Make the General Assembly great again

Delegate David Toscano is house minority leader. Photo by Delegate Mark Levine Delegate David Toscano is house minority leader. Photo by Delegate Mark Levine

February 16 marked crossover, when each house in the General Assembly sends its bills to the other body.

From the House of Delegates floor last week, House Minority Leader David Toscano chastised legislators who continue to try to curtail gay and transgender rights, saying such moves are bad for business, according to radio station WINA.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed 20-19 its “Kim Davis” bill February 12, which allows religious organizations and affiliated businesses to refuse to marry same-sex couples or provide them a wedding cake if doing so would violate a “sincerely held religious belief.”

The House of Delegates passed a bill that would prohibit state agencies from punishing discrimination against same-sex couples or those who are transgender, and a last-minute addition made it okay to discriminate against those who are having affairs, the Washington Post reports. Supporters say the bills protect religious freedom; critics say they protect discrimination.

One way the General Assembly escapes public scrutiny is the committee and subcommittee unrecorded voice vote, which kills legislation without anyone’s fingerprints—or name—attached. Delegate Ben Cline’s bill to change that, not surprisingly, died in committee with no documentation on how members voted.

UVA faculty salaries, an annual Cavalier Daily feature, may be in danger, thanks to a Senate bill that would remove the names of public employees—and the fun—from salary database requests. Area state senators Creigh Deeds and Bryce Reeves voted for the measure.

Delegate Rob Bell’s charter school constitutional amendment, which must pass both houses, passed the House 50-48 on February 15, but likely will be torpedoed by the Senate, which killed its version of the amendment.

And a bright note for leadfoots: The Senate passed a bill that ups the speed at which reckless driving charges kick in from 81mph to 85mph, giving a little more leeway to speeders in a 70mph zone.

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