What To Do With Toxic Coal Ash

25746UEnvironmentalists are glad to see Dominion Power shutting down coal burning power plants, but they want the utility to do something about the waste left behind when coal is burned.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Rights Restoration for Ex-Offenders

RightsPraises, tears, accolades, and stories of lives renewed are par for the course in a church setting. But although the venue was a church in Richmond, the occasion was the long-awaited restoration of rights for three Virginians who are among the thousands who have— and will have—their rights restored by Governor McAuliffe. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains, although the process is still not automatic, the governor has made it simpler.

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Gov. Plans More Cuts for Virginia

Gov01Governor McAuliffe told the General Assembly’s money committees Wednesday that while they made great strides in closing the state’s budget shortfall, much more needs to be done to secure Virginia’s future. As Virginia Public Radio Tommie McNeil reports, it’s why he will continue to implement nearly 954 million dollars in spending cuts over the biennium and work to advance his vision for the upcoming session.

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Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services Endorses Policy Recommendations

Sen. Creigh Deeds (center) listens to Health Sec. Bill  HazelThe legislative panel formed after the tragic suicide of a state senator’s son who was denied hospitalization has endorsed policy recommendations made by its gubernatorial counterpart.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services also acknowledged the state’s harsh budget realities–and set its most urgent priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.

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Reducing Reliance on Federal Funds

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Governor McAuliffe says when he addresses lawmakers about the state’s budget this week, he intends to talk about his new economic development package. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, his initiative includes legislative proposals that the governor says are necessary to reduce the Commonwealth’s reliance on federal dollars.

 

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Tim Kaine Urges Congress to Stand Against ISIL

My Approved PortraitsVirginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine is glad the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize the war against the Islamic State but says now the full Senate needs to act.

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VaNews: Toxic Home Compensation, Internship Support

VPAPnewMore than 200 Virginia families are finally getting some compensation for damages caused by toxic Chinese drywall, but for most of them it’s not nearly enough to cover their losses…and the University of Richmond may accomplish a first when it begins providing internship support for 100-percent of its undergraduate students.

Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.

 

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Consumer Alert!

Caveat Emptor02The Commonwealth’s Attorney General has some advice for Virginians who plan to do lots of holiday shopping—especially over the Internet and with a credit or debit card.  He says scammers love this time of year–and therefore, it’s up to you to be extra vigilant.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains how.

 

 

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VA Lawmakers Discuss Tenant/Management Agreements

Under many rental agreements, tenants sign off on a provision that allows housing managers and staff to enter a home to address concerns or inspect the premises.  Now state lawmakers are weighing whether such agreements should be extended to homes that are actually OWNED by tenants– who are leasing a lot.

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Retaliatory Eviction

It’s unlawful for landlords to evict tenants for taking legal action or notifying authorities about uninhabitable conditions, but tenants may have little recourse under current state law.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, proposed legislation would make it less difficult for tenants to win a case if retaliation is a cause of eviction.

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JLARC Examines Virginia Workforce Development System

Del. Chris Jones (third from right) examines the JLARC report.

The General Assembly’s watchdog agency did not sugarcoat the problems as it presented a frank examination of Virginia’s cumbersome workforce development system. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that employers have difficulty navigating the programs and filling job openings with workers who have requisite skills. It also found that key workforce programs do not emphasize training in fields with the greatest potential for employment.

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VaNews: Rocket Safety, Repurposed Coal Waste

VPAPnewA farmer who lives near the NASA launch site on Virginia’s Eastern shore has some safety concerns after a rocket exploded there a few weeks ago…and a new company is cleaning up waste coal in Southwest Virginia and selling it as fuel.

Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.

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UVA Students Continue Dialogue

rotunda-horizIn the wake of Rolling Stone renouncing its own story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, some students say that Jackie, the undergraduate at the center of the storm, has been abused– this time by the magazine. Hawes Spencer reports.

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New Scrutiny of VA’s Controversial Abortion Clinic Regulations

Abortion06It’s back to the drawing board for a slightly revamped State Board of Health, which now has new political appointees. The Board has decided to study and amend abortion clinic regulations that have only been in effect since last year. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the regulations’ defenders say the inspections have uncovered unsafe conditions, while abortion-rights advocates say the rules may force clinics to close.

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Former Sen. Webb Discusses Policies & Presidency

Jim Webb at AP Day 02Sticking to his promise not to discuss or attack any other potential 2016 presidential candidate, former Democratic U.S. Senator Jim Webb today [Wednesday] did discuss where he believes the U.S. needs improvement—and where his own party has contributed to the dysfunction in Congress.  More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Crime Commission Adopts New Tactics on Cigarette Smuggling

Virginia Crime Commission Members

Virginia Crime Commission Members

In spite of recent stronger penalties, traffickers are still smuggling Virginia’s low-tax cigarettes to other states—especially to New York City, where demand for the Commonwealth’s cigarettes is soaring due to the city’s high excise taxes.

Some estimates suggest that 21 percent of Virginia cigarettes end up in other states, where profits are so high that many criminals would rather sell tobacco than heroin. But the State Crime Commission is recommending a different tactic to deter the traffickers.

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Pet Birth Control Idea Wins $20K UVA Entrepreneurship Cup

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Pete Markam/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The American Humane Society calls pet overpopulation a tragic problem, forcing shelters to euthanize millions of cats and dogs each year. Now, students at the University of Virginia have a solution – a non-surgical, reversible form of birth control for pets. Sandy Hausman has that story.

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McDonnell Case: Request for New Trial Denied

McDonnell 082114

August, 2014

In court documents released late yesterday, the federal judge who presided over the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, rejected a request by the former first couple for a new trial.  Judge James Spencer also denied their request to throw out their guilty verdicts—with the exception of one conviction against Maureen.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details.

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UVA President Promises Changes

Seven SocietyThe president of the University of Virginia cancelled a speech to the National Press Club in favor of speaking to students Monday. She pledged a series of changes to combat sexual assault on campus – among them, forcing fraternities to operate under new rules and pressing police to arrest sellers of date rape drugs. Sandy Hausman has details.

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Pricey Equipment in Virginia’s Higher Ed Classrooms

Co-chairs Delegate-Scott Lingamfelter and former Delegate Joe May

Co-chairs Delegate-Scott Lingamfelter and former Delegate Joe May

Virginia universities have invested at least one-billion-dollars in highly sophisticated, expensive equipment for research and development. Some allow entrepreneurs to have access to that equipment and school expertise for a fee. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, a panel of lawmakers and experts is working to craft state policies to expand such opportunities in a way that benefits businesses, universities, and taxpayers.

 

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The Brock Environmental Center

Brock Center 01Many people spend their weekends looking at houses. Some are in the market to buy. Others are just nosey, but recently Virginians toured a new building like no other in the nation – a place that gets all its water from rain, generates all the power it needs, has not a single flush toilet and keeps the floors clean in an ingenious way. Sandy Hausman took the tour and filed this report.

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VaNews: Blue Crab Decline in the Chesapeake Bay

VPAPnewAs the blue crab harvest in the Chesapeake Bay continues to decline there’s still uncertainty over the causes and disagreement about what should be done. That’s been one of the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

 

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New Lawmakers Learn the Ropes in Washington

Capitol Dome, Washington DC

Photo: Creative Commons

Earlier this month Virginia voters sent three new politicians to represent them in Washington. For most, their terms won’t start until January, but, as Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo explains, they’ve been busy learning how to be a member of one of the most exclusive bodies on earth.

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Flip-Chip Communication

Flip ChipA University of Virginia Medical Clinic sees one or two patients a week for injuries from…of all things…yoga. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the practice’s boom…20.4 million Americans do yoga and on average spend $500 a year on clothes and retreats. Reporter Lydia Wilson spoke with a teacher-turned-entrepreneur trying to reverse the rising trend of yoga injuries.

 

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Boosting Cyber-Security in Virginia

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

When Americans think of terrorism, they often envision 9-11-style attacks or some other extreme act of violence. But the nation’s enemies don’t just hail from a specific part of the world, and Americans are under attack every day—not by air, land, or sea, but electronically through data breaches and hacking. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that’s why the commonwealth’s Cyber Security Commission is focusing on discovering vulnerabilities and strengthening the state’s databases.

 

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VaNews: Ride Sharing Challenges, Controlling the Deer Population

VPAPnewInternet based ride sharing is presenting a competitive challenge for Virginia taxi operators and a regulatory one for the General Assembly. And, one Northern Virginia county is looking at a controversial idea for controlling its deer population. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.

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Weekend Rallies and Responses to Rolling Stone’s UVA Article

The Phi Kappa Psi house voluntarily closed after Rolling Stone released the allegations. Photo by Hawes Spencer.

The Phi Kappa Psi house voluntarily closed after Rolling Stone released the allegations. Photo by Hawes Spencer.

Four people were arrested over the weekend – charged with trespassing during protests at the University of Virginia.  Students and faculty expressed continued outrage following reports of gang rapes at a fraternity on campus some years ago, and UVA President Teresa Sullivan banned activities at about 60 frats and sororities through the end of the year.

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Virginia’s Uninsured Children

Children Health Care CC

Photo: Creative Commons

A Virginia child advocacy organization has a new take on “No Child Left Behind”—that is, making sure all children in Virginia have health insurance. And while that IS possible right now, Voices for Virginia’s Children says that could change in the very near future if federal lawmakers don’t act.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Rally At UVA: Calls to End Sexual Violence

UVA rally PhotoAbout 700 people rallied at the University of Virginia responding to reports of sexual violence on campus. Sandy Hausman was there and filed this report.

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‘Tie One on for Safety’ Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign

State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty

State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty

By law, a motorist who is believed to be driving under the influence will be arrested. But today, State Police joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations to appeal to drivers as parents, siblings, significant others, and humans to save lives by simply handing over the keys and finding a designated driver if they’ve been drinking.

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Immigration Debate Heating Up in Congress

Capitol Dome, Washington DCPresident Obama’s executive order on immigration is sparking a heated debate in Congress that could lead to a government shutdown. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story..

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Discussion on EPA Proposals Continues with Rallies in Richmond

EPAlogo1-626x3821Dozens of people rallied outside the State Capitol yesterday to support tougher new EPA proposals for electricity-generating plants. At the same time, Virginia lawmakers were hearing from stakeholders—and trying to determine how the state could be effected if the rules are adopted. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, there were a lot of questions about reports that residents could be paying $300 a year more if the proposals are adopted – because some power plants could shut down.

After hearing from stakeholders about proposed EPA rules to reduce power plant carbon emissions, Virginia lawmakers expressed concern about estimates that the state’s utilities will have to spend billions of dollars on improvements and ultimately pass those costs on to consumers. But supporters of the regulations say that lawmakers aren’t seeing the whole picture.

For instance, Cale Jaffe with the Southern Environmental Law Center says based on the credit for plans already underway— including maintenance of Virginia’s nuclear fleet that is “at risk” of being retired—new gas plants, and coal plant retirements, Virginia will be nearly 80% compliant with the EPA’s emissions-reduction goal for the Commonwealth:   And Jaffe counters the argument that investments in alternative energy sources would cost consumers 25 to 30% more.

Jaffe says 100% compliance with the EPA’s goal is achievable with investments in energy efficiency and renewables.  He adds that Virginia has a great opportunity to leverage the Clean Power Plan into the creation of solar, wind, and energy-efficiency jobs.

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Securing Student Data

220px-Tom_Rust_VAAs Target, Home Depot, the U.S. Post Office and other entities find it difficult to protect consumer information, Virginia lawmakers are wondering how public schools will guard student data as they transition into electronic instruction, testing, and information storage. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Joint Commission on Technology and Science aims to close the gaps in state laws and policies that might inadvertently allow the use of student data for unauthorized purposes.

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Commission on Youth Address School Behavior Issues

Delegate Richard Bell (top row, third from right) and VA  Commission on YouthVirginia schools are increasingly confronted with youth who exhibit challenging behavior. And while schools sometimes use physical restraint and seclusion to de-escalate a crisis, the state does not have any explicit laws or regulations that govern their use. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, that concerns the Commission on Youth, which is recommending legislation to require the Board of Education to formulate new rules and restrictions.

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Red Sun Farms Means Business in the NRV

Red_Sun_02It’s harvest time for tomatoes in the New River Valley. That’s not as strange as it sounds because these tomatoes are growing inside a huge greenhouse in the New River Valley.

The new venture promises to bring jobs as well as more locally grown tomatoes to the region.  Robbie Harris reports.

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VaNews: Biking in Snow, School Bus Driver Controversy

VPAPnewBicycle commuters in Arlington will have an ally in their local government this winter when snow threatens to slow them down. And there’s controversy in Portsmouth after the city denied bonuses for school bus drivers who worked extra on a day when many of their colleagues stayed home to protest low pay.

Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.

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Integrity & Public Confidence in State Government

Governor McAuliffe with Commission Members

Governor McAuliffe with Commission Members

Although they’re not quite final, the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government is just about ready to submit its recommendations to Governor McAuliffe to meet his December 1st deadline.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one of the lingering issues is how to change the process for determining legislative districts and prevent gerrymandering.

 

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Predicting Party Affiliation

100-ways-republicans-are-just-like-democrats-29650It might be difficult to tell how someone affiliates politically just by looking at them, but an international team of scientists has come close. They’ve found a way to predict a person’s party of preference by how they react to gruesome images – with 95 to 98 percent accuracy.

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Political Analyst: Voters Send the Message

Tommie01

Bob Holsworth

Eric Cantor loses the number two spot in the House of Representatives, former Governor Bob McDonnell is convicted on corruption charges, and Mark Warner almost loses his U.S. Senate seat after one term.  Political analyst Bob Holsworth told social studies teachers at a Civics Summit that if he had predicted several years ago what happened to Virginia’s most popular politicians this year, he probably would not have been invited to speak.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, he offered some enlightenment about the Commonwealth’s recent electoral politics.

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Comments from Virginians on EPA’s Clean Power Plan Stack Up

EPAlogo1-626x3821Virginians still have until December 1st to submit their thoughts to the EPA on its proposed Clean Power Plan. One environmental organization says it has already collected more than 210,000 comments from residents who support the proposals to speed up the elimination of the carbon footprint here. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the group also says if people are really environmentally conscious, they don’t have to wait for the government to take action.

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Lawmakers Weigh Penalties for Underage Sexting

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

The State Crime Commission is wrestling with how to craft balanced legislation that addresses the growing problem of underage teens who take sexually explicit images of themselves and send them to others. The members’ concern is heightened by some widely published cases—including a Louisa County “sexting” ring involving 100 teens and 1,000 images of minors posted on Instagram. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re also concerned that the penalties in existing laws designed for adult child predators may be too steep for teens.

 

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General Assembly Preview

First day of the legislative sessionVirginia lawmakers are going back to the grind to finish business they tried to complete, not once, not twice, but now for the third time this year.  They will do so when both houses of the General Assembly convene later today and tonight.  The state’s ongoing revenue shortfall will necessitate more tough decisions not long after that.

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VaNews: Marijuana in DC, but not in the VA State Forensics Lab

VPAPnewThe Virginia state forensics lab says it no longer has the resources to process drug evidence in misdemeanor marijuana cases. Also, Northern Virginia residents may soon be able to cross the Potomac and light up a joint without breaking the law if DC voters have their way. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.

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Gillespie Concedes Senate Race

Ed GillespieWith a concession speech in Northern Virginia by Republican Ed Gillespie, the U.S. Senate race is officially over, and Democrat Mark Warner will be entering his second term as a U.S. Senator.  More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

 

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Challenges Remain: Housing Options for the Disabled

familyIt does not appear that Virginia lawmakers have a clear idea of how to house and treat thousands of people who are developmentally and intellectually disabled after the federal government ordered four of the five state facilities to close as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the debate isn’t about whether it’s right to house them within their communities, but whether the state can pay for adequate facilities to fit all their needs.

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Property Rights Dispute Continues

The Boneta Bill www.youtube.com

The Boneta Bill
http://www.youtube.com

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation has agreed to act as a mediator in a property rights dispute between a Fauquier County farmer and the Piedmont Environmental Council.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that depending on the outcome, some farmers say the case could have a negative impact on the state’s conservation easements program and create a hostile environment between landowners and government entities.

 

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Sen. Warner’s Image Could Suffer, Says Analyst

Sen. Mark Warner Archive Photo/Creative Commons

Sen. Mark Warner
Archive Photo/Creative Commons

Though it’s not yet official Democrat Mark Warner appears to have narrowly won re­election to the U­S Senate in a contest that was much closer than anticipated. Even in apparent victory, Warner’s national brand may have been tarnished by his election night struggle against Republican Ed Gillespie. Fred Echols reports.

 

 

 

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Virginia Film Festival 2014 Opens

Virginia Film Festival 2014For 27 years in Charlottesville, the Virginia Film Festival has provided an annual showcase of movies, everything from independent films to classics to documentaries, along with panel discussions and other special events.  Not to mention an opportunity for local folks to rub elbows with some big names in film. Andrew Jenner reports.

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Republicans Griffith and Goodlatte Reclaim 9th and 6th Districts

220px-Morgan_Griffith,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress_B

In the 6th Congressional District, Bob Goodlatte beat Libertarian Will Hammer and Independent Green candidate Elaine Hildebrandt to win a 12th term. The Democrats did not field a candidate in this race. In the 9th Congressional District, in southwest Virginia, Republican Morgan Griffith bested Independent William Carr to win a third term and the Democrats did not field a candidate in this race either.

 

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Gillespie Holding Out for a Red Virginia

ed+gillespie+mark+warner+debate+100714Election night was a nail-biter for incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who had been expected to coast to victory. His badly outspent Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, defied ALL of the polls leading up to election day—and took the lead throughout the evening until Fairfax County’s vote totals were finally reported. As Anne Marie Morgan reports, the wave that swept Republicans into the majority in the U.S. Senate nearly engulfed Virginia.

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