(Photo courtesy of Thinkstock/Sean Pavone)
Today marks the beginning of what is sure to be an eventful 2016 Virginia General Assembly session.
While Gov. Terry McAuliffe and outnumbered Democrats duke it out with Republicans in each chamber to pass a semblance of the governor’s agenda, don’t lose sight of the various bills up for consideration.
Here are 10 we’re tracking to start the session.
- Lawmakers haven't forgotten about the state's backlog of physical evidence recovery kits, or rape kits. Del. Jennifer McClellan filed this measure, which would outline more stringent training and collection protocols for sexual assault evidence collection and storage statewide.
- The region's most seasoned lawmaker, Sen. Donald McEachin, is spearheading a Democrat-led effort to require automatic voter registration statewide by mandating that the Department of Motor Vehicles communicates an individual's updated personal information to the Department of Elections.
- This proposal would require the state's colleges and universities to report to the governor their "efforts to stimulate economic development" in their surrounding communities.
- In lieu of all the debate over refugees this past fall, Del. Bob Marshall filed this measure, which would prohibit basically anyone in the state from aiding the resettlement of any refugee from Iraq or Syria.
- Remember Richmond City Council’s compensation review committee’s recommendations this past fall? Del. Delores McQuinn seems to. She put forth this bill that would raise salaries for city council members by $10,000 in cities with more than 175,000 residents.
- The national debate on lifting the minimum wage to what advocates call a living wage has a backer in Sen. David Marsden. The Democrat filed this measure that, if passed, would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by July 2018.
- One of the key education issues this session is the future of charter schools in the state. This proposal calls for a referendum next November that, if passed, would give the Board of Education authority to establish charter schools in any public school division.
- Dozens of gun-related bills are already filed, but few, if any, are expected to go anywhere. This one, put forth by Sen. Janet D. Howell, would tweak an existing law to prohibit someone who is the subject of a protective order from having possessing a gun. Currently, such individuals aren’t allowed to purchase or transport a gun.
- Henrico Del. G. Manoli Loupassi filed this bill, which “allows the use of transportation of turkey feather sand toes take from legally harvested turkey carcasses for the purpose of making tools or utensils or selling such tools or utensils.” We’re calling it a creative, if unconventional, take on small business development.
- We’ve written before about the possibility of hops being Virginia’s next cash crop. This measure would provide a tax incentive for farmers who sell “certain crops” to Virginia’s craft breweries.