While the Virginia ACLU applauds Governor McAuliffe's signing of a number of bills this past legislative session, the organization opposes his amendments to several bills that had aimed to reign in the government’s powers of surveillance--and which passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly. The ACLU is asking state lawmakers to reject the amendments when they soon return to Richmond.
The practice of “streeting”—or releasing people with mental illnesses when psychiatric beds are not found for them—came to light in 2013 when that happened to Senator Creigh Deeds’ son, who later took his own life. But changes in civil commitment laws to reform the state’s crisis response system were subsequently approved and took effect last July. State officials have unveiled new statistics that reveal the effects of those reforms.
Virginia is creating a new Center for Behavioral Health and Justice under an executive directive signed by Governor McAuliffe. Its mission is to foster better interagency collaboration and help coordinate services in the state’s behavioral health system. The focus will be on individuals with mental illness who become involved with the criminal justice system.
One recently approved bill that’s still under review by Governor McAuliffe arose from the case of murdered UVa student Hannah Graham—and was championed by Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding. The bill would require collection of DNA from people convicted of certain misdemeanors….with their DNA added to the state’s criminal database. The governor had raised some objections to the legislation while the General Assembly was still in session.
A Virginia lawmaker and groups of parents and students are hoping the Governor and First Lady keep their hands and noses out of their cookie jars. Delegate Richard Bell wants schools to be able to raise money through bake sales-or sales of other products that some call “junk food”-on school property. But that would remain prohibited if Governor McAuliffe vetoes a measure that may or may not compete with the First Lady's prominent focus on nutrition.