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McDonnell Case Ruling: Reverberations in Washington

Supreme Court

Authority of Law Statue

The reverberations of the Supreme Court throwing out the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is being felt across the nation.  Matt Laslo has the story from the Capitol.

 

 

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Grants Will Help Preserve Richmond Cemeteries

cemetery_photo_01Some listeners may remember that a few months ago, we brought you the story of long-lost African-American cemeteries throughout the state and a couple in Richmond. Now, some of those cemeteries  are getting some much needed attention. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

 

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Chronicling Desegregation Before Primary Sources Disappear

Dove Archives Old Dominion, Prince Edward Co.

Dove Archives Old Dominion, Prince Edward Co.

Virginia historians want your relics — photos, letters, newspapers, yearbooks — all in an effort to chronicle desegregation in the state. For more than 8 years, a database of primary sources related to the Commonwealth’s struggle to integrate its schools has quietly been growing at Old Dominion University.  Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

 

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Rural Hospitals Fight for Medicare Reimbursement Rate

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

Virginia’s two U-S senators are pushing legislation to help rural hospitals across the commonwealth get the same reimbursement rate for Medicare as their urban counterparts. Matt Laslo has the details from the Capitol.

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Kroger Workers Avoid Strike

Kroger CC Mike Kalasnik

Photo: Creative Commons/Mike Kalasnik

There won’t be any picket lines later this month outside Kroger stores in Southwest and Central Virginia, West Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.

The union representing thousands of Kroger employees approved a new contract today—avoiding a potential strike. A lot of workers, though, weren’t too happy with the decision. Joe Staniunas has the story.

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McAuliffe Fights Back Over Voting Rights Errors

FelonVotingDemocratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is fighting back against Republican criticism that his executive order restoring voting rights to former felons. The governor tells Virginia Public Radio’s Michael Pope that the clerical errors were from bad data from the Department of Corrections.

 

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New Federal Rule Targets Predatory Lending, But Critics Say It Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Small dollar lending has become increasingly controversial in recent years, especially now that the number of automobiles repossessed by the car title lending industry doubled over the last three years. Now a new federal rule could mean an end to lending practices critics call predatory. Michael Pope has the story. 

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Study of Bias in Virginia’s Courts

ScalesofJusticeThe justice system is supposed to be impartial, and fair. Many, though, assume justice isn’t blind when it comes to matters of race or income. But now an unlikely pair — a lawyer, and a software engineer — have used data to uncover bias in Virginia’s courts. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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VaNews Topics: Racial Discrimination, Worth of Trump’s VA Golf Course

VPAPnewDonald Trump and Loudon County disagree on what the presidential candidate’s newly renovated golf course is worth…and the city of Suffolk remains under federal scrutiny over past acts of racial discrimination in schools. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A News link on V-PAP-dot-org. More from Fred Echols.

 

 

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VaNews Topics: Overfishing, Trespassing Kayakers

VPAPnewWestern Virginia landowners have gone to court to keep kayakers and others from using creeks that cross their property…and conflicting federal rulings have put Virginia’s ocean fishing season at risk. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.https://virginiapublicradio.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/vpr-vanews-0418.mp3

 

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VaNews Topics: RV Dealer Says Merchant Tax Rate is Unfair, Controversial Painting on Display

VPAPnewA Pittsylvania County RV dealer says the county’s inventory tax is unfair to businesses like his and could force him to leave the area…and a controversial painting is drawing some criticism for a Virginia Beach museum. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.

 

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Truthful History Heals

RebelCause

“Rebel Cause” by Spencer Turner

Throughout Virginia, the conversation about confederate monuments is a sticky one. So a new art exhibition in Richmond is making the conversation visual. It’s an effort to have more voices heard in the debate about the future of confederate statues on Monument Avenue. Kelley Libby reports.

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On the Campaign Trail: TV is a Bang for the Buck

momblogger_infographic_mainAround Virginia, the hottest primary on the ballot June 14 is the Republican contest in Hampton Roads. That’s where Republican incumbent Scott Rigell is stepping down after three terms in office.  As Michael Pope reports, one of the candidates in that primary is buying hundreds of thousands of dollars in television time.

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Political Heat in VA’s 10th District

Barbara ComstockThe hottest race on the ballot this year is likely to be in Northern Virginia, where freshman Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is facing Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett. Michael Pope reports.

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Kroger and Union Workers Reach Tentative Agreement

Kroger Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

Kroger and the food workers union have a new deal…one that will stop a possible strike next week. The tentative contract agreement comes after two days of negotiations between Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, and the biggest supermarket chain in the country.  Joe Staniunas reports.

 

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Does McAuliffe Investigation Show Feds are Getting More Aggressive?

FBI

The news that federal officials are scrutinizing campaign contributions to Governor Terry McAuliffe sets up another potential showdown between federal prosecutors and high-ranking elected officials in Virginia. It’s latest in a series of investigations in recent years. But as Michael Pope tells us, investigations don’t always lead to charges.

 

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Patients Seek Narcotics in the Emergency Room

OpioidsAs the Virginia death toll from opiates continues to rise, two big healthcare groups recently endorsed new opiate prescription guidelines aimed at hospital emergency rooms in an attempt to curb the epidemic. Jessie Knadler talks to two ER physicians in Augusta County about the guidelines, and what it’s like to work on the front lines of the drug scourge.

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GOP Files Suit Over Voting Rights Restoration

va-capitol-2 - CopyRepublicans in the General Assembly are not just speaking out against Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plan to restore voting rights to 200,000 former felons. They’re taking their case to court, filing a lawsuit in the Virginia Supreme Court. Michael Pope reports.

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Car-Title Lending Industry: Possible Knockout Punch Coming

Predatory Lending Creative Commons 02 Cory Doctorow

Stock Photo/Cory Doctorow, Creative Commons

Car-title lenders in Virginia may have dodged a bullet earlier this year when the Virginia General Assembly passed on reforming their industry. But the industry now faces a new threat from Washington. Michael Pope continues our coverage, with the latest on the new federal rule that could dramatically undermine predatory lending. 

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Study: Mountain Valley Pipeline Will Cost Billions to Locals

Proposed-Route-10-23-15-7CIn our region, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has aroused controversy.  So has another proposed natural gas line through Southwestern Virginia.  A new study takes a look at local costs of the pipeline that would stretch from West Virginia to a compressor station in southern Virginia. 

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Virginia Ranks Tenth For Employment In Political Organizations

Jobs Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

Now that the presidential election cycle is heating up, so is the job market for people who work in political organizations. Michael Pope reports.

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Big Craft Beer: Good for the Local Guys?

stone Brewery tasting room

Stone Brewery Tasting Room

Been out to a bar lately? Chances are you had more beer choices than you used to. That’s a sign of the state’s growing craft beer economy. The number of breweries in the Commonwealth has almost tripled in the past three years. Today, a look at that industry, and how it could change, as large out-of-state companies move into the market.  Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne kicksoff with a question: Is big beer actually a boon for the local guys?

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Behind the Scenes: Title Lenders & Campaign Contributions

Tom Woodward/Creative Commons

Tom Woodward/Creative Commons

When members of the General Assembly convened in January, they were considering more than a dozen bills aimed at cracking down on the car-title lending industry. All of those efforts were scrapped, though, when lawmakers decided against passing legislation and instead asked the state regulator to take action. Now new campaign finance numbers that show what was happening behind the scenes. Michael Pope reports.

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Local Governments: Budget Basics

BudgetAcross Virginia, local governments are balancing books any way they can. Some are raising taxes on hotel guests. Others are increasing the cost of street parking.  Michael Pope has the story.

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VaNews: Miscommunication over VT Speaker; VA Beach’s Big Pier

VPAPnewDevelopers are hoping to build a giant pier at Virginia Beach and one city councilman wants the public to have free use of it….Virginia Tech is making plans to host a conservative columnist who said a previous invitation to the university was canceled. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org More from Fred Echols.

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Car Title Lenders & Secret Documents

Confidential Sized

stock photo

Regulators at the State Corporation Commission are siding with car-title lenders against open government, denying a request for information from the Center for Public Integrity. But, as Michael Pope tells us, open government advocates are taking their case all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court.

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Devils Backbone: Maintaining the Craft Image

Devils BackboneDevils Backbone, the eight year old craft brewery headquartered in Nelson County, was recently bought for an undisclosed sum by global beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Now, some Virginia fans of the scruffy indie brand are questioning whether the label has sold out. Jessie Knadler sat down with CEO Steve Crandall to find out what’s in store for the Virginia brewery.

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Airbnb: Who Writes the Rules?

Airbnb 02A deadly shooting last month at an Airbnb rental in Virginia Beach is casting a tragic shadow over this week’s meeting of a Virginia Housing Commission work group. As Michael Pope tell us, the commission panel is set to take up a contentious issue that was unresolved from the General Assembly session: How should the state regulate Airbnb?

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Virginia Gubernatorial Hopefuls Gearing Up For 2017

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Cold Brew Coffee is Hot Trend

Cold Brew CoffeeTemperatures are creeping up — with highs hitting the 80s this week. That may mean it’s time to trade in that hot cup of coffee in the morning for something different.  Cold brew coffee is a quickly growing sector of the caffeine marketplace, and a new company here in Virginia is finding a way to cash in. It didn’t take much to convince reporter Mallory Noe-Payne to bring us their story.

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Many Virginia Schools Start Before Recommended Time

School Buses dhendrix73 flickrVirginia’s fifth largest school district is considering a big change — pushing up its start time for high schools by more than 2 hours, from 7:20 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Chesterfield County, just outside of Richmond, represents the latest in an incremental push statewide to get on board with what scientists, psychologists and educators are all saying: students, especially teens, need more sleep. 

 

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VA’s Outmigration Map

Virginia_flag_map.pngNewly released numbers from the Census Bureau show Virginia added more than 160,000 people last year, although that growth wasn’t distributed evenly. As Michael Pope tells us, some of Virginia’s most urban areas lost more people than they gained.

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Segregation Not Just a Problem of the Past, Says VCU Researcher

segregation Ron Cogswell flickr

Ron Cogswell/flickr

For the first time, last fall, more students of color walked into public schools for first grade, than white students. But even as this country gets more diverse, many school systems still remain segregated.

To help understand why, and what can be done, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University compared approaches to integration taken by four southern cities. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports in the first of two reports, the least successful was right here in Virginia.

Desegregation in the South hasn’t always had a lasting impact. Research shows many public schools are more segregated now than ever before — including here in Virginia.

But one researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University took a look at some practices that have worked. Mallory Noe-Payne reports in this second report, the key is regional cooperation.

 

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VaNews: Uncertain Oyster Plans, Fruit Forecasts

VPAPnewAn April cold snap all but wiped out the peach crop in Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley…and there’s some confusion about an effort to revive the oyster population off Virginia Beach. Those have been among the most read stories this week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.

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VA House GOP Weighs in on Gridlock

GridlockFrustration is growing in both parties on Capitol Hill because pressing national issues are going unaddressed, which has led to some questioning whether the gridlock will hurt the Republican Party, which controls both chambers of Congress. Matt Laslo reports. 

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Virginia Supreme Court Weighs in on Divorce Equality

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Virginia Supreme Court Weighs in on Divorce Equality

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

It’s been less than a year since the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages will be recognized nationally. Now the Virginia Supreme Court is getting into the act. The commonwealth’s highest court is making a move toward divorce equality.  Matt Laslo reports.

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VaNews: Reprinting Ballots in Roanoke City; Drones in Emergency Searches

VPAPnewThe Roanoke City Board of Elections agreed to reprint 15,000 ballots after a candidate for city council said voters might not recognize her name on the originals…and several Virginia law enforcement agencies took part in a demonstration that showed how drones can help in help in emergency searches. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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New Rules Proposed for Financial Products Considered Predatory Lending

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Photo: Taber Andrew Bain, Creative Commons

Virginia’s car-title lending industry has exploded in the six years since the General Assembly crafted regulations legalizing loans that have more than 200 percent interest rates. But Virginia is not alone. States across the country are struggling to deal with payday loans and Internet loans and open-ended credit loans – a set of financial products critics call “predatory lending.” As Michael Pope reports, that’s why lawmakers in Washington are hoping to create new rules to crack down on the industry.

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Justices Consider Former VA Governor’s Corruption Case

Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the corruption case of McDonnell. The Supreme Court seems likely to overturn the conviction of McDonnell on political corruption charges and place new limits on the reach of federal bribery laws. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Although the line of questioning by jurists in any appeals case does not necessarily indicate how they’re leaning, in the appeal of former Governor McDonnell’s corruption convictions, the U.S. Supreme Court justices did NOT seem comfortable with the broad interpretation of the federal law used to convict him. More from Tommie McNeil.

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VaNews Issues: Symbols of Racial Injustice, Public Transportation & Gas Prices

VPAPnewCheaper gasoline is good for many people but not so good for some of Virginia’s public transportation systems…and some residents in the Williamsburg area want to change the name of a school that commemorates a defender of segregation. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

 

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Former Gov. McDonnell’s Appeal: What’s at Stake

McDonnell 082114

File Photo by Anne Marie Morgan

Just a few years ago, Bob McDonnell was a rising star in Republican politics. Now his fate is before the United States Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case that destroyed his political career and ripped his marriage apart. Michael Pope has this preview.

 

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Ethics Question: Reconsidering Rules on Gifts

Photo: KAZ Vorpal, Creative Commons

Photo: KAZ Vorpal, Creative Commons

The old saying goes there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But what about elected officials? Should they have to track the value of every meal they are given? Michael Pope has this story on the food fight now playing out in Richmond.

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Legislative Tangle Over Car Title Lending

car title loans creative commonsDo state regulators have authority to crack down on car-title lenders? Critics say the industry is predatory and traps consumers in a cycle of debt, and lawmakers asked the State Corporation Commission to take action two months ago. But as Michael Pope reports, regulators are still trying to determine if they have the authority to take action without a new law directing them to do so.

 

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VA Lawmakers Reconvene for Veto Session

VA State CapLawmakers are back in Richmond this week to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes and amendments. So far, Republicans in the House have been able to overturn two of the governor’s amendments but they didn’t have the votes on the Senate side. So all the governor’s vetoes will stand. Michael Pope reports.

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VA Lawmakers Supporting “States Achieve Medicaid Expansion” Legislation

MedicaidLogoIn Washington, Virginia’s two senators are joining forces along with half a dozen other senators to help encourage states to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. As Michael Pope reports, the law is aimed at extending a deadline that’s already passed.

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Lawmakers Hold Stock in Companies that Lobby the General Assembly

photo by Silveira Neto, Creative Commons,

photo by Silveira Neto, Creative Commons,

Many of Virginia’s lawmakers own significant stock in some of the companies that do business with the state — including Dominion Power and Altria.  That information was made accessible by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit that tracks money in state politics. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Attorneys Prepare for Former Gov. McDonnell’s Supreme Court Hearing

File Photo: Anne Marie Morgan

File Photo: Anne Marie Morgan

Lawyers involved in the corruption conviction of former Governor Bob McDonnell have been busy with a flurry of legal briefs back and forth as the date for oral arguments approaches at the U.S. Supreme Court. Michael Pope has the story.

 

 

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Virginia Relies More Heavily on Income Taxes Than Most States

taxmap

U.S. Census Bureau

It’s tax time. Have you filed your tax return yet? If you have, you’re part of a system that funds most state government functions in Virginia. According to data from the Census Bureau, Virginia relies more on income taxes for its state revenue than almost any other state. 

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VA’s Governor: Keep Lethal Injection Suppliers Secret

Lethal Injection Drug 02Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is rejecting a bid to bring back the electric chair as the default method of executing criminals on Death Row. Instead, he’s proposing a plan that would allow the state to get lethal drugs from secret providers. Michael Pope reports.

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