Archive for May, 2015
Its work done, the Governor’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence has submitted its final report to the McAuliffe administration. It includes 21 recommendations and is touted by its members to be the most comprehensive step in curbing violence, making it easier to report assaults, and changing the mindset of communities toward victims.
The hurricane season won’t OFFICIALY begin for a few more days, but with all the tragic events still unfolding in Texas and Oklahoma due to flooding and violent storms, a number of state agencies are emphasizing that Virginians should prepare now. That means stocking up on supplies AND making sure families have the right insurance coverage during this Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week.
Congress is sending the president its thirty-second short term patch to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund funded this summer, but Virginia officials say that’s no way to fund the state’s transportation projects.
Virginia’s child care providers will be undergoing a number of changes that aim to enhance the safety of the children they are babysitting. To draw attention to the new law, Governor McAuliffe held a bill-signing ceremony with advocates, lawmakers, and parents whose children had died while in unlicensed facilities. Participants said that while this law is a good start, the Commonwealth needs an even tougher one.
“Measure twice, cut once.” The old adage holds especially true for the many motorists who will hit the road this summer. One veteran motorcyclist is asking millions of drivers to measure their surroundings to AVOID cutting off, hitting, or injuring “two-wheelers.”
Over the last several years, Sweet Briar College, Virginia Intermont, and Saint Paul’s College have announced that they were closing-and now state officials are engaging in a broad discussion about what recourse families have when that happens.
Tommie McNeil reports, while students would rather not have to make the adjustment, they do have options when such a development occurs.
For two years, the state of Virginia has been begging cattle farmers to keep animals out of streams on their property – offering to pay the full cost of fencing to prevent pollution of rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Sandy Hausman reports on why some have embraced the program and others have walked away.
A number of changes are in the works for Virginia’s open-government laws. For instance, the General Assembly passed more than a dozen bills earlier this year that would amend the Freedom of Information Act. Other controversial bills were referred to a state advisory council to be studied—and potentially reintroduced in next year’s session. Tommie McNeil reports.
Attorney General Mark Herring and the Federal Trade Commission have announced one of the largest charity fraud actions ever brought by enforcers. The FTC, Virginia, all other states, and the District of Columbia have charged four cancer charities and their operators with bilking more than $187 million from consumers. The joint enforcement action alleges deceptive solicitations.
Hampton Roads has twice the relative sea-level rise of other Atlantic coastal communities, and Virginia is stepping up its efforts to address the associated recurrent flooding. While the General Assembly recently ordered updates to the state’s flood protection plan, the Army Corps of Engineers has rolled out a new, proactive strategic framework. It calls on local, state, regional, and federal governments to work together—due to the enormity of the tasks ahead.
Residents in one of the reamaining rural areas of Fairfax County have stopped a plan to open a micro-brewery in their community…and in Spotsylvania there’s controversy over whether biosolids – which are made partly from human waste – should be allowed as fertilizer on farm fields. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link onvpap.org.
Children typically have a state-provided safety net if they’re left without a suitable parent—especially when they’ve been abused. But what about the elderly adult or someone who suffers from a disability or mental illness? Who do they turn to? Who takes care of them, and who pays for it? These are some of the many questions the Commonwealth is trying to answer.
While a domestic violence victim may be too afraid or embarrassed to admit that he or she is being abused, pets that witness or endure it don’t lie. And now with a backdrop of the trauma endured by pets, animal control, law enforcement, and victims’ advocates are learning how to identify and pursue domestic abuse cases.
Medicaid accounts for more than one-fifth of the state budget, and the General Assembly’s watchdog agency wants to understand the reasons why. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission has launched a two-year investigation into what’s driving up the program’s costs—and whether those costs can be reigned in.
Virginia has some of the best medical schools in the country, but state leaders are realizing that many medical students will live and get their education here–and, upon graduation, will look for better opportunities elsewhere. A state panel has been tasked with not only helping to produce more medical school graduates, but also keeping them in the Commonwealth.
For a limited time you can buy residential lots in Richmond for the affordable price of one dollar…and religious expression – in this case pantomimed interpretation of gospel music in Portsmouth – has drawn charges of racism. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.
Some Virginia lawmakers admit that they take it personally when sex traffickers decide to make the Commonwealth a hub for their business—especially since they target children. It’s why even after making great strides over the last several years in holding those predators accountable, lawmakers remain very aggressive in stopping this at the source.
Family members of missing persons throughout Virginia appeared before the State Crime Commission today to discuss ways to enhance the search and rescue process. Alexis Murphy’s aunt Trina and Morgan Harrington’s mother Gil were both present, and they believe the Commonwealth can make specific improvements to help better facilitate search and rescue efforts in abduction cases.
This week, East Coast fisheries managers voted to increase by 10 percent the catch for menhaden. The fish is used as bait, processed for vitamin supplements and food for fish farms. The two-year increase will give back half of the 20 percent harvest reduction taken in 2012. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
Next week, a federal court will hear the appeal of former Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction on federal corruption charges. Among the many amicus briefs submitted to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is one by six former Virginia attorneys general. The four Democrats and two Republicans argue that the lower court’s expansive interpretation of law on which his conviction is based is erroneous.
A panel appointed by Governor McAuliffe to review the activities of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents spent hours yesterday scrutinizing the department’s structure, how agents are trained, and recent public safety statistics. Prompted by a public outcry over the forceful arrest of a 20-year-old UVa student who suffered a gash on his head, the panel is tasked with recommending improvements–and whether or not ABC agents should retain their law enforcement authority. Anne Marie Morgan has more details about the panel’s initial findings.
The agency is already planning re-training sessions, which will include responses to active resistance and use of force, cultural diversity, and communication with minors and young adults. The panel will hold additional meetings before making its final recommendations.
Every spring, fishing communities across the nation open the new season with a blessing of the fleet. The historic town of Reedville, Virginia has celebrated the tradition for 45 years. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
With 2.3 million Americans now behind bars, many states are looking at alternatives to jail time for those who commit non-violent crimes, but Virginia continues to imprison large numbers of people. Sandy Hausman reports.
Electronic license plate readers are back in the news in Virginia but this time it’s not because they’re on police cars…and Norfolk City Council is trying to find a balance between free speech and civility at its meetings. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. More from Fred Echols.
Government surveillance and data collection are some of the privacy issues still being debated well after the 2015 General Assembly session has ended. It’s because Governor McAuliffe has taken action following the Reconvened Session–by signing one bill limiting the use of drones, but vetoing another that would restrict how much and how long data can be retained by law enforcement. As Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor explains why to a group of journalists pressing him for answers.
Governor McAuliffe has kicked off Business Appreciation Month with a dedication to some of Virginia’s oldest businesses. He says during the month of MAY, he will make a series of economic development announcements that highlight his efforts to bring more jobs to the Commonwealth. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one official explains that companies without the traditional “corporate” profile will also feature interesting events to look forward to throughout the rest of the year.