Archive for April, 2011

Arbor Day

An Arbor Day tree-planting ceremony and unveiling of a new garden in front of the Governor’s Mansion provided an opportunity for First Lady Maureen McDonnell to showcase her new pride and joy.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it also was an opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of planting trees and starting gardens.

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Redistricting: A Deal is Reached

The Virginia Senate has finally agreed to an amended redistricting bill after Governor McDonnell vetoed the first version.  But although there are some Republicans who were ready to sign off on this new plan, others say that the Democratic majority still protected their own interests.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the Capitol.

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After the Storm…

Eight people are dead and more than 50 injured after heavy storms and tornadoes swept through the Commonwealth overnight. Virginia Public Radio’s Beverly Amsler reports.

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Helping Victims of Child Abuse

The Virginia Attorney General’s office is backing a new set of initiatives aimed specifically at helping victims of child sexual violence.  During an information-sharing event, the Attorney General revealed staggering statistics that one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted in their childhood.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, abused children often tell no one—and have no way of coping with their pain.

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Hydraulic Fracturing: Part 3 of 3

With some environmentalists singing its praises as a clean-burning fuel, natural gas was looking like America’s energy salvation. The second largest gas field in the world lies under Virginia and four neighboring states. Then, the New York Times began to report on the environmental damage done in Pennsylvania, using a gas extraction technology known as fracking.  Today,  Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman reports on whether it will be used in Virginia – and, if so, how that might be done safely.

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Redistricting Update: Negotiations Continue

Virginia Senators continued their negotiations Tuesday in an effort to draw a new redistricting map that might be acceptable to both Democrats and Republicans.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, time may be running out to hold their election primaries as scheduled.

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Redistricting Update

The House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate went back to work Monday to develop new plans that outline boundaries for their General Assembly districts. The previous version had been vetoed by Governor McDonnell and, as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the second version has its own hurdles to overcome.

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Hydraulic Fracturing Series: Part 2 of 3

The nation’s need for energy has fueled what some call a new gold rush – drilling for natural gas trapped in layers of shale deep underground.  The nation’s largest expanse of shale is in Appalachia – stretching from Virginia to New York. So far, only one firm has asked for a permit to drill in Virginia, but a Houston-based company has leased thousands of acres around Harrisonburg, and residents are getting nervous.  Virginia Public Radio’s  Sandy Hausman reports on their concerns – and why state regulators say they have nothing to fear.

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Hydraulic Fracturing Series: Part 1 of 3

With the dangers of nuclear power playing out in Japan, fighting in Libya pushing oil prices up, and climate scientists pointing an accusing finger at coal, America is desperate for some energy alternatives. One that seemed promising is natural gas – a relatively clean burning fuel. But critics now say the process of getting gas from the ground may be risky. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman went to Southwest Virginia to find out why.

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Trail of Tragedy

The unveiling of 17 historic markers to tell the story of the Richmond Slave Trail has drawn attention to a tragic chapter in Virginia’s history.  The markers show the route traveled from a James River port by thousands of Africans in bondage.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War includes remembering a dark past as the nation’s largest slave market.

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150th Anniversary

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Virginia’s secession from the Union … which eventually led to a traumatic Civil War.  And although critics of the South say it has yet to get over that conflict, one historian says the U-S can learn lessons on how to resolve issues such as immigration and social-economic disparities by examining the post-Civil War era. 

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Rights of Victims

The General Assembly may be divided on the issue of redistricting, but while Democrats and Republicans continue to draw lines in the sand over political boundaries … they stand undivided over domestic and sexual violence, the rights of victims, and how to better protect Virginians from harm.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

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Assembly Conversations: Unfinished Business

The Virginia General Assembly is running a little longer than normal this year. The House, Senate and Governor have yet to reach final agreement on the redistricting of political boundaries leaving that task for April 25 when the Assembly reconvenes. On this Assembly Conversations, a discussion of what has been accomplished, and what remains unfinished featuring state delegates Dave Nutter and Jennifer McClellan. Bob Gibson hosts. Click here to download an MP3 of Assembly Conversations for April 19, 2011.

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Merit Pay Plan

Governor McDonnell and the Virginia Department of Education have rolled out the state’s teacher merit-pay plan—inviting select districts to compete for grants to award teachers in ‘hard-to-staff’ schools.  Virginia Public Radio’s Connie Stevens reports.

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Legal Food Frenzy

Virginia’s law firms have been competing statewide to see who can gather the greatest amount of donations for the Commonwealth’s food banks during the fifth annual Legal Food Frenzy.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, food donations and other charitable contributions are especially needed right now.

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Back to Work

Members of the House of Delegates were back at work this week… a few days after the Governor vetoed a bill that reconfigured the General Assembly’s legislative districts.  The House Privileges and Elections Committee unanimously approved new legislation … but as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, a consensus among ALL players has yet to emerge.

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Water Concerns

Many may think the unused prescription medications flushed away in Virginia and around the country are gone forever, but millions of people are consuming a cocktail of drugs unknowingly because treatment plants are not able to remove many of the toxins from the water.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the state Attorney General is teaming up with others to not only educate the public about proper medication disposal … but also to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse among teenagers.

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Policies on Adoptions

A coalition of gay rights advocates is urging the Governor to reconsider his stance on proposed regulations that would affect whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to adopt within the Commonwealth.  The new rules were first proposed during former Governor Tim Kaine’s administration.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

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Ella Baker Day?

When Governor Bob McDonnell designated April as Confederate History Month, a student at the University of Virginia decided to make her own declaration to honor some of history’s little known heroes, including a Norfolk native named Ella Baker.  Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Congressional Redistricting: Senate Plan

The state Senate has introduced its own plan for redrawing Virginia’s 11 Congressional districts … setting up a confrontation with the House of Delegates, which just approved competing legislation.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Senators have very different ideas about where the boundaries should be drawn.

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Welcome Home, Pete Hill

Photo by Charlie Woodroof

History is riddled with mistakes. And one of those mistakes, concerning the birthplace of a Baseball Hall of Fame player you’ve probably never heard of, was corrected recently with the unveiling of a new historical marker by the side of the road in rural, north central Virginia.  Virginia Public Radio’s Martha Woodroof reports.

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Commonwealth’s Congressional Districts

The General Assembly returned to Richmond today (4/11/11), this time to take action on legislation that reconfigures the Commonwealth’s 11 Congressional districts.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the House Privileges and Elections Committee quickly approved a plan that’s not dramatically different from the current map.  

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Citizen Reformers

A statewide coalition of citizen reformers says it’s not too late for a redistricting compromise that actually benefits the voters—instead of incumbents and the majority party within each legislative chamber.  The members say before the legislation arrives at the Justice Department, that last line of defense is Governor McDonnell… and they are urging him to consider a nonpartisan commission’s recommendations before signing off on the House and Senate plans.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Redistricting Debate Continues

While the House passed its own redistricting plan Wednesday night, the Senate debate continues.  Democrats and Republicans submitted competing plans in a Senate Privileges and Elections Committee and the Democratic majority prevailed….but as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling says the battle is just beginning.

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Reconvened Session

State lawmakers took a break from redistricting to conduct their annual Reconvened Session…where they considered Governor McDonnell’s recommendations to 134 bills, four vetoes, and 86 budget amendments.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the House agreed to a gubernatorial amendment that would once again cut Public Broadcasting funding.

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Assembly Conversations: Redistricting Roundup

Logan Feree

Bob Roberts

Isaac Wood

Sean O

Hena Naghmi

“Redistricting” is the legislative map drawing that occurs every ten years to adjust for population shifts. Most times, the re-working of congressional and state legislative districts generates little public interest. But today, in Virginia, change is in the air. Public interest groups and even some politicians have been vehement in their criticism of efforts to gerrymander new districts in order to favor political power groups. And a heated debate about redistricting is going on this week in Virginia’s state capitol.  In this addition of  “Assembly Conversations” — a close up look at the redistricting debate and how it could affect communities across the commonwealth.

Host Tom Graham talks with political analysts Dr. Bob Roberts and Isaac Wood, political consultant Logan Ferree, as well as University of Virginia student Hena Naghmi, from the winning team in the Virginia College and University Redistricting Commission. Dr. Sean O’Brien, a member of the Governor’s Bipartisan Commission on Redistricting joins the panel.

Also, as you listen to the program, take a look at this user-friendly series of maps posted by the Virginian-Pilot, link posted below, allowing you to see the current districts, as well as the impact of redistricting proposals for the Senate made by Democrats, and the proposed map by Republicans made for the House.

Also, need to know who your legislators are and how to contact them? Check out this link from the Virginia General Assembly’s website.

Click here to download an MP3 of Assembly Conversations for April 5, 2011.

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Kaine’s Running

Former Governor Tim Kaine has announced that he’s running for the seat currently held by U-S Senator Jim Webb.  Kaine, who is also the Democratic National Committee Chairman, made his announcement by tweeting, “I’m running” on the social media Website, Twitter.  Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan has more from the State Capitol.

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Virtual Virginia: Public Online Education

High School students all around Virginia are taking classes their schools can’t provide—at least not in the traditional sense. These young people are enrolled in one or more of the 50 courses offered through “Virtual Virginia,” the state’s online public school academy.  Fred Echols visited a Virtual Virginia teacher in Roanoke to get a closer look at how online teaching works.

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Mining the Maps

State lawmakers have convened their redistricting session …where they will configure new maps of the General Assembly’s legislative district boundaries.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the session’s first day began with constituents and even some lawmakers unhappy with their handiwork.

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