Archive for February, 2017

Va News Topics: Exotic Animals in Northern Virginia, Norfolk Jury Duty


Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

A northern Virginia county plans to stop residents from adding lions, monkeys and other exotic animals to their households. And, a judge in Norfolk has called several hundred people to account for failure to show up for jury duty. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at

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2017 Legislative Session Wraps Up, Lawmakers Look Ahead to Elections

Steven Landes, Terry Kilgore, William Howell

House Speaker William Howell , R-Stafford, right, accepts a few gifts from Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, center, and Delegate Steven Landes, R-Augusta, during House session at the Capitol in Richmond last Friday. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Lawmakers are back in their districts this morning after a breakneck General Assembly session in Richmond. What did they accomplish? Michael Pope takes this look at the 2017 session.

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Looking Back at Virginia’s 2017 General Assembly

Travel Trip 5 Free Things Richmond

The State Capitol Building in Richmond. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Virginia’s General Assembly session has come and gone. RADIO IQ host Luke Church sat down with Micheal Pope each week of the session to break down the latest news from the lawmaking body.


Church and Pope discuss the lawmaking process, the role of lobbyists, and the legacy of outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe.


The second week of the session was a busy one that saw lawmakers coming closer to budget agreements and saw bi-partisan moves on a criminal justice issue.


This week saw what lawmakers called the “legislative crossover”: where bills introduced in the House move to the Senate and vice versa.


The 4th week of the General Assembly session marked the end of any new legislation.


Ethics reform and efforts to change redistricting were hot topics during the 5th week of the General Assembly session.


The last week of the session was marked by the announcement that long-time Republican Speaker Bill Howell would not be running for re-election.

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Another Year, Same Results at the General Assembly

Terry McAuliffe, Dorothy McAuliffe, Ralph Northam

Governor Terry McAuliffe, seen here at a news conference last month, has vetoed several measures this year that also made their way to his desk the past two years. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe is breaking out the veto pen — killing many of the same bills he vetoed last year and the year before that. Michael Pope has this look at the Groundhog Day General Assembly.


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Scientists Build Avian Flu Defense for Chesapeake Farmers


Georgie Cartanza’s chicken farm. (Credit: Katie Peikes / Delaware Public Media)

The Delmarva Peninsula lies under the Atlantic Migratory flyway, a path waterfowl migrate through. As Europe deals with recent outbreaks of a severe strain of Avian Influenza, some local poultry growers worry that just one infected bird passing through the region could contaminate and kill whole flocks of chickens.

That’s why poultry growers across Delmarva take precautions to avoid the possibility of the virus traveling from outside of the farm to the respiratory systems of their chickens. And research is being done that could help farmers better understand waterfowl patterns so they can prepare for when the virus surfaces.

Delaware Public Media’s Katie Peikes reports on possible repercussions avian flu could have and new research that could help avert that scenario for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative.

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, The Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Ann Hankin, The Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, The Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.


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How Should Local and State Law Enforcement Deal With Federal Immigration Laws?

Claire Gastanaga

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastanaga asked Governor Terry McAuliffe to veto bills dealing with immigration issues at a news conference earlier today. (Credit: Steve Helber /AP)

Should local and state law enforcement officials enforce federal immigration laws? That’s a debate that heating up in the final days of the General Assembly session in Richmond this week. Michael Pope has the latest.


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Could Skype Become a Court Testimony Tool?


Webcams like this one could soon be used for video court testimonies if legislation currently before the General Assembly passes. (Credit: David Burillo / Flickr)

Should court testimony happen in person? Or would a video feed work just as well? As Michael Pope tells us, lawmakers in Richmond say Skype should be coming to a courthouse near you.


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State Democrats Cry Foul at Republican Tactics, But Were They Any Different?

William Howell

Virginia House of Delegates speaker William Howell, front, takes his oath of office along with the other members of the House during opening ceremonies at the start of the 2016 Virginia General Assembly at the Capitol in Richmond. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

As we approach the end of Virginia’s General Assembly, Democrats in Richmond have complained the Republican majority has used underhanded tactics to push their legislative agenda, steam rolling bills by not scheduling hearings, killing proposals in unrecorded votes. But what happened when Democrats were in control? Michael Pope has this look at the way things worked in the era of Democratic rule.

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One of Virginia’s Most Powerful Politicians is Stepping Down

Lee Ware, William Howell

Virginia House of Delegates speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, center, shakes the hand of Delegate Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, right, during opening ceremonies at the start of the 2016 Virginia General Assembly at the Capitol in Richmond. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Virginia’s longstanding Speaker of the House of Delegates is stepping down after 14 years. Michael Pope has the story.

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Virginia Congressman Could be Trump’s Go-To Man on Immigration

Bob Goodlatte

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, gestures during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Roanoke, VA, Saturday, September 24th, 2016. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte represents the western part of the state, and he’s come under recent fire for his involvement in President Trump’s controversial travel ban. Goodlatte had his staff help President Trump craft the executive order. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on Goodlatte’s role in immigration reform going forward.

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Lawmakers Struggle to Find Money for Mental Health Screenings for Inmates

Creigh Deeds, James LeMunyon

Virginia State Senator, Creigh Deeds, speaks to Delegate James LeMunyon, R-Fairfax, left, during the House session at the Capitol in Richmond, VA, in 2014. Deeds is still pushing for mental health legislation, but funding is falling short. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Lawmakers started the session with a resolve to do something about the problem of mental illness in Virginia jails, an effort that has urgency this year because of a tragic death that happened last year. But as Michael Pope reports, now lawmakers are saying they can’t find the money to change the system.

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Push for Easier Access to Mental Health Care Fails in General Assembly

Peter Farrell, Mark Berg

Delegate Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, during a House of Delegates session in 2014. (Credit: STE)

Lawmakers in Richmond are not moving forward with an effort to expand the number of psychiatric beds in Virginia. Michael Pope has the story.


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A Valentine’s Tribute: Looking Back on 79 Years of Marriage


William, 102, and Bessie, 98 next month, Hudnall have been married for 79 years. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

For most of their lives William and Bessie Hudnall, lived in Northumberland County in the tiny village of Ophelia on the Chesapeake Bay. They’ve been married for 79 years. He’s 102 and next month she’ll be 98. For Valentine’s Day they look back on their lives, beginning with a card sent by William to Bessie’s sister.

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Virginia Senate Considers Stripped-Down Broadband Bill

Kathy Byron

Delegate Kathy Byron, Republican of Campbell County, took heat this year for her proposal to regulate internet access provided by localities. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Lawmakers in Richmond are considering an effort to increase transparency of internet providers. As Michael Pope reports, the effort is what’s left of a bill that would have cracked down on the ability of local governments to provide wireless access.

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Reporting Finger Food: An Ethical Necessity or Obnoxious Hassle?

Todd Gilbert

Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, is pushing for an exception to lawmaker’s disclosure forms. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

It’s been more than two years since former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell was convicted of corruption, but lawmakers are still reacting to the scandal. As Michael Pope reports, this year’s ethics reform package includes some provisions critics call new loopholes.

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Redistricting Reform Dead for Now

William Howell, David Toscano

House Minority Leader David Toscano, left, speaks with House Speaker William Howell during a House session today. Toscano was hoping this was the year for redistricting reform. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Attempts to change how Virginia lawmakers draw political boundaries died today in the House of Delegates. Advocates of reforming the system watched on this morning in Richmond, as the final three bills to prevent gerrymandering were voted on in a subcommittee.


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Red-Tape Reduction and Welfare Reform Flame Out in Richmond Despite Being Republican Priorities ​

Kirk Cox

Majority Leader Kirk Cox, seen here in a photo from last year’s session, says failed legislation still serves a purpose. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Republican leaders in the House of Delegates have an overwhelming majority — about two thirds of the members. But as Michael Pope reports from the Capitol, that doesn’t always mean that they get their way.


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Va News Topics: Petersburg Baseball Team, New Norfolk Ordinance


Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

As Petersburg struggles to remain solvent, the city has found a buyer for its summer collegiate league baseball team. And, a first-term city council member in Norfolk was surprised when she wanted to propose a new ordinance and found that no knew exactly how that could be done. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at Fred Echols has more.

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State Republicans Look to Limit Governor’s Power

Terry McAuliffe

Rules and regulations from Governor Terry McAuliffe have sparked efforts among state Republicans to limit his and future governors’ power. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Republicans in Richmond are trying to crack down on what they call regulation gone wild. Michael Pope reports.


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Funding for Birth Control Dropped from House of Delegates’ Budget


Credit: Sarah Mirk / Flickr

In Richmond, Democrats and Republicans are divided about what kind of birth control should be available to low-income women. Michael Pope reports.


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Ghost of Carter Glass Haunts Debate About Voting Rights


Senator Carter Glass in 1920. (Credit: Library of Congress)

Lawmakers in Richmond are not just debating among themselves. They are also debating the ghosts of a state senator from a hundred years ago. Michael Pope has this look at the skeletons in the closet at the Capitol.

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Getting it Out: Richmonders Scream for Sanity


The group hopes to gather weekly to vent their frustrations. (Credit: Stacey Mills / The Stories That Connect Us)

The news out of Washington has many in the Commonwealth feeling anxious and despairing. In Richmond, some residents are releasing stress using a time-tested method. Kelley Libby reports.

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Protestors Flood Representative’s Office for the Second Time in a Week


About 100 people with the Indivisible Charlottesville group marched on Representative Tom Garrett’s local office on Tuesday, protesting his support of President Trump’s agenda. (Credit: Jordy Yager)

Virginians are making their voices heard. Since the start of the Trump administration, groups across the state have protested executive orders, and rallied in city centers. Jordy Yager reports the latest is at Congressman Tom Garrett’s office in Charlottesville.

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Lawmakers Move Toward Keeping Rape Kits Longer

Rape Kits Backlog

Vials of evidence from sexual assault cases, like the ones seen here, are allowed to be thrown out once a child turns 20 under current law. (Credit: Pat Sullivan / AP)

Lawmakers in Richmond aren’t disagreeing on everything. One issue Republicans and Democrats are working together on is helping victims of sexual assault. Michael Pope has more.

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Under Trump Administration, a ‘Chill’ Through Virginia’s Federal Workforce

Congress Phone Calls

Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Virginia is home to more than 170,000 federal employees – a workforce that feels under siege by the new Trump administration. Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from the Capitol on the battle federal workers feel they’re locked in.

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After Failed Attempt, Republican Lawmakers Try Again on “Sexually Explicit” Books

Two stacks of books next to each other

Credit: Horia Varlan / Creative Commons

Last year, lawmakers passed a measure to keep parents in the loop when their children are reading books at school that reference sex. The governor vetoed that bill, but now members of the General Assembly are trying a different approach. Michael Pope has more.


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In Midst of National Immigration Debate, Virginia Republicans Take Aim at Sanctuary Cities


If state Republicans have their way, sanctuary cities would have to pay for any property damage caused by undocumented immigrants. (Credit: Taber Andrew Bain / Creative Commons)

As the national conversation on immigration continues, Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly are hoping to crack down on so called sanctuary cities. Michael Pope has the story.

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Va News Topics: Supreme Court Sign Ruling, Male Students at Mary Baldwin University


Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

A Supreme Court ruling that says signs cannot be treated differently based on content no longer allows local governments to give political signs extra leeway. That’s caused some inconvenience for a Virginia county. And, not everyone is happy that Mary Baldwin University in Staunton will soon have male students living on campus for the first time. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at Fred Echols reports.

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Are Schools Doing a Disservice to Students with Excessive Long-Term Suspensions?

schoolhouseAre Virginia schools suspending too many students? Lawmakers in Richmond are debating the issue, and it’s not falling along party lines. Michael Pope has the story.


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House of Delegates Declares Porn a Public Health Hazard


Credit: Marcie Casas / Creative Commons

One Virginia lawmaker says the rise of online pornography is creating a crisis. Michael Pope has the story.


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Ginsburg Inspires at VMI


Ginsburg was interviewed by her two biographers and Georgetown Law Professors Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams. (Credit: Jessie Knadler)

As the nation is consumed with talk over a possible new Supreme Court Justice, a current Justice visited Virginia Wednesday Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave a talk at Virginia Military Institute, a school she helped transform. Jessie Knadler was there and filed this report.


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​Republicans Hope Trump Will Help Them Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities In Virginia ​

Bob Marshall

Republican Delegate Bob Marshall believes local police forces should jail undocumented immigrants an extra two days if asked by federal authorities. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

As President Donald Trump looks to crack down on illegal immigration, Virginia’s lawmakers are debating what state police and jails should do when they arrest an undocumented immigrant. Michael Pope has more from the Capitol.

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Spotting Eagles: Counting Along the Rappahannock


Bill Crouch (right) and Bill Portlock (left) out on the river counting bald eagles. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Bald eagles are a more common sight in Virginia, but a decade after being de-listed as endangered, biologists are still keeping a close watch on their numbers and on new threats.

In January, Pamela D’Angelo went on one of several mid-winter eagle counts, this one a 35 mile route along on the Rappahannock River where 192 eagles were logged.


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In One Vote, Lawmaker Strike More Than 20 Constitutional Amendments

Virginia Legislature

Visitors to the State Capitol listen to a tour guide as she talks about the Houdon statue of George Washington in the rotunda at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan.26, 2017. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Should Virginia’s gerrymandered districts be redrawn by a nonpartisan commission? Should former felons be able to vote? These are questions that some lawmakers want to put on the ballot for voters to decide, but it looks unlikely they’ll get the chance. As Michael Pope reports from the Capitol, that seems unlikely — at least for now.

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