Mechelle Hankerson

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25 Jan 2013

Biden Invites VCU into National Discussion

While Virginia Commonwealth University isn’t the center of the gun debate triggered by December’s school shootings in Connecticut, Vice President Joe Biden got VCU’s help Friday in continuing the national dialogue on the matter.

08 May 2012

No Bullying in Richmond Schools?

The Richmond City Public School system hasn’t reported a single incident of bullying over the past four years. Local school officials have made a judgment call and classified such offenses as harassment instead.

28 Apr 2012

Rally Seeks to Protect Women’s Rights

Virginia politicians and women’s rights advocates gathered in Festival Park on Saturday for a rally called “Unite Against the War on Women.”

13 Apr 2012

‘Castle Doctrine’ Proponent Decries Martin Case

Proponents of a “castle doctrine” law for Virginia say it would not condone killings like the death of Trayvon Martin, the teenager gunned down by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

01 Apr 2012

VCU Rally Seeks Justice in Trayvon Martin Case

Hundreds of citizens gathered at Virginia Commonwealth University last week for a demonstration in honor of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager whose killing has prompted a national debate over guns and self-defense laws.

16 Mar 2012

Laws Ghostwritten by Conservative Group, Activists Say

On issues ranging from tax credits for private school tuition to a homeowner’s right to kill an intruder, several bills before the 2012 General Assembly resembled model laws proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a politically conservative think tank funded by major corporations.

20 Feb 2012

Both Sides Say Castle Doctrine Bill Was Rushed

Both sides in the Second Amendment debate in Virginia are looking to combat Monday’s Senate passage of House Bill 48, better known as the “Castle Doctrine.” The bill, introduced by Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, passed the House on Feb. 9 on a 70-28 vote. On Monday afternoon, the Senate voted 24-16 to approve a slightly different version of the bill. The two chambers must resolve the wording before the bill can be sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell to be signed or vetoed.

16 Feb 2012

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.

05 Feb 2012

At Capitol, Tech Silent on Campus Safety Issues

Five years after Virginia Tech made campus safety the focus of lawmakers across the nation, the school seems to be shying away from the issue during this year’s General Assembly session. While Virginia Commonwealth University student groups made campus safety an explicit priority at their “Rams Day on the Hill,” students attending “Hokie Day 2012” on behalf of Virginia Tech were hesitant to say the school was focusing on anything except higher education funding.

03 Feb 2012

‘Castle Doctrine’ Is Closer to Becoming Law

Citizens looking for more personal protection can rest easy after two bills that would allow the use of deadly force in one’s home moved forward this week in the General Assembly. Staunton Delegate Robert “Dickie” Bell’s House Bill 48, better known as the “Castle Doctrine,” won an endorsement Friday from the House Courts of Justice Committee.

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.

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.

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.