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Legislative notebook: Va. hangs hat on new state songs

WASHINGTON – After more than 15 years without a state song, Virginia is on track to get not one, but two new songs.

The House of Delegates approved a Senate bill Tuesday that designates “Our Great Virginia” as the traditional state song and “Sweet Virginia Breeze” as the popular song of the commonwealth.

The old song, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” became the song emeritus in 1997 after complaints that it included racist language.

In the years since, there have been a number of proposals for a new song. But until now, none had stuck.

Other Virginia state symbols include the official bat (Virginia big-eared), insect (tiger swallowtail butterfly), dog (American foxhound), beverage (milk), fleet (replicas of the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery on display at Jamestown), and fossil (Chesapecten Jeffersonius – a scallop).

Listen to the new state songs:

Va. police to be allowed drones, with limits

After a two-year moratorium on drone use by Virginia law enforcement, the General Assembly is set to send the governor a bill that would allow police to use drones but only with a warrant or permission of a property owner.

There are exceptions for training exercises; if someone is in immediate danger; or in cases of Amber or senior alerts, or alerts issued for suspects believed to be dangerous or who have killed or seriously injured a police officer.

The bill includes exceptions for drone use in certain circumstances by the National Guard and at Wallops Island, which is home to a space launch site.

The bill bans state agencies from using weaponized drones, but it does not regulate private drone use.

Check a box to say ‘I do’

Bride and groom or spouse and spouse? Soon it could be up to Virginia couples.

Marriage licenses could soon look a little different in Virginia, thanks to a phone call from an upset bride-to-be.

Del. Dave Albo, R-Fairfax, says a woman called him after discovering that Virginia marriage licenses had changed to read “spouse and spouse” because of federal court decisions permitting same-sex marriage in Virginia.

She had her heart set hers reading “bride and groom,” according to Albo.

“So I drafted a bill that just gives people the choice, they can do whatever they want to do, they can be spouse, they can be bride or they can be groom,” Albo says.

The bill would allow the couple to check the box they want to apply.

The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

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