RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe took action this week on several bills that have arrived on his desk after being passed by the General Assembly. He also threatens to veto the GOP-led Assembly’s efforts to stop Planed Parenthood funding.
Drinks with High Alcohol Content
McAuliffe has vetoed a bill that would allow drinks with high alcohol content like Everclear to be sold at state-owned liquor stores.
The Democratic governor had initially proposed delaying the bill that would allow the sale of Everclear and other high-proof grain alcohol. But that effort was rejected by the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.
McAuliffe said in his veto message Monday that he’s concerned about the impact the bill could have on binge drinking on college campuses.
McAuliffe says he thinks the state needs to study the issue further before passing the law. He says he directed the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Public Safety and Homeland Security to come up with ideas for how to sell high-proof alcohol responsibly.
McAuliffe has said he’ll veto attempts by the GOP-led General Assembly to block state funding for Planned Parenthood.
The governor said Monday he’ll veto legislation that would defund the women’s health group, which performs abortions as well as well as providing other health services.
The Senate gave final approval Monday to the legislation along a party-line vote. Supporters of the measure said it is needed to ensure that state funds continue not to be used for elective abortions.
Planned Parenthood supporters said the legislation is an unnecessary political attack on abortion rights.
Republicans will likely not have enough votes to overturn a McAuliffe veto.
Virginia has become the first state with a law regulating the fast-growing online fantasy sports industry and specifying that fantasy sports betting is not “illegal gambling.”
McAuliffe signed a bill Monday that formally legalizes and regulates sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings, requiring them to pay a $50,000 initial registration fee and submit to regular outside audits.
The law will take effect July 1. McAuliffe said in a written statement it will “empower Virginia to regulate this emerging industry and keep consumers safe from abuses.”
The Old Dominion is one of several states where DraftKings and FanDuel have pushed for legislation to regulate the new industry, but without the heavy oversight common with more traditional gambling operations.
“Virginia is leading the way in establishing strong consumer protections while sending a clear message that, with the proper oversight, playing fantasy sports is a skill-based hobby people should be allowed to enjoy,” said Republican Sen. Ryan McDougle, who sponsored the legislation.
Fantasy sports have been under fire in some states, and attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Texas have issued opinions that they are illegal games of chance. Fantasy site operators hope their success in Virginia will translate to other states.
“We thank Governor McAuliffe for his leadership and advocacy and are hopeful that other states across the country will follow Virginia’s lead,” said Griffin Finan, a spokesman for DraftKings.
The Virginia legislation says fantasy players must be 18, and it passed both chambers Virginia’s legislation with broad bipartisan support. But smaller fantasy site operators and anti-gambling addiction advocates criticized it in recent days.
Smaller fantasy sites that operate full-season fantasy games rather than one-day contests like DraftKings and FanDuel said the $50,000 registration fee is prohibitively expensive and will force them out of Virginia.
The National Council on Problem Gambling pushed McAuliffe to try amending the legislation and offering greater consumer protection provisions aimed at limiting fantasy-related gambling addictions.