Archive for December, 2019

“Middle Housing”: Equal Access or a War on Suburbs?

StateSeal00Zoning decisions are usually made by your local government. But, lawmakers in Richmond are thinking about getting into the act. Michael Pope reports.

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2019 Was a Busy Year for Virginia’s Congressional Delegation

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Credit: NPR

2019 was a historic year in Washington for many reasons, including the new makeup of the freshmen class that states like Virginia made more diverse than any others. Correspondent Matt Laslo reports that besides making history, the Commonwealth ended the year on a legislative high note.

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Redistricting Debate Likely to Take Center Stage Again Next Month in Richmond

StateSeal00One of the biggest issues in next year’s General Assembly session is likely to be a leftover issue from last year — gerrymandering. Michael Pope reports.

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Some Virginia Congressional Leaders Are Beyond Ready to Shift Focus From Impeachment

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Credit: Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Members of the Virginia congressional delegation are glad that impeachment has moved out of the House, because it distracted from many of their priorities last year.  Correspondent Matt Laslo has the story from the Capitol.

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Va. News: Weather’s impact on the White Oak, Record Pedestrian Bridge helps Southwest Virginia

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Tourism in Southwest Virginia is about to get a boost… and state officials are monitoring a spike in reported losses of White Oak trees.

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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Legislation to Fix the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund is Now Law

StateSeal00Before they left town for the holidays, members of Congress and President Trump took action to help victims of the Virginia Beach shooting. Michael Pope reports.

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2019 State of the Commonwealth Report: A Healthy Virginia Economy

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Credit: Old Dominion University

Virginia’s economy continued to expand this year. Nick Gilmore reports that’s the finding of Old Dominion University’s annual State of the Commonwealth report.

You can find the full report here.

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Democratic Gun Control Legislation May Bar Guns From State Capitol

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Gun control is expected to be one of the top agenda items for Democrats as they take control of the General Assembly next month. And, that could include a ban on guns in and around the Capitol. Michael Pope reports.

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Poll Points to Support for Loan Limits

payday_lendingVirginia voters want to see the General Assembly take action on curbing high-interest lending in Virginia.

That’s one finding of a poll that may factor into the upcoming session. Michael Pope reports.

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Bill Aims to Gather Better Data About Internet Service Areas

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Rep. Donald McEachin

Bad data on service and quality from internet service providers is frustrating to many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Now one Virginia congressman is doing something about it. Michael Pope reports.

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Beyer Bill Would Bring Comparison Shopping to Health Care

don_beyer__official_114th_congress_photo_portrait.jpegAs Congress approaches the end of the year, the Democratic House majority is introducing a flurry of new legislation — including reforms to health care.

One bill aims to create more transparency about the cost of care. Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Attorney General: 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolutions “have no legal effect”

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Attorney General Mark Herring

Attorney General Mark Herring says Virginia localities have no legal standing to exempt themselves from gun control legislation.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, he issued an advisory opinion on the question Friday.

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Line in the Sand or Symbolic Statement: 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Movement Grows in Virginia

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Amelia county resident Troy Carter speaks to the county Board of Supervisors shortly before they vote to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

In the past week, at least five more Virginia localities have voted to become Second Amendment Sanctuaries, a symbolic gesture of support for gun rights.

Mallory Noe-Payne was in Amelia County Wednesday night for one of the most recent votes.

She has this look at the growing trend.

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A Look at How Presidential Candidates Get on Virginia’s Primary Ballot

StateSeal00Democrats have set their list of candidates for Virginia’s presidential primary next year, and Republicans are planning a convention. As Michael Pope reports, Virginia makes it particularly difficult for candidates to get on the ballot.

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State Report Sheds Light on Internal Issues at Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries

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In December, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, or JLARC, confirmed a host of problems with the operations and management of the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The department regulates hunting and fishing through licensing and its conservation police force.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Education, Environment and Gas Tax: Takeaways from Gov’s Budget Proposal

governor-northam-official-photo_800Fully funding Virginia’s public schools, an increase in the fuel tax, and a new state run health insurance marketplace — those are all on Governor Ralph Northam’s budget wish list. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Despite Impeachment, Congressman Beyer is Finding Success With Animal Testing Bill

Don_Beyer,_official_114th_Congress_photo_portrait.jpegWashington may be bitterly divided over impeachment. But, the tension over President Trump is also providing an opportunity for bipartisan action against animal testing. Michael Pope reports.

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Jens Soering Begins New Life in Germany

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Soering at the ICE detention center in Farmville. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

Jens Soering is back in Germany, paroled after more than 33 years behind bars, 29 of them in Virginia.

He was convicted in the brutal murder of his girlfriend’s parents – a crime he insists he did not commit.

Before leaving, Soering gave an exclusive interview to Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman who has covered his case for nearly a decade.  She set up a microphone at the ICE detention center in Farmville.

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JLARC: Virginia Spent Less Than Expected on Medicaid This Year

StateSeal00More Virginians received health insurance through Medicaid this year while the state actually spent less than expected on the program. As lawmakers learned Monday that’s because of Medicaid expansion. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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CNU Poll: Virginians Largely Support Democratic Agenda

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Credit: Christopher Newport University

Democrats won majorities in the House and Senate this year by promising a sweeping series of reforms. And now, a new poll indicates widespread support for that agenda. Michael Pope reports.

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Va. News: School District may change unpaid board policy, Honor System failing on Richmond bus line

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The honor system doesn’t seem to be working very well for a new public transit line.  And one of the last localities in Virginia with an unpaid school board has decided to compensate members.

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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Nominating Contests Shape Up in Virginia

virginiaEvery year is an election year in Virginia, but next year’s presidential election is going to be one for the record books.

Michael Pope has this preview of the nominating contest here in Virginia.

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National Park Service Needs You; Help I.D. Invasive Animal Species

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A volunteer participates in a BioBlitz at Rocky Mountain National Park. BioBlitz events — an intensive field study in an area that usually lasts for more than 24 hours — can help identify the presence of invasive species in national parks. (Credit: National Park Service)

National Parks in this country are losing native species at an alarming rate and the National Park Service is asking for help to combat the growing problem. Robbie Harris reports.

And there’s an App for that here. Actually, there is a couple of them. Here’s another one.

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Donors to Democratic Candidates Are Going to Want a Return on Their Investment

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Special interest groups that funded many Democratic campaigns are going to be expecting action in the next General Assembly session. Michael Pope reports.

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Despite Democratic Control, Reigning in Predatory Lenders May Still Be Difficult

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Credit: NPR

Some are hoping this will finally be the year that lawmakers crack down on high-interest lenders now that Democrats are taking control of the General Assembly. Michael Pope reports.

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Interest Groups: Now is the Time to Better Fund Virginia’s Schools

thumbnail_educationNow that the Democrats are seizing power in Richmond, interest groups are already angling for money from the budget. Michael Pope has this preview of a push for more money for crumbling schools.

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Shortage of Clerks at Crisis Level in Virginia’s District Courts

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If staffing levels aren’t brought up some district courts across the state may have to shorten the hours that customer service desks are open. That would make it more difficult for people to file cases or pay fines.  (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Roughly three million cases a year run through Virginia’s General District Courts. Everything from traffic tickets to homicides.

But according to state staffing models, more than half of those courts are under-staffed. That includes large counties like Fairfax, Chesapeake and Henrico – but also smaller courts in Smyth, Carroll and Rockingham Counties.

Mallory Noe-Payne visited one of those understaffed courts to learn about the impact.

Earlier this fall the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia stood before lawmakers pleading. He was asking for more money so courts across the state could hire more clerks.

According to his office, more than half of the state’s district courts are under-staffed. And that could impact everything from people’s credit to jail-time.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this look at why Virginia’s courts are short staffed and what lawmakers can do about it.

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The Growing Cost of Virginia Elections

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Credit: NPR

This year’s election for the House of Delegates was the most expensive ever. Michael Pope reports.

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Va. News: Struggling former Coalfields in Southwest Virginia, Martinsville may change to Town status

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Despite years of effort many places in the Virginia coalfields are still struggling to rebuild their economies. And the city of Martinsville is considering becoming a town which is causing some apprehension in surrounding Henry County.

These 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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“Rumors of War” Unveiling Tuesday in Richmond

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One of Kehinde Wiley’s paintings on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Credit: Mallory Noe–Payne)

Rumors of War, a statue mirroring and challenging Confederate monuments, will be installed Tuesday at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this preview.

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Virginia’s Congressional Delegation On Opposite Sides of Climate Change Issue

virginia_flag_map_0As the demand to act on climate change mounts, members of the Virginia Congressional delegation are taking a variety of approaches. Michael Pope reports.

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Study: Many Wage Complaints Go Uninvestigated

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When a worker believes they’ve been cheated out of their pay, they can file a complaint with the state.

But Michael Pope reports a new study finds many of those complaints are never investigated.

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Congressman McEachin’s Effort to Get More Young People Enrolled in Health Insurance

399px-Donald_McEachin_portrait_116th_CongressEver since the Trump administration spiked the individual mandate for health insurance back in 2017, young people have avoiding signing up for health insurance. Now, one Virginia congressman is supporting a proposal aimed at getting more young people in the insurance pool. Michael Pope reports.

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New Regulations on Restraint and Seclusion in Public Schools Headed to Governor

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Virginia is one step closer to adopting the state’s first-ever set of regulations governing the use of seclusion and restraint on public school students.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the proposed rules recently received the necessary approval from multiple state agencies.

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757? Coastal Virginia? — Hampton Roads Considers What’s in a Name

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Localities included in the Hampton Roads Planning District (Credit: hrpdcva.gov)

A community’s brand identity, like Virginia’s Blue Ridge or RVA, can often be a key marketing tool to attract visitors, businesses and new residents.

That’s why a rebranding effort is being considered in Hampton Roads.

Michael Pope has this preview of a report out next week.

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Retail Jobs Drop in Virginia

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(Credit: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Now that the holiday shopping season is underway, new data shows Virginia’s retail trade employment is taking a hit this year.

Michael Pope reports.

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Dominion Energy Outlines Plans to Remove and Recycle Coal Ash

Dominion-EnergyLogo-172x72Dominion Energy is coming up with plans to remove and recycle coal ash from four sites around the state.

Lawmakers got their first update on the new legislative mandate Monday.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Va. News: W&L Students want to alter its Diploma, a Virginia political campaign that cost nothing

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Some graduating students at Washington and Lee University would like an alternate version of the school’s traditional diploma… and in the era of long and expensive political campaigns, one in Virginia lasted an hour and cost nothing.

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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