VaNews

Saturday February 28, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


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Sine Die! VaNews informs Virginians – whether the session is short or long, recessed or adjourned – and well-informed Virginians are better citizens. Well done!

General Assembly

DEALS ON ETHICS RULES, REPORTING OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS WRAP UP VA. SESSION

By LAURA VOZZELLA, JENNA PORTNOY AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

In a frenzied final push late Friday, the General Assembly came to an agreement on the knotty issues of campus sexual assaults and ethics legislation — and managed to end the 2015 session one day ahead of schedule. In marathon meetings of the House and Senate, legislators agreed on a bill that would involve law enforcement in more campus sexual assault cases.


VA. GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES ETHICS REFORM PLAN

By KATHY HIEATT AND PATRICK WILSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Virginia General Assembly passed an ethics-reform package Friday night, lowering the gift limit for public officials to $100 per gift, including meals and travel. n The Senate approved the legislation 36-0, and the House of Delegates 92-0, shortly before adjourning the annual legislative session. Negotiations went down to the wire on the ethics changes, which lawmakers have said was one of their top priorities for the session.


LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS AFTER PASSING ETHICS PACKAGE

By MARKUS SCHMIDT AND JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates unanimously backed an ethics reform package Friday night and legislators closed their election-year session a day early. The House of Delegates tonight voted 92-0 to join the state Senate in backing the ethics reform package.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES TIGHTER ETHICS RULES AS SESSION COMES TO AN END

By TRAVIS FAIN AND DAVE RESS , Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

After hours of back and forth at the end of a 45-day legislative session, House and Senate negotiators struck a deal on new ethics reforms and brought the 2015 General Assembly session to a close. The new ethics rules would cap gifts from lobbyists and anyone seeking a business relationship with the state at $100, including meals and travel. That would be a per-gift cap, not an aggregate.


ASSEMBLY BACKS STRICTER LICENSING, REGULATION OF DAY CARE PROVIDERS

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The death of 1-year-old Joseph Matthew in an unlicensed home day care business in Chesterfield County has left its mark on Virginia lawmaking. Joseph’s death was among a series of child fatalities in unlicensed day care homes that led the General Assembly to approve legislation Friday to tighten state licensing and regulation of day care providers.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES NEW MEASURES TO BOOST SAFETY AT DAY CARES

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

With the clock winding down on its session, the General Assembly struck an agreement Friday on a slate of measures aimed at bolstering day care safety. The agreement, voted through Friday afternoon, falls short of the reforms sought by child care advocates. But lawmakers called it a reasonable compromise that tried to balance concerns about safety, regulatory burden and other competing issues.


HOUSE, SENATE BACK RULES ON REPORTING CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULTS

By JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The House of Delegates and Virginia Senate on Friday unanimously passed legislation designed to improve reporting of sexual assaults at Virginia’s colleges and universities. The legislation also provides uniformity to rules governing how the commonwealth’s colleges and universities address such assaults.


VICTIMS OF FORCED STERILIZATION TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION FROM STATE

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

Rose Brooks would have loved to have children and a family of her own one day. “But they said, no, no, no, you can’t,” she said.


VA. GENERAL ASSEMBLY AGREES TO COMPENSATE EUGENICS VICTIMS

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

The Virginia General Assembly has agreed to compensate individuals who were forcibly sterilized under the 20th-century practice of eugenics. A budget passed by both chambers Thursday, and awaiting the governor’s signature, sets aside $400,000 — or $25,000 for each victim or his or her estate.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES MCAULIFFE'S PROPOSAL TO TRANSFORM ABC BOARD

By MICHAEL MARTZ , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The stage is set for transformation of Virginia’s liquor monopoly into a business instead of a state agency run by a full-time board of political appointees. The General Assembly moved quickly Friday to endorse amendments Gov. Terry McAuliffe proposed to turn the board into a part-time panel with salaries set at the same level as the state’s part-time legislators.


VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY PUTS BRAKES ON SPEED TRAPS

By SEAN KORSGAARD, VCU Capital News Service

The highway through Hopewell may not be paved in gold, but that hasn’t stopped the city from making a mint off it. Taking advantage of a two-mile stretch of Interstate 295 that passes through the city, the Hopewell Sheriff’s Office issues about 1,000 speeding tickets a month, according to the American Automobile Association.


VALLEY POLS PUSH THROUGH LEGISLATION

By BRYAN GILKERSON, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Central Valley lawmakers marked successes and failures during this year’s General Assembly regular session, which ended Friday. During the session, the region’s six representatives served as chief patrons on 87 bills and four constitutional amendments.


WILT, GILBERT GUN BILL MOVES TO GOV.’S DESK

By BRYAN GILKERSON, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

An effort by two Valley legislators to restore firearm ownership rights to previously convicted felons cleared the state Senate on Monday. The 24-16 vote fell largely along party lines, with three Democrats joining the chamber’s Republicans in supporting the measure.

State Elections

COMMITTEE SEEKS TO HALT HANGER’S PREFERRED NOMINATING OPTION

By PRESTON KNIGHT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, will have a court battle to win before any votes are cast in his bid for re-election. Ken Adams, chairman of the 24th Senatorial District Republican Committee, and the committee itself filed a federal complaint Wednesday accusing the Virginia Department of Elections and members of the Virginia State Board of Elections of violating their constitutional right of free association.


REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE CHALLENGES VIRGINIA LAW IN COURT

By BRIAN CARLTON AND BOB STUART, News Virginian

The discussion over how the Republican nominee is selected for Virginia’s 24th District is headed to federal court. The 24th Senatorial District Republican Committee and its chairman, Waynesboro resident Ken Adams, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, Feb. 25 to challenge what they call the “Incumbent Protection Act.” Under the Virginia Code, politicians who currently hold an office can decide how their re-election process will take place.

Economy/Business

DOMINION, CITING LOWER FUEL COSTS, ASKS REGULATORS TO REDUCE CUSTOMER BILLS

By JACOB GEIGER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Dominion Virginia Power took the first step Friday to meet the promises it made when asking state legislators to reduce regulation of the power company. In a filing with the State Corporation Commission, the subsidiary of Dominion Resources Inc. asked for a reduction in the amount of money it collects for fuel costs. The utility passes on fuel charges to its 2.4 million customers without making a profit or taking a loss.


ROANOKE MAIL PROCESSING CENTER WILL CONSOLIDATE TO GREENSBORO IN APRIL

By TIFFANY HOLLAND, Roanoke Times

Roanoke postal employees on Wednesday learned that the U.S. Postal Service is going through with a plan to consolidate the Rutherford Avenue processing center to Greensboro, North Carolina. The consolidation will begin April 18, and affected employees will be notified next week, according to Carlton Cooper, president of the local chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.

Transportation

ARLINGTON: BENEFITS COULD OUTWEIGH DRAWBACKS ON I-66 TOLL PLAN

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette

Arlington County Board members say there are enough prospective benefits in the mix to not dismiss the possibility of adding toll lanes and, perhaps ultimately, even widening Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway.

Higher Education

UR MEETS NEW PRESIDENT

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

Ronald A. Crutcher, a classical musician who will be the University of Richmond’s next president, was in the middle of an interview to head a major symphony orchestra last year when he had a revelation. “A voice said to me, ‘You don’t really have the passion for this job,’ ” Crutcher recalled thinking. “I know what I’m passionate about, and that’s the transformative power of education.”

Virginia Other

SCHOOLS FACE NEW CHALLENGES AS POVERTY GROWS IN INNER SUBURBS

By EMMA BROWN AND T. REES SHAPIRO, Washington Post

The District and dozens of other city centers across the country are becoming younger, more affluent and better educated while poverty rates in inner suburbs are rising, according to a study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.


FEDS SET MEETING DATE ON DOMINION PIPELINE

By CALVIN TRICE, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Federal regulators who will review Dominion's natural gas pipeline permit application set a local meeting date three weeks from now to gather input from the public. Officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will gather at 7 p.m. March 19 inside Stuarts Draft High School as part of a series of "scoping" meetings scheduled along the proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline study corridor.


PIPELINE DEVELOPER WARNS WEST VIRGINIA LANDOWNERS OF POSSIBLE LEGAL ACTION

By DUNCAN ADAMS , Roanoke Times

Provide access for surveying or face legal action. That was the message conveyed by Mountain Valley Pipeline this week to landowners in West Virginia who have thus far refused to allow surveying of their property for a possible natural gas pipeline route.


COUNTY SPEEDING UP DECISION ON ‘FRACKING’

Journal Press

The King George Board of Supervisors agreed Jan. 20 to fast-track proposed changes to the county zoning ordinance for oil and/or natural gas drilling. The current method of natural gas drilling is called “fracking,” which is an industrial drilling process to create fractures in rock formations thousands of feet underground by injecting chemicals into cracks in the ancient shale to allow gas to be extracted.

Local

GEER CASE HAS FAIRFAX SUPERVISORS TAKING ANOTHER LOOK AT ATTORNEY

By TOM JACKMAN AND ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

Members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plan to order their longtime county attorney to answer for what they see as his missteps in the handling of the investigation into the 2013 police shooting of an unarmed man


CITY SCHOOL OFFICIALS TO APOLOGIZE FOR LATINO SEARCHES

By BRANDON SHULLEETA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Richmond’s schools superintendent and Huguenot High School’s principal have announced plans to make a formal apology for an incident two years ago in which school officials say several Latino students at the high school were “improperly searched.”


STUDENTS PLEAD FOR FREEDOM TO LEARN

Herald Progress

Last school year, Stephanie Mayle, a junior at Hanover High School, watched a movie that caused a big upset in the community just months ago. But after Mayle and her classmates watched the documentary, “Searching for the Roots of 9/11” by Thomas Friedman in their history class, they discussed the perspectives and points of view that were presented in the film without the controversy that emerged this past fall. “We had one of the best conversations we had all year,” she said.


JUDGE REJECTS AUGUSTA COURTHOUSE PETITION

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Augusta County Supervisors and county government must go back to the drawing board and revise a request for a November referendum that initially called for moving the county seat and circuit court to Verona from Staunton.


LAWSUIT PROMPTS LOOK AT LOCAL PANHANDLE LAWS

By DEREK GOMES, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

A recent court ruling striking down a panhandling ban in Charlottesville — coupled with an ongoing case in Henrico County — raises questions about the legality of similar ordinances on the books in Winchester and Frederick County. The crux of the legal dilemma pivots on: Does the First Amendment’s protection of free speech cover the solicitation of money or goods on public property?


Today's Sponsor:

MercerTrigiani

Sine Die! VaNews informs Virginians – whether the session is short or long, recessed or adjourned – and well-informed Virginians are better citizens. Well done!

Editorials

BLOWING IN THE WIND

Roanoke Times Editorial

...The arrival of what is historically the windiest month of the year (give or take a derecho or hurricane here or there) seems a good time to think about wind energy. Especially now that some wind projects are back in the news and apparently on the table — a new one in Botetourt County, an old one revived in Pulaski County.


LEGISLATION SHOULD EYE FUTURE COSTS

News Virginian Editorial

A healthcare bill passed by Congress in 2010 hit Waynesboro Public Schools in the wallet this month. A decision made with good intentions at the state level in February put Augusta County’s school district in debt by more than $1 million. When it comes to creating laws and setting budgets, it’s never just an immediate issue.

Op-Ed

FRAME: MAKE ETHICS REFORMS EASY TO UNDERSTAND AND OBEY

By LEE FRAME, Published in the Free Lance-Star

The Governor and General Assembly are to be commended for their efforts to increase the standards for integrity in governing in Virginia. The inclusion of intangible gifts is a good step. However, the recommendations from the Governor’s Commission have the potential to significantly increase the administrative burden and expense to achieve these standards.


ALLAN: WARNER'S VOTE WASN'T PRO-JOBS FOR VIRGINIANS

By RICHARD FREEMAN ALLAN, Published in the Free Lance-Star

Sen. Mark Warner has acted distinctly against the interests of his own constituents with his Jan. 29 yea vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. In the past, Sen. Warner has made much of his strong background in business and his strong pro-jobs stance.

Richard Freeman Allan is a retired Vietnam-era Army officer, prep-school teacher, author and small-businessman residing in Crozet.

From vpap.org

VISUALIZATION: GENERAL ASSEMBLY TURNOVER

The Virginia Public Access Project

If you had a list of 140 General Assembly members from five years ago, how many have left or have announced their retirement?