The Virginia House of Delegates today over-whelmingly approved legislation that would provide about $150 million in increased state aid to localities, with Northern Virginia jurisdictions receiving about $30.5 million of that amount.
House members voted 80 to 19 in support of the measure, which would dramatically increase state aid to localities in the biennium beginning in 1981 for such costs as law enforcement needs and judicial administration.
"What this bill does is promise to take one-third to one-fourth of the growth in state revenues and send that back to the localities that need them to help keep property taxes low," said Del. Thomas J. Michie Jr. (D-Charlottesville), the bill's chief sponsor.
The measure, which now must be considered by the Senate, was opposed by some legislators who argued that the proposal slighted rural areas of Virginia and is too expensive an allocation of state resources.
The bill is part of a package of three pieces of legislation designed to resolve bickering among Virginia localities over annexation laws.
The increased aid to localities was supported by the entire Northern Virginia House delegation, with the exception of Del. Robert L. Thoburn (R-Fairfax).
In other House action, delegates approved 77 to 21 a proposal overhauling the state's rape and sexual assault laws. The bill was amended somewhat today and goes back to the Senate, where passage is all but certain.
The proposed legislation divides sexual assault into four different categories, depending on whether the attack involved intercourse or bodily contact alone and the amount and type of force used. Penalties range from one year to life in prison.
The bill, the product of two years of work by a special task force, would shift the emphasis of the law from sex to violence and treat homosexual assault as harshly as other rape cases. It would stipulate that testimony from the victim alone can be sufficient for conviction and severely limit the use of information about the victim's sexual history.
Both houses of the Assembly agreed today on an unusual, two-step adjournment of the current session that will give the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature an opportunity to override vetoes by Republican Gov. John N. Dalton.
The adjournment plan calls for the assembly to end its regular work on Feb. 24 and then return for one day on March 3 to cure any technical defects discovered in approved bills, and then adjourn.
As a result of this schedule, any bills passed and communicated to Dalton by midnight Feb. 24 will automatically become law with or without his signature by March 3. If he vetoes any bills by March 3, the assembly will have a chance to override those vetoes on that final day of the session.
After final adjournment, the governor has 30 days to veto bills and the assembly cannot reconvene to override his actions. Assembly leaders have proposed a constitutional amendment to provide for brief sessions to override vetoes, but it cannot become effective until 1981 if it is aproved by voters in 1980.