Calculating the Cost of Eliminating Taxes in the Poorest Parts of Virginia

 

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One lawmaker from the Southwest corner of Virginia is pushing a plan to create tax breaks in some of the poorest parts of the state. But as Michael Pope reports, implementing that plan would blast a giant hole in the budget.

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Representative Don Beyer’s Bill Aims to Deliver Non-Partisan Redistricting

 

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One Virginia Democrat is proposing a sweeping overhaul to how the nation’s congressional districts are drawn. Correspondent Matt Laslo has the details from Washington on a bill that could take the politics out of how the nation’s lawmakers are chosen.

 

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Standardized Tests Could Have Smaller Impact Under New Law

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How should schools and teachers be evaluated in Virginia? And what role should standardized testing play. Michael Pope reports those tests are about to have less of an influence in schools across the Commonwealth.

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Controversial Drug Used in Virginia’s Latest Executions

 

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A compounded drug from an unknown manufacturing facility in Virginia has been used in the state’s last two executions at the Greenville Correctional Facility in Jarratt Virginia.
(Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Last week Virginia executed 36-year-old William Morva for the murders of a sheriff’s deputy and security guard back in 2006. In the final hours of his life, Morva’s lawyers raised concerns over how Virginia gets the drugs it uses in executions, and why they may not be working properly. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Gillespie Wants to Use State Funds for Long-Term Addiction Treatment Centers

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Gillespie at a roundtable on addiction treatment in Richmond Wednesday. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

On the campaign trail, Virginia’s Republican candidate for Governor is talking about how to save taxpayer money, while also tackling the opioid epidemic. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Soon-to-Be Demolished GA Building Could Be the State’s Largest Yard Sale

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Credit: AP Photo / Steve Helber

Tuesday, state officials opened up the soon-to-be demolished General Assembly building in downtown Richmond for what might have been the largest yard sale in Virginia history… The public was invited to peruse and purchase all 11-stories of artifacts, office supplies and junk. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

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CBO Score Could Be a Hurdle for Federal Recognition of Virginia Indian Tribes

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Senator Tim Kaine is working to gain federal recognition for Virginia’s Indian tribes. (Credit: AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

Virginia Indian tribes have been seeking federal recognition for decades, and they are closer now than they have ever been. But a new score from the Congressional Budget Office might be a stumbling block for moving forward. Michael Pope reports.

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Kaine Hears From Parents Worried About Potential Medicaid Cuts

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Senator Tim Kaine listens to parents of medically complex children during a roundtable discussion in Northern Virginia.

As the Senate considers a major overhaul to the Affordable Care Act, parents of medically complex children are worried about their future, and what might happen to them if Medicaid is cut. This week, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine heard from several of these parents in a roundtable discussion in Northern Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

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Va News Topcs: Firefighter Diversity and Natural Bridge

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

The Henrico County Fire Department says it was purely accidental when it recently achieved a first in employment diversity and Virginia’s famous Natural Bridge is also a working highway bridge, one that’s causing some safety concerns. 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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Lafayette River Rebounds, Community Still Wary of Bay Budget Cuts

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From left: Sean Corson, Acting Director, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office; Rep. Bobby Scott, (3rd District); Ryan Jackson, aide to Rep. Scott; Molly Ward, Virginia Sec. of Natural Resources; Rick Coradi, Rotary Club of Norfolk all dump oysters with baby oysters attached onto a newly constructed reef. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

After nearly a decade of work, the once-polluted, urban Lafayette River in Norfolk is rebounding. The Elizabeth River Project and Chesapeake Bay Foundation will build just five more acres of oyster reefs to become Virginia’s first river to meet Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration goals. Last week, federal, state and local legislators celebrated with community activists, but remain concerned that the president’s budget has zeroed out all bay cleanup funding. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Transgender Murder in Lynchburg Not the First in the Region

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From left to right: Ebony Morgan, Noony Norwood and India Monroe (Credit: VAVP)

Police in Lynchburg are currently investigating the murder of Ebony Morgan, a transgender woman. Morgan had been shot multiple times before she was found and taken to the hospital last Sunday. But Morgan is not the first transgender victim in Virginia, and it has the region’s LGBTQ community shaken. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Understanding Lynchburg’s Unemployment Rate

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Lynchburg has the highest unemployment rate among Virginia’s metropolitan areas. (Credit: Creative Commons)

Unemployment is down across Virginia, although the numbers vary between metropolitan areas. Michael Pope is digging into the data.

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Virginia Carries Out Execution of William Morva

Despite requests for clemency, Virginia executed 35-year-old William Morva Thursday night. Morva was convicted of killing a security officer and a sheriff’s deputy in 2006, but his lawyers say he suffered from serious mental illness. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Credit: Virginia Department of Corrections

Just hours prior to the execution Virginia’s Governor announced he would not grant clemency despite appeals from mental health advocates, lawmakers, and even experts from the United Nations. Lisa Kinney  with Virginia’s Department of Corrections announced his execution Thursday night.

“When asked whether he had any last words Mr. Morva responded ‘No.’ Execution was carried out without complications,” Kinney told reporters.

Morva’s lawyers also raised concerns over the concoction of lethal injection drugs. Virginia law allows the state to buy the drugs in secret from compounding pharmacies, instead of directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Virginia law allows the state to buy lethal injection drugs in secret from compounding pharmacies, instead of directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers. Many pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling the drugs under pressure from activists.

When Virginia last used this mix of chemicals for an execution in January, witnesses say the inmate appeared to gasp and convulse before dying.

Morva’s Lawyer Dawn Davison witnessed his execution.

“His stomach would concave in completely and he would kind of convulse a little bit as though he were gasping for air and that went on for perhaps a minute or two,” Davison told reporters afterward.

Only  Texas has executed more people since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970’s.

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When a Ku Klux Klan Rally Taught Fear

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A Ku Klux Klan gathering in Muncie, Indiana in 1922. (Credit: William Arthur Swift / Ball State University)

Charlie Russell grew up on the west-side of Indianapolis in the 1950’s. In his all-black neighborhood the racial violence of the south that he saw on television felt far away. While he had experienced discrimination, he had never experienced fear.  That changed, though, when he was in college in the blue-collar town of Muncie Indiana and the KKK held a rally.

Russell now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This weekend a North Carolina-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan plans to rally in Charlottesville.

 

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State Supreme Court: Car Title Lenders Can Keep Business Details Under Wraps

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Justices are siding with car-title lenders in their fight to keep key aspects of their business a secret. Michael Pope has the story.

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McAuliffe Won’t Stop Tonight’s Execution

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Governor McAuliffe claimed he’s been losing sleep — trying to decide whether William Morva should be executed.

Virginia’s governor has said he will not intervene in the execution of William Morva, set for 9 o’clock tonight. Sandy Hausman spoke with Terry McAuliffe shortly before he announced the decision.

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A River Runs Through It: The Shenandoah, Virginia’s Bread Basket and Algae

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Farmer Bobby Whitescarver is on a mission to restore Virginia’s watersheds. His immediate goal is to clean up the Middle River that runs through he and his wife’s 9th generation farm in Swoope. “Our goal is to get this river so clean that we can stock it with Virginia’s native fish which is brook trout. If we can do that, we’ve restored the river.” (Credit: Jessie Knadler)

The Shenandoah River was once considered a world class fishery. Now, sections are coated in a scummy, potentially toxic algae resulting from manure runoff from farms. Jessie Knadler takes a look at Virginia’s water pollution problem and seeks to find out why the state can’t or won’t protect the Shenandoah.

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New Disclosure Forms Show Lasting Impact of McDonnell Case

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Former Governor Bob McDonnell, seen here speaking to reporters last year following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned his corruption conviction. That case seems to have left a mark on Virginia’s lawmakers, who appear to be receiving far fewer gifts than normal according to new disclosure forms. (Credit: AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

The pay-to-play scandal that resulted in the conviction of former Governor Bob McDonnell may have ended when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the jury’s unanimous decision, but Michael Pope reports that at least one part of that trial has lasting consequences.

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UN Officials Ask Virginia Governor To Halt Planned Execution

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Credit: Virginia Department of Corrections

William Morva was convicted of killing a security guard and sheriff’s deputy nine years ago. He had been jailed for robbery, and was delusional — convinced the prison food was killing him. Morva’s execution is scheduled for Thursday night, but opposition is mounting. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, experts from the UN have issued a statement.

 

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How Police And Social Services Can Work Together To Fight Opioid Abuse

Opioids.pngWith opioid addiction reaching what some are calling epidemic proportions in Danville, law enforcement has an obvious role to play. Treatment and prevention specialists say the Danville Police are doing more than just arresting offenders. Fred Echols reports.

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Judge’s FOIA Ruling Creates More Questions Than Answers

foia_stockHow much information should the public have about members of the General Assembly? And how should they go about getting it? Michael Pope has the story.

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Projection: Number of Virginians Over Age 65 Will Double in 20 Years

Virginia isn’t getting any younger.  In fact, new demographic projections about the state’s future show the Old Dominion is about to get significantly older.

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In the next 20 years, the number of people over the age of 65 in Virginia is expected to double.  That’s according to new state and local projections conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

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Fourth of July Weekend, Gillespie Proposes Legalizing Fireworks

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Republican candidate for governor Ed Gillespie wants to make it easier for Virginians to access and use fireworks. (Credit: Gillespie Campaign)

As Virginians head into their holiday weekends, politics may be the last thing thing they want to talk about. But Virginia’s Republican candidate for Governor Ed Gillespie is taking advantage of the Fourth of July to announce a policy proposal: legalizing fireworks. Mallory Noe-Payne has the story.

 

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The On-Going Debate Over Net Neutrality

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Lawmakers in Washington are debating the future of the internet. How much should it be regulated? Or should it be regulated? These are some of the questions at the heart of the debate over net neutrality. Michael Pope reports.

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House Passes Goodlatte Bills to Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities and Undocumented Immigrants

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Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke says its time to crack down on undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities. (Credit: AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In Washington, the House of Representatives voted in favor of two immigration bills introduced by U.S Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke). The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act passed 228 to 195, with three Democrats voting in favor and seven Republicans vote against. Kate’s Law passed 257 to 167, with 24 Democrats voting in favor and only one Republican voting against. Members of the Virginia delegation voted along party lines. Michael Pope has details.

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After Losing Democratic Nomination for Governor, Tom Perriello Starts PAC

tpg-tpsp-socialAfter losing the Democratic primary for governor, former Congressman Tom Perriello is now launching the next chapter in his political career. Michael Pope has the story.

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The Fight to Restore Chesapeake Bay Funding

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From left: Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of Environment; Russell Redding, Secretary Pennsylvania adept. of Agriculture; Kenny Bounds, Deputy Sec. Delaware Dept. of Agriculture; Molly Award, Virginia Secretary Natural Resources; Tommy Wells, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

 

A bipartisan array of state officials went to bat for the Chesapeake Bay yesterday, lobbying their Congressional representatives to restore $73 million in bay restoration funds that was chopped out of the 2018 federal budget. Pamela D’Angelo reports for Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative.

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, The Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Ann Hankin, The Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, The Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. 

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1 in 100 Babies in Virginia Suffer from Opioid Withdrawal

nas_infographic__vnpc_Last year, for every 100 babies born in Virginia, one was already suffering withdrawal from drug use. And while that statistic is alarming, health care providers are trying to see it as an opportunity — to reach patients who need the most help. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Primary Decision Goes Against Republican Tradition

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Republicans are moving away from their longtime use of conventions to select their statewide candidates. Party leaders recently chose a statewide primary rather than a convention to select their candidate to run against incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. Michael Pope has the story.

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What Would the Senate’s Healthcare Bill Mean for Virginia’s Opioid Epidemic?

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Credit: AP Photo / Tony Talbot, File 

While lawmakers on Capitol Hill are debating health care, Virginia is in the midst of an opioid crisis. So how would the bills currently being debated address that crisis? Michael Pope has the story.

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Senate Health Plan Could Cost $1.4 Billion for Virginia’s Medicaid Program

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Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services runs Medicaid.

A vote on the Senate healthcare bill has been delayed, and part of the opposition to the measure is how it affects Medicaid spending. In Virginia, more than a million people are enrolled in Medicaid — about half are children. If the Senate healthcare bill were to become law, Medicaid would take a serious hit: a billion and a half dollars over the next seven years.  That’s according to a recent analysis by the state agency that runs the program. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Urban Areas Are Sparking Virginia’s Rapid Growth

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New data suggests Virginia will pass Michigan and New Jersey as the 10th largest state in the country by the year 2040. That feat can be attributed to the growth of the state’s urban areas, like the Richmond metro area and Hampton Roads. (Credit: Will Fisher / Flickr)

New numbers from the state show Virginia is growing faster than other states, so fast that it’s about to leapfrog over some large states in terms of the number of people who live here. Michael Pope reports.

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Va News Topics: Norfolk Churches, Concealed Weapons Permits

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

As the sea continues to encroach on Norfolk, two churches have come to different conclusions about what they need to do. And, a Southwest Virginia sheriff has just made it easier for people in his county to get a concealed weapons permits. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. Fred Echols has details.

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Russia Investigation Brings Spotlight to Virginia Senator Mark Warner

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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., whose panel is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, speaks with reporters after final votes for the week. (Credit: AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner is earning praise – and some criticism – for his handling of the Russia investigation. Matt Laslo reports from the Capitol on what the role means to Warner and the Commonwealth.

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Will Republicans Unite Behind Ed Gillespie?

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Ed Gillespie, right, seen with primary challenger Corey Stewart during a debate earlier this year. Stewart came very close to pulling off an upset against the former Republican National Committee chairman in the Republican gubernatorial primary earlier this month. (Credit: AP Photo / Steve Helber)

The Republican primary for governor revealed deep divisions inside the Virginia GOP. Will those divisions become a liability this fall? Or will Republicans unite behind their ticket? Michael Pope has this perspective from deep inside the party.

 

 

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Democrats Eyeing 17 House Seats in Virginia. What Will it Take to Win?

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The state’s Democratic House Caucus only has so much money to spread around to 17 candidates. (Credit: vahousedems.org)

This fall, Democrats plan to focus their attention on 17 House of Delegates districts where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump, but money for those races may not flood in. Michael Pope explains why.

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Richmond Mayor Calls for ‘Context’ to Confederate Monuments

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney gestures during a news conference at City Hall Thursday, June 22, 2017. Stoney announced the formation of a commission tasked with redefining the narrative of the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. (Credit: AP Photo / Steve Helber)

The mayor of Virginia’s capital city is weighing in on how to deal with Confederate monuments. Richmond mayor Levar Stoney announced Thursday he’d like to revamp Monument Avenue. The broad tree-lined boulevard in Richmond features memorials to several Confederate generals.

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Chesapeake Bay Scientists Concerned by Low Numbers of Young Female Blue Crabs

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Credit: AP Photo / Vicki Smith

Those Chesapeake Bay blue crabs spread across your picnic table or served up as crab cakes are the result of a hard working waterman. What you may not know, it’s also because of science. State fisheries managers closely monitor the population and adjust harvests throughout season. From the Eastern Shore, Pamela D’Angelo reports from a recent meeting.

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Opioid Addiction in Danville 25% Higher Than State Average

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Part of the challenge in tackling the opioid epidemic is that the drugs are widely available as legal prescriptions. (Credit: AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli)

With opioid abuse on the rise in much of Virginia, one of the hardest hit cities is Danville where the addiction rate is 25% higher than the statewide average. While opioid addiction has some things in common with other addictions there are also significant differences. Fred Echols reports.

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Richard Cullen: From Former Virginia AG to Pence Representative

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Attorney Richard Cullen was recently hired by Vice President Mike Pence to oversee his response to investigations into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. (Credit: McGuireWoods LLP via AP)

As the investigation into Russia’s involvement into last year’s election grows in Washington, members of the White House staff are lawyering up. That includes Vice President Mike Pence, who is now represented by a former attorney general of Virginia. Michael Pope has the story.

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Virginia Congressman Dave Brat Pushes for Offshore Drilling

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In this Jan. 31, 2016 file photo, Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez addresses a large rally in Asbury Park, N.J., opposing federal plans that would allow oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The issue has come up again now that President Donald Trump is in office. (Credit: Mel Evans / AP)

Virginia Republican Dave Brat is pushing to open up Virginia’s coast to offshore oil and gas drilling. Democrats, though, say that would be terrible for the Commonwealth’s economy and they’re trying to combat the effort. Matt Laslo has details.

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Gun Safety Advocates Hope to Make Early Impact on Statewide Elections

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Former WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst thanks members of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for their endorsement. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Guns are expected to play a central campaign theme for the upcoming statewide election in Virginia, and advocates for gun safety are making an early move to make their case. Michael Pope has the story.

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Is Virginia’s Larceny Threshold Just Right or Too Low?

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Lori Janke co-owns two second-hand clothing stores in Newport News, and over the last six years has caught nine instance of people shoplifting. She believes that Virginia’s low felony larceny threshold of $200 helps deter more larceny from occurring. (Credit: Jordy Yager)

It takes a lot less in Virginia to charge a thief with a felony than anywhere else. But some argue the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Jordy Yager takes us inside the debate over the state’s felony larceny threshold.

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Virginia Democrats Show United Front

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Democratic candidate for governor, former Representative Tom Perriello, speaks to supporters at an election night party at the State Theatre Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 in Falls Church. Perriello lost to Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam in the primary for the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor. (Credit: Molly Riley / AP)

Democratic leaders gathered in Richmond this weekend to celebrate record-setting turnout in their party’s primary last week. Although former congressman Tom Perriello lost that race, he’s still working to keep Democratic energy high. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Rappahannock Tribe Regains Land at Fones Cliffs

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The Warners hand Rappahannock Tribe Chief Anne Richardson a piece of Fones Cliff as a symbol of the property they have been given. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

You’ve likely have heard the story of Captain John Smith’s famous encounter with the Rappahannock Tribe. While exploring the Rappahannock River, the tribe shot arrows at them from Fones Cliffs. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Va News Topics: Teacher Firings, Deer Season Regulations

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Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Shenandoah County has fired five school employees who had felony convictions prior to being hired. The superintendent says he had no choice although all five had good work records and positive evaluations. And, the town of Altavista has easing regulations bow-hunters for the coming deer season. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week on the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va News link at vpap.org. Fred Echols has more.

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For First Time in History, Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs in Virginia

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Credit: AP Photo / Chris O’Meara

Virginia has long been coal country, but the solar power industry has been increasing its foothold in the Commonwealth over the last few years. And now, Michael Pope reports that a significant shift is taking place. Michael Pope has more.

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Virginia’s First Transgender Candidate Talks Traffic Reform

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Danica Roem drives along a traffic-clogged stretch of Route 28 she says would work much better if three traffic lights were replaced with overpasses. (Credit: Michael Pope)

One of the winners in the primary elections is a candidate you may not heard of, at least not yet. But she’s likely to become one of the most visible Democratic challengers on the ballot this year. Michael Pope has the story.

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Trump Budget Eliminates Oyster Restoration Funds

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An oyster restoration project on the Piankatank River. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. That began a federal-state partnership to restore and protect it, including a plan to revive the wild oyster population through sanctuaries on restored reefs in Maryland and Virginia. But the budget President Trump sent to Congress eliminates funding for that plan. And that has complicated even further an already complicated effort to restore the reefs gutted by a century of overfishing, disease and pollution. Pamela D’Angelo reports.

Chesapeake: A Journalism Collaborative is funded with grant support from the Clayton Baker Trust, The Bancroft Foundation, Michael and Ann Hankin, The Jim and Patty Rouse Foundation, The Rob and Elizabeth Tyler Foundation, and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

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‘The People Want a Fighter’ Says Stewart of Republican Primary

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Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, delivers a victory speech at his victory party in Richmond. Gillespie beat state Senator Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart in Tuesday’s primary. (Credit: AP Photo / Steve Helber)

Predictions led many to believe Republican Ed Gillespie would have an easy victory in yesterday’s election for the GOP nomination for Governor. And while he did win, it was by no means easy. His opponent Corey Stewart lost by just a few thousand votes. Mallory Noe-Payne has more.

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