Archive for May, 2013

Keeping VA’s Food Banks Stocked for Summer

GovBowlHunger pangs may be a sign to raid the refrigerator, order carryout, heat up some leftovers, or head to your favorite restaurant.  But thousands of Virginia children don’t have that option.  In fact—and it’s a little-known fact—area food banks throughout the Commonwealth are in greater need of supplies over the summer than over the holidays, when most food drives take place.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details.

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Joint Appearance by VA’s Gubernatorial Candidates

cuccinelli_mcauliffeIn a rare joint appearance, Virginia’s major-party gubernatorial candidates appeared on the same stage, albeit very briefly.  But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe seemed to respect one another, while also describing their definition of transparency and open government—the theme for the Virginia Public Access Project luncheon.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while they both have support for business and economic development in common, they are far apart on many other issues.

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Virginia Conversations: Project Discovery

Haley Almarode (l), Jonathan Thomas, and Zoe Helmandollar (r) received scholarships from Project Discovery

Haley Almarode (l), Jonathan Thomas, and Zoe Helmandollar (r) received scholarships from Project Discovery

On this edition of the program– keeping students on track to a more successful education. Our guests are from Project Discovery – a program designed to help students graduate from high school and continue with a college education.  May-Lily Lee hosts, as we learn how it works and how to take part in the program, as well as hear from some students who are benefiting from it.

 

Additional Resources: Project Discovery

Virginia Department of Education: Virginia is for Lovers….of Summer Learning!

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Flora of Virginia

FloraOfVirginiaThe last time the state of Virginia had its own, definitive plant guide was 1762, with the book “Flora Virginica.” Now, after more than a decade in the making, the volume has finally been updated.  Connie Stevens reports.

 

 

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Chinese Meat Processor Takes Smithfield Foods

LM Otero/AP via NPR

LM Otero/AP via NPR

Smithfield Foods is being sold to China’s largest pork producer. Beverly Amsler reports on the $4.7 billion deal.

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Governor Expedites Rights Restoration Process

VotedAlthough the General Assembly this year shot down one opportunity for Governor McDonnell to fulfill a campaign promise to restore the voting and civil rights of nonviolent felons, the Governor has found a way to sidestep lawmakers and make progress toward that goal.  A day after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli unveiled his advisory report on the issue, McDonnell announced his own initiative.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it does not require amending the state Constitution.

 

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Virginia Poverty Measure

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA 1960s era poverty measurement is being replaced by one that more accurately reflects Virginians’ living standards and spending patterns.  Beverly Amsler explains.

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Cubs on Camera

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Photo: Wildlife Center of Virginia

It’s spring, and that means business for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, where hundreds of animals – many of them babies — are brought for treatment of injuries or illness. This year veterinarians are caring for a record number of bear cubs, and as Sandy Hausman reports, the public is invited to watch.

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Restoration of Rights

ScalesofJusticeVirginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has unveiled a list of options that would expedite the process of voting-rights restoration for non-violent felons.  The proposals were made by a bipartisan advisory panel he created after a rights-restoration amendment to the state Constitution that he endorsed failed to pass the General Assembly this year.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Attorney General says Governors can and should do more to intervene.

Meantime, Democrats aren’t buying the Attorney General’s change of heart. They accuse him of playing election -year politics as he campaigns for Governor.

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VaNews for 05.28.13

VPAPnewStories about political pressure on state universities to hold down tuition and some movement toward offshore wind energy development were among the most clicked this past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.

VaNews is a free public service of the Virginia Public Access Project and can be found at vpap.org

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VA Tribes Fighting for Federal Recognition

TribesA bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers is fighting to win federal recognition of six tribes in the commonwealth. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Cicadas on the Menu

Chocolate Covered Cicadas

Chocolate Covered Cicadas

As the 17-year cicadas emerge from the ground, millions of birds will be feasting – and a few people plan to join the party, harvesting, cooking and eating these insects which experts say are high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol.  Sandy Hausman was at one of the first dinner parties to celebrate the coming of cicadas.

Experts say that due to the prolific use of pesticides it is not recommended to eat any bug without knowing its origins are safe.

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Tax Dept Debit Cards

WayToGoThose debit cards that the Virginia Department of Taxation issued to taxpayers instead of checks are NOT going anywhere. In fact, as the tax season wraps up, most residents have already seen them.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Tax Commissioner Craig Burns has told the Senate Finance Committee that he believes the worst is over.

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Virginia Conversations: The Gubernatorial Race

McAuliffe-Cuccinelli

Terry McAuliffe (left) and Ken Cuccinelli (right)

On this edition of “Virginia Conversations,”  a discussion on the race for Governor between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Our political pundits weigh in on the issues facing… and dogging, the two candidates. Plus we’ll have reaction to last weekend’s GOP convention in Richmond. Join host May-Lily Lee.

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Election Rules Reminder

VoterInfoAs the statewide and local campaigns heat up and we move closer to a Democratic Primary, the State Board of Elections wants to remind citizens of a number of rules to remember regarding voter and candidate ethics.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Board takes seriously state code violations which could result in fines or other penalties.

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Online Tax Tangles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARevenue that Virginia officials were anticipating from online sales tax legislation in Congress is now in doubt. Matt Laslo reports on the battle going on behind the scenes on Capitol Hill over a proposal to collect online sales taxes.

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Today’s Consumer

SONY DSCRoanoke College is out with a new poll detailing how Virginians view their financial situation and general business conditions now and in the future.  Beverly Amsler has the details.

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State Employees See Health Insurance Changes

Health-Insurance-772

Tens of thousands of state employees will likely see an increase in the cost of their health insurance plans beginning July 1st.   They also face a deadline this week,  as the Commonwealth begins to implement significant changes in its health insurance plans.  Open enrollment for revising health benefits, investing in flexible spending accounts, adding family members, and other options ends this Friday.  Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, reductions in premiums could await those who enroll in a new Wellness Engine called “MyActiveHealth.”

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Virginia Scientists Predict a Breakthrough in Cancer Treatment

John C Herr

John C. Herr, Professor of Cell Biology and Biomedical Engineering
Photo: University of Virginia

Scientists at the University of Virginia have made a surprising discovery that could mean more effective treatments for a range of deadly cancers.  Sandy Hausman reports on how this finding could shape future therapies, and how long it might take to bring those to market.

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State Revenues Still a Concern for Lawmakers

revenueState revenues improved a little last month following a dismal drop of 6.1%  in March.  The news reassured members of the House Appropriations Committee, who worry that federal sequestration cuts could have a negative impact on both Virginia’s economy and the state’s coffers.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Finance confirmed that they have good reason for concern.

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VaNews for 05.21.13

VPAPnewA University of Virginia history class that attracted 47,000 students and a look at the career of entrepreneur and politicans’ friend Jonnie Williams were the topics two of the most-read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.  Fred Echols reports.

VaNews is a free public service of the Virginia Public Access Project and can be found at vpap.org

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Learning to Learn

palsA University of Virginia Professor of Education has won two new grants to help American children read.  The program she’s developed is already in use statewide and has spread to every state and five other countries.  It’s called PALS, and Sandy Hausman tells why it’s a breakthrough for kids.

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Republican Convention in Richmond

More than 13,000 GOP convention delegates have converged on Richmond from all over the state to confirm Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the party’s gubernatorial nominee—and to nominate their candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General on Saturday.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil talked with some of them to find out why they’re delegates, what they expect to hear Saturday, and who they’re supporting. GOPelephant

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Virginia Conversations: Sen. Mark Warner

Warner HeadshotOn this edition of  Virginia Conversations, an hour with Virginia Senator, and former Governor, Mark Warner.

He organized the so-called “Gang of Six” to end the partisan gridlock in the Senate.  We’ll ask him how those efforts are going today… and get his take on other domestic and foreign issues as well.

Join host May-Lily Lee.

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Liberty University Continues Fight Against Health Care Law

HealthCare01Liberty University is once again rolling the dice by asking a three-judge panel appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama to side with the Christian-based college against some of the mandates in the Affordable Care Act.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel  pointed out that Liberty’s case is broader than other, similar suits.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that some judges questioned whether it’s premature since all regulations have not yet gone into effect.

 

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Governor McDonnell’s Job Approval Rating

McDonnellPortraitA new Quinnipiac poll gauges where Virginia voters stand on Governor Bob McDonnell in light of the relationship between McDonnell and Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who paid for wedding catering for the Governor’s daughter.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the poll suggests that the Governor has taken a popularity hit—but not enough right now to threaten his political career.

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Virginia’s Endangered Places

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The Compton-Bateman House in Better Days

Preservation Virginia’s 2013 list of endangered places ranges from 12 acres of old growth hardwoods to century-old schools built for Africa American students. The sites on the list are threatened by development, neglect and a lack of funding. Tim Thornton reports.

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Date Set in Chef’s Embezzlement Case

SchneiderToddA Richmond judge has set a trial date for the felony embezzlement case of former Executive Mansion chef Todd Schneider, who is accused of stealing food from the residence.  Schneider also catered the wedding of Governor McDonnell’s daughter, and his descriptions of the relationships between Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, the McDonnell family, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have prompted new investigations but no new charges.  Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan has more details from the courthouse in Richmond.

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Scientists Makes Political Endorsement

Mann_HockeyStickClimateWarsScientists don’t often get involved in political campaigns, but in Virginia one of the nation’s leading men of science has stepped up to endorse a candidate for attorney general.  Sandy Hausman tells why.

 

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Lawmakers Weigh In Red Flags & Abuse

ArmedForcesVirginia lawmakers say they’re united in their attempts to combat sexual harassment in the military. But Matt Laslo found that lawmakers haven’t found a legislative fix yet.

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The Run for Lieutenant Governor: Susan Stimpson

stimpson-lgMore than 13,000 Republicans are preparing to gather in Richmond for their state nominating convention that begins on Friday.  They will choose their nominees for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General—and given the large field, many say it’s been challenging to select only one for each office.  In the last installment of our election series on the statewide candidates, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on the final contender, Susan Stimpson—who is one of two women vying for Lieutenant Governor.

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New Approach to Stopping Superbugs

MRSA+superbugThe race to stay ahead of drug resistant ‘super bugs’ threatens to be a losing battle.  But a Blacksburg company is working on an innovative solution to the problem.  Robbie Harris has more.

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The Run for Lieutenant Governor: Ralph Northam & Aneesh Chopra

Wortham Chopra

Ralph Northam (left), Aneesh Chopra (right)

Today we round out our election series on the statewide candidates, focusing on the two Democrats running for Lieutenant Governor in the June 11thprimary. State Senator Ralph Northam and former Obama Administration Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra have distinct backgrounds. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports both contenders say their goal is to govern Virginia in a slightly different direction than the current administration.

 

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The Run for Lieutenant Governor: Steve Martin & Corey Stewart

MartinStewart

Steve Martin (left), Corey Stewart (right)

We continue today with Part 7 of our election series on the statewide candidates with a focus on the crowded GOP Lieutenant Governor’s race Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on a veteran state lawmaker and a local government leader who are both seeking the nomination: Chesterfield Senator Steve Martin and Prince William Board of Supervisor Chair Corey Stewart.

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The Run for Lieutenant Governor: E.W. Jackson and Pete Snyder

JacksonSnyder

E.W. Jackson (left), Pete Snyder (right)

Among the seven candidates seeking to become the Republicans’ nominee for Lieutenant Governor two have no public office experience. But, from their point-of-view, that’s a good thing. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan introduces us to the only African-American running for Lieutenant Governor this year and a Northern Virginia businessman: E.W. Jackson and Pete Snyder.

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VaNews for 05.13.13

VPAPnewOne of Virginia’s worst political scandals  is back in the headlines while a statewide political race that usually gets little attention will be in the spotlight this year. Those stories have been among the the most read this past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews at VPAP.org. Fred Echols reports. 

 

VaNews is a free public service of the Virginia Public Access Project and can be found at vpap.org.

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Fracking in the GW National Forest

GWNext month, the federal government is expected to announce whether it will allow fracking – an intensive form of drilling for natural gas – in the George Washington National Forest, a popular area for hiking, hunting and fishing.  Sandy Hausman paid a visit to the forest and filed this report.

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Virginia Conversations: The State’s Wine Industry

Wine02In this program, we look at how the state’s vineyards are doing, talk to the man dubbed “The Father of the Modern Virginia Wine Industry”, and hear from two distinguished wine critics on how Virginia’s wines measure up with host May-Lily Lee.

Here’s a link to some upcoming Virginia wine events.

 

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The Run for Lieutenant Governor: Ligamfelter & Davis

Davis LingamfelterNine candidates are seeking their party’s nominations for Lieutenant Governor this year.  The first in our profile formerly served as state Delegate and state Senator and is one of only two women to run for statewide office during this nominating season, Jeannemarie Davis. The second in this first part of our series is former Army Colonel and long-time Delegate, Scott Lingamfelter. Anne Marie Morgan reports.

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Political Fallout

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARegardless of the legal outcome, the issues surrounding a former chef from the governor’s mansion and gifts from the CEO of a company called Star Scientific may take a political toll on the state’s top Republicans.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

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Senator Mark Herring Running for Attorney General

MarkHerringMore than six years into his career as a State Senator, Mark Herring believes it’s now time to transition into a higher office—as Virginia’s next Attorney General.
He’s one of only two Democrats running for the office, which he says has been held too long by Republicans.  In Part 4 of our election series, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil introduces us to the Senator from Loudoun County, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination in the June 11th primary.

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VaNews for 05.06.13

VPAPnewOne method of paying for new roads in Virginia has hit a speed bump and a Hampton Roads man is in trouble for roughing up a city councilman’s car. Those were two of the most clicked stories at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link. Fred Echols reports. 

 

VaNews is a free public service of the Virginia Public Access Project and can be found at vpap.org.

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Virginia Lawmakers on Immigration Debate

passportVirginia Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte could play an outsized role in this year’s immigration debate. But Matt Laslo reports that some Democrats accuse him and other Republicans of trying to kill the effort.

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Justin Fairfax Running for Attorney General

JustinFairfax-About (1)

On June 11th, ALL registered voters in the Commonwealth will be able to participate in a Democratic primary to choose the party’s candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.  In Part 3 of our election series, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on a small business-owner and former federal prosecutor who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Attorney General:  Justin Fairfax.

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Virginia Conversations: Early Childhood Education

preschoolWe’re talking about early childhood education on this edition of  “Virginia Conversations”– early childhood education.  Many believe it’s the key to succeeding in school, a career… even life itself. But not every child has the best opportunity to receive that all-important early start.  So, what’s being done at the local and state levels to help kids get off on the right foot?   May-Lily Lee and her guests look for some answers.

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Former Chef Fights Back

gavelNorfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Gregory Underwood will now handle the state embezzlement case of a former Executive Mansion chef.  That’s because a Richmond circuit court judge has agreed to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request to withdraw from the case.  But  it’s not certain yet whether the chef who believes he’s a whistleblower will have to go to trial.

Todd Schneider’s lawyers argued that because the Attorney General knew of alleged improprieties between the Governor’s office and the CEO of nutritional supplements-maker Star Scientific, the Attorney General’s office should not have filed the charges against Schneider to begin with, and the case should be dismissed.

Judge Margaret Spencer delayed ruling on that until the new prosecutor can review the case.  Schneider claims that Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams broke ethics laws by paying the catering bill for the wedding of McDonnell’s daughter.

The AG had asked to recuse himself, in part, because his office would face a conflict with state employees who may be called as witnesses.  The next hearing has been set for May 14.

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Senator Mark Obenshain Running for Attorney General

Mark D. ObenshainThe two veteran state lawmakers and GOP candidates for Attorney General have spent the last several months energetically crisscrossing Virginia to win supporters.  Republicans will choose one of them to be their nominee at the party’s state convention later this month.  In part two of our election series, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on a State Senator from Harrisonburg who is carrying on his father’s legacy.

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Delegate Robb Bell Running for Attorney General

Rob Bell for AGOn May 18th, Virginia Republicans will choose their party’s nominee for Attorney General at a statewide convention, and two veteran state lawmakers are vying for the job.  In the first installment of our election series, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan introduces us to one of those contenders: the lawmaker elected to Thomas Jefferson’s seat in the General Assembly, Delegate Rob Bell.

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UVA Salt Study

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoctors have long advised people with high blood pressure to cut back on salt consumption, but a new study from the University of Virginia says that may not be necessary.  Sandy Hausman tells why.

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Redshirting in Kindergarten

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Photo Courtesy of U.Va.’s Curry School of Education

If you’re a parent or grandparent with young children, you’ve probably heard about red-shirting – a term borrowed from the world of college sports.  It refers to keeping a child back in school, so he or she will be a little older than classmates and have some academic and social advantages.  Sandy Hausman reports a new study takes a close look at that practice, which concerns some educators.

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