State Government

Virginia has a state bird… a state tree… but what about a state snake? Lawmakers this year have made a bit of a surprising pick -- the Eastern Garter Snake.  

The Virginia herpetological society has tried to convince lawmakers to adopt a state snake before -- something like the Timber Rattlesnake, or the King Snake -- but the idea never got much traction.

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

As we pass the halfway point for the state General Assembly, a new poll from Christopher Newport University reveals what many Virginians' think of this year's hot topics.  Virginians, like their lawmakers, are divided on issues of gun control, medicaid expansion, and gay rights.

Governor McAuliffe and GOP lawmakers struck a deal on gun control early in the session -- allowing voluntary background checks at gun shows, while expanding concealed carry rights.

According to a new poll from the Virginia Education Association, almost three quarters of Virginians say teachers in the state don’t make enough money. It looks like teachers will be getting a raise in this year’s budget...but the question is how much.

Virginia’s teachers make almost $7,000 below the the national average. And that’s making it hard for the state to attract, and keep, teachers in the classroom -- says Meg Gruber with the Education Association.

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.