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2018-2-5

Southside Virginia Community College wants you!!  There is still time to register for classes and  apply for Financial Aid for the upcoming semester starting August 20.  Come by to see us...  Go to SVCC's Christanna Campus in Alberta or the John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville or a location  in Emporia, Blackstone, Chase City, South Boston,  or South HIll for individual help or visit SVCC online at Southside.edu.  Now is the time, SVCC is the place!!!!!

David L. Allen, Jr.

David L. Allen, Jr., 74, of Emporia, passed away Saturday, February 3, 2018. He was the son of the late Fairy B. Allen Grizzard and David L. Allen, Sr. and was also preceded in death by a sister, Carrie R. Grizzard. David served honorably in the Virginia Army National Guard and retired from Georgia-Pacific. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn H. Allen; daughters, Lisa R. Allen and Staci A. Musselman and fiancé, William King; grandchildren, Victoria Auton (Mikeal), Tyler Wrenn, Brandon Wrenn and Ashley Musselman; great-grandchildren, Zoe Gayle and Zane Daniel Auton; sisters, Betty A. Baker and Joan A. Ligon; special nieces and nephews and numerous cousins. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, February 6 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow at Harrell Family Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

House OKs ‘Stop Gun Violence’ License Plate

By Alexandra Sosik, Capital News Service

 RICHMOND – Over the objections of eight Republicans, the House of Delegates on Friday approved the creation of a specialty license plate with the message “Stop Gun Violence.”

The House voted 89-8 with one abstention in favor of a bill to authorize the new plate and earmark proceeds from its sales to mental health and other services.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, sponsored House Bill 287. He said it would draw attention to problems caused by firearms.

“We have a culture in this country where we’ve started seeing gun violence on a daily basis,” Simon said. “It can get people thinking of what they can be doing to improve the gun violence epidemic that we have, unfortunately.”

Virginia has more than 250 types of specialty license plates. They include more than 90 for colleges and universities, more than 50 military-related plates and more than 110 plates promoting sports teams, nonprofit groups, communities and various causes.

Some of the plates are controversial. One says “Choose Life”; another says “Trust Women, Respect Choice.” There’s a plate calling Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee “The Virginia Gentleman” and another for the National Rifle Association.

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert and seven fellow Republicans voted against HB 287. During debate this week, Gilbert accused Simon of trying to score political points with his “little ol’ license plate bill.”

“It is him trying to build a narrative that gun violence is somehow different from regular violence,” said Gilbert, a delegate from Shenandoah County.

Like other specialty plates, the “Stop Gun Violence” plate would cost $25 in addition to the regular vehicle registration fee. Most of the money would go to the state’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Fund.

Under HB 287, those funds would be used to enhance “the quality of care and treatment provided to individuals receiving public mental health, developmental, and substance abuse services in Virginia.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The “Stop Gun Violence” plate is among more than a dozen additional types of specialty license plates under consideration in the General Assembly. Others include:

  • A plate declaring “I Support Women Veterans,” to benefit the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
  • A “National Wild Turkey Federation” plate, supporting the conservation of wild turkeys in Virginia
  • A plate providing funding for the Alzheimer’s Association
  • A plate with the words “E Pluribus Unum” – the U.S. motto of “Out of many, one”

Panel Won’t Remove Sales Tax on Gun Safes

By Tianna Mosby, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A legislative subcommittee Friday killed a bill to remove the sales tax on safes where gun owners can store their firearms – a measure the sponsor said would promote gun safety.

Split along party lines, the subcommittee of the House Finance Committee voted 5-3 to reject HB 172, which would have made firearm storage safes that cost $1,000 or less exempt from sales tax.

“We have the ability to save lives and protect innocent children should the guns be found,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax.

Supporters said the measure would boost the conversation about gun safety in the community and perhaps give gun owners who do not own a gun safe reason to buy one.

“Our goal here is to prevent death, accidents and to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Filler-Corn said.

The bill’s opponents said many gun owners don’t use safes because trigger locks are cheaper and more effective. A package of three trigger locks can be purchased for $25 or less while a single-gun safe often costs $100 or more.

The House Finance subcommittee also killed bills that sought to offer tax credits to electric vehicle buyers (HB 469), private school scholarship donors (HB 1078) and solar equipment users (HB 256).

However, the panel ran out of time to consider four bills proposing a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products. Many members of the audience had come to support the “tampon tax” bills and were frustrated when the meeting adjourned.

“It was definitely a coordinated effort to keep our women’s rights agenda off the record,” said Holly Seibold of the Virginia Menstrual Equity Coalition.

Sexual Consent Remains Optional Topic for Family Life Education

By Irena Schunn, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A House subcommittee rejected a bill Friday that would have required high schools to include a discussion about sexual consent in their sex education curriculum.

A subcommittee of the House Education Committee deadlocked 5-5 on a motion to advance House Bill 44. As a result, the motion failed.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that gave public schools permission to include consent as part of a family life curriculum. This year’s bill would have altered that law to make consent education a requirement, not an option.

“The difference here is negligible because family life education is already permissive,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax Station, chief sponsor of the bill.

If the bill had passed, it would not have guaranteed that Virginia public schools would teach students that consent is required before sexual activity. Though Virginia has laws that define sex education curriculum requirements, family life classes are not mandated by law.

However, several localities voluntarily provide the sex education curriculum described by the Board of Education's family life education guidelines. School districts that choose to include family life education must first obtain permission from parents.

Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia mandate that public schools provide comprehensive sex education; Virginia does not. Virginia is one of three states that require parental consent in order to participate in sex education.

The five subcommittee members who voted in favor of HB 44 were Republican Del. Roxann Robinson of Chesterfield County and Democratic Dels. Jeffrey Bourne of Richmond, Jennifer Boysko of Fairfax, Chris Hurst of Blacksburg and Cheryl Turpin of Virginia Beach.

Republican Dels. Glen Davis of Virginia Beach, David LaRock of Loudoun County, Jay Leftwich of Chesapeake, John McGuire of Henrico County and Brenda Pogge of James City County voted against the bill.

House Passes Sexual Harassment Policy

By Deanna Davison, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – After weeks of dispute over how to reform the General Assembly’s sexual harassment policy, the House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that establishes new training requirements.

The bill by Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, would require anti-sexual harassment training to be completed every two years by General Assembly members and full-time legislative staff.

A bill by Del. Vivian Watts, D-Fairfax, that would have included all forms of workplace harassment was killed in committee Friday. Watts’ HB 1053 also called for new mechanisms for victims of harassment to file complaints, aiming to make the process more streamlined.

HB 371 passed 88-10. Watts and nine other Democrats voted in opposition; two House members did not vote.

“I see both sides of the aisle trying to get to the same place, just through different vehicles,” Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said on the House floor. “Our intention is to continue to take this issue very seriously, as we always have. Especially in this day and age, when we see women feel safe to talk about instances where they have been harassed, or manipulated, or harmed, we want to continue to encourage them to come forward.”

Watts, the longest-serving woman in the House, said in a telephone conference call with reporters later that the bill doesn’t go far enough.

“The bill specifies training, but it has no guidelines for what should be part of it,” she said.  “Republicans say to trust the system. Trusting the system got us where we are today.”

In debate on Wednesday, Robinson defended the legislation’s details.

“It took me about 45 minutes to read through it,” Robinson said, referring to the training course. “And every one of the sections includes what needs to be done if there’s a problem.”

Gilbert said Republicans are committed to addressing the issue.

“We are going to continue to develop this program, if this bill passes … and demand a level of accountability that we would all expect,” Gilbert said.

A similar bill by Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond – SB 796 – has been referred to the Senate Rules committee.

Watts told reporters that the accounts of sexual misconduct survivors speaking out during the #MeToo movement of the last few months as well as the growing number of women in politics have represented a major shift.

“We never had more than 19 women serving at any one time,” Watts said. “Now we have 28. #MeToo speaks to decades of women getting around situations, trying to preserve their professional career as well as their own moral integrity. It’s time to have a full and open discussion of protections that are needed to make sure these instances are properly handed and allow due process for all individuals involved.”

Watts said the General Assembly’s history with sexual harassment is “not without a major blemish,” referring to former Speaker of the House Vance Wilkins Jr. The Republican resigned his position in 2002 after allegations of sexually harassing two women and paying one of them a settlement of $100,000 to remain silent.

“This is not only a moral issue, but a policy in law,” Watts said. “We must use our power for good to be sure that whoever is doing this stops immediately.”

Virginia House Democratic Delegates Promote Criminal Justice Reform Initiatives

By Brandon Celentano. Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Democratic members of the Virginia House called on their colleagues Thursday to raise the threshold for grand larceny and allow more professionals to administer medication to someone who has overdosed on drugs.

The legislators discussed proposals to reform the criminal justice system and address the opioid crisis at a news conference Thursday.

Del. Joseph Lindsey of Norfolk urged support for HB 1313, which would increase the threshold for grand larceny, a felony crime, to $500. Currently, the dividing line between misdemeanor and felony theft in Virginia is $200 -- one of the lowest in the nation. It hasn’t changed since 1980.

“Two hundred dollars might have been OK in 1980 when the price of a gallon of gas was 86 cents and a quart of milk was 67 cents, or when the average price of a house was $35,000,” Lindsey said. “But we believe that in 2018, there needs to be an adjustment. That time is now.”

Because the threshold for grand larceny is low, someone convicted of stealing a cellphone or bicycle in Virginia may end up with a felony on their record.

“Time and time again, these wind up being felony offenses, where in so many of our neighboring jurisdictions, they would have just been petty misdemeanors,” Lindsey said.

Del. Michael Mullin of Newport News, a former  prosecutor, discussed HB 202. Under this legislation, courts would have to tell criminal defendants that  they don’t have to pay their court costs and fees out of pocket. Instead, they could do  community service at an hourly rate of $7.25 to offset the costs.

“That’s been on the books for years, but so often people don’t know it,” Mullin said. “There might be hundreds of people who come through on a daily basis, and they get moved through very quickly. The things they can utilize, they are not being told about.”

Also at the news conference, the lawmakers urged support for

  • HB 322, which would  add probation, parole and correctional officers to the list of professionals who may administer naloxone -- a narcotic overdose reversal drug. The bill has passed the House and is before the Senate.

  • HB 131, which would make it easier for providers to prescribe non-opioid painkillers. For instance, if someone has a broken leg and is in recovery from opioid addiction, the person can obtain a non-opioid painkiller to avoid relapse.

“For me the opioid crisis is personal,” said Del. John Bell of Loudoun County. “Last year, with his permission to share his story, my son, Josh, who is 32 years old and is a veteran in the United States Air Force, injured his neck in a car accident. He became addicted to opioids. He walked out of the emergency room with a 90-day prescription for opioids. His addiction lasted seven years.”

Hot Glass Studio Raises Money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

By Ahniaelyah Spraggs, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In a city full of eclectic artwork, it’s no surprise that Richmond is home to the Glass Spot, the only public hot glass studio in Central Virginia. There, artists blow air into a pipe to turn hot glass into ornaments, vases and other items.

But the studio – owned by Chris Skibbe, who has been glassblowing for almost 20 years – does more than produce art. It also helps the community. This week, it hosted a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

At Wednesday’s event, 10 participants put on safety goggles, grabbed shears and other tools, and created drinking glasses. Participants purchased $45 tickets in advance, of which $10 was donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“It was a joy doing this because I’ve never done this before,” said Bobby Wright, one of the participants.

Wright said he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. He was excited about the Glass Spot’s fundraiser in part because he has a team that participates in the Richmond Light The Night Walk and raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society every year.

Wright and Susan Reid, a volunteer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said the event at the Glass Spot was much more than an opportunity to create drinking glasses.

“I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005,” Reid said. “In April 2018, I will be celebrating 12 years ofremission. And for the kind of cancer that I have, it still is not considered curable.”

Reid said the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission – to help cure blood cancers – led her to the Glass Spot. She described meeting the staff there as a “happy mistake.”

That mistake, Reid said, led to her fundraising efforts at the Glass Spot. The proceeds help fund research to find a cure for blood cancers, provide educational materials for patients, caregivers and providers, and assist patients with insurance copayments and other expenses.

“I felt grateful for the fact that I keep continuing in remission, but I hear stories of others. Some not so good. Some sad. Some joyous just like mine,” Reid said. “So it keeps me motivated to want to continue to help fund the research and provide other opportunities for patients to get more years in remission.”

More on the web

For more information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or ways to donate, visit www.lls.org. For more information about the Glass Spot, visit www.richmondglassspot.com.

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