General Assembly

Drawing up the state budget happens every two years, and the process is plugging along now at the capitol. The Governor has made his suggestions, and this weekend Virginia’s House and Senate issued theirs.  Now it’s on to wrangling out the details.

With three weeks left to finalize the specifics -- lawmakers, lobbyists, and the Governor will be scrutinizing all three proposals to figure out how best to use taxpayer dollars over the next two years. We take a look at what still needs to be pinned down.

• Who Gets A Raise, When

Medication is exempt from sales tax in Virginia, and one other category could be included in that group if the legislature approves.  Lawmakers are considering a bill to stop taxing feminine hygiene products.

Delegate Mark Keam of Vienna says a female staffer convinced him that the legislature needed to look at a new category of products that women of child-bearing age buy – tampons and sanitary napkins.

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Lawmakers in Richmond are reviewing a bill that would help Virginians cut their energy costs, but critics say it could make power more expensive for customers.

Susan Hill works with people who have drafty homes and high utility bills.

She's in charge of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance, a nonprofit that helps families figure out how to reduce their monthly utility bill.

While the end result is savings, it does require some money down.

California has approved a new set of laws to protect the privacy of data, and with half of all e-mails in this country passing through data centers in Virginia, this could be the next state to take action. The legislature is considering bills that would require police to get a search warrant if they want a look at your electronic files.

The law is clear about what police need to search your house or car.

Usually, a warrant is required. But what about electronic data? At the

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Virginia’s Governor has proposed a series of changes to public education aimed at preparing students to join the workforce, but the state’s teachers may not like some of his ideas.  

Terry McAuliffe wants to set new requirements for high school grads, emphasize hands-on instruction, and offer industry credentials.  He thinks schools should be allowed to hire industry experts to teach on a temporary or part-time basis, but at the Virginia Education Association, which represents teachers, President Meg Gruber has doubts when it comes to science and math.