Early Bills Take Up Ethics, Health Care

Now just a little more than a month before the start of the 2010 legislative session, we’re getting an early look at some of the bills lawmakers have already filed.

There’s no shortage of controversy.

And it’s still a long way until January.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting bills and their sponsors:

HB 9 (Del. Bill Carrico, R-Galax) — Allows the Superintendent of the Virginia State Police to establish a volunteer chaplain program. This stems out of a controverisal debate from years past about whether the VSP could sanction prayer at events.

HB 10 (Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William) — Prohibits “any law that will infringe on an individuatl’s right to pay for lawful medical services.” Marshall, one of the legislature’s most conservative members, has indicated he would sponsor bills in direct response to the health care debate raging in Washington.

HJ 7 (Marshall) — Not to be outdone, Marshall has also introduced the same language from HB 10 as a Constitutional amendment.

HJ 6 (Del. Algie Howell, D-Chesapeake) — A Constitutional amendment that would authorize the immediate restoration of rights for convicted felons. This is an issue Democrats have pushed often, and it has been killed in committee repeatedly. Right now, convicted felons can have their rights restored by petitioning the governor.

HB 15 (Marshall) — Forbids anyone accused or convicted of terrorism from being housed in state prisons or local jails.

SB 4 (Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Botetourt) — An ethics bill, this measure “requires a member of the General Assembly to disclose…any salary and wages in excess of $10,000 paid to him or his immediate family for employment with a state or local government or advisory agency.” Although I have yet to discuss this bill with Smith, it sounds like it’s the first of many ethics reform proposals to come in the wake of the Phil Hamilton scandal.

SB 5 (Smith) — Requires that any committee amendments to the budget, any conference committee report on the budget and any governor’s recommendations on the budget be posted online for at least 72 hours before lawmakers may vote on the measure. Interestingly, the General Assembly can override this requirement with a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber.

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