Archive for May, 2014
On this edition of Virginia Conversations, Senator Tim Kaine drops by for a visit. Everything’s on the table for discussion – from international events, to the November elections, and the current fight in the Virginia General Assembly over Medicaid expansion.
For weeks, speculation has run rampant at the State Capitol over what authority Governor McAuliffe might have under the Virginia Constitution to keep the state operating if a budget is not passed by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Attorneys for the nonpartisan Division of Legislative Services were asked to advise state lawmakers about executive options for paying bills or mitigating a government shutdown. At the heart of the issue is the constitutional requirement for separation of powers and co-equal branches—and as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the answer is … complicated.
It was raises and pink slips for McDonald’s employees in Southside Virginia…and a school board member in Fairfax has changed his prom night plans after a public stir over his Twitter exchange with a student. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Virginia’s junior U.S. Senator is backing a federal dual-enrollment bill that would enable more students to attend high school while earning college credits. Senator Tim Kaine tells Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil that his family saved money through a dual enrollment program—and similar initiatives nationally could help put more students through college.
Summer is just about here, and in many of the nation’s national parks, that means forest fires. Here in Virginia, it may also bring a different kind of blaze – one that threatens a vast wetland and wildlife refuge near Norfolk.
After losing thousands of acres in years past, experts have come up with a plan for saving the Great Dismal Swamp. Sandy Hausman has that story.
On this edition of Virginia Conversations, we’re kicking off the unofficial start to summer with your road trip plans. Host May-Lily Lee and guests look at some of the top vacation spots around the state, and find out what’s new at Virginia’s State Parks.
Resources from the program:
Virginia Tourism Corporation
(Including List of Events Around the Commonwealth)
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
(Including List of Virginia’s State Parks)
African-American students from Virginia had joined that case in the 1950s after walking out of their racially segregated school in protest of its dilapidated conditions and inferior curriculum.
And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the governor provided a brief civics lesson—tying issues six decades ago to issues today.
As churches struggle to keep young Americans in the fold, some are moving their services to surprising places. In Charlottesville, more than three dozen of the faithful assemble at a bar each month to drink beer and sing hymns. Sandy Hausman has that story.
It’s said the harmonica was invented by German instrument maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in 1821. Nearly 100 years later, a man was born who would take his passion for the harmonica to another level… and keep it there for nearly another 100 years.
Rebecca Sheir introduces us to Virginia resident Jack Hopkins who… at age 94… has had a longer love affair with the harmonica than most.
Three Virginia plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to delay the upcoming June primaries—AND if lawmakers fail to implement a new congressional redistricting plan, impose one himself. Although the plan was pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department, both sides of a lawsuit that alleges gerrymandering began presenting their case, which is expected to carry over into Thursday. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the U.S. District Courthouse in Richmond.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, behavioral health specialists, and other community advocates gathered in Richmond for a statewide conference that brought together Virginia’s Crisis Intervention Teams. The C-I-Ts increase collaboration among first responders, mental health treatment-providers, and agencies to de-escalate behavioral health crises and help individuals obtain the care they need. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie reports, while challenges still remain, the CITs appear to be working.
More charges today against nine defendants linked to the alleged kidnapping and murder of Waynesboro Reserve Police Captain Kevin Quick.
The charges and more than two dozen others are now unsealed, and link Quick’s death to Bloods gang members and what’s known as the 99 Goon Syndikate.
In a 39-page indictment, charges linked to the group include robbery, larceny, burglary, obstruction of justice, kidnapping, carjacking, malicious wounding, drug trafficking, conspiracy and murder.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy held a news conference today in Charlottesville.
American Chestnut trees used make up 25% of the Appalachian forest. A blight, in the early 1900s changed that, and today they’re all but gone from the forests from Georgia to Maine. But the tree left us a way to resurrect it from the dead, and with it, a kind of message: Only with the help of human beings will the towering Chestnuts return. Robbie Harris prepared this report about people working to resurrect them.
On this edition of Virginia Conversations, making the transition from high school to the work force.
That’s the mission of “Jobs for Virginia Grads”. This state-funded organization helps disadvantaged and at-risk teens graduate from high school, then find and keep quality jobs.
Additional Resource: Jobs Corps (Virginia Locations)
Since the advent of smart phones, thousands of applications have come on the market. You can buy one to help identify bird calls or constellations. Another makes random sounds — a drum roll or a sad trombone for example. I-steam fogs up the screen of your phone, allowing you to write things with your finger, and now Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is working on an app to make hunting and fishing simpler. Hawes Spencer has that story.
This week embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to face a Senate panel after veterans groups and some lawmakers have called for his resignation. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Every year V-DOT brings before the public a six year improvement program that includes new projects along with those that have been on the shelf for years, or even decades. But, this year’s prioritizing may come undone. Tab O’Neal reports.
Legal partying turns rowdy in Northern Virginia while a crowd of illegal drug users keeps it peaceful in Nelson County. Those stories have been among the most read this past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Within the halls of the oldest representative body in the U.S., in the very same seats that Virginia lawmakers craft legislation, sat 44 people from 32 different countries who, for the first time, were called “Americans.” As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it was all part of a naturalization ceremony at the State Capitol that, for some, marked a decades-long journey for U.S. citizenship.
On this edition of the program, helping veterans get jobs after serving in the military. We’ll tell you about a program that’s helping vets by educating and training companies that might hire them. It’s called “Virginia Values Veterans” – it helps business leaders see the value in hiring, training, and retaining men and women from the armed forces.
V3 (Virginia Values Veterans)
Virginia Employment Commission
Virginia Workforce Connection
OppInc (Opportunity Inc) Veteran Career Center, Hampton Roads
Virginia Transition Assistance Program (offered through V3)
Virginia Wounded Warrior Program
Shareholders hoping to push Dominion Power to go green are celebrating today, after four resolutions they proposed won about 20% support at the utility’s annual meeting. Such resolutions are not binding, but they can be influential. Sandy Hausman has more on that story.
Former Governor Doug Wilder says he’s received lots of inquiries regarding the future of a proposed National Slavery Museum, so he’s revealed what he hopes to be its new location. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while Fredericksburg is no longer a consideration, Wilder says a historic church now owned by Virginia Commonwealth University would be ideal.
In a written statement, Wilder says that since funds for the Museum were included in the new state budget, it is the intention of the National Slavery Museum to further these discussions with the appropriate authorities, including the State Legislature and the Governor.
Wilder says he envisioned a museum in downtown Richmond, not far from where slaves were traded and herded like cattle, but at the same location where they found hope.
By the end of this summer, the U.S. Trust Fund that pays a significant share of highway construction and repairs will be insolvent, and authorization for transportation programs will expire soon after that. New legislation unveiled by the U.S. Transportation Department includes a provision to lift a decades-old ban …and allow all states to implement tolls on federal interstate highways across the U.S. –while also requiring electronic transponders. But, the new federal tolling proposal is already coming under fire.
A nonprofit organization that brings free medical care to underserved communities has announced the establishment of a state office and a permanent presence in Virginia. “Remote Area Medical” has been offering regular, mobile clinics in Southwest Virginia that have attracted thousands of patients needing care. RAM intends to expand operations—including to other regions of the Commonwealth.
The cost of health care has been rising faster than other sectors for decades, to the point where today, one of every five dollars is spent there. But exactly why that is, has not been well understood, until now. Robbie Harris has this report.
We’re officially into the second month of the Virginia General Assembly’s stalemate over Medicaid expansion—and NO two-year budget. While there’s discussion of a possible government shutdown if lawmakers don’t reach a compromise by July first, state business must continue in the interim. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that means the state’s colleges and universities are now discussing contingency plans.
Ready for a shot at co-starring in a new film? The Virginia Historical Society is asking Virginians to shoot a short video, the best of which will be in a film capturing the spirit of The Old Dominion. Host May-Lily Lee talks to the President of the Historical Society and the producer of the film – “Virginia Voices”.
For more information about the project, click here.
There have been a dozen toxic spills from railroad cars in North America over the last year and three cases of river pollution in this region over the past four months. Are these accidents happening more often? Should this country have rail lines and toxic storage facilities so close to its waterways, and what’s being done to prevent future problems? We asked Sandy Hausman to find answers.
Next week the U-S Senate is expected to have a debate on a bill that would modernize the federal government’s use of energy, but it could get derailed by an oil pipeline in the Midwest. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
The National Transportation Safety Board has a team in place in Lynchburg, trying to determine the cause and the environmental impact of yesterday’s CSX train derailment downtown that plunged three oil-carrying tanker cars into the James River and the resulting massive fire. Connie Stevens has more.
Major changes are unfolding in how transportation planning takes place in Virginia. Either one-third of the 18-member Commonwealth Transportation Board have had their terms expire or were “transitioned off,” according to Governor McAuliffe. As Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor says the six new members he’s appointing will greatly contribute to easing congestion on the roads, promoting economic development, and supporting local communities.
While Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is being challenged, supporters of overturning the ban are optimistic that eventually, gay and lesbian couples will have the freedoms that other married couples do. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, in the meantime, some are calling on the governor, attorney general, and lawmakers to make life easier for those who were married outside of Virginia—and it’s as simple as changing the state tax code.