Could 2017 Be the Year Former Felons Get Their Voting Rights Back?

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Two proposals for the restoration of felon voting rights in the state are currently on the table. (Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons)

This just might be the year that Virginia’s constitution starts to change: to allow people convicted of a felony to more easily get their voting rights back. But there are multiple proposals on the table, and advocates for former felons are pushing hard. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Senate Panel Votes to Crack Down on Internet Loans

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Senator Scott Surovell presents the bill to members of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. (Credit: Michael Pope)

In Richmond, lawmakers are cracking down on internet loans. Michael Pope has the story.

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Proposed Legislation Would Make January 22nd a “Day of Tears” in Virginia

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Anne Fitzgerald (right) of the Day of Tears nonprofit says she would like to see other state take action similar to the one Virginia is considering. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates are about to consider an effort to create a Day of Tears in Virginia. As Michael Pope tells us from the Capitol, the idea is to mourn the loss of unborn children to abortion.

 

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Virginia Democrats Rally for Healthcare

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Richmond was the scene of two rallies over the weekend, one of which dealt with Republican’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Credit: Creative Commons)

Democrats rallied in Richmond Sunday – urging Congress to fulfill President-Elect Trump’s promise of better healthcare for the nation.  Senator Tim Kaine says he’s hopeful lawmakers will not repeal the Affordable Care Act without providing an acceptable replacement. Sandy Hausman spoke with him and filed this report.

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Virginians Take to the Streets in March on Monument

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Marchers this weekend took to Monument Avenue in Richmond. (Credit: Kelley Libby / WVTF / RADIO IQ)

This past Saturday, over 1,000 Richmonders streamed down Monument Avenue in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, planned for this weekend. The March on Monument drew a crowd of advocates from all corners of the Richmond social justice community. Nicki Stein was there and filed this report.

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Va News Topics: Local DMV Inconvenienced, Charges Dropped Against Prince William Teenager

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

When a southwest Virginia man considered himself inconvenienced by the DMV he decided to pay his car tax the hard way, and charges have been dropped against a Prince William teenager accused of stealing a carton of milk at school. 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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Several Inmate Deaths Across the State Spark Cries for More Accountability

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Senator John Cosgrove is proposing legislation that would require a Department of Corrections investigation following the death of an inmate.

In the wake of several controversial deaths in Virginia jails, members of the General Assembly are taking action to make sure the cases are thoroughly investigated. Michael Pope has the story.

 

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Little Known Rule Could Have Chilling Effect on Virginia’s Federal Workforce

Virginia_flag_mapA newly reinstated rule in Congress has Democrats worried that Republicans are going to try to fire a large swath of federal workers, which could hurt the economy across the commonwealth. Matt Laslo has the story from the Capitol.

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Changes in Richmond May Mean Freedom for Some Prisoners

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Credit: Dave Nakayama / Creative Commons

In 1995, Virginia abolished parole — a change that led to crowding of state prisons and longer stays behind bars.  Now, small cracks have developed in the legal wall that keeps about 30,000 people locked up.  Sandy Hausman reports on changes that could free some inmates.

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Governor McAuliffe Kicks Off His Last Legislative Session

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Credit: Kate Wellington / Flickr

Lawmakers from across Virginia are in Richmond this week for the opening of the General Assembly session, which will last through the end of next month. This year will be the last year for Governor Terry McAuliffe — the only governor in the country subject to one term. Michael Pope has this preview of his last session as governor.

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Following Two Special Elections, Republicans Retain Control of Virginia’s Lawmaking Bodies

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Credit: NPR

Heading into the legislative session, both of Virginia’s lawmaking bodies remain controlled by Republicans. Two special elections in the state senate yesterday could have possibly flipped that control. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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This Year’s General Assembly Session Officially Began Today

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Credit: Doug Francis / Flickr

Lawmakers from across Virginia are in Richmond this week for the opening of the General Assembly session, which will last through the end of next month. Michael Pope has this preview.

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School Discipline Reform Will Be On General Assembly Docket

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Credit: alamosbasement / Flickr

When students misbehave, how much discipline is too much? Lawmakers will be tackling that issue when they convene in Richmond for this year’s session. Michael Pope has this preview.

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Va News Topics: Chesterfield County Developer Applications, State Flooding Cabinet Position

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Since Chesterfield County supervisors made it cheaper for developers to launch new projects they’ve been overwhelmed with applications, and as flooding gets worse in Hampton Roads there’s a call for a new state cabinet position to manage response efforts. 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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There’s No Such Think As Free Beer — Somebody’s Paying For It

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Credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But what about a free beer? Michael Pope has the story.

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Could the State Get Into the Student Loan Business?

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Credit: Inove Manore / Flickr

According to the state, more than half of Virginia college students graduate in debt, half of whom owe more than $25,000. Democratic state lawmakers are now proposing the state step in directly: by getting into the student loan business. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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This “Everyday Joe” is Running for Office So Virginians Have a Choice

bhm_pics_1_50mm_32Corey Fauconier is likely not a name you’ve heard before. And that’s because he’s a self proclaimed “everyday joe” — who just also happens to be running for Virginia’s State Senate.

Fauconier is the libertarian candidate for the 9th Senate District in Tuesday’s special election. That district includes much of Richmond City, and parts of Henrico, Hanover, and Charles City counties.

Fauconier — though — has a message he thinks all Virginians should hear:  that in 2015, more than half of state lawmakers ran for their seats unopposed.

He sat down with Richmond reporter Mallory Noe-Payne.

Fauconier is running against Democrat Jennifer McClellan. There is no Republican on the ticket. Learn more about Tuesday’s election and if you’re eligible to vote for either of the two open seats here

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An Interview with Representative Jennifer McClellan as She Looks to Move to the State Senate

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Credit: jennifermcclellan.com

Democrat Jennifer McClellan has represented Richmond in Virginia’s House of Delegates for 11 years, but now she’s looking for a change. She’s running for an open seat in Virginia’s State Senate. That district includes much of Richmond City, and parts of Henrico, Hanover, and Charles City counties.

If she wins Tuesday’s special election, McClellan will go from the 100-member House to the 40-member Senate. She sat down with Richmond reporter Mallory Noe-Payne to talk about what switching could mean for her priorities as a lawmaker.

McClellan is running against Libertarian Corey Fauconier. There is no Republican on the ticket. Learn more about Tuesday’s election and if you’re eligible to vote for either of the two open seats here

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Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Wants Free Access to IUD’s for Women in Virginia

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Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam with Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: Creative Commons)

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam says too many teenagers become pregnant or have abortions, and he has a plan to address it. Michael Pope has the story.

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About the Candidates: State Senate Election Could Determine Party Control

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Candidates for the 22nd District from left to right: Independent Joe Hines, Republican Mark Peakes and Democrat Ryant Washington

On Tuesday, residents of the state’s 22nd district will elect a new senator, and Democrats are watching closely – noting a victory for one candidate could end GOP domination in that branch of the General Assembly. Sandy Hausman reports on who’s running, and why Democrats could win in a largely Republican district.

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Health of Chesapeake Bay Graded at All-Time High, C-

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Credit: Creative Commons

About 18 million people live along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The economic value of keeping waters pollution-free ranges from the fish and blue crabs we eat to the summer swims we take.

Every two years the Chesapeake Bay Foundation gives the bay a physical, checking into habitat, fisheries and pollution. This year the bay went from a D+ to a C-.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Former US Congressman Tom Perriello Makes Surprise Bid for Governor of Virginia

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Credit: US Congress

The race for governor was unexpectedly scrambled on the Democratic side this week, as former Congressman Tom Perriello unexpectedly jumped in the race to challenge Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. The primary challenge means Northam won’t be able to focus his attention and campaign cash toward the general election like he planned on doing since Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not challenge Northam for the race last year. Michael Pope caught up with the lieutenant governor during an event in Alexandria and asked him about his reaction to Perriello announcing his candidacy.

 

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Governor Orders New Protection for LGBTs, Warns Lawmakers Against Divisive Legislation

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Credit: Sandy Hausman / WVTF / RADIO IQ

As Virginia’s General Assembly prepares to do business later this month, Governor McAuliffe is warning members not to introduce controversial bills that involve social policy.  He urged them to be tolerant and to focus on jobs, transportation and education. Sandy Hausman has more on that story.

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Virginia Lawmaker’s “Physical Privacy Act” Would Regulate Transgender Bathroom Use

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Credit: delegatebob.com / Luke Fontana

A Virginia lawmaker says he wants to protect the physical privacy of people using bathrooms and locker rooms. Bob Marshall, a Republican from Northern Virginia, has proposed legislation that would regulate transgender facilities use in public buildings, including schools. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Lawmakers Want More Transparency from State University Presidents

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Senator Chap Petersen points to the recent controversy over the University of Virginia’s so-called “slush fund” as evidence for the need for more transparency by the state’s university presidents. (Credit: P. Morrissey / Flickr)

Digging into the inner workings of a college or university can be difficult, even when records are requested through a Freedom of Information Act request. As Michael Pope tells us, that’s because university presidents enjoy a license to operate outside of the scope of public scrutiny.

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Lawmakers to Consider Extra Funding For Historically Black Cemeteries

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The four cemeteries include East End Cemetery, a children’s cemetery and what may be a cemetery for black Confederate soldiers. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / WVTF / RADIO IQ)

After integration, historically black cemeteries around the state fell to the wayside, often unkempt, uncared for, and forgotten. Now a state lawmaker is hoping to bring them some much-needed attention. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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Virginia Obtains Execution Drugs in Secret, Death Row Inmate Appeals

Virginia_flag_mapA man who murdered a Richmond couple and their young daughters in 2006 is set to be executed by the state in just a couple of weeks. In a courtroom in Richmond Tuesday, lawyers asked a federal judge to step in. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Virginia Congressman Takes Center Stage On First Day

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Credit: U.S. Embassy Moldova / Creative Commons

Washington was buzzing Tuesday about a potential change to the rules that was hotly debated and then scrapped. And a powerful Virginia congressman was at the center of the firestorm. Michael Pope has the story.

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Virginia’s Direct Food Economy More Than $215 Million

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Virginia’s farmers markets are an important part of the local food economy. (Credit: Stephen Little / Flickr)

Virginia has one of the largest local food economies in the country. That’s according to new data released by the USDA. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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In Virginia, Women Make 78 Percent of What Men Make

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Data shows Falls Church, Virginia has the greatest pay gap — women there make 53% less than their male counterparts. (Credit: photosteve101 / Flickr CC)

Women are still earning less than men. That’s true across Virginia. But as Michael Pope tells us, the disparity of income is greater in some areas than in others.

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Drones Are a Public Safety Issue, Says One Lawmaker

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Credit: Andrew Turner / Flickr

Privately operated drones are quickly becoming more commonplace, as hobbyists use them to take photos and videos. But they’re also posing a public safety hazard, one that one Virginia lawmaker says he has a solution for. Michael Pope has the story.

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Virginia Has A Budget Shortfall, What Does That Even Mean?

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Credit: Inove Manore / Flickr

It’s the middle of Virginia’s budget season – meaning lawmakers and the Governor are figuring out how to spend more than 50 billion. But this year, you may be hearing the words “budget shortfall” a lot in the news. Mallory Noe-Payne set out to understand exactly what that means and why it’s happened.

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Hunters: A Virginia Bear’s Best Friend?

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David Steger (sitting) and his son, Clint Steger. David Steger was until recently the President of the Virginia Bear Hunting Association. His association has been active in lobbying for conservation efforts for Virginia’s bear population. (Credit: Jessie Knadler)

December is the one month of the year when bear hunters are allowed to use hounds to track their game. This traditional method of hunting remains deeply unpopular among some Virginians. But as Jessie Knadler reports, some bear-hound hunters claim they are some of the species biggest conservationists.

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As Obama Commutes Drug Sentences, Virginia Inmates Targeted

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The Eastern District includes Alexandria, Richmond and Norfolk (Credit: U.S. Department of Justice)

As the Obama administration draws to a close, officials at the Justice Department are busy commuting sentences of people convicted for drug offenses, especially crack cocaine. And, as Michael Pope reports, nowhere in the country has sentences for crack dealers as long as the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Special Elections: Could Virginia’s Senate Flip?

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Credit: NPR

Think the election season is over? Think again. Voters in central Virginia are about to head to the polls for two special elections. And, as Michael Pope reports, control of the state Senate is at stake.

Are you eligible to vote in the special elections? Click here to find out if you live in the State Senate’s 22nd or 9th Districts. 

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Republican Leaders Want to Limit Welfare in Areas With High Unemployment

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Credit: gop.com/Wikimedia Commons

Looking ahead to the General Assembly session next month, Republicans are hoping to crack down on welfare abuse. As Michael Pope reports, one of the items on their agenda is increasing work requirements for people receiving public assistance.

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A Tale of Two Voters: Looking At How Rich and Poor People Voted This Year

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A breakdown of voters across the state by income. (Credit: Virginia Public Access Project)

Rich people and poor people often end up voting the same way, depending on where they live. But a new analysis of voter data from the election shows some parts of Virginia are divided along class lines. Michael Pope looks at the numbers.

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With New Funding, VCU Professor Continues Research to Lower the Cost of Drugs

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Frank Gupton, an engineering professor at VCU, is leading a team trying to make drugs cheaper for those who need them in developing countries. (Credit: VCU)

A professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering in Richmond has partnered with the Gates Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative in research that is drastically lowering the cost of HIV drugs. But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, his research could help bring down the cost of all drugs.

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Back from the Campaign Trail, Kaine Sets His Sights on Re-Election

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Credit: U.S. Congress

It’s been said by some who have taken a campaign run for the White House that doing so is like going 200 miles per hour in a race car.  For former Vice Presidential candidate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, the race continues. Matt Laslo reports from Washington D.C.

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Virginia Governor Looks for Way to Raise Money on Internet Sales

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Governor Terry McAuliffe proposes a way for Virginia to get a cut of the action, as more people buy online than in stores. (Credit: Andrew Dallos / Flickr)

For many years, state leaders in Virginia have been trying to collect sales taxes on purchases from outside the state. Now Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has a plan. Michael Pope has the story.

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Va News Topics: Chesapeake Night Clubs, Surry County Preservation Efforts

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

City council members in Chesapeake have decided they need stronger laws to deal with night clubs where things get out of hand, and Surry County is finding out how hard it can be to keep 400-year-old paperwork in good condition. 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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Could Unfaithful Electors Sway the Election?

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Credit: NPR

Virginia’s 13 members of the Electoral College are slated to meet Monday in Richmond, determining the outcome of the presidential election. Michael Pope has this preview.

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At the Intersection of Religious Conviction and Environmental Ethics

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Frances and Tim Sauder on their farm in Quarryville, PA. (Credit: Joel McCord)

Not long ago, we learned that water quality in the Chesapeake Bay is improving. But one part of one state—south central Pennsylvania—has lagged behind in reaching its pollution reduction goals, mostly because of fertilizer that runs off farm fields into Bay tributaries. Now, Pennsylvania, the US Department of Agriculture and the EPA have committed to spend $28 million to accelerate pollution reduction efforts in that region.

But as Joel McCord reports for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative some of those farmers are conflicted about taking the money because of religion.

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded 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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DuPont Pays Historic $50 Million To Clean River in Waynesboro

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Courtesy of the South River Science Team

More than 50 years ago, a DuPont factory outside Waynesboro dumped mercury into the river. Now, in an historic settlement, the company is paying the state $50 million to clean up. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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Voter Registration Trends Paint an Interesting Picture of the Election in Virginia

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Richmond saw a 38% increase in voter registration this year. (Credit: Mobilus in Mobili / Flickr)

Election 2016 may have come and gone. But all those newly registered voters will remain on the books. Michael Pope reports.

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Marine Safety is a Concern for the Chesapeake Bay Following Dead Whale Sightings

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The Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Team (Credit: Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center)

Several sightings of a dead whale in Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay have been reported since last weekend. Because it’s on the move the Virginia Aquarium has been unable to locate it. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Governor Highlights Improvements to Mental Health System in Budget Proposal

Governor Elect Terry McAuliffe

As lawmakers gear up for the legislative session beginning in January, Governor Terry McAuliffe is prepping his agenda. Wednesday, he rolled out a suite of ideas for how to improve the state’s mental health system. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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VRE Asks for $20 Million More Each Year from General Assembly Plus $400 Million from Feds

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Senator Tim Kaine talks with transportation officials at the Spotsylvania VRE station, which opened last year. (Credit: Michael Pope)

When the next Congress takes office in 2017, one of the first big items on the agenda will be infrastructure spending. And Virginia may benefit from an agreement between a Republican president and Democrats in Congress. Michael Pope has the story.

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This Week Marks the Beginning of the Holidays for Many of Virginia’s Mexican Immigrants

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4 Out of 5 Offenders in Virginia Don’t Recommit Crimes After Release

prison-553836_1920Almost one in four criminals in Virginia will commit another crime after being released from prison or jail. Although that number may seem high, it’s actually the lowest in the country. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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