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Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 26, 2015
No post session per diems, last-minute deals, and burning of the midnight oil this year. While the votes were not unanimous, Senate and House lawmakers have passed a state budget that includes pay raises for state employees, college faculty, state police, and teachers. But as Tommie McNeil reports, although the bill passed by an overwhelming margin, some assert there’s still something missing.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 25, 2015
Recent tragedies where children have died under the care of unlicensed daycare providers have prompted the General Assembly to pass measures to strengthen Virginia’s licensing guidelines. But as WVTF RADIO IQ’s Tommie McNeil reports, while lawmakers agree on the overall goals, they’re still trying to reach a consensus on how far the guidelines should go.
One version of the legislation is now in a conference committee, which will try to reconcile differences between the House and Senate.
For 172 years, the University of Virginia has had a rule that students caught cheating, lying or stealing get kicked out. In the 21st century, that seems harsh to some, and students are now voting on whether to change the rule. Hawes Spencer reports.
When it comes to ethnicity, the largest group of people in Virginia-about 20% — trace their ancestry back to Africa, but kids in our schools learn relatively little about African history, arts and culture. Now, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will offer a lively supplement to the curriculum — taking children on a virtual trip to Mali, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sandy Hausman has details.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 23, 2015
Patients with a terminal illness would have expanded access to investigational drugs under Senate legislation that has been given preliminary approval by the House of Delegates. The bill would allow manufacturers to supply the medicine when all other treatment options have been exhausted. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the legislation—which has been dubbed the “Right to Try” bill—was inspired by a young boy in the Commonwealth who fought for access to an investigational drug last year.
Posted in Virginia's News on February 23, 2015
Just as Thomas Jefferson did nearly 200 years ago, restoration experts for the University of Virginia’s Rotunda have turned to history to bring this iconic building into the 21st Century. Hawes Spencer has more.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 22, 2015
During the General Assembly session in Richmond, lawmakers are rallied to the Capitol each day by two different bell towers that ring in coordination with each other. Reporter Michael Pope wanted to know why.
Posted in Virginia's News on February 22, 2015
One of the biggest Supreme Court cases of this term could wipe away the insurance subsidies that tens of thousands of Virginians now rely on under the Affordable Care Act. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how Virginia lawmakers in both parties are already scrambling to find a Plan B.
Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2015
With a major snowstorm blowing across the Commonwealth, Governor Terry McAuliffe says the declaration allows the Virginia Department of Transportation to mobilize its 12,000 pieces of equipment, and 2,500 workers and contractors to respond.
The governor is also calling on Virginians to stay off the roads, if possible, in order to allow emergency vehicles passage and to cut down on the potential for accidents.
“Every part of the Commonwealth is going to be impacted by this storm,” Gov. McAuliffe said. “Every single part of the Commonwealth.”
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on February 15, 2015
VCU is preparing for major schedule disruptions when a world cycling event comes to downtown Richmond this fall. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week the Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A News link on V-PAP-dot-org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 13, 2015
When a special needs child is a bit fussy or has a history of violent outbursts in a classroom setting, who has the right to restrain them or put them into seclusion—and who decides when that goes too far? In Virginia, that’s not clear. But as Tommie McNeil reports, a bill that’s sailed through both chambers of the General Assembly will soon change that.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 12, 2015
Both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate today overwhelmingly approved their respective versions of the state’s spending plan. Budget day at the Virginia State Capitol typically reveals how lawmakers really feel about the state of the Commonwealth and how dire things are. But as Tommie McNeil reports, while lawmakers have philosophical differences, the tone, at least for now, doesn’t seem as contentious as it has been in recent years.
Virginia’s two big electric companies will escape state regulation of their base rates for up to eight years under a bill which caught opponents by surprise – a measure just approved by the Virginia House. Its sponsor promised a rate freeze for consumers, but as Sandy Hausman reports, your bill could still be going up.
Posted in Virginia's News on February 10, 2015
Posted in Virginia's News on February 9, 2015
The popular NPR podcast Serial is back in the headlines with news that a young Maryland man convicted of killing his high-school girlfriend will get the opportunity to appeal. Here in Virginia, a separate effort is underway to determine whether the guy featured in Serial is the real killer. Hawes Spencer has that story.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on February 8, 2015
There’s good news from the Governor and the heads of the General Assembly’s money committees. Despite dealing earlier with a significant revenue shortfall, the state is now seeing a $338-million revenue bump from withholdings through corporate income tax and insurance premiums. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains.
Bills to stop gerrymandering are enjoying an unusual bout of success in the General Assembly this year. While most pundits still think they’ll get shot down, the head of a political training center thinks there’s momentum for reform. Hawes Spencer reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 28, 2015
VEA President Meg Gruber pointed out that before the recent recession, Virginia ranked number one in the nation on the “chance of success” index for children, but that the state has now fallen to 9th place. And in spite of rhetoric at the Capitol about “holding the line” on education cuts, state funding has actually dropped 16% since 2009,when inflation is taken into account. Gruber said the new campaign aims to help the public recognize the troubling signs:
Gruber said elected leaders claim to be “friends of education”… so parents, teachers, and the public must compel them to take action to reverse these trends. The organizations will hold a rally in support of public education at the State Capitol on April 18th. More information can be found here.
Here’s the full audio of the news conference in Richmond:
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 27, 2015
Virginia governors would be allowed to run for a second, consecutive term of office under a constitutional amendment that has passed the state Senate. The revision would change a tradition that has left Virginia as the sole state in the nation to forbid its governor from running for re-election. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the 24 to 15 vote for passage did not break down along party lines.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 26, 2015
In advance of the General Assembly meeting tomorrow, the march called for several legislative reforms including an independent review board to handle issues of police misconduct and the implementation of police body cameras.
While many in opposition to body cameras site both cost and privacy concerns, the majority of protestors believed the transparency of cameras would help rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement. Intern Reporter James Perla was there.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 8, 2015
Ahead of next week’s start of the Virginia General Assembly Session, GOP lawmakers are rolling out new initiatives in public education. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one reform is a revamped version of an unpopular law—which they say should be more useful to parents and stakeholders.
Posted in Virginia's News on January 8, 2015
Last fall’s controversial handcuffing and shackling of a Greene County pre-schooler might have been prevented by a new bill that could soon make its way through the General Assembly. Hawes Spencer reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 6, 2015
The judge’s punishment was far below the 10 years prosecutors wanted, but still more than the community service that the former governor and hundreds of supporters asked for.
Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, McDonnell said he was a fallen human being.
But McDonnell reiterates that he never betrayed his oath of office. He says he disagrees with the jury’s verdict, and his attorneys have already begin the appeal process with the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
McDonnell’s wife Maureen faces sentencing February 20th, after being convicted on eight counts of corruption.
You can hear his complete comments to the media following the sentencing.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on January 5, 2015
When he’s sentenced tomorrow will a former Virginia Governor get a slap on the wrist with community service or a short time in prison for 11 corruption convictions—or will U.S. District Judge James Spencer sentence him to a lengthy stint behind bars?
Tommie McNeil reports, one analyst says it’s probably the latter, and it will be interesting to see whether Bob McDonnell will remain free as he appeals his convictions.
It’s been almost a year since former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe took office as Virginia Governor, and many agree is that he’s hit the ground running. But while McAuliffe is proud of the work he’s accomplished thus far, some say he’s tripping over some obstacles-either of his own making or from a GOP-led legislature. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
Virginia lawmakers are bemoaning the meager work accomplished in Washington in 2014. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how some lawmakers fear 2015 may once again bring stiff budget cuts that would hurt the state’s economy.
The City of Buena Vista has a loan payment due on January 15, a payment it does not intend to make. What will happen after that is unknown at present but one possible result is that local government officials and the police department will receive eviction notices. Fred Echols reports on a financial crisis in this Blue Ridge city of 7,000 residents that’s been in the making for more than a decade.
Despite criticism from gun-rights advocates and GOP legislative leaders, Governor McAuliffe is not retreating on a package of gun control measures that he has proposed for the upcoming General Assembly session. And as Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor ays this was one of his campaign promises, so no one should be surprised.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 29, 2014
Political junkies looking for a good read may find one in an exposé of insider political language by two veteran journalists. It’s called “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech.” The light-hearted book also has a serious purpose. Tommie McNeil reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 23, 2014
Recent reports about the growth of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft would suggest that their success pits them directly against traditional taxi drivers. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a representative from the taxi industry says that’s not what’s behind a rally in Richmond….where they called for more fairness for taxicab drivers.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 22, 2014
A gubernatorial panel created to propose ethics reforms has recommended revisions to Virginia laws on redistricting, as well as an amendment to the state Constitution that would revise the way legislative districts are drawn. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Governor’s Commission to Ensure Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government left no doubt that it considers the current process to be overtly partisan and unfair.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 18, 2014
Praises, 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 17, 2014
Governor 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 16, 2014
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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 11, 2014
The 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on December 7, 2014
In 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 4, 2014
It’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.
Sticking 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.
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.
Posted in Virginia's News on December 3, 2014
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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 2, 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on December 2, 2014
The 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on December 1, 2014
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.
Posted in Virginia's News on December 1, 2014
Many 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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on December 1, 2014
As 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.
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.
A 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on November 30, 2014
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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on November 21, 2014
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.