Bills that REALLY crack down on those who first exhibit signs of domestic abuse and strengthen penalties for sex traffickers are some of the public safety measures that the General Assembly recently sent to Governor McAuliffe. The governor is also reviewing a potential new law that’s designed to take the temptation out of smuggling cigarettes.
State Senator John Edwards drew applause at Monday’s Cabell Brand Center forum on gas pipelines with his assertion about property owners’ rights, but the case may not be as clear as some people in the audience seemed to believe.
“I think our senator, Senator Edwards, did a really great job today, clarifying about Virginia law about imminent domain. So that alone is worth its weight in gold.”
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."