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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.

Virginia Committee Kills Child Labor Tobacco Farming Bill

A bill that would ban child labor in tobacco fields has been killed by the Virginia House of Delegates Commerce and Labor committee.

According to a report by the group Human Rights Watch, children as young as 7 are working in tobacco fields in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, where 90 percent of U.S. tobacco is grown.

Virginia’s current laws do not prevent children ages 14-17 from working on a tobacco farm though those under 14 are required to have parental consent.

Virginia Senate Defeats Guns in Schools After Hours

The state Senate defeated a bill that would allow guns on school buses and grounds after school hours.

Bill patron Sen. Thomas Garrett says gun-free school zones don’t make schools safer, but leave them defenseless.

Critics say the bill would make it difficult for gun-owners to know when they can carry on school property, because some after hours activities are sanctioned by the school and others aren’t.

The bill failed on a vote of 20-18 with several Republicans voting with Democrats against the measure.

House Passes Equity Crowd Funding Bill

The House of Delegates has passed a bill to expand crowdfunding options for entrepreneurs seeking capital for their startup business.

Established crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Go-Fund-Me and Indie-Go-Go are currently successfully raising money in Virginia. Under that model investors donate capital to startups or receive some of the companies new product.

The legislation would open up opportunities for equity crowdfunding, allowing investors to own a small stake in a Virginia startup businesses.

GA Will Authorize Uber and Lift to be Licensed and Regulated

Bills that would allow Transportation Network Companies or TNCs like Uber and Lyft to be licensed by the DMV has passed both the House and Senate.

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.

Cab companies say the lack of regulation of these new businesses has put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Lawmakers have been negotiating the language of the bill with TNCs, traditional cab companies and trial lawyers for months.

Senate Committee Votes Legal Use Of Marijuana Derivative To Treat Epileptic Seizures

A proposal to legalize two marijuana derivatives for treating epilepsy has cleared its first hurdle in the General Assembly.

The legislation was offered by Senator David Marsden, a Fairfax County Democrat, to allow the legal possession of an oil derivative of marijuana when a doctor determines that a patient has a debilitating epileptic condition, even though a state police spokesman testified it couild put Virginia in conflict with federal law.

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