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Child Advocacy Group to Grade Judicial Nominees

Today (12/12) the House and Senate Courts of Justice Committees will interview 20 judicial nominees. The national child advocacy group PROTECT will be there to grade several of the circuit court judges up for reappointment on their sentencing records on crimes against children. PROTECT wants prosecutors and judges to take child pornography and sexual exploitation more seriously.

Last year the Virginia Sentencing Commission attempted to downgrade sentencing for child pornography only to be stopped by emergency legislation passed by the General Assembly.

House GOP Proposes $100 Gift Ban for Lawmakers

The House of Delegates Republican Caucus has proposed a $100 gift ban for both tangible and intangible gifts. When he first took office Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order placing a $100 gift ban on himself, his family and his staff. His bipartisan commission on ethics reform recently recommended a $250 cap for all other elected leaders. House Republican Majority Leader Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights says the Caucus felt they should exceed that recommendation, matching the ban the Governor had set for himself.

Bill Would Clarify Tenants Rights

A bill from Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez of Arlington would clarify that landlords cannot evict tenants as retaliation for filing a complaint. Under current law tenants have a very hard time disputing eviction notices on month-to-month leases. In some cases renters are evicted shortly after making complaints. Retaliatory eviction is unlawful but hard to prove.

State Workforce Development Programs Fall Short

A new study from the state’s legislative oversight commission, JLARC, shows that Virginia’s high schools and community colleges and other workforce training programs are failing to prepare students for in-demand skills. JLARC Analyst Tracey Smith says companies complain that the program is overly complex and difficult to use and improperly emphasizes low-demand skills.

Community College Spokesman Jeff Kraus says Virginia needs to invest in greater capacity for high-demand workforce credentials.

State Board Of Health Votes To Revisit Abortion Clinic Regulations

The State Board of Health has voted to revisit Virginia’s hotly debated abortion clinic regulations. A new Governor and a newly aligned board have resulted in the vote to revisit regulations that took effect last year that opponents say targeted abortion clinics with requirements that would shut them down.

Hundreds of people attended yesterday’s (12/4) meeting and dozens spoke before the board voted 13-2 to begin a regulatory process that could take up to two years.

Board of Health Will Review Controversial Abortion Regulations

The State Board of Health has voted 13-2 to begin a two-year review process of controversial regulations to abortion clinics including building standards equal to those for new hospitals.

Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation of Virginia pushed for the regulations to be adopted in 2012. She says the review process will not diminish that victory.

Kathy Greenier of the ACLU of Virginia says the regulations have nothing to do with patient health and safety. She says Thursday the board voted for medicine over politics.

McAuliffe Appoints Former Senator to Board Ahead of Abortion Vote

Yesterday, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed former Democratic state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple to the Board of Health, less than 24 hours before its meeting this morning (12/4), where it will vote on whether to review controversial abortion clinic regulations. The rules impose the same building standards for abortion clinics as those for new hospitals.

Abortion rights advocates say the standards are an effort to force clinics to close, as two have already done. Anti-abortion activists say they are necessary to protect women’s health.

Warner Hopeful New Congress Will Act

Speaking to reporters via Skype for Associated Press Day at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Senator Mark Warner said he’s glad the election is over and remains optimistic that things can get done in the new Congress. Warner believes the election results, including his narrow victory over his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, put pressure on congress to show that they can govern.

Warner believes the Congress can make progress on infrastructure improvements, government data transparency, lowering student debt, improving Obamacare and simplifying the tax code.

Webb Outlines His Priorities As He Weighs Presidential Bid

Former Senator Jim Webb, who is contemplating a bid for the Democratic nomination for President, outlined his priorities for the country at the Associated Press Day at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Webb spoke of spreading economic fairness, noting that the stock market has nearly tripled since the economic crash of 2008 but real wages and loans to small businesses have slightly dropped.

The former senator says the mass incarceration of those convicted of non-violent offenses is a national crisis in the criminal justice system.

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