Archive for July, 2015
The panel created by Governor McAuliffe to recommend changes to state ethics laws is tackling an issue that’s not typically associated with conflicts of interest: the way that Virginia chooses judges. The Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government says the quality of the state’s judiciary overall is excellent. But as Anne Marie Morgan reports, it also says the process of selecting judges is politicized and ineffective far too often.
Two Topics from VA News: Virginia Wineries, Virginia’s Obsolete Courthouses Present Preservation Issues
As more wineries are opening in Virginia grape production in the state is not keeping pace…and with many Commonwealth counties looking to replace obsolete courthouses issues of historic preservation may create complications. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on www.vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.
In Virginia, underage sex trafficking is real. That’s why the Commonwealth has created new and stronger laws and methods of saving the children being victimized. With these efforts comes the bitter-sweet challenge of the rescue of child and then the recovery. Tab O’Neal reports.
For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
While Israeli leaders have voiced their displeasure about the Iran nuclear deal amidst already strained relations with the U.S., some have wondered if that dynamic has had any impact on Virginia’s business relationship with Israel. As Tommie McNeil reports, the simple answer is: business couldn’t be better. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
This month marks the 90th year the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Saltwater Cowboys run their annual pony swim. The wild ponies, whose Spanish lineage dates back centuries, are moved from Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, to the fire company’s carnival grounds where a selection of foals are auctioned off. But unless there’s a fire, rounding up cowboys is sometimes more difficult than ponies. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
Governor McAuliffe has convened a large panel to examine the abolition of parole in Virginia and related state guidelines. But as Tommie McNeil reports, some believe that the Governor’s Commission on Parole Review will undo the progress that the Commonwealth has made in reducing its rates of violent crimes.
The sounds of colonial life in Williamsburg may be getting a lot louder soon…and the term ‘valedictorian’ is taking on a whole new meaning for some high school students in Virginia and across the nation. 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.
And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event’s organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.
As state lawmakers decide whether to mandate abuse-deterrent formulations for opioid medications in health insurance plans, an expert makes one thing clear: Americans have a huge problem with pain and don’t manage it well. As a result, billions are being spent on pain-relief drugs that often lead to addiction. Some are urging lawmakers to do something to mitigate those costs.
The permit that allows the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant to burn hazardous waste from firearms outdoors is up for renewal. Community activists see an opportunity to address environmental and health concerns about the open burning – and state regulators see a chance to explore new technology to solve an old problem.
Governor McAuliffe has been actively working to recruit new businesses to Virginia, but companies that are already located in the Commonwealth say they could use state help to export their goods and services. And a new Virginia International Trade Alliance just announced by the governor aims to help those companies expand and succeed in the international marketplace.
A little-known state program that assists lower-income students with college scholarships is ending its five-year pilot and is poised for permanent expansion. SOAR Virginia is an early commitment scholarship program created by the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. Its goal is to inspire high school students and help them pursue higher education.
We often think of music as entertainment and/or art… but for people with certain language or cognitive difficulties, it can be far more than that. It can actually be a tool that rewires the brain… helping treat such conditions as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, traumatic brain injuries, and strokes. Rebecca Sheir takes us to Norfolk, to one of the only facilities in the country dedicated to bringing music and medicine together.
It’s been about two weeks, since former Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb announced on his website that he’s running for president. He’s not your everyday politician, and as Matt Laslo explains from Washington, he’s also not running a traditional campaign for the nation’s top job.
What happens now that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel has rejected former Governor Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his federal corruption convictions? Legal analysts say while it’s not clear whether he will be sent directly to jail for now, he still has a shot at beating his convictions—although it won’t be easy. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.
A Virginia Indian tribe has won its long battle for official federal recognition…and there’s more controversy over a plan to widen one of the nation’s busiest highways. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A News link on vpap.org.
Fred Echols reports.
What’s the definition of a small business? About a dozen stakeholder organizations along with Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce are in the process of redefining what it means in the Commonwealth. Reporter Tommie McNeil explains.
It’s been two years since several petroleum tank cars derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, claiming 47 lives and almost destroying the small Canadian town in eastern Quebec. Activists in Richmond are using the anniversary to not only commemorate the victims, but also draw attention to rail safety and reform. Kelsea Pieters has the story.
The Northern Neck of Virginia is known for the plantation homes of the Washingtons and Lees. But just up the road in Warsaw, their close friend and fellow patriot John Tayloe II was a successful businessman whose Mount Airy Plantation has been the private home of the Tayloe family for more 250 years. Now, it’s latest generation of owners, John Tayloe Emery and his wife Catherine are opening it’s doors to the public in some unusual ways. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
A new wing at one of Virginia’s Veterans’ Care Centers aims to reduce the number of homeless veterans, while providing quality senior services for those with declining mental and physical health. Governor McAuliffe says a new state-funded expansion of a Richmond facility is just the beginning of several projects aimed at filling a huge void in veterans’ services and making the Commonwealth an invaluable military asset. Tommie McNeil has more.
Local government leaders across Virginia are keeping an eye on a disagreement between the City of Buena Vista and ACA Financial Guaranty of New York. A letter the company sent to Buena Vista this week threatens imminent foreclosure on city hall and police headquarters because the city has stopped paying premiums on an insurance policy. Fred Echols reports.
Federal legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 has come under fire from Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus and a coalition of national and state civil rights organizations. The groups assert that both the U.S. House and Senate versions of the reauthorization fail to adequately protect vulnerable student populations. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re calling on U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to support amendments that they argue are essential.
There’s a little known bank run by the federal government that just expired. It supports billions of dollars in economic activity across the commonwealth. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on where our delegation stands on the Export Import Bank and the potential impact its lapse will have on the state’s role in the global economy.
Bristol – a city straddling the Virginia/Tennessee border – is known as the birthplace of Country Music..in fact, it was designated as such by Congress in 1998. It’s a title that comes with one of the most important events in music history. Known as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” several modern popular artists are paying tribute to the Bristol Sessions through a new collaborative project.
Neighbors of turbine farms often complain about the noise they make. Now a Virginia Tech team of researchers has come up with a way they say will dampen that sound. Beverly Amsler has the story.
While state lawmakers spent a great deal of time this year on serious ethics, education, and public safety challenges, some other issues also merited the General Assembly’s attention. One topic that did not grab many headlines, though: food.
Among the new state public safety laws that have taken effect are those that get tougher on sexual violence and other sex crimes – as well as laws that pertain to DNA collection, alcohol and drug abuse, and licensed day care centers.
A whole batch of new laws that are taking effect this week could lead to more job opportunities for Virginians—particularly those who don’t have or are not pursuing a four-year degree. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, many reflect Governor McAuliffe’s ambitious goal of training the Commonwealth’s workforce and awarding more than half a million credentials within the next 15 years.
A number of new driving and traffic safety laws take effect in Virginia on Wednesday that could provide some relief to plenty of motorists. But if drivers aren’t careful, they also could be relieved of some hard-earned cash for new infractions.