Republican panel defeats gun control legislation

(AP) – The latest on the General Assembly’s session in Richmond (all times local):

4:50 p.m.
    
A Republican-controlled Senate panel has defeated several pieces of legislation backed by Democrats promoting gun control.
    
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee made quick work of a slew of gun-related bills at a hearing Wednesday.
    
Among the bills that failed was legislation that would require background checks on all gun buyers at gun shows, something that’s been a top priority for Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
    
The panel passed a GOP-backed bill that would allow Virginians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
    
Both sides are likely to see little gain on gun issues out of the 2016 legislative session. Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly while McAuliffe wields a veto pen and has promised to use it on gun-related legislation he opposes.
    
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4:40 p.m.
    
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne is chiding Republican lawmakers seeking to prohibit tolling to pay for I-66 expansion project.
    
Layne told a House panel Wednesday that it was “intellectually dishonest” for critics of the tolling plan to say that the I-66 project could feasibly move forward without tolls.
    
In last year’s legislative elections, Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s tolling plan, noting that at times of peak congestion a motorist might have to pay as much as $17 each day for a round-trip commute.
    
Supporters of the plan said the opposition was misleading. They said those who don’t want to pay the tolls can take alternate routes, just as they are required to do now when the highway is restricted to carpool use only.
    
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11:45 a.m.
    
Republican lawmakers are pushing back forcefully against a plan by Virginia hospitals to pay the state’s share of expanding Medicaid.
    
Several GOP lawmakers held a news conference Wednesday to promote their health care agenda and throw water on a plan by hospitals to pay a “provider assessment” that would cover part of the costs of providing publicly funded health insurance for low-income, able-bodied adults.
    
Republicans have blocked expanding Medicaid in Virginia and have said they continue to do so. GOP Del. John O’Bannon likened Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s plan to a “shell game” and said it was unsustainable.
    
GOP lawmakers also want to curtail a decades-old requirement that its hospitals get approval before proceeding with major construction projects or equipment purchases, a plan the hospital association opposes.
    
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11 a.m.
    
Virginia’s hospitals are trying to flex their political muscle at the General Assembly, hoping to push GOP lawmakers into supporting hospital-friendly legislation.
    
The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association held its first ever “lobby day” at the legislature Wednesday as dozens of hospital officials from around state fanned out to bend the ears of state lawmakers.
    
Hospitals have been major advocates for expanding Medicaid in Virginia, a top Democratic priority the Republican-led General Assembly has routinely blocked. Hospitals have said they would be willing to pick up the state’s share of paying for expanding Medicaid, a proposal Republicans say won’t change their minds.
    
The hospital association also opposes a proposal to abolish a decades-old requirement that its hospitals get approval before proceeding with major construction projects or equipment purchases.

Categories: Local News, Virginia