Should they be signed into law by Governor McAuliffe, bills recently passed by the General Assembly would modify some of the scrutiny of school systems that meet state standards. The state would also create a different method to inform parents of how well those schools are doing.
After educators lambasted the state's A-F grading system created a few years ago, lawmakers crafted a new method to measure school performance. Bill sponsor Delegate Tag Greason says this gives the Board of Education authority to redesign a more comprehensive school performance report card.
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.
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.
During the General Assembly session in Richmond, lawmakers are rallied to the Capitol each day by two different bell towers that ring in coordination with each other.
Each day the General Assembly is in session, Capitol Police screener Larry Toomer climbs the steps of the bell tower in Capitol Square and waits to hear the chimes from another bell tower across the street at St. Paul's Episcopal Church
"One they start ringing, we ring right in between. When they ring, we ring. We ring. When they ring again we ring again."