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VaNews: Privacy, Free Speech & Civility

VPAPnewElectronic license plate readers are back in the news in Virginia but this time it’s not because they’re on police cars…and Norfolk City Council is trying to find a balance between free speech and civility at its meetings. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. More from Fred Echols.

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Lawmakers Continue Debating Privacy Issues

license plate readerGovernment surveillance and data collection are some of the privacy issues still being debated well after the 2015 General Assembly session has ended.  It’s because Governor McAuliffe has taken action following the Reconvened Session–by signing one bill limiting the use of drones, but vetoing another that would restrict how much and how long data can be retained by law enforcement. As Tommie McNeil reports,  the Governor explains why to a group of journalists pressing him for answers.

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Business Appreciation Month

McAuliffe Bus AppreciationGovernor McAuliffe has kicked off Business Appreciation Month with a dedication to some of Virginia’s oldest businesses. He says during the month of MAY, he will make a series of economic development announcements that highlight his efforts to bring more jobs to the Commonwealth. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one official explains that companies without the traditional “corporate” profile will also feature interesting events to look forward to throughout the rest of the year.

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Say It Out Loud

Say ItOne in five teens suffers from mental illness, but many don’t want to discuss their struggles, making diagnosis more difficult. That’s the impetus for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Say it Out Loud campaign…to get young people talking. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil visited NAMI’s Richmond headquarters and met some young people who are doing just that.

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Heavy Toll of Distracted Driving

DistractedIt hasn’t made many headlines, but this is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month—and Virginia has announced that more than 24,000 crashes statewide last year were attributed to distracted drivers.  Those distractions caused both fatalities and thousands of injuries.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, state officials stress that such accidents can  be prevented.

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VA News: National Motto, Political Opinions

VPAPnewA Floyd County bailiff has lost his job after expressing his political opinion and Madison County Supervisors got into a spat about whether or not to post the national motto in their chambers. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights

Victims' RightsAs advocates mark National Crime Victims Week, in Virginia they’re marking the 20th anniversary of the state’s very own Crime Victims Bill of Rights.  But experts say those provisions, said to have given sufferers more rights with teeth, are also more relevant now as the state deals with proposals to address campus sexual assaults.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

 

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Efforts to Stave Off Sequestration

US CAPVirginia lawmakers are all hoping to avert another round of those indiscriminate federal budget cuts known as sequestration.  But as Matt Laslo reports, it seems like those budget cuts are barreling back down on the commonwealth next year.

 

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Predicting Virginia’s Cancer Rates to 2040

Cancer CellCancer is the leading cause of death across Virginia and the nation.  A new study predicts the number of new cancer cases as the population ages. Beverly Amsler reports.

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Police Force & Body Cameras

(Second from right) Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin Wright  explains how his agency uses body-worn cameras.

(Second from right) Chesapeake Police Chief Kelvin Wright explains how his agency uses body-worn cameras.

As the public conversation continues about the appropriate use of police force, a number of state lawmakers are proposing the use of body-worn cameras by public safety personnel to document what happens during traffic stops and other interactions. That has prompted a Secure Commonwealth Panel subcommittee to thoroughly examine all of the issues surrounding use of the cameras in the Commonwealth. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they turn out to be far more complex than just strapping on a camera and recording police business.

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Lawmakers Take on the Fight of the Pamunkey Tribe

Pamunkey Tribe Smithsonian Institution #888

Pamunkey Tribe Smithsonian Institution #888

Virginia’s Pamunkey Tribe was dealt a setback in its effort to gain federal recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Matt Laslo has the details on how civil rights groups and a big casino may be winning the century’s old fight of the Pamunkey.

 

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Transparency Virginia Monitors General Assembly

Richmond First

Richmond First’s Michael Jackson discusses the findings with other Transparency Virginia members.

A coalition of nonprofit and advocacy organizations says the General Assembly’s legislative process needs to be more open and clear to the public. Members of “Transparency Virginia” attended more than three-quarters of the Assembly’s 101 committee and subcommittee meetings during its recent session. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they found a less-than-stellar record of adequate notice for meetings, recorded votes, and full consideration of bills.

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University of Mary Washington’s Board Votes No to Divesting

UMW ProtestStudents at the University of Mary Washington spent three weeks sitting-in at the administration building – demanding the school consider selling its investments in coal.  As a major producer of greenhouse gas, they argued that fuel was putting the Earth at risk, but the school’s  board didn’t see the point, and its president says two students will be prosecuted.  Sandy Hausman has details.

 

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Virginia’s Solar Farm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim Johnson on his farm.

Virginia is juggling a host of contentious alternative energy proposals. An offshore wind farm, hydrofracking in a national forest and a 550-mile gas pipeline that cuts through the state.

But there’s one project on the Eastern Shore that has moved along quietly despite being the largest of its kind in the state. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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ABLE Savings Trust: Lighten the Load

McAuliffe SignsLegislation signed by Governor McAuliffe creates what he says is the first state that establishes a trust account for certain people with disabilities. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains what the new law does.

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Student Leader’s Bloody Arrest Sparks Outrage at UVA

Photo: Black Dot

Photo: Black Dot

A Virginia State Police investigation is underway regarding the March 18th arrest of an honored UVA student in Charlottesville by state ABC officers.  During the incident, the student was injured and a picture of him on the ground and bleeding from the head spread quickly on social media.

Governor Terry McAullife has ordered an administrative review, and at the request of the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, a criminal investigation is also underway. Hawes Spencer reports.

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“Kill the Bees, Kill the Economy”

HoneybeeAnnually for about 13 years, Virginia—like many other states—has been losing about 30% of its honey bee population to a host of problems.

Some might think that there’s no need to worry.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports,  aside from the delicious honey they produce, bees are a major contributor to the production of Virginia agriculture, the state’s top commodity.

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Concerns Over Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

College LectureLegislation that addresses campus sexual assaults is already on Governor McAuliffe’s desk—but before he signs off, amends, or vetoes anything, he has the input from members of his Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence to consider. The legislation requires campus employees to report sexual violence allegations to the Title IX [9] coordinator, who must report the allegation to a review team that meets within 72 hours.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one subcommittee believes that while the legislation is a good first step, there’s more work ahead.

The legislation also states that if the review team determines that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the victim or others, the Title IX coordinator would be required to disclose the information to the relevant law-enforcement agency.

 

 

 

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Shining Light on Virginia’s Death Row

Sunshine WeekThis week civic groups and nonprofits are taking a closer look at the importance of open government and freedom of information for Sunshine week.   To that end, WAMU reporter Michael Pope is looking deeper into Virginia’s Death Row.

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Cracking Down on Cyber Bullying

Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown presents plaque to Tammy Garcia.

Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown presents plaque to Tammy Garcia.

In the future, Virginia will pass laws to help prevent and punish cyberbullying—if the Bedford County Sheriff gets his way.Sheriff Mike Brown was shocked by cases of tragic suicides that have followed bullying on the Internet and social media, so he is raising public awareness in the meantime. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, Brown plans to distribute DVDs that educate people about cyberbullying to every school in the Commonwealth.

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Alumnae Rally for Returning Sweet Briar Students

Students sing the "Holla Holla" song atop Monument Hill on Sunday. Photo by Hawes Spencer.

Students sing the “Holla Holla” song atop Monument Hill on Sunday. Photo by Hawes Spencer.

Alumnae of Sweet Briar, whose board voted to shut down the 114-year-old women’s college at the end of the summer, are brewing a fight. On Sunday, however, they turned their attention to embracing the students. Hawes Spencer reports.

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VaNews for 03.15.16

VPAPnewEven though Virginia imposes a financial penalty on localities when they create bike lanes on public streets Richmond has been given one year to do so without losing any money….and a Henrico County woman had to take drastic action to defend herself against a rabid raccoon. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews on vpap.org.  Fred Echols reports.

 

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Was Sweet Briar’s Board Rash or Reasonable?

SweetBriarUpdate

Photo: Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar College was founded in 1901 when Indiana Fletcher Williams left her entire estate, including the Sweet Briar Plantation, to found an institution in the name of her deceased daughter, Daisy. 114 years later, the school unexpectedly announced its closure – sending shockwaves through alumnae, academia, and Amherst County.  Did the board act prudently, or did it move hastily?  Hawes Spencer reports.

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More Access to Dental Care

Gov. McAuliffe announces dental benefits at the VCU School  of Dentistry.The state’s Medicaid and FAMIS programs have traditionally authorized dental services for enrollees up to the age of 21. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, one group of adults will now have access to dental care under a new program announced by Governor McAuliffe.
 

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Forum on Pipeline Projects

pipeline mapMore than 130 people gathered in Virginia Western Community College’s Whitman Auditorium today to learn more about natural gas pipelines.

Sponsored by The Cabell Brand Center, the forum sought to present arguments from both supporters and opponents of those pipelines… with explanation about the roles local, state and federal governments play in evaluating proposals for three pipelines planned to cross Virginia. Tim Thornton reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlottesville Aims Hidden Cameras on Own Workers

LONGO hawes

Chief Longo urging City Council to approve public surveillance cameras. Photo: Hawes Spencer

Charlottesville Police have planted as many as a dozen hidden cameras over the past few years – not to watch for criminals but to keep an eye on city employees. Not surprisingly, that’s causing controversy as Hawes Spencer reports.

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Anti-Hunger Initiative in High-Poverty Schools

U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Gov.  McAuliffe, and Rep. Bobby Scott watch as First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe  speaks at the announcement.

U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Gov. McAuliffe, and Rep. Bobby Scott watch as First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe speaks at the announcement.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Virginia’s governor and first lady to announce an $8.8 million federal grant for an anti-hunger initiative in some of the state’s high-poverty schools. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the demonstration project will provide students in selected schools with breakfast, lunch, and after-school supper—as well as non-perishable food to take home on weekends and breaks.

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Surf’s Up: The Art of Ryan McGinness

Year_2014_1Artist Ryan McGinness spent his teen years surfing, riding skateboards and making art in Virginia Beach.  Today, his brightly colored works – which incorporate strong graphics, signs and logos from popular culture, hang in museums around the world.  He’s based in Manhattan, but next month he comes back to share his ideas and techniques with kids from his hometown as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Push for Virginia Students May Have Backfired at Sweet Briar

SweetBriar

Photo Credit: Sweet Briar College

The news that Sweet Briar College would close after 114 years of educating women caught many by surprise. But to one veteran educator, it’s the culmination of a financial disaster wrought by rising costs, changing tastes, and more affordable alternatives. Hawes Spencer prepared this report.

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Measuring School Performance

classroomShould they be signed into law by Governor McAuliffe, bills recently passed by the General Assembly would modify some of the scrutiny of school systems that meet state standards.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the state would also create a different method to inform parents of how well those schools are doing.

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Tangier Island Missing Oyster Floats

Oyster CageIt’s been a rough winter out on the Chesapeake Bay for Virginia’s Tangier Island. Last month, Virginia Army National Guard flew in supplies after residents were trapped by thick ice from days of freezing temperatures and snow. Now, island watermen and a group of Richmond investors including former State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have been dealt another blow by mother nature. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Lawmakers Build on Education Reform Bills

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

A large number of public education reform bills made it through this year’s General Assembly session. As Tommie McNeil reports, the sponsor of many of the House bills says lawmakers wanted to build on last year’s successes with the SOL reforms.

 

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Parents of Slain Students See Jesse Matthew for the First Time

Jesse Matthew

Jesse Matthew

The parents of slain college students Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham got their first look at the man they believe killed their daughters. Hawes Spencer reports.

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VA News for 3.2.15: Deer Hunting, Southern Virginia University Policies

VPAPnewA plan to bring deer hunters into an Albemarle County’s subdivision has neighbors at odds with one another…and a Virginia university that primarily educates Mormon students has been cleared of an anti-gay harassment accusation but told to institute some new policies. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports. S

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March is Mediation Month

handshakeGovernor McAuliffe has named March “Mediation Month” in the Commonwealth, to honor the work done in courts and other resolution centers.  As Beverly Amsler reports, The Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution and the Virginia Mediation Network are promoting several free seminars during the month.

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Lawmakers Pass State Budget

Virginia_State_CapitolNo 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.

 

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Lawmakers Consider Tighter Guidlines on Home Daycare Providers

Day-Care-CenterRecent 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.

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UVA Students Vote On Softening 1842 Honor Code

HonorCodeFor 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.

 

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Traveling Through Virtual Art History

DivinationWhen 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.

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Lawmakers Consider “Right to Try” for Terminally Ill Patients

Aimee Hardy advocates for the legislation

Aimee Hardy advocates for the legislation.

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.

 

 

 

 

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UVA Looks to History, Italy in Fixing Rotunda

Rotunda Sullivan

UVA President Teresa Sullivan shows off a Carrara marble capital. Photo: Hawes Spencer

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.

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Rallying the Legislators: Richmond’s Bell Tower

Belltower1 (1)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.

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Obamacare on the Ropes

ACALawsuitOne 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.  

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Governor Declares State of Emergency for Virginia

Gov State PrepsWith 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.”

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VaNews from VPAP: Most Read Stories

VPAPnewVirginia’s James City County paid $25-million to buy water it never bought and may have to pay $33-million more…

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.

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Reigning in Restraints of School Kids

SchoolhouseWhen 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.

 

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Budget Day in Richmond Runs Smoother

First day of the legislative sessionBoth 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.

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Lawmakers Promise Rate Freeze, But Electric Bills May Still Rise

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

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.

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Jesse Matthew Jr. Indicted in Murder of Hannah Graham

Matthew GrahamNearly five months after University of Virginia student Hannah Graham went missing, the man last seen with her has now been indicted for murder.  Hawes Spencer reports.

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DNA Could Offer Another Avenue for Serial’s Syed

Deidre EnrightThe 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.

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