- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia colleges and universities would be prohibited from granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens under legislation that cleared the House Education Committee yesterday.

Delegate John S. Reid’s bill mirrors an attorney general opinion issued last summer that says if Virginia allows illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition, it must do so for every U.S. citizen.

Immigrant advocates said the bill, which passed 15-5, would harm students who are going through the lengthy process of becoming a legal resident and also unfairly target a section of society that pays taxes the same as legal residents

A Senate bill would allow in-state tuition for illegal aliens who meet certain criteria, including graduating from a Virginia high school, promising to seek legal status and having at least one parent who has paid state taxes.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the 1980s required states to educate all children from kindergarten through 12th grade.

m Minimum wage

Legislation to increase Virginia’s minimum wage to $6.50 an hour won unanimous approval in a Senate committee yesterday after lawmakers said they were tired of waiting for the federal government to raise the decade-old wage floor.

A clause was put on the bill that would effectively erase it from the books if Congress enacts a higher minimum wage; Virginia law currently mirrors the federal minimum wage at $5.15 per hour. If it passes the full Senate, the bill would go to the conservative House of Delegates, which killed similar measures last week.

If the increase is passed, Virginia would join 29 other states that have raised their minimum wages through legislative action or referendum while waiting for Congress to act.

The new wage would take effect July 1.

m Education funds

Legislation that passed out of a House committee yesterday directs the state to sue the federal government if Virginia withdraws its public schools from the No Child Left Behind law requirements and federal funding is withheld.

The legislation was backed unanimously by the Committee on Education.

Virginia received $331.2 million in federal grants directly tied to NCLB for the 2006-07 school year. Virginia has sought waivers to the law, arguing that the state already has a rigorous assessment system, and that NCLB undermines progress made under that system.

m Cockfighting bill

The stealthy blood sport of cockfighting, a misdemeanor now in Virginia, would become a felony under a bill that won narrow approval yesterday from a Senate committee.

On a 7-5 vote, Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources sent the bill to a Senate floor vote after provisions broadening its scope were deleted.

Cockfighting in Virginia is illegal now only if admission is charged to watch the fights or if prizes are awarded for the animals that survive.

• Sperm donors

A bill that would compel sperm banks to disclose the identity of the biological fathers of children born from donated sperm died yesterday.

The House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee voted 6-1 against legislation that would have made Virginia the first state to ban anonymous sperm donations.

It also effectively killed two bills intended to boost medical research using embryonic stem cells that otherwise would be destroyed.

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