Archive for December, 2014
It’s been almost a year since former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe took office as Virginia Governor, and many agree is that he’s hit the ground running. But while McAuliffe is proud of the work he’s accomplished thus far, some say he’s tripping over some obstacles-either of his own making or from a GOP-led legislature. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
Virginia lawmakers are bemoaning the meager work accomplished in Washington in 2014. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how some lawmakers fear 2015 may once again bring stiff budget cuts that would hurt the state’s economy.
The City of Buena Vista has a loan payment due on January 15, a payment it does not intend to make. What will happen after that is unknown at present but one possible result is that local government officials and the police department will receive eviction notices. Fred Echols reports on a financial crisis in this Blue Ridge city of 7,000 residents that’s been in the making for more than a decade.
Despite criticism from gun-rights advocates and GOP legislative leaders, Governor McAuliffe is not retreating on a package of gun control measures that he has proposed for the upcoming General Assembly session. And as Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor ays this was one of his campaign promises, so no one should be surprised.
Political junkies looking for a good read may find one in an exposé of insider political language by two veteran journalists. It’s called “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech.” The light-hearted book also has a serious purpose. Tommie McNeil reports.
Recent reports about the growth of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft would suggest that their success pits them directly against traditional taxi drivers. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a representative from the taxi industry says that’s not what’s behind a rally in Richmond….where they called for more fairness for taxicab drivers.
A gubernatorial panel created to propose ethics reforms has recommended revisions to Virginia laws on redistricting, as well as an amendment to the state Constitution that would revise the way legislative districts are drawn. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Governor’s Commission to Ensure Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government left no doubt that it considers the current process to be overtly partisan and unfair.
Environmentalists are glad to see Dominion Power shutting down coal burning power plants, but they want the utility to do something about the waste left behind when coal is burned. Sandy Hausman has that story.
Praises, tears, accolades, and stories of lives renewed are par for the course in a church setting. But although the venue was a church in Richmond, the occasion was the long-awaited restoration of rights for three Virginians who are among the thousands who have— and will have—their rights restored by Governor McAuliffe. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains, although the process is still not automatic, the governor has made it simpler.
Governor McAuliffe told the General Assembly’s money committees Wednesday that while they made great strides in closing the state’s budget shortfall, much more needs to be done to secure Virginia’s future. As Virginia Public Radio Tommie McNeil reports, it’s why he will continue to implement nearly 954 million dollars in spending cuts over the biennium and work to advance his vision for the upcoming session.
The legislative panel formed after the tragic suicide of a state senator’s son who was denied hospitalization has endorsed policy recommendations made by its gubernatorial counterpart. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services also acknowledged the state’s harsh budget realities–and set its most urgent priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.
Governor McAuliffe says when he addresses lawmakers about the state’s budget this week, he intends to talk about his new economic development package. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, his initiative includes legislative proposals that the governor says are necessary to reduce the Commonwealth’s reliance on federal dollars.
More than 200 Virginia families are finally getting some compensation for damages caused by toxic Chinese drywall, but for most of them it’s not nearly enough to cover their losses…and the University of Richmond may accomplish a first when it begins providing internship support for 100-percent of its undergraduate students.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney General has some advice for Virginians who plan to do lots of holiday shopping—especially over the Internet and with a credit or debit card. He says scammers love this time of year–and therefore, it’s up to you to be extra vigilant. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains how.
Under many rental agreements, tenants sign off on a provision that allows housing managers and staff to enter a home to address concerns or inspect the premises. Now state lawmakers are weighing whether such agreements should be extended to homes that are actually OWNED by tenants– who are leasing a lot.
It’s unlawful for landlords to evict tenants for taking legal action or notifying authorities about uninhabitable conditions, but tenants may have little recourse under current state law. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, proposed legislation would make it less difficult for tenants to win a case if retaliation is a cause of eviction.
The General Assembly’s watchdog agency did not sugarcoat the problems as it presented a frank examination of Virginia’s cumbersome workforce development system. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that employers have difficulty navigating the programs and filling job openings with workers who have requisite skills. It also found that key workforce programs do not emphasize training in fields with the greatest potential for employment.
A farmer who lives near the NASA launch site on Virginia’s Eastern shore has some safety concerns after a rocket exploded there a few weeks ago…and a new company is cleaning up waste coal in Southwest Virginia and selling it as fuel.
In the wake of Rolling Stone renouncing its own story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, some students say that Jackie, the undergraduate at the center of the storm, has been abused– this time by the magazine. Hawes Spencer reports.
It’s back to the drawing board for a slightly revamped State Board of Health, which now has new political appointees. The Board has decided to study and amend abortion clinic regulations that have only been in effect since last year. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the regulations’ defenders say the inspections have uncovered unsafe conditions, while abortion-rights advocates say the rules may force clinics to close.
Sticking to his promise not to discuss or attack any other potential 2016 presidential candidate, former Democratic U.S. Senator Jim Webb today [Wednesday] did discuss where he believes the U.S. needs improvement—and where his own party has contributed to the dysfunction in Congress. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.
In spite of recent stronger penalties, traffickers are still smuggling Virginia’s low-tax cigarettes to other states—especially to New York City, where demand for the Commonwealth’s cigarettes is soaring due to the city’s high excise taxes.
Some estimates suggest that 21 percent of Virginia cigarettes end up in other states, where profits are so high that many criminals would rather sell tobacco than heroin. But the State Crime Commission is recommending a different tactic to deter the traffickers.
The American Humane Society calls pet overpopulation a tragic problem, forcing shelters to euthanize millions of cats and dogs each year. Now, students at the University of Virginia have a solution – a non-surgical, reversible form of birth control for pets. Sandy Hausman has that story.
In court documents released late yesterday, the federal judge who presided over the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, rejected a request by the former first couple for a new trial. Judge James Spencer also denied their request to throw out their guilty verdicts—with the exception of one conviction against Maureen. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details.
The president of the University of Virginia cancelled a speech to the National Press Club in favor of speaking to students Monday. She pledged a series of changes to combat sexual assault on campus – among them, forcing fraternities to operate under new rules and pressing police to arrest sellers of date rape drugs. Sandy Hausman has details.
Virginia universities have invested at least one-billion-dollars in highly sophisticated, expensive equipment for research and development. Some allow entrepreneurs to have access to that equipment and school expertise for a fee. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, a panel of lawmakers and experts is working to craft state policies to expand such opportunities in a way that benefits businesses, universities, and taxpayers.
Many people spend their weekends looking at houses. Some are in the market to buy. Others are just nosey, but recently Virginians toured a new building like no other in the nation – a place that gets all its water from rain, generates all the power it needs, has not a single flush toilet and keeps the floors clean in an ingenious way. Sandy Hausman took the tour and filed this report.
As the blue crab harvest in the Chesapeake Bay continues to decline there’s still uncertainty over the causes and disagreement about what should be done. That’s been one of the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.