Archive for February, 2011
Before adjourning, both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly agreed unanimously on a state budget for the first time in decades. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the process involved making compromises.
After a lengthy debate in the Senate and a rare tie-breaking vote by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Virginia is on track to become the first state to regulate clinics that perform first-trimester abortions. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie Mcneil has more from the State Capitol.
Before the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes to address state legislative and Congressional redistricting, the rules must be set for how the lines will be drawn and submitted to the Department of Justice. The Joint Reapportionment Committee met to begin developing those rules, and some members are asking how to define the term “minorities” and how voting habits should affect the process. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the State Capitol.
With just days left in this year’s General Assembly Session, everything from restrictions on cell phone use to budget cuts for local schools is still to be decided. Journalists Anita Kumar and Chelyen Davis, as well as political scientist Bob Roberts join host Tom Graham for Assembly Conversations Listen as they sort through what’s being decided.
Download an MP3 of Assembly Conversations for February 22, 2011 click here.
State lawmakers are honoring an obscure Virginia woman who launched a scientific revolution—but never knew it. All of the members of the General Assembly signed a resolution paying tribute to Henrietta Lacks …whose cells were used by researchers to develop the polio vaccine and make other significant discoveries. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports from the Capitol.
House of Delegates and Senate budget negotiators have been meeting to discuss their competing state spending plans…which feature some stark differences in education, transportation, state pension, and health care funding. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the conferees say progress in reconciling their differences is slow.
As both Congress and the Virginia General Assembly take steps to end subsidies for Public Broadcasting, opponents of the funding say it’s not a core function of government. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan investigated the historical record… to get an idea of where the Founding Fathers might have stood on the question. And while it’s impossible to say what their opinions would be today, it’s at least clear that in the context of their own time-they were ready and willing to use public money to get the news out.
After numerous sessions of trying to get it passed, a bill to permit an option of castration for chronically violent sex offenders is finally moving forward, and the bill’s sponsor couldn’t be happier. The language in the bill is watered down from its original version, but as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it could ultimately change how Virginia treats those with ongoing predatory traits.
As lawmakers in Richmond wrestle with ways to cut Virginia’s budget, some critics say the state should be taking a whole different approach – raising more revenue by changing its tax laws. The Commonwealth has not adjusted tax brackets for nearly a hundred years, and wealthy seniors get generous deductions. Sandy Hausman reports on why some believe this could be the time for tax reform in Virginia.
A bill that stiffens penalties for underage drinking and driving-which could impose up to a year in jail for the offense-has sailed through both chambers of the General Assembly and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the law isn’t as tough on teens as some who opposed it thought.
A tax bill that originated in the House of Delegates and has passed overwhelmingly in the Senate may keep struggling Virginia businesses from going under once the Governor signs it. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
The economic slump may have pushed more teens into part-time jobs, but a researcher at the University of Virginia is warning that too many hours of employment can spell trouble at school. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman has that story:
The Virginia General Assembly plans to wrap up its current legislative session at the end of the month and then to return to Richmond in April to engage in the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state’s legislative district lines. Hear host Bob Gibson as he talks with his guests, veteran state Senators Creigh Deeds and Emmett Hanger.
Download the Assembly Conversations for February 15, 2011 MP3 file here.
Virginia Senators have been debating a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define which private property can be taken by a government … and the conditions that determine how much compensation the property-owner should be paid. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, defining a right to protection against eminent domain is not as easy as it seems.
Virginia teachers continue their call to state lawmakers– urging them to restore more funding to the public schools’ budget. The educators say more than 4,000 teaching jobs have been lost and class sizes are increasing. And, as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re calling on the General Assembly to “repair the damage.”
Valentine’s Day means chocolate and roses for some people – but in the gay community, it’s an opportunity to protest. Gay marriage is illegal in 45 states – including Virginia, and federal programs like Social Security don’t recognize it. Filmmaker Drew Emery, who began his career in the Commonwealth, plans to mark the day by giving away copies of his first movie to 400 churches nationwide. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman has that story.
The state’s first African- American Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court continues to make history days after his sudden passing at a relatively young age. Leroy Hassell is the first person to lie in state at the State Capitol rotunda since Speaker A.L. Philpott in 1991 … and the first African-American ever to receive that honor. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the Capitol.
While there are differences between the House of Delegates and Senate versions of the budget, members from both chambers say significant compromises will be needed if the legislature is to adjourn with a balanced proposal by the end of its six week session. But, as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, some lawmakers say philosophical differences about what services should be cut will likely be a sticking point during negotiations.
Each state has a map with imaginary lines of districts represented by members of Congress and state lawmakers … and every 10 years those lines are redrawn. However, the voters who are represented are NOT responsible for that process. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, there’s a bipartisan effort in the Commonwealth that shifts the responsibility back to the voters … to try to prevent “Gerrymandering.”
The Washington-based transportation research group TRIP has named the 50 transportation projects most important to Virginia’s economic growth. Five of the top 10 are in Northern Virginia; four are in Hampton Roads; and one runs through the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia Public Radio’s Tim Thornton reports.
Virginia’s mental health laws and services are now under comprehensive examination, as officials study ways to provide consumer and family-oriented mental health care of the highest quality…with limited budgets. What are the roadblocks? Listen in on “Assembly Conversations,” with host Tom Graham. His guests include Bonnie Neighbour with the mental health consumers’ group “VOCAL,” and Richard Bonnie, who chairs the Virginia Commission on Mental Health Reform. You’ll also hear the comments of Delegate Patrick Hope of Arlington, as well as Dr. Peter Sheras, a licensed clinical psychologist.
Download Assemblly Conversations for February 8, 2011 here.
Police could pull over drivers for a primary offense of texting on mobile devices under legislation that has passed the Virginia Senate. The legislators also toughened a similar law for younger teens who talk on a cell phone while driving. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan has more from the State Capitol.
The Tucson shootings highlighted the need to improve mental health services nationwide. Western State has long been Virginia’s “last resort” for the severely mentally ill, but thanks to new drugs therapies and recovery-focused treatment plans, today’s hospital bears little resemblance to the place once known as Western Lunatic Asylum. Virginia Public Radio’s Martha Woodroof offers an update.
For 11 years, child advocates have asked the General Assembly to include coverage for children with autism in Virginia’s list of mandated health insurance benefits. The state Senate has moved that goal forward by giving preliminary approval to legislation that would do just that. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan has more from the State Capitol.
Gun-control advocates have scored a victory at this year’s General Assembly session with the defeat of a bill that was a backdoor effort to allow guns on college campuses. The bill would have prohibited most Virginia agencies from having policies that were not expressly authorized by state law. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the Capitol.
A coalition of more than 25 states and historic and environmental groups is celebrating a victory. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman reports on a court ruling that could save 100 million acres from development.
Both sides of the partisan aisle are trying to score political points over Governor McDonnell’s plan to raise revenue for transportation, which included floating federal Garvey bonds and accelerating previously authorized state bonds. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that prompted extended debate in the House of Delegates.
Two bills that would have revamped Virginia’s underfunded retirement system have been killed in the state Senate Finance Committee . . . and the legislative body has instead decided to solicit more public input and study potential solutions. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from Richmond.
With the regular session of the Virginia General Assembly beyond the half-way mark, Governor Bob McDonnell takes questions from constituents and “Assembly Conversations” host Bob Gibson.
Download Assembly Conversations for February 1, 2011 here.
The House of Delegates has advanced legislation to overhaul Virginia’s higher education system and the way that public colleges and universities are funded. The bill aims to increase affordability and access to Virginia students—to pave the way for awarding 100,000 additional degrees over 15 years. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan has more from the State Capitol.
Archaeologists at the Jamestown fort have uncovered the church where Pocahontas was married more than four centuries ago– and now the find has been named as one of the top 10 discoveries of the last year. Virginia Public Radio’s Thomas Pierce reports.