October Festival Guide

General Assembly session ends on high note

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — The General Assembly ended on a high note Saturday when a landmark transportation bill passed through the Senate and is now headed to Gov. McDonnell.

That bill, which has been top of mind during the final days of the session, is just one facet of what lawmakers have accomplished over the past 45 days.

The votes cast during such a relatively short window will have a lasting impact on everything from taxes to voting.

Here are some highlights from this year’s session:

Attorney Tracy Thorne Begland became the first openly gay judge approved by the General Assembly.

However, history will most likely remember this session for passing transportation reform.  Lawmakers reduced gas taxes, but increasing sales taxes and new car fees to offset $5 million deficits.

Democrats appear to have gotten a version of Medicaid expansion through.

Plus, there will be tougher penalties for texting behind the wheel.

Education laws also changed with Governor McDonnell getting major reforms passed. Teachers are scheduled to get a two-percent raise, failing schools and failing teachers will be held more accountable.

Voting changes will likely soon be on the way as Democrats watched powerlessly as Republicans ushered new laws that would require voters to present a photo ID.

However, not every Virginian considers the session a success.

Sa’ad El-Amin, a former Richmond City Councilman, was hoping for voting rights restoration for convicted felons. However, it looks like he’ll have to wait another year.

There’s also been no progress for Virginia’s sterilization victims who wanted compensation from the Commonwealth.

Additionally, very little has changed in terms of gun rights in the aftermath of Newtown school shooting.

Nonetheless, it was a very busy session for lawmakers.

Gov. McDonnell now has 30 days to sign many of the bills into law, although he is expected to make a few amendments.

Accordingly, look for lawmakers to be back in town to vote on those changes in April.

Stay with CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of the General Assembly. 

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