Archive for April, 2017

Will Virginia Soon Be the Capital of Driverless Cars?

Self-Driving Cars California

A Google self-driving vehicle at Google’s I/O conference in Mountain View, California. Governor Terry McAuliffe wants to make the Commonwealth a central figure in getting more automated vehicles on the road. (Credit: AP / Eric Risberg, File)

Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe wants to make Virginia the capital of automated vehicles. He says it could help reduce accidents, and create a more efficient way to use Virginia’s highways and interstates. But what would it take? Michael Pope has more.

 

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Va News Topics: Covered Bridge Debate, Crab Harvester Shortage

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The community of Pound in the Virginia coalfields wants an old-fashioned covered bridge downtown to attract more tourists, but the Virginia Department of Transportation is taking a dim view of that idea. And, one of the few remaining crab harvesters in Virginia says after some lean years there are now plenty of crabs to be caught in the Chesapeake Bay but there may not be enough people to harvest them. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. More now from Fred Echols.

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How Many Options Will Virginians Have for ACA Health Insurance Providers?

Health Care Overhaul What Now

Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP

Last month, Republicans predicted the Affordable Care Act was on the verge of collapse, but now insurance companies are starting to make plans for the coming year. And so far, Virginia’s marketplace for subsidized health insurance remains strong. Michael Pope has the story.

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State Senator Set to Challenge Comstock in Virginia’s 10th District

Jennifer Wexton

State Senator Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, is set to challenge Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in what should be a hotly contested match-up that garners national attention. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

The next congressional election may be a year and a half away, but now is the time when candidates are throwing their hats into the ring. One particular announcement this week is already scrambling the 2018 race. Michael Pope reports.

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Democrat Scores Upset in Prince William County

jackie smith

Democrat Jackie Smith, center, faced difficult odds, but pulled off an upset to take the Prince William County Clerk of Court seat. (Credit: smithforclerk.com)

Although many people were focused on the special election in Georgia this week, Virginia ALSO had a special election. And it’s one that is energizing Democrats. Michael Pope has the story.

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Fundraising Numbers Paint a Competitive Picture of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race

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Credit: NPR

New fundraising numbers in the race for governor show a hotly competitive race with some candidates raising large amounts of campaign cash. Reporter Michael Pope is digging into the numbers.

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Not All GOP Members Deny Climate Change. But They’re Still the Minority

Scott Taylor

Congressman Scott Taylor, R-Virginia Beach, says that rising sea levels are having an impact in his district, and he worries what President Trump’s proposed cuts to NOAA may mean for the area. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Some Virginia Republicans are calling attention to sea level rise because it’s impacting their coastal districts. Matt Laslo reports they’re in the minority in their party.

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Education Trail Honoring Historically African-American Schools Planned for Northern Neck

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A map of the African American Education Trail, which contains some 70 historical schools throughout the Northern Neck.

Tourists are drawn to the Northern Neck for its rural and Chesapeake Bay heritage. In building an official heritage area, the five-county region has established an Oyster Trail, Artisan Trail and Watermen Heritage Tours. Now, the African American Education Trail has been added. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Comparing Virginia’s Tax Burden to Other States

Alicia Utley

Credit: Brennan Linsley / AP, File

Hold your wallets, folks. It’s tax time. That means last-minute number crunching and maybe a bit of daydreaming about what it might be like to live in another state. Michael Pope’s got this rundown of how the Old Dominion stacks up against other states.

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Va News Topics: ATF Smuffling Investigation, VT Archive of Condolences

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

There are new questions about how money was raised and spent by federal ATF agents operating a smuggling investigation out of Southwest Virginia. And, ten years after mass murder at Virginia Tech, the archive of condolences from around the world has been re-opened. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. More now from Fred Echols.

 

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When it Comes to Rainy Day Funding, How Smart is Virginia?

Virginia_flag_mapIs Virginia saving money for a rainy day? The Pew Charitable Trust says the Commonwealth could do a better job saving for when times are tough. Michael Pope reports.

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Political Attack Billboards Could Be on the Rise

Comstock Billboard

Political attack billboards, like this one in Northern Virginia paid for by a group known as Dump Comstock, could be on the rise. (Credit: Dump Comstock’s Twitter account, @dumpcomstock)

It seems like political campaigns are always searching for the next big thing; the killer app or the comprehensive database. But as Michael Pope reports, sometimes old tricks can take a new twist.

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Food Stamps in Virginia: A Look at the Numbers

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Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

When the recession hit, a record number of people in Virginia turned to food stamps. That number has gone down a bit, but even today about one in ten Virginians participate in the federally funded program. Michael Pope has this look at why the numbers have increased so rapidly and what it means for the future.

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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Wants to Raise the Gas Tax

Pipeline Spill

Credit: David Goldman / AP

In less than two months, Republicans voters will select their candidate for governor. And, as Michael Pope reports, one candidate is running on an unexpected idea.

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Poultry Workers Rally Over Unionization

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Poultry workers and their supporters held a rally in downtown Harrisonburg April 9th in support of unionization at area poultry plants. Workers stood before the crowd to share stories of injury and denial of benefits on the job. Wilfredo Flores, far right, who was terminated from Cargill in December, has emerged as a leader in the fight. (Credit: Jessie Knadler)

Cargill is one of the biggest employers in Rockingham County. They’ve come under fire from workers inside their poultry processing facility in Dayton for what’s been called inhumane treatment and dangerous working conditions on the job. Poultry workers held a rally in downtown Harrisonburg on Sunday to push to unionize inside the plant. Jessie Knadler reports.

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Dominion Agrees to Study Different Cleanup Scenarios Before Taking Action on Coal Ash

Dominion Resources Questar

Dominion has agreed to look into several options before taking action on coal ash. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

The battle to get scientific information about pollution BEFORE action is taken to fix the problem finally has a resolution. Michael Pope has the story.

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Richmond Journalist Calling For Federal Probe of UVA

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Credit: Dale Winling / Flickr 

The University of Virginia has been in the headlines since documents were published suggesting special treatment in the admissions process for friends or relatives of wealthy and influential donors. Now the Richmond man who uncovered the evidence is calling on the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate. Sandy Hausman reports.

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Candidates’ Free-Flowing Campaign Cash May Soon Be No More

Marcus Simon

Delegate Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, wants to close a lingering campaign finance loophole. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Virginia is known for its lax campaign finance laws, a quirk in the state code that led to former Governor Bob McDonnell’s high-profile corruption trial. While that case led to changes in the state’s ethics laws, one loophole is still open. As Michael Pope reports, it’s become a hot topic on the campaign trail.

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Virginians Support Federal Role in Clean Air and Water, Says Poll

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According to a recent survey, Virginians overwhelmingly consider the environment a priority. (Credit: Jeff Self / Flickr)

While the president and Republicans in Washington are calling for fewer environmental regulations, a new poll of Virginians shows support for federal protections of clean air and water.  Sandy Hausman has more.

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Va News Topics: Richmond Vaccinations, Fredericksburg Transportation Projects

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

School officials in Richmond are trying to improve a surprisingly-low vaccination rate among sixth graders. And, Virginia’s new objective approach to funding transportation projects is causing some confusion among planners in Fredericksburg. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org.

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Tornadoes Touch Down in Virginia

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Building at Hickory Ridge Farm. (Credit: NWS)

The National Weather Service confirmed two separate tornados touched down in Virginia on Thursday. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Eight House of Delegates Members Won’t Seek Re-Election; Seven Republicans and One Democrat

Dave Albo

Del. Dave Albo, D-Farifax, waves as he was honored after a retirement speech on the floor of the House of Delegates during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Albo also served as a delegate for 24 years. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

With the statewide primary season fast approaching, members of Virginia’s House of Delegates are making final determinations about whether to run — including several announcements this week.

 

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Virginia’s Veto Session: Medicaid, Coal Country and McAuliffe’s Legacy

Veto session

A book of vetoes sits on a legislative desk during the veto session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

During Virginia’s one-day veto session yesterday, state lawmakers had a number of things on their docket to wrap up the state’s legislative session. RADIO IQ’s Luke Church sat down with reporter Michael Pope to discuss the happenings in Richmond this week.

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Medicaid Expansion in Virginia Fails Once Again

Ralph Northam

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, seen here addressing the media earlier today at a news conference regarding Medicaid expansion. State Republicans have once again voted no on expanding the program. (Credit: Steve Helber / AP)

Lawmakers are back in Richmond this week for a one-day session to consider several vetoes and amendments from Governor Terry McAuliffe. On the agenda was one final showdown on whether to expand Medicaid. Republicans held firm, and voted no. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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VA Congressman Calls for Restrictions on ICE

ICE

Congressman Don Beyer has proposed barring ICE officers from churches, schools and hospitals. (Credit: ICE)

With the federal government stepping up efforts to deport undocumented people, a Virginia congressman is proposing that long-time limits on where arrests can take place be put into law.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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State Lawmakers Head Back to Richmond for Veto Session

Travel Trip 5 Free Things Richmond

Credit: Steve Helber / AP

Lawmakers will be back in Richmond this week for a one-day session. As Michael Pope reports, the day looks to be an important sequel to the debates that happened earlier this year.

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Getting Top Billing on June Primary Ballot Isn’t Like Getting Front-Row Seats ​

Election Virginia

Credit: Steve Helber / AP

While last year’s presidential election is still being debated, this next year’s election is almost upon us. As Michael Pope reports, candidates for state office are arguing about who gets their name at the top of the ballot.

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Public-Private Partnerships Put Taxpayers at Risk

Traffic Congestion

VDOT hopes to ease traffic on I-66 outside the beltway with toll lanes to be built and operated by a private partner. (Credit: Associated Press)

During this – his last year in office – Governor Terry McAuliffe has been boasting about a deal his administration cut with an international group called Express Mobility Partners. The deal sounds too good to be true, and some critics say it is.

That firm says it will build new lanes on I-66 outside the beltway in Northern Virginia in exchange for the right to collect tolls for the next 50 years.  It will also give the state millions of dollars for mass transit, parking lots and improvements to existing roads.  The deal sounds too good to be true, and some critics say it is.

Sandy Hausman has more as she wraps up her two-part series on P3’s.

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Is Virginia’s Road Building Deal a Model for Trump?

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The Indiana Toll Road, built by private partners Cintra and Macquarie, went bankrupt in 2014. (Credit: Indiana Public Media)

President Donald Trump has signaled strong interest in partnering with the private sector to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.  Critics warn that public-private partnerships or P3s often allow savvy corporations to fleece taxpayers, but Governor McAuliffe and his secretary of transportation say they’ve found a way to protect the public and make P3s a success. Sandy Hausman has more in this first story of a two-part series.

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Va News Topics: Largest Ship on East Coast, Colonial Williamsburg Revenues

vpapnew

Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The largest ship ever to call on the U-S east coast is due at Hampton Roads in a few weeks. And, Colonial Williamsburg is looking to increase its revenues but getting some resistance to its latest idea. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org.

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