Connie Stevens

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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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Rainy Day Fund

Potential State Budget ReductionsThe 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.

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Eric Cantor Defeated By Tea Party Candidate In Virginia Primary

Cantor01

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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:

Steve Helber/AP

Steve Helber/AP

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.

 

 

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Searching for Rare Earth Minerals in Virginia

BastnasiteMetals 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.

 

 

periodic-table_photo1The 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.

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Politics & New EPA Ruling

US SenateThe E-P-A’s new rule to drastically curb carbon pollution is now playing a key role in the Virginia Senate race.  Matt Laslo reports.

 

 

 

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VaNews for 06.09.14

VPAPnewVirginia 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.

 

 

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Children & Mental Health Treatment

VoicesWhile 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.

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Virginia Conversations: Political News

Politics2On 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Immigration Talk on the Hill

istock_000029631418large-copyProponents of comprehensive immigration reform blame two Virginia Republicans for inaction on the issue in the House. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Chamber of Commerce Health Care Conference

ChamberAlthough 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.

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EducationSuperHighway

EdSuperHighwayAverage 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.

 

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Meeting on Rail Safety

Warner at Rail Safety HearingThe 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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VaNews for 06.02.14

VPAPnewVirginia localities react – or don’t – to a Supreme Court ruling on prayer by government bodies and a state senator from Northern Virginia speaks out in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Those have been 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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Virginia Conversations: Talking with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine

My Approved PortraitsOn this edition of Virginia Conversations, Senator Tim Kaine drops by for a visit.  Everything’s on the table for discussion – from international events, to the November elections, and the current fight in the Virginia General Assembly over Medicaid expansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Open for Business or Upcoming Shutdown?

StateCapitolFor weeks, speculation has run rampant at the State Capitol over what authority Governor McAuliffe might have under the Virginia Constitution to keep the state operating if a budget is not passed by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Attorneys for the nonpartisan Division of Legislative Services were asked to advise state lawmakers about executive options for paying bills or mitigating a government shutdown.  At the heart of the issue is the constitutional requirement for separation of powers and co-equal branches—and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the answer is … complicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VA News for 05.26.14

VPAPnewIt was raises and pink slips for McDonald’s employees in Southside Virginia…and a school board member in Fairfax has changed his prom night plans after a public stir over his Twitter exchange with a student. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

 

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Dual Enrollment Benefits

GraduationVirginia’s junior U.S. Senator is backing a federal dual-enrollment bill that would enable more students to attend high school while earning college credits. Senator Tim Kaine tells Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil that his family saved money through a dual enrollment program—and similar initiatives nationally could help put more students through college.

 

 

 

 

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Threat to Great Dismal Swamp

Greg Sanders, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsnortheast/6044721273)

Greg Sanders, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsnortheast/6044721273)

Summer is just about here,  and in many of the nation’s national parks, that means forest fires.  Here in Virginia, it may also bring a different kind of blaze – one that threatens a vast wetland and wildlife refuge near Norfolk.

After losing thousands of acres in years past, experts have come up with a plan for saving the Great Dismal Swamp.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

 

 

 

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Virginia Conversations: State Park Road Trip

VSParks02

 

On this edition of Virginia Conversations, we’re kicking off the unofficial start to summer with your road trip plans.  Host May-Lily Lee and guests look at some of the top vacation spots around the state, and find out what’s new at Virginia’s State Parks.

Resources from the program:

Virginia Tourism Corporation
(Including List of Events Around the Commonwealth)

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
(Including List of Virginia’s State Parks)

Virtual Tour of Virginia’s State Parks

Hampton History Museum

Roanoke Valley Information

Virginia’s Blue Ridge

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Brown vs. Board of Education Anniversary

WKNnettie.jpgGovernor McAuliffe marked the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, with a visit to a Richmond high school.

African-American students from Virginia had joined that case in the 1950s after walking out of their racially segregated school in protest of its dilapidated conditions and inferior curriculum.

And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the governor provided a brief civics lesson—tying issues six decades ago to issues today.

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Beer & Hymns

Beer Hymns 01As churches struggle to keep young Americans in the fold, some are moving their services to surprising places.  In Charlottesville, more than three dozen of the faithful assemble at a bar each month to drink beer and sing hymns.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

 

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Climate Change & Election Season

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARepublicans say a new Environmental Protection Agency rule will kill jobs in Virginia and they see it as a way to win November’s election. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

 

 

 

 

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Harmonizing Harmonicas

harmonica

Photo: Eric Shimelonis

It’s said the harmonica was invented by German instrument maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in 1821. Nearly 100 years later, a man was born who would take his passion for the harmonica to another level… and keep it there for nearly another 100 years.
Rebecca Sheir introduces us to Virginia resident Jack Hopkins who… at age 94… has had a longer love affair with the harmonica than most.

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Allegations of Gerrymandering

Three Virginia plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to delay the upcoming June primaries—AND if lawmakers fail to implement a new congressional redistricting plan, impose one himself. Although the plan was pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department,  both sides of a lawsuit that alleges gerrymandering began presenting their case, which is expected to carry over into Thursday.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the U.S. District Courthouse in Richmond.

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Crisis Intervention

CrisisHundreds of law enforcement officers, behavioral health specialists, and other community advocates gathered in Richmond  for a statewide conference that brought together Virginia’s Crisis Intervention Teams. The C-I-Ts increase collaboration among first responders, mental health treatment-providers, and agencies to de-escalate behavioral health crises and help individuals obtain the care they need. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie reports, while challenges still remain, the CITs appear to be working.

 

 

 

 

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More Arrests in Kevin Quick Murder Investigation

KevinQuick

Kevin Quick Photo Courtesy: Virginia State Police

More charges today against nine defendants linked to the alleged kidnapping and murder of Waynesboro Reserve Police Captain Kevin Quick.
The charges and more than two dozen others are now unsealed, and link Quick’s death to  Bloods gang members and what’s known as the 99 Goon Syndikate.
In a 39-page indictment, charges linked to the group include robbery, larceny, burglary, obstruction of justice, kidnapping, carjacking, malicious wounding, drug trafficking, conspiracy and murder.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy held a news conference today in Charlottesville.

 

 

 

 

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Resurrecting The American Chestnut Tree

AmericanChestnutAmerican Chestnut trees used make up 25% of the Appalachian forest. A blight, in the early 1900s changed that, and today they’re all but gone from the forests from Georgia to Maine. But the tree left us a way to resurrect it from the dead, and with it, a kind of message: Only with the help of human beings will the towering Chestnuts return. Robbie Harris prepared this report about people working to resurrect them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia Conversations: Jobs for Virginia Graduates

Jobs for Virginia Graduates students participate in a class discussion with a guest speaker. Photo by Iva Quint.

Jobs for Virginia Graduates students participate in a class discussion with a guest speaker. Photo by Iva Quint.

On this edition of Virginia Conversations, making the transition from high school to the work force.
That’s the mission of “Jobs for Virginia Grads”.  This state-funded organization helps disadvantaged and at-risk teens graduate from high school, then find and keep quality jobs.

 

Additional Resource: Jobs Corps (Virginia Locations)

 

 

 

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Federal Court Considers Gay Marriage Ban

same-sex marriageVirginia’s potentially landmark case on gay marriage is now in the hands of a federal appeals court, where it could stay for weeks, or even months.  Connie Stevens reports.

 

 

 

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Getting Game On Line

HuntingApp03Since the advent of smart phones, thousands of applications have come on the market.  You can buy one to help identify bird calls or constellations.  Another makes random sounds — a drum roll or a sad trombone for example.  I-steam fogs up the screen of your phone, allowing you to write things with your finger, and now Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is working on an app to make hunting and fishing simpler.  Hawes Spencer has that story.

 

 

 

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Lawmakers Eye Developments with Veterans Affairs

Stock Photo/morguefile.com

Stock Photo/morguefile.com

This week embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to face a Senate panel after veterans groups and some lawmakers have called for his resignation. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Six-Year Transportation Plan

VDOTEvery year V-DOT brings before the public a six year improvement program that includes new projects along with those that have been on the shelf for years, or even decades. But, this year’s prioritizing may come undone.  Tab O’Neal reports.

 

 

 

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VaNews for 05.12.14

VPAPnewLegal partying turns rowdy in Northern Virginia while a crowd of illegal drug users keeps it peaceful in Nelson County. Those stories have been among the most read this past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

 

 

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New Americans

NaturalizationWithin the halls of the oldest representative body in the U.S., in the very same seats that Virginia lawmakers craft legislation, sat 44 people from 32 different countries who, for the first time, were called “Americans.” As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it was all part of a naturalization ceremony at the State Capitol that, for some, marked a decades-long journey for U.S. citizenship.

 

 

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Virginia Conversations: Virginia Values Veterans

final color logoOn this edition of the program,  helping veterans get jobs after serving in the military.   We’ll tell you about a program that’s helping vets by educating and training companies that might hire them.  It’s called “Virginia Values Veterans” – it helps business leaders see the value in hiring, training, and retaining men and women from the armed forces.
V3 (Virginia Values Veterans)
Virginia Employment Commission
Virginia Workforce Connection
OppInc (Opportunity Inc) Veteran Career Center, Hampton Roads
Virginia Transition Assistance Program (offered through V3)
Virginia Wounded Warrior Program

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Dominion Power Slowly Heeding Push to Go Greener

Phil Hollman/Wikimedia Commons

Phil Hollman/Wikimedia Commons

Shareholders hoping to push Dominion Power to go green are celebrating today, after four resolutions they proposed won about 20% support at the utility’s annual meeting.  Such resolutions are not binding, but they can be influential.  Sandy Hausman has more on that story.

 

 

 

 

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Slavery Museum: Location Negotiations

First_African_Baptist_Church_Richmond_VAFormer Governor Doug Wilder says he’s received lots of inquiries regarding the future of a proposed National Slavery Museum, so he’s revealed what he hopes to be its new location. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while Fredericksburg is no longer a consideration, Wilder says a historic church now owned by Virginia Commonwealth University would be ideal.

 


In a written statement, Wilder says that since funds for the Museum were included in the new state budget, it is the intention of the National Slavery Museum to further these discussions with the appropriate authorities, including the State Legislature and the Governor.
Wilder says he envisioned a museum in downtown Richmond, not far from where slaves were traded and herded like cattle, but at the same location where they found hope.

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Transportation Woes Could Mean More Highway Tolls

Tolls03By the end of this summer, the U.S. Trust Fund that pays a significant share of highway construction and repairs will be insolvent, and authorization for transportation programs will expire soon after that.  New legislation unveiled by the U.S. Transportation Department includes a provision to lift a decades-old ban …and allow all states to implement tolls on federal interstate highways across the U.S. –while also requiring electronic transponders.  But, the new federal tolling proposal is already coming under fire.

 

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Remote Area Medical

Stan Brock, Remote Area Medical

Stan Brock, Remote Area Medical

A nonprofit organization that brings free medical care to underserved communities has announced the establishment of a state office and a permanent presence in Virginia. “Remote Area Medical” has been offering regular, mobile clinics in Southwest Virginia that have attracted thousands of patients needing care. RAM intends to expand operations—including to other regions of the Commonwealth.

 

 

 

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Rising Cost of Treatments Driving up Health Care Costs

HealthCostsThe cost of health care has been rising faster than other sectors for decades, to the point where today, one of every five dollars is spent there.  But exactly why that is, has not been well understood, until now.  Robbie Harris has this report.

 

 

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VaNews for 05.05.14

VPAPnewFinancial troubles at a small private college in Virginia are raising questions about what will happen to the professional archives of Bristol’s most famous native son….and historic sites across the Commonwealth are in danger of being lost to development and neglect.

Those have been among the most read stories this past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s  VaNews link on vpap.org.

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State Colleges & Universities Scramble for a Backup Plan

studentWe’re officially into the second month of the Virginia General Assembly’s stalemate over Medicaid expansion—and NO two-year budget. While there’s discussion of a possible government shutdown if lawmakers don’t reach a compromise by July first, state business must continue in the interim. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that means the state’s colleges and universities are now discussing contingency plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia Conversations: Virginia Voices

VAVoices04Ready for a  shot at co-starring in a new film?  The Virginia Historical Society is asking Virginians to shoot a short video, the best of which will be in a film capturing the spirit of The Old Dominion.  Host May-Lily Lee talks to the President of the Historical Society and the producer of the film – “Virginia Voices”.

 

 

 

For more information about the project, click here.

 

 

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Chemical Spills & Waterways: What’s the Solution?

Photo: WSET

Photo: WSET

There have been a dozen toxic spills from railroad cars in North America over the last year and three cases of river pollution in this region over the past four months. Are these accidents happening more often?   Should this country have rail lines and toxic storage facilities so close to its waterways, and what’s being done to prevent future problems? We asked Sandy Hausman to find answers.

 

 

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Federal Lawmakers Tackle Energy Efficiency

EnergyEfficiencyNext week the U-S Senate is expected to have a debate on a bill that would modernize the federal government’s use of energy, but it could get derailed by an oil pipeline in the Midwest. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

 

 

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Train Derailment in Lynchburg

Lynchburg

Photo from LuAnn Hunt, City of Lynchburg

The National Transportation Safety Board has a team in place in Lynchburg, trying to determine the cause and the environmental impact of yesterday’s CSX train derailment downtown that plunged three oil-carrying tanker cars into the James River and the resulting massive fire.  Connie Stevens has more.

 

 

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Six Appointed to Transporation Board

transMajor changes are unfolding in how transportation planning takes place in Virginia. Either one-third of the 18-member Commonwealth Transportation Board have had their terms expire or were “transitioned off,” according to Governor McAuliffe.  As Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor says the six new members he’s appointing will greatly contribute to easing congestion on the roads, promoting economic development, and supporting local communities.

 

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Tax-Equality for Same-Sex Couples

TaxEqualityWhile Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is being challenged, supporters of overturning the ban are optimistic that eventually, gay and lesbian couples will have the freedoms that other married couples do.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, in the meantime, some are calling on the governor, attorney general, and lawmakers to make life easier for those who were married outside of Virginia—and it’s as simple as changing the state tax code.

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Map of the Climate

Earth02Scientists studying climate change have focused on greenhouse gases – how we can  produce less or maybe remove some of what’s already in the atmosphere, but a team at the University of Virginia will take a different approach as Sandy Hausman reports.

 

 

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