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The new session of the Virginia General Assembly convenes next week, and could be one of the more contentious in recent memory. Gun control, education and tax reform legislation are among the bills up for debate.

Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe’s package of proposed gun-control measures announced last month shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the governor said, since gun control was part of his campaign promise.

For years, a number of legislators in Virginia have been trying to create more protections and legal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people in the state, with little legislative success.

Virginia’s constitution and state code still technically bans same-sex marriages and civil unions, although enforcement of those laws was halted last year when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to a lower court ruling that overturned the state’s position.

For years, a number of legislators in Virginia have been trying to create more protections and legal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people in the state, with little legislative success.

Virginia’s constitution and state code still technically bans same-sex marriages and civil unions, although enforcement of those laws was halted last year when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to a lower court ruling that overturned the state’s position.

Among some legislative trends this year in the Virginia General Assembly are several bills by Fairfax County-based legislators — on both sides of the aisle — that to some degree or other attempt to decriminalize marijuana.

Some bills, such as Senate Bill 686 sponsored by Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Dist. 30), call for widespread decriminalization, while others such as House Bill 1445 sponsored by Del. David B. Albo (R-Dist. 42), call for very narrowly-tailored decriminalization applied to very specific medical uses.

A group of citizens met in Founders Park on June 19 to advocate for the closure of loopholes in the Clean Water Act. At the event was Mayor William Euille as well as state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30). They were joined by Clean Water Action representative Andrew Fellows and Environment Virginia field manager Chris Brown. The speakers spoke regarding water pollution in Virginia and the actions needed to help stem the growing problem. The event also coincided with the release of Environment Virginia’s 2014 Wasting our Waterways Report.

The report was issued as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Virginia and across the nation.

Industrial facilities dumped 11,821,961 pounds of toxic chemicals into Virginia’s waterways in 2014, making Virginia’s waterways the 5th worst in the nation, according to the new report.

The Environment Virginia report on toxic pollutants discharged to America’s water is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available.

RICHMOND — As he knotted his checked tie and rushed to down some Raisin Bran from a paper bowl Friday morning, the first and only openly gay member of Virginia’s General Assembly had his mind on marriage — and a man who missed out.

Lawmakers in Virginia have taken the first step toward repealing the state’s hybrid car tax, a piece of last year’s broad transportation deal that has generated a great deal of anger over the past year.

On a vote of 10 to 5, members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to move forward a bill that would roll back the $64 annual fee, which is intended to ensure that all car owners contribute equally to the repair of the state’s roads.

It was roughly a decade ago when Adam Ebbin took his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, making history as an out legislator in the General Assembly. Virginia may be known for plenty of things, but openly gay officeholders is not one of them. Down in Richmond, as an out gay elected official holding a state-level office, Ebbin is one of a kind.

”By the time I was in high school, I thought that’s what I wanted to do,” Ebbin says of being a legislator. ”But when I came out I didn’t think that would be possible.”

Hours after the Virginia General Assembly concluded its annual session, two Northern Virginia lawmakers decided to try to undo what the legislature had just done to people who drive hybrid vehicles.

Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) and Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) want Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to kill a provision in the landmark transportation-funding package that would double the annual $50 registration fee on electric vehicles and also apply it to hybrid cars and those that use alternative fuels.

It would be overly dramatic to say that Adam Ebbin is in the race of his life. Still, Aug. 23 will be a defining moment not only in his career, but for the Virginia General Assembly.

Elected to represent Virginia’s House District 49 – comprised of parts of Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington and Fairfax counties – in 2003, taking his seat in January 2004, Ebbin has served as the commonwealth’s sole openly LGBT member of the Virginia General Assembly.

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