Faced with a budget shortfall, state legislators are eyeing a very large piggy bank - the unclaimed cash of Virginia residents being held by the Treasury. About $1.7 billion dollars - that’s billion with a B - is awaiting a call from the rightful owners.
Benjamin Jarvela looks nothing like Santa Claus, but he hopes to give Virginians lots of presents this year. As spokesman for the state’s treasury, he says one in four people has a forgotten utility deposit or some other money in Richmond, waiting to be claimed.
State and local government officials would be subject to more restrictive ethics rules under separate bills that have passed both houses of the General Assembly. The measures lower the cap on gifts that officials may accept from $250 to $100, and remove the distinction between tangible and intangible gifts, such as travel or meals. However, the legislation may not completely have Governor McAuliffe’s seal of approval.
Virginia’s medical marijuana law may soon be expanded. The House of Delegates has given preliminary approval to legislation that would allow the prescribed use of certain oils derived from marijuana if they are used for the treatment of epilepsy. The legislation appears to be sailing through both chambers of the General Assembly.
With a Democratic Governor and GOP-led General Assembly Opposition was almost guaranteed in this year’s session. McAuliffe-backed gun control measures were swiftly shot down, despite a recent Roanoke College public opinion poll depicting strong support for expanded background checks. Marijuana decriminalization and a potential minimum wage hike were also crushed.
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.