Bills based on ideology fared poorly in Virginia General Assembly

Hank Silverberg,

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia lawmakers wrap up their legislative session Sunday with a final vote on the $80 billion state budget after reaching agreement on all issues at 1 a.m.

But for the the most part, over the 46 days — including one day of overtime — they rejected most bills based on ideology.


Topping the list of failed legislation is a package of bills on illegal immigration defeated despite some heated debate.

The lawmakers also dumped Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to sell state-run ABC stores for transportation revenue and rejected a bill to provide more background checks on gun buyers at gun shows — the so-called gun show loophole. A proposed 36 percent cap on payday loans was also not approved.

George Mason political analyst and Professor Steven Farnsworth says the lawmakers had their eye on upcoming elections and redistricting.

“Taking really divisive issues and putting them aside for another year is smart politics,” he says.

The only controversial bill to pass is one that would place new restrictions on abortion clinics by making them meet the same criteria as hospitals.

The lawmakers did approve a $4 billion allocation for transportation that includes $3 billion in borrowing.

“It’s not a partisan division issue,” says Farnsworth. “It’s something that is gonna be well received.”

A list of key legislation from the 2011 session of the Virginia General Assembly, as compiled by the Associated Press.


  • Require clinics that provide more than five first-term abortions per month to be regulated as hospitals.
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $4 billion transportation financing proposal, which includes using nearly $3 billion in debt to begin highway projects.
  • Expand protective orders for those in dating relationships and anyone who feels threatened.
  • Extend the amount of time child sex assault victims have to file civil lawsuits from two years to 20 years.
  • Expand the right of liquor manufacturers to advertise on Virginia billboards.
  • Allow inmates to help maintain Virginia’s rest stops.
  • Require some employer health care plans to cover a treatment for autistic children.
  • Require elementary and middle schools to offer at least 150 minutes per week of physical education.
  • Allow car title lenders to make loans to vehicle owners in other states.
  • Ban synthetic marijuana and bath salts used to get high.
  • Ban computer-based sweepstakes games that offer points for Internet, phone time or other items purchased that can be played on games in an attempt to win money.
  • Require anyone who assaults an emergency room worker to spend at least two days in jail.
  • Name the striped bass as Virginia’s official saltwater fish.
  • Allow the use of BB guns, paintball guns and other air-propelled weapons at homes by preventing localities from banning their use on private property.
  • Ban the sale of fertilizer containing phosphorus, a major Chesapeake Bay pollutant, for use on established lawns.


  • Privatize liquor retailing to generate money for highway improvements.
  • Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in state hiring.
  • Ask Congress for a constitutional amendment allowing two-thirds of state legislatures to void federal laws they oppose.
  • Exempt goods made and sold within Virginia from federal laws and regulation.
  • Prohibit state agencies, including colleges and universities, from enacting gun laws that are more stringent than those passed by the legislature.
  • Expand the death penalty to those who participate in a rape and murder but don’t do the actual killing.
  • Establish an alternative currency for Virginia should the Federal Reserve collapse.
  • Eliminate the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
  • Allow concealed handgun permits issued in any state good in Virginia.
  • Require background checks from all buyers at gun shows.
  • Allow darker window tint on vehicles.
  • Anti-immigrant measures, including bills that would prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in public colleges, bar illegal immigrants from receiving public assistance, keep track of the number of school children who take English as a Second Language and require law enforcement officers to check immigration status.
  • Eliminate Virginia’s unique requirement that sixth-grade girls receive a vaccination against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.
  • Allow pari-mutuel style betting on past horse races with some of the proceeds going to transportation.
  • Require new, two-year state budgets to be written in odd-numbered years, not in even-numbered ones as they are now.
  • Protect prayers made in public forums such as classrooms and school athletic events.
  • Allow drivers to be pulled over and ticketed for talking on cell phones or texting.
  • Require drug screening for those receiving some welfare benefits.
  • Allow claims of sovereign immunity to be heard by the state Supreme Court before a trial.
  • Reduce prison sentences for inmates with good behavior.
  • Require a prescription for cold medicines often used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
  • Impose a 5-cent tax on paper bags and disposable plastic bags.
  • Cap the amount of interest on payday and car title loans at 36 percent.
  • Shift management of menhaden from the Virginia General Assembly to a state regulatory agency.
  • Create a tax-break program that would award up to $25 million in annual credits to companies that donate to foundations that provide private-school scholarships to needy students.
  • Require those who elude police to forfeit their vehicle.
  • Require the Virginia State Crime Commission to study using physical castration for violent sex offenders.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP & the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)