Archive for March, 2017

Despite Some GOP Support, Complete Pot Legalization in Virginia Still Faces Challenges


Some GOP lawmakers in Virginia are softening their stance on marijuana. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been a long, strange trip for marijuana reform, once the province of liberals and Democrats. But now, as Michael Pope reports, Republicans are getting into the act.

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VCU Students Fill Journalism Void in Richmond


VCU journalism students hang up their press credentials after a hectic few weeks covering Virginia’s legislature. (Credit: Virginia Commonwealth University)

Now that state lawmakers have wrapped up their business in Richmond, two dozen students at Virginia Commonwealth University are breathing a sigh of relief.  VCU is one of a handful of schools filling a huge gap created by shrinking budgets for state news coverage.  Sandy Hausman reports on this eager army of junior journalists.

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Shakespeare’s Sister Takes a Bow at the Blackfriars


Ginna Hoben plays Judith Shakespeare, an aspiring female playwright, in the world premiere of Shakespeare’s Sister. (Credit: The American Shakespeare Center)

In this time of mounting hostility toward immigrants, economic uncertainty and massive women’s marches, a surprising new play premiered at the American Shakespeare Center’s theater in Staunton. Sandy Hausman reports on the original production of Shakespeare’s Sister.

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School Divisions Face Cash Crunch As State Lawmakers Pull Back Funding

School Reform

Credit: The Commonwealth Institute

It’s budget time across Virginia. That means that city councils and boards of supervisors are trying to balance the books for fiscal year 2018. And, as Michael Pope reports, many of them are struggling with the same problem.

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UVA Law Creates the Neil Gorsuch Project


The Neil Gorsuch Project is a collection of 860 decisions and dissents, speeches and publications. (Credit: UVA) 

Hearings begin today on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the University of Virginia is doing its part to inform lawmakers and the public as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Virginia Republicans Could Make or Break ACA Replacement

Dave Brat

Republican Representative Dave Brat is one of several Virginia GOP lawmakers that have opposed the current plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Virginia Republicans are proving to be a thorn in the party establishment’s side when it comes to overhauling the Affordable Care Act.  Three of the Commonwealth’s seven-member Republican delegation have already come out opposed to their party’s own health care measure, which, as Correspondent Matt Laslo explains, makes Virginia Republicans an obstacle for party leaders.


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Trump Proposes Cutting EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program

Trump Budget Chesapeake Bay

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate federal funding for the program that has coordinated Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts for decades. Trump’s spending plan for the 2018 budget year, released Thursday, significantly reduces funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

President Trump’s budget blueprint to “Make American Great Again” would cut EPA funding for the Chesapeake Bay by $73 million, ultimately killing federal programs to eliminate pollution that’s been plan plaguing the bay for decades. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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House of Delegates Races Look to Draw More Attention This Year


Credit: NPR

This year all of Virginia’s state lawmakers are up for re-election. And those House of Delegates races don’t always get the kind of publicity as higher profile elections. But, as Michael Pope reports, this year might be different.


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Debate Surrounding the Voting Process in Virginia Remains

Gerry Connolly

Congressman Gerry Connolly, seen here at an election party last November, believes the voting process is broken. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Do election officials have the equipment they need to prevent voters waiting in line for hours on end? One Virginia congressman says no, and he has a plan to fix it. But as Michael Pope reports, that plan may be headed for the same gridlock that confronts other changes to voting systems.

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One Virginia Lawmaker Has Plan to Increase Oversight of Department of Homeland Security


Republican Congressman Tom Garrett wants increased oversight of the DHS, but legal experts call his plan another example of “government bureaucracy.”

Is the Department of Homeland Security in danger of waste, fraud and abuse? One Virginia congressman says it is, and he has a plan to do something about it. Michael Pope reports.

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What Impacts Could Proposed Republican Healthcare Plan Have in Virginia?

Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act could potentially mean the end of coverage for nearly half a million Virginians. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP, File)

As the debate about health care takes center stage, what kind of impact could the Republican plan have in Virginia? Michael Pope is digging into the numbers.


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Va News Topics: Roanoke Threatened Historic Structures, Navy Documenting Whale Accidents


Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Threatened historic structures owned by local governments can be tough sells when it comes to persuading private developers to buy and preserve them, as the City of Roanoke is learning. And, the Chesapeake Bay is among the places where whales are most at risk of being struck by ships. The Navy has been leading the effort to document that danger. 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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Low Enrollment Schools Set to Get Extra Funding


Credit: Amanda C / Flickr

Part of this year’s state budget includes much needed support for school districts who are rapidly losing students. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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‘Frankenturtles’ Used to Help Save the Real Things


David Kaplan, an assistant professor at VIMS, prepares “frankenturtles” for release. (Credit: David Malmquist / VIMS)

Each spring, thousands of young Loggerhead turtles migrate to the Chesapeake Bay for the summer — but the journey is dangerous for these protected species, some are struck by boats. Last summer, researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science set out to identify the deadliest areas and to figure out what might be done. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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The Debate Over Felon Voting Rights Has a Long History in Virginia


Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Virginia remain divided over how former felons should get the right to vote back. It’s a debate that has deep roots in Virginia history, not all of it pleasant. Michael Pope has this look into the bad old days.

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Governor Set to Break Record Number of Vetoes, Here’s Whose Record He’s Breaking


Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore gestures as he addresses the Virginia State Republican Convention in Harrisonburg. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

In the next few weeks, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is about to break a record — he’ll be vetoing more bills than any other governor in Virginia history. Michael Pope has this look at the governor who held the record until now.

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Virginia’s Rainy Day Fund Drops by 75% in 11 Years

Numbers And Finance

Credit: Ken Teegardin / Flickr

Virginia lawmakers and the Governor just wrapped up the state’s latest budget — and it was no easy task. Because Virginia had lower than expected tax revenues, they had to find ways to close a $1.5 billion gap. And while they managed to do it, some critics say they didn’t do enough to address the underlying issues.  Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Trump Critic Says Travel Priviledges Are Being Reviewed


Credit: NPR

A Gold star father who scolded candidate Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention for failing to read the constitution may now be in trouble with the federal government. Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Protesting to Protect Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Choice


Protesting Republican Delegate Ben Cline’s bills to defund Planned Parenthood and to designate Row v. Wade anniversary January 22nd as a “Day of Tears.”

Advocates for women’s rights rallied Republican Delegate Ben Cline’s law office in Lexington on Friday. They were protesting bills he introduced, to defund Planned Parenthood and to designate January 22 a “Day of Tears” to encourage Virginians to mourn abortion.  Three Rockbridge County High School girls organized the action; One of them, a rising country music star who plays in the heart of Trump country. Jessie Knadler reports.

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Will Democratic Energy Translate into Local Elections?

Congress Town Halls Virginia

A constituent of congressman Dave Brat, R-Va., gestures as she responded to the congressman during a town hall meeting with the congressman in Blackstone, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Across Virginia, an unprecedented wave of candidates is emerging to take on Republicans this fall in elections for the state legislature. Those elections could be an early test on whether Democrats can harness the energy building against the Trump administration and focus it locally. Michael Pope has more.


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Black Restaurant Week Kicks Off in Richmond


Ajay Brewer, owner of Brewer’s Cafe. Credit: Kelley Libby

Today kicks off Black Restaurant Week in Richmond. The city’s Office of Minority Business Development is encouraging the public to support the event, which promotes Richmond tourism and the city’s diverse food culture. Kelley Libby reports.

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Va News Topics: Airline Service Performance Issues, Bristol City Council Complaints


Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The company that provides airline service between the Shenandoah Valley and Charlotte is at risk of losing its federal subsidy because of performance issues. And, some members of Bristol City Council are upset about people who criticize them anonymously on the internet. 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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Architecture Firm Holds Community Meeting on Lumpkin’s Jail


Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

The conversation about how best to memorialize Virginia’s history of slavery has been going on for years. But Richmond took a big step last fall when they announced a contract with a DC based architecture firm to build a memorial. Now that firm is ready to get to work. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Changing Weather Sparks Fear for Fruit Farmers


Chiles in Crozet has been growing peaches, apples and other fruits for more than 100 years. Today, erratic weather is prompting fears for this year’s crop.

Virginians have enjoyed an unusually warm winter, with temperatures rising into the 70’s and 80’s in some places, but for the state’s fruit farmers it’s been a nightmare – raising fears of crop damage in the weeks to come. Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Group Says Virginia’s Legal System Is Stacked Against The Poor


Legal Aid Justice Center’s Executive Director, Mary Bauer. (Credit: Legal Aid Justice Center)

For 50 years, Virginia’s Legal Aid Justice Center has been working to assure that poor people get a fair shake under the law.  Now, the organization says it’s launching a new program to identify the biggest problems with this state’s legal system. Sandy Hausman has details.


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State Republicans Show No Desire for Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform


Credit: NPR

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court said a lower court should re-examine the redistricting efforts of Virginia’s Republican-led legislature. That prompted Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe to ask Republicans give up the fight and work together on nonpartisan redistricting. Michael Pope has the latest.

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Virginia’s Place in a Deregulating Trump Administration

Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, left, discusses the Access to Care Act with Representative John Conyers, D-Mich., and Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, right, during a session last month. Goodlatte wants to cut back on what he calls “burdensome regulations.” (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Virginia Democrats are raising concerns that the GOP effort to unwind regulations could have consequences for Virginia’s environment. Matt Laslo has the story from the Capitol.


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The Virginia Slave Who Mailed Himself to Freedom


From the Library of Congress, a lithograph of “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown.” (Credit: Library of Congress)

Henry “Box” Brown was a born into slavery in Louisa County. At 15, he was sent to Richmond.

Today, a group of musicians has chosen to honor Brown’s story with a song about his escape. They performed recently during a Black History Celebration on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

In front of an audience, many of whom were descendants of slaves, Glenn Birch told the story of Brown’s unusual and daring journey.

Accompanying Glenn Birch were fellow musicians Ellen Birch and Frank Coleman. This story was produced by Pamela D’Angelo. You can read Henry Box Brown’s narrative of his own life here.  


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As Trump Abandons Environmental Protection, NRDC Urges McAuliffe to Step Up


As sea level rise threatens Virginia’s coast, the Natural Resources Defense Council offers advice to Virginia’s governor. (Credit: NPR)

With sea levels rising along Virginia’s coast and its forests threatened by a warming climate, Governor McAuliffe appointed a work group to suggest executive actions he could take to reduce carbon pollution.  That group met for the last time yesterday, and got some advice from environmentalists. Sandy Hausman reports on what they suggest.

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A Number of Virginia Responses to Trump’s First Congressional Address

Trump Speech

President Donald Trump pauses after finishing his speech to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill last night. (Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool via AP)

So what kinds of reactions are Virginians having to the president’s first speech to Congress? Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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Anti-Gerrymandering Lawsuit Moves Forward in Virginia


Virginia’s 72nd House District is one of the ones mentioned in the lawsuit. (Credit: Virginia Public Access Project)

A lawsuit against Virginia’s House of Delegates for how they drew district lines back in 2011 will be moving forward. A judge in Richmond ruled today to not dismiss the case. Mallory Noe-Payne reports from the courthouse.

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Virginia Senators Look to Make Statement With State of the Union Guests

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine

Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are both planning on bringing guests to President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Virginia Democrats are planning to make a show of force during President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. As Michael Pope reports, both Virginia senators are bringing politically charged guests.

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