Votes are still happening on key issues as the General Assembly session winds down.
Virginia’s General Assembly session is starting to wind down, but the state legislature is still making important decisions in several key policy areas. We break down the latest action on gun safety, a woman’s right to choose and education issues, particularly teacher’s pay. And check out our previous update if you want information on voter ID laws, minimum wage, climate initiatives, and more.
On Monday, a state Senate committee blocked a bill that would have banned sales of assault weapons, among other items. Four Democrats joined with Republicans to halt the bill until next year. They also sent the measure to the state’s Crime Commission for review.
The House is also considering another piece of gun safety legislation that already passed the Senate. The bill, introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), would allow individuals to place themselves on a list barring stores from selling them firearms. Supporters say the measure may help reduce suicides. The bill passed the Senate 22-18.
Both the Virginia state Senate and the House voted to roll back state restrictions on abortion. If signed into law, the bills would remove the mandatory 24-hour waiting period and required ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion. The bills would also get rid of building code requirements and allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions.
Both chambers must now pass the other’s bill before they can be sent to Gov. Ralph Northam to be signed.
Northam’s two-year budget calls for a teacher pay increase of 3% in its second year. But as the budget makes its way through the General Assembly, the money committees are looking to increase teachers’ pay even more. The House Appropriations Committee proposed increasing teacher’s pay by 2% both years. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee proposed a 3% bonus in the first year a raise of 4% in the second.
Another bill granting public educators the right to collectively bargain also passed in the House. Virginia is one of only three states in the country banning collective bargaining in the public sector. Public school teachers in Virginia currently earn an average of $51,994 a year, which is almost $10,000 below the national average. The bill now sits before the Senate, where it is expected to pass.