Archive for October, 2013

Justices Reverse VT Wrongful Death Verdict Against State

SupremeCourtofVirginiaBuildingThe Virginia Supreme Court has reversed a wrongful death verdict stemming from the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, which killed 32 people.  Robbie Harris reports.


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Website Woes Continue for Health Insurance Exchange Website

ACAWebWhile some Democratic members of Congress have criticized the unsuccessful rollout of the federal health insurance exchange website, others disagree. Calls to delay some of the requirements of the Affordable Act Care escalated when Democratic New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen wrote an open letter to President Obama after the website’s problems emerged. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, several members of Virginia’s congressional delegation say they are too quick to ask for a delay in its implementation.

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Get Out the Vote

Vote4In an off-year election, when there are no presidential candidates, voter turnout is usually low.
Polls may give the race to one candidate, but victory could go to another if he or she can get supporters to actually show up and cast a ballot.
That’s why both Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe are campaigning this week with their party’s biggest stars.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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The Problem with Polls


Dr. Bob Holsworth

A week after a Quinnipiac poll had Democrat Terry McAuliffe with a seven-point lead over his Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, the poll now says McAuliffe’s lead has dwindled by three points.  Some other polls suggest that the Democrat still has a significant lead over the Republican-with additional surveys saying that his lead is growing.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one veteran political expert says the variation has a lot to do with who comes out to vote on election day.

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Virginia’s Higher Education Budget

CollegeVirginia’s colleges and universities may not get all—if any—of the funds they are requesting for NEW construction projects.  But the State Council for Higher Education is recommending that lawmakers make maintenance a major priority in the new biennial budget.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Council is also recommending continued funding of “Top Jobs 21″—a major education initiative started by Governor McDonnell.

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ACA Not Immune to Identity Threats

ScamThe Virginia Attorney General’s office is warning consumers that scams to entice people as they seek to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act are cropping up around the U.S.

It was also Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, who was the first to challenge the Affordable Care in Act in Federal Court.  He maintains the law is unconstitutional.

Now, his office—along with the Federal Trade Commission– says in some cases, identity thieves are trying to cash-in by siphoning off personal and financial information through deceptive means.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, state officials are advising consumers to beware if they are not initiating the contact.


The number for the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline is 1-800-552-9963.   

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VaNews for 10.28.13

VPAPnewA Virginia man’s fascination with elevators has made him a YouTube star and a new transportation plan has emerged late in the governor’s race. Those are among the most clicked stories in recent days at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on Fred Echols reports.

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Restoring Rights: Non-Violent Offenders

felonvotingGovernor McDonnell acknowledges that one of his signature campaign proposals was not a total success, but he still touting progress that’s been made in restoring the rights of non-violent felons. The Governor has told the state NAACP that while both leading gubernatorial candidates have pledged to continue this effort, it’s not enough—and now civic leaders must push lawmakers to amend the state Constitution. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol. 

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Virginia Conversations: The Final Debate

On this edition of Virginia Conversations, we check in on the race for Governor.  How did Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe fare in their last debate of the campaign?  We’ll hear from two journalists covering the candidates to get their take on how they did… as well as give Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis an opportunity to respond to few of the debate questions.  Join the political round table with host May-Lily Lee.


Quinnipiac’s October Elections Poll

QuinnBased on the latest Quinnipiac Poll, if the election for Virginia Governor were held today, Democrat Terry McAuliffe would beat Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by a significant margin. The spread itself isn’t different from the last Quinnipiac poll.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the survey contained the revelation that if most supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis changed their minds, the shift would not fall in Cuccinelli’s favor.

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From the Campaign Trail: Swing Votes

electionVoteSwing counties in Virginia that were key to President Obama’s victory aren’t showing many signs of life in this year’s governor’s race.  Matt Laslo stopped in Loudon County in Northern Virginia and has this glimpse of a lackluster ground game.

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High Costs of Untreated Dental Problems

DentalUntreated, preventable dental disease in Virginia leads to higher costs, temporary solutions, and poor health.  That’s the conclusion of a study by the General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Health Care, which especially focused on the fiscal impact to the Commonwealth.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the panel is considering policy options that might be less expensive than the status quo.

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Music by the Bedside

Photo Cole Geddy/UVA

In western culture, the afterlife is often depicted as a place where angels rest on clouds and harps play soothing music.  Here in Virginia, some people hear that music even before death.  Sandy Hausman reports on a program called Music by the Bedside.

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Medicaid Expansion Study

medThe General Assembly panel that will decide whether and how to expand Medicaid in Virginia took a look today  at the experiences of other states.  The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission was especially interested in cost-controlling factors, aspects that worked, and mistakes to be avoided.   And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the authors of research studies that crunched the numbers also attended.


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Kick the Can?

FedsLawmakers on Capitol Hill just ended one battle that cost Virginia countless millions of dollars, but the deal merely kicks the can down the road. Matt Laslo reports that the state isn’t out of troubled waters yet…  

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VaNews for 10.21.13

VPAPnewThere are ongoing concerns about the financial health of  the Virginia Retirement System and plenty of speculation about who’ll be in control of the state senate a few months from now. Those stories have been among the most clicked this past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’sVaNews link at . Fred Echols talks with David Poole.

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Virginia Converations: The Virginia Film Festival


On this edition of the program we have a  sneak preview of this year’s Virginia Film Festival.  One of the highlights is a special 50th anniversary screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”… followed by a discussion of the film with its star,  Tippi Hedren.  Take a listen as we hear from some Virginia film-makers whose works are featured in this year’s Festival.


For more information on the Virginia Film Festival, click here.

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Meditation on the Lawn

UVA/Sanjay Suchak

UVA/Sanjay Suchak

There was a surprising event at the University of Virginia this week. About 500 people gathered to hear from one of the world’s great spiritual leaders and one of the nation’s new media moguls.  Sandy Hausman reports on why they led a mass meditation on The Lawn.

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Coal Mine Reclamation

Photo: Green Forests Work

Photo: Green Forests Work

For more than a century, coal companies here in Virginia have been transforming wooded hillsides — strip mining more than a million acres of land in Central Appalachia. They’re required to restore those sites, but environmentalists aren’t always happy with the results, and area residents find no economic use for the land. Now, however, there’s something new happening on old mining sites.  Jonna McKone reports.

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Expanding Medicaid

MedicaidSymbolA packed room full of almost evenly divided speakers gave Virginia lawmakers an earful over how they should proceed with potentially expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, with more than 160 people signed up to speak at three minutes each, members of the “Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission” will have much to consider before they make final recommendations.

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Government Shutdown: Placing Blame

ShutdownDemocrats in Virginia are laying blame for the government shutdown at the feet of Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Balloon Release Dangers

Balloon 02Releasing clusters of balloons into the sky has become a common way to mark a special occasion or call attention to an issue, but the balloons are creating an issue of their own.  Robbie Harris has more.

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VaNews for 10.14.13

VPAPnewA major test for Virginia’s conservation easement program and how to film a big budget movie without attracting a lot of attention. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.  Fred Echols talks with David Poole.

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

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Virginia Conversations: Understanding the Affordable Care Act

ACA04On this edition of the program,  enrollment in the so-called “Obamacare” program has begun… and so has the confusion and questions.  Our guests are representatives from two organizations charged with explaining the new health care program to Virginians.  They join host May-Lily Lee to help  sort out the Affordable Care Act.

For Information & Assistance:

Health Insurance Marketplace, Affordable Care Act:, 1-800-318-2596

www,enroll-virginia,com, 1- 888-392-5132

Tidewater Area Assistance: 804-212-1416

Small Business Resources: 1-800-706-7893

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VA Republicans At Odds With Party Leaders

GovtShutdownWhile House Republican leaders are working to avoid defaulting on U-S debt, they’re still not offering legislation to reopen the entire federal government. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has this story on how some Virginia Republicans disagree with the tactics of their party leaders.

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Hispanic Workforce & Higher Education

latinoAs it is in the rest of the nation, Virginia’s Latino population is growing rapidly. But some believe that while there’s a lot of talk of building a better future through education, there’s very little action that translates into real results—especially for the Latino community. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that’s why some of the most influential educators and business leaders have gathered in Richmond for a two-day “Hispanic Workforce through Higher Education” Conference.


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VaNews for 10.07.13

VPAPnewFormer UVa climate scientist Michael Mann’s work at the university is again the subject of a court battle and Virginia is working on a database that’s making some privacy advocates uncomfortable. Those stories have been among the most clicked over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on  Fred Echols talks with David Poole. 

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

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Human Trafficking Summit

human-trafficking-ring-spain-and-franceWhile Virginia has made significant strides to confront human trafficking, it’s still a growing problem—so much so that Governor McDonnell hosted the first-ever state Human Trafficking Summit. What we learned is that while Virginia—especially Northern Virginia—is still one of the largest hubs for traffickers, law enforcement is quickly gaining ground. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

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Virginia Conversations: Poetry & Prose

LitThis edition of the program features prose and poetry from four Virginia authors.  Biographer and essayist Phyllis Theroux, Virginia’s Poet Laureate Sofia Starnes, and poet and Director of Creative Writing at VCU Gregory Donovan discuss their new publications.  And we talk to retired UVA Professor Charles Wright about winning this year’s Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.   May-Lily Lee hosts.

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State Transportation Projects

TransWhen the Virginia General Assembly approved new transportation funding this year, it also allocated $2.5 billion more than VDOT’s previous six-year transportation improvement plan. That is allowing to the agency to focus aggressively on some badly needed construction projects statewide to relieve congestion, make repairs, and build new lanes. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it will also mean some headaches for motorists traveling on some of the busiest stretches of Virginia.

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Government Shutdown

ShutdownAs thousands of federal workers in Virginia are locked out of their offices, lawmakers in the commonwealth are pointing fingers across the aisle. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.

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Candidates for Attorney General Debate

Mark D. Obenshain

Mark Obenshain, Republican Candidate


Mark Herring, Democrat Candidate

The federal government shutdown provided fuel for the Democratic candidate for Attorney General to take shots at his Republican rival during their second debate.  But while GOP Senator Mark Obenshain did not distance himself from the group which Democratic Senator Mark Herring says is behind the shutdown, the Republican painted his opponent as a figurehead who lacks vision and understanding of the office of Attorney General.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Employers & the Affordable Care Act

ACA01Although the federal health insurance Marketplace for small businesses has been delayed until next month, employers still have some obligations that they must meet this week under the Affordable Care Act.  That includes telling employees about the launch of the individual Marketplace, where employees MAY find coverage options through the approved plans.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the experts say the conversation should go beyond mere notification due to the law’s complexity.

 Many companies are inviting insurance agents to come speak to their employees to further explain ALL of their options both inside and outside of the Marketplace.


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