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House Republicans Roll Out Education Agenda

House Republicans rolled out their education agenda today (1/26) at the State Capitol, with many of the bills focusing on school choice.

One bill would increase the tax credit for donations to nonprofit scholarship groups from 65-90%.

Another would give students the option to transfer to any school within their school district.

There’s also a proposal to create Education Savings Accounts to give parents the ability to put their kids in private schools.

Several bills would aim to expand access to early childhood education, but not universal Pre-K.

Transgender Restroom Case Goes to Federal Appeals Court Wednesday

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond will hear oral arguments Wednesday morning (1/27) in the ACLU case against the Gloucester County School Board for what they say are discriminatory restroom policies for transgender students.

Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old transgender Junior at Gloucester High School was born female but identifies as male.

General Assembly to Consider Further Changes to Mental Health System

The General Assembly will consider additional reforms to the state’s mental health system this year, changes the legislature hopes will empower families with loved ones struggling with the commitment process.

One bill would require treatment centers to make greater efforts to reach out to families once a loved one is involuntarily committed.

Other legislation would allow families to appeal a clinicians decision not to commit a family member.

Virginia Senate Approves Eliminating Employer Names from Sex Offender Registry

The General Assembly was back in session today (1/25) after taking a snow day on Friday.

The Virginia Senate passed a bill 22 to 17 that would remove a requirement that businesses who employ sex offenders have their name included in the sex offender registry. Democratic Senator Janet Howell of Northern Fairfax, the bill’s patron, says the current requirement serves as a barrier to hiring those who have served their time, and making it harder for them to get on with their lives.

Senator Tom Garrett of Buckinham says you can’t go too far to protect children.

House Committee Reviews Private Drone Use

Last year the General Assembly discussed when law enforcement can use drones for surveillance purposes. This year they’re looking at how drones should be operated by hobbyists.

Republican Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle, Chair Of the House Courts of Justice Sub Committee on Criminal Laws, says using drones to spy in people’s windows or peep in someone’s backyard is already banned by other statutes but they want to specifically ban hovering over someone’s property.

Hospitals at Odds With Republican Lawmakers on Healthcare Agenda

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association had their first lobby day at the Capitol Wednesday (1/20), finding themselves at odds with Republican lawmakers agenda for healthcare.

Hospitals, who’ve long supported Medicaid expansion, say they’re willing to cover the state’s part of the cost through a self-imposed provider fee.

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Combat Student Debt

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing legislation to help Virginians refinance their student debt and give new borrowers better information about the terms of their loans.

There’s over $1.3 trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt nationally and Democratic Delegate Marcus Simon of Fairfax, says it’s starting to cripple the economy as people in their 20’s and 30’s wait longer to form households.

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