The panel created by Governor McAuliffe to recommend changes to state ethics laws is tackling an issue that’s not typically associated with conflicts of interest: the way that Virginia chooses judges. The Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government says the quality of the state’s judiciary overall is excellent. But as Anne Marie Morgan reports, it also says the process of selecting judges is politicized and ineffective far too often.
Two Topics from VA News: Virginia Wineries, Virginia’s Obsolete Courthouses Present Preservation Issues
As more wineries are opening in Virginia grape production in the state is not keeping pace…and with many Commonwealth counties looking to replace obsolete courthouses issues of historic preservation may create complications. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on www.vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.
In Virginia, underage sex trafficking is real. That’s why the Commonwealth has created new and stronger laws and methods of saving the children being victimized. With these efforts comes the bitter-sweet challenge of the rescue of child and then the recovery. Tab O’Neal reports.
For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
While Israeli leaders have voiced their displeasure about the Iran nuclear deal amidst already strained relations with the U.S., some have wondered if that dynamic has had any impact on Virginia’s business relationship with Israel. As Tommie McNeil reports, the simple answer is: business couldn’t be better. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
This month marks the 90th year the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Saltwater Cowboys run their annual pony swim. The wild ponies, whose Spanish lineage dates back centuries, are moved from Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, to the fire company’s carnival grounds where a selection of foals are auctioned off. But unless there’s a fire, rounding up cowboys is sometimes more difficult than ponies. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
Governor McAuliffe has convened a large panel to examine the abolition of parole in Virginia and related state guidelines. But as Tommie McNeil reports, some believe that the Governor’s Commission on Parole Review will undo the progress that the Commonwealth has made in reducing its rates of violent crimes.
The sounds of colonial life in Williamsburg may be getting a lot louder soon…and the term ‘valedictorian’ is taking on a whole new meaning for some high school students in Virginia and across the nation. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap,org. More from Fred Echols.
And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event’s organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
As state lawmakers decide whether to mandate abuse-deterrent formulations for opioid medications in health insurance plans, an expert makes one thing clear: Americans have a huge problem with pain and don’t manage it well. As a result, billions are being spent on pain-relief drugs that often lead to addiction. Some are urging lawmakers to do something to mitigate those costs.
The permit that allows the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant to burn hazardous waste from firearms outdoors is up for renewal. Community activists see an opportunity to address environmental and health concerns about the open burning – and state regulators see a chance to explore new technology to solve an old problem.
Governor McAuliffe has been actively working to recruit new businesses to Virginia, but companies that are already located in the Commonwealth say they could use state help to export their goods and services. And a new Virginia International Trade Alliance just announced by the governor aims to help those companies expand and succeed in the international marketplace.
A little-known state program that assists lower-income students with college scholarships is ending its five-year pilot and is poised for permanent expansion. SOAR Virginia is an early commitment scholarship program created by the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. Its goal is to inspire high school students and help them pursue higher education.
We often think of music as entertainment and/or art… but for people with certain language or cognitive difficulties, it can be far more than that. It can actually be a tool that rewires the brain… helping treat such conditions as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, traumatic brain injuries, and strokes. Rebecca Sheir takes us to Norfolk, to one of the only facilities in the country dedicated to bringing music and medicine together.
It’s been about two weeks, since former Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb announced on his website that he’s running for president. He’s not your everyday politician, and as Matt Laslo explains from Washington, he’s also not running a traditional campaign for the nation’s top job.
What happens now that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel has rejected former Governor Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his federal corruption convictions? Legal analysts say while it’s not clear whether he will be sent directly to jail for now, he still has a shot at beating his convictions—although it won’t be easy. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
A Virginia Indian tribe has won its long battle for official federal recognition…and there’s more controversy over a plan to widen one of the nation’s busiest highways. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A News link on vpap.org.
Fred Echols reports.
What’s the definition of a small business? About a dozen stakeholder organizations along with Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce are in the process of redefining what it means in the Commonwealth. Reporter Tommie McNeil explains.
It’s been two years since several petroleum tank cars derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, claiming 47 lives and almost destroying the small Canadian town in eastern Quebec. Activists in Richmond are using the anniversary to not only commemorate the victims, but also draw attention to rail safety and reform. Kelsea Pieters has the story.
The Northern Neck of Virginia is known for the plantation homes of the Washingtons and Lees. But just up the road in Warsaw, their close friend and fellow patriot John Tayloe II was a successful businessman whose Mount Airy Plantation has been the private home of the Tayloe family for more 250 years. Now, it’s latest generation of owners, John Tayloe Emery and his wife Catherine are opening it’s doors to the public in some unusual ways. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
A new wing at one of Virginia’s Veterans’ Care Centers aims to reduce the number of homeless veterans, while providing quality senior services for those with declining mental and physical health. Governor McAuliffe says a new state-funded expansion of a Richmond facility is just the beginning of several projects aimed at filling a huge void in veterans’ services and making the Commonwealth an invaluable military asset. Tommie McNeil has more.
Local government leaders across Virginia are keeping an eye on a disagreement between the City of Buena Vista and ACA Financial Guaranty of New York. A letter the company sent to Buena Vista this week threatens imminent foreclosure on city hall and police headquarters because the city has stopped paying premiums on an insurance policy. Fred Echols reports.
Federal legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 has come under fire from Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus and a coalition of national and state civil rights organizations. The groups assert that both the U.S. House and Senate versions of the reauthorization fail to adequately protect vulnerable student populations. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re calling on U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to support amendments that they argue are essential.
There’s a little known bank run by the federal government that just expired. It supports billions of dollars in economic activity across the commonwealth. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on where our delegation stands on the Export Import Bank and the potential impact its lapse will have on the state’s role in the global economy.
Bristol – a city straddling the Virginia/Tennessee border – is known as the birthplace of Country Music..in fact, it was designated as such by Congress in 1998. It’s a title that comes with one of the most important events in music history. Known as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” several modern popular artists are paying tribute to the Bristol Sessions through a new collaborative project.
Neighbors of turbine farms often complain about the noise they make. Now a Virginia Tech team of researchers has come up with a way they say will dampen that sound. Beverly Amsler has the story.
While state lawmakers spent a great deal of time this year on serious ethics, education, and public safety challenges, some other issues also merited the General Assembly’s attention. One topic that did not grab many headlines, though: food.
Among the new state public safety laws that have taken effect are those that get tougher on sexual violence and other sex crimes – as well as laws that pertain to DNA collection, alcohol and drug abuse, and licensed day care centers.
A whole batch of new laws that are taking effect this week could lead to more job opportunities for Virginians—particularly those who don’t have or are not pursuing a four-year degree. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, many reflect Governor McAuliffe’s ambitious goal of training the Commonwealth’s workforce and awarding more than half a million credentials within the next 15 years.
A number of new driving and traffic safety laws take effect in Virginia on Wednesday that could provide some relief to plenty of motorists. But if drivers aren’t careful, they also could be relieved of some hard-earned cash for new infractions.
A wide array of new state laws take effect July 1st, and among them are a statute that will ultimately extend health insurance coverage to many more children with autism spectrum disorder. The mandatory benefit covers diagnosis and treatment—and applies to ALL insurers except plans offered by self-insured companies and smaller businesses.
During the last election in Virginia, fewer than eight percent of eligible voters showed up to cast a ballot, perhaps because only 18 districts had contested primaries. In most places, lawmakers ran unopposed. Critics say that’s because the legislature drew boundaries to ensure that incumbents could keep their seats, so citizens figure there’s no point in voting. Now, however, there are signs that situation could change as Sandy Hausman reports.
Reactions from Virginia leaders came swiftly following the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld Affordable Care Act subsidies for consumers who bought health insurance plans through the federal marketplace. But how swiftly will the Commonwealth—with no healthcare exchange of its own—act in its wake? Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on reactions from the Attorney General who argued for the provision … and a lawmaker who is also a doctor who opposed Medicaid expansion.
The Washington Redskins were back in court this week, hoping to overturn a U.S. Patent Office decision that canceled the team’s trademark, because some find it offensive. That controversy prompted business students at Virginia Commonwealth University to research and choose new names for DC’s professional football team.
The University of Virginia baseball program made history with its first national title, the first baseball championship for the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1955. In the deciding game of the best-of-three finals, the Cavaliers defeated Vanderbilt, 4-2.
The FBI and Virginia’s law enforcement agencies have a new ally in their efforts to combat sex trafficking. As result, this partnership will lend potentially thousands of eyes and ears in places that police may not frequent, but truckers do, and pimps target.
After facing a $439-million shortfall at the end of the last state fiscal year, the Commonwealth is poised to reap the benefits of an improving economy with a multi-million-dollar budget surplus. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, state employees, college faculty, teachers, and State Police troopers also stand to gain.
With its back against the wall for the second time in a week, the University of Virginia baseball team came through again. The Cavaliers defeated Vanderbilt, 3-0, in Game Two of the best-of-three finals at the College World Series.
The Virginia Cavaliers dropped the first game of their best-of-three title series against defending champion Vanderbilt, 5-1, Monday night in Omaha. It’s a case of déjà. Virginia Public Radio correspondent Greg Echlin has the story.
550 educators and advocates from ten nations gathered in Richmond to exchange ideas about a movement that they call “From STEM to STEAM.” One major goal is to share best practices to attract more girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. They say more creativity can help overcome the hurdles that have prevented girls from choosing STEM careers.
Virginia lawmakers are trying to force Congress to debate the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, but congressional leaders don’t seem to want the debate. Matt Laslo has the story on how in Virginia there seems to be bipartisan consensus that the debate needs to happen.
If the Virginia Cavaliers win their first baseball championship at the College World Series, they face the task of beating the defending national champion. The title series starts tonight (MON) at 8 (ET) in Omaha and will be televised on ESPN. Reporter Greg Echlin has the story.
Arlington County has made it a little more costly for people who violate the anti-profanity law…and Virginia will begin offering students a chance to get their public high school diplomas without ever seeing the inside of a classroom. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. More on that from Fred Echols.
You may have noticed that your eggs cost a little more than they did a few weeks back. Those higher prices are associated with the Avian Flu outbreak that’s moving from the Midwest. But as Tommie McNeil explains, the disease is traveling this way-and if it arrives in Virginia, it potentially could impact a lot more than the cost of eggs.
Prior to 2012, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in Virginia, but now cancer is the Commonwealth’s leading killer. To help lawmakers craft state policies for the future, the Joint Commission on Health Care wanted to find out what the projected cancer rates will be over the next few decades. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the outlook seems rather dismal.
The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is a nine-day festival staged in nineteen counties and four cities across Southwest Virginia. Events range from Barter Theatre performances to canoe and snorkeling trips to tours of an alpaca farm. But at its heart, the Homecoming is about music. Tim Thornton reports.
Several years and one administration ago, Virginia Public Radio highlighted some of the challenges pertaining to veterans’ homelessness, and since then new leaders have vowed to do all they can to eliminate it within the Commonwealth. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a lot of progress has been made in just a short period of time.
The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming, running throughout the week, spotlights the music, environment and culture of Southwest Virginia, including some venues that do that work all the time. Tim Thornton reports.
While the General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year to toughen Virginia’s ethics laws, a gubernatorial panel insists that those reforms are only the beginning. At its June meeting, the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government held a wide-ranging discussion about what to target next for reform. And as Anne Marie reports, a few of the topics that were bandied about may not be politically popular.
With potentially millions of Virginians victimized by the recent cyber-attack against federal employees, state lawmakers want to expedite the formation of public-private collaborations that would stimulate research and development in cyber-security. Now a Joint Commission on Technology and Science panel agrees—and wants to help bring the best minds in the field together. And as Anne Marie Morgan reports, both higher education institutions and companies are willing and eager to make that happen.