Capital News Service

Rep. Scott: Let independent panel draw districts

RICHMOND — U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, says the General Assembly should take some of the politics out of redistricting by having an independent commission redraw political boundaries.

When legislators themselves do redistricting, they have a personal interest in protecting their political future and their party, Scott said. That’s why he’d prefer that redistricting be done by a bipartisan or nonpartisan panel.

“It would still be partisan, but the difference is that it’s not personal,” Scott said in an interview after speaking to political science students and faculty Monday at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Read the full article at HenricoCitizen.com.

Virginia still deciding if women are equal

RICHMOND — In 1972, when Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and asked states to ratify it, “The Godfather” was No. 1 at the box office, people talked on rotary telephones and women made up about one-third of the U.S. workforce.

Today, “The Godfather” I, II and III are quotable classics, people surf the Internet with their smartphones and almost half of American workers are women. And Virginia is still deciding whether to ratify the ERA

Read the full article at RappNews.com.

Bill to ‘ban the box’ on job forms fails

RICHMOND — A bill to remove the requirement to indicate a criminal record on government employment applications died in a House subcommittee Wednesday.

SB 1017 passed the Senate last week on a 21-17 vote but was killed on its first stop in the House of Delegates. The “ban the box” bill, introduced by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, would have removed the box from applications that prospective employees must check if they have been convicted of a crime. It would have applied only to state agencies.

Read the full article at Progress-Index.com.

Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center name change in the works

The Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville would get a name change — so it wouldn’t sound like a drug treatment facility — under a bill moving through the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 1039, which unanimously passed the Senate last week, would change the facility’s name to the Wilson Workforce Readiness Center, keeping the acronym the same.

“The rehab center is doing great work with their mission,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta. “There’s some negative connotation that some would suggest with ‘rehab’ center, because of rehabilitation for drug and substance abuse.”

Read more at NewsLeader.com.

Bill would ‘ban the box’ on job applications

A Senate committee narrowly approved a bill this week that would prohibit state agencies from asking job applicants if they have a criminal history on employment applications.

The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted 8-7 in favor of Senate Bill 1017,sponsored by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg. It would remove the box from applications that prospective employees must check if they’ve been convicted of a crime.

“They get an opportunity to sell themselves on that job, to demonstrate their skills and abilities for that job,” Dance said. “And if it’s an appropriate job, they get to get a job and become an invested citizen paying taxes in the commonwealth.”

Read more at VirginiaBusiness.com.

Bill outlawing housing discrimination fails

RICHMOND – A senate committee on Monday killed a bill making it illegal for landlords to reject potential tenants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 917, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, failed on a 7-7 tie vote in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. Six Democrats and one Republican voted for the bill; seven Republicans voted against it.

Read more at WYDaily.com.

Coalition seeks more open state government

RICHMOND – Seventeen organizations that support open government in Virginia have formed a coalition to increase transparency in the General Assembly and foster greater citizen participation.

The coalition, called Transparency Virginia, wants legislators to give more advance notice of committee and subcommittee meetings and to record the votes when panels quietly kill bills.

“Citizens who want to testify on bills need lead time so they can plan child care or days off from work to travel to Richmond,” said Megan Rhyne, director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. When committees and subcommittees call or cancel meetings quickly and with little notice, she said, it’s hard for citizens to participate.

Read more at RappNews.com.

Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition seeks equal pay, protected contraception use at GA 2015

ProgressVA, the Virginia Latina Advocacy Network and other women’s rights and health advocacy groups launched the Women’s Equality Coalition on Thursday, announcing their legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly session.

With support from the Virginia chapters of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and theNational Organization for Women, the coalition faces an uphill battle in the Republican-led General Assembly on women’s health care issues as well as bills promoting equality in economic and civic opportunities.

Read more at RVAMag.com.

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