Fredericksburg City Council Considering Plastic Bag Tax

The Fredericksburg City Council directed city staff to prepare a draft ordinance for a five-cent single-use plastic bag tax. In its Tuesday meeting, most of the city council expressed support for the proposal, introduced by Council Member Kerry Devine.

“The reality is I hope this is a tax we never collect,” Devine told the Council.

Read More

Virginia Employment Commission Lawsuit Reaches Agreement as Gov Northam Orders Faster Claims Processing

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is facing criticism and a lawsuit over delays while processing unemployment claims flagged as potentially ineligible. On Tuesday, in court-ordered mediation, the parties in the lawsuit came to an agreement. The same day, Governor Ralph Northam announced Executive Directive 16, requiring the VEC to add 300 new adjudication officers and make technology upgrades.

Read More

Marijuana Legal to Possess After July 1, But Still Illegal to Buy or Trade in Virginia

Possessing marijuana in amounts of up to one ounce will be legal July 1, but sales will still be outlawed in Virginia until 2024. That means there will be no clear legal way to acquire marijuana or marijuana plants, despite possession itself being legal.

“Outside of the medical cannabis program, there remains no legal access to marijuana in Virginia,” Virginia NORML Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini told The Virginia Star.

Read More

Roanoke Postpones Decision on Plastic Bag Tax to Gather More Information, Public Comment

The Roanoke City Council is seeking more information and public input before making a decision on a 5-cent single-use plastic bag tax. In a public hearing at Monday evening’s city council meeting, only three speakers spoke, all in favor of the tax. Council members also expressed support for the idea, but worried that the tax would harm businesses and low-income consumers, and might not address the problem of plastic bag pollution.

Read More

Effective in July, Virginia Legalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

RICHMOND, Virginia Simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal in Virginia, effective July 1. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to expedite legalization from 2024 to later this year. But legislators warned that doesn’t mean there will be a marijuana free-for-all.

Read More

Public Hearing Scheduled to Consider Plastic Bag Tax in Roanoke

The Roanoke City Council is considering a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags, like grocery store or convenience store bags. On Monday, the Council agreed to schedule a public hearing on April 19.

The tax was legalized by the 2020 General Assembly. HB 534, introduced by Delegate Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), and SB 11, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), authorize localities to enact five-cent taxes on disposable plastic bags and require the localities to use revenue from the tax for environmental cleanup and to provide re-usable bags.

Read More

Northam Acts on 552 General Assembly Bills from 2021 Sessions

Governor Ralph Northam announced the signing of 14 bills on Wednesday, March 31, which was a deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly sessions. According to his announcement, took action on 552 bills with no vetoes, although he sent some back to the General Assembly with amendments.

Read More

Northam Proposes Legalizing Marijuana in July

Marijuana legalization is back on track for July, after Governor Ralph Northam announced amendments to legalization legislation. In February, legislators surprised marijuana policy watchers by delaying the effective date of legalization until 2024, leading the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to blast the bills as worse than nothing. Since then, legalization advocates have lobbied Northam to amend the legislation to go into effect in July, when most other recently-passed bills take effect.

Read More

Virginia House Passes Same-Sex Marriage-Ban-Repeal Bill SJ 270, But the Constitutional Amendment Still Has a Long Road Ahead

The Virginia General Assembly has taken another step towards repealing the one-man-and-one-woman marriage clause from the Virginia Constitution. On Monday, the House of Delegates passed Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) SJ 270 in a bipartisan vote.

Read More

From Same-Sex Marriage to Equal Education Opportunities, Seven Constitutional Amendments Are Moving Through Virginia Legislature

The Virginia General Assembly considered over a dozen constitutional amendments in its two chambers this session; seven of them have been passed in either the House or the Senate. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) criticized the high number.

“I recognize that times change,” he said on the Senate floor. “I recognize that Virginia has changed and I recognize that there is a new cadre of legislators who have a different perspective on what the policies of the commonwealth should be.”

Read More

Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Repeal Moves Through Virginia House and Senate With Bi-Partisan Support

Bills to repeal Virginia’s same-sex marriage prohibition have passed in both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support this week. HJ 582, introduced by Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Franconia) and SJ 270, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) seek to amend language in the state constitution passed in 2006 saying that marriage is between one man and one woman.

“For several years now, I have introduced this resolution because I know millions of people want to either take back their vote that they made in 2006 or they weren’t old enough to vote in 2006 and want to weigh in on this,” Sickles said in subcommittee.

Read More

Virginia Marijuana Legalization Bills Prioritize Licenses and Loans to People with Marijuana Convictions

Marijuana legalization bills are approaching a floor vote in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate. In addition to removing criminal penalties, the 274-page bills essentially create an entire industry, including regulation of business licenses, creating taxes, and incentivizing entrepreneurs to enter the market.

But Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) said all of that is just a shell.

Read More

Legislation Prohibiting Firearms, Other Weapons on Capitol Grounds Passes Virginia Senate

Legislation prohibiting the possession and transportation of firearms and other weapons within Richmond’s Capitol Square as well as inside any buildings owned or leased by the state passed the Virginia Senate Tuesday afternoon.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1381, advanced out of the Senate by a 21-18 straight party-line vote with every Democrat in support and all Republicans opposing.

Read More

Virginia Democratic Senators File Resolution to Censure Amanda Chase

Virginia Senate Democrats filed a resolution on Wednesday to censure GOP gubernatorial candidate and Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) for addressing a crowd and urging action to overturn the 2020 presidential election hours before the Capitol riots in Washington D.C.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. John Bell (D-Loudoun) and co-sponsored by nine other Senate Democrats, formally accuses Chase of “fomenting insurrection against the United States.”

Read More

Virginia Senate Democrats’ Top Agendas for Upcoming Legislative Session

The Virginia General Assembly 2021 regular session is right around the corner on January 13 and the Democrats will again be calling all the shots for the legislature thanks to their majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.

This means that the agendas and priorities of Democrats in the Senate – as well as their counterparts in the House – have quite a good chance of passing through each chamber if broadly supported. Yet, what exactly are Senate Democrats focusing on?

Read More

Christian Wedding Photographer and Ministries Sue Virginia Over Law Banning LGBTQ Discrimination

A Christian wedding photographer and two churches, three Christian schools, and a pro-life ministry sued Virginia for its LGBTQ discrimination law. The plaintiffs argue that the law is a violation of religious freedom in the First Amendment.

The Christian plaintiffs say the state law forces their hand. If they don’t forsake God’s commandments, they could endure hundreds of thousands or more in fines and litigation fees. And, they could face a court order to adhere to the law. These individuals are also prohibited from expressing any religious beliefs that may be perceived as discriminatory.

Read More