Sunday, April 14, 2013
"No officer, I was just typing directions into my GPS…"
Texting while driving is dangerous, but some people do it anyway. This year, Virginia's General Assembly passed a measure that increased the fine to $125 (it was $20) for the first infraction and $250 for the second. But Virginia legislators did not pass a hands-free measure like they have in the District, and as such enforcing the law could prove difficult. The problem: Using cell phones to dial a number or setting the phone GPS is legal. “Distracted driving is a big problem, but it’s bigger than just phone use,” said Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, to the Washington Post. “Even if a law were successful in stopping phone use and texting, it wouldn’t eliminate distracted driving.” Northern Virginia Del. Scott …
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Fredericksburg area Senator Bryce Reeves voted for the amendment, prohibiting certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion.
Thursday, April 4
By Mark Robinson Capital News Service The General Assembly on Wednesday narrowly approved an amendment by Gov. Bob McDonnell that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion. McDonnell added the anti-abortion amendment to House Bill 1900, sponsored by Delegate Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon). The assembly passed the bill in February to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the system, Virginians who cannot afford health insurance will participate in a federally operated health insurance exchange. McDonnell’s amendment will prohibit insurers participating in the exchange from covering abortion, except in the case of rape or incest or if …
Monday, March 25, 2013
A letter to the editor by Stafford resident Daniel P. Cortez.
Changing political attitudes regarding immigration reform remains a contentious issue in Virginia’s conservative ranks….today more than ever. But for Republican gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, now is the time for augmentation of a previous immigration position that many in the Hispanic community find untenable. Cuccinelli, the preverbal Tea Party darling, remains under severe criticism for his past actions and comments. Case in point was then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli’s introduction of bill SJ131 in 2008 to the General Assembly urging Congress to amend the constitution revoking citizenship rights for children of illegals. The pejorative “anchor baby” issue remains a major concern for Hispanic voters. Not …
Monday, February 25, 2013
Final budget amendments include $3.4 million to add 1,700 in-state undergraduate seats at Virginia universities.
Monday, February 25
By Jessica Dahlberg, Capital News Service As the 2013 legislative session came to a close, the Virginia General Assembly approved amendments to the state’s two-year budget which included expanding Medicaid and spending more money on education. The amendments were passed by both the House (on an 83-17 vote) and the Senate (31-8) after tense discussions over Medicaid, which provides medical care for low-income residents. Legislators agreed to expand the program if certain reforms are made. Legislators representing the Fredericksburg area were divided in their voting. The complete vote tally is below. The reforms will make Medicaid look similar to non-government health insurance policies, according to legislators. Under the reforms, Medicaid …
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Vienna-area Sen. Janet Howell calls compromise — expected to raise $880 million a year for roads and mass transit —"truly the best we're going to get."
Sunday, February 24
By Stephen Nielsen, Capital News Service A divided Virginia Senate on Saturday passed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature issue of the 2013 legislative session – a bill to overhaul the state’s system for funding transportation. Just hours before the session’s end, the Senate voted 25-15 for House Bill 2313, which will raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering the fuels tax. The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up to the vote. Del. Bill Howell (R-28), who represents part of the City of Fredericksburg and part of Stafford County, praised passage of the legislation. "We have chosen to put politics aside and instead crafted a bipartisan solution to one of the most …
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Virginia voters wishing to cast an absentee ballot would still be required to give a reason.
A bill designed to alleviate privacy concerns in the absentee voting process is headed to the full House of Delegates. The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin, would still require a person to give a valid reason to vote absentee, though certain personal information would no longer be required on the application. "It's important that we not set up artificial roadblocks to voting absentee," Ebbin told Patch in a phone interview. "While some of my colleagues seem to not want to make it easier to vote, I was happy that we are removing an unnecessary roadblock — or, an unnecessary invasion of privacy." Ebbin's bill is a far cry from no-excuse absentee voting, sometimes called early voting, which would give any registered voter …
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Ebbin: Proposed law was aimed at protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees.
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee this week tabled a bill that would have prevented the state government from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation, killing the matter for this legislative session. "What it means is that it's still perfectly legal to fire somebody because of their sexual orientation," state Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, told Patch. Ebbin and Sen. Don McEachin, a Richmond Democrat, were the primary sponsors of the bill, which passed the Senate late last month 24-16. Most of Virginia's top 25 employers have nondiscrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation, according to Ebbin's office. In 2005, then-Gov. Mark Warner issued an executive order that protected state …
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Legislation in Virginia's House of Delegates could prevent teens under 15 from using indoor tanning salons and require those older to get parental permission.
Tuesday, February 12
By Allison Landry, Capital News Service Virginians under age 15 would no longer be able to use indoor tanning salons under legislation moving through the General Assembly. The Senate approved SB 1274, which would prohibit individuals younger than 15 from "using tanning devices at tanning facilities.” Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-17) voted for the measure. It would also require 15 to 17-year-olds to obtain parental or guardian consent before visiting a tanning parlor, with the exception of emancipated minors -- teenagers who are legally adults because of a court order, marriage or military service. The bill is now awaiting review in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. “The goal is to try to reduce incidents of cancer, which is a …
Friday, February 8, 2013
Virginia lawmakers consider giving law enforcement the authority to stop drivers solely for texting.
Jail time is no longer on the table as a maximum penalty as state lawmakers look to tighten Virginia's texting-while-driving law. The Old Dominion is in line to increase the fines for such offenses, though, and to give law enforcement the power to stop drivers solely for texting. House Bill 1907 passed this week on a 92-4 vote. Del. Mark Cole (R-88 Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania) was one of the four voting against the bill. HB1907 increases the fine upon conviction to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. The bill makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they…
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Del. Howell of Fredericksburg and Stafford broke with his own party to stop the plan.
Virginia Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-28-Fredericksburg and Stafford) broke with his own party Wednesday, using a procedural ruling to stop the Republican-sponsored redistricting plan. The plan might have had a chance of passing the Virginia House if it made it to the floor for a vote, but Howell quashed the bill, clearing the way for the House to concentrate on Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, The Washington Post reported. “I am committed to upholding the honor and traditions of both the office of Speaker, the institution as a whole and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Howell said in a statement. The Senate had made changes to the House measure, so it had to return to the House of Delegates for approval. Howell said …