Archive for March, 2015
Elementary and middle school students who fail Standards of Learning tests by narrow margins will have an opportunity to retake those tests this spring thanks to new regulations passed by the State Board of Education. The rules stem from a law that sailed through the General Assembly—but would not have taken effect until July 1st if the Board had not acted.
A rule change in Washington is making it easier for veterans in Virginia to get health care. And modern criminal science is being used to bring violators of ‘poop pickup’ laws to justice.Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.
Virginia is creating a new Center for Behavioral Health and Justice under an executive directive signed by Governor McAuliffe. Its mission is to foster better interagency collaboration and help coordinate services in the state’s behavioral health system. The focus will be on individuals with mental illness who become involved with the criminal justice system.
One of Virginia’s smallest towns has voted itself out of existence….and now that the General Assembly has established regulations that allow commercial online ridesharing in Virginia the taxi industry says it can’t compete. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.
The House and Senate are set to debate the nation’s budget this week and it has huge implications for the region. Virginia lawmakers are fighting to keep those indiscriminate budget cuts known as sequestration at bay.
The debate continues this week over the level of force Alcoholic Beverage Control Officers may have used force against a UVA student, turned away from a Charlottesville bar. The public still has no explanation for why Martese Johnson ended up bleeding from a head wound, lying on a sidewalk, restrained by three officers.
A Virginia State Police investigation is underway regarding the March 18th arrest of an honored UVA student in Charlottesville by state ABC officers. During the incident, the student was injured and a picture of him on the ground and bleeding from the head spread quickly on social media.
Governor Terry McAullife has ordered an administrative review, and at the request of the City of Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney, a criminal investigation is also underway. Hawes Spencer reports.
Some might think that there’s no need to worry. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, aside from the delicious honey they produce, bees are a major contributor to the production of Virginia agriculture, the state’s top commodity.
Legislation that addresses campus sexual assaults is already on Governor McAuliffe’s desk—but before he signs off, amends, or vetoes anything, he has the input from members of his Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence to consider. The legislation requires campus employees to report sexual violence allegations to the Title IX  coordinator, who must report the allegation to a review team that meets within 72 hours. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one subcommittee believes that while the legislation is a good first step, there’s more work ahead.
The legislation also states that if the review team determines that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the victim or others, the Title IX coordinator would be required to disclose the information to the relevant law-enforcement agency.
This week civic groups and nonprofits are taking a closer look at the importance of open government and freedom of information for Sunshine week. To that end, WAMU reporter Michael Pope is looking deeper into Virginia’s Death Row.
From the White House to your house, the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament brackets are out, and this year the Commonwealth has a real contender.
In the future, Virginia will pass laws to help prevent and punish cyberbullying—if the Bedford County Sheriff gets his way.Sheriff Mike Brown was shocked by cases of tragic suicides that have followed bullying on the Internet and social media, so he is raising public awareness in the meantime. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, Brown plans to distribute DVDs that educate people about cyberbullying to every school in the Commonwealth.
Alumnae of Sweet Briar, whose board voted to shut down the 114-year-old women’s college at the end of the summer, are brewing a fight. On Sunday, however, they turned their attention to embracing the students. Hawes Spencer reports.
A Virginia lawmaker and groups of parents and students are hoping the Governor and First Lady keep their hands and noses out of their cookie jars. Delegate Richard Bell wants schools to be able to raise money through bake sales-or sales of other products that some call “junk food”-on school property. But that would remain prohibited if Governor McAuliffe vetoes a measure that may or may not compete with the First Lady’s prominent focus on nutrition.
Even though Virginia imposes a financial penalty on localities when they create bike lanes on public streets Richmond has been given one year to do so without losing any money….and a Henrico County woman had to take drastic action to defend herself against a rabid raccoon. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.
Sweet Briar College was founded in 1901 when Indiana Fletcher Williams left her entire estate, including the Sweet Briar Plantation, to found an institution in the name of her deceased daughter, Daisy. 114 years later, the school unexpectedly announced its closure – sending shockwaves through alumnae, academia, and Amherst County. Did the board act prudently, or did it move hastily? Hawes Spencer reports.
During its recent session, Virginia’s General Assembly took action on the Governor’s Access Plan, which is a limited mental health and medical benefits package for a group of low-income adults in the Commonwealth. But what does it do, who is eligible, and what are its limitations?
Bills that REALLY crack down on those who first exhibit signs of domestic abuse and strengthen penalties for sex traffickers are some of the public safety measures that the General Assembly recently sent to Governor McAuliffe. The governor is also reviewing a potential new law that’s designed to take the temptation out of smuggling cigarettes.
The state’s Medicaid and FAMIS programs have traditionally authorized dental services for enrollees up to the age of 21. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, one group of adults will now have access to dental care under a new program announced by Governor McAuliffe.
State Senator John Edwards drew applause at Monday’s Cabell Brand Center forum on gas pipelines with his assertion about property owners’ rights, but as Tim Thornton reports, the case may not be as clear as some people in the audience seemed to believe.
Sponsored by The Cabell Brand Center, the forum sought to present arguments from both supporters and opponents of those pipelines… with explanation about the roles local, state and federal governments play in evaluating proposals for three pipelines planned to cross Virginia. Tim Thornton reports.
Charlottesville Police have planted as many as a dozen hidden cameras over the past few years – not to watch for criminals but to keep an eye on city employees. Not surprisingly, that’s causing controversy as Hawes Spencer reports.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Virginia’s governor and first lady to announce an $8.8 million federal grant for an anti-hunger initiative in some of the state’s high-poverty schools. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the demonstration project will provide students in selected schools with breakfast, lunch, and after-school supper—as well as non-perishable food to take home on weekends and breaks.
With more than $40 million in sales, Virginia is the third largest exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba of – after Georgia and Louisiana. Some lawmakers hope to normalize trade relations – but some feel it’s best to maintain our distance.
One of the state’s greatest proponents in the General Assembly for mental health reforms says when it comes to progress made during this legislative session, it’s a mixed bag. Senator Creigh Deeds says the MOST important legislation he sponsored actually died in the House of Delegates.
The failure of a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates could stop executions in the Commonwealth, at least temporarily. And the General Assembly has increased training requirements for civilian peace officers. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link onvpap.org.
Artist Ryan McGinness spent his teen years surfing, riding skateboards and making art in Virginia Beach. Today, his brightly colored works – which incorporate strong graphics, signs and logos from popular culture, hang in museums around the world. He’s based in Manhattan, but next month he comes back to share his ideas and techniques with kids from his hometown as Sandy Hausman reports.
The news that Sweet Briar College would close after 114 years of educating women caught many by surprise. But to one veteran educator, it’s the culmination of a financial disaster wrought by rising costs, changing tastes, and more affordable alternatives. Hawes Spencer prepared this report.
Should they be signed into law by Governor McAuliffe, bills recently passed by the General Assembly would modify some of the scrutiny of school systems that meet state standards. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the state would also create a different method to inform parents of how well those schools are doing.
It’s been a rough winter out on the Chesapeake Bay for Virginia’s Tangier Island. Last month, Virginia Army National Guard flew in supplies after residents were trapped by thick ice from days of freezing temperatures and snow. Now, island watermen and a group of Richmond investors including former State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli have been dealt another blow by mother nature. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
A large number of public education reform bills made it through this year’s General Assembly session. As Tommie McNeil reports, the sponsor of many of the House bills says lawmakers wanted to build on last year’s successes with the SOL reforms.
The parents of slain college students Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham got their first look at the man they believe killed their daughters. Hawes Spencer reports.
A plan to bring deer hunters into an Albemarle County’s subdivision has neighbors at odds with one another…and a Virginia university that primarily educates Mormon students has been cleared of an anti-gay harassment accusation but told to institute some new policies. Those are among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports. S
Governor McAuliffe has named March “Mediation Month” in the Commonwealth, to honor the work done in courts and other resolution centers. As Beverly Amsler reports, The Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution and the Virginia Mediation Network are promoting several free seminars during the month.
The 2015 legislative session in Virginia may be remembered for expanding access to medical marijuana and excusing Dominion Power from government oversight of its rates, but it could also be known for what didn’t happen. Sandy Hausman reports.
State and local officials would be governed by tougher ethics rules under legislation that passed the General Assembly during the final hours of the 2015 session. As Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the bills make it illegal for lobbyists, their clients, and anyone who seeks to do business with the state or local governments to give an official a gift worth more than $100.