- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2003

RICHMOND — Starting Tuesday, minors who seek abortions will have to get a parent’s OK and a late-term abortion procedure is scheduled to become illegal.

The day also marks the birth of a new state agency that consolidates most government information technology chores, the renaming of roads after a country-boy legislator and a Washington Redskins legend, and the start of a fretful new budget year for the state treasury.

Almost all bills passed during the General Assembly become law on the first day of July each year.

Starting this year, parents not only have to know when a minor daughter seeks an abortion, they have to consent to it before the procedure can be performed. Pro-choice groups bitterly opposed it, but the bill sailed through the General Assembly this year.

“This law is going to have an enormous effect,” said Delegate Richard H. Black, Loudoun Republican, an outspoken pro-life supporter and the bill’s chief sponsor. “In states that have moved from a fairly weak parental notice [law] to a strong consent law, we see that it has substantially reduced the total numbers of abortions overall.”

It took 18 years for Virginia to enact its parental-notice law and six years after that to replace the notice requirement with mandatory consent.

The law allows girls with compelling reasons not to have parents involved to ask a judge to approve the procedure and bypass the parents.

Another abortion restriction bars doctors from knowingly killing a fetus once its head has emerged from the birth canal or, in a feet-first birth, the fetus has emerged as far as its navel. Pro-life supporters call the procedure “partial birth” abortion.

The law faces a federal court challenge, however, on charges that it is so broad it could criminalize second-trimester abortions and some common obstetrical procedures such as assisting women who are having miscarriages.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is asking the U.S. District Court in Richmond for an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect. A hearing is set for Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, passed the House and Senate on lopsided votes. Legislators also brushed aside Gov. Mark Warner’s amendment to exempt women whose health is endangered by continuing a pregnancy.

Congress is expected to pass a similar ban on the procedure this year, and President Bush has indicated he will sign it into law.

Mr. Warner’s sweeping reform of the state’s disparate, parochial and often mismatched computer technology systems goes into effect with the debut of the Virginia Information Technology Agency. The new agency replaces several bureaucracies, including the Department of Information Technology and the Virginia Information Providers Network Authority. It takes over and consolidates the information technology functions of most state departments.

U.S. Route 460 in Montgomery County takes the name of Madison E. Marye, known during his 29 years in the Virginia Senate as a gentle voice of reason whose corn-pone tales of his alter ego, Uncle Billy, could defuse disputes and put issues in perspective. Mr. Marye, 77, retired from the Senate last summer to return to full-time farming.

And Virginia Route 28 in Loudoun County officially becomes Darrell Green Highway, honoring the 20 years Green played defensive back for the Redskins. Mr. Green, who appeared in three Super Bowls, retired from football last season and lives in Loudoun.

July’s arrival marks the start of state fiscal 2004, with the national economy still in a slump. Not two months into fiscal 2003, the sharpest drop in state receipts in the four decades Virginia has tracked such data forced Mr. Warner to lower the state’s revenue forecast and deeply slash state spending.

Now a new law will force governors to re-estimate general fund revenues when receipts from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes and sales taxes are 1 percent or more under the estimated amount those taxes would generate at the end of a fiscal year.

Other measures that will take effect Tuesday will:

• Elevate possession of child pornography from a misdemeanor to a felony and create a registry of sexually explicit images involving children to assist prosecutors.

• Eliminate Social Security numbers on ID cards, parcels and public documents to deter criminals from using the numbers to pirate someone’s identity and commit fraud.

• Toughen laws against possession of alcoholic beverages by people under 21, including a mandatory seven-day administrative driver’s license suspension for those caught driving with even a faint trace of alcohol in their systems.

• Mandate posting in public schools of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights alongside the national motto, “In God We Trust,” and allow public school buses to sport American flag decals.

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