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CTB Formally Abandons Petersburg-Suffolk Expressway

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has formally abandoned a 55-mile expressway from Southeastern Virginia to Petersburg that rankled environmentalists and cost taxpayers $250 million dollars that may never be recovered.

The original proposal was public-private partnership and a 55-mile high speed toll-road from Petersburg to Suffolk, paralleling US 460 and authorized by the McDonnell administration.

Now, it is a 17-mile improvement to 460 from Suffolk to Zuni. Nothing here.

Virginia Legislature Approves Loaded Shotguns in Cars, Reverses "Brass Knuckle" Vote

Both the House and Senate have passed a bill that would exempt concealed carry permit holders from local bans on carrying loaded shotguns in cars.

Supporters of the bill say it brings uniformity to the state code as gun owners travel between localities.

Republican Senator Tom Garrett of Buckingham is the bill’s patron.

Republicans rejected an amendment to require gun owners to keep their concealed carry permit with them if carrying a loaded shotgun, despite objections from Democrats.

The bill passed the House 62 to 34.

McAuliffe Signs "Uber" Bill

Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed into law a new regulatory system for Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Users of smartphone apps like Uber and Lyft can enter their location and find a ride from an authorized driver in a matter of minutes in heavily traveled areas.

The legislation requires TNCs to screen drivers, including criminal background checks as well as driving history and status on the sex offender registry. The bill mandates that all TNC drivers be covered with a specific liability insurance policy.

Va. Legislature Restricts Information Sharing on Concealed-Carry Gun Permits

The General Assembly approved bills yesterday that would restrict information that out of state law enforcement can receive about Virginians with concealed carry permits and another that would allow the sale of certain weapons like blackjacks or brass knuckles.

The House and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit the sharing of information on those with concealed carry permits in the Virginia Criminal Information Network with law enforcement in states who do not have reciprocity agreements with Virginia for carrying a concealed weapon.

Governor McCauliffe Has New Spending Plan With Salary Increases for Public Employees

Governor McCauliffe is set to meet today (Feb. 16) with the chairmen of the House and Senate Money Committees to brief them on the latest revenue forecast and give them a glimpse of his budget proposals.

The Times Dispatch quotes a source close to the administration as saying the Governor will put an additional 136 million dollars on the table to push his budget priorities in raises for teachers and other public employees and adding to the rainy day fund.

Virginia Legislature to Limit Police Use of Drones and License Plate Readers

The General Assembly is poised to pass legislation that would prevent law enforcement officials from using drones to gather evidence without a warrant.

Republican Delegate Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah says determining when and where drones and other technology may be used in an investigation is a careful balancing act between the individual’s right to personal privacy and law enforcement’s duty to catch bad actors.  

Similar legislation has advanced to ban the use of license plate readers without a specific purpose in an active investigation.  

Bill To Reduce State Oversight Of Electric Utilities Passes General Assembly

A bill reducing state oversight of Virginia’s two largest utilities has been passed by the General Assembly and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 

The Senate already approved the legislation and the house approved the bill that prohibits the State Corporation Commission from reviewing base rates of Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power for several years.

During the freeze, the SCC will not be able to order rate rebates or reductions if the utilities make too much money as they have done in the past.

Virginia House And Senate Pass Budgets

The House and Senate debated and passed their amended budgets yesterday(Feb. 12).

While revenue collections are slightly up in recent weeks, overall spending is down over a billion dollars since the two-year budget was enacted in 2014.  

Both spending plans add pay raises for state workers and eliminate new and increased business fees proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe. 

House leaders say instead of creating new programs they chose to reinvest in core functions of government.  

Democrats say the budget does not do enough to advance kitchen table issues.  


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