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General Assembly Targets Human Traffickers

The General Assembly will consider legislation this year to streamline the state code to make cases of human trafficking easier to prosecute.

Virginia has been strengthening laws related to human trafficking for several years now. The commonwealth has gone from having some of the weakest laws in the country to some of the strongest. Though these changes are spread throughout different sections of the state code and can be difficult to navigate.

Puckett’s Daughter Appointed To Judgeship

The General Assembly made several key judicial appointments yesterday, including the daughter of ex-Democratic Senator Phil Puckett.

Martha Ketron was confirmed for a full term as a juvenile court judge in Southwest Virginia after months of political fallout following her father’s resignation from the state Senate.

Puckett’s resignation before his term expired triggered a Republican takeover of the upper chamber and a now abandoned federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding it.

Bill to Ban Immigrant Students from Receiving In State Tuition Fails in Senate

Yesterday the state Senate rejected a bill that would prevent students with some types of deferred status from paying in state tuition rates.

The bill failed on a mostly party line vote of 19 to 20. All 19 Democrats opposed the bill while 19 of the Senate’s 21 Republicans supported it.

Republican Senator Jill Vogel of Fauquier did not cast a vote when the bill was called and outgoing moderate Republican Senator John Watkins of Powhatan crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats.

Lawmakers say 81 deferred-action status students currently receive in state tuition.

State Senate Subcommittee Says Regulations For School Restraint Needed

A state Senate subcommittee has unanimously approved a proposal to develop statewide regulations governor the use of restraint and seclusion in Virginia public schools.

The panel heard from a series of speakers who said techniques for controlling students unruly behavior are being abused in some school divisions.

One nine year old boy told of being sent to a crisis room so often he was traumatized by the experience and didn’t want to go to school anymore.

Herring Introduces Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Bills

Attorney General Mark Herring today announced a legislative package aimed at combating the growing epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse.

Herring’s office has been working on a strategy of prevention and education, prosecution of dealers and professional accountability for prescribers. But they’ve also made legislative recommendations and lawmakers in both parties are carrying bills to attack the problem head on.

Senate Committee Kills Minimum Wage Raise

The state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee has killed a bill that would raise Virginia’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over 2 years.

The legislation was rejected on a party line vote with 3 Democrats in support and 11 Republicans against.

Another bill that would increase the minimum wage to $8 per hour was pulled at the request of the patron after the results of the first vote.

Both bill’s would have raised the minimum pay rate for tipped workers to half the minimum wage.

Virginia’s minimum wage is currently equal to the federal rate.

Gun Debate Again Takes Center Stage at Capitol for MLK Day

Thousands of citizen advocates off from work for Martin Luther King Day came to the Capitol to lobby their representatives for various issues. As always, two of the largest groups came to share their views on opposite ends of the gun debate. 

Two competing rallies were held today (Jan. 19), one protesting acts of gun violence and calling for additional rule and another for those who oppose further regulations on gun ownership.

Legislature to Consider Changes to Campus Sexual Assault Policy

On Friday, the House Courts of Justice and Education Committees heard presentations on campus sexual assault policy as lawmakers prepare to address the issue following a string of high profile incidents.

Republican Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle has introduced a bill that would create a mandatory requirement for any campus administrator or faculty member who discovers evidence of a violent offense on campus to report it to local law enforcement immediately.

In-State Tuition Ban For Undocumented Immigrants Passes Senate Committee

The state Senate Education and Health Committee has passed a bill on an 8-7 party line vote that would deny in state tuition for undocumented immigrants with Deferred Action Status.

Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion last April that existing state and federal law allows those with certain types of temporary status to establish domicile in Virginia and collect in-state tuition, like any other student.

The bill’s patron, Republican Senator Dick Black of Loudon, says that subjects Virginia to unforeseen problems.  


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