In memoriam: Regulations for hemp products, a definition of sweet treats and campaign contribution restrictions

By: , and - February 4, 2019 5:01 am

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Like a school of fish in a sea of predators, many of the hundreds of bills filed during every General Assembly session fail to advance to even a floor vote, never mind the governor’s desk.

Every week, we’ll bring you a sampling of the legislation left on the cutting room floor, either failing to report or done in by other genteel euphemisms of the legislature: “gently laid on the table” or “passed by indefinitely.”

Regulating hemp 

Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, is concerned that there are few regulations over hemp products like oils, creams and additives that have found their way onto wellness store shelves.

“There are really no controls over what’s in the final product,” he told a Senate Education and Health subcommittee last week.

But his fellow senators didn’t agree after an outpouring of opposition from farmers and entrepreneurs. The committee voted down his proposed regulatory legislation on an 11-4 vote.

During a subcommittee meeting, farmers came out in force to argue that the bill would prohibit them from taking advantage of the federal changes to growing hemp. And some entrepreneurs argued that hemp products have already improved their lives and those of their customers.

“What you’re doing is putting Virginia growers at a huge competitive disadvantage,” said Martha Moore, a Virginia Farm Bureau representative.

Opposing: Newman, Lucas, Barker, Black, Carrico, Petersen, Lewis, Dunnavant, Chase, Suetterlein, Peake. —11.

Supporting: Saslaw, Howell, Locke, Cosgrove — 4.

Definition of sweet treats not needed, lawmakers decide

For at least one more year, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority won’t have clarity on what a “confectionery” is. Del. Chris Peace, R-Hanover, wanted to add a definition to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which includes definitions of various places and alcoholic beverages.

Peace wanted to add a definition of confectionery to mean sweet foods, like baked goods, candies, jams, jellies, puddings, ice creams, sorbets and yogurts.

A General Laws subcommittee agreed unanimously to lay it on the table.

Opposing: Knight, Gilbert, Leftwich, Morefield, Miyares, Torian, Aird, Jones, J.C. —8.

Campaign finance and election bills fall

Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, wanted to loosen some voter ID requirements and allow an expired driver’s license be considered an acceptable form of identification when voting. It was passed by indefinitely along party lines in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee.

Opposing: Vogel, Reeves, Chafin, DeSteph, Chase, Ruff, Cosgrove, Peake — 8.

Supporting: Howell, Deeds, Edwards, Ebbin, Dance, Spruill —6.

And in the realm of campaign finance, two proposals from Sen. Chap Peterson, D-Fairfax, failed in committee this week. One would have banned politicians from accepting or soliciting donations from a public service corporation, like a utility, which comes as Dominion Energy’s influence on Virginia’s politics is under mounting scrutiny.

Opposing: Vogel, Reeves, Chafin, DeSteph, Chase, Ruff, Cosgrove, Peake — 8.

Supporting: Howell, Deeds, Edwards, Ebbin, Dance, Spruill — 6.

Another would have capped campaign contributions at $10,000 per candidate over the course of a given primary and general election cycle. That one was endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and failed 11-3.

Supporting: Deeds, Edwards, Ebbin — 3.

Opposing: Vogel, Howell, Reeves, Chafin, DeSteph, Chase, Ruff, Cosgrove, Dance, Spruill, Peake —11.

Paid parental leave, children’s ombudsman and non-compete clauses

Other bills that went by the wayside:


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Katie O'Connor
Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.

Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.

Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.