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Posted in Virginia's News on July 11, 2014
Now 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 10, 2014
A 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 10, 2014
Virginia, 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.
In 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.
As 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.
Some 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.
The 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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on July 8, 2014
Starting 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 2, 2014
National 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.
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.
While 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 1, 2014
In 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.
A 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 30, 2014
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.
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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on June 30, 2014
A 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 27, 2014
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.
Posted in Virginia Conversations on June 27, 2014
On 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 26, 2014
As 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.
For 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.
Each 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.
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.
Virginia 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.
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.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 25, 2014
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.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 24, 2014
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.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 23, 2014
Virginia 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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on June 23, 2014
There’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.
Posted in Virginia Conversations on June 23, 2014
On 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:
The 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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on June 16, 2014
The 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.
The 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.
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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 13, 2014
Some 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.
Posted in Virginia Conversations on June 13, 2014
On 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 12, 2014
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.
Majority 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.
Senior 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 11, 2014
The state’s economists and fiscal experts are urging lawmakers to pass a budget as soon as possible to help mitigate lower revenues by tapping into the state’s rainy day fund. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they informed the House Appropriations Committee that if lawmakers don’t act soon, the state has much to lose.
Both houses of the General Assembly will convene to work on the budget Thursday night.
A political bombshell hit Virginia last night … as U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his re-election bid to a political newcomer, Randolph-Macon Economics Professor David Brat. Despite his huge campaign cash advantage, Cantor lost his 7th Congressional district Republican primary by a margin of 45% to 55% of the vote.
Brat was backed by grassroots Tea Party activists, who were frustrated by what they called “establishment politics as usual” in Washington. Cantor was also hit hard by both the Right and the Left on immigration reform during the campaign … and Brat pummeled him on the issue of amnesty in the closing weeks of the campaign. In his post-election speech, Cantor urged his supporters to continue advancing their principles:
Cantor was elected to the U.S. House in 2000 and became Majority Leader in 2011. He is the first U.S. House Majority Leader ever to lose a primary. Brat will now face off against a newly minted Democratic opponent, Jack Trammel. Trammel is a fellow professor at Randolph-Macon College who was nominated by Democrats on Saturday.
In his post-primary speech to supporters, Brat called his election a “miracle.” Brat said he did NOT run against Cantor—whom he called a good man—but instead, to return conservative principles to Washington. They include a commitment to free markets, equal treatment under the law for all people, and a strong national defense:
Although Cantor can serve for the duration of the year, the loss could well prompt a shake-up in the U.S. House leadership in the near future.
Meanwhile, in the 1st Congressional district primary, incumbent Republican Congressman Rob Wittman easily trounced his challenger, Anthony Riedel, by a vote of 76% to 23%. Wittman was first elected to Congress in 2007 and serves on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources Committees. Wittman’s Democratic opponent in the general election will be Norm Mosher.
Metals known as ‘rare earth elements” are in growing demand worldwide. They’re vital for many of the high tech devices we all use. China has been the major source for rare earth minerals, but recently cut its exports. This has geologists in the U.S. searching for domestic deposits. As Robbie Harris tells us in part one of her report, they believe south eastern Virginia could be the place to look for the coveted elements.
The elements known as ‘rare earths,’ are a relatively new addition to the periodic table. And they have changed the world, ushering in the new age of technology because of their unique properties. They allow us to make smaller and more efficient devices for everything from smart phones to wind turbines. In part one of our report, we told you China, which been the largest provider of the exotic metals, has stopped exporting them, causing a worldwide shortage. But scientists now think similarities between the geology in southern China and the South Eastern U.S. could make this region a new source for rare earths. Robbie Harris has part 2.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 9, 2014
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on June 9, 2014
Virginia is trying to figure out what to do with a new taxi service that may not actually be a taxi service…and one of the most extraordinary paintings ever created will be displayed in Yorktown. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 6, 2014
While the attack on State Senator Creigh Deeds and subsequent suicide by his son have brought more attention to the issue of mental health in Virginia, child advocates say there are significant gaps in how children and adolescents receive treatment. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it’s because since the incident last year, the number of young people who are admitted to mental health facilities has risen—but the number of available beds at a specialized facility has not.
Posted in Virginia Conversations on June 6, 2014
On this edition of Virginia Conversations, choosing a candidate to run against Senator Mark Warner. That’s at the top of the agenda as GOP leaders and followers gather this weekend in Roanoke for the Virginia Republican Convention. Four men are vying for the party’s nod to go against the popular Democrat. Our panel of political reporters weighs in on their chances with host May-Lily Lee.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 5, 2014
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 4, 2014
Although Virginia lawmakers are still locked in a stalemate over Medicaid expansion, over the next two days business leaders, health care providers, and technology innovators will be addressing the rising costs of healthcare and how to mitigate them—whether lawmakers reach a deal or not. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it’s all part of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Virginia Health Care Conference held in downtown Richmond.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 3, 2014
Average Internet access and connectivity costs in Virginia schools are more expensive than the national average, and now a nonprofit organization has chosen the Commonwealth for a free program that will discover why AND propose cost-lowering options.
Governor McAuliffe announced that the “EducationSuperHighway” will gather detailed information from all school divisions, analyze the data, and then provide technical assistance.
And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the governor emphasized that high-speed connectivity is now essential for both a 21st-century education AND economy.
Posted in Virginia's News on June 2, 2014
The derailment in Lynchburg of a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil in April could have been much worse … and procedures and policies should be revised to mitigate future risk. That’s the conclusion of a hearing in Richmond led by U.S. Senator Mark Warner… along with emergency responders, public agency heads, and corporate officials. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, one focus was on the vulnerabilities of transporting oil—and how to prevent such accidents from ever occurring.