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Wittman Not Ready to Lift Cuban Embargo

Virginia’s 1st District Congressman Rob Wittman says lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba should not come without some serious concessions from the Cuban government.

Wittman says he’s generally in favor of opening U.S. trade to communist countries because of the positive influence of exposure to free markets.

Though before the American embargo on Cuban trade is lifted, many Republicans like Wittman want to see the country offer more freedoms to it’s people.

McAuliffe Announces Trade Mission to Cuba

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced an upcoming trade mission to Cuba. He’s hoping to expand agricultural business but also to lay the groundwork for trade in other sectors once U.S. Cuban relations normalize.

While the U.S. embargo on Cuba remains in effect for now, exceptions to the trade ban for agricultural and medical products have been in place for the past decade.

Since then Cuba has been purchasing Virginia soybeans, apples, poultry and pork. But recently those sales are down.

Deeds Calls 2015 Mental Health Reforms Modest

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.

Executions Could Stop Following Failure of Drug Bill

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 Approve Campus Sexual Assault Policy

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.

General Assembly Passes Ethics and Campus Sexual Assault Response Reforms

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 Authorize Reparations To Eugenics Victims

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.

General Assembly Passes Ethics and Campus Sexual Assault Response Reform

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.  

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