Connie Stevens

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Backing Small & Minority-Owned Business

Reporters ask Gov. McAuliffe questions following a news conference.

Reporters ask Gov. McAuliffe questions following a news conference.

Governor McAuliffe has signed an executive order to increase the opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned companies to conduct business with the state. The goal is to promote equity—and maximize the participation of small businesses in work that’s obtained through procurement and state contracts. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, he also set a high goal for the number of participants.

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Mental Health Initiative Moves Forward

Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA

A new General Assembly panel is vowing to conduct a thorough review of Virginia’s mental health system, while not shielding any “sacred cows” in the process.  The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the 21st Century held its inaugural meeting… and began by examining how the Commonwealth’s system is faring—then comparing it to other states. Members already seem determined to make reforms.  Anne Marie Morgan reports.

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Tale of Two Flags: Art Sparks Dialogue

Black Hair Flag Artist Sonya Clark sonyaclark.com

Black Hair Flag
Artist Sonya Clark
sonyaclark.com

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, an exhibit called “Posing Beauty” is in its final week.The show features a piece by an African American depicting the confederate and American flags woven in African hair. Just outside the museum, demonstrators with real confederate flags are far from wrapping up their protest of the VMFA where a pair of confederate flags were removed from the grounds. The artist and the flaggers share a mission: to remind the public of the importance of their heritage. May-Lily Lee reports.

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VaNews for 07.21.14

VPAPnewWith parts of Hampton Roads facing a rising sea level and stronger Atlantic storms one idea being talked about is a flood wall across the lower Chesapeake Bay…and someone in Portsmouth stirred things up when they decided to rejuvenate a sign at a subdivision entrance. 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 reports.

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Proposal to Slash EPA Budget

epa_building_bigHouse Republicans are trying to slash the size of the EPA while also limiting its ability to regulate, which they argue will help the economy in places like Virginia. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Virginia 529 College Savings

va529While parents look for more affordable ways to send their kids to college, many are seeking information about the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a new briefing by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission suggests that the state’s Plan may be one of the most viable and sustainable options.

 

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New Book Offers History of the Virginia Education Association

VEA ClassroomThe Virginia Education Association got its starts in the middle of the Civil War.  The story of the VEA’s last 150 years is told in a book set for release next month. Joe Staniunas reports.  

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Virginia Retirement System

VRS 02The return on Virginia Retirement System investments fell 21 percent in 2009—but the pension fund has now rebounded and is exceeding expectations. That’s the message delivered by VRS officials to state lawmakers.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, all are cautiously optimistic that the fund’s health will keep improving.

 

 

 

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Hobby Lobby Case Pushes Legislation

hobby-lobbyMost Virginia Democrats are pushing legislation to overturn last week’s Supreme Court decision allowing some companies to deny contraception to employees. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Internet Sales Tax Debate

SalesTaxAnother national debate is taking center stage in Virginia—this time over a potential Internet sales tax. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one group that’s opposed to out-of-state e-commerce taxation and the federal Marketplace Fairness Act says they have overwhelming proof that Virginians don’t want it.

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VaNews for 07.14.14

VPAPnewA Virginia County is trying to find out what happened to seven thousand people its police have identified as undocumented over the past few years…and organizers of a Fourth of July demonstration in Richmond in favor of gun owners rights went ahead with their plan even when no one answered their call for support. Fred Echols reports.

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Immigration Reform: Partisan Sniping

FlagNow that immigration reform has essentially been pulled from the docket during this legislative session Virginia lawmakers are bracing for the impact on the state’s economy – as some lawmakers brace for what executive actions President Obama prepares to take. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details.

 

 

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Taking a Chance on New Theater

CATFA small, colonial-era town in Appalachia may not seem the most likely venue to watch cutting-edge contemporary theater. But every summer, since 1991, Shepherdstown, West Virginia has been a hot-bed of new American plays.  Rebecca Sheir checked in on rehearsals for the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, which opens July 11th.

 

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Boosting Biotech & Generating Jobs

BiotechVirginia, no longer ranked as the best state to do business, still has a strong economic footing, especially in Northern Virginia. But because the state is so heavily reliant on defense contracts which have recently been on the federal chopping block, Governor McAuliffe is looking to strengthen the state’s economy through other avenues. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Legislative Resignations

Moving OnIn June, four state lawmakers unexpectedly resigned their seats in the General Assembly.  While legislative retirements are not unusual, four Democrats in one month calling it quits before their terms expire is not the norm—and left many to wonder why.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the answer may be as simple as timing and opportunity.

Special elections will be held on August 19th for the vacant seats that were held by Puckett, Howell, and Brink.

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New Laws: Part 5 of 5

OverseasAs Virginians celebrate American independence this weekend, many can’t help but think about our veterans past and present—as well as the rights and nation that they have defended. So as we continue our series on new state laws that just took effect, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on one that directly impacts those who have served overseas … another that addresses state energy resources … and a third that affects the Commonwealth’s democratic process.

 

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New Laws: Part 4 of 5

VA DriverSome laws are now in effect that impact Virginia motorists—and they’re not necessarily punitive. In fact, some were passed because drivers asked for them. In Part 4 of our series on new state laws, we have more from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

 

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New Laws: Part 3 of 5

PatentLawThe message from Virginia lawmakers to “patent trolls” is:  If they plan to make a claim of patent infringement, they had better be able to prove it—and answer to the Attorney General’s office if their claim is bogus. It’s one of the new state laws that Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor believes such laws will inspire MORE innovation—and not suppress it.

 

 

 

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VaNews for 07.07.14

VPAPnewStarting this month Virginians who use a certain type of two-wheeled transportation are no longer allowed to cruise without a title and license plate…and if you think nobody saw the downfall of Eric Cantor coming, think again. Those are among the most read stories recently on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Full Disclosure: Clutter Cleaner Matt Paxton

20140520_social_icon_200x200_lne-1National business correspondent Roben Farzad has launched a new radio podcast recorded in Richmond. The program is called Full Disclosure, and in the months ahead you’ll hear some content from the program, as we share his weekly effort to translate the language of finance and investing. The theme of this week’s program?  Bending, Not Breaking.

Farzad talks with Richmond entrepreneur Matt Paxton.  He’s best known for his business Clutter Cleaner, featured on the reality TV show Hoarders.  But it was a long climb to success for Paxton.  While working at the Federal Reserve after college, he fell into gambling.  In 1999 he was $40,000 dollars in debt to a bookie.  He was beaten up, and left in the ditch outside a casino.  He headed home to Virginia.

Paxton also cleaned out crime scenes and foreclosed homes for a decade to pay off maxed-out credit cards at a 22-percent interest rate… he considers it a form of indentured servitude.  But it all led to a successful national business and television show.

You can hear the full story of Paxton’s failure and redemption, on Roben Farzad’s Full Disclosure.

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Delegate Morrissey Calls Allegations Baseless

State Delegate Joe Morrissey

State Delegate Joe Morrissey

Henrico Delegate Joe Morrissey says he will not resign his seat in the General Assembly following this week’s indictment that stems from his relationship with a teenager.  He made the statement after a fellow Democrat, Delegate Mark Keam, had called on Morrissey to step down.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details from the State Capitol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More New Laws: Part 2

New LawsWhile the state budget and Medicaid expansion dominated news coverage of the General Assembly this year, lawmakers also worked on a wide array of other issues. In Part Two of our series on state laws that take effect this week, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on some of the new public safety and ethics laws—including a few arising from several well-publicized cases.

 

 

 

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Rail Safety: Emergency Workers Still in the Dark

TankerIn just over a year, North America has seen a dozen serious accidents involving trains that derailed while carrying flammable crude oil.  One of those accidents, in Lynchburg, caused a massive fire and oil spill.  In most cases, fire departments didn’t know what they were dealing with, since railroads have kept that information secret, but the federal government is now requiring them to inform states when trains of 35 cars or more, carrying  oil from North Dakota or Montana, are coming through.  The public, however, is not entitled to know, and fire departments say they’re still in the dark, as Sandy Hausman reports.

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New Laws on the Books July 1st

New LawsA broad bipartisan and bicameral consensus at the General Assembly may not create sensational headlines—but such agreements DO occur.  In Part One of our series on NEW state laws that take effect this week, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on two sets of bills that fit that description:  reforming school Standards of Learning tests and overhauling the Commonwealth’s mental health system.

 

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Rail Safety: Tracks & Inspections

Photo: City of Lynchburg

Photo: City of Lynchburg

Within hours of a rail crash in Lynchburg on April 30, inspectors for the state and federal governments and CSX were on the scene – trying to figure out why 17 cars derailed and one ruptured – producing flames, smoke and a significant oil spill. Getting official answers could take 18 months, but there are clues that suggest a cause for the accident and a future course of action to improve rail safety. Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

 

 

 

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VA Waterways Still Not Clean Despite Efforts

Photo: Environment Virginia

Photo: Environment Virginia

While some groups and businesses have touted their environmental accomplishments and criticized new EPA regulations, one watchdog organization says “not so fast.” As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Environment Virginia says although significant strides have been made in watershed cleanup, the state’s waterways are still endangered and lots more work needs to be done.

 

 

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VaNews for 6.30.14

VPAPnewA Virginia legislator is trying to help a long-­banned crop make a comeback in the Commonwealth…and Portsmouth City Council has learned that owning goats is not so simple as it might appear to be.  Those stories are among the most read in recent days at the Virginia Public Access Project’s V­A News link on V­PAP­.­org.

Fred Echols reports.

 

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Hearing on Sea Level Rise

 

Norfolk, VA Photo: Wetlands Watch

Norfolk, VA
Photo: Wetlands Watch

Two Virginia Democrats are teaming up with two Virginia Republicans in a rare bipartisan hearing into how to combat sea level rise along the eastern shore. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details on the field hearing.

 

 

 

 

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Virginia Conversations: LEAD Virginia

LEAD LogoOn this final edition of  “Virginia Conversations,”  bringing together corporate and civic leaders to shape the state’s future.That’s the mission of the  program “LEAD Virginia”.   Host May-Lily Lee talks to its president to find out how it works, and hear from some of the leaders who have participated in the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cycling Safety Legislation

Bike02As more commuters turn to bicycles as an alternative method of transportation, lawmakers say everyone must rethink how we take to the roads. That approach is now reflected in a new law that takes effect on July 1st.  The law will require motorists to allow three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

 

 

 

 

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Rail Safety: Slower Trains & Stronger Cars (Part 3 of 5)

Train Derail 3For decades Americans have worried about our dependence on foreign oil and gas. By 2005 we were importing 60% of our energy, but in 2008 a new technology called horizontal hydrologic fracturing or “fracking” raised the promise of energy independence. U.S. crude production is up 50% and imports have fallen 35%. But getting oil from a massive shale deposit in North Dakota to refineries is raising serious concerns about public safety. Sandy Hausman has more on that story.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rail Safety: Challenging Changes (Part 2 of 5)

TrainSafety 02Each year officials investigate an average of ten derailments in Virginia alone. Most involve coal or grain – cargoes unlikely to cause trouble for nearby communities, but a growing number of trains now carry oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota. Because it contains high levels of gas, it’s more volatile than some other forms of crude, and transporting it by rail could be putting whole communities at risk. Sandy Hausman reports on one proposed solution to the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rail Safety: Rising Risks (Part 1 of 5)

RailSafetySeries01

PHOTOGRAPH BY LUANN HUNT, CITY OF LYNCHBURG VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

It’s been nearly two months since a train derailed in Lynchburg, sending a fireball into the sky above that city’s downtown and spilling oil into the James River. Experts said the accident could have been far worse, and many communities along the state’s 3,200 miles of railroad face similar dangers. This week, Sandy Hausman begins a series on rail safety and why the risks have risen dramatically.

 

 

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GOP Preps for Battle

HouseSpeakerBill HowellVirginia House Republicans are pulling out the big guns and preparing for a major battle with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plans to expand Medicaid on his own. They asked the former Solicitor General who has argued more Supreme Court cases this century than another other lawyer to provide a legal analysis of McAuliffe’s options.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they are not saying a lawsuit is inevitable, they are telling the Governor he needs to tread carefully over the issues.

 

 

 

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Virginia Precedents Slowing Down Governor’s Efforts

State Senator Bill Stanley

State Senator Bill Stanley

When House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell ruled two of Governor McAuliffe’s line-item vetoes out of order Monday night, he cited the state Constitution and Virginia Supreme Court precedents for doing so.  Those include a 1996 case where then—as now—one major dispute was over budget language about federal funds.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Speaker’s rulings ultimately may not be the final word on the subject.

 

 

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UVA Hoping for a World Series Win and a Place in the History Books

Credit: Virginia Cavaliers

Credit: Virginia Cavaliers

It will be a winner-take-all at the College World Series tonight in Omaha. The Virginia Cavaliers forced the deciding game last night with a 7-2 victory over Vanderbilt.  Tonight’s game starts at 8PM and will be shown on ESPN. A Virginia victory tonight would be historic for the university and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UVA Fans No Strangers to Omaha

Austin Young, 6/23/14 Photo: UVA Cavaliers Baseball

Austin Young, 6/23/14
Photo: UVA Cavaliers Baseball

The University of Virginia baseball team has its back against the wall at the College World Series in Omaha.  Vanderbilt took Game One in the best-of-3 championship series, 9-8.  But as Greg Echlin reports, UVA’s trips to Omaha are drawing repeat visitors with hopes of seeing  the Cavaliers go all the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia’s Gun Laws

Gun LawsVirginia guns laws are despised by officials up and down the east coast who say the lo0se laws bleed guns onto their crime-ridden streets. But Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has this story on how a recent Supreme Court case could stop the bleeding a tad.

 

 

 

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VPAPnewThere’s controversy over ownership of volunteer fire department vehicles in a Virginia county where population growth is bringing demand for standardized emergency services…and people who walk and bike across a bridge in Norfolk are wondering who’s responsible for keeping them safe. These are among the most read stories in recent days at Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.  Fred Echols reports.

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Virginia Conversations: Foster Care

therapeutic-foster-careOn this edition of “Virginia Conversations,” the need for foster care in the state.  Host May-Lily Lee talks to representatives from the Virginia Department of Social Services and a foster care organization to find out how urgent the need is, and how you can help.

Resources Mentioned in the Program:

Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Henrico County Department of Social Services

 

 

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Highway Trust Fund

HighwayTrafficThe federal pot of money that’s supposed to keep local roads, highways and bridges intact may soon be empty, yet lawmakers on Capitol Hill are miles apart from each other – and it remains unclear if they’ll be able to bridge the gulf. Reporter Matt Laslo has the details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VaNews for 06.16

VPAPnewThe political spotlight has suddenly focused on a small Virginia College where two faculty members are running against each other for Congress… and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay creates a surprising consequence for Boy Scouts in Arlington.  Those stories have been among the ones attracting the most attention in the past few days at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews  link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Nicotine Not As Safe As Once Thought

EcigThe recent trend toward e-cigarettes as a way to avoid the dangers of smoking may not be as safe as previously thought.  Scientists at Virginia Tech now say nicotine; even in non-smoke-able forms can,  cause cancer. We get details from Robbie Harris.

 

 

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New Approaches to Interrogating Teenagers

Photo: NPR/WBUR

Photo: NPR/WBUR

Police routinely use certain techniques to get confessions from suspects, but a new study from the University of Virginia suggests those tactics should not be used with juveniles. Because their brains are not fully developed, social scientists say they will respond differently than adults, and as Sandy Hausman reports, confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

 

 

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The Morning After: Budget Reaction

Budget_GenericSome Virginia policy analysts say after months of stalling and keeping constituents on the edge of their seats, the General Assembly still blundered by passing a budget without Medicaid expansion. Groups that include Virginia Organizing, Progress Virginia, and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis say that not only has the budget left hundreds of thousands of Virginians without affordable healthcare options—but residents are left with a gaping budgetary hole that needs to be filled.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

 

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Virginia Conversations: Filming in Virginia

FilmOn this edition of Virginia Conversations, bringing Hollywood to the Old Dominion.   We catch up with Adriana Trigiani, who shares her experiences filming the movie version of her novel “Big Stone Gap” in that small coal-mining town.  And we talk with Sarah Elizabeth Timmins about the two new movies she’s working on: one set on the Chesapeake Bay, the other in Lynchburg.

 

 

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Ceremonial Signing of Veteran-Friendly Legislation

USS Wisconsin

From USS Wisconsin Facebook, Submitted by: Jeffrey J. Jankowski, Timothy Snipes.

Nearly three years after Virginia Public Radio told you about the growing problem of veterans’ homelessness in the Commonwealth, the state is putting pen to paper to help put an end to it. The legislation is one of 10 veteran-friendly bills that Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed into law  at the World War II Battleship Wisconsin museum in Norfolk.

 

 

 

 

 

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Replacing the House Majority Leader

USCapitolSome conservatives are asking for a delay in the race to replace Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader over disagreements on immigration reform. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

 

 

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Ousting Creates Waves in the House and on the Hill

HouseRotundaMajority Leader Eric Cantor may have lost his Republican primary in Richmond, but he isn’t giving up his leadership post until the end of summer. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo looks at what the sea change means for the state.

 

 

 

 

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Cantor Leaving Majority Leader Position

EricCantor02Senior Republicans say after Eric Cantor’s primary loss in Richmond last evening he’s relinquishing his position as Majority Leader at the end of July. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on the race underway for his replacement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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