1) McDONNELL PENS LETTER TO PREZ: Governor McDonnell is asking President Barack Obama in a letter to make good on his campaign pledge to avert automatic cuts to federal spending that would disproportionately damage Virginia. McDonnell says the threat of cuts from the 2011 Budget Control Act is already harming Virginia. But unless Obama and Congress agree on their own cuts before March 1, the sequester would drain $85 billion from the government’s budget over the coming seven months.
2) SPENDING CUTS: Virginia is among the states with the most to lose due to possible federal spending cuts from what’s called sequestration. The reason is the state’s reliance on federal spending. Financial Services company Wells Fargo reports a good portion of the state’s gross domestic product is non-defense spending putting Virginia’s share in a tie at the top with Maryland and Washington, DC. The cuts start March 1st unless Congress heads them off.
4) SCHOOL SECURITY: The House of Delegates is giving preliminary approval to a measure improving school security. The bill requires local school divisions to come up with policies and procedures to set up threat assessment teams in every school. The legislation is one of the school security bills recommended by Governor McDonnell following the elementary school mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December.
5) DRONES: A House panel is moving forward a Senate measure placing a moratorium on drones. The moratorium would be on the use of drones by state and local law enforcement until July of 2015. This would allow time to study the implications of using such technology to combat crime. The Senate measure would still permit using drones in emergency situations and police emergencies.
6) STUDENT CONCUSSION ISSUE: A House panel is moving forward a bill involving policy on youth sports concussions. The House Education Committee yesterday voted in favor of the measure. If it becomes law, youth sports programs which use public school policy would have to have procedures for both identifying and handling concussions.