Bill mandating 12-month birth control coverage passes

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Women in Virginia may soon be able to buy a year’s supply of prescription birth control instead of a few months’ worth.Legislation that would require health insurance companies to cover a 12-month supply is on its way to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk after the General Assembly approved it Thursday.Supporters say it will ease a burden for women and prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Women’s group said the legislation was the first “proactive reproductive health” measure to pass the General Assembly in more
than a decade.The bill doesn’t require that providers write a 12-month prescription.Opponents, including insurance industry representatives, have said the bill could lead to waste.

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Virginia DMV website now displaying wait time estimates

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia DMV officials have launched a new online tool to help members of the public figure out when the best time to visit their local DMV office is.The new system, available at dmvNOW.com , shows how many customers are currently waiting at each office as well as the longest wait time currently experienced by any customer.Users can also see how long the wait is for each type of service, such as getting a driver’s license or handling a title transaction.To access the tool from the website, click “Locations” and enter your ZIP code. When you find the location you want, click under “View estimated wait times” and scroll down.The estimated wait times begin a half hour after each office opens and are updated every five minutes.

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Lawmakers still grappling with ethics law

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Virginia General Assembly is set to adjust the state’ ethics laws for the fourth straight year, as lawmakers continue struggle over what kind of gifts they can take from lobbyists and special interests.Lawmakers are working on legislation clarifying that public officials cannot accept tickets to watch sporting events in luxury boxes. The moves comes a year after a top aide to Gov. Terry McAuliffe accepted an invitation from the Washington Redskins to watch a playoff game from one of the team’s boxes with the approval from the state’s ethics council’s staff.The team is in active discussions with state officials about building a new stadium in Virginia, and lawmakers said the gift violated the spirit of a 2015 ethics overhaul.

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Democratic candidate apologizes for Sept. 11 comparison

Tom Perriello

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello is apologizing for comparing President Donald Trump’s victory to the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11.Perriello said Trump’s election was “a little bit like, you know, a political and constitutional September 11” during a recent campaign stop. The comments were recorded and posted in a video online.The former congressman apologized for the comparison Wednesday on Twitter and said he would not do it again.Perriello is facing Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in the Democratic primary, set for June.Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race is gaining increasing national attention, as both Trump fans and critics want to use the contest as a referendum on the president’s first year in office.

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Threshold for felony theft remains at $200

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia House Republicans have rejected an effort by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to raise the felony theft threshold from $200 to $500.   A GOP-controlled House panel killed the legislation Wednesday, which the Democratic governor had made one of his top legislative priorities. GOP Del. Rob Bell said the measure was misguided and that criminals do not need a cost of living adjustment. Bell said increasing the threshold could undermine Virginia’s low crime rate. But supporters of increasing the nearly 40-year-old threshold needed to be updated because the cost of goods had gone up and Virginia was too often saddling young people caught stealing with felony records.

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State revenues surge, but not in time to aid budget

Governor Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia tax revenues surged last month, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe cautioned against assuming that the state’s recent revenue swoon is over.The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports McAuliffe announced Monday that revenues rose 7.4 percent in January over the previous January. He also says collections for the first seven months of the fiscal year are up 4.6 percent and ahead of the annual forecast revised in the face of last year’s shortfall.Despite the good news, officials say the improved outlook will not result in increased budget spending. Last year, budget officials were caught off guard when payroll withholding grew more slowly than expected, primarily because lower-paying jobs replaced high-wage jobs that were lost in northern Virginia and other parts of the state especially vulnerable to cuts in federal spending.

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Federal judge blocks Trump travel ban for Virginia residents

McLEAN, Va. (AP) – A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from implementing its travel ban in Virginia, adding another judicial ruling to those already in place challenging the ban’s constitutionality.A federal appeals court in California has already upheld a national temporary restraining order stopping the government from implementing the ban, which is directed at seven Muslim-majority countries.But the preliminary injunction issued late Monday by U.S. District Judge Leonie (LAY-uh-nee) Brinkema in Alexandria is a more permanent type of injunction than the temporary restraining order issued in the Washington state case.Brinkema’s injunction, though, applies only to Virginia residents.In her 22-page ruling, Brinkema said the Trump administration offered no justification for the travel ban and wrote that the president’s executive power “does not mean absolute power.”

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Bill would mandate coverage of 12-month birth control supply

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A bill advancing in the General Assembly would require health insurance companies to cover a 12-month supply of prescription birth control.A Senate committee approved the measure Monday. It has already passed the House of Delegates with only one no vote.The bill’s sponsor, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, says it will ease a burden for women and prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Three physicians testified in support of the measure.The bill doesn’t require that providers write a 12-month prescription.Opponents, including insurance industry representatives, said the bill could lead to waste.

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Boyfriend of reporter killed on live TV eyes Va. House seat

Chris Hurst

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – A former Virginia news anchor whose girlfriend was fatally shot during a live broadcast in 2015 says he plans to run for a seat in the House of Delegates.Chris Hurst tells The Roanoke Times that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 12th House District seat. The seat is currently held by Republican Del. Joseph Yost, who says he will run for re-election.Hurst left WDBJ-TV on Friday. He was dating reporter Alison Parker in August 2015 when she was fatally shot while conducting an interview on live TV. WDBJ cameraman Adam Ward was also killed.Hurst has never held public office. He says that while reducing gun violence will be a big part of his campaign, he is also interested in many other issues.

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Lawyers for Virginia challenging Trump travel ban in court

Lawyers for the state of Virginia are challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, arguing in federal court that its seven-nation travel ban violates the Constitution and is the result of “animus toward Muslims.”Michael Kelly, spokesman for Virginia’s Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday’s hearing in federal court in a Washington suburb poses the most significant state challenge yet.He says in a statement ahead of Friday’s scheduled arguments in Alexandria, Virginia, that it “will be the most in-depth examination of the merits of the arguments against the ban.”Virginia’s challenge comes after a federal appeals court in San Francisco refused Thursday to reinstate the ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

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