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Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on August 19, 2014
Day 16 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife opened with Judge James Spencer thanking the jurors for being there—and saying that he had prayed for each of them last night. That was a subtle reference to the loss of three jurors since the proceedings began. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the defense continued with its witnesses and meticulously focused on McDonnell’s sister and real estate business partner—who, like his wife, is also named “Maureen.”
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on August 18, 2014
Day 15 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began with the replacement of a juror who had to go out-of-state for a family emergency. That leaves just one alternate juror in the event that any others are excused. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, this week the defense is calling the witnesses—in hopes of casting doubt on the prosecution’s case.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on August 18, 2014
One Virginia locality has taken a step toward ending its prohibition of fortune telling while another will offer a second chance to dogs that kill chickens. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A news link on V-PAP-dot- org. Fred Echols reports.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on August 17, 2014
“Not surprised—but still disappointing.” That statement from one of Virginia’s budget-writing committee leaders is the consensus of the others who heard a dismal financial report from Governor McAuliffe. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they nevertheless applaud the Governor for his leadership… and have already begun figuring out ways to address the projected shortfall.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on August 13, 2014
The prosecution is close to wrapping up its arguments in the federal trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. This time it focused primarily on how the former governor allegedly lied on mortgage refinance applications to cover up the loans given to him and the former first lady by ex-Star Scientific CEO, Jonnie Williams. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the federal courthouse in Richmond.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on August 11, 2014
Residents in counties around Richmond are up in arms about a plan to fertilize fields using industrial sludge and a Virginia sheriff is questioning the state’s moratorium on drones. 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 August 11, 2014
Governor McAuliffe has signed two executive orders to create a new framework within his administration to potentially help more children succeed. The goal is to develop, implement, and prioritize a policy agenda related to health, poverty, safety, education, nutrition, and housing. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the plan is to coordinate and strengthen public services on all levels —with a special focus on at-risk children in high-poverty communities.
Posted in Virginia's News on August 1, 2014
The Virginia Department of Forestry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and fans of the forests will mark the 70th birthday of the best known fire fighter – Smokey Bear. Sandy Hausman reports on a special art show organized to honor both.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on August 1, 2014
Day five of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, kicked off with the former first lady’s attorney cross-examining the prosecution’s key witness, ex-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the strategy seemed to include attributing most business dealings associated with the first family to Maureen and away from her husband.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 31, 2014
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 31, 2014
Day four of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, picked up where it left off the previous day—with the prosecution’s star witness, Jonnie Williams. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the former Star Scientific CEO detailed the gifts and loans he provided to the former first family—and the point where he knew he believed he was crossing ethical and legal lines.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 30, 2014
Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner helped introduce a bill today to combat the high rates of sexual assaults on college campuses. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 30, 2014
Day three in the trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, opened up with testimony from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams’ assistant, Jerri Fulkerson.
As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, she testified that not only did the former first couple accept lavish gifts from her boss, but their children also received favors.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 29, 2014
The second day of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began with instructions to the jury that they must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence—and not by leaks or media accounts. Prosecutor Jessica Aber recounted the indictment’s theory that the McDonnells exchanged official acts for gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the bombshells hit when the couple’s defense attorneys spoke.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 28, 2014
Jury selection began today in the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Prosecutors allege that the former first couple promoted Star Scientific’s products in exchange for gifts and mortgage loans from the company’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the first step on Monday was to try and choose a fair and impartial jury.
Virginia and three other states may soon be allowing gay marriage after a federal appeals court ruling in Richmond, but supporters of a ban are expected to ask for a Supreme Court hearing. Sandy Hausman has that story.
The U.S. House is preparing for a big debate this week over whether President Obama overstepped his power by delaying the health care mandate for businesses. Virginia lawmakers have much to say about the challenge.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on July 28, 2014
A Virginia town is exploring its options for regulating fortune telling…and the state has come up with a new idea for moving more people into farming. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie traveled to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, over the weekend to participate in a debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. The event produced one tidbit of news, as Tim Thornton reports.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 25, 2014
The political pundits will be keeping a watchful eye over this weekend’s events at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his GOP rival, Ed Gillespie, square off in a Virginia Bar Association-sponsored debate. But also watching from the outside is their Libertarian opponent, Robert Sarvis, who once again, was not invited to the dance. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil examines the question asked by many: Why?
With people still adjusting to their insurance policies and premiums under the Affordable Care Act, now might not be the ideal time to tell Virginians that sales taxes associated with some health procedures, prescriptions, and even Band Aids could be passed on to them. But that was one of the issues the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences has examined. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more.
The federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, begins on Monday. Federal prosecutors allege the former first couple performed official acts to promote Star Scientific’s products in exchange for roughly $165,000 in gifts and loans from its ex-CEO, Jonnie Williams—then failed to disclose most of those gifts. McDonnell says he never made such an agreement–and the company received NO quid pro quo. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan takes a closer look.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 25th annual Kids Count survey. And while Virginia has made progress in the areas of education and overall health, it still suggests that more children are living in impoverished homes and lack the community make-up or family foundation to help increase their likelihood of living successful lives. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains.
Lawmakers in the region are divided over how to deal with the president’s request for emergency money to deal with the flood of unaccompanied minors. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
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.
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.
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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on July 21, 2014
With 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.
House 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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on July 17, 2014
While 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 16, 2014
The 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.
Posted in Virginia's News on July 14, 2014
Most 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.
Another 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.
Posted in VaNews from VPAP on July 14, 2014
A 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.
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.
Posted in Daily Capitol News Updates on June 30, 2014
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.