RTD columnist Jeff Schapiro analyzes the final actions of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly and other political news.
A year after spearheading a landmark package to reform the state’s mental health system, State Senator Creigh Deeds calls the 2015 session’s improvements modest and says there is still much work to be done.
Just four months after surviving a life threatening attack at the hands of his mentally ill son Gus, who subsequently committed suicide, Senator Deeds pushed a $54 million dollar mental health overhaul through the General Assembly to unanimous passage.
Virginia could be unable to carry out executions, following the failure in the General Assembly of a bill that would have allowed the manufacturers of drugs used for lethal imjection to remain anonymous.
In September, the three drug compounds used to execute criminals sentenced to death in Virginia will expire.
European manufacturers refuse to sell the drugs to the U.S. without written assertions that they will not be used for capital punishment.
Governor Terry McAuliffe personally opposes the death penalty but says he will enforce the law.
Lawmakers have approved a campus sexual assault policy they say is the first of it’s kind in the nation.
The legislation will require state universities to report all felony sexual assaults either to local law enforcement or prosecutors.
Victims would also be allowed to report anonymously, a provision included to address criticism that the new requirements would prevent victims from coming forward.
Republican Delegate Rob Bell was the bill’s sponsor.
Lawmakers reached a last minute compromise on reforms to the state’s ethics code before adjourning late Friday night.
The ethics reform package will limit gifts to lawmakers at 100 dollars each, with no cumulative cap, but would include travel and meals.
Elected officials will continue to report gifts valued over 50 dollars.
Travel to widely attended events including conventions and campaign stops will be exempt.
Campaign contributions will remain unlimited.
The new rules will take effect January 1st.
Lawmakers in Virginia have included $400,000 in their budget to pay restitution to those who were forcibly sterilized under a now defunct eugenics program.
Virginia forcibly sterilized thousands it deemed “feeble minded” or “undesirable” between 1924 and 1979.
In 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in Buck vs. Bell. Then Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously stated, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Lewis Reynolds who was among those sterilized, will receive $25,000.
The General Assembly completed its work for the 2015 session and adjourned one day ahead of schedule Friday night. Most notably, lawmakers reached last minute compromises on reforms to the state’s ethics code and campus sexual assault procedures and earmarked $400,000 for victims of the state’s now defunct eugenics program.
The ethics reform package will limit gifts to lawmakers at $100 each, with no cumulative cap, but would include travel and meals.
Elected officials will continue to report gifts valued over $50.
Columnist Jeff Schapiro reviews the 2015 Virginia General Assembly's actions and inactions.
The General Assembly has approved a budget and has adjusted its schedule to leave town one day ahead of the scheduled adjournment.
The spending plan includes a 1.5 percent pay raise for teachers, a 2 percent raise for other state workers and a much needed $130 million dollar deposit to the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Thou the budget does not expand the state’s Medicaid program to an additional 400,000 Virginians as envisioned by Governor McAuliffe, it does include new health benefits for over 20,000 of the state’s most mentally ill.
The Governor and the General Assembly have reached agreement on a bill that would reform the Alcoholic Beverage Control to make them follow standard business practices.
The bill, patroned by Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Fairfax, would change the ABC from an agency to an authority.
There have been multiple attempts to privatize the ABC over the past 3 decades but the state has never been able to make sense of selling it’s liquor monopoly.