Connie Stevens

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Poll at the Legislative Crossover: A Divided Virginia

Virginia_State_CapitolAs we pass the halfway point for the state General Assembly, a new poll from Christopher Newport University reveals what many Virginians’ think of this year’s hot topics.  Virginians, like their lawmakers, are divided on issues of gun control, medicaid expansion, and gay rights.Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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VaNews Includes Trains Through Town, Food Bank Donations

VPAPnewResidents of a Richmond suburb are happy to have Amtrak trains running through their town but they don’t especially want additional tracks added…and the General Assembly may soon enact a benefit for farmers who donate produce to food banks. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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Tangier Island Residents Fight for Jetty

Tangier Jetty 03After years of waiting for a jetty to protect their harbor, residents of Tangier Island thought the deal was done. Then came a rumor that Virginia’s share of the cost was removed from the governor’s budget. It turned out to be true. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Teacher Pay Raise May Be Too Little, Too Late

Teacher Gift CC 01According to a new poll from the Virginia Education Association, almost three quarters of Virginians say teachers in the state don’t make enough money. It looks like teachers will be getting a raise in this year’s budget — But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the question is how much.

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Bill would Give Public Dollars Back to Home and Private School Parents

 

pencils_main_0If you don’t have kids you still have to pay the taxes that support public schools, just like everyone else. But Republicans in the state legislature are putting weight behind an educational measure that would change that.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports on a bill that would allow parents who send their kids to private school or home-school to get some of their tax money back.

 

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Proposals to Change VA’s Sex Offender Registry

Sex offender registryState lawmakers will soon consider a bill that could make it easier for convicted sex offenders to find employment when they get out of prison.  It passed easily in the Senate, but Sandy Hausman reports it may fail in the House, and at least one expert thinks it might not make that much difference.

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Saving Chincoteague Beach

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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge was hit hard by last week’s winter storm. Wind gusts of up to 85 miles per hour created a pounding surf that carried away parts of the beach and parking lot. This is normal for a barrier island, but it’s a huge problem for the nearby town of Chincoteague. Like many of Virginia’s coastal towns and islands, money is the only thing that can save them.  Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Bill Creates Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products

hygieneMedication is exempt from sales tax in Virginia, and one other category could be included in that group if the legislature approves.  As Sandy Hausman reports, lawmakers are considering a bill to stop taxing feminine hygiene products.

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Virginians Want Changes to Juvenile Justice System

VCU JailVirginians are in strong favor of changes to the juvenile justice system, that’s according to a new poll from Virginia Commonwealth University.  As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it’s good thing — because improving the system is on the agenda for lawmakers this legislative session.

 

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Attempts to Undo Gun Control Executive Order

Executive Order CCO Public Domain

CCO Public Domain

Opponents of new gun control laws have set their sights on two executive orders issued by the governor – vowing to undo Terry McAuliffe’s limits on those who want to carry concealed weapons in the Commonwealth.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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GO VIRGINIA State Incentive Plan

GO VAVirginia has a new economic development proposal for regions within the state…it’s an effort to take some of the decision-making out of the hands of lawmakers and place it back into the hands of stakeholders.  But as Tommie McNeil reports, the concept called “Go Virginia” is also getting some mixed reviews.

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VA Legislature Considering Bills That Would Require Search Warrant for Electronic Files

Computer SecurityCalifornia has approved a new set of laws to protect the privacy of data, and with half of all e-mails in this country passing through data centers in Virginia, this could be the next state to take action. The legislature is considering bills that would require police to get a search warrant if they want a look at your electronic files. Sandy Hausman reports.

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Lawmakers Consider Incentives to Help Homeowners Cut Energy Costs

Kilowatt Hours Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Lawmakers in Richmond are reviewing a bill that would help Virginians cut their energy costs, but critics say it could make power more expensive for customers.

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VA Lawmakers Waiting for Key Points in State of the Union

sotu2016_logo_banner_0Tonight, January 12, President Obama will deliver his last State of the Union address at the U-S Capitol. Matt Laslo will be there and he caught up with Virginia lawmakers about what they’re hoping to hear.

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Some Education Proposals Don’t Make the Grade with VA’s Teachers

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe has proposed a series of changes to public education aimed at preparing students to join the workforce, but Virginia’s  teachers may not like some of his ideas.  Sandy Hausman reports.

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VA Could Build Two New Prisons for Kids

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VA Dept of Juvenile Justice

On any given day, the state of Virginia is dealing with about 5,000 kids who’ve broken the law.  Some are on probation or parole.  Others are in community programs, but about 400 are locked up.  Eighty percent of them end up committing new crimes within three years of being released.  Now, lawmakers in Richmond will debate reforming the juvenile justice system by building two new detention centers. Sandy Hausman reports.

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VA Delegation on Gun Control

 

Gun Club

Image: Creative Commons

President Obama started the New Year off by refocusing Washington and the nation on gun control. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that he may have inadvertently broadened the gulf between him and Republicans who control Capitol Hill.

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VaNews: Help for Craft Breweries

VPAPnewA Virginia state senator wants to lend a legislative helping hand to craft breweries in the Commonwealth…and the town of Leesburg is giving some thought to separating from Loudon County and becoming a city. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. More now from Fred Echols.

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State Grant Money to Help Northern Neck Bring Tech Jobs Back to U.S.

Secretary Jones with the Northern Neck team.

Secretary Jones with the Northern Neck team.

Five economically distressed  regions of Virginia are receiving grants to stimulate job growth.  Maurice Jones, Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce, traveled to the Northern Neck Friday to personally hand over a $70,000 check for a new center to help bring technology jobs back to the U.S. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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There’s More to a Good Deal than a Good Price

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This holiday season turned many consumers into bargain sleuths, trying to figure out the best deals, the best time to buy…. more decisions to make than ever before. But researchers say, it’s becoming clear that there’s also more to a great deal than price alone. Robbie Harris reports.

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Winter Botany at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

LewisGinter

Credit: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Recent record highs this winter may have you seeing green in your garden long before you should. Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne visited Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, to see what’s blooming.

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The Bottom Line vs. the Waistline

 

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Photo: Creative Commons

It’s the time of year when people may be feeling they are maxed out on their credit cards. So is it time to go ‘cash only?’  Researchers at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business warn, there’s a subtle catch to using cash. It may lead you to splurge even more.  Robbie Harris reports.

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Gov. McAuliffe Visits Cuba, Hoping to Bring Business to VA

Cuba Creative Commons

Creative Commons/Photographer Bud Ellison

Governor Terry McAuliffe is in the midst of a three-day trip to Cuba, hoping to drum up new business for Virginia, but as Sandy Hausman reports, his mission could benefit businesses nationwide.

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Maymont: Gilded Age on Display

Maymont 02

Photo Courtesy of Maymont, Dennis McWaters

Christmas may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the festivities have ended everywhere. In Richmond, more than half a million people visit Maymont each year — a gilded age estate that’s still decorated for the holidays. Mallory Noe-Payne visited and files this report.

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Out-of-State Concealed Gun Permits Rejected in VA

Guns Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Gun owners from out of state will find it harder to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia, beginning this February. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says the state will no longer recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states whose standards aren’t as strict as Virginia’s.

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VCU Students Want a More Diverse Faculty

VCU Christopher Brooks

Christopher Brooks in his office on the VCU campus.

Virginia Commonwealth University is one of the state’s most diverse four-year colleges. But if you’re a student there you may not see that diversity in who’s teaching you. While 15% of VCU students are African-American, only 5% of full-time faculty are. Students are demanding that VCU fix that problem– and fast. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Congress Passes Omnibus Budget Bill

Congress04Virginia lawmakers were divided on the legislation to fund the government. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that the legislation has a lot in it for the commonwealth.

 

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VaNews: Residency Requirements, Presidential Primary

VPAPnewPetersburg City Council has overwhelmingly approved a new residency requirement despite having been told the policy is illegal…and the Virginia GOP is considering whether to ask voters for their phone numbers and email addresses when they cast ballots in the party’s presidential primary. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. https://virginiapublicradio.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/vpr-va-news-1222-web.mp3

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Governor Pushes for Medicaid Expansion Again

GovMedicaid ProposalVirginia is one of 20 states that have opted to not expand Medicaid using money the federal government is providing through the Affordable Care Act. It’s been the source of deep discord between Virginia’s Democratic Governor and its Republican legislature, for a couple of years.  But as part of a big budget proposal, Governor McAuliffe threw his hat into the ring for one more Medicaid fight. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Gov. McAuliffe Unveils Budget Plan for VA

Gov Budget 01Governor Terry McAuliffe has presented his full two-year budget proposal to a select group of finance leaders from Virginia’s legislature at the state capitol. Following a surplus last year, the governor’s budget is the most expensive in Virginia history – topping $100 billion. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Gov. Proposes Funding Increase to Hire More K-12 Teachers

Teacher Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons

Part of Governor McAuliffe’s overall proposed budget includes more than $1 billion dollars allotted for education. Kelsea Pieters has reaction from John O’Neil, with the Virginia Education Association.

 

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Prison Alternative Teaches New Ways of Thinking

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The Day Reporting Center, operated by a for-profit contractor called GEO Reentry, is designed to keep non-violent criminals from returning to jail. CREDIT GEO REENTRY

Both U.S. Senators from Virginia have now signed onto a bill that would scale back punishments for certain drug offenders, giving  judges more  discretion in sentencing.  The measure could also reduce the number of people going back to jail by promoting community-based programs designed to change the way criminals think.  Sandy Hausman reports on one such program – the first of its kind in Virginia.  The Day Reporting Center in Richmond is located at the end of a long hallway in the city’s old public safety building.

 

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On the Chesapeake Bay, Realities of Climate Change Aren’t Far From Washington

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Earlier this year President Obama traveled to Alaska to highlight what he called the frontline of climate change. Earlier this year President Obama traveled to Alaska to highlight what he called the frontline of climate change. But a report published in Nature, says Virginia’s Tangier Island, just 90 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., on the Chesapeake Bay, may force islanders to leave during the next 25 years. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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VaNews: Most Read Stories

VPAPnewThere’s a petition in Henrico County to remove of the name one of Virginia’s most famous segregationists from a public school…and the Virginia half of the city of Bristol says it can’t afford to help the Tennessee half with some civic promotion efforts. 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 reports.

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Lawmakers Ask Feds to Stop Atlantic Oil Exploration

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Natural Resources Defense Council

Opposition is building to oil exploration off Virginia’s coast, and environmentalists hope a letter sent yesterday will delay noisy testing that could harm marine mammals and fish. Sandy Hausman has that story.

 

 

 

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Why Gov. McAuliffe May Want Corporate Tax Cut

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Professor Ray Scheppach at UVA’s Batten School of Public Leadership and Policy
Credit:University of Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe says he’ll call for a cut in corporate taxes in the budget he submits to lawmakers later this month – a move he claims would attract more foreign companies to Virginia.  That sparked criticism from some Democrats who think the state needs that revenue for schools and other social services. At the University of Virginia, one expert says taxes are rarely a big deal for firms choosing a new location.  Sandy Hausman spoke with him and filed this report.

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Memorializing Lumpkin’s Jail in Richmond

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Marked by the Richmond Slave Trail marker, the site is difficult to find and not well-marked otherwise.

In recent months, Richmonders have been deciding how best to memorialize the city’s difficult history with race and slavery. Between state and city funds there are almost 20 million dollars to spend on a slavery museum and improvements to the city’s Slave Trail.

But, as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the conversation about how best to spend that money hasn’t been easy.

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Piedmont Environmental Council Celebrates New Home

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This historic home of Civil War officer John Mosby now serves as headquarters for the Piedmont Environmental Council.

As the suburbs of Washington grew, people who loved the rural feel of neighboring Virginia counties were alarmed.  Residents of Albemarle County were equally worried as Charlottesville began to expand.  Today, a group called the Piedmont Environmental Council has emerged as a champion of farmland, forests and historic sites in nine counties south and west of D.C.  It’s also become a model for preservationists nationwide as Sandy Hausman reports.

The Piedmont Environmental Council hosts an open house Friday, December 11 from 10:30 to 7 at its newly renovated headquarters on Horner Street in Warrenton.

 

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The Paychecks of College Presidents

The Chronicle of Higher Education is out with its annual list of what private college presidents earn, and three Virginia executives are in the top 100. Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Overhauling ‘No Child Left Behind’

School BusVirginia educators and state leaders are soon expected to be able to exert more control over local schools across the commonwealth. Matt Laslo reports on the effort speeding through Congress to unwind the controversial No Child Left Behind act. 

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Think Tank Considers Future of Richmond

Richmond ForumFor the past five years a think-tank in Richmond has been researching, crunching numbers and collecting interviews to answer the question: What does the region’s future look?  Last week, for the first time, they delivered some of their findings to a packed auditorium at the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Mallory Noe-Payne was there and files this report.

 

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VaNews: Caught on Camera, Mistakes Follow

VPAPnewIn Virginia you can have photographic evidence of cars illegally passing school buses but still not be able to prosecute the drivers…and a bill to introduced in the General Assembly would allow some convicted drug offenders to clear their records. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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Richmond Residents May Lose Homes Before the Holidays

Trailer ParkAs we’re in the season of holiday celebrations at home, hundreds of families in Virginia fear they may be losing their homes because local inspectors say they’re not safe.  Sandy Hausman reports that the city of Richmond has begun inspecting trailer parks – ordering residents to make repairs or move out.

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Virginia Led, Then Lagged on HPV Vaccine

Person receiving a vaccine

Person receiving a vaccine

Virginia was the first state in the nation to require that kids entering the sixth grade be vaccinated against human papilloma — a virus that causes cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men.  Parents can opt out of that requirement, and it turns out many of them do.  Virginia ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to HPV vaccination.   A team of nurses at the University of Virginia is looking at that problem and making recommendations, as Sandy Hausman reports.

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All-But-Forgotten Cemeteries

Cemetery 01Although segregation ended formally in the United States more than fifty years ago, there are places right here in Virginia that are still segregated, and aren’t likely to change anytime soon. Those places are cemeteries. After integration, historically black cemeteries around Virginia fell to the wayside, often unkempt, uncared for, and forgotten. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Making Art Public in Richmond

Richmond Public ArtRichmond has grand plans for building up more public art in the city. Just this past weekend a two-day free art exhibit outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts drew more than 20,ooo visitors. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports it’s just one example of what the city is hoping to do more of…

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Government Shutdown Threats Continue

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If you thought the threat of a government shutdown was taken off the table, think again. Matt Laslo has this story from the Capitol on how Virginia may once again get caught in the crosshairs of a partisan battle in Washington. 

 

 

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VaNews: Close Votes & Cash Flow

VPAPnewA Virginia small business is trying a new approach to raising capital, soliciting donations on the internet…and a York County school board election illustrates how important one vote can be. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link from vpap.org. More from Fred Echols.

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Delmarva Fox Squirrel Removed From Federal Endangered List

Fox Squirrel

(Richard Webster / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

In 1967, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created the first endangered species list, the Eastern Shore’s Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel was there among better known species like the bald eagle and Florida manatee. A combination of clearcutting of old growth forests and hunting contributed to its near extinction. Today, the Service officially removed the squirrel from its federally protected designation. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Supervisors Vote to Rezone River Site

After months of contentious hearings, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1  to rezone a one-thousand acre pristine tract of land along the Rappahannock River. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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