Archive for July, 2011
State lawmakers returned to Richmond and elected both Elizabeth McClanahan and Cleo Powell to the Virginia Supreme Court. It makes Powell the first African American to sit on the court. But lawmakers remained deadlocked on another issue…..Congressional redistricting. And, as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, although they have until the end of December to hash out a deal, some are not ruling out Justice Department intervention.
Political money and pension money are among the things Virginia politicans have talked about in recent days. As we hear from Fred Echols, both drew some attention at PolitiFact Virginia.
Fewer Virginians are taking up farming … leaving the state’s number one industry in trouble. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, state officials hope that a series of Farm Transition Workshops will pique the interest of a new generation of agriculturalists.
No trip to the great outdoors would be complete without a tally of wildlife spotted. An eagle, a few rabbits and squirrels, deer, of course, and maybe a bear or a coyote. Virginia Public Radio’s Sondra Woodward takes us up to the mountains for a different kind of census, one where the subjects have names like Crescent, Copper and Hairstreak.
A state work group addressing Domestic Violence has finalized recommendations that now head to Governor McDonnell. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the issue has not been at the forefront of the Commonwealth’s agenda, but state officials say the administration is very serious about raising awareness and addressing the problem.
The Virginia Employment Commission estimates that nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require post-secondary training within seven years. Businesses already say they can’t find the qualified workers they need—in spite of the high unemployment rate. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, those pressing needs prompted a legislative study to find out how the Commonwealth can substantially improve the readiness of its workforce.
Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission say the Commonwealth should move forward in enacting a version of “Caylee’s Law,” which was named after a Florida toddler whose disappearance wasn’t reported to police until a month after she vanished. The law is being considered in more than two dozen states. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, it would require parents or guardians to notify the authorities quickly when a child is missing.
Rather than complain about the closure of military installations in Virginia and proposed reassignment of a carrier group to Florida, a state Commission on Military and National Security Facilities is seeking to do some wise planning. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the panel is examining how other states, such as Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, attract and retain their military installations.
Recent events in the Middle East and the strained relationship between U. S. and Israeli leaders might given the impression that strengthening business ties between the two countries is out of the question. But the head of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board says that coudn’t be further from the truth. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Israeli business leaders are even more eager to set up shop in the U. S. and say Virginia is an ideal location.
As Virginia’s U.S. Senator Mark Warner and the other “Gang of Six” members continue negotiations in Washington to resolve the federal debt standoff, in Richmond the Commonwealth Transportation Board has also been affected by the federal gridlock. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Board is pondering whether a federal proposal to cut transportation revenue will significantly impact road projects—and if so, when.
The “Cap, Cut and Balance” Act on the floor of the U-S House of Representatives is only the first part of that chamber’s two-step plan to shave the federal debt. It cuts the federal budget and sets spending caps… but it also raises the debt limit IF Congress passes a Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. That amendment is sponsored by a Virginia Congressman … but as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, some of the Commonwealth’s elected officials have very different ideas about its wisdom.
Letters, diaries, photos — if it came from the Civil War era, the best way to preserve it might be digitally. A new project that began last fall has scanned thousands of Virginia artifacts from 150 years ago. Virginia Public Radio’s Thomas Pierce reports.
A special state advisory panel is weighing whether Virginia’s open-government laws should require public disclosure of emergency 9-1-1 calls, criminal incident and arrest information, and other records of police investigations. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the members have found that protecting both the public’s right to know and sensitive, crime-related information is not as simple as it sounds.
Social Security was never meant to be the primary source of income for most Americans upon retirement … but more than half of retirees rely on those benefits to make ends meet in their senior years. Although the AARP encourages Americans to develop additional retirement plans, it now has a tool on its website that not only provides alternatives for retirement, but helps people decide the best time to retire in order to maximize Social Security benefits. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the State Capitol.
The fact-checkers at PolitiFactVirginia.com have been busy this week looking at claims about the U.S. national debt and Virginia’s crime rate. Fred Echols talked with Warren Fiske at the Richmond Times Dispatch to find out if anyone’s been fibbing.
Those who have fallen behind on their mortgage have about a week to apply for a HUD- sponsored emergency homeowners program that gives unemployed and underemployed Virginians an opportunity to receive interest-free, forgivable loans. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details from the State Capitol.
Newly released jobs numbers show thousands of Virginia construction workers may have to hang up their tool belts unless Congress can find more money for road construction. Matt Laslo reports from Washington.
Virginia follows a national trend in which minority youth are disproportionately represented in the Juvenile Justice System. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a special work group of the Criminal Justice Services Board has been tasked with assessing why—and then developing a plan to address the problem.
Governor McDonnell has issued an executive order that will eventually transition many of Virginia’s state-owned vehicles to alternative fuels. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the goals are to promote energy independence, decrease polluting emissions, and even stimulate entrepreneurship.
Some of the region’s best barbeque chefs are preparing to fire up their grills for the state championship in Galax this weekend, and this year could see more judges from Virginia, as organizers offer a six-hour training program. Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman has that story.
The latest Virginia Schools Safety Audit is out, and experts are surprised by the top concern on the list. Sandy Hausman has that story.
The Virginia Retirement System had an exceptionally good return on its investments this year, recovering most of the steep losses incurred during 2008 and 2009. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, with less than 75% of future liabilities currently funded, a larger share of taxpayer dollars may be needed to fully restore the pension fund.
Virginia is seriously weighing the recommendation of a George Mason University study which suggests that localities maintain their own secondary roads instead of the state. Cash-strapped localities don’t like the idea of the state handing over the responsibility to them. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, some state officials say the current system is antiquated and prevents the Commonwealth from focusing on higher priority projects.
Governor McDonnell signed into law several measures recently to provide new protections from human trafficking and more severe punishment for those who engage in it. But before the introduction of the legislation, many Virginians had no idea how prevalent the crime is– especially in the Commonwealth. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the challenge now is recognizing human trafficking and taking action when it occurs.
Corporate taxes and the weight– literally– of federal regulations have been on the minds of Virginia lawmakers lately. Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols checks in with PolitiFactVirginia.com to find out whether we should believe what we’ve been hearing.
Virginia is considered a water-rich state, yet during periods of minimal rain, the state struggles to maintain its potable water values. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Department of Environmental Quality is pushing for regulations that will allow businesses and homeowners to use reclaimed water– and conserve other water of higher quality.
In the near future, motorists in most of Virginia will be required to get the same vehicle emissions testing required by jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. But some organizations say the process is too time-consuming and an inconvenience to drivers, especially those who must pay for costly repairs if their vehicle fails the test. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
An estimated 160,000 unauthorized workers live in Virginia– but there’s no way of knowing how many may have worked for the state through private contractors. That’s according to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission…which also found that most state agencies do little to make sure that their contractors comply with a federal immigration law that prohibits hiring such employees. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, no state policies require agencies to monitor who their contractors hire.
Virginians have expanded protections under new laws that just took effect. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while lawmakers admit they still have more work to do, they hope the new statutes will help prevent criminal acts and violence … such as in the highly publicized death of UVA lacrosse player Yeardley Love.
Governor McDonnell has taken some recent criticism from NARAL/Pro-Choice America for his handling of federal grant opportunities…and from the Virginia Democratic Party for something that never qutie happened. Virginia Public Radio’s Fred Echols talked with Warren Fiske of the Richmond Times Dispatch and PolitiFactVirginia.com to see if what they’re saying about the Governor is true.
July 1st means minors in Virginia will have more protection under the law even if they don’t believe the more punitive laws are for their benefit. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Governor McDonnell ceremonially signed some of the bills and discussed their effect.