Senate approves smoking ban in public buildings

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Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the governor will veto the bill again if it reaches his desk.

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The state Senate unanimously passed legislation to toughen Virginia’s laws against animal fighting.

The bill approved yesterday on a 39-0 vote would make cockfighting a felony. Cockfighting now is illegal only if gambling is involved, and then it’s just a misdemeanor. It also cracks down on other types of animal fighting, including dogfighting.

Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr.’s bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where a similar measure is pending in committee.

Mr. Norment, James City Republican, did not mention Michael Vick by name on the Senate floor but acknowledged that a “highly publicized individual running Bad Newz Kennels” helped focus attention on animal fighting and rally support for stronger laws.

Vick, the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback, is serving a 23-month prison sentence for operating a dogfighting conspiracy that involved gambling and the execution of six to eight pit bulls that did not perform well in test fights.

“I can’t imagine anyone in this body condones, explicitly or tacitly, this kind of barbaric behavior,” Mr. Norment said.

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The Senate on a 28-10 vote yesterday rejected legislation to change the way Virginia sets execution dates.

The bill would have prohibited setting an execution date until after the U.S. Supreme Court considers the condemned inmate’s first appeal. Under current law, the date can be set before the case reaches the nation’s highest court.

Sen. John S. Edwards, Roanoke Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said that as a matter of fairness, every death row inmate should have one Supreme Court review before an execution date is set.

Sen. Richard H. Stuart, Westmoreland Republican, argued that the bill would unnecessarily delay executions and frustrate and demoralize the families of capital murder victims.

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