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Schapiro: Morrissey's New Charges; McAuliffe Out of Hospital; US 460 Deal Blasted

Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and WCVE analyst Jeff Schapiro discusses the latest charges against Del. Joe Morrissey, the Governor's injuries, the legislative attack on the McDonnell administration's transportation policies, and the General Assembly's narrow refusal to ban in-state tuition for certain undocumented immigrants.

Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Faces Uphill Climb

A bill to decriminalize marijuana faces an uphill climb at the General Assembly. The bill would reduce the penalty for simple possession from a misdemeanor charge to a civil penalty of $100 and adult users would no longer lose their driver’s licenses if convicted of marijuana possession.

Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria is the bill’s patron.

The bill has been reintroduced for years only to be killed before it ever reaches the floor.

Virginia arrests 20,000 citizens per year for cannabis possession.

Morrissey Indicted on New Charges of Perjury and Forgery, Surrenders to Sheriff

Embattled Delegate Joe Morrissey has surrendered to the Henrico Sheriff’s office and was released on a $10,000 bond following his indictment yesterday on 4 new felony charges of perjury and forgery.

The new charges all stem from Morrissey’s plea deal last month, which sent him to jail for six months for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Morrissey avoided a lengthier sentence for more serious charges through this plea but prosecutors now say some of the documents the delegate provided in that process were forged.

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.


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