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Morning Read: VA Mulls Lifting Sunday Hunting Ban

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With the Virginia legislative session in full swing, key legislation is getting passed, killed, stalled and introduced each day. Here’s a recap of some of yesterday's legislative happenings:

A bill to allow hunting on Sunday in Virginia made it through the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

Virginia is currently one of 11 states that prohibits hunting on Sundays, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The Senate will now vote on the bill,  which would allow private property owners to give permission to hunt on Sunday. Public land would still be closed on Sundays.

The Pilot reports that the bill will face stiffer challenges in the House, but Gov. Bob McDonnell has gone on record saying he supports lifting the ban.

* In other McDonnell news, the leader of the commonwealth has decided to endorse Mitt Romney in his quest to be leader of the free world.  Read more about why McDonnell picked Romney here.

* On Thursday, McDonnell pushed his public safety agenda, calling for tougher penalties for rapists and drug dealers.

One of the two bills the governor discussed at a press conference would impose a five-year minimum sentence for a second time drug dealer offender and 10 years for the third or subsequent offenses, The Washington Post reports.

The second bill would give a mandatory minimum life sentence for raping a child under the age of 13.

* Earlier in the day Gov. Bob McDonnell announced  that he would not support lifting a mining ban this session and will instead further study whether uranium should be mined in Southside Virginia, The Washington Post reports.

Tests have shown that about 119 million pounds of uranium, equal to $10 billion, are located in Coles Hill, Va.

* McDonnell and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner introduced a digital education program yesterday that would teach students to use technology and social media responsibly.

Dubbed “My Digital Life,” the 3.5-hour course for students in eighth and ninth grades would address cyber bullying, good texting habits and online research.

The Associated Press reports that the program is a joint venture between northern Virginia technology company Neustar and digital education platform provider Everfi. The companies will provide the program at no cost to the schools, although it is valued at upwards of $1million.

* In Maryland, Federal authorities will recommend closing 366 pending immigration cases in Baltimore after the Department of Homeland Security used the city in a pilot program to determine the best way to expedite immigration backlogs, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Federal authorities spent the past six weeks reviewing thousands of immigration cases in the city, prioritizing who should be deported with illegal immigrants who committed crimes since arriving in the U.S. at the top of the list.

Elderly individuals, students and victims of domestic violence were set aside for possible case closures, the Sun reported.

If the court agrees with the pilot program’s recommendation, the 366 people won't be deported, but their illegal statuses will remain the same.

* A bill intended to spur affordable housing in Montgomery County could cost the county $60 million, according to a county analysis on the bill.

Introduced last month by council member Nancy Floreen, the bill would waive taxes that developers must pay if they build twice the amount of affordable housing required by law.

The Washington Post reports the analysis found the bill would cost the county as much as $60 million in transportation and school construction funding over the next few years.

But officials were skeptical that the incentives were enough to even draw in developers and said it is unlikely the bill would result in significant financial impact or achieve the goals of the legislation.

The Post said Floreen responded that the legislation was never intended to be a money making project.

“Somebody is going to make less money. That is of course the object of the game, to make it affordable. You can’t have it both ways,” she told the Post. “The question is what price will we pay to create a community of mixed-income [residents] can live?”

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