Spitting, swearing, fornicating on minds of Virginia lawmakers

Virginia is set to repeal the crime of fornication between consenting, unmarried adults, and to repeal the crime of swearing in public. But an effort to repeal the law against spitting in public died for the year on Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate had first passed the bill to repeal the crime of spitting in public, before Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, brought the bill back up for a do-over and made an impassioned plea against it that won over a majority of his colleagues.

Besides the repeals of the fornication and swearing statutes, other bills going to the governor’s desk after votes Wednesday afternoon include protections against inquiries into the immigration status of crime victims or their parents; a requirement for new state standards to protect transgender students in school (although that will not cover athletics); and new permission for local governments to include nondiscrimination protections in their own policies to protect members of the LGBTQ community.

The General Assembly also gave final approval to a number of other bills, including state standards for the use of body cameras by local law enforcement, as well as expanded permission for local governments to use zoning rules to incentivize the construction of more affordable housing.

On Thursday, the House and Senate are due to pass competing versions of a state budget plan.

Working out the budget differences and finalizing hundreds of other bills remaining on the table will likely take up the final two and a half weeks of the annual session.

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