- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

RICHMOND (AP) Gov. Mark Warner yesterday signed anti-terrorism legislation and issued an executive order under which the state will make up the salary difference for state workers called to active duty in the National Guard or military reserves.
"We should do all we can to make them financially whole," said Mr. Warner, who expressed his "hope that private-sector employers will follow the state's lead."
The policy will provide supplemental pay to fill the difference between state employees' normal salary and their lower military pay. About 200 state employees serve in the National Guard.
The governor noted that those called to active duty leave behind families they must support and financial obligations that must be met.
"It is only right, indeed imperative, that our commonwealth support our state employees who have been called to active duty, fighting in the cause of freedom," Mr. Warner said.
The anti-terrorism measures were produced by the governor's Secure Virginia Panel, headed by former Lt. Gov. John H. Hager. The 2003 General Assembly gave unanimous approval to the bills.
The legislation would improve school safety, create a comprehensive database of health practitioners to be used during a catastrophic health emergency and allow trained personnel who are not physicians to administer medications in a medical disaster.
The bills also provide improved liability immunity for those giving medical care, except in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Another measure gives state and local governments greater authority to conduct criminal background checks on those serving in sensitive positions, such as ensuring the quality of drinking water or operating critical transportation sites, such as airports.
"These bills all take us another major step down the path to assure the safety of the commonwealth," Mr. Warner said.
He also signed a constitutional amendment that expands the list of successors to the governor should the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and speaker of the House of Delegates be killed in a terrorist attack.
"My hope and prayer is that we never have to grapple with that issue," Mr. Warner said.
The amendment must be approved again by the 2004 General Assembly and then go before the voters before it takes effect.

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