Gun bills, LGBTQ protections and milk: What you missed this week in the General Assembly

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

Hannah Eason, News Editor

7 Northam-backed gun bills make their way to full House vote

Seven out of eight gun bills proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam were passed by the House Committee on Public Safety on Friday. The measures, which will now be voted on by the full House of Delegates, included “universal” background checks, a one handgun purchase per month rule and a “red flag” rule that would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from someone deemed a threat. Delegates did not hear a proposal for an “assault weapons” ban, one of Northam’s top priorities.

Democrats advance bills expanding LGBTQ protections

The General Assembly has advanced multiple bills seeking to expand protections for LGBTQ people. Last week, a House subcommittee voted in favor of a bill that would prevent a person from being fired or losing housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The state Senate also passed bills that would ban conversion therapy on children and require statewide protections for transgender students.

Senate unanimously passes bill to provide menstrual products in public school bathrooms

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill Friday that would make Virginia the fifth state to require that public schools provide free menstrual supplies in bathrooms. The proposal, Senate Bill 232, would let schools decide how to pay for installing the dispensers and providing supplies like pads and tampons. It will now go to the House for approval.

Got milk? Maybe you don’t

A bill that would prohibit plant-based milk alternatives from being labeled as milk is now up for discussion on the House of Delegates floor. House Bill 119, sponsored by Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, defines milk as the lacteal secretion of a “healthy hooved animal.” The bill’s supporters argue increasingly popular products such as soy and almond milk are capitalizing on the milk name while dairy farmers are left struggling.

Student journalist rights vote postponed to 2021 in Senate, await House vote

On Thursday, the Senate continued SB 80, which would give student journalists the right to exercise freedom of speech and the press in school-sponsored media, to 2021. By continuing the bill, the General Assembly will not consider the measure until the next session. The bill was backed by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax. In a 13-1 vote, all Senators in the Education and Health committee voted to continue the bill except for Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, and chair of the subcommittee on Public Education. HB 36, the House’s equivalent to Marsden’s bill, was assigned to the Post-Secondary and Higher Ed subcommittee. 

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