Archive for category Daily Capitol News Updates

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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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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Why Gov. McAuliffe May Want Corporate Tax Cut


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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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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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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Richmond Men Accused in White Supremacist Plot

Robert C. Doyle (left) and Ronald Chaney III

In Virginia, two men accused of trying to buy weapons for use in a white supremacist plot were in court today for a preliminary hearing. From the courthouse in Richmond, Mallory Noe-Payne reports.


A third defendant, Charles D. Halderman,  is set to appear tomorrow (Friday)  on a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery.


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JLARC Report Finds Trouble in Medicaid System

Medicaid LogoLawmakers in Richmond received a report today, which finds Virginia is likely spending millions in state-funded healthcare for people who don’t actually qualify for the benefits. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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Virginia Women Work It

Women In TEch CCBusinesses owned by women in Virginia are actually growing faster than other businesses in the state… that’s according to a new survey released this week. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, women-owned businesses make up just over a third of all companies in Virginia.


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After the Election

VA PoliticsA round-up of election results for Virginia’s state senate: Republicans maintained control. No incumbents lost. Any seat that was held by a Republican is still held by a Republican. And the same goes for Democrats. Nothing flipped. And, as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, that’s despite big money being spent.


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Election Day: Political Leverage at Stake

partisan-politics1As we’ve been hearing this week — Tuesday’s state-wide elections will determine Virginia’s lawmakers for the next two years. Also at stake: which party will control Virginia’s State Senate. But just what is the effect of who controls the state senate? As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, maybe not all that much.

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Pushing People out to the Polls

vote buttonsWe’ve been looking this week at critical political races happening in the state this election year — races that could determine which party has control of the state senate. What happens with those seats will depend largely on who comes out to vote. Mallory Noe-Payne reports on the struggle to get people to the ballots.


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Why Virginia Loses Jobs

McAuliffe credit Watchdog.orgGovernor McAuliffe predicts Virginia will have 1.5 million job openings in the next decade — fueled by the retirement of 900,000 baby boomers.  He hopes to see 600,000 new positions but says it isn’t always easy to attract new business to the Commonwealth.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Study or Skip? College Students on 10th District Senate Race

Richmond DebateWith two weeks left before election day… candidates for Richmond’s contested 10th district Senate seat Tuesday night.  But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, with this critical seat, behind every student who follows local elections…there are a couple more who don’t. 



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Major Grant for Chesapeake Bay

ChesBayGenericEnvironmental projects in Virginia are getting a big boon. The state is receiving nearly $8 million in funding to help clean the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. In Richmond, Mallory Noe-Payne reports.  

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Governor Signs Executive Order on Gun Control Measures


McAuliffe Gun Violence

Gov. McAuliffe gives the pen he used to sign his executive order to the mother of Alison Parker.

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order today… giving local law enforcement more resources to prosecute gun crimes.  It’s part of a push by the governor to do what he can to crack down on gun violence in the state. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.


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State of the James River

State of the JamesFor the first time in years the health of Virginia’s largest river is considered above average. That’s the word from the The James River Association. The non profit advocacy group released its annual State of the James Report. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

The James River Association has made the report accessible and interactable online — you can visit

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Federal Grant Boosts Early Childhood Education Programs

Preschool 03Virginia has begun distributing the funds from a $17.5 million federal grant to expand and enhance the Commonwealth’s early childhood education efforts.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Governor McAuliffe toured one of the schools that received money for its program and explained that the funds will be awarded to 11 high-need school divisions.

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Attorney General Announces New Police Training Initiatives

Mark Herring SpeakingAttorney General Mark Herring has launched a new initiative to train law enforcement officers in “impartial policing” and how to deescalate dangerous situations.   The idea was prompted by recent incidents of citizen fatalities and neighborhood protests against police across the U.S.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the program also aims to enhance cooperation between police and citizens —and help ensure that communities have trust and confidence that they’re being treated fairly.



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New Conflicts of Interest & Ethics Advisory

Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory  PanelA new, permanent panel formed to advise state and local officials about their conflict-of-interest questions and whether gifts of travel, lodging, or meals are permissible has held its inaugural meeting. 

The Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council is composed of state lawmakers, former judges, and citizens appointed by the House, Senate, and Governor McAuliffe.  But, as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports,  developing the practical rules for carrying out the updated state ethics laws is still a work in progress.

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Cyclists Move On

Race EndThe world road biking championships wrapped up in Richmond this weekend… Initial fears about slow-to-appear crowds disappeared by the time the largest race happened Sunday. Preliminary numbers show more than 600-thousand spectators showed up for the event. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Self-Management of Chronic Diseases

HeartState officials are looking for ways to sustain a program aimed at improving the quality of life for Virginians who suffer from chronic diseases, including COPD, hypertension, and diabetes.  The state had funded this Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Program with a federal grant since 2010, but was recently turned down for another grant. And as Tommie McNeil reports, without program funding, costs associated with these diseases could rise significantly.

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Thousands of Samples: Untested DNA kits in Storage

Rape KitA recent state report revealed that more than 23-hundred Personal Evidence Recovery Kits in police departments throughout Virginia have not been tested. The evidence could potentially identify and lead to the prosecution of sex offenders. But as Tommie McNeil reports, a task force is now determining why these kits were not tested and whether they should be-along with guidance on how to proceed.

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New JLARC Report: Education Funding Declines

SchoolGenericState spending on public education in Virginia has declined by 7 percent in the last decade… according to a new report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. When adjusted for inflation, spending fell from $10,927 per pupil in 2005 to $10,148 last year.  But as Anne Marie Morgan reports, the state’s school divisions say their resources were stretched—while under a mandate to increase student achievement.

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In Gear: Richmond Cycles

InGearLogo_TransparentWhile millions of TV viewers watch and thousands converge on the capital city of Richmond for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, right in the heart of the area is a museum that could blunt some of the negative publicity the city received over its Confederate monuments. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Valentine Museum gives visitors an opportunity to experience history from the local perspective—including how bicycles and their related cultures changed over the centuries.

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Officials Issue Warning About Unregulated, Predatory Lending Practices

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is announcing a new effort to crack down on predatory lending. But, as Michael Pope tells us, his office is limited by existing law. Car-title lenders are allowed to charge interest rates that are higher than 200%. 

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Commission Recommends Uniform Judicial Review

wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

wooden gavel and books on wooden table,on brown background

Have you ever questioned what qualifies a person to be selected as a judge who’s responsible for many life-altering decisions?  Ever wondered how detailed and transparent the vetting process is—and whether the jurist is invested in the overall well-being of the community which he or she serves?  A new proposal by a gubernatorial commission would guide how state lawmakers go about making their selections, while getting input from their local communities. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains.


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Jeb Bush Brings His Campaign to Richmond

JebBushFlanked by former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, his in-law–former Lieutenant Governor John Hager–and surrounded by veterans, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush made his case as to why he thinks Donald Trump’s momentum in the polls will fizzle out while his own stock will rise. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, Bush said he will do so by keeping the veteran-friendly Commonwealth in his campaign crosshairs.

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Driving Away with Personal Information

Rear View Mirror Creative Commons

Photo: Susan Sermoneta/Creative Commons

A Virginia lawmaker believes a simple ride in a nontraditional taxi could put your personal information in jeopardy. Now that delegate is pushing for legislation to further limit the information that companies such as Uber and Lyft can collect and store about passengers.  



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Court Says Former VA Governor Can’t Remain Free

Gov McDonnell by Anne MarieWhile his wife is still in the midst of the appeals process for her federal corruption convictions, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is nearing the end of his fight to beat the convictions against him. The 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals has denied his request to remain free as he pursues an appeal to the nation’s highest court.  And as Tommie McNeil reports, only one option remains. 


The Chief Justice handles emergency applications for the 4th Circuit.  In their filing, McDonnell’s attorneys argue that by the time the Supreme Court hears the case and hands down a ruling that could potentially reverse the convictions, McDonnell could have finished serving his entire sentence.







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State Budget: Report Finds “All

Budget Cuts“All is not well—Rosy Surplus Numbers Don’t Erase Damage from Budget Cuts.” That’s the title of the latest report by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. And the organization’s president says as candidates campaign for election to the entire General Assembly this November, it’s imperative that voters have a conversation with them about the state’s long-term budget problems. More from Tommie McNeil.



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Reviewing Exemptions to VA’s Open Government Laws

FOIAMembers of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council are conducting a meticulous review of the MANY exemptions to Virginia’s open-government laws.  The exemptions prevent the public from having access to certain government records and meetings—usually on both the state and local levels.  And as Anne Marie Morgan reports, even after an exhaustive study, a special subcommittee is not likely to eliminate very many of them.  

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Virginia Senate Votes to Adjourn Special Session

va-capitol-2 - CopyGovernor McAuliffe called the General Assembly into special session to redraw the Commonwealth’s congressional district boundaries, but Republican lawmakers first used the opportunity to try to advance their own selection to the state Supreme Court.  As Anne Marie Morgan reports, the day’s sessions turned into a tug-of-war between supporters of McAuliffe’s interim nominee, Justice Jane Marum Roush, and advocates of the GOP’s choice, state Court of Appeals Judge Rossie Alston. 

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New VA Regulations for Crowd-Funding

Simon Cunningham, Creative Commons,

Simon Cunningham, Creative Commons,

Across the nation crowdfunding is enabling entrepreneurs and dreamers to bring their ideas to fruition by allowing start-ups to get help from other individuals and businesses. And as of July 31st, Virginia has been allowing crowdfunding offerings-but in order to protect investors, the State Corporation Commission is implementing new regulations. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Selecting Virginia’s Judiciary

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling & Former Rep. Rick Boucher  (center) co-chair the commission.

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling & Former Rep. Rick Boucher (center) co-chair the commission.

The panel created by Governor McAuliffe to recommend changes to state ethics laws is tackling an issue that’s not typically associated with conflicts of interest:  the way that Virginia chooses judges.   The Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government says the quality of the state’s judiciary overall is excellent.  But as Anne Marie Morgan reports, it also says the process of selecting judges is politicized and ineffective far too often.

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Fracking Regulations Reviewed

Fracking 01

File Photo

For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.

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Virginia & Israel: Open for Business

va-israel-flagsWhile Israeli leaders have voiced their displeasure about the Iran nuclear deal amidst already strained relations with the U.S., some have wondered if that dynamic has had any impact on Virginia’s business relationship with Israel.  As Tommie McNeil reports, the simple answer is:  business couldn’t be better. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.

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Richmond: Past and Present Confronted

Tommie Confed 01Those who say Virginia—and Richmond—are still fighting the Civil War need only look at current state policy changes and debates over the Confederate flag and monuments to back up their claims.

And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event’s organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports.


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Virginia International Trade Alliance Seeks to Help Companies Succeed

terry_mcauliffe2Governor McAuliffe has been actively working to recruit new businesses to Virginia, but companies that are already located in the Commonwealth say they could use state help to export their goods and services. And a new Virginia International Trade Alliance just announced by the governor aims to help those companies expand and succeed in the international marketplace.

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US Appeals Court Upholds Former Governor’s Corruption Convictions

Robert "Bob" McDonnell, governor of Virginia, speaks at the Bloomberg Link Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The Bloomberg Washington Summit gathers key administration officials, CEOs, governors, lawmakers, and economists to assess the economy and debate the path beyond the fiscal cliff. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Robert “Bob” McDonnell, governor of Virginia, speaks at the Bloomberg Link Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The Bloomberg Washington Summit gathers key administration officials, CEOs, governors, lawmakers, and economists to assess the economy and debate the path beyond the fiscal cliff. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What happens now that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel has rejected former Governor Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his federal corruption convictions?  Legal analysts say while it’s not clear whether he will be sent directly to jail for now, he still has a shot at beating his convictions—although it won’t be easy. Tommie McNeil has more from the State Capitol.




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Redefining “Small” Business

What’s the definition of a small business? About a dozen stakeholder organizations along with Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce are in the process of redefining what it means in the Commonwealth. Reporter Tommie McNeil explains.


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Filling the Void in Services to Veterans

VVCCA new wing at one of Virginia’s Veterans’ Care Centers aims to reduce the number of homeless veterans, while providing quality senior services for those with declining mental and physical health. Governor McAuliffe says a new state-funded expansion of a Richmond facility is just the beginning of several projects aimed at filling a huge void in veterans’ services and making the Commonwealth an invaluable military asset.   Tommie McNeil has more.

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Civil Rights Leaders Want Changes to Education Bill

6660120775_4cb8910db1_zFederal legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 has come under fire from Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus and a coalition of national and state civil rights organizations. The groups assert that both the U.S. House and Senate versions of the reauthorization fail to adequately protect vulnerable student populations. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, they’re calling on U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to support amendments that they argue are essential.

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Examining New Food-Related Laws in the Commonwealth

VAcapWikiWhile state lawmakers spent a great deal of time this year on serious ethics, education, and public safety challenges, some other issues also merited the General Assembly’s attention. One topic that did not grab many headlines, though: food.

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New Workforce Laws Take Effect Today

Virginia_State_CapitolA whole batch of new laws that are taking effect this week could lead to more job opportunities for Virginians—particularly those who don’t have or are not pursuing a four-year degree. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, many reflect Governor McAuliffe’s ambitious goal of training the Commonwealth’s workforce and awarding more than half a million credentials within the next 15 years.

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Truckers Against Trafficking

Road trip from Conception Abbey.  pa231765

The FBI and Virginia’s law enforcement agencies have a new ally in their efforts to combat sex trafficking. As result, this partnership will lend potentially thousands of eyes and ears in places that police may not frequent, but truckers do, and pimps target.

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Motivating Girls to Choose STEM

8435500077_679eb62d02_o550 educators and advocates from ten nations gathered in Richmond to exchange ideas about a movement that they call “From STEM to STEAM.”  One major goal is to share best practices to attract more girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  They say more creativity can help overcome the hurdles that have prevented girls from choosing STEM careers.

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