Archive for July, 2014
Day four of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, picked up where it left off the previous day—with the prosecution’s star witness, Jonnie Williams. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the former Star Scientific CEO detailed the gifts and loans he provided to the former first family—and the point where he knew he believed he was crossing ethical and legal lines.
Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner helped introduce a bill today to combat the high rates of sexual assaults on college campuses. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Day three in the trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, opened up with testimony from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams’ assistant, Jerri Fulkerson.
As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, she testified that not only did the former first couple accept lavish gifts from her boss, but their children also received favors.
The second day of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began with instructions to the jury that they must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence—and not by leaks or media accounts. Prosecutor Jessica Aber recounted the indictment’s theory that the McDonnells exchanged official acts for gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the bombshells hit when the couple’s defense attorneys spoke.
Jury selection began today in the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Prosecutors allege that the former first couple promoted Star Scientific’s products in exchange for gifts and mortgage loans from the company’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the first step on Monday was to try and choose a fair and impartial jury.
Virginia and three other states may soon be allowing gay marriage after a federal appeals court ruling in Richmond, but supporters of a ban are expected to ask for a Supreme Court hearing. Sandy Hausman has that story.
The U.S. House is preparing for a big debate this week over whether President Obama overstepped his power by delaying the health care mandate for businesses. Virginia lawmakers have much to say about the challenge.
A Virginia town is exploring its options for regulating fortune telling…and the state has come up with a new idea for moving more people into farming. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie traveled to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, over the weekend to participate in a debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. The event produced one tidbit of news, as Tim Thornton reports.
The political pundits will be keeping a watchful eye over this weekend’s events at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his GOP rival, Ed Gillespie, square off in a Virginia Bar Association-sponsored debate. But also watching from the outside is their Libertarian opponent, Robert Sarvis, who once again, was not invited to the dance. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil examines the question asked by many: Why?
With people still adjusting to their insurance policies and premiums under the Affordable Care Act, now might not be the ideal time to tell Virginians that sales taxes associated with some health procedures, prescriptions, and even Band Aids could be passed on to them. But that was one of the issues the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences has examined. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more.
The federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, begins on Monday. Federal prosecutors allege the former first couple performed official acts to promote Star Scientific’s products in exchange for roughly $165,000 in gifts and loans from its ex-CEO, Jonnie Williams—then failed to disclose most of those gifts. McDonnell says he never made such an agreement–and the company received NO quid pro quo. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan takes a closer look.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 25th annual Kids Count survey. And while Virginia has made progress in the areas of education and overall health, it still suggests that more children are living in impoverished homes and lack the community make-up or family foundation to help increase their likelihood of living successful lives. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains.
Lawmakers in the region are divided over how to deal with the president’s request for emergency money to deal with the flood of unaccompanied minors. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Police in Albemarle County are waiting for results from the state’s crime lab – hoping to learn whether remains found over the weekend are those of missing UVA student Hannah Graham. Sandy Hausman reports on the discovery and what it may mean for the only suspect in the case – Jesse Matthew, Jr.
A new General Assembly panel is vowing to conduct a thorough review of Virginia’s mental health system, while not shielding any “sacred cows” in the process. The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the 21st Century held its inaugural meeting… and began by examining how the Commonwealth’s system is faring—then comparing it to other states. Members already seem determined to make reforms. Anne Marie Morgan reports.
At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, an exhibit called “Posing Beauty” is in its final week.The show features a piece by an African American depicting the confederate and American flags woven in African hair. Just outside the museum, demonstrators with real confederate flags are far from wrapping up their protest of the VMFA where a pair of confederate flags were removed from the grounds. The artist and the flaggers share a mission: to remind the public of the importance of their heritage. May-Lily Lee reports. (July 21, 2014)
With parts of Hampton Roads facing a rising sea level and stronger Atlantic storms one idea being talked about is a flood wall across the lower Chesapeake Bay…and someone in Portsmouth stirred things up when they decided to rejuvenate a sign at a subdivision entrance. Those are among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
House Republicans are trying to slash the size of the EPA while also limiting its ability to regulate, which they argue will help the economy in places like Virginia. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
While parents look for more affordable ways to send their kids to college, many are seeking information about the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a new briefing by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission suggests that the state’s Plan may be one of the most viable and sustainable options.
The return on Virginia Retirement System investments fell 21 percent in 2009—but the pension fund has now rebounded and is exceeding expectations. That’s the message delivered by VRS officials to state lawmakers. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, all are cautiously optimistic that the fund’s health will keep improving.
Most Virginia Democrats are pushing legislation to overturn last week’s Supreme Court decision allowing some companies to deny contraception to employees. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
Another national debate is taking center stage in Virginia—this time over a potential Internet sales tax. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one group that’s opposed to out-of-state e-commerce taxation and the federal Marketplace Fairness Act says they have overwhelming proof that Virginians don’t want it.
A Virginia County is trying to find out what happened to seven thousand people its police have identified as undocumented over the past few years…and organizers of a Fourth of July demonstration in Richmond in favor of gun owners rights went ahead with their plan even when no one answered their call for support. Fred Echols reports.
Now that immigration reform has essentially been pulled from the docket during this legislative session Virginia lawmakers are bracing for the impact on the state’s economy – as some lawmakers brace for what executive actions President Obama prepares to take. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details.
A small, colonial-era town in Appalachia may not seem the most likely venue to watch cutting-edge contemporary theater. But every summer, since 1991, Shepherdstown, West Virginia has been a hot-bed of new American plays. Rebecca Sheir checked in on rehearsals for the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, which opens July 11th.
Virginia, no longer ranked as the best state to do business, still has a strong economic footing, especially in Northern Virginia. But because the state is so heavily reliant on defense contracts which have recently been on the federal chopping block, Governor McAuliffe is looking to strengthen the state’s economy through other avenues. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.
In June, four state lawmakers unexpectedly resigned their seats in the General Assembly. While legislative retirements are not unusual, four Democrats in one month calling it quits before their terms expire is not the norm—and left many to wonder why. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the answer may be as simple as timing and opportunity.
Special elections will be held on August 19th for the vacant seats that were held by Puckett, Howell, and Brink.
As Virginians celebrate American independence this weekend, many can’t help but think about our veterans past and present—as well as the rights and nation that they have defended. So as we continue our series on new state laws that just took effect, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on one that directly impacts those who have served overseas … another that addresses state energy resources … and a third that affects the Commonwealth’s democratic process.
Some laws are now in effect that impact Virginia motorists—and they’re not necessarily punitive. In fact, some were passed because drivers asked for them. In Part 4 of our series on new state laws, we have more from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.
The message from Virginia lawmakers to “patent trolls” is: If they plan to make a claim of patent infringement, they had better be able to prove it—and answer to the Attorney General’s office if their claim is bogus. It’s one of the new state laws that Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor believes such laws will inspire MORE innovation—and not suppress it.
Starting this month Virginians who use a certain type of two-wheeled transportation are no longer allowed to cruise without a title and license plate…and if you think nobody saw the downfall of Eric Cantor coming, think again. Those are among the most read stories recently on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
National business correspondent Roben Farzad has launched a new radio podcast recorded in Richmond. The program is called Full Disclosure, and in the months ahead you’ll hear some content from the program, as we share his weekly effort to translate the language of finance and investing. The theme of this week’s program? Bending, Not Breaking.
Farzad talks with Richmond entrepreneur Matt Paxton. He’s best known for his business Clutter Cleaner, featured on the reality TV show Hoarders. But it was a long climb to success for Paxton. While working at the Federal Reserve after college, he fell into gambling. In 1999 he was $40,000 dollars in debt to a bookie. He was beaten up, and left in the ditch outside a casino. He headed home to Virginia.
Paxton also cleaned out crime scenes and foreclosed homes for a decade to pay off maxed-out credit cards at a 22-percent interest rate… he considers it a form of indentured servitude. But it all led to a successful national business and television show.
You can hear the full story of Paxton’s failure and redemption, on Roben Farzad’s Full Disclosure.
Henrico Delegate Joe Morrissey says he will not resign his seat in the General Assembly following this week’s indictment that stems from his relationship with a teenager. He made the statement after a fellow Democrat, Delegate Mark Keam, had called on Morrissey to step down. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details from the State Capitol.
While the state budget and Medicaid expansion dominated news coverage of the General Assembly this year, lawmakers also worked on a wide array of other issues. In Part Two of our series on state laws that take effect this week, Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports on some of the new public safety and ethics laws—including a few arising from several well-publicized cases.
In just over a year, North America has seen a dozen serious accidents involving trains that derailed while carrying flammable crude oil. One of those accidents, in Lynchburg, caused a massive fire and oil spill. In most cases, fire departments didn’t know what they were dealing with, since railroads have kept that information secret, but the federal government is now requiring them to inform states when trains of 35 cars or more, carrying oil from North Dakota or Montana, are coming through. The public, however, is not entitled to know, and fire departments say they’re still in the dark, as Sandy Hausman reports.