would allow Sunday hunting on private land. Sen. Ralph Northam, a Democrat from Norfolk, introduced Senate Bill 464. Originally, it would have completely lifted the state’s ban on hunting on Sundays.

27 Jan 2012

Record Turnout for Catholic Advocacy Day

About 250 members of the Richmond and Arlington dioceses participated Thursday in the Virginia Catholic Conference’s 2012 Catholic Advocacy Day. That was a record turnout for the annual event, said Jeffrey Caruso, the executive director of the VCC.

27 Jan 2012

Dance Proposes Legislation on Constituents’ Behalf

Nearly 7.9 million people live in Virginia, but only 140 fill the seats of the General Assembly and can vote on what becomes law and what does not. You’d have a better chance of winning a $1 million Power Ball prize than become a state legislator in Virginia. So it’s easy to see how a delegate or senator could become detached from the public.

27 Jan 2012

More Counties May Get Drug Treatment Courts

Drug offenders in Buchanan County may soon have an alternative to a jail sentence under a measure proposed by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax. Senate Bill 317, which unanimously passed the Senate on Friday, would create drug treatment courts in Buchanan, Russell, Montgomery and Dickensen counties in Southwest Virginia and Goochland County in Central Virginia.

27 Jan 2012

More Counties May Get Drug Treatment Courts

Drug offenders in Scott County soon may have an alternative to a jail sentence under a measure proposed by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Galax. Senate Bill 317, which unanimously passed the Senate on Friday, would establish a drug treatment court in Wise County that also would serve Scott and Lee counties.

27 Jan 2012

Town Elections Might Move to November

Residents of the Tazewell County towns of Bluefield and Pocahontas would elect their town councils in November instead of May under legislation unanimously approved by the state Senate.

25 Jan 2012

Hopewell Native Takes Office at State Capitol

Mike Watson is the new Republican delegate representing Virginia’s 93rd House District, which includes parts of York County, James City County, Newport News and Williamsburg. Watson’s residence in Williamsburg is just a short trip up the James River from Hopewell, where he grew up.

25 Jan 2012

Delegates See Budget, Jobs, Transparency as Key Issues

As the General Assembly enters the third week of its 2012 session, delegates representing the Hopewell-area – Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights, Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg and Riley Ingram of Hopewell – took time to discuss their legislative goals.

25 Jan 2012

Marshall Sees Hope for ‘Personhood’ Bill

Now that Democrats no longer control the House or the Senate, Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, is hoping the General Assembly will pass his bill defining a human embryo or fetus is a person under the law.

25 Jan 2012

Being a Page is a New Chapter in Boy’s Life

For the next few months, 13-year-old Michael Peterson will be abiding by the orders of state legislators rather than listening to his teachers at Forest Middle School in Bedford County. The eighth-grader from the Bedford County town of Goode joins about 30 other boys and girls in the Virginia House of Delegates’ page program.

23 Jan 2012

Catholic Advocacy Day Set for Thursday

Catholic Advocacy Day, a one-day event where members of the Virginia Catholic Conference voice their concerns on 2012 legislation, takes place Thursday in downtown Richmond. Advocates will speak to Virginia legislators about such issues as the death penalty, religious freedom, health care and education, with a focus on “unborn life and ethical research standards.”

22 Jan 2012

Delegates See Budget, Jobs as Key Issues

The General Assembly is well on its way into the 2012 session. Hopewell-area Delegates Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, discussed some of their legislative goals. Cox, the majority leader in the House of Delegates, said his major focus is simple: passing a state budget for the next two years. But he has other goals, such as ensuring adequate funding for programs such as the Virginia Retirement System.

22 Jan 2012

It’s the Economy, Constituents Tell Delegate Cox

Jobs and economic development. That’s what Delegate Kirk Cox’s constituents said is the most pressing issue facing Virginia. Residents of the 66th House District, which includes Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, registered their priorities during a telephone town hall meeting Cox held last week.

21 Jan 2012

One Bill’s Aim: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Stardust

For the average person, the sky is no longer the limit, but you just might have to be dead first.
Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, is proposing legislation to provide tax breaks to Virginia residents who send their cremated remains into outer space.

21 Jan 2012

Bills Would Amend Franklin City Charter

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on a bill that would require Franklin City Council members to resign in order to run for mayor, and the House is considering similar legislation.

21 Jan 2012

Delegate Opposes ‘Loyalty Oath,’ Supports Party Registration

Delegate Richard Anderson of Woodbridge is glad fellow Republican officials have abandoned a proposed requirement that voters sign a “loyalty oath” before casting ballots in the party’s March 6 presidential primary election.

21 Jan 2012

Tax Increase on Tobacco Is Snuffed Out

Smokers can breathe – or wheeze – a sigh of relief after legislation to raise the state tax on tobacco products died in a House subcommittee on Friday. House Bill 160, introduced by Delegate Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, would have increased Virginia’s tax on cigarettes from 30 cents per pack to $1.45 per pack – a 383 percent boost.

20 Jan 2012

New Program Promotes Safety in Digital Life

Virginia students will learn the benefits and dangers of the Internet and other technology, and may be drawn to math and science careers, thanks to an online program being offered free to the state’s schools.

19 Jan 2012

Governor Wants to Keep Ban on Uranium Mining

Gov. Bob McDonnell is asking the 2012 General Assembly to delay any action on lifting Virginia’s 30-year moratorium on mining uranium. He said legislators should keep the ban in place while a newly created group of officials from various state agencies studies the proposal to allow a company to mine and mill uranium in Southside Virginia.

19 Jan 2012

County May Be Overtaxing Wetlands, Lawmaker Says

Some Caroline County residents might be paying too much in property taxes because of inaccurate assessment of land values, a state legislator has suggested. Delegate Robert Orrock, R-Thornburg, said he has heard reports that wetlands, which should be assessed at $500 an acre, are being recorded on Caroline County’s tax rolls as productive farmland and valued at $750 an acre.

18 Jan 2012

New Delegate Seeks to Spur Economy

In recent years, Loudoun County has faced public controversies over water protection and hospital construction, arguments over school funding and economic development, and budget cuts and tax increases in local government. Delegate J. Randall “Randy” Minchew of Leesburg, who was sworn in Sunday, hopes to address those issues as a member of the Virginia General Assembly.

18 Jan 2012

Legislators Offer Outlook on 2012 Session

Legislators from communities in Prince William County and along the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers will play key roles in determining how the General Assembly crafts a state budget and addresses transportation and other issues during its 2012 session.

17 Jan 2012

Bills Would Allow Deadly Force Against Intruders

Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, is sponsoring two bills that would empower Virginians to use lethal force against an intruder in their home. House Bill 47 would grant civil immunity to anyone who injures or kills someone while defending their home from another person who has posed a threat of injury to the other or has entered the home unlawfully.

17 Jan 2012

Religious Leaders Give New Direction to Occupy Movement

Leaders of the African-American religious communities have joined forces with the Occupy Wall Street movement in order to bring new focus and organization to the national movement protesting economic inequality.

16 Jan 2012

Professors Lecture Lawmakers on Higher Ed Issues

Led by faculty from VCU, participants in Virginia Higher Education Advocacy Day had six hours to push for more money for higher education, lower tuition for in-state students and greater compensation and benefits for teachers at the state’s public colleges and universities.

16 Jan 2012

There Oughta Be a Law (or Maybe Not): 4 Offbeat Bills before the 2012 Virginia General Assembly

Now that the Virginia General Assembly’s back in session, politicos and common citizens alike have bills galore to read and mull over — though some of that mulling may have more to do with serious confusion than serious introspection. While many bills have arguably noble (or at least necessary) aims, others are simply odd.

16 Jan 2012

CNS Stories for Jan. 9-15

Here are the stories we distributed between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15. Headlines include: “Momentum Builds to Let Schools Open Before Labor Day” … “‘Personhood’ Bill Spurned by Virginia Democrats” … “Hopewell Native Takes Office at State Capitol.”

15 Jan 2012

Anti-abortion Bills Find New Life in General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly has been a battleground over abortion rights for years. While many bills restricting abortion rights were killed in the Democratic-controlled Senate in the past, recent Republican gains in the upper chamber increase the odds that some of these bills will pass this session.

15 Jan 2012

Phone App Connects Commuting Riders with Drivers

Thanks to a new phone app, it soon will be easier for commuters to share rides to military worksites in Northern Virginia. The app, called Avego Driver, will begin its pilot program in Northern Virginia around June. It will be available to government contractors and military employees offering or seeking rides to and from Fort Belvoir, Quantico Marine Corps Base and Alexandria’s Mark Center. Those three sites are known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, locations.

13 Jan 2012

With Business Focus, Delegate Morris Takes Office

Rick Morris, former chairman of the Isle of Wight County Republican Party, moved into his office this week as the new delegate representing the 64th House District. Morris won the seat last fall from Delegate William Barlow, a Democrat who held the position for 20 years.

13 Jan 2012

Virginia Officials Hopeful about High-Speed Rail

Advocates of a high-speed rail system through Virginia and North Carolina will seek federal funding this year and hope to begin service around the year 2030. “We are going to go to Washington sometime in the summer or fall to meet with congressional representatives to talk about federal funding for rail transportation with an emphasis on high-speed rail,” said state Delegate Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge.

13 Jan 2012

Torian Seeks to Bring Metrorail to Prince William

Since he was elected to the Virginia House, Delegate Luke Torian, D-Dumfries, has been pushing to bring Metrorail service to Prince William County. For the third consecutive year, he is sponsoring a bill to create the Prince William County Metrorail Improvement District to extend commuter rail service from Fairfax County into Prince William.

13 Jan 2012

‘Personhood’ Bill Spurned by Virginia Democrats

Virginia Democratic leaders are speaking out against Republican legislation that they said seeks to make abortion illegal and even might restrict access to some forms of legal birth control.

12 Jan 2012

Sen. Hanger Sees Uranium, Hunting as Hot Topics

Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, predicts that uranium mining and hunting laws will be among the more controversial topics during this year’s General Assembly session.

12 Jan 2012

First Lady Announces Military Medical Initiative

Speaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday announced a major initiative to increase research on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries for returning veterans.

11 Jan 2012

Dudenhefer Takes Office as 2nd District Delegate

When Mark L. Dudenhefer finally arrived at the state Capitol, he knew he was no longer just a member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors. He was here to make a difference. He was here to accomplish his goals. He was here to be the freshman delegate representing the 2nd House District, which includes parts of Prince William and Stafford counties.

11 Jan 2012

Fans Flock to See ‘Awesome’ First Lady

The crowd included doctors in white coats and soldiers in fatigues. They were among a few hundred anxious admirers who flocked to see first lady Michelle Obama during her visit to Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday.

11 Jan 2012

Momentum Builds to Let Schools Open Before Labor Day

Gov. Bob McDonnell and several legislators have proposed repealing Virginia’s so-called “Kings Dominion law,” which prohibits public schools from opening before Labor Day unless they obtain a waiver from the state.