Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 8 - Books, Snakes and Common Core


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As we begin the last week of the 2016 Legislative Session, there isn't a dull moment in Richmond. 

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Tornado warnings sent everyone sheltering in basements, debates got longer and final pieces of legislation made their way through the General Assembly quickly.

I voted in favor of the 2017-2018 biennial budget proposed by the Senate because it is structurally balanced, cuts state-supported debt and reduces discretionary spending.  The Senate budget is $3 billion less than the Governor's proposed budget and does not include any tax increases.

Protecting Senior Citizens from Financial Exploitation
My Senate Bill 249 requires the local Department of Social Services and Adult Protective Services to immediately report suspected financial exploitation of senior citizens to local law-enforcement for an investigation.  The Governor signed the bill and it will become law July 1, 2016

Stopping Common Core in Virginia
HB259 passed with bipartisan support to stop Common Core from being implemented in Virginia without approval from the General Assembly. I introduced a similar bill last year and this year Delegate LaRock has carried the bill.  I voted for the bill and it is on its way to the Governor's desk.

Ensuring Virginia Never Has a Backlog of Untested Rape Kits Again
My SB291 establishes procedures to ensure Rape Kits are tested in a timely manner.   Last year, my bill requiring an audit of all untested rape kits uncovered a backlog of over 2,300 kits gathering dust.  It passed the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor's desk.

Stinky and wimpy, but it's ours: Virginia legislature picks a state snake
The Washington Post ran this amusing headline after I spoke against a bill making our state snake the Eastern Garter Snake.  "Black, one of the legislature's most conservative members, also said the rattler would be a natural companion to the state motto, "Sic semper tyrannis," thus always to tyrants.  "It's sort of assertive," he said. "It's not like, 'Sic semper garter snake: You come after me, I run, I hide and I soil you a little bit.' " The Senate passed the wimpy snake bill and it is on its way to the Governor's desk.

Warning Parents About Sexually Explicit Books Assigned To Students
HB516 requires schools to notify parents if sexually explicit materials will be assigned to their child. The debate was heated as Democrats tried to compare this to book banning.  At one point, an offensive passage from one of the books was read aloud.  It was so vile that the Democrats ironically objected to reading it in front of the students in the Senate.  In fact, the content was so vulgar the media could not even print the offensive passages, yet public schools are assigning them to our children.  We passed this bill and it is on its way to the Governor's desk.

Reciprocity Restoration Agreement Signed
The reciprocity restoration agreement was signed in Richmond.  This ensures Virginia's concealed carry permits will be honored in all the previous states we had agreements with and we expanded it to virtually every other state in the country to strengthen our Second Amendment rights.

If you are visiting Virginia's historic Capitol between now and March 12th, please remember to stop by my office and say hello.  We're in office 311 of the General Assembly Building.  If you have any issues of particular concern to you, I welcome your comments at or a letter to Senate of Virginia, P.O. Box 396, Richmond VA 23218 or you can call us at 804-698-7513.

Warm Regards,

Richard H. Black
Senator of Virginia, 13th District


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