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Assembly Passes Bills to Expand DNA Database to Certain Misdemeanors

The House and Senate have passed bills that will add those convicted of certain misdemeanors to the state’s DNA database.

Those convicted of sex crimes, indecent exposure and other misdemeanors that show a high correlation with subsequent felonies would be added to the DNA database.

Republican Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle is the bill’s patron.

The Virginia ACLU has expressed concerns about the bill, citing privacy issues.

Medical Marijuana Bills Pass In General Assembly

The House and Senate have both passed bills that would decriminalize the use of cannabidiol oil or CBD, an extract of marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy. The oil has no intoxicating properties but has proven an effective method of preventing seizures in some patients.

The legislation does not allow for the development or distribution of the drug, but would prohibit the prosecution of those who possess it.

Teresa Elder has a son with a serious epileptic condition. He’s been put on life support several times due to complications from seizures.

Senate Committee Passes Bill For Two New State Songs

A Senate Committee may have found a way restore a state song for Virginia. Actually, not one, but two of them.

The bill includes this song, “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” written by locals Robin Thompson and Steve Basset as the official “popular song.” Written in 1979 it is popular and catchy.

The second proposed state song is titled “Our Great Virginia,” to the melody of Shenandoah, and would be the “traditional” song.

Virginia lawmakers have fought over a new state song since “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny” was deemed racial offensive and retired in 1997.

Council Asks Mayor To Seek Regional Cooperation To Build New Ball Park

Richmond City Council has voted unanimously to ask the mayor to seek regional support to build a new minor league baseball stadium, but there is something new in this resolution.

The original resolution asked for regional participation for a new ballpark in the city, the new one asks for help with a ballpark “at a location within the Richmond region,” defined as Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover.

The mayor wanted a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom as part of  a major development project, but could not get city council to go along.

Virginia Senate Kills Bills to Limit Dominion’s Right to Survey on Private Land

Environmental and property rights advocates are pushing back on a law that allows utility companies to survey on private land without the landowner’s permission.

Critics call the current law gives utility companies a “right to trespass.”

Last year 127 landowners in Nelson County refused to let Dominion Virginia Power survey their properties for the new Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipeline. Dominion has since filed suit to gain access to the properties.

House and Senate Include State Worker Pay Raises in Budget

The House of Delegates and state Senate have presented their amendments to the state budget, adding pay raises for state workers and eliminating new fees proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Over the last year lawmakers had to carve $2.8 billion out of the budget due to declining revenues brought on by decreases in defense spending, but this year collections are up, giving lawmakers $162 million dollars in additional funds to work with.

Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Extracts for Epilepsy

A bill legalizing two marijuana extracts to treat epilepsy were passed by the Virginia Senate yesterday (2/5) by an overwhelming majority.

Democratic Senator Dave Marsden of Fairfax introduced the bill that would allow doctors to legally prescribe and dispense Cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil, the derivatives used to control epileptic seizures.

In a dramatic event two weeks ago during the bills infancy, a young girl had a seizure during the bill’s presentation in committee while she and her mother waited to speak in favor of the legislation.

House Republicans Unveil Mental Health Plan

House Republicans have introduced an alternative proposal to the Governor’s Access Plan for the state’s most severely mentally ill.

The GOP says Governor McAuliffe did not have the authority to create a new benefits program on his own without legislative approval. They say their 124 million dollar plan will benefit 30,000 Virginians, 10,000 more than the Governor’s.

It would provide targeted behavioral health and substance abuse treatment with case management and care coordination through existing provider networks as well as prescription drug benefits.

Campus Sexual Assault Bills Advance

Bills to reform universities’ policies on campus sexual assault response are advancing through Virginia House and Senate committees.

One bill would require universities to identify on students’ transcripts if they have been expelled or suspended for violations of the schools code of conduct.

Another bill would require university police to immediately inform prosecutors once a sexual assault investigation begins and regularly inform them of their progress. However, the victim’s name would be withheld if she does not give her consent.

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