General Assembly

Virginia’s House is set to vote on a new state song, with committee members approving one option over another - predictably, along party lines. 

The Commonwealth has been without an official song since Governor Wilder raised objections to Carry Me Back to Old Virginia, a tune with lyrics that fondly recalled a time of slavery.  Two replacements were in contention when the House Rules Committee met last week.  One is a folk classic - Oh Shenandoah, with a new set of lyrics and a new title - Our Great Virginia.

There’s good news from the Governor and the heads of the General Assembly’s money committees. Despite dealing earlier with a significant revenue shortfall, the state is now seeing a $338-million revenue bump from withholding through corporate income tax and insurance premiums.

It amounts to $162 million more over the biennium after a $176 million  deposit into the Rainy Day Fund. Governor McAuliffe says it provides a little extra money to spend as the budget is crafted.

Hope Floats for end to Gerrymandering

Feb 8, 2015
Elkanah Tisdale

Bills to stop gerrymandering are enjoying an unusual bout of success in the General Assembly this year. While most pundits still think they'll get shot down, the head of a political training center thinks there's momentum for reform.

Ever since 1812, when Massachusetts governor Eldridge Gerry drew ridicule for his party's attempt to draw a district in the shape of a salamander, the practice has been seen as a scourge of democracy. But could Virginia end it? Bob Gibson, the director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, hopes so.

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Virginia State Senate has passed legislation that would impact state hiring of applicants with criminal convictions. The "Ban the Box" bill would allow to people who were charged or convicted of crimes to advance further in the employment vetting process before a prospective employer could inquire about any criminal history. 

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After a very spirited debate in the state Senate, charter school proponents win a major victory. Senators passed a resolution to amend the state constitution to give the Board of Education authority to establish charter schools in Virginia. 

Bill supporters argue that Virginia has only seven charter schools, but a far greater number of jurisdictions need more options for students with substandard public schools. Senator Tom Garrett agrees that socio-economic status should not determine a child's quality of education.

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