GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2021

Virginia’s HIV transmission penalty will remain on the books

BY: - April 2, 2021

Many Virginians living with HIV were hoping for a total repeal of the state’s “infected sexual battery” law — a section of code that makes it a felony for someone living with HIV, syphilis or Hepatitis B to engage in sexual activity “with the intent to transmit the infection to another person.” But advocates said […]

With Northam’s endorsement, Virginia is poised to speed marijuana legalization to July 1

BY: - March 31, 2021

Virginians could be harvesting their first legal crops of home-grown marijuana later this year under legislative amendments Gov. Ralph Northam says he’s sending to the General Assembly. Northam said Wednesday he is proposing changes to the marijuana legalization bill passed by the General Assembly last month that would end the state’s prohibition on the drug […]

Virginia’s new big tech-backed data privacy law is the nation’s second. Critics say it doesn’t go far enough.

BY: - March 30, 2021

When Virginia’s General Assembly first took up legislation billed as a major step toward giving regular people more control over their data in an increasingly online world, some of the first testimony lawmakers heard came from tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon. Both companies said they were in full support of Virginia’s effort to become […]

Va. House leaders back legalizing home-grown marijuana this summer

BY: - March 26, 2021

Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates say they now support legalizing marijuana on July 1, joining the Senate in backing amendments to a legalization bill lawmakers passed last month. They also went a step further, endorsing the legalization of personal cultivation at the same time. “The time is now for us to act,” wrote […]

Virginia could soon push more workers to save for retirement. Here’s how:

BY: - March 25, 2021

Thousands of Virginia workers would gain the option of automatically putting away part of their paychecks for retirement under legislation the General Assembly passed last month to help private-sector employees who lack access to a savings plan through their employer. The bill, awaiting action by Gov. Ralph Northam, establishes a state-administered program that would offer […]

Northam amends gambling bill to reiterate ban on skill machines

BY: - March 19, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam is amending a gambling bill that easily passed the General Assembly to once again specify that so-called skill games would become illegal come July 1, the governor’s office announced Friday. If the General Assembly agrees, the change could mean the end of the games resembling slot machines that have spread fast among […]

Did Virginia lawmakers accidentally vote to legalize skill games for another year?

BY: - March 16, 2021

After giving so-called skill games another year to operate in Virginia late in the 2020 General Assembly session, legislators seemed to decide the time has come to pull the plug on thousands of slots-like gambling machines that have proliferated in convenience stores, restaurants and truck stops all over the state. But some statehouse watchers think […]

SNAP expansion expected to bring more than $100 million in new food aid to Virginia

BY: - March 15, 2021

Advocates are heralding legislation loosening eligibility rules for food stamps as the most significant expansion of public benefits in Virginia since the state expanded Medicaid three years ago. The bill, which passed the General Assembly last month with unanimous support, will open up the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to an estimated 25,000 additional […]

Virginia is set to become the first southern state with its own voting rights act. Here’s what it does:

BY: - March 12, 2021

When the federal Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, Virginia was one of nine states that drew special attention due to its history of racist election laws. That burden was lifted in 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided enough time had passed that Virginia and other states could stop following an old rule requiring […]

On environmental justice, Democrats split over the best path forward

BY: - March 12, 2021

When the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an air permit last year for a compressor station Dominion Energy wanted to site in the majority-Black community of Union Hill as part of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the judges admonished state officials that “environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked.”  […]

Push to end marijuana prohibition this year instead of 2024 hinges on Northam

BY: - March 11, 2021

An increasingly vocal group of Virginia lawmakers and advocates is urging Gov. Ralph Northam to send down a legislative amendment that would make marijuana legal this year. The General Assembly recently passed a bill to legalize the drug beginning in 2024 — a three-year delay that was met with disappointment by a contingent of Democratic […]

COMMENTARY

Lowering the limit: How allowing 15 mph zones could save lives in Virginia

BY: - March 11, 2021

Just as speed limits set a maximum velocity for drivers, so too the commonwealth establishes a minimum speed limit for localities. Currently, any city or county looking to slow traffic in a busy shopping district or on a quiet residential street can go no lower than 25 mph. A bill passed during this year’s General […]