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Virginia Gov. Northam vetoes first bill of the year

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam talks during an interview at the Governor's Mansion, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 in Richmond, Va. The embattled governor says he wants to spend the remaining three years of his term pursuing racial "equity." Northam told The Washington Post that there is a higher reason for the "horrific" reckoning over a racist photograph that appeared in his medical school yearbook. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via AP)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued his first veto of the year Tuesday, blocking a bill that would have automatically granted out-of-state residents a temporary concealed carry permit if Virginia State Police did not complete their review of an application within 90 days.

The gun bill meant to make it easier for nonresidents to get concealed carry permits passed each chamber of the narrowly divided General Assembly on party line votes, so lawmakers are unlikely to override the veto at the April 3 reconvened session.

Northam has remained quiet over the last month or so since a news conference where he denied being in a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page but admitted to once wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume in the 1980s.

Bills he has signed into law in recent days include:

  • An increase in car inspection fees from $16 to $20
  • Permission for people still standing in line to vote absentee when polls are scheduled to close for that day to stay in line and cast their ballots; though Election Day lines are already handled that way, absentee rules had been different
  • A bill excluding CBD oils and other cannabis-derived products for animals from rules about veterinary treatments and branding
  • Changes to the definition of livestock to include alpacas; the change stems from a dog attack case in James City County, where charges against the dog owner were dismissed because the current law included llamas but not alpacas
  • Changes to minimum wage exemptions to remove Jim Crow-era exemptions for newsboys, shoe shine boys, ushers, doormen and others; baby sitters who work 10 hours or more a week will also now get minimum wage protections
  • A requirement to prioritize child welfare agency inspections to first focus on areas where there have been complaints
  • A change to no longer require local governments to publish notice of contract proposal requests in a newspaper as long as it is posted on the state’s contracting website
  • A requirement that medical certifications for death certificates be filed electronically starting in 2020
  • A charter change for the town of Dumfries, moving its town council elections from May to November starting in 2020
  • Loosening “car tax” (personal property tax) exemptions for agricultural vehicles to apply to vehicles used primarily rather than exclusively for agricultural purposes; the bill also expands exemptions for nurseries and includes all farm tractors.

Northam has about two more weeks to act on remaining bills.

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