General Assembly

State and local officials would be governed by tougher ethics rules under legislation that passed the General Assembly during the final hours of the 2015 session.  The bills make it illegal for lobbyists, their clients, and anyone who seeks to do business with the state or local governments to give an official a gift worth more than $100. 

The bills lower the gift cap from $250 to $100, require on-line reporting of gifts worth more than $50, and erase the distinction between tangible and intangible gifts, such as meals or travel.  

There were tears and hugs at the state capitol Thursday, as Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill making it legal for Virginians to possess medical marijuana if their doctor believes it could be useful in treating epilepsy, cancer or glaucoma. But reformers are already lining up to fix problems with the law.

It was a thrilling moment for families of children who have epilepsy.  They had lobbied state lawmakers for months to give their kids access to medical marijuana, and the governor praised their persistence.

No post session per diems, last-minute deals, and burning of the midnight oil this year. While the votes were not unanimous, Senate and House lawmakers have passed a state budget that includes pay raises for state employees, college faculty, state police, and teachers.

House Minority Leader David Toscano argued that law enforcement, school faculty, and other employees are still without the support they need.

"The budget doesn't go far enough, but it is a process and we'll continue to make it---push to make it better, not just this year, but in years ahead."

Recent tragedies where children have died under the care of unlicensed daycare providers have prompted the General Assembly to pass measures to strengthen Virginia’s licensing guidelines.

Delegate Bob Orrock's bill would require licensed home daycare providers to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. His bill also lowers the requirement for licensure from 6 children to 5. A Senate version leaves it at 6, but counts the provider's own children.  Orrock says some proposals have been far-reaching.

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Sales of dogs and cats in Virginia would be governed by tougher restrictions under legislation that has passed both houses of the General Assembly.  The bill limits pet shops to selling dogs that were obtained from humane societies, public or private animal shelters, and qualified breeders. One goal is to close the loopholes in state law that have allowed puppy mills some latitude to sell in the Commonwealth.

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