March 12, 2012
The 2012 General Assembly adjourned Saturday after passing more than 1,500 bills, but the most important bill of any legislature — the budget — remains unfinished and on life support.
A special session will begin Wednesday to reach a compromise on the party-biased debate. A small group of six delegates and five senators will negotiate the various budget proposals and then bring both chambers back to Richmond to vote on a final product.
It's an all-or-nothing vote, but delegates on both sides say there are certain things they want addressed before passing the budget.
"My must have is spending for K-12 education and higher education. It seems to me that is the key to job creation, that's the key to economic opportunity," said Del. David Toscano (D-57th).
Del. Rob Bell (R-58th) added, "One of the ways we get into trouble is we get too optimistic about the way things are going to go. I'm not an optimist or a pessimist, I just want to make sure we're realistic about our growth targets."
The two-year budget takes effect on July 1, 2012 and lasts through July 30, 2014. There is no timeline for when the budget will be passed, but legislators expect a compromise by late-March or early-April.
Here's a look at the outcome of some legislation in the 2012 General Assembly:
—Require every woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an abdominal ultrasound.
—Repeal of the one-handgun-a-month law.
—Allow private child placement agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral convictions, including opposition to homosexuality.
—Require voters who fail to show identification at the polls to cast a provision ballot that will be counted only if they return the next day with the needed ID.
—Provide a tax credit for contributions to scholarships for private-school students.
—Add coaches and volunteers for private sports organizations and employees and volunteers for camps, youth centers and youth recreation programs to the list of persons required to report suspected child abuse to state authorities.
—Reduce from 72 hours to 24 hours the time limit for "mandatory reporters" to report suspected child abuse to state authorities.
—A constitutional amendment subject to voter approval that would prohibit government from taking private property for private economic development projects.
—Impose a mandatory life sentence for an adult convicted of sexually assaulting a child under age 13.
—Prohibit the public and media from attending electoral board meetings held the day after an election to count provisional ballots.
—Allow motorcycles to travel two abreast in a single lane.
—Require an ignition interlock device on the vehicle of anyone driving on a restricted license because of a first drunken driving conviction.
—Allow city and county treasurers to carry a gun into a courthouse.
—Declares that any retail operator of a roll-your-own cigarette machine is considered a cigarette manufacturer.
—Allow judges to prohibit publication of their address and personal phone numbers on the Internet.
—Make the attempted strangulation of a person a felony.
—Eliminate the option for localities to require fingerprints for concealed weapons permits.
—Allow the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to determine which state-run liquor stores will be open on Sundays.
—Provide that any person who displays child pornography or a grooming video or materials to a minor is guilty of a felony.
—Establish a protocol for police to obtain search warrants allowing the use of GPS tracking devices.
—Require local school boards to implement policies for the possession and administration of epinephrine in every school.
—Require state to participate in a real-time electronic record-keeping and monitoring system for purchase of nonprescription drugs used to make methamphetamine.
—Require campus police to enter into mutual aid agreements with an adjacent local law-enforcement agency or the State Police for investigating deaths and rapes on college campuses.
—Require insurance providers to tell policy holders whether they are covered for earthquake damage and, if they are not, inform them how to obtain coverage.
—The two-year, $85 billion budget.
—Phase out tenure for teachers and principals by putting new hires on three-year contracts that their bosses could refuse to renew for any reason.
—A "personhood" bill stating that human life begins at conception.
—Prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks because of the purported capacity for the fetus to feel pain at that stage.
—Deny state abortion funding through Medicaid to indigent women with fetuses with gross and incapacitating deformities.
—Allow anyone to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
—Prohibit shackling of pregnant inmates.
—Repeal a requirement that girls receive immunization against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, by sixth grade.
—Require drug screening of welfare recipients.
—Allow hunting on Sundays on private land.
—Revise Virginia's so-called "triggerman rule" by allowing the death penalty for accomplices who share a murderer's intent to kill.
—Put into Virginia's code the common-law "castle doctrine," which holds that a person can kill an intruder in self-defense without facing criminal charges or civil suit.
—Allow all public schools to open before Labor Day without getting permission from the state Department of Education.
—Allow home-schooled students to play on public school sports teams.
—Allow guns on college campuses.
—Allow guns and other weapons in airport terminals.
—Prohibit conservation police officers, formerly known as game wardens, from checking hunting or fishing licenses and bag or creel limits without probable cause that a crime has been committed.
—Allow the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Virginia after new energy standards that critics characterize as a ban on traditional bulbs takes effect.
—Abolish the Virginia Court of Appeals.
—Prohibit transporting an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
—Study the possibility of selling marijuana in state-run liquor stores.
—Shield concealed weapons permit information from public disclosure.
—Prohibit the secret use of an electronic tracking device to monitor a person's movements.
—Restrict judges' authority to defer convictions.
—Automatically restore voting rights of nonviolent felons upon completion of their sentence and probation.
—Impose a $100 fine for smoking in a vehicle with a passenger younger than 13.
—Require ballots in local elections to show candidates' political party affiliation.
—Allow voters to record their party affiliation when they register to vote.
—Make it illegal to pen foxes or coyotes for purposes of hunting them with dogs.
—Require campus police to turn over death and rape investigations to local police departments.
—Require all bicyclists to wear helmets.
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