VaNews December 18, 2014

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


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Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE BUDGET WOULD BOOST JOB FUND, TEACHER PENSIONS

By JENNA PORTNOY AND LAURA VOZZELLA , Washington Post

Gov. Terry McAuliffe unveiled a series of state budget amendments Wednesday mixing belt-tightening and popular job boosters with highly partisan “grenades,” ensuring that the Capitol will grapple with some hot-button issues as well as a grim financial forecast. McAuliffe’s budget would shore up teacher retirements, double the fund he uses to entice businesses to Virginia and capture more tax revenue from lodgings purchased through online travel companies.


MCAULIFFE'S BUDGET MOVES WELCOMED BY LOCALITIES, NOT STATE WORKERS

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

Teachers, sheriff’s deputies, and local governments are delighted with the gifts Gov. Terry McAuliffe left them in his proposed amendments to the two-year state budget, but state employees and police feel like they’ve been given a lump of coal. McAuliffe rolled out his plan on Wednesday for turning a projected revenue shortfall into an opportunity to increase state spending on priorities such as economic and workforce development, while leaving K-12 and higher education funding untouched. He proposed to convert unclaimed stocks and bonds into a windfall to reduce the unfunded liability in teacher pensions by $150 million.


MCAULIFFE BRIEFS LAWMAKERS ON BUDGET CUTS, SPENDING

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe says his administration has closed the state's $2.4 billion budget shortfall and has millions to spare for new spending. The governor on Wednesday proposed amendments to the state's two-year budget before members of the House and Senate financial committees.


MCAULIFFE'S BUDGET BOOSTS TEACHER RETIREMENT FUND

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe proposed a major one-time sell off of unclaimed property Wednesday to boost the state's teacher retirement system and to fund new school construction. The $150 million this would inject into retirement accounts would be a boon to localities worried about covering future retirement liabilities. Another $75 million would be used for school construction loans and interest rate subsidies.


GOVERNOR'S BUDGET PROPOSAL RECEIVES MIXED REVIEWS

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s budget proposal won mixed reviews from local legislators Wednesday morning. “I think the governor has brought forth an extraordinarily ambitious agenda, particularly at a point in time when we still have considerable economic challenges before us,” said Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg.


MCAULIFFE CALLS FOR MORE STATE INSPECTORS, LICENSE REQUIREMENTS FOR DAYCARES

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is calling for more state daycare inspectors and an expansion of licensing requirements. In his budget proposal Wednesday, McAuliffe said all daycares receiving state subsidies should have to secure a state license.


MCAULIFFE CALLING FOR TIGHTER DAY CARE RULES

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will propose more stringent day care licensing rules and 28 new inspectors to enforce them around the state, his administration said late Tuesday night. McAuliffe will make the formal announcement this morning, during a budget briefing with state legislators. His proposed budget changes, presented shortly before the legislative session each year, will include about $2.7 million to hire new inspectors.


GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS PLEASE AREA SCHOOLS

By PAUL COLLINS AND MICKEY POWELL, Martinsville Bulletin

Officials with Henry County and Martinsville school divisions were pleased that Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s budget recommendations contain no cuts or program reductions for elementary or secondary education. “I’m really happy the governor is not proposing any reduction in public education and actually proposing some increase,” said Martinsville City Public Schools Superintendent Pam Heath. “We appreciate he recognizes the importance of public education in terms of development of the future workforce, and ultimately that will help grow the state’s economy.”


TERRY MCAULIFFE CHANCES GUN CONTROL IN VIRGINIA

By FRANCIS X. CLINES, New York Times

When Terry McAuliffe ran for governor of Virginia last year, he did not shy from the issue of gun control. Instead, he promised a raft of gun safety measures, and was nevertheless elected. Governor McAuliffe delivered impressively on that promise this week. The Democrat proposed the restoration of the state’s limitation on handgun sales to one a month, plus mandatory background checks on buyers — enforced by a police presence. That would close the gun sales loophole at weekend firearm shows.


THUMBING MCAULIFFE'S 2014 STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTEREST

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

2014 Statements of Economic Interest were due earlier this week, and you can download Gov. Terry McAuliffe's here. Let me know if you see something fascinating. McAuliffe reports, though, way fewer gifts than previous governors. That is not particularly surprising, given his administration's gift rules.


UNDER MCAULIFFE, GIFTS TO GOVERNOR TONED DOWN

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

The days of Virginia governors taking big-ticket gifts — like a Caribbean vacation or a suite at a Redskins game — appear to be over. Gov. Terry McAuliffe instituted a $100 gift cap when he took office in January as a way of trying to restore Virginia's reputation after a gift scandal enveloped his predecessor. He recently submitted his annual statement of economic interest showing he's received gifts of only limited value.


MCAULIFFE TOUTS NEW DISTILLERY PLANNED FOR WILLIAMSBURG ON WEDNESDAY

By AUSTIN BOGUES, Virginia Gazette

Gov. Terry McAuliffe got a taste of happy hour Wednesday afternoon as he touted a state grant that helped lure a distillery to Williamsburg. The state kicked in $50,000 that was matched by the City of Williamsburg to help get Copper Fox Distillery to open a new operation off Capitol Landing Road.

General Assembly

VALLEY POLS CAUTIOUS ON GOV.’S PLANS

By BRYAN GILKERSON, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Valley lawmakers are pleased with some of the proposed budget amendments Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday, while expressing concern about other recommendations. “There’s some things there that are interesting,” said Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway.


DELEGATE CHALLENGES GOVERNOR’S GUN PLAN

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Twenty-ninth District Del. Mark Berg, R-Frederick County, is sticking to his guns when it comes to what he sees as an infringement on the Second Amendment by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He has prefiled two bills in response to proposals made by McAuliffe on Monday to put some limits on who can have firearms and how they can be bought.


SOME BUYER'S REMORSE ON TRANSPORTATION BILL

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

There was some complaining this afternoon about the coming fallout from House Bill 2, which overhauled the way transportation projects are analyzed in Virginia. The bill passed unanimously earlier this year and was pitched as a new way to score projects and make funding decisions in a transparent manner.


SENATOR'S MARIJUANA LEGISLATION COULD BE HOBBLED BY STUDENT OPPOSITION

Sun Gazette

State Sen. Adam Ebbin’s proposal to decriminalize use of marijuana in the commonwealth – already probably dead-on-arrival in the General Assembly – has picked up the opposition of a student group. A new video by members of the high school Youth Council of the Unified Prevention Coalition (UPC) of Fairfax County aims to make the case that marijuana is harmful and should not be legalized in Virginia.

State Elections

BERG PLANS TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION IN NOVEMBER

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Four weeks before the 2015 General Assembly session convenes, 29th District Del. Mark Berg, R-Frederick County, has announced his plan to run for re-election in November. The retired physician, who unseated longtime incumbent Beverly Sherwood in a Republican primary in 2013, is halfway through his first two-year term.

State Government

NURSING BOARD FAR REMOVED FROM PATIENTS

By PATRICIA BORNS, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Pixieish behavioral health nurse Julie Nowak enters a second-floor conference room of the Perimeter Center and sits facing five members of the Virginia Board of Nursing. She has traveled to Richmond from Tennessee with her cousin on this day in September so she can defend her Virginia license.

Congress

SEN. KAINE UPBEAT ON FUTURE WALLOPS OUTLOOK

By CAROL VAUGHN, Eastern Shore News

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine talked with Chincoteague officials and business representatives about economic concerns and toured a damaged launch pad on Wallops Island on the first day of his two-day tour of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Kaine sounded bullish on the Wallops spaceport's prospects, despite the setback caused by a rocket failure in October.


SEN. KAINE TOURS SITE OF CATASTROPHIC ROCKET EXPLOSION

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Six weeks after a catastrophic rocket explosion on Virginia’s Wallops Island, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine toured the damaged site and touted $20 million in federal funds for the private space facility. The funds should help “speed along” the repairs from an Oct. 28 crash, Kaine (D-Va.) said Wednesday, noting that the launchpad run by Orbital Sciences Corp. “survived remarkably well.”


HURT TALKS ENERGY, ECONOMY TO DANVILLE CROWD

By TREVOR METCALFE, Danville Register & Bee

U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt got vocal about his support for easing federal financial regulations while speaking with members of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. “We’re not creating any jobs anywhere unless you have access to capital,” Hurt said during a Business at Breakfast event held by the chamber at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.


GOODLATTE SIGNS LEGAL BRIEF FIGHTING OBAMA IMMIGRATION ACTION

By BOB STUART , News Virginian

Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte is one of 27 members of Congress to sign a proposed amicus brief in support of a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s November executive order on immigration. The American Center for Law and Justice filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday, requesting that the court accept the brief. The brief is in support of the federal lawsuit in which 24 states, including Texas, are challenging the constitutionality of the president’s action.


CULPEPER CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE TO CLOSE AFTER 24 YEARS

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Modified Pay Wall)

The congressional office in Culpeper closes Thursday for good following a more than 20-year presence on Bus. 29. Newly elected 7th District Rep. Dave Brat, R-Richmond, will reopen a district office in the New Year in Spotsylvania County, said communications director Brian Gottstein.

Higher Education

SULLIVAN: ALL REVIEWS OF UVA'S SEXUAL ASSAULT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES TO BE MADE PUBLIC

By DANI KASS, Daily Progress

All five reviews currently being conducted on the University of Virginia’s handling of sexual assault will be made public, university President Teresa A. Sullivan said Wednesday at a Faculty Senate meeting. After repeatedly ignoring questions about whether a review by international law firm O’Melveny & Myers — which was selected by state Attorney General Mark R. Herring — will be public once completed, Provost George Keith Martin said Wednesday it would.

Virginia Other

SALEM PIPELINE OPEN HOUSE AN EXAMPLE OF CONVICTION, UNITY OF OPPONENTS

By DUNCAN ADAMS, Roanoke Times

If conviction alone could halt a $3.2 billion interstate pipeline project, the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline might just be dead in the water. It appears that pipeline foes spread across 16 counties in two states are building something even more formidable — an impassioned and informed unity.


RESIDENTS ORGANIZE MEETING ON PIPELINE AND EMINENT DOMAIN

By RACHAEL SMITH, Nelson County Times

Groups that oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have organized a meeting this Thursday that focuses on the topic of eminent domain. Discussion will focus how obtaining an eminent domain lawyer can strengthen landowners’ opposition to the pipeline. The event will include a presentation by Michael Coughlin, an eminent domain lawyer with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley and Walsh, to be followed by a Q&A.

Local

ARLINGTON COUNTY POISED TO CLOSE MONEY-LOSING ARTISPHERE ARTS CENTER IN JUNE

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

Arlington’s money-losing Artisphere should close in June because it has failed to draw enough visitors or supporters to break even after years of government subsidy, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said Wednesday. The recommendation to close the Rosslyn arts center, a move that members of the County Board said they would probably support, would save about $2.5 million per year and eliminate the jobs of 12 full-time and 20 part-time employees. Donnellan said the Arlington government would attempt to find other county jobs for those employees.


PROTECTIVE ORDERS FILED AGAINST SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER

By ZACHARY REID, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A passionate night of School Board politics has spilled out of City Hall, and two board members and an outspoken community activist will sort it out in front of a General District Court judge Dec. 29. One member and the activist, who was recently asked by school lawyers to stop saying he was leading a school task force, filed separate protective orders against another board member for things that allegedly happened during the board’s Dec. 8 meeting.


CHESTERFIELD COUNTY SHUTTING DOWN ROADRUNNER CAMPGROUND

By LOUIS LLOVIO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

More than 100 people living in the Roadrunner Campground on Jefferson Davis Highway in Chester will likely be forced out in the near future — but not as soon as they feared. The residents were told recently that they’d have 30 days to vacate their homes in response to court actions brought against Roadrunner Enterprises by the county government. But they were granted at least a temporary reprieve on Tuesday when the property’s owner notified the county that he would not be issuing the 30-day notice.


PRAYER ORDINANCE DIES; RESIDENTS MAY LEAD UNOFFICIAL INVOCATIONS

By SHERESE GORE, Amherst New Era Progress

The move to formalize a policy that would govern prayer invocations during Amherst Town Council meetings appears to be no more. Council member Kenneth Watts, a supporter for prayer invocation, said at last week’s meeting he would not bring a motion to pass a prayer ordinance.


APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS FEES IN PRAYER CASE

By DEBORAH ELKINS, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Paywall)

A woman who challenged public prayer practices of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has won attorney’s fees in the county’s appeal of fees awarded by a Danville federal court. Barbara Hudson sued the county in 2011 for opening board meetings with an invocation that was “usually explicitly Christian in nature,” for which the board asked the audience to stand, according to the Dec. 17 opinion by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hudson, a non-Christian resident of the county who routinely attended board meetings, said the prayers made her and other county citizens feel unwelcome.


COUNTY LOSES PRAYER APPEAL

By JOHN R. CRANE , Danville Register & Bee

Pittsylvania County has lost a critical appeal in its legal battle with the ACLU of Virginia and county resident Barbara Hudson. The appeal, before the three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, was considered late. In its decision Wednesday, the appellate court said Pittsylvania County’s appeal could not be considered because it was filed 145 days late.


APPEALS COURT TOSSES PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY BOARD PRAYER CASE

Associated Press

A federal appeals court has dismissed an appeal over the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors’ practice of opening meetings with a prayer. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Wednesday that it did not have jurisdiction because the county didn’t file its appeal within the appropriate time frame.


Today's Sponsor:

Michael and Amanda Cassidy

Proud to support VPAP's innovative work to improve public understanding of money's role in politics.

Editorials

DOLLARS AND SENSE

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s budget remarks to the General Assembly on Wednesday were interesting both for what they included and what they did not. The governor took credit for 239 job announcements, claiming to have doubled the amount of capital investment made under any previous governor’s first 11 months.


MCAULIFFE'S BUDGET MISSES SOME NEEDED CUTS

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe unveiled a hodgepodge of proposals on Wednesday for balancing Virginia's budget through the next 18 months, a scattershot approach that aims to reconcile shortfalls in the short term while covering new spending on economic development and other policy priorities. The governor did well to avoid cuts to public education, and his insistence on expanding Medicaid coverage - a sensible business proposition increasingly accepted by Republicans in other states - remains sound.


THREADING THE NEEDLE

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

The design of municipal government in Newport News, using the manager-council arrangement and officials elected by district, occasionally makes policy decisions a complicated endeavor. That is especially true when it comes to capital budgeting. An overall capital improvement plan sets forth a list of projects, each designated with a particular cost, to be located in a specific district. But the city manager, who prepares the plan, must balance the need for investment across the city in a way that is both beneficial to the long-term health of the city and also satisfies council members, each of whom harbors specific aims for his or her district.


THE GIFT OF GUNS

Free Lance-Star Editorial

According to the National Rifle Association, there is approximately one privately owned gun per citizen in the United States. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action reported in early 2013 that there were “upwards of 300 million” such guns, with the number rising by about 10 million a year. That seems like more than enough.


WHY AIM FOR GUNS?

Daily News Record Editorial (Subscription Required)

In what may prove a prescient piece of political prognostication, The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone predicts social issues will have little or no resonance as the nation prepares — girds its collective loins? —for another presidential campaign.


COMMON SAFETY, COMMON SENSE IN THE COMMONWEALTH

Loudoun Times Editorial

Gov. Terry McAuliffe this week called for a package of gun control measures that is sure to renew a volatile debate over guns in the commonwealth. The governor called for new background check requirements on private gun sales at gun shows. He proposed legislation keeping guns away from people convicted of crimes related to domestic violence. And he proposed revoking concealed-handgun permits for parents who are behind on child-support payments.


WHAT’S SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE . . .

Winchester Star Editorial (Subscription Required)

Well, here in Virginia, there’s no such thing, apparently, as sauce for the gander. Proof positive is the first paragraph of a Dec. 12 story that appeared in The Washington Post: “Federal prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges in the resignation of a state senator who quit amid job talks, quietly closing an episode that further tarnished Virginia’s proud reputation for clean government.”


GLAD BRAT IS COMING TO TOWN

Culpeper Star Exponent Editorial (Modified Pay Wall)

Guess who's coming to town? Yes, Santa Claus will be here next week with toys for all the good little boys and girls, but there's another notable visit looming in Culpeper's future. David Brat, the 7th-District Representative in the House, will be in Culpeper Dec. 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at Beer Hound Brewery,


IN CRAFTING HER ADMINISTRATION, MS. BOWSER IS OFF TO A GOOD START

Washington Post Editorial

WITH LESS than a month until she is sworn in as D.C. mayor, Muriel E. Bowser has started to give shape to her administration. In retaining Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, she kept campaign promises to stick with proven success. In recruiting a professional city manager from outside the District, she made clear that experience, not political connections, is what mattered.

Columnists

CHESLEY: GUN PROPOSALS ARE A LONG SHOT, BUT THE GOVERNOR IS RIGHT TO TRY

By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Let's dispense with the fantasy quickly: Terry McAuliffe has no chance of getting his gun control proposals through a GOP-dominated General Assembly. The Democratic governor knows Republicans, who led the charge in 2012 to end limits on purchases to one handgun a month in Virginia, are all about expanding gun rights - not curtailing them. That principle is practically stamped on their foreheads.

Op-Ed

COX: MAKING COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE

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

Blessed with four sons, my wife, Julie, and I have experienced many happy moments as parents. The milestones our sons have achieved in education rank near the top of the list. Lane, our oldest, graduated from Longwood University. Carter is a sophomore at James Madison University.

Kirk Cox is the majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates.


DILLARD: NSU'S DEBT TO STUDENTS

By COBY W. DILLARD, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

“I am confident in the future of my college, knowing that, in time, the greatness that is Norfolk State University will again be an example to all.” I wrote those words in these pages last year after enrolling at NSU to finish my bachelor’s degree.

Coby W. Dillard is a local blogger.