Examining New Food-Related Laws in the Commonwealth

VAcapWikiWhile 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.

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New Public Safety Laws Pertain to DNA Collection, Sexual Violence

Virginia_State_Capitol

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.

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New Workforce Laws Take Effect Today

Virginia_State_CapitolA 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.

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New Traffic Laws Permit Passing Cyclists

5989313126_0498c8fb17_oA 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.

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New Insurance Benefit Will Cover More Children with Autism

Del. Tag Greason sponsored the new insurance benefit  law.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.

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Rethinking Redistricting in Virginia

vedistrictsDuring 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.

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VA’s Governor Praises SCOTUS Ruling

supreme_courtReactions 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.

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Renaming the Redskins

flickr user Keith Allison Photo: Creative Commons

flickr user Keith Allison
Photo: Creative Commons

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.

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Virginia Baseball Wins First National Title

uva1The 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.

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Truckers Against Trafficking

Road trip from Conception Abbey.  pa231765

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.

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Virginia Reaps Benefits of Budget Surplus

Finance Secretary Ric Brown addresses the Senate Finance  CommitteeAfter 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.

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UVA Takes Vanderbilt in Game Two

Polaroid CUBE

Ian Echlin

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.

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Cavaliers Fall in Game One of College World Series Title Series

CWS 02The 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.

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Motivating Girls to Choose STEM

8435500077_679eb62d02_o550 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.

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VA Lawmakers Weigh in on War

CongressVirginia 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.

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Cavaliers Reach College World Series Finals Again

virginiasports.com

virginiasports.com

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.

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Va News for 06.22.15: High School Diplomas Online

VPAPnewArlington 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.

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VA Poultry Take Precautions, Prepare for Avian Flu

egg cartonYou 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.

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Dismal Outlook on VA’s Projected Cancer Rates

cancer-390322_640Prior 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. 

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Mountains of Music Homecoming

mntsofmusic_feature-copy-270x270The 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.

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Initiatives to Combat Veterans’ Homelessness

Homeless VeteranSeveral 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.

 

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Lays Hardware Center for the Arts

Lays HardwareThe 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.

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Leaders Consider Integrity in State Government

integritycommission (1)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.

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Boosting Cyber-Security

Security concept: blue opened padlock on digital background, 3d render

Security concept: blue opened padlock on digital background, 3d render

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.

 

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Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center

FullSizeRenderThe Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is a nine-day festival staged in nineteen counties and four cities across Southwest Virginia. But for some people, including Ralph Stanley Museum director Tammy Hill, the work of preserving mountain music and mountain culture goes on all the time.  Tim Thornton reports.

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VA News: Wildlife Habitats in the News

VPAPnewA government agency has moved to protect thousands of square miles of ocean bottom habitat – including areas off the Virginia coast – from damage by commercial fishing operations…..and a thriving elk population in southwest Virginia has created complications for state wildlife managers. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link on vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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Democrats Sue Over Voter ID Law

wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

Reactions vary to a Democratic lawsuit challenging Virginia’s voter photo ID law—based primarily on which side of the political spectrum the stakeholders fall.  Democrats argue that this is another attempt to disenfranchise minority and other voters, while the GOP and the law’s chief sponsor say it’s designed to protect the integrity of the voting system. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, political observers are wondering how this lawsuit will progress—and what’s the best course of action for the state’s Democratic Attorney General.

 

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Virginia Cavaliers Open College World Series With Weekend Victory

The University of Virginia baseball team was so close to winning the national championship last year.  The Cavaliers are back in Omaha this year to try it again and they’re off to a good start. Greg Echlin reports.

 

 

 

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Reforming VA’s Preschool Initiative

A number of studies suggest that young children who enter pre-kindergarten programs develop their learning skills more effectively than those who don’t. That’s one reason why state lawmakers recently decided to examine and reform the Virginia Preschool Initiative.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one of the underlying issues is making sure that low-income children have access to—and take advantage of— those programs.

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Rural Hospitals at Risk: The Walk to Washington

Rural HospitalVirginia’s Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources lends an ear to a grassroots organization protesting the possible closure of 283 rural hospitals across the country, including the Commonwealth. As Tommie McNeil reports, Dr. Jennifer Lee said it’s yet another reason why she believes Medicaid expansion could be the answer.

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June Primary Results

Election ResultsThere were some electoral upsets yesterday as Virginia voters in 48 localities cast their ballots in state and local primaries. Among the most contested were 18 elections to nominate candidates for the General Assembly—including challenges to nine incumbent Senators and Delegates. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, several incumbent lawmakers will not be returning to the General Assembly.

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National Defense Authorization Act: What’s At Stake for VA

jetsSenate Democratic leaders are hoping to filibuster a bill this week that’s vital to Virginia’s servicemen and women and the state’s defense industry. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how Virginia’s two senators are planning to buck their party leaders.

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VaNews: Self-Driving Cars, Passenger Rail Service

VPAPnewVirginia is making a move to embrace the future of train travel as plans for faster passenger rail service between Richmond and DC are considered… and Google’s self-driving cars will soon be seen among the hordes of vehicles packing the roads in Northern Virginia. Those are among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org.  Fred Echols has more.

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Executions & Secrecy: FOIA Case

Execution DrugsVirginia Supreme Court justices will soon be deciding on a case that could have a significant impact on what state officials can withhold—even when a Freedom of Information Act request is submitted.  Although this case began with one lawmaker asking about how executions are carried out, he also discovered that agencies may have found a way around disclosing pertinent information. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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VA Supreme Court Hears Appeal on Sweet Briar College Closing

Sweet Briar HouseThe women of the troubled Sweet Briar College say the institution IS capable of sustaining itself—and all it needs is a second chance. As Tommie McNeil reports, they’re hoping that chance comes in the form of a ruling from the state’s highest court to grant an injunction and allow the college to stay open while school administrators sort out legal and financial matters.

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Governor Declares VA’s Menhaden Harvest Level

McAuliffe OmegaLast month fisheries managers from Florida to Maine voted for a ten percent increase in commercial harvests of menhaden. The oily fish is loved by bald eagles, osprey and other fish and is used along the Atlantic as bait to catch tastier fare like lobster and crab. At a rainy ceremony today, Governor Terry McAuliffe threw his support behind Omega Protein, the last fish rendering plant on the East Coast. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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VA Boasts Record Setting Tourism Revenue

VA is for loversTourists visiting Virginia last year generated a record-setting 22-billion dollars in revenue. That’s according to the latest state numbers, which also indicate that the tourism industry has become the fifth-largest private employer in the state. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, state officials say the Commonwealth’s global exposure will soon grow even more.

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Virginia Lawmakers On Trade Debate: How Will Agreements Impact Commonwealth?

US CAPVirginia lawmakers are divided over the free trade agreements winding their way through Congress this summer – the debate over whether the deals will be good or bad for the commonwealth.

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Virginia to Digitize Vital Records Dating to Early 20th Century

New LawsIt’s been two years in the making, but now a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Health and Ancestry has allowed the state to digitize the Commonwealth’s vital records-including some that were believed to be lost forever.

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VA Supreme Court Rules on Suppressed Evidence

Scales of JusticeVirginia’s Supreme Court has handed down a ruling that could help people wrongfully convicted of crimes. Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

 

 

 

 

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Accelerated Efforts to Reduce Energy Consumption

(l-r) Policy analyst Borna Kazarooni and Chief Energy  Efficiency Officer Hayes Framme discuss energy metrics.

(l-r) Policy analyst Borna Kazarooni and Chief Energy Efficiency Officer Hayes Framme discuss energy metrics.

Governor McAuliffe has accelerated the timetable set in a 2007 state law that requires a voluntary 10 percent reduction in state energy consumption—by moving its target date to 2020. Now an expert panel established to help achieve that goal has concluded that it needs additional data just to clarify how that should be measured. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, it also says the responsibility does not just rest with electric utilities to boost their own conservation efforts.

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Addressing Voting Methods Before June Primaries

{110397B7-F29E-4D25-92DF-2F8521B2183D}After the State Board of Elections in April decertified the touchscreen voting machines used in 20% of Virginia’s precincts, the localities with June primaries were left scrambling to find replacements for their WinVote equipment in time. But a state elections official says one way or another, the voters there will be accommodated. While localities are implementing a variety of short-term fixes, the state is working on a more long-term, uniform solution.

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As the 611 Returns to Roanoke, Future Excursions Uncertain

611A_400An acclaimed example of Virginia history thundered its way home over the weekend to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. It now prepares to lead excursions, but its long-term ability to do so is largely out of the museum’s control.

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VaNews: Gun Store Opposition, Artificial Turf Removal

VPAPnewPeople in an Arlington neighborhood are looking for a way to stop a gun store from opening nearby but the law is not on their side. And some Loudon County parents want artificial turf removed from school athletic fields. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.

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Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence Submits Final Report

StateCapitolIts work done, the Governor’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence has submitted its final report to the McAuliffe administration. It includes 21 recommendations and is touted by its members to be the most comprehensive step in curbing violence, making it easier to report assaults, and changing the mindset of communities toward victims.

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Preparing for Hurricane Flooding

6082747814_14bf36a2f9_oThe hurricane season won’t OFFICIALY begin for a few more days, but with all the tragic events still unfolding in Texas and Oklahoma due to flooding and violent storms, a number of state agencies are emphasizing that Virginians should prepare now. That means stocking up on supplies AND making sure families have the right insurance coverage during this Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week.

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Fixing the Country’s Aging Infrastructure

872001347_3ef1cc1f5a_oCongress is sending the president its thirty-second short term patch to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund funded this summer, but Virginia officials say that’s no way to fund the state’s transportation projects.

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Governor McAuliffe Signs Child Care Safety Bill

Elly Lafkin (right) and other parents watch as Gov.  McAuliffe signs the bill.Virginia’s child care providers will be undergoing a number of changes that aim to enhance the safety of the children they are babysitting.  To draw attention to the new law, Governor McAuliffe held a bill-signing ceremony with advocates, lawmakers, and parents whose children had died while in unlicensed facilities. Participants said that while this law is a good start, the Commonwealth needs an even tougher one.

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One Motorcyclist Hopes Drivers Increase Awareness

2615332682_8e25ebf8db_o“Measure twice, cut once.” The old adage holds especially true for the many motorists who will hit the road this summer. One veteran motorcyclist is asking millions of drivers to measure their surroundings to AVOID cutting off, hitting, or injuring “two-wheelers.”

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How to Closer A College: SCHEV Outlines Policy

Closed SignOver the last several years, Sweet Briar College, Virginia Intermont, and Saint Paul’s College have announced that they were closing-and now state officials are engaging in a broad discussion about what recourse families have when that happens.
Tommie McNeil reports, while students would rather not have to make the adjustment, they do have options when such a development occurs.

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