Despite Differences, General Assembly Pass Important Bills

RICHMOND (WRIC) – Lawmakers have one day until this year’s General Assembly session officially ends and while there’s no budget deal yet, each party has passed important bills.

While there were some disagreements, both sides worked together to get some major issues passed, including things like SOL reform, ethics reform and mental health – all of which appear to be headed to the governor’s desk.

Less testing for students, more transparency for lawmakers and ensuring enough psychiatric beds for those that need them – they’re some of the major issues tackled and passed by legislators this session.  Next year, students will take less SOLs, and the tests will be reformed.

“This will give our teachers more flexibility to teach the way that their students in their class are able to learn and not necessarily focus on the tests,” says Del. Jennifer McClellan.

“Reducing the number gives a little breathing room for our teachers and allows us to get a little better outcome for our students,” says Del. Tag Greason.

In light of the Star Scientific scandals surrounding former Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a bill that will put a cap on gifts, and require family members to report what they get, is headed to the governor’s desk.

“We’re public servants and it’s important that we have the trust of our constituents,” Greason says.

“It’s difficult to legislate good behavior but I think this is a good first step,” McClellan says.

And after reports that Senator Creigh Deeds’ son was released because no psychiatric beds could be found, lawmakers have agreed on a system to electronically show and make sure beds are available.

“Unfortunately it took a high profile tragedy to let us know what a lot of people knew and that is that our current system is flawed,” McClellan says.

“We want to make sure that they have a bed to do that and not just be put out onto the street,” Greason says.

These were major issues did saw bipartisan support.

“It proves that if we work together that we can get some great things accomplished.”

While there were issues that both sides agreed to, one major issue has Democrats and Republicans at a standstill, and that’s the budget and Medicaid expansion.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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