Archive for July, 2017
Virginia ACA Providers Face a Federal Funding Cut With a Fast-Approaching Deadline
President Trump has repeatedly vowed to cut off federal funding for the subsidized health-insurance plans that are at the center of the Affordable Care Act. If he decides to pull the trigger on that, what would happen in Virginia? Michael Pope has the story.
Va News Topics: Historic Courtroom, Coal Ash and Oysters
A Virginia county is looking to avoid legal complications while it decides what to do about a religious message discovered in a historic courtroom. And, it may surprise many people to hear that coal ash was once used in the Chesapeake Bay to support oysters. Fred Echols has details.
A Number of Virginia Representatives Think Lawmakers Should Skip Recess
Posted by Nick Gilmore in Virginia's News on July 28, 2017
The U.S. House kicks off a month long recess today, which some Virginia Republicans say they don’t deserve. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.
Virginia’s Real Estate Sector is Rapidly Growing
Virginia’s real estate market is red hot according to new data from the federal government. Michael Pope has details.
Congress Votes to Defund Dog Experiments at Richmond’s VA Hospital
The Veterans Affairs hospital in Richmond has come under fire for using dogs in painful medical testing. Now a Congressman has stepped in to eliminate funding for the program. Mallory Noe- Payne has more.
Blacksburg Based Company Completes Road Trip with Self Driving Car
More than ten years ago, a small team of students and engineers from Virginia Tech won big at a national contest for software that allowed a car to drive all on its own.
That technology has since grown into a successful Blacksburg-based company that’s on the cutting edge of self-driving technology.
The company just completed its first cross-country road trip, and Mallory Noe-Payne was there as they pulled into their final stop.
Virginia Lawmakers’ Differing Views on Trump’s Voting Commission
President Donald Trump is backing up his unfounded claim that millions of illegal votes were cast for his opponent with a commission to investigate voter fraud. Washington correspondent Matt Laslo reports that many lawmakers from our region are dubious of the commission, and some Republicans wonder if it’s a top priority.
The Biggest Political Spenders Don’t Always Get the Victory
Money has become an increasingly important part of politics, and candidates spend a larger portion of their time on the campaign trail dialing for dollars. But, as Michael Pope reports, money does not always equal success.
One Lawmaker’s Plan to Regulate Online Lending
With the rise of online lenders, consumers in Virginia can be hit with loans that have interest rates far beyond any brick-and-mortar location. Now one lawmaker from Northern Virginia is offering a solution, although consumer advocates say the bill might cause more problems than it solves. Michael Pope has the story.
Governor Kicks Off ‘Virginia is for Computer Science Lovers’ Campaign
Virginia launched a new PR campaign Monday to draw attention to the state’s quickly growing computer science industry. The campaign ties in neatly with Richmond Tech Week, which also kicked off Monday. Mallory Noe-Payne has more details.
GRTC in Richmond Launches Training Program for Mechanics
Public transportation plays a big role in a community — helping people get to and from work and school. But now Richmond’s public transport agency is trying something new: workforce development. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.
New Rules Threaten Growing Blue Cat Industry
In recent years, Chesapeake watermen and seafood processors have begun developing a market for blue catfish, that invasive species that has exploded in regional waters vacuuming up baby blue crabs, shad, striped bass and other economically important fish. But new USDA inspection rules that hold foreign imports to U.S. standards could threaten that growing market. Pamela D’Angelo reports on America’s other, other white meat 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.
Va News Topics: Saving Honeybees, Self-Driving Cars to Virginia
The past few years have been difficult for honeybees with thousands of colonies dying every winter but Virginia is working on a plan to help these important pollinators stay alive. And, the Virginia Department of Transportation hopes to attract more research on self-driving cars to Virginia by opening sections of the state’s interstate highways to companies building and testing autonomous vehicles. Fred Echols has more.
Gillespie, Northam Discuss Guns, Fracking and Economy in First Gubernatorial Debate
Virginia’s two major-party candidates for governor duked it out over the weekend in the first of three debates. Michael Pope has the story.
First Gubernatorial Debate Does Not Include Libertarian Candidate
The first of three debates for governor is scheduled for this weekend, when Democrat Ralph Northam will square off with Republican Ed Gillespie at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs. But there’s one candidate who’s not invited to the party. Michael Pope has details.
Tim Kaine’s Health Care Plan: Reinsurance
In Washington, leaders in both parties are at odds over how to move forward on health care. One senator who is trying to seize the moment is Democrat Tim Kaine, who says he has a plan to move forward. Michael Pope has the story.
Democratic Party Launches New Agenda in Competitive Virginia District
Democrats are eager to fight for the blue-collar voters who once made up the core of their base, voters who sided with Trump last year. Now they have a new platform of issues to attract those voters, and Democrats chose Virginia as the staging ground to launch that attack against the Republicans. Michael Pope has details.
Virginia Lawmakers Seek to Tame the Wild West of Online Lending
The internet has upended the recording industry, the newspaper industry and the hotel industry. Now state regulators are looking at how to handle the latest industry to go online — cheap and easy high-interest loans. Michael Pope has details.
Richmond Public Transport Partners with Tech Company to Serve Elderly, Disabled
The disabled and elderly often rely on public transportation to get them where they need to go. Now, Richmond officials are hoping to make things a bit easier by partnering with a local tech start-up. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.
‘Nuestras Historias’ Explores Richmond’s Latino Community
Last year, for the first time, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond held a special ceremony for its Latino graduates. Parents in the audience, many of whom were celebrating the first college graduate in their families, heard this poem by student Vei Citlalin Bobadilla. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.
Governor McAuliffe Takes Stock of what Did – and Didn’t – Happen on Mental Health During Term
During his last few months as governor, Terry McAullife is taking stock of his time in office — especially on action on mental health. Michael Pope has the story.
Virginia Agriculture Jumps By 30% in Four Years
Virginia’s largest industry is agriculture, and it’s only getting larger. That’s according to new numbers released Tuesday. Mallory Noe-Payne was at the capitol for the announcement and filed this report.
Meet Your Libertarian Candidate for Governor, Cliff Hyra
The race for governor has more than two candidates, although the third man in the race is getting far less attention. Michael Pope spent some time with him on the campaign trail.
Gillespie Rolls Out Plan for Veterans
Republican candidate for Governor Ed Gillespie was in Norfolk today, unveiling a suite of proposals to help Virginia’s veterans. Mallory Noe- Payne has details.
VA News Topics: Goose Protest, Turtle Prosthetic
Neighbors have marched in protest and a congressman has gotten involved after federal officials euthanized more than 100 geese in Virginia Beach…and an accidental injury to a pet turtle has given Virginia researchers a chance to accomplish something never done before. Fred Echols reports.
November House of Delegates Election May Be Most Contested Ever
Voters will have more choices in this year’s election for the House of Delegates than they have ever had before. Michael Pope reports.
North Carolina Makes Moves to Purchase Land for New Bridge to Outer Banks
North Carolina is making moves on a project it’s had in the works for decades: a new bridge that would make it easier for Virginians to access the Outer Banks. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.
Calculating the Cost of Eliminating Taxes in the Poorest Parts of Virginia
One lawmaker from the Southwest corner of Virginia is pushing a plan to create tax breaks in some of the poorest parts of the state. But as Michael Pope reports, implementing that plan would blast a giant hole in the budget.
Representative Don Beyer’s Bill Aims to Deliver Non-Partisan Redistricting
One Virginia Democrat is proposing a sweeping overhaul to how the nation’s congressional districts are drawn. Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details from Washington on a bill that could take the politics out of how the nation’s lawmakers are chosen.
Standardized Tests Could Have Smaller Impact Under New Law
Posted by Nick Gilmore in Virginia's News on July 13, 2017
How should schools and teachers be evaluated in Virginia? And what role should standardized testing play. Michael Pope reports those tests are about to have less of an influence in schools across the Commonwealth.
Controversial Drug Used in Virginia’s Latest Executions
Last week Virginia executed 36-year-old William Morva for the murders of a sheriff’s deputy and security guard back in 2006. In the final hours of his life, Morva’s lawyers raised concerns over how Virginia gets the drugs it uses in executions, and why they may not be working properly. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.
Gillespie Wants to Use State Funds for Long-Term Addiction Treatment Centers
On the campaign trail, Virginia’s Republican candidate for Governor is talking about how to save taxpayer money, while also tackling the opioid epidemic. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.
Soon-to-Be Demolished GA Building Could Be the State’s Largest Yard Sale
Tuesday, state officials opened up the soon-to-be demolished General Assembly building in downtown Richmond for what might have been the largest yard sale in Virginia history… The public was invited to peruse and purchase all 11-stories of artifacts, office supplies and junk. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.
CBO Score Could Be a Hurdle for Federal Recognition of Virginia Indian Tribes
Virginia Indian tribes have been seeking federal recognition for decades, and they are closer now than they have ever been. But a new score from the Congressional Budget Office might be a stumbling block for moving forward. Michael Pope reports.
Kaine Hears From Parents Worried About Potential Medicaid Cuts
Posted by Nick Gilmore in Virginia's News on July 11, 2017
As the Senate considers a major overhaul to the Affordable Care Act, parents of medically complex children are worried about their future, and what might happen to them if Medicaid is cut. This week, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine heard from several of these parents in a roundtable discussion in Northern Virginia. Michael Pope reports.
Va News Topcs: Firefighter Diversity and Natural Bridge
The Henrico County Fire Department says it was purely accidental when it recently achieved a first in employment diversity and Virginia’s famous Natural Bridge is also a working highway bridge, one that’s causing some safety concerns. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link. Fred Echols reports.
Lafayette River Rebounds, Community Still Wary of Bay Budget Cuts
After nearly a decade of work, the once-polluted, urban Lafayette River in Norfolk is rebounding. The Elizabeth River Project and Chesapeake Bay Foundation will build just five more acres of oyster reefs to become Virginia’s first river to meet Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration goals. Last week, federal, state and local legislators celebrated with community activists, but remain concerned that the president’s budget has zeroed out all bay cleanup funding. Pamela D’Angelo reports.
Transgender Murder in Lynchburg Not the First in the Region
Police in Lynchburg are currently investigating the murder of Ebony Morgan, a transgender woman. Morgan had been shot multiple times before she was found and taken to the hospital last Sunday. But Morgan is not the first transgender victim in Virginia, and it has the region’s LGBTQ community shaken. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.
Understanding Lynchburg’s Unemployment Rate
Unemployment is down across Virginia, although the numbers vary between metropolitan areas. Michael Pope is digging into the data.
Virginia Carries Out Execution of William Morva
Despite requests for clemency, Virginia executed 35-year-old William Morva Thursday night. Morva was convicted of killing a security officer and a sheriff’s deputy in 2006, but his lawyers say he suffered from serious mental illness. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.
Just hours prior to the execution Virginia’s Governor announced he would not grant clemency despite appeals from mental health advocates, lawmakers, and even experts from the United Nations. Lisa Kinney with Virginia’s Department of Corrections announced his execution Thursday night.
“When asked whether he had any last words Mr. Morva responded ‘No.’ Execution was carried out without complications,” Kinney told reporters.
Morva’s lawyers also raised concerns over the concoction of lethal injection drugs. Virginia law allows the state to buy the drugs in secret from compounding pharmacies, instead of directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Virginia law allows the state to buy lethal injection drugs in secret from compounding pharmacies, instead of directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers. Many pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling the drugs under pressure from activists.
When Virginia last used this mix of chemicals for an execution in January, witnesses say the inmate appeared to gasp and convulse before dying.
Morva’s Lawyer Dawn Davison witnessed his execution.
“His stomach would concave in completely and he would kind of convulse a little bit as though he were gasping for air and that went on for perhaps a minute or two,” Davison told reporters afterward.
Only Texas has executed more people since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970’s.
When a Ku Klux Klan Rally Taught Fear
Charlie Russell grew up on the west-side of Indianapolis in the 1950’s. In his all-black neighborhood the racial violence of the south that he saw on television felt far away. While he had experienced discrimination, he had never experienced fear. That changed, though, when he was in college in the blue-collar town of Muncie Indiana and the KKK held a rally.
Russell now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This weekend a North Carolina-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan plans to rally in Charlottesville.
State Supreme Court: Car Title Lenders Can Keep Business Details Under Wraps
Justices are siding with car-title lenders in their fight to keep key aspects of their business a secret. Michael Pope has the story.
McAuliffe Won’t Stop Tonight’s Execution
Virginia’s governor has said he will not intervene in the execution of William Morva, set for 9 o’clock tonight. Sandy Hausman spoke with Terry McAuliffe shortly before he announced the decision.
A River Runs Through It: The Shenandoah, Virginia’s Bread Basket and Algae
The Shenandoah River was once considered a world class fishery. Now, sections are coated in a scummy, potentially toxic algae resulting from manure runoff from farms. Jessie Knadler takes a look at Virginia’s water pollution problem and seeks to find out why the state can’t or won’t protect the Shenandoah.
New Disclosure Forms Show Lasting Impact of McDonnell Case
The pay-to-play scandal that resulted in the conviction of former Governor Bob McDonnell may have ended when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the jury’s unanimous decision, but Michael Pope reports that at least one part of that trial has lasting consequences.
UN Officials Ask Virginia Governor To Halt Planned Execution
William Morva was convicted of killing a security guard and sheriff’s deputy nine years ago. He had been jailed for robbery, and was delusional — convinced the prison food was killing him. Morva’s execution is scheduled for Thursday night, but opposition is mounting. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, experts from the UN have issued a statement.
How Police And Social Services Can Work Together To Fight Opioid Abuse
With opioid addiction reaching what some are calling epidemic proportions in Danville, law enforcement has an obvious role to play. Treatment and prevention specialists say the Danville Police are doing more than just arresting offenders. Fred Echols reports.
Judge’s FOIA Ruling Creates More Questions Than Answers
How much information should the public have about members of the General Assembly? And how should they go about getting it? Michael Pope has the story.
Projection: Number of Virginians Over Age 65 Will Double in 20 Years
Virginia isn’t getting any younger. In fact, new demographic projections about the state’s future show the Old Dominion is about to get significantly older.
In the next 20 years, the number of people over the age of 65 in Virginia is expected to double. That’s according to new state and local projections conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. Michael Pope reports.