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House and Senate Advance “Right to Try” Bills

Bills are advancing through the House and Senate that would make it easier for seriously ill patients to try experimental drugs for compassionate use.

Currently new medications can take 5-15 years to reach the market and advocates ultimately want to speed up the FDA approval process.

8-year-old Josh Hardy is a 4-time cancer survivor. He was critically ill after his immune system was compromised following a recent bone marrow transplant. At the recommendation of his doctor they requested compassionate use of an experimental drug. The pharmaceutical company said no.

House and Senate Reach Budget Agreement

House and Senate conferees have completed work on the state’s budget and say they could leave town before their scheduled adjournment on Saturday (2/21).

Increased revenue collections in recent months have given lawmakers more money than expected to spend.

The budget will include 1.5 percent pay raises for teachers and 2 percent raises for state employees. $20 million dollars will go to new instate slots at colleges and universities as well as incentives to accept more transfer students.

Equal Rights Amendment Stalls Again in House Committee

The House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee has again refused to docket a bill to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, killing it for the year.

Most Americans think the Equal Rights Amendment is already the law, but they’re wrong.

The ERA would guarantee equal rights for women, including pay for equal work.

It was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1972, with a 10 year deadline for ratification. In 1982, 35 states had ratified the amendment, three short of the three forths needed. Virginia is one of the 15 states who have yet to ratify.

GA Eliminates Local Option for Minimum Wage Floor in Public Procurements

The General Assembly has passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from requiring contractors to provide compensation or benefits above the state or federal minimum wage.

Democrats tried to adjust the bill to require a $10.10 minimum wage for public procurements, though Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam ruled the amendments not germane to the original bill.

Republicans say the bill prevents the artificial inflation of the price of business contracts.

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.

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