The 2015 General Assembly session opened on Wednesday, January 14. Delegates old and new are working hard to get a lot done in a short, 46 day session. I look forward to a productive session working for you in Richmond this winter!
Speaker Bill Howell opened up the first day of session by welcoming our five new members and going over some of the top priorities for this session, including reforming K-12 education, making higher education more affordable and accessible, holding the assembly to the highest ethical standards, and adopting a responsible budget that funds the core functions of government without raising taxes.
His full remarks are available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qY4_hr4eKs
In addition to the typical first-week housekeeping, the Governor delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth address. You can watch his speech at http://www.c-span.org/video/?323785-1/virginia-governor-terry-mcauliffe-d-state-commonwealth-address
On a more personal note, I have filed a few bills that you might find interesting. I have included a brief summary of those below. To follow any other legislation, or read these bills in full, you can go to http://www.lis.virginia.gov
HB 1445 Possession or distribution of marijuana for medical purposes; epilepsy. Allows a person to possess marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol and allows a medical doctor or pharmacist to distribute such substances without being subject to prosecution if a doctor determines in the course of his professional practice that such substances should be used for the treatment of the person’s epilepsy. Currently, the use of medical marijuana is allowed only for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma. The bill also provides that a valid recommendation from a medical doctor that medical marijuana be used for treatment is a necessary prerequisite for the immunity from prosecution for the possession or distribution of such substances to apply. The current law requires a valid prescription from a medical doctor. The bill also clarifies that the penalties for forging or altering a recommendation for medical marijuana or for making or uttering a false or forged recommendation are the same as the penalties for committing the same acts with regard to prescriptions.
HB 1503 Driving after forfeiture of license; blood alcohol content. Provides that a person who operates a motor vehicle whose privilege to do so has been restricted, suspended, or revoked with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 or more as indicated by a chemical test is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
HB 1635 Defamation; statute of limitations. Increases from one to two years the time within which a person shall bring an action for injury resulting from libel, slander, insulting words, or defamation. The bill further provides that, in cases where the defamation occurred via the Internet, where the identity of the party against whom the action is being brought is unknown, the statute of limitations shall be tolled against an unknown defendant, on motion for good cause, any time after the case is filed.
HB 1499 Right to breast-feed in public places. Provides that a mother may breast-feed in any place where the mother is lawfully present. Current law allows breast-feeding on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth.
HJ 537 Drug trafficking; interstate cooperation. Requests the Governor of the Commonwealth to initiate a memorandum of agreement with the Governor of Maryland pertaining to the enforcement of laws involving the illegal trafficking of controlled substances across state lines.
HB 1343 Campus police departments; sexual assault reporting. Requires that mutual aid agreements between campus police force and law-enforcement agencies contain provisions requiring either the campus police force or an agency with which it has established a mutual aid agreement to notify the local attorney for the Commonwealth of any investigation involving felony criminal sexual assault occurring on property owned or controlled by the institution of higher education within 48 hours of beginning such investigation.
HJ 499 United States Constitution; amendment. Makes application to the United States Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing a constitutional amendment that pertains to the subject of balancing the federal budget.
Although session is only a week in, I have already received many calls, emails, letters, and visits from concerned constituents regarding numerous issues. Even some dentists, bankers, and veterinarians were nice enough to pay me a visit! Thank you for your input! Another great way to let me know what you are thinking is through my survey. I welcome any further comments or concerns you would like me to consider while I am in Richmond.
Here is the link to it if you haven’t already submitted a response: http://survey.house.virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?s=0e2175fa7be345e38bbc050212f63693
As always, my staff and I are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there’s anything we can do to help you in dealing with a state government agency. My office can be reached at (804) 698-1042 or via email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov. If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to visit me in General Assembly building room 529.