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Va. News: Food Deserts in poor neighborhoods, an order for Free Dirt prompts a Lawsuit

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Owners of a grocery store are finding that providing opportunity in an underserved neighborhood isn’t as simple as just showing up… and a homeowner who says she ordered a little dirt ended up with more than she knew what to do with.

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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Virginia Democrats’ Speaker Pick Would be First Woman in Job

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Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (center) and Del Charniele Herring (right) listen to Governor Ralph Northam on Election Night. (Credit Michael Pope)

Virginia is about to get its first female speaker of the House of Delegates.

Michael Pope reports.

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Saxis Looks for Solutions to Rising Seas

Oyster experiment with homeowner efforts in the background

Structures made of concrete and oyster shells, like the one in the foreground, are placed in the harbor to create an artificial reef. A homeowner has created their own breakwater in the background, using bricks and concrete debris.
(Credit Pamela D’Angelo)

The tiny Town of Saxis on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is learning to live with water.

Like other communities around the Chesapeake Bay, residents are looking at solutions to the erosion and frequent flooding that comes with climate change.

In part two of her report, Pamela D’Angelo finds out how the town is trying to become resilient.

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Waynesboro’s Bringing Back Wetlands

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Residents can walk along mowed paths and learn about this rich wildlife habitat. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

Wetlands go by many names — marshes, bogs, swamps and bayous. But whatever they’re called, the fact is they’re disappearing here in Virginia.

More than half have been drained and developed since the first settlers arrived.  Now, however, some communities are reversing that trend.

Sandy Hausman visited one and filed this report.

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Almost an Island, the Eastern Shore Town of Saxis is Fighting Rising Seas

Yvonne Hickman points out erosion

Yvonne Hickman points out erosion along the shoreline.
(Credit Pamela D’Angelo)

You’ve probably heard of Tangier—the island of 450 residents in danger of being swallowed by the Chesapeake Bay.

But just a few miles away, the tiny Town of Saxis, whose population is about half of Tangier’s, is quietly facing many of the same problems.

Pamela D’Angelo went there to find out how climate change is affecting the community.

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Virginia Democrats Win Control of State Senate and House of Delegates

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  Governor Ralph Northam leads enthusiastic Democrats in a “blue wave” chant, promising action on “common sense gun control.”
(Credit Michael Pope)

Democrats are promising swift action on a host of policy proposals now that they’ve taken control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades.

Michael Pope and Mallory Noe-Payne have reaction from motivated Democrats and also Republicans who say they’ll be watching closely.

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Local Races Tuesday? It Depends

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Voters in counties will see sheriffs and prosecutors on the ballot this year. But voters in cities will not.

Michael Pope explains why.

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A Tip for Election Day: Look Up Your Ballot

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Credit: justgrimes via flickr.com / Creative Commons

Virginians head to the polls Tuesday but many may not recognize the names on their ballot.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, hundreds of thousands of voters are in a new district this year.

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Va. News: Daily Progress Newsroom staff vote to Unionize, Washington County Courthouse ballot issue

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Washington County supervisors are finding that a possible relocation of the county court is more complicated than they may have imagined.  And news staff at one newspaper is hoping unionizing will give them greater job security.

 

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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The One that Didn’t Get Away: The Atlantic’s Largest Menhaden Fishing Fleet Faces Penalties

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Omega Protein’s fleed tied up at Reedville (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Weather is always a factor for fishermen.

So this year, Omega Protein Corporation, which has the largest menhaden fishing fleet on the Atlantic Coast, followed the fish into the Chesapeake Bay rather than risk heavy seas. But in doing so they overstepped harvest limits.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Some Campaigns Report Last-Minute Six-Figure Donations

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Credit: Chris Dlugosz via flickr.com / CC

Last minute money is streaming into some campaigns across Virginia.

Michael Pope has a look at the numbers.

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Mussels in Trouble: Nature’s Water Filters in Massive Die-Off

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  The mighty Pheasantshell mussel, the workhorse water filter of rivers (center) is experiencing mass die-offs in VA and other parts of the world. (Credit Kurt Holtz)

The freshwater mussel is nature’s river cleaner.  But every autumn, for three years running, there’s been a mass die off of one of the most important species.

Biologists say if this continues, it could be a warning sign for global river ecosystems.

Robbie Harris reports from the Virginia Tennessee border.

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With GOP Majority on the Line, Abortion Opponents are Mobilizing in Virginia

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There’s a lot at stake this November — when all 140 state lawmakers are up for election. One issue that’s energizing voters is abortion. Democrats say if they win the majority they’ll push to improve access to healthcare, including abortions.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, that has opponents of abortion rights working overtime for Republican candidates.

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Pre-School: It’s Not Babysitting Anymore

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  Jenna Conway, Virginia’s first Chief Readiness Officer
(Credit Sandy Hausman)

A statewide study found forty percent of Virginia’s 5-year-olds were not ready for kindergarten.

The governor – a pediatric neurologist – and his wife– a teacher– knew some of those kids would fall behind in school and never catch up.

That’s why they hired a chief school readiness officer and launched a 10 million-dollar program to study and fix the problem.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Va. News: 80-year old Charges tied to Alexandria Protest dropped, Chesapeake Bay Center closing

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A criminal case that grew out of attempts to integrate a public library has been resolved after 80 years. And an educational center on an island will close as the island goes under water.

Those 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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VCU Grant: Helping Doctors Tackle Dangerous Drinking

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(Credit: Edson Hong via flickr.com / CC)

Unhealthy alcohol use is the third most common preventable death in America. And yet studies show that just a 90-second conversation with a doctor could make a difference.

Now Virginia Commonwealth Uuniversity will study how family doctors can do a better job addressing dangerous drinking.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Two Years Ago This Statehouse Race Was an Exact Tie, Now it’s a Rematch

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  Mailers from the Shelly Simonds and David Yancey campaigns. (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Virginia made national headlines two years ago when a General Assembly race ended in a perfect tie. The state delegate was chosen by pulling a name out of a bowl.

Now that race is a rematch.

Mallory Noe-Payne visited the district to see if voters are following along.

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Virginia Is for Apple Lovers

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Owner Charlotte Shelton touts the taste of heritage apples. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

When it comes to apple production, Virginia ranks sixth in the nation – well behind the leader: Washington State.

It’s worth noting, however, that farmers here offer a huge variety and our cider industry is growing.

Sandy Hausman stopped at this state’s oldest cidery to learn more about the fruit and its delectable juice.

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Va. News: Dolphins Swimming in the Potomac, Efforts in Amherst to remove Elected Official

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Washington, DC isn’t the only place where controversy has arisen over whether an elected official should be removed from office…and the return of dolphins in large numbers to the Potomac River is a sign of change.

 

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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Pretty Poison; VT Study First to Confirm Invasive Plants Threaten Native Wildlife

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  Jacob Barney and six graduate students conducted the first-ever comprehensive meta-analytic review examining the ecological impacts of invasive plants. Shown (l-r): Cody Dickinson, Ariel Heminger, Becky Fletcher, Gourav Sharma, Jacob Barney, Rachel Brooks, and Vasiliy Lakoba.
(Credit Virginia Tech)

The first comprehensive study of the effects of invasive plants on indigenous wildlife is sobering.

Researchers at Virginia Tech found that when invasive plants take over an area they actually alter the ecosystem, depleting native animals’ natural food sources.

As Robbie Harris reports, this phenomenon is a major driver of wildlife extinction. And the researchers say it’s even worse than they thought.

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The Complicated Effect of Phragmites in the Chesapeake Bay

M.K. Miles amid phragmites

M. K. Miles amid phragmites at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

The phragmites invasion began when it hitched a ride here with European colonists.

Today, the tall reed lines Virginia’s waterways, and wetlands, taking over native habitats and clogging waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay.

But with climate change, the pesky plant is being considered in a different way. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Could Water from Abandoned Coal Mines Lure Data Centers to SWVA?

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(Credit SparkFun Electonics via flickr.com / CC)

Loudoun County has the world’s largest concentration of data centers. But what about Southwest Virginia?

Michael Pope reports on one economic development effort to bring data centers to coal country.

 

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Climate Change Experiment Fast-Forwards the Chesapeake Bay to the Year 2100

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Senior scientist Patrick Megonigal showing native wetland grass outside an experimental chamber. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Scientists in Maryland have transported parts of a marsh into the next century.

They are looking at the future effects of global warming and increased carbon dioxide on wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay.

In her occasional series on climate change resilience, Pamela D’Angelo talks with some of the scientists behind the project.

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Stakes are High as Political Newcomer Tries to Unseat House Speaker

Cox Coleman

Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Democrat, is taking on Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, Republican.

The national political discussion may be focused on the 2020 Presidential election… but first, here in Virginia, there’s 2019.

In a month all 140 state lawmakers are up for election.

Party control of the General Assembly is at stake.

Mallory Noe-Payne has a look at one of the most important races of the year.

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Analysis: Work Requirements Could Knock 74,000 Off Medicaid Rolls

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Remember those work requirements Republicans insisted on before passing Medicaid expansion?

They haven’t been implemented yet. And Michael Pope reports the governor’s office is still negotiating with federal officials to strike a deal.

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UVA Researcher Develops Tool to Guide Patients Toward Best Breast Cancer Treatment

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  Randy Jones, professor of nursing; Pat Hollen, professor emerita of nursing; Crystal Chu, graduate nursing student; and Dr. Lynn Dengel, a surgeon at the UVA Medical Center.
(Credit University of Virginia)

When actress Angelina Jolie learned she was at high risk for breast cancer, she opted to have both breasts removed and reconstructed.

Since then, many women who are not at high risk have — nevertheless – followed her lead.

Now, a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing hopes to reverse that trend as Sandy Hausman reports.

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If Dry Spell Continues, Virginia Farmers Will Take a Hit

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September is over. And for some parts of the state, including Danville and Bluefield, it was the driest September on record.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports if the dry spell continues, it could mean a big hit to the bottom line for many farmers.

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High Interest Lenders Investing in General Assembly Campaigns

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Car-title lenders and internet lenders have stepped up their campaign contributions in recent years.

So far this election cycle the industry has given about $840,000 and more campaign cash may be on the way before Election Day.

Michael Pope explains why.

 

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Va. News: Richmond statue could generate Discussion, Charlottesville man says Newspaper defamed him

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A statue presents a new kind of artistic comment about public memorials to the Confederacy. And one of the people who went to court to prevent a statue of Robert E. Lee from being removed from a Charlottesville park says a newspaper article defamed him.
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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Rumors of War Unveiled in Times Square, Eventually Headed to Richmond

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Kehinde Wiley is known for reimagining historic portraits. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A statue modeled after a Confederate monument in Virginia was unveiled in Times Square today.

It’s the same size and shape as the JEB Stuart Monument in downtown Richmond but astride the horse is a black man in a hoodie.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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Prosecutor Wants New Diversion Program for Marijuana Posession Cases

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Creative Commons/flickr

Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia, but some prosecutors across the Commonwealth are now taking new approaches.

Michael Pope reports on a diversion program in Alexandria that takes a new twist on a familiar problem.

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Mental Health Patients Can Wind Up in Police Cars, That Will Change in Southwest Va in October

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One of the new transport vehicles, during a display in Richmond. (Credit: Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services)

A big change is coming to mental health treatment in southwest Virginia.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the state is rolling out a new way to transport people in crisis.

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Va. News: Randolph College cuts tuition, Montgomery County seeks a law change to boost Tax Revenue

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Counties say a Virginia law deprives them of needed tax revenue and now it will be challenged in the General Assembly… and private colleges are reconsidering how they present their tuition and fees to prospective students.

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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Virginia Republicans Back Trump’s Plan to use Military Money for Border Wall

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(Credit: Rog Cogswell via flickr.com / CC)

Virginia Democrats are not happy with President Trump’s plan to divert money from Virginia military facilities in order to construct portions of his southern border wall.

But, as Matt Laslo reports, Republicans support the effort.

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The Next Challenge for Expanded Medicaid

Part 1: Accessing Care

Norfolk General

Since Medicaid expanded, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has seen a 3.5% uptick in Medicaid charges, and a corresponding decrease in uninsured patients. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Hundreds of thousands of Virginians now have something they didn’t have this time last year– health insurance through Medicaid.

Lawmakers lowered the requirements for the state-run health insurance program in January.

But just because someone has health insurance, doesn’t mean they’re accessing healthcare.

This week we take a look at Medicaid expansion – nine months in.  Mallory Noe-Payne begins in Norfolk.

Part 2: Finding a Doctor

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Dr. Karen Ransone and husband Dr. Sterling Ransone have had a busy summer. They’ve seen an influx of new patients because of Medicaid expansion. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Since Medicaid expansion passed, more than 300,000 Virginians have gotten health insurance.  They’re visiting the doctor, getting prescriptions filled, and even accessing cancer treatment.

But earlier this summer Mallory Noe-Payne visited rural Eastern Virginia, where not everyone is able to get an appointment.

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Omega Protein Exceeds Menhaden Cap for Chesapeake Bay

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Omega ships tied up at the company’s plant in Reedville. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Last week, Omega Protein, a menhaden (men-HAY-den) fishing fleet, exceeded the amount of fish they were told they could harvest from the Chesapeake Bay.

Omega, renders the fish into food for farm-raised fish and oil supplements for people.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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McEachin Bill Aims to Increase Solar Power in Lower Income Communities

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Rep. Donald McEachin

 

What can solar energy do for low-income communities?

Michael Pope reports one Virginia congressman thinks it can boost the economy while also combating climate change.

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Va. News: Zero Candidates and Medical Marijuana for Kids

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In a possible first among Virginia cities, the election for Clerk of Court in Petersburg will have zero candidates on the ballot…and medical marijuana can now be given to students by school nurses in Virginia.

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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Virginia Gets Low Marks for Ethics Enforcement

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How transparent is Virginia government?

One new report says the commonwealth is falling far behind other states.

Michael Pope reports.

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Crozet Hosts First Public Autonomous Shuttle in Virginia

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  TONY, short for To Navigate You, is a kit made by Perrone Robotics. It transforms any vehicle into a self-driving unit. This one is now offering free shuttle service in Crozet.
(Credit Perrone Robotics)

There’s been lots of talk about autonomous vehicles — cars and trucks that drive themselves– and there are several demonstration projects around the nation.

But a Virginia company believes it’s the first to offer public rides on public roads.

Sandy Hausman caught a lift in Crozet, a small town west of Charlottesville.

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Refunds On the Way, But Not for All Virginians

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Beginning late next week, Virginians should keep an eye on their mailboxes for a letter from the state.

In it will be a check… a tax refund thanks to a budget move by state lawmakers earlier this year.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Virginia Joins Growing Number of States Suing the Sacklers

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Attorney General Mark Herring

Just hours before many states and local governments reached a legal settlement with Purdue Pharma, Virginia’s Attorney General announced a separate lawsuit against the family that owns it.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the latest.

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Episcopal Seminary in Virginia Starts Slavery Reparations Fund

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What kind of reparations could begin to make amends for slavery?

Michael Pope has this report about a new two-million dollar effort in Alexandria.

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Regulators Weigh Dominion’s Request to Raise Profit Margins

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Dominion Energy is asking state regulators for permission to make more money.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the State Corporation Commission Tuesday and has this report.

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Does Virginia Need RGGI If Emmissions Are Already Falling?

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Should Virginia work with other states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Voters may end up deciding that issue this November.

Michael Pope reports.

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Kaine Fears Break Down of Taliban Talks Will Lead to More Deaths

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Sen. Tim Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine was in Charlottesville Monday for the naming of a U.S. Post Office in honor of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American killed in Iraq when he stopped a suicide bomber from reaching troops in a military base.

Afterward, Kaine expressed dismay over President Trump’s tweet calling off peace talks in Afghanistan and the administration’s decision to use military dollars for a border wall.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Northam Announces New Director of Diversity

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Janice Underwood (Credit: Old Dominion University)

Virginia Governor’s announced a new top-level advisor Monday. Her job is, in part, to help diversify the state workforce.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the latest from the capitol.

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Va. News: 25 Years since Disney Theme Park was scrapped, Bland County cancels Football Season

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This month marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of Disney’s plan to open a major historical theme park in Virginia. And another Virginia high school has canceled its varsity football season.

Those have been among the most read stories on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

 

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Surprise Medical Bills Get Attention

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Credit: Chris Dlugosz / Flickr

Insurance companies and health-care providers are engaged in a pitched lobbying effort in Washington and Richmond on surprise billing.

Michael Pope reports.

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Northern Virginia Communities Remove Jefferson Davis Name from Highway

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis in 1855 (Credit: Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

The name Jefferson Davis is slowly being removed from public highways.
But as Michael Pope reports, the civil war of old names remains an open conflict.

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