Correction to This Article
This item incorrectly said that the state's House of Delegates approved a tax break for manufacturers. House Bill 613, which would have exempted machinery and tools purchased after July 1 from a local property tax, was defeated.
virginia politics

Va. assembly briefs on gun rights, pro-choice car tag, taxes

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Senate approves restaurant gun bill

The Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate voted Tuesday to allow concealed-weapons permit holders to carry guns in restaurants that serve alcohol as long as they refrain from drinking. The bill, SB334, passed on a 22 to 18 vote, after a vigorous debate about whether people might have reason to carry guns in restaurants.

The House passed a similar bill, HB505, last week, and it approved a host of other measures Tuesday that would loosen restrictions on purchasing and carrying firearms. The bills included HB49, which would repeal the 17-year-old ban on buying more than one handgun in 30 days; HB854, which enshrines the "castle doctrine" of self-defense in the home and immunizes a gun owner from prosecution for using a firearm against an intruder; and HB69, which seeks to shelter Virginia-made firearms sold in the state from federal regulation.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has expressed support for the measure on guns in restaurants that serve alcohol, and he is expected to sign it into law. Both chambers passed it last year, but Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) vetoed it.

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta), who sponsored the Senate bill, said he was doing so on behalf of people who violate the existing law rather than leave their weapons in their cars when they go out to eat at restaurants such as Red Lobster. He said the issue was especially important to women who carry guns in their purses to defend themselves.

Others said guns have no place in eating establishments where alcohol is being served. Although the bill would prohibit a weapons carrier from drinking, opponents of the bill said it would be impossible to tell whether the law was being violated if the gun were concealed.

"As a final comment, let me just say this," Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) said. "I've really never been afraid for my life at the Red Lobster."

-- Rosalind S. Helderman and Fredrick Kunkle

Split over plate for Planned Parenthood

The Virginia Senate passed a measure Tuesday that would create a specialty state license plate with the message "Trust Women. Respect Choice." Some of the application fee money paid by drivers who selected the plate would go to the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday's action put the Democratic-controlled Senate's bill, SB18, in conflict with a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates on Monday.

Citing their opposition to abortion, delegates chose to strip funding for Planned Parenthood from the House bill, sponsored by Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington). Under the House version, HB1108, a portion of the application fees for the plate would go to a state fund to help pregnant women instead.

Democrats in the Senate fended off an amendment by state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) that would have followed the House's lead and allowed the creation of the plates without sending money to Planned Parenthood.

Drivers in Virginia already are allowed to select a license plate with the logo "Choose Life."

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