Archive for March, 2018

Virginia Congressman Fights for the CFPB

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Congressman Don Beyer speaks in front of the Consumer Protection Bureau. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Since the election of President Trump in 2016, efforts to crack down on predatory lending in Washington have all but ended. That’s causing a fair amount of concern among people who oppose high interest rates. Michael Pope reports.

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Liberty’s Quiet Win

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Brian Hinkley and his team at Liberty University maintain 40 acres of pristine sports fields. Credit: Sandy Hausman

While many in Virginia have been focused on March Madness, a team at Liberty
University is quietly celebrating its victory.

The school took top national honors for its turf grass.

Sandy Hausman reports on how the Lynchburg campus captured that win.

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The Chinese Feast on Virginia’s Turtles

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  An unhappy snapper hisses as it is studied, then released as part of a VCU study of Virginia’s turtle population.
Credit Benjamin Colteaux

With the coming of spring, snapping turtles have emerged from their winter homes in the mud – ready to reproduce and to spend the summer trolling ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.

They’re a hearty species with few natural enemies.

Now, however, turtles which can live more than a hundred years are in danger.

Sandy Hausman tells why.

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Is Virginia Missing Out On Federal Grant Money?

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Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

Virginia gets a lot of money from the federal government, so much that it’s often seen as being overly reliant on Uncle Sam.

But there’s one part of the state’s budget where the federal government plays a minimal role.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Gun Control Groups, Not The NRA, Are The Big Spenders In State Races

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Much has been made of the role that campaign contributions from the NRA has on elected leaders in Washington.

But, as Michael Pope reports, money is flowing on both sides of the gun debate.

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VA News: Chesterfield County uses Uber, ‘Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft’ signs

VPAPnewChesterfield County is trying a new approach to providing transportation for residents in need. And if you don’t believe those signs on Virginia highways that warn of speed limits being enforced by aircraft then you may be right.
Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.
More now from Fred Echols.

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Weed Warriors Train New Troops

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A team of experts will train landowners and their neighbors to identify and remove invasive plants. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

A central Virginia group is declaring war on weeds this spring.

Blue Ridge PRISM will hold free workshops to teach landowners how to identify and remove some of the 91 non-native plants that threaten our forests.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

To sign up for training, visit http://blueridgeprism.org/

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‘We’re Being More Mindful’ Monument Avenue Commission Quietly Continues Work

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Members of the Monument Avenue Commission listen to presentations from small groups during a meeting at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Richmond. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ)

Richmond’s Monument Avenue Commission held one of its final community meetings Thursday night. Almost a year ago the group was tasked with a big question: What should Virginia’s capitol city do with its confederate monuments?

In the months since, that issue has become a flashpoint. Caught in the middle of that tension, the Monument Avenue Commission has aimed to keep things civil. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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An Early Look At Fundraising Totals For Virginia’s Mid-Term Congressional Candidates

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Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock currently holds a large lead over Virginia’s other Congressional candidates in fundraising.

The race is on for 2018, and a huge slate of candidates will be on the ballot during primary season this year. The election is only two months away, so candidates are furiously trying to raise money. Michael Pope reports.

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Clapper Stresses the Importance of the Intelligence Community at Roanoke College

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Credit: Carissa Divant

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave a talk on the ethics and importance of information gathering at Roanoke College last night. Nick Gilmore was there and filed this report.

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Virginia Prisoner Sues Over Food Behind Bars

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Virginia has about thirty thousand people in its prisons, and for each one it spends two dollars and ten cents a day on food.

Now, one inmate is suing, alleging the daily diet puts him at high risk for obesity, cancer and many chronic conditions.

The state says it’s a security risk to allow recording in person, so Sandy Hausman spoke with the plaintiff by phone and filed this report.

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Where Does Lottery Money Go in Governor Northam’s Budget?

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Money from gambling may be making its way into the classrooms. Or maybe not. Michael Pope explains.

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There’s a Teacher Shortage in Virginia. Are Shorter Prep Programs the Fix?

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  Credit Derek Bruff/Flickr CC

Virginia is facing a critical shortage of teachers. Lawmakers in Richmond are trying to tackle that problem. They passed several measures this year making it easier to get and keep a teaching license.

As part of that push, they’re also urging colleges and universities to create four year teaching programs — instead of the traditional five or six years.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, not everyone thinks that’s the best solution.

 

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Controversial Cell Tower Bill Rests in Governor Northam’s Hands

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Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr

Local governments are pressing the governor’s office to make significant changes to a bill governing where and when cell towers can be constructed. Michael Pope has that story.

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Governor Reiterates Call for Medicaid Expansion

governor-northam-official-photo_800Governor Ralph Northam proposed a new budget Wednesday, kickstarting round two of spending negotiations with lawmakers. His budget also reiterated a call for Medicaid expansion. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Budget Negotiations Leave School Districts in Limbo

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, along with Richmond area lawmakers, calls on lawmakers to provide more funding to school districts. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ)

Governor Ralph Northam is proposing a new state budget Wednesday. That will kick off a second round of budget negotiations. The first round failed when lawmakers couldn’t agree during their normal legislative session. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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New Data Shows That Declining Populations May Not Be All Bad for Virginia’s Rural Counties

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U.S. Route 250 in Highland County (Credit: Creative Commons)

New numbers from the census bureau show that rural parts of the state are losing population. But that isn’t necessarily a problem. Michael Pope explains.

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New RC Poll: Housing Prices Are Moving Upwards in Virginia

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Home prices are on the rise in Virginia, according to a new poll from Roanoke College. Michael Pope explains why.

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Virginia Accepting Public Comment on Cap and Trade Plan

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Virginia is forging ahead with a carbon cap and trade program, the first of its kind for the state. Regulators are now taking public comment and the final meeting is in Richmond Monday. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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VA News: Northern VA Carpooling, Hampton City Beach

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The City of Hampton has an idea for reviving one of its tourist areas, and it’s already hard for Northern Virginia commuters to get to work in D.C. For some it may soon get worse.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link.

Click here for Va. News from the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Government Considers Loosening Regulations On Hog Processors

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Credit: USDA/Flickr

The U.S Department of Agriculture along with the hog industry have proposed more deregulation at hog plants.

If implemented, meat packers would get more authority to police food safety themselves while allowing them to slaughter hogs faster.

Jessie Knadler has more.

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Following Pennsylvania Special Election, Red Districts in Virginia Could Be Up For Grabs

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

This year’s election is shaping up to be even more competitive than many observers thought, and congressional seats that were considered safe a few years ago are now in play. One Central Virginia congressional district appears to have moved from a safe Republican seat into one of the hottest races this year. Michael Pope reports.

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Beyer Looks For Allies To Save Chesapeake Bay Funding

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As President Trump continues to call for spending cuts, Congressional Democrats like Rep. Don Beyer  are trying to keep environmental protection money flowing towards the Chesapeake.

Matt Laslo has more from the Capitol.

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Lawmakers to Zinke: No Offshore Drilling for Virginia

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Leaders in the Trump administration are hearing from Virginia about opposition to offshore drilling. Michael Pope has the story.

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Comstock Leading Effort to Crack Down on Gang Activity

Barbara_Comstock_official_photo,_114th_CongressRepublican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is working across party lines in Washington to crack down on gang violence. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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Virginia Students Participate in National Walkout

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Thousands gathered at UVA’s Rotunda to call for gun control reform. (Credit: Jordy Yager)

Across Virginia students participated in walkouts today, to remember the victims of the Parkland High School shooting. Mallory Noe-Payne was at Freeman High School outside Richmond and has this report.

The walkouts weren’t just at high school and middle schools, but also universities. Jordy Yager reports from the University of Virginia.

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Step, Storytelling And Sisterhood

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PST performs at Charles City County High School. (Credit: Brad Kutner)

The art of step is as much a form of storytelling as it is a physical activity. Using a mix of stomps, claps, hand motions and shouts, stepping offers an outlet for people to have their feelings heard and send a message.

Brad Kutner spent some time with Precision Step Team, an award winning collection of Richmond-area middle and high school girls, to learn more about what’s involved and give them a chance to talk about Step in their own words.

They were getting ready to perform a show honoring Harriet Tubman.

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Republicans Face an Uphill Battle When it Comes to Challenging Tim Kaine

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Corey Stewart, who nearly beat out Ed Gillespie for the Republican gubernatorial nomination last year, leads among GOP Senate hopefuls in a recent poll from Christopher Newport University. However, 66% of party respondents to that poll said they are undecided on who they will vote for in the June primary. (Credit: Richmond Tea Party / Flickr)

Voters are only a few months away from primary elections that will shape the 2018 race. But, Republicans are having a hard time attracting candidates who can raise enough money to take on Senator Tim Kaine. Michael Pope has details.

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New Hope For Buena Vista Is Part Class Project, Part Redevelopment Effort

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The Shenandoah Valley city of Buena Vista has long been economically depressed.

But now that a Roanoke developer snapped up 11 buildings downtown, some wonder if the old manufacturing town just outside of Lexington is ripe for a revival.

Reporter Jessie Knadler heads to BV to find out.

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Examining the Power of Virginia’s Governor

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Governor Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam will be spending the next few weeks combing through more than 800 bills the General Assembly sent to his desk.  And, as Michael Pope reports, he gets to make significant changes.

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Richmond’s Confederate Monument Debate Featured on 60 Minutes

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Credit: Ron Cogswell / Flickr

Virginia’s capital city made prime-time news this weekend during an episode of CBS’ 60 minutes about Confederate monuments. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Pope, Church and State: A Weekly Look at This Year’s General Assembly Session

General Assembly 2018-01As part of our continuing General Assembly coverage, Luke Church and Michael Pope sat down each week of the session to break down the highlights from the Capitol.

WEEK ONE

The first week of the session was largely centered around outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe, who delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address to the joint chamber. McAuliffe discussed the accomplishments of his administration, although expanding Medicaid coverage in the state was one of his priorities that did not come to fruition. Church and Pope discussed reactions from both sides of the aisle to former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s final address.

WEEK TWO

Governor Ralph Northam’s honeymoon as the new Governor of Virginia didn’t last long, as week two at the General Assembly saw partisan lines reemerge. Republicans saw Northam’s first address to the joint chamber as a continuation of rhetoric from out-going Governor Terry McAuliffe. Despite a tense atmosphere in Richmond, there were attempts to move forward with legislation in a bipartisan manner. Luke Church and Michael Pope also discussed some of the newest faces at the session this year.

WEEK THREE

Medicaid expansion was at the forefront of discussions at the General Assembly this week. In addition, many in Richmond were still reeling from the way the tied 94th House District race was decided — by the luck of the draw. There were calls on both sides of the aisle to make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

WEEK FOUR

Discussions over Medicaid expansion continued this week at the General Assembly. Republicans indicated a desire to potentially compromise, but they wanted a work requirement to be included in any possible expansion. The debate over Confederate monuments also came to the forefront of discussions this week.

WEEK FIVE

Lawmakers came together in a bipartisan manner this week to strike a deal that will reform Virginia’s criminal justice system. Democrats got to raise the felony theft threshold limit, while Republicans got to reform the state’s restitution system, which is plagued by hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid money to victims.

WEEK SIX

The session reached its halfway point this week. Democrats and Republicans alike said they were surprised at how much had been accomplished. Some big fights remained though, including medicaid expansion and the budget. Michael Pope and Luke Church discuss lawmaker reaction to the Florida shooting as well as what had been accomplished up to the halfway point of the 2018 session.

WEEK SEVEN

Money, money, money. The push to approve budget amendments was the main highlight of the session this week. Both chambers reached a final budget, but a showdown over Medicaid expansion became a major sticking point.

WEEK EIGHT

The end of the 2018 General Assembly session was in sight this week, but there were still some big issues to tackle. Gun control reform measures went nowhere, and vast differences over how to reach a final budget agreement remained.

WEEK NINE

The session adjourned on Saturday, but there’s one major task still left to tackle: a final budget agreement. The major sticking point seems to be Medicaid expansion. Governor Ralph Northam has indicated he plans to call for a special session in order for lawmakers to come together on a final state budget.

 

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Va News Topics: Henrico County Water Costs, Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel Expanding

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Henrico County has a plan to secure its water needs for a half-century at what it considers bargain prices, and new technology will be brought in to add capacity to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and with it will come a new problem.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VA News link. More now from Fred Echols.

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Special Session Looms as Republicans Remain Divided Over Medicaid

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Virginia’s Governor will call a special session so lawmakers can finish work on the state budget. They’re at an impasse over Medicaid expansion. But the disagreement isn’t between Republicans and Democrats, it’s between the House and Senate. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Governor Northam Signs Controversial “Dominion Bill”

governor-northam-official-photo_800Electric utility companies Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power have avoided Virginia regulators for several years, although that era may be coming to a close. Michael Pope has final developments on the so-called Dominion bill.

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Virginia Republicans Wary of Tariffs And Potential For Trade War

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Credit Rog Cogswell, Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers are worried that President Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum may spark a trade war.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details form Washington.

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Leaders in Richmond Are Punting School Safety Talks Until Next Year’s Session

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Lawmakers in Richmond may be about to wrap up their General Assembly session, but they’re already pushing school safety to next year. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with more.

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Virginia Republicans Wary Of Tariffs And Potential For Trade War

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Credit: Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers are worried that President Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum may spark a trade war. Matt Laslo reports.

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Lawmakers Delay Permanent Solution on Coal Ash

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Richmond have punted a permanent solution on coal ash until another year. Coal ash the byproduct of coal burning power plants. Across Virginia, the ash sits in ponds as lawmakers and Dominion Energy work out how best to get rid of it. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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With Federal Recognition Secured, Virginia Tribes Look To New Opportunities

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Karenne Wood (Credit: Virginia Humanties)

After more than 400 years, six Native American tribes have finally gotten federal recognition. It opens doors for countless funding opportunities, but maybe most of all, it creates the possibility of writing a more accurate version of this country’s history. Jordy Yager reports.

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To Tether or Not to Tether? Lawmakers Weigh In

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Lawmakers in Richmond are deadlocked on how to handle tethering of dogs. Michael Pope reports.

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Rear-facing Car Seat Legislation Headed to Governor

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Parents are about to be forced to strap their children into rear-facing child seats.

Michael Pope explains why from the Capitol.

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Virginia Delegation Considers Gun Control And School Safety Measures

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President Trump surprised many when he gathered a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House and called on them to pass a comprehensive gun control bill comprised of many proposals opposed by the gun lobby.

That announcement caught Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner off guard. Matt Laslo reports.

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How Much Should Golf Courses Pay in Property Taxes?

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Are golf courses charged too much in property taxes? Lawmakers in Richmond are debating how much local governments should be able to charge. Michael Pope has details.

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State Lawmakers Are Trying to Iron Out Differences in Order to End Split Precincts

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The chaos of the last election is causing some discussion in Richmond about improving the way people vote. But the House and Senate have radically different approaches. Michael Pope is at the Capitol with the latest.

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Will There Be Math?

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For the last several years, there’s been a push to interest more students in what are known as STEM subjects. That’s Science, Technology Engineering and Math. But when it comes to that last one, the numbers don’t quite add up. That’s because fewer people who earn college degrees in math, go on to become math teachers. Robbie Harris reports.

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State Senate Debates Use Of Cellphones While Driving

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Texting while driving is already illegal in Virginia. But a bill now being debated in the state Senate would require hands-free use of cell phones.

Michael Pope explains.

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Lawmakers Continue to Discuss Changes to Criminal Justice System, Including Mental Health Reform


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Jails across Virginia are becoming de facto mental institutions as more and more inmates arrive every day with serious mental illness. And, lawmakers are hoping better treatment in jail might free up psychiatric beds for those not caught up in the criminal justice system. Micheal Pope reports.

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Funding for K-12 on the Line as Lawmakers Weigh Medicaid Expansion

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, along with Richmond area lawmakers, calls on lawmakers to provide more funding to school districts. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ)

Educators are keeping an eye on Richmond this week, as lawmakers wrap up work on the state budget.Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Va. News: Tarot Cards And Body Cameras

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

A proposal to add fortune telling to the list of approved business activities in the southwest Virginia town of Richlands drew an overflow crowd to a public meeting and a suburban Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney says his office no longer has the resources to prosecute misdemeanor cases.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link. More now from Fred Echols.

  Click here for Va. News from the Virginia Public Access Project.

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