VaNews

Monday February 27, 2017


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Executive Branch


MCAULIFFE SAYS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROMISES NO RANDOM IMMIGRATION ARRESTS

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly assured him Sunday that immigration agents are not conducting random raids and will not target undocumented residents unless they are suspected of being involved in illegal activity. “He explained to me what the new procedures were,” McAuliffe said Sunday after a private 45-minute briefing with Kelly, who is a retired general. “I do take a four-star U.S. Marine general at his word.”

General Assembly


HOW DID THE 2017 VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE? LET US COUNT THE WAYS

By JORDAN PASCALE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Nearly 1,800 laws were passed during the 2017 General Assembly that wrapped Saturday. Many deal with industry minutiae (the number of menhaden allowed to be caught in a year) or super-narrow provisions (allowing retired conservation officers to carry concealed handguns without permits). But others could affect many of us in our daily lives when they take effect July 1. Here are a dozen. Left lane fines ... Don’t call it visitation ... Birth control access ... State pay raises



VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION WRAP: A LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Forty-six days after it gavelled in, the Virginia General Assembly gavelled out Saturday. In between, it passed a budget with raises for teachers and state employees, bigger raises meant to address nursing shortages at state mental hospitals and even bigger raises for state police. Speaker of the House William Howell announced his retirement and will be succeeded, assuming Republicans hold their House majority in the November elections, by current Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights.



RIGHTING GRAVE WRONGS

By JEREMY LAZARUS , Richmond Free Press

Two historic, but largely abandoned and bedraggled African-American cemeteries on Richmond’s eastern border with Henrico County are about to get state support. For the first time, the General Assembly has approved legislation to put the two adjoining cemeteries — East End and Evergreen — on equal footing with the array of burial grounds for Confederate soldiers, whose graves the state has paid private groups to tend for 100 years.



LEFT-LANE DAWDLERS BILL MOVES FORWARD WITH LOWER FINE IN VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

By NICK VERSAW, Inside NOVA

Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants the General Assembly to reduce from $250 to $100 the fine in legislation that would punish motorists for driving too slowly in the left lane on Virginia highways. Under current Virginia law, driving in the left lane at less than the normal speed of traffic is illegal except when passing or when it is deemed “otherwise impractical,” but there is no fine for failing to obey the law. House Bill 2201, sponsored by a bipartisan team of legislators including Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, and Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, would change that.



VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS IN HOPE FOR COALFIELDS

By ROBERT SORRELL, Bristol Herald Courier

Bills intended to combat the region’s opioid epidemic, and budget proposals which could help schools and jobs in the coalfields, were among pieces of legislation passed by Southwest Virginia’s delegation during the latest General Assembly session. The 2017 session adjourned before noon on Saturday in Richmond. Legislators will reconvene at the Capitol on April 5. “I am very proud of the work the Southwest delegation has accomplished on measures to create jobs, fight for the coal industry, and combat the opioid crisis,” state Sen. Ben Chafin said.



EDMUNDS TAPPED HOUSE SPORTSMAN’S CAUCUS CHAIR

By STAFF REPORT, Gazette Virginian

Del. James E. Edmunds II has been named chairman of the House Sportsman's Caucus. This caucus is a group of Virginia delegates and senators who are active hunters and environmentalists, who promote best management of Virginia's abundant natural resources through hunter education and wildlife management.

State Elections


PRIMARY FOR VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TESTS POWER OF AN ANTI-TRUMP CAMPAIGN

By JONATHAN MARTIN, New York Times

Ask Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, a Democrat, what defines this year’s race for governor in Virginia, and he does not mention President Trump. Ask the same question of former Representative Tom Perriello, Mr. Northam’s rival for the Democratic nomination, and he invokes the president in the first sentence. “I think it’s fierce resistance to the kind of hateful politics Trump has represented and putting forward a better vision of how we’re going to build an inclusive economy,” Mr. Perriello said in an interview here [Fredericksburg] last week, speaking after a town hall-style meeting that showed just how immersed he is in the administration’s mounting controversies and the swelling opposition movement.



FREDERICK REPUBLICANS GATHER FOR ANNUAL REAGAN-LINCOLN DINNER

By ONOFRIO CASTIGLIA, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

About 80 people attended the annual Reagan/Lincoln dinner on Saturday night at the George Washington Hotel to benefit the Frederick County Republican Committee. Mike Lindsay, a longtime member and former committee leader, said the dinner was a signal the group is “growing positively” after some contention in the past.

State Government


VIRGINIA AGENCY SAYS IT WILL NOT EXEMPT INFORMATION ON FRACKING FLUID FROM DISCLOSURE

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Legislation that would have shielded specific concentrations of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing from public disclosure was rejected in a Senate committee this month, a vote that drew cheers from environmental groups....[T]here does not seem to be much confusion at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy on how to handle any future FOIA requests dealing with the chemicals. “We will provide the information requested. We will not exempt information sent to us on fracking fluids,” said Tarah Kesterson, a department spokeswoman.

Congress


US REPS ASK TRUMP TO BACK CHESAPEAKE BAY CLEANUP EFFORT

Associated Press

A bipartisan group of Virginia's congressional delegation is asking President Donald Trump to support the regional partnership that has coordinated the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay for decades. Seven of the state's U.S. representatives joined 10 others in signing a letter last week asking Trump to include $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program in his budget request for the next fiscal year.



GARRETT-LESS TOWN HALL ATTRACTS STANDING-ROOM-ONLY CROWD

By MICHAEL BRAGG, Daily Progress

Hundreds of constituents from Virginia’s 5th Congressional District came together Sunday afternoon for a town hall, although their representative was not in attendance. Indivisible Charlottesville, a recently formed progressive political advocacy group, and other Indivisible groups in the area said they organized the event because they want Tom Garrett, R-5th, to hold an in-person town hall where they and other constituents can communicate their concerns to him.



REP. TAYLOR NOT SWAYED BY ANTI-TRUMP ATTACKS AT FORUMS

By BILL BARTEL , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Three nights of confrontational questions from unhappy constituents haven’t caused Rep. Scott Taylor to temper his conservative views. Nor is he going to step up criticisms of President Donald Trump. “I’m not sure they’ve changed very much, to be honest with you,” Taylor said Friday. But the Virginia Beach Republican stressed he doesn’t take lightly the large turnouts at his recent town halls, or people’s comments. More than 1,800 filled three venues last week with hundreds more unable to get inside.

Economy/Business


ECONOMISTS SAY FEDERAL HIRING FREEZE MAY HURT REGION

Associated Press

Two economists say a hiring freeze on federal workers may negatively impact the Hampton Roads region. The professors from Old Dominion University in Norfolk say in a press release that the area is still struggling to regain jobs after the recession. The Trump Administration's plans to limit hiring and possibly reduce the federal workforce through attrition could hamper growth.

Transportation


HOW SAFE IS THE CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE-TUNNEL? QUESTIONS ARISE AFTER DRIVER'S DEATH.

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN AND RYAN MURPHY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel safe? That question has been on the minds of truckers and travelers since a semitrailer plunged over the side two weeks ago in blustery weather, killing the driver. Bridge-tunnel police point to its safety record. Five decades of operation. More than 100 million commercial and passenger vehicles. Just 14 over the side.

Higher Education


VIRGINIA UNIVERSITIES TALLY UP COST OF UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES

By KARIN KAPSIDELIS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The University of Virginia estimates it spends $20 million a year complying with unfunded federal mandates just for its academic division. In the past five years, the College of William & Mary reports it has added at least four full-time positions to handle the increase in regulatory requirements and gives “a conservative estimate” of $4.5 million to $6.7 million in annual compliance costs.

Local


JAIL MAKING 17-PART FILM SERIES TO HELP INMATES PREPARE FOR RELEASE

By ALI ROCKETT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Micah “Bam-Bamm” White hasn’t worked a 9-to-5 job in 10 years, he said. But the stand-up comedian and motivational speaker knows how to audition, which really is just a job interview, he told about 15 inmates at the Richmond City Justice Center.



HENRICO ARMS ITSELF WITH INJECTION THAT HELPS CURB OPIOID ADDICTION

By DEBBIE TRUONG , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

As more people in Henrico County die of opioid overdoses, the county will begin treating a small number of people suffering from addiction with a once-a-month, long-acting injection that blocks the high from such drugs as heroin and fentanyl. Six to eight people moving through the county’s Drug Court program will begin Vivitrol treatment in March, said Gary Hughes, director of the county’s community corrections programs.

TV/Radio


VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE STOPS IN HAMPTON

By KARA DIXON, WAVY

Virginia Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello stopped in Hampton Roads for his “Equal Justice for All Tour.” Perriello says he made the tour in February during Black History Month to show how far society has come and how far it still needs to go for equal justice.


Today's Sponsor:

CGI

As a trusted IT Partner and top Virginia employer for 40+ years, CGI offers deep experience, fresh perspective and proven commitment to the Commonwealth. cgi.com/virginia

Editorials


A SPEAKER OF CONSEQUENCE AND WIT

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

With Speaker Bill Howell’s retirement — he announced it a week ago in front of the Virginia House of Delegates — a tip of the hat in his direction seems only right and proper. Anyone can lead a parade, basically. You just get out in front and keep time. An often-contentious legislative caucus, on the other hand, requires a special quality of command. When the situation in the Virginia Republican Party so demanded, Speaker Bill Howell provided. As political performances go, it was notably impressive.



PORN, VETO BAIT AND BIG SPENDING WERE THE HALLMARKS OF THIS YEAR'S ASSEMBLY

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

For the past few months Virginians have been subject to a steady drumbeat of bad news about the state’s finances: The commonwealth is facing a budget shortfall, agencies are “bracing for cuts,” and so on. With the General Assembly now adjourned, taxpayers might want to take note of two numbers: $105 billion, which was the size of the state budget when the Assembly adjourned last year — and $107 billion, which is the size of the state budget today. For all the talk of gloom and doom, Virginia’s total budget has grown, not shrunk.



THE CONSCIENCE OF THE HOUSE CONTINUES TO SPEAK OUT

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

During his 34 years in the House of Representatives, Republican Frank Wolf established a reputation as the conscience of the Virginia delegation and of the chamber itself. He devoted himself to religious liberty. He made global contacts while pursuing tolerance. Individuals struggling to defend their faith looked to him for succor. His light shined in the darkness. An indifferent world knew him not. Retirement did not silence him. He serves as distinguished senior fellow with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.



POLITICAL CORRECTNESS ... AND MORE ABSURDITIES

News Virginian Editorial

A Virginia town has canceled a visit, organized by its parks-and-rec department, to the The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum after a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The town? Christiansburg, of course. Taking the town’s name a little too literally, aren’t you, folks? A round of applause, please, for legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly that would give the Board of Corrections the authority to investigate jailhouse deaths. Even more applause if lawmakers can figure out how to prevent more of those deaths in the first place.

Columnists


LOHMANN: IS IT TIME TO LEGALIZE HOMEMADE BOOZE?

By BILL LOHMANN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The recent columns I wrote about the Corbin twins, the entertaining old-time Varina moonshiners from the 1950s and 1960s, and the enforcement agent who arrested them inspired Tom Cowdrey to write me and offer a more modern angle on the matter of homemade liquor. Cowdrey, who lives in Aylett, pointed out that while it has long been fashionable and legal to make your own wine at home or brew your own beer — in limited quantities — it remains quite illegal to distill your own spirits.

Op-Ed


CANTOR: MCAULIFFE CAN IMPROVE EDUCATION FOR UNDERSERVED KIDS

By ERIC CANTOR, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Virginians take pride in the achievement of our public school students. Their success is reflected on the highly regarded federal test — the National Assessment of Educational Progress — which shows that our fourth- and eighth-graders surpass the national average in both reading and math, sometimes by healthy margins. But a deeper dive into the data shows this success is not uniform for all our children. Our low-income fourth-graders are reading more than three grade levels below their more affluent peers

Eric Cantor is the former U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District and House majority leader.



BACON: INOVA’S PLAN TO HELP PEOPLE ENJOY BETTER HEALTH AT LOWER COST

By JAMES A. BACON, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

As Republicans and Democrats brace for a battle royal over Obamacare and what might replace it, they would do well to pay heed to an important experiment south of the Potomac. In Congress the debate centers on who pays for health care and how costs can be shifted to someone else — a zero-sum game. At Inova Health System, the dominant health-care provider in Northern Virginia, the focus is on improving peoples’ health at lower cost by practicing medicine differently. If Inova is successful, everyone wins.

James A. Bacon publishes the Bacon’s Rebellion blog