The Invasion of the Blue Catfish

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Jamie Bowling nets a blue catfish, an invasive species in tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay (Credit: Joel McCord)

A few years ago, scientists began worrying that blue catfish, the much larger cousins of those squirmy, yellowish bottom feeders, might take over in Chesapeake Bay. They’re big—better than 100 pounds in some cases–voracious eaters and they’re prolific. So, at least one seafood wholesaler appropriated a slogan applied to other invasive fish–eat ‘em to beat ‘em—and began aggressively marketing them. And local watermen have found a new market and seemingly endless supply. Joel McCord has more.

The Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded by the participating stations with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, The Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Ann Hankin, The Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, The Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

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Is Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott Eyeing a Senate Seat?

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Credit: U.S. Congress

Virginia Beach Congressman Bobby Scott is stepping up his fundraising efforts and forming a new political action committee. It’s the clearest sign yet that he’s angling for the Senate seat that might be vacated by Tim Kaine if he becomes vice president. Michael Pope reports.

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After Disrepair and Default, Natural Bridge Becomes State Park

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Natural Bridge in Rockbridge, Virginia has finally become the Commonwealth’s newest State Park (Credit: Jeff Saif / Flickr)

The distinct limestone arch known as the Natural Bridge became Virginia’s newest State Park over the weekend. The celebration concludes a tense couple of years for the conservation nonprofit that battled disrepair and default to make it happen.  Jessie Knadler has the story.

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Oyster Farmers Clash With Homeowners and Boaters

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Oyster ground lease notifications at the post office in Burgess, VA (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

This week, Virginia Beach homeowners and recreational boaters unhappy with large metal oyster farming cages on their beaches and waterways asked state officials for help. Pamela D’Angelo has the story.

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Clinton Earns Endorsement From Prominent Republican

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Hillary Clinton is picking up a major Republican endorsement in Virginia, longtime Republican Senator John Warner. Michael Pope reports.

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VCU Sees Spike in Sexual Assault Reports

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During the first two months of school, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has logged 15 reports of sexual assault. That’s only five fewer than all of last year. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Health Insurance Premiums on the Rise in Virginia

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If you purchase health care in Virginia through the Obamacare marketplace, you might want to budget out a bit more in monthly payments this year. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, premiums are on the rise — and quickly.

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Five Billion Dollar Proposal to Tackle Largest Youth Incarceration Rate in World

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Credit: U.S. Congress

Many young people are disconnected from school and work, a situation that some say can lead to a life of crime and prison. In Virginia Beach, for example, 20 percent of blacks age 16 to 24 are not in school and have no job. Now one Virginia congressman has a very expensive solution. Michael Pope has the story from Capitol Hill.

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Broadband Access Remains Roadblock to Rural Prosperity

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Yesterday, Governor McAuliffe opened his annual Summit on Rural Prosperity. The event brings business leaders, delegates and state officials together for two days of economic brainstorming. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Could Help Decide Who Controls House of Representatives

Virginia_flag_mapDemocrats need to win thirty seats to regain control of the U.S. House, and to do that they must record some upsets on November 8th.  That could happen in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District where Tom Periello was elected in 2008. Sandy Hausman tells us why the pundits are watching this year’s contest.

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Black Population in Virginia Shifts from Richmond to Fairfax

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New Census numbers show a shift in Virginia’s African-American population, away from inner city centers and towards suburbs. Michael Pope is digging into the numbers.

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New Poll Shows Clinton Leads Among Virginia Voters

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Credit: The Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy / Christopher Newport University

Hillary Clinton continues to lead Donald Trump here in Virginia, according to a new poll from Christopher Newport University. Michael Pope reports.

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State Regulators Try to Solve Oyster Farming Conflict in Virginia Beach

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While oyster farming is a multi-million dollar industry in Virginia, there’s only so much space to grow them. In some places, it is the same space used by waterfront homeowners and recreational boaters, and that has led to conflicts that could mean removing some oyster farms. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Va News Topics: Prince William County Walk of Fame, Tax Delinquents Called Out

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

It’s not as flashy as the Hollywood version but Prince William County says its Walk of Fame will bring overdue recognition to those who’ve helped to build the community, and one Virginia city in need of revenue is calling out tax delinquents in public.  Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Absentee Voting Starts Today in Virginia

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Voting in Election 2016 is underway in Virginia. Absentee voting began this morning. As Michael Pope tells us, the last few election cycles have seen a dramatic rise in absentee balloting in Virginia.

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Reversing the Cycle of the Mobile Home Money Pit

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PART ONE

If you’re spending more than 30-per cent of your income on housing, you are officially ‘cost burdened’ according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  That means it’s tough to afford other necessities. But People who live in mobile homes can sometimes spend that on utility bills alone. And that means something that seems like an affordable housing option turns out to be a ‘mobile home money pit.’

 

PART TWO

Mobile homes used to be thought as one of the most affordable housing options in America, but a new study finds the opposite is often true. They often cost more to operate than stick built houses do and that means there’s less money available for basic necessities.  As Robbie Harris tells us in the second part of this report, affordable housing advocates are working on ways to help residents dig out of the mobile home money pit and start building wealth.

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Suffolk Delegate Arrested on Cruelty, Injury Charges

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A Virginia lawmaker known for his extreme opposition to abortion has been charged with cruelty and injury to children.  Richard Lee Morris of Suffolk was arrested earlier this week. Sandy Hausman reports.

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Richmond Home to 3rd Annual Pride Fest

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Credit: Virginia Pride

This Saturday more than 15,000 people from around central Virginia are expected to flock to Richmond for one of the state’s largest Gay Pride Festivals. Mallory Noe-Payne has the story.

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State Democrats Want a Change to Virginia’s Photo ID Law

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Opponents of Virginia’s photo ID law made their case today before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  They claim the requirement creates an unnecessary burden for people who want to vote. Sandy Hausman reports.

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Department of Education to Change Policies Over Principals and School Nurses

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Credit: Virginia Department of Education

Strapped for cash, some public schools in Virginia are operating without a principal or a nurse, but the state’s board of education met today to discuss requiring those jobs be filled. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Nuisance Flooding Closes, Delays Workday at Schools, Naval Base in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach

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Around the Chesapeake Bay, a stalled weather system and remnants of Tropical Storm Julia dumped between eight and 13 inches of rain over the past few days. Flooding closed and delayed schools in the eastern part of the state. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Virginia Superintendents Oppose Feds Directing Money to High-Poverty Schools

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A new federal rule that divides school funding based on need is under attack from Virginia’s superintendents. (Credit: Richard Lee / Flickr)

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are at odds over how to hand out federal dollars to local school divisions in Virginia and across the county. Michael Pope reports.

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Federal Court Considers Virginia’s Sentencing of Teenage Murderers

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Jason Clem was 16 when, in the course of robbing the restaurant he worked at, he murdered his boss. Clem was sentenced to a life term. Now, 12 years later, Clem’s lawyers argue that punishment is unconstitutional. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond heard his case Tuesday. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Should Virginia Take Partisanship Out of its Elections?

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This year, only one congressional race in Virginia is competitive. That means almost all the members of Virginia’s congressional delegation are in totally safe seats. During the General Assembly election last year, NONE of the incumbents lost their seats. Now, one member of the House of Delegates says it’s time to introduce some more competition into the process. Michael Pope reports.

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In Light of McDonnell Case, Some Virginia Lawmakers Want A Stricter Federal Bribery Statute

Virginia_flag_mapNow that prosecutors have dropped bribery charges against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are calling for tightening the federal bribery statute. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.

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Petersburg’s Financial Woes Worry State Lawmakers

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Petersburg has a looming deadline for a $1.4 million bill to the state. That’s just one concern of many when it comes to the city’s pressing financial problems. Virginia’s lawmakers are starting to wonder how the city’s finances will affect the state. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Ed Gillespie Leads GOP Candidates for Governor in New Poll

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Campaign 2016 will end in a matter of weeks, which means that campaign 2017 is already starting to take shape behind the scenes. Michael Pope has new details on the race for governor. Michael Pope has new details on the race for governor.

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Va News Topics: University of Virginia’s Architectural Centerpiece, New Tech for Hampton Roads

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The University of Virginia’s architectural centerpiece is about to reopen after a four-year renovation and at least one exciting historical discovery, and new technology will soon allow people in water-challenged Hampton Roads to reuse much of what they’re sending down the drain. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Bobby Scott Leads as Potential Senate Pick, Although Campaign Finance Could Be Stumbling Block

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Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott is ramping up his presence on Capitol Hill, appearing at a Hillary Clinton campaign event this week and sending new fundraising emails. Michael Pope has this look at his campaign finance record.

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State Lawmakers Want Changes to the Constitution Over Felon Voting Rights

Virginia_flag_mapPer Virginia’s constitution, any felon — violent and nonviolent — can’t vote unless their rights are restored by the Governor. It’s been the subject of a summer’s-long court battle that finally ended this week. However, the conversation over changes to Virginia’s laws on the matter are just getting started. Mallory Noe-Payne has the story.

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Will Foreign Hackers Attack Voter Registration Rolls in Virginia?

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Will Virginia’s election this year be hacked? As Michael Pope tells us from Capitol Hill, that is a growing concern in Washington.

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Census: Virginia Incomes Up, Poverty Down

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Credit: United States Census Bureau

Virginians are making more money than they did last year, incomes have risen, and fewer families are living in poverty. That’s according to data released today by the census. Mallory Noe-Payne has the details.

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VCU Hosts Southern Film Festival

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One film featured at VCU’s Southern Film Festival tells the story of a slave who bought her freedom. (Credit: elycefeliz / Flickr)

One film featured at VCU’s Southern Film Festival tells the story of a slave who bought her freedom.

The seventh annual Southern Film Festival begins this week in Richmond. Organized by VCU, the event starts Thursday and runs through Monday. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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How Many Votes Did Your Member of Congress Miss Last Year?

Virginia_flag_mapMichael Pope is digging into the numbers.

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Eastern Shore Competes with Florida for Navy Drone Contract, 400 New Personnel

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A MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (Credit: U.S. Navy)

NASA Wallops is competing with two other sites in Florida to become the East Coast home base for a naval drone surveillance program that would require 400 new personnel. As part of the process the Navy is asking for public comment on its draft assessment of potential effects the facility might have on the environment. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

Copies of the draft assessment are available at:

  • Wallops Flight Facility Visitor’s Center, Building J20, VA-175, Wallops Island, VA 23337
  • Eastern Shore Public Library, 23610 Front Street, Accomac, VA 23301
  • Chincoteague Island Library, 4077 Main Street, Chincoteague Island, VA 23336
  • Pocomoke Public Library, 301 Market Street, Pocomoke City, MD 21851

You can download a copy of the draft assessment here, and if you would like to make a comment you can visit the Fleet Forces Command website.

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Report: Decline in Manufacturing Employment Not Due to Overregulation

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Credit: Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission

State regulations don’t seem to be hampering Virginia’s manufacturing businesses. That’s according to a new report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the state’s independent research agency. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Bobby Scott Joins House Military Vets in Show of Support for Clinton

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Democrats are hoping that Donald Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail may be able to help them with military voters in Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

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Lawmakers Struggle Over Solution To Potential Government Shutdown

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Congress is back after taking the summer off and lawmakers are wrangling over how to keep the federal government’s lights on after funding runs out at the end of the month. Matt Laslo reports from the Capitol that Virginia lawmakers are upset that they’re left with few good options.

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What’s Next for Embattled Former Governor Bob McDonnell?

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Now that embattled former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife are out of legal jeopardy, what’s next for the man who was once a rising star in Republican politics? Michael Pope has the story.

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Va News Topics: School Principal Reprimanded

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

In Virginia’s public schools not many things are more critical than Standards of Learning Tests – known as the SOL’s. Now a highly honored school principal has been reprimanded for a series of phone calls made to parents ahead of this years final testing period. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org.

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Virginia Lawmaker Asking for Complete Overhaul of U.S. Tax Code

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One Virginia congressman is hoping to throw the entire U.S. tax code in the trash can and start over. Michael Pope reports from Capitol Hill.

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Roanoke Preschool to Receive State Funding

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Governor Terry McAuliffe during a visit to Greenvale in Roanoke Thursday. Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / WVTF

Governor Terry McAuliffe was in Roanoke today to visit a preschool. The school is receiving money through a new grant program that’s part of a state-wide focus on early childhood education. Nick Gilmore reports.

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Executive Overreach or Prosecutorial Discretion? Congress Debates ‘Slush Funds’

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Do federal prosecutors have a slush fund? One Virginia congressman says they do, and he wants to bring an end to it. Michael Pope has the story.

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Major Virginia Paper Endorses Third-Party Candidate for President

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This strange political season has thrown another curve ball, an endorsement from one of Virginia’s largest newspapers to a third-party candidate. The unusual move made national headlines over Labor Day weekend. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Virginians To Have Several Options on Presidential Ballot This Year

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Election officials in Virginia have put the finishing touches on the presidential ballot this year, which will have five choices for voters. Michael Pope has the story.

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Va News Topics: Toll Road Issue, Small Town Online Data Center

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

A small Virginia town has learned that landing a major online data center is not the economic windfall it once appeared to be, and a Virginia woman thought she was all paid up on the Dulles Toll Road until she found out she wasn’t. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org.

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Lawmakers Working to Break Cycles Within Juvenile Criminal Justice System

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What happens when children get involved in the criminal justice system? Oftentimes, they get sent to large juvenile facilities, which critics say leads to a cycle of getting re-arrested and ultimately a life of crime and imprisonment. Now state leaders are trying to break that cycle. Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Wine Sales Reach Record Highs

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Virginia wine is going places. Sales of state-made wine and hard-cider reached a record high in fiscal year 2016. Mallory Noe-Payne has the story.

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Republicans Take Aim At Mandatory Donations to Left-Wing Groups

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Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who introduced the Stop Slush Funds Act of 2016. Credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Do federal prosecutors have a slush fund? That question is behind a bill currently under consideration by Congress, one that is about to get a vote next week. Michael Pope reports.

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Republicans Want Virginia Supreme Court to Hold Governor in Contempt

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Republican leaders in the General Assembly say the Virginia Supreme Court should hold Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in contempt of court for his action to restore voting rights to former felons. Michael Pope has the story.

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