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Cash Bail: Necessary Part Of Criminal Justice Or Debtors Prison?

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Credit James Willamore/flickr.com

There has been increased national scrutiny of the cash bail system, which critics say creates a debtor’s prison for those who can’t afford to fork over money to a bail bondsman.

Now that debate has erupted in Virginia.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Advocates Expected a Vote on Medicaid, Instead the Senate Delayed

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Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

The Virginia Senate reconvened for a brief budget session Tuesday, just long enough to kick the can down the road for another week.

Mallory Noe-Payne has the latest from the capitol.

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Calls for Transparency Persist, as Richmond Police Release Data

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  A community meeting in Blackwell, organized by New Virginia Majority, brought policing to the forefront of residents’ minds.
(Credit  New Virginia Majority)

Last week, police in Richmond shot and killed an unarmed man who was charging at an officer. The incident has renewed calls for more transparency around policing.

Earlier this year, Richmond agreed to release monthly data on complaints against officers, as well as use of force by officers.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, some community advocates are asking for more.

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Va. News: Richmond Courthouse Cell Phone Policy, Martinsville Med School Efforts

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The City of Martinsville wants to keep information about a failed attempt to build a medical school secret… and Richmond is now allowing people with mobile phones into its courthouse.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More from Fred Echols.

 

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Housing Coalition Looks to Tackle Virginia’s High Eviction Rates

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  Credit Bill Lapp / Flickr CC

A coalition of housing advocates is working together to reduce evictions across Virginia.

According to a recent report, five of the top ten large US cities with high eviction rates are in the Commonwealth.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

The Campaign to Reduce Evictions will hold its kick off meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church, 2709 Monument Avenue.

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Tillerson To VMI Grads: American Democracy Faces A Growing Crisis Of Ethics

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Rex Tillerson addresses VMI graduates.
(Credit: David Seidel/Radio IQ)

Rex Tillerson has been largely out of the public eye since he was ousted as Secretary of State earlier this year.

But today/Wednesday at Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson told graduates about a crisis of ethics.

David Seidel has more from Lexington.

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New Research Sheds Light On Slaves Owned By Stonewall Jackson

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The Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington is undergoing a $700,000 renovation and expansion. Part of the work will provide deeper understanding of the six people the Jacksons owned as slaves.
(Credit Stonewall Jackson House)

Numerous books have been written about the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson.

But almost nothing was known about the slaves he and his family owned.

Jessie Knadler reports on new research at Jackson’s home in Lexington that now sheds light on the lives of these six individuals.

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Virginia Senate Reconvenes to Finalize Budget, Medicaid

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Activists in favor of expanding Medicaid stage a “die-in” in Richmond.  They say they’ll continue to lobby state senators. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne/RadioIQ)

As the June 30th deadline approaches, Virginia lawmakers are back in Richmond to finalize the state budget.

A month ago, The House of Delegates passed a budget that includes Medicaid expansion. Now the Senate is taking its turn.

And as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it’s unclear if their opposition to Medicaid expansion has waned.

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General Assembly Action Means More Time For Recess

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Credit: Amanda C / Flickr

School boards across Virginia are hunkering down over calendars now, trying to come up with a schedule for next year.

And, as Michael Pope reports, school board members have some new flexibility this year to increase recess time.

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Va. News: Contaminated Water And Police Radios

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For years the island town of Chincoteague has been challenged to find fresh drinking water. Now it’s gotten even harder.

And police scanner enthusiasts in Virginia Beach may soon find themselves out of the loop.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

Fred Echols reports.

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Brat Revives Constitution Caucus; Democrats Question Constitutional Oversight

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Credit: Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Some Virginia Republicans are reviving a dormant Congressional caucus aimed at highlighting constitutional obligations, but Democrats accuse them of hypocrisy for failing to conduct simple oversight on the Trump administration.

Matt Laslo has the story from the Capitol.

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Students Challenging University’s Response To Anonymous Threats

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How far should a college go to investigate anonymous threats?

That’s the main issue in a lawsuit brought by University of Mary Washington students.

Brad Kutner has more from federal court in Richmond.

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Healthcare Difficulties Persist for Transgender Americans, Despite Increased Insurance Access

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Diversity Richmond’s transgender panel (Credit: Brad Kutner)

As state lawmakers consider broadening healthcare access for lower-income people through expansion of the federal Medicaid program, transgender Virginians are sure to be among those who benefit.

But barriers – either from insurance providers or from the federal government are still in place.

Brad Kutner has more.

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Old Frustrations, Potential New Solution For Out Of State Enrollment

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For students graduating high school this spring, getting into Virginia’s elite schools will be a challenge.

That’s because of financial incentives that has administrators looking outside Virginia.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Are May Elections Worth The Trickle Of Turnout?

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Is May the best time to vote in local elections?

That’s an open question in Virginia, where several local elections happened this week.

Michael Pope has the story.

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VT Lab Rates Protective Headgear for Soccer

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Credit: Virginia Tech

The risk of serious concussions for football players is well known.

But soccer has one of the highest head injury rates in sports. Several companies make lightweight protective head gear for soccer.

The Virginia Tech Helmet lab just finished testing them and it’s out with ratings today. Robbie Harris has more.

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Va. News: Hotel Serving as Rooming House, Mine Materials Going for Good Use

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A pile of mining waste that’s been part of the southwestern Virginia landscape for half a century may finally be on its way out.  And a Richmond hotel that helps nearly a dozen people avoid homelessness may be breaking federal law.

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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Committee on School Safety Takes Broad Approach

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Credit dhendrix73/Flickr

A state legislative committee on school safety, formed in response to the shooting at a Florida high school, is getting to work.

Members will take a look at school security and mental health issues, but not gun control.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the first meeting and has this report.

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State Officials: Now Is The Time To Get Flood Insurance

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Credit Howard Lake / Creative Commons

Hurricane season begins in about a month, and state leaders are urging Virginia residents to start planning now.

Michael Pope has the story.

Click here for information about flooding and the Virginia Flood Risk Information System

Click here for information on flood insurance options

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Infant’s Death Draws Lawsuit Against Social Services Agencies

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Creative Commons/flickr

The family of an infant who died two years ago while under watch of Rockbridge County Child Protective Services is suing the county and state Department of Social Services.

Jessie Knadler has more.

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VA News: Natural Bridge Safety, Virginia Beach Inmate Video Visits

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Inmates at the Virginia Beach jail can’t have visitors now because old technology has
failed. And a new study shows the state will at some point have reroute the highway that has crosses Natural Bridge.

Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia
Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More on that from Fred Echols.

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VPAP Analysis: General Assembly Committee Assignments = $

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Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

For elected officials, getting into office is not the only goal on the agenda.

There’s also the issue of getting key committee assignments.

And, as Michael Pope reports, that is likely to influence how much money they’re able to raise.

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In Virginia, Should You Buy or Rent? A Look Into the Numbers

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Diana Parkhouse/flickr (Creative Commons)

Is buying a home always better than renting a home? Experts say it depends on how long you’re staying.

Michael Pope has this look at the numbers.

 

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Virginia Students Participate in National School Walkout

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Students rally in Richmond. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Hundreds of young people marched on the capitol in Richmon Friday to protest gun violence.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it was part of a nationwide event on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

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Republican Senate Debate Turns Testy

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Credit: Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Three Republicans vying to get the nomination to run for the Senate have drastically different approaches to politics.

This week, Nick Freitas, Corey Stewart and EW Jackson met for a debate at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Michael Pope has the story.

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The Vietnam Graffiti Project

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Lee and Art Beltrone share one of about 400 works of graffiti on canvas, left by U.S. servicemen en route to Vietnam. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

More than 50 years ago a troop ship in Oakland, California sailed for Vietnam, carrying over 3,000 men.

They slept in very tight quarters on canvas hammocks – one just a few inches above the man who slept below.  That canvas was a tempting target for graffiti – lots of it, and a Virginia couple has saved much of it as a tribute to those who fought in Southeast Asia.

Sandy Hausman reports on the Vietnam Graffiti Project, which will visit Blacksburg this month and Charlottesville in June.

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Virginia Dedicates Memorial to Native Tribes

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Like a labyrinth, a stone pathway spirals in to a small fountain.  Inscribed under the water are the names of many of Virginia’s rivers. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Virginia has a new memorial at Capitol Square in Richmond. The spiral stone footpath with a fountain in the center is a tribute to Virginia’s native tribes.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the dedication ceremony and has this report.

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What is Medicaid Expansion? And What Does it Have to Do With Virginia’s Budget? Here’s a Primer

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  A sign during a rally at the capitol in Richmond to support Medicaid expansion.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

State lawmakers are back in Richmond for a special session.

They didn’t finish their work during the regular legislative session because they couldn’t agree on Medicaid expansion and the coverage gap.

Those phrases are used a lot in the news.

Mallory Noe-Payne breaks down what they mean.

Medicaid is expensive. It’s a huge chunk of the state budget, and growing quickly.

Even still, an expansion of the program to about 400,000 poor Virginians is projected to save the state money— if lawmakers make an agreement during a special legislative session.

Mallory Noe-Payne explains that part of the story.

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A Conversation with Mark Warner: Russia, Facebook and the Trump Campaign

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which recently released its bipartisan findings that Russia did try to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Correspondent Matt Laslo recently sat down with him to discuss everything from the ongoing investigation of potential collusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the Facebook hacks that have garnered international attention. Here’s a slightly edited version of their conversation.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

What’s the most important takeaway from the Russia investigation to date?

“Russia massively intervened in our elections. They hacked both political parties. They released information to help Mr. Trump and hurt Clinton. They scanned or hacked into 21 states’ electoral systems, and they found ways to use social media in an unprecedented way in terms of not just political advertising, but more specifically creation of fake accounts that spread misinformation and disinformation.”428px-Mark_Warner_113th_Congress_photo

What do you think of President Trump’s continued insistence that nothing happened?

“I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but for someone who says there’s no there there, he continually tries to interfere in the Mueller investigation. His failure to acknowledge this threat means we are not as secure as we should be in terms of election security. That’s why the Congress and our Senate Intelligence Community acted in a bipartisan way to say that every vote in 2018 should have a paper ballot or a paper trail.”

Facebook has been under fire for this most recent leak. What role does Congress have in this to protect people’s data?

“I first called out Facebook and some of the social media platforms in December of 2016. For the first six months, the companies just kind of blew off these allegations, but these proved to be true; that Russia used their social media platforms with fake accounts to spread false information, they paid for political advertising on their platforms. Facebook says those tactics are no longer allowed — that they’ve kicked this firm off their site, but I think they’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”

What’s next for the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russia investigation?

“We hope we can keep putting pressure on the Department of Homeland Security to work with state electoral boards so that people have the appropriate security clearances. We also need to now move into the realm of how we grapple with the question around social media and what our recommendations are there. And then, we will still have a lot of questions about what level of collusion or collaboration might have taken place between Russians and individuals connected with the Trump campaign.”

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African-American Enclaves Provide Social And Professional Networks

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Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorors (from left) Dorothy R. Smith, Maria Crenshaw, Tamara Johnson and Sada’ Hill (Credit: Jason Fuller)

Enclaves are comfortable spaces where people convene, laugh and sometimes even cry. There are enclaves for sports fans, foodies, college alumni. During the early 20th Century, though, it wasn’t easy for African-Americans to build enclaves in the Commonwealth.

Jason Fuller has been exploring the significance black enclaves across Virginia and starts in Alexandria.

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Liberty’s Quiet Win

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Brian Hinkley and his team at Liberty University maintain 40 acres of pristine sports fields. Credit: Sandy Hausman

While many in Virginia have been focused on March Madness, a team at Liberty
University is quietly celebrating its victory.

The school took top national honors for its turf grass.

Sandy Hausman reports on how the Lynchburg campus captured that win.

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The Chinese Feast on Virginia’s Turtles

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  An unhappy snapper hisses as it is studied, then released as part of a VCU study of Virginia’s turtle population.
Credit Benjamin Colteaux

With the coming of spring, snapping turtles have emerged from their winter homes in the mud – ready to reproduce and to spend the summer trolling ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.

They’re a hearty species with few natural enemies.

Now, however, turtles which can live more than a hundred years are in danger.

Sandy Hausman tells why.

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Is Virginia Missing Out On Federal Grant Money?

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Credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

Virginia gets a lot of money from the federal government, so much that it’s often seen as being overly reliant on Uncle Sam.

But there’s one part of the state’s budget where the federal government plays a minimal role.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Gun Control Groups, Not The NRA, Are The Big Spenders In State Races

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Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Much has been made of the role that campaign contributions from the NRA has on elected leaders in Washington.

But, as Michael Pope reports, money is flowing on both sides of the gun debate.

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VA News: Chesterfield County uses Uber, ‘Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft’ signs

VPAPnewChesterfield County is trying a new approach to providing transportation for residents in need. And if you don’t believe those signs on Virginia highways that warn of speed limits being enforced by aircraft then you may be right.
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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Weed Warriors Train New Troops

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A team of experts will train landowners and their neighbors to identify and remove invasive plants. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

A central Virginia group is declaring war on weeds this spring.

Blue Ridge PRISM will hold free workshops to teach landowners how to identify and remove some of the 91 non-native plants that threaten our forests.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

To sign up for training, visit http://blueridgeprism.org/

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Virginia Prisoner Sues Over Food Behind Bars

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Virginia has about thirty thousand people in its prisons, and for each one it spends two dollars and ten cents a day on food.

Now, one inmate is suing, alleging the daily diet puts him at high risk for obesity, cancer and many chronic conditions.

The state says it’s a security risk to allow recording in person, so Sandy Hausman spoke with the plaintiff by phone and filed this report.

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There’s a Teacher Shortage in Virginia. Are Shorter Prep Programs the Fix?

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  Credit Derek Bruff/Flickr CC

Virginia is facing a critical shortage of teachers. Lawmakers in Richmond are trying to tackle that problem. They passed several measures this year making it easier to get and keep a teaching license.

As part of that push, they’re also urging colleges and universities to create four year teaching programs — instead of the traditional five or six years.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, not everyone thinks that’s the best solution.

 

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Government Considers Loosening Regulations On Hog Processors

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Credit: USDA/Flickr

The U.S Department of Agriculture along with the hog industry have proposed more deregulation at hog plants.

If implemented, meat packers would get more authority to police food safety themselves while allowing them to slaughter hogs faster.

Jessie Knadler has more.

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Beyer Looks For Allies To Save Chesapeake Bay Funding

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As President Trump continues to call for spending cuts, Congressional Democrats like Rep. Don Beyer  are trying to keep environmental protection money flowing towards the Chesapeake.

Matt Laslo has more from the Capitol.

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Step, Storytelling And Sisterhood

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PST performs at Charles City County High School. (Credit: Brad Kutner)

The art of step is as much a form of storytelling as it is a physical activity. Using a mix of stomps, claps, hand motions and shouts, stepping offers an outlet for people to have their feelings heard and send a message.

Brad Kutner spent some time with Precision Step Team, an award winning collection of Richmond-area middle and high school girls, to learn more about what’s involved and give them a chance to talk about Step in their own words.

They were getting ready to perform a show honoring Harriet Tubman.

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New Hope For Buena Vista Is Part Class Project, Part Redevelopment Effort

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The Shenandoah Valley city of Buena Vista has long been economically depressed.

But now that a Roanoke developer snapped up 11 buildings downtown, some wonder if the old manufacturing town just outside of Lexington is ripe for a revival.

Reporter Jessie Knadler heads to BV to find out.

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Virginia Republicans Wary of Tariffs And Potential For Trade War

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Credit Rog Cogswell, Creative Commons

Virginia lawmakers are worried that President Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum may spark a trade war.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details form Washington.

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Rear-facing Car Seat Legislation Headed to Governor

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Parents are about to be forced to strap their children into rear-facing child seats.

Michael Pope explains why from the Capitol.

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State Senate Debates Use Of Cellphones While Driving

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Texting while driving is already illegal in Virginia. But a bill now being debated in the state Senate would require hands-free use of cell phones.

Michael Pope explains.

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Virginia Budget Negotiations Forge Ahead, in Secret

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  The budget bills on the desk of a state delegate. A budget conference committee has a tight deadline to find a compromise between the $400 million difference in their budget proposals.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

Virginia’s Senate and House have written their versions of the two-year state budget. But there’s a problem.

The two budgets are about 400-million dollars apart.

A handful of lawmakers are tasked with hammering out the difference.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, all the wrangling happens behind closed doors.

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As Part of Deal, Restitution Reform Quietly Sails through General Assembly

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  As part of their sentence, criminals are often asked to pay restitution to their victims. But in Virginia the money often goes uncollected and unpaid.
Credit Shawn/Flickr

One of the highlight compromises this legislative session is a deal to raise the felony larceny threshold.

The flipside of that deal is a crackdown on restitution. That’s the out of pocket costs criminals are often ordered to pay to their victims.

And Mallory Noe-Payne reports it often goes uncollected and unpaid in Virginia.

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Proposal Would Streamline Zoning Variance Process For People With Disabilities

General Assembly 2018-01Lawmakers in Richmond are debating a bill that would make it easier for people with disabilities to make changes to their homes.

Michael Pope reports from the Capitol.

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Dogs Rescued From South Korea Find New Homes In Virginia

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Eleven-month old Stephanie is one of four mastiffs brought to Charlottesville from a now-shuttered dog meat farm in South Korea. (Credit: Emily Richardson-Lorente)

If you’re a dog person, it may bother you to know that many dogs are bred to be eaten in South Korea. But increasingly, it bothers Koreans as well.

That’s why, in the last three years, the Humane Society International has been able to negotiate the closure of nearly a dozen meat farms.

Where do the dogs go after that? Well, it turns out many head to shelters here in the U.S. 

Emily Richardson-Lorente tracked down a few in Charlottesville.

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Changes, Budget Cuts At EPA Worry Some Va. Lawmakers, Please Others

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In President Trump’s newly released budget the administration calls for drastic cuts to environmental programs, including the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

Matt Laslo reports from Washington that lawmakers from the region are divided on the role the Environmental Protection Agency should play today.

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