Will Virginia Soon Be the Capital of Driverless Cars?

Self-Driving Cars California

A Google self-driving vehicle at Google’s I/O conference in Mountain View, California. Governor Terry McAuliffe wants to make the Commonwealth a central figure in getting more automated vehicles on the road. (Credit: AP / Eric Risberg, File)

Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe wants to make Virginia the capital of automated vehicles. He says it could help reduce accidents, and create a more efficient way to use Virginia’s highways and interstates. But what would it take? Michael Pope has more.

 

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Va News Topics: Covered Bridge Debate, Crab Harvester Shortage

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The community of Pound in the Virginia coalfields wants an old-fashioned covered bridge downtown to attract more tourists, but the Virginia Department of Transportation is taking a dim view of that idea. And, one of the few remaining crab harvesters in Virginia says after some lean years there are now plenty of crabs to be caught in the Chesapeake Bay but there may not be enough people to harvest them. 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. More now from Fred Echols.

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How Many Options Will Virginians Have for ACA Health Insurance Providers?

Health Care Overhaul What Now

Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP

Last month, Republicans predicted the Affordable Care Act was on the verge of collapse, but now insurance companies are starting to make plans for the coming year. And so far, Virginia’s marketplace for subsidized health insurance remains strong. Michael Pope has the story.

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State Senator Set to Challenge Comstock in Virginia’s 10th District

Jennifer Wexton

State Senator Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, is set to challenge Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in what should be a hotly contested match-up that garners national attention. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

The next congressional election may be a year and a half away, but now is the time when candidates are throwing their hats into the ring. One particular announcement this week is already scrambling the 2018 race. Michael Pope reports.

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Democrat Scores Upset in Prince William County

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Democrat Jackie Smith, center, faced difficult odds, but pulled off an upset to take the Prince William County Clerk of Court seat. (Credit: smithforclerk.com)

Although many people were focused on the special election in Georgia this week, Virginia ALSO had a special election. And it’s one that is energizing Democrats. Michael Pope has the story.

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Fundraising Numbers Paint a Competitive Picture of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race

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Credit: NPR

New fundraising numbers in the race for governor show a hotly competitive race with some candidates raising large amounts of campaign cash. Reporter Michael Pope is digging into the numbers.

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Not All GOP Members Deny Climate Change. But They’re Still the Minority

Scott Taylor

Congressman Scott Taylor, R-Virginia Beach, says that rising sea levels are having an impact in his district, and he worries what President Trump’s proposed cuts to NOAA may mean for the area. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Some Virginia Republicans are calling attention to sea level rise because it’s impacting their coastal districts. Matt Laslo reports they’re in the minority in their party.

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Education Trail Honoring Historically African-American Schools Planned for Northern Neck

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A map of the African American Education Trail, which contains some 70 historical schools throughout the Northern Neck.

Tourists are drawn to the Northern Neck for its rural and Chesapeake Bay heritage. In building an official heritage area, the five-county region has established an Oyster Trail, Artisan Trail and Watermen Heritage Tours. Now, the African American Education Trail has been added. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Comparing Virginia’s Tax Burden to Other States

Alicia Utley

Credit: Brennan Linsley / AP, File

Hold your wallets, folks. It’s tax time. That means last-minute number crunching and maybe a bit of daydreaming about what it might be like to live in another state. Michael Pope’s got this rundown of how the Old Dominion stacks up against other states.

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Va News Topics: ATF Smuffling Investigation, VT Archive of Condolences

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

There are new questions about how money was raised and spent by federal ATF agents operating a smuggling investigation out of Southwest Virginia. And, ten years after mass murder at Virginia Tech, the archive of condolences from around the world has been re-opened. 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. More now from Fred Echols.

 

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When it Comes to Rainy Day Funding, How Smart is Virginia?

Virginia_flag_mapIs Virginia saving money for a rainy day? The Pew Charitable Trust says the Commonwealth could do a better job saving for when times are tough. Michael Pope reports.

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Political Attack Billboards Could Be on the Rise

Comstock Billboard

Political attack billboards, like this one in Northern Virginia paid for by a group known as Dump Comstock, could be on the rise. (Credit: Dump Comstock’s Twitter account, @dumpcomstock)

It seems like political campaigns are always searching for the next big thing; the killer app or the comprehensive database. But as Michael Pope reports, sometimes old tricks can take a new twist.

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Food Stamps in Virginia: A Look at the Numbers

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Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

When the recession hit, a record number of people in Virginia turned to food stamps. That number has gone down a bit, but even today about one in ten Virginians participate in the federally funded program. Michael Pope has this look at why the numbers have increased so rapidly and what it means for the future.

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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Wants to Raise the Gas Tax

Pipeline Spill

Credit: David Goldman / AP

In less than two months, Republicans voters will select their candidate for governor. And, as Michael Pope reports, one candidate is running on an unexpected idea.

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Poultry Workers Rally Over Unionization

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Poultry workers and their supporters held a rally in downtown Harrisonburg April 9th in support of unionization at area poultry plants. Workers stood before the crowd to share stories of injury and denial of benefits on the job. Wilfredo Flores, far right, who was terminated from Cargill in December, has emerged as a leader in the fight. (Credit: Jessie Knadler)

Cargill is one of the biggest employers in Rockingham County. They’ve come under fire from workers inside their poultry processing facility in Dayton for what’s been called inhumane treatment and dangerous working conditions on the job. Poultry workers held a rally in downtown Harrisonburg on Sunday to push to unionize inside the plant. Jessie Knadler reports.

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Dominion Agrees to Study Different Cleanup Scenarios Before Taking Action on Coal Ash

Dominion Resources Questar

Dominion has agreed to look into several options before taking action on coal ash. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

The battle to get scientific information about pollution BEFORE action is taken to fix the problem finally has a resolution. Michael Pope has the story.

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Richmond Journalist Calling For Federal Probe of UVA

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Credit: Dale Winling / Flickr 

The University of Virginia has been in the headlines since documents were published suggesting special treatment in the admissions process for friends or relatives of wealthy and influential donors. Now the Richmond man who uncovered the evidence is calling on the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate. Sandy Hausman reports.

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Candidates’ Free-Flowing Campaign Cash May Soon Be No More

Marcus Simon

Delegate Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, wants to close a lingering campaign finance loophole. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Virginia is known for its lax campaign finance laws, a quirk in the state code that led to former Governor Bob McDonnell’s high-profile corruption trial. While that case led to changes in the state’s ethics laws, one loophole is still open. As Michael Pope reports, it’s become a hot topic on the campaign trail.

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Virginians Support Federal Role in Clean Air and Water, Says Poll

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According to a recent survey, Virginians overwhelmingly consider the environment a priority. (Credit: Jeff Self / Flickr)

While the president and Republicans in Washington are calling for fewer environmental regulations, a new poll of Virginians shows support for federal protections of clean air and water.  Sandy Hausman has more.

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Va News Topics: Richmond Vaccinations, Fredericksburg Transportation Projects

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

School officials in Richmond are trying to improve a surprisingly-low vaccination rate among sixth graders. And, Virginia’s new objective approach to funding transportation projects is causing some confusion among planners in Fredericksburg. 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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Tornadoes Touch Down in Virginia

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Building at Hickory Ridge Farm. (Credit: NWS)

The National Weather Service confirmed two separate tornados touched down in Virginia on Thursday. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Eight House of Delegates Members Won’t Seek Re-Election; Seven Republicans and One Democrat

Dave Albo

Del. Dave Albo, D-Farifax, waves as he was honored after a retirement speech on the floor of the House of Delegates during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Albo also served as a delegate for 24 years. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

With the statewide primary season fast approaching, members of Virginia’s House of Delegates are making final determinations about whether to run — including several announcements this week.

 

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Virginia’s Veto Session: Medicaid, Coal Country and McAuliffe’s Legacy

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A book of vetoes sits on a legislative desk during the veto session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

During Virginia’s one-day veto session yesterday, state lawmakers had a number of things on their docket to wrap up the state’s legislative session. RADIO IQ’s Luke Church sat down with reporter Michael Pope to discuss the happenings in Richmond this week.

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Medicaid Expansion in Virginia Fails Once Again

Ralph Northam

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, seen here addressing the media earlier today at a news conference regarding Medicaid expansion. State Republicans have once again voted no on expanding the program. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Lawmakers are back in Richmond this week for a one-day session to consider several vetoes and amendments from Governor Terry McAuliffe. On the agenda was one final showdown on whether to expand Medicaid. Republicans held firm, and voted no. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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VA Congressman Calls for Restrictions on ICE

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Congressman Don Beyer has proposed barring ICE officers from churches, schools and hospitals. (Credit: ICE)

With the federal government stepping up efforts to deport undocumented people, a Virginia congressman is proposing that long-time limits on where arrests can take place be put into law.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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State Lawmakers Head Back to Richmond for Veto Session

Travel Trip 5 Free Things Richmond

Credit: Steve Helber / AP

Lawmakers will be back in Richmond this week for a one-day session. As Michael Pope reports, the day looks to be an important sequel to the debates that happened earlier this year.

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Getting Top Billing on June Primary Ballot Isn’t Like Getting Front-Row Seats ​

Election Virginia

Credit: Steve Helber / AP

While last year’s presidential election is still being debated, this next year’s election is almost upon us. As Michael Pope reports, candidates for state office are arguing about who gets their name at the top of the ballot.

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Public-Private Partnerships Put Taxpayers at Risk

Traffic Congestion

VDOT hopes to ease traffic on I-66 outside the beltway with toll lanes to be built and operated by a private partner. (Credit: Associated Press)

During this – his last year in office – Governor Terry McAuliffe has been boasting about a deal his administration cut with an international group called Express Mobility Partners. The deal sounds too good to be true, and some critics say it is.

That firm says it will build new lanes on I-66 outside the beltway in Northern Virginia in exchange for the right to collect tolls for the next 50 years.  It will also give the state millions of dollars for mass transit, parking lots and improvements to existing roads.  The deal sounds too good to be true, and some critics say it is.

Sandy Hausman has more as she wraps up her two-part series on P3’s.

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Is Virginia’s Road Building Deal a Model for Trump?

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The Indiana Toll Road, built by private partners Cintra and Macquarie, went bankrupt in 2014. (Credit: Indiana Public Media)

President Donald Trump has signaled strong interest in partnering with the private sector to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.  Critics warn that public-private partnerships or P3s often allow savvy corporations to fleece taxpayers, but Governor McAuliffe and his secretary of transportation say they’ve found a way to protect the public and make P3s a success. Sandy Hausman has more in this first story of a two-part series.

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Va News Topics: Largest Ship on East Coast, Colonial Williamsburg Revenues

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The largest ship ever to call on the U-S east coast is due at Hampton Roads in a few weeks. And, Colonial Williamsburg is looking to increase its revenues but getting some resistance to its latest idea. 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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The Debate Over Virginia’s Coal Country Continues

Terry Kilgore

Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore wants to spend $500,000 in an effort to draw international companies to Southwest Virginia. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP, File)

Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe are at odds over the best way to help Virginia’s struggling coal country. That issue is likely to be a sticking point when members of the General Assembly return to Richmond for the upcoming veto session. Michael Pope reports.

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Mapping a Potential Medicaid Expansion

Donald Trump, Terry McAuliffe

Governor Terry McAuliffe, seen here at a meeting of the National Governors Association last month, is yet again proposing a Medicaid expansion in Virginia; a proposal that is likely to yet again be struck down by state Republicans. (Credit: Evan Vucci / AP)

Throughout Virginia, 400,000 people who live in poverty or with disabilities stand to benefit it Medicaid is expanded. Where are they? Michael Pope is mapping the geography of Virginia’s hottest political debate.

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Healthcare Without the Middleman: The Ups and Downs of Direct Primary Care

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Jill Zackrisson wanted to be able to spend more time with her patients. (Credit: Sandy Hausman / RADIO IQ)

As Republicans search for ways to replace the Affordable Care Act, some doctors in this country are doing something new.  Tired of the expense and time required to process insurance claims, they’re charging patients a modest monthly fee and bypassing insurance entirely.  Sandy Hausman has this two-part look at the model known as Direct Primary Care.

 

 

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For Third Consecutive Year, More People Are Leaving Virginia Than Arriving From Other States

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

New Census numbers show an alarming trend in Virginia. More people are leaving the commonwealth to go to other states than people are arriving here from other states. As Michael Pope reports, it’s a phenomenon known as outmigration.

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Recycling Shells to Support New Oysters

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Shagbark’s executive chef and sous chef prepare oysters for diners — then recycle the shells.

The Chesapeake Bay was once a world center for oyster production, but those beloved bi-valves have fallen on hard times.  Pollution took a toll, and baby oysters missed their favorite places to grow. Now, an army of volunteers has teamed up with about a hundred restaurants and grocery stores to boost the population of Virginia oysters. Sandy Hausman has more.

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Virginia’s Lawmakers Divided Over Proposed Defense Budget

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Credit: Rudi Riet / Creative Commons

President Trump is calling to increase defense spending by $54 billion, which could mean a big boost for Virginia’s economy. But, Matt Laslo reports from Washington that not all of the state’s lawmakers are on board.

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Governor McAuliffe Approves Airbnb Regulation Bill

Airbnb

Credit: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Scheduler / Creative Commons

Virginia’s Republican lawmakers and Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe have finally reached a middle ground on how to handle one part of the new disruptive economy. As Michael Pope reports, local governments across Virginia are about to start cracking down on Airbnb.

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How is the ACA Faring in Virginia?

Health Care Overhaul What Now

The future of the ACA exchange in Virginia will soon become clearer according to Jill Hanken at the Virginia Poverty Law Center. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP)

Republicans say the Affordable Care Act is in a “death spiral,” and President Trump is expecting the system to “explode.” But what is the state of the newly created health-insurance exchanges in Virginia? Michael Pope takes a look.

 

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Va News Topics: Hampton Roads Toll Fees

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Tolls, late charges and administrative fees for using the Elizabeth River tunnels in Hampton Roads are adding up to bills that some people in Portsmouth and Norfolk say they will never be able to pay. This story has 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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Debate Over Fishing Rights Remain for Virginia Watermen

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Virginia watermen are concerned about their fishing rights along the Potomac River. (Credit: Creative Commons)

Commercial watermen who fish the Potomac River were dealt a blow this week when the Maryland-Virginia authority that regulates them did nothing to protect their fishing rights from federal plans for a Mallows Bay Marine Sanctuary. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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UVA’s President Plans Diplomatic Mission

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UVA President Teresa Sullivan travels to India with a message: Your students are welcome in Virginia. (Credit: University of Virginia)

With the Trump Administration threatening big cuts in State Department spending, and the world still puzzling over who’s allowed to visit this country, some families are wondering if it’s a good idea for their kids to study at American universities.  The President of the University of Virginia thinks it is, and she will travel to India next  week to make that point. Sandy Hausman reports.

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VCU Vows to Make Returning Soldiers Comfortable Students

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VCU students Jacob Davis and Eric Dueweke teach faculty and staff members how best to work with military veterans returning to school.

When it comes to military veterans, Virginia is number one with more vets per capita than any other state.  Because most qualify for educational benefits under the GI bill, many end up in college, but the transition isn’t always easy. Sandy Hausman reports on a program designed to ease former and reserve soldiers into life on campus.

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Governor McAuliffe Approves Coal Ash Transparency Measure

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A covered coal ash pond in Chesapeake, VA. Governor Terry McAuliffe has approved a measure that would require Dominion Resources be transparent with its plans to deal with the byproduct. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Environmental groups are praising Governor Terry McAuliffe for his action on the controversial issue of coal ash. This week, the governor amended a Senate bill to make sure the public has information about polluted groundwater BEFORE Dominion moves forward with a plan to clean it up. Michael Pope reports.

 

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Property Values, and Bills, on the Rise in Virginia

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Richmond has had the hottest housing market in the state this past year. (Credit: Taber Andrew Bain / Creative Commons)

It’s that time of year again. Property tax bills are arriving in mailboxes across Virginia. And, as Michael Pope reports, the value of homes in Virginia is going up this year — although some more than others.

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A Sister’s Final Gift Provides a New View of Lincoln

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Beverly Brown made sure her late sister’s book was published after a car crash in Richmond took historian Elizabeth Pryor’s life.

Two years ago, a 64-year-old woman was killed when a car speeding along Richmond’s Grove Avenue crashed into her silver sports car.  Historian Elizabeth Pryor was known for books about Robert E. Lee and Clara Barton – works she published before and after a 20-year career with the foreign service.  Shortly before her death she had finished another book, seven years in the making. Sandy Hausman spoke with her sister about that controversial new study of Abraham Lincoln.

 

 

 

 

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Despite Some GOP Support, Complete Pot Legalization in Virginia Still Faces Challenges

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Some GOP lawmakers in Virginia are softening their stance on marijuana. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been a long, strange trip for marijuana reform, once the province of liberals and Democrats. But now, as Michael Pope reports, Republicans are getting into the act.

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VCU Students Fill Journalism Void in Richmond

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VCU journalism students hang up their press credentials after a hectic few weeks covering Virginia’s legislature. (Credit: Virginia Commonwealth University)

Now that state lawmakers have wrapped up their business in Richmond, two dozen students at Virginia Commonwealth University are breathing a sigh of relief.  VCU is one of a handful of schools filling a huge gap created by shrinking budgets for state news coverage.  Sandy Hausman reports on this eager army of junior journalists.

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Shakespeare’s Sister Takes a Bow at the Blackfriars

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Ginna Hoben plays Judith Shakespeare, an aspiring female playwright, in the world premiere of Shakespeare’s Sister. (Credit: The American Shakespeare Center)

In this time of mounting hostility toward immigrants, economic uncertainty and massive women’s marches, a surprising new play premiered at the American Shakespeare Center’s theater in Staunton. Sandy Hausman reports on the original production of Shakespeare’s Sister.

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School Divisions Face Cash Crunch As State Lawmakers Pull Back Funding

School Reform

Credit: The Commonwealth Institute

It’s budget time across Virginia. That means that city councils and boards of supervisors are trying to balance the books for fiscal year 2018. And, as Michael Pope reports, many of them are struggling with the same problem.

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UVA Law Creates the Neil Gorsuch Project

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The Neil Gorsuch Project is a collection of 860 decisions and dissents, speeches and publications. (Credit: UVA) 

Hearings begin today on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the University of Virginia is doing its part to inform lawmakers and the public as Sandy Hausman reports.

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