Archive for November, 2014
Earlier this month Virginia voters sent three new politicians to represent them in Washington. For most, their terms won’t start until January, but, as Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo explains, they’ve been busy learning how to be a member of one of the most exclusive bodies on earth.
A University of Virginia Medical Clinic sees one or two patients a week for injuries from…of all things…yoga. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the practice’s boom…20.4 million Americans do yoga and on average spend $500 a year on clothes and retreats. Reporter Lydia Wilson spoke with a teacher-turned-entrepreneur trying to reverse the rising trend of yoga injuries.
When Americans think of terrorism, they often envision 9-11-style attacks or some other extreme act of violence. But the nation’s enemies don’t just hail from a specific part of the world, and Americans are under attack every day—not by air, land, or sea, but electronically through data breaches and hacking. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, that’s why the commonwealth’s Cyber Security Commission is focusing on discovering vulnerabilities and strengthening the state’s databases.
Internet based ride sharing is presenting a competitive challenge for Virginia taxi operators and a regulatory one for the General Assembly. And, one Northern Virginia county is looking at a controversial idea for controlling its deer population. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.
Four people were arrested over the weekend – charged with trespassing during protests at the University of Virginia. Students and faculty expressed continued outrage following reports of gang rapes at a fraternity on campus some years ago, and UVA President Teresa Sullivan banned activities at about 60 frats and sororities through the end of the year.
A Virginia child advocacy organization has a new take on “No Child Left Behind”—that is, making sure all children in Virginia have health insurance. And while that IS possible right now, Voices for Virginia’s Children says that could change in the very near future if federal lawmakers don’t act. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
By law, a motorist who is believed to be driving under the influence will be arrested. But today, State Police joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations to appeal to drivers as parents, siblings, significant others, and humans to save lives by simply handing over the keys and finding a designated driver if they’ve been drinking.
Dozens of people rallied outside the State Capitol yesterday to support tougher new EPA proposals for electricity-generating plants. At the same time, Virginia lawmakers were hearing from stakeholders—and trying to determine how the state could be effected if the rules are adopted. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, there were a lot of questions about reports that residents could be paying $300 a year more if the proposals are adopted – because some power plants could shut down.
After hearing from stakeholders about proposed EPA rules to reduce power plant carbon emissions, Virginia lawmakers expressed concern about estimates that the state’s utilities will have to spend billions of dollars on improvements and ultimately pass those costs on to consumers. But supporters of the regulations say that lawmakers aren’t seeing the whole picture.
For instance, Cale Jaffe with the Southern Environmental Law Center says based on the credit for plans already underway— including maintenance of Virginia’s nuclear fleet that is “at risk” of being retired—new gas plants, and coal plant retirements, Virginia will be nearly 80% compliant with the EPA’s emissions-reduction goal for the Commonwealth: And Jaffe counters the argument that investments in alternative energy sources would cost consumers 25 to 30% more.
Jaffe says 100% compliance with the EPA’s goal is achievable with investments in energy efficiency and renewables. He adds that Virginia has a great opportunity to leverage the Clean Power Plan into the creation of solar, wind, and energy-efficiency jobs.
As Target, Home Depot, the U.S. Post Office and other entities find it difficult to protect consumer information, Virginia lawmakers are wondering how public schools will guard student data as they transition into electronic instruction, testing, and information storage. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Joint Commission on Technology and Science aims to close the gaps in state laws and policies that might inadvertently allow the use of student data for unauthorized purposes.
Virginia schools are increasingly confronted with youth who exhibit challenging behavior. And while schools sometimes use physical restraint and seclusion to de-escalate a crisis, the state does not have any explicit laws or regulations that govern their use. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, that concerns the Commission on Youth, which is recommending legislation to require the Board of Education to formulate new rules and restrictions.
The new venture promises to bring jobs as well as more locally grown tomatoes to the region. Robbie Harris reports.
Bicycle commuters in Arlington will have an ally in their local government this winter when snow threatens to slow them down. And there’s controversy in Portsmouth after the city denied bonuses for school bus drivers who worked extra on a day when many of their colleagues stayed home to protest low pay.
Although they’re not quite final, the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government is just about ready to submit its recommendations to Governor McAuliffe to meet his December 1st deadline. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one of the lingering issues is how to change the process for determining legislative districts and prevent gerrymandering.
It might be difficult to tell how someone affiliates politically just by looking at them, but an international team of scientists has come close. They’ve found a way to predict a person’s party of preference by how they react to gruesome images – with 95 to 98 percent accuracy.
Eric Cantor loses the number two spot in the House of Representatives, former Governor Bob McDonnell is convicted on corruption charges, and Mark Warner almost loses his U.S. Senate seat after one term. Political analyst Bob Holsworth told social studies teachers at a Civics Summit that if he had predicted several years ago what happened to Virginia’s most popular politicians this year, he probably would not have been invited to speak. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, he offered some enlightenment about the Commonwealth’s recent electoral politics.
Virginians still have until December 1st to submit their thoughts to the EPA on its proposed Clean Power Plan. One environmental organization says it has already collected more than 210,000 comments from residents who support the proposals to speed up the elimination of the carbon footprint here. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the group also says if people are really environmentally conscious, they don’t have to wait for the government to take action.
The State Crime Commission is wrestling with how to craft balanced legislation that addresses the growing problem of underage teens who take sexually explicit images of themselves and send them to others. The members’ concern is heightened by some widely published cases—including a Louisa County “sexting” ring involving 100 teens and 1,000 images of minors posted on Instagram. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re also concerned that the penalties in existing laws designed for adult child predators may be too steep for teens.
Virginia lawmakers are going back to the grind to finish business they tried to complete, not once, not twice, but now for the third time this year. They will do so when both houses of the General Assembly convene later today and tonight. The state’s ongoing revenue shortfall will necessitate more tough decisions not long after that.
The Virginia state forensics lab says it no longer has the resources to process drug evidence in misdemeanor marijuana cases. Also, Northern Virginia residents may soon be able to cross the Potomac and light up a joint without breaking the law if DC voters have their way. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link.
With a concession speech in Northern Virginia by Republican Ed Gillespie, the U.S. Senate race is officially over, and Democrat Mark Warner will be entering his second term as a U.S. Senator. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.
It does not appear that Virginia lawmakers have a clear idea of how to house and treat thousands of people who are developmentally and intellectually disabled after the federal government ordered four of the five state facilities to close as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the debate isn’t about whether it’s right to house them within their communities, but whether the state can pay for adequate facilities to fit all their needs.
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation has agreed to act as a mediator in a property rights dispute between a Fauquier County farmer and the Piedmont Environmental Council. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports that depending on the outcome, some farmers say the case could have a negative impact on the state’s conservation easements program and create a hostile environment between landowners and government entities.
Though it’s not yet official Democrat Mark Warner appears to have narrowly won reelection to the US Senate in a contest that was much closer than anticipated. Even in apparent victory, Warner’s national brand may have been tarnished by his election night struggle against Republican Ed Gillespie. Fred Echols reports.
For 27 years in Charlottesville, the Virginia Film Festival has provided an annual showcase of movies, everything from independent films to classics to documentaries, along with panel discussions and other special events. Not to mention an opportunity for local folks to rub elbows with some big names in film. Andrew Jenner reports.
In the 6th Congressional District, Bob Goodlatte beat Libertarian Will Hammer and Independent Green candidate Elaine Hildebrandt to win a 12th term. The Democrats did not field a candidate in this race. In the 9th Congressional District, in southwest Virginia, Republican Morgan Griffith bested Independent William Carr to win a third term and the Democrats did not field a candidate in this race either.
Election night was a nail-biter for incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who had been expected to coast to victory. His badly outspent Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, defied ALL of the polls leading up to election day—and took the lead throughout the evening until Fairfax County’s vote totals were finally reported. As Anne Marie Morgan reports, the wave that swept Republicans into the majority in the U.S. Senate nearly engulfed Virginia.
As expected, Republican Dave Brat – who stunned the pundits by unseating Eric Cantor in the GOP primary – was victorious in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. It’s solidly Republican, and Brat won more than 60% of the vote. Sandy Hausman has more on that story.
In a mid term election, the goal is to ‘get out the vote.’ As Robbie Harris tells us, one demographic is stepping up its “G-O-T-V’ efforts this time around.
Virginia voters head to the polls today to elect a U.S. Senator, their member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a number of local offices in various localities. They also must make a decision on a state constitutional amendment—whether to authorize local property tax exemptions for the surviving spouses of military members who were killed in action. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, voters must also present a valid photo ID when they go to cast their ballots.
More information on acceptable forms of identification and ALL of the candidates on the ballot can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections website at: elections.virginia.gov. Voters who don’t bring photo IDs can still cast provisional ballots, then present valid IDs to their local registrars by Friday at noon.
Virginia’s Senate race hasn’t attracted the outside spending it did in 2012. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details…
The Virginia General Assembly is likely to consider new rules for unregulated day care centers next year…and commuters who make the difficult slog through Interstate 66 gridlock in Northern Virginia are using license plates to vent their frustration. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. More now from Fred Echols.
Some contend his campaign stole votes from the Ken Cuccinelli for Governor campaign last year. And many wonder why Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is now running for the U.S. Senate when his poll numbers pale compared to his Democratic and Republican rivals. But in a conversation with Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil, Sarvis explains his focus isn’t on winning, it’s on branding.