After a very fast-paced 45-day Session the Virginia General Assembly ended a day early on February 27th for the first time in 15 years.
Ethics reform took up a lot of the legislator’s time and effort. Lawmakers passed reforms last Session after the conviction of former Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen, legislators were still left feeling as though they had not tightened up laws enough to win back the trust of the citizens of the Commonwealth. After many hours of work by both chambers a bill finally passed late in the evening on Friday. The bill creates a limit on gifts to $100.00 that include meals and trips. An ethics council was created but in essence has no power. As with every piece of legislation passed there are issues that both sides have raised and no one is happy.
After the sexual assault issue gained national attention from the University of Virginia legislators tackled this issue. Legislation was passed that would ensure that these acts are reported to authorities and also adds information to students transcripts should they be involved in an assault. Electric regulation was also a topic of great debate and discussion. Utilities were able to have their rates frozen for several years. There was legislation to allow utilities to not have to have biennial reviews done by the State Corporation Commission for a number of years, depending on the type of utility they are. The state adopted two new state songs. After many years the legislature finally granted home schooled children the ability to participate in public school sports and people that has intractable epilepsy will be able to possess the marijuana oils to aid in the effects of the disease.
This is an election year with all 140 legislators up for election. Election years often bring retirements and as of now we know five Senators who are retiring and three Delegates. The five state senators are, Senators Colgan, Stosch, Watkins, Puller and McWaters. Senators Colgan, Stosch and Watkins are the chairmen of the powerful finance and commerce and labor committees respectively. In the House of Delegates, three Delegates announced their retirements, Delegates Scott, Rust and BaCote.
We very well might continue to learn of additional retirements. Stay tuned…