VaNews

Friday April 24, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Today's Sponsor:

Cox Charities Benefit Concert

Cox Charities presents Colbie Caillat at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk – May 15th at 8PM. All proceeds benefit youth education programs throughout Virginia. Tickets available at ticketmaster.com.

Executive Branch

VIRGINIA’S CICADA-EATING, KEGERATOR-USING HEAD SALESMAN, TERRY MCAULIFFE

By JONATHAN O'CONNELL, Washington Post

When Indiana passed a “religious freedom” law last month, state business leaders expressed concern about whether the rule would hurt their bottom lines. In the Virginia governor’s mansion, a certain set of gray eyebrows perked up.


LT. GOV. RALPH NORTHAM MEETS WITH UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

By ELIZABETH O’ROARK, Cavalier Daily

Commonwealth Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam held a meeting with student leaders Wednesday to discuss problems on Grounds which included sexual assault, the recent violent arrest by ABC officers, the state drinking age and the new affordable excellence model.

General Assembly

FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS REVIEWED TOP VA. LAWMAKER’S RELATIONSHIP WITH LOBBYIST

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

Thomas K. Norment Jr., the majority leader of the Virginia Senate, has acknowledged a relationship with a lobbyist whose firm regularly pushed for legislation that Norment voted for and, in two cases, sponsored directly. Norment, a Williamsburg-area lawmaker who is among Virginia’s most powerful politicians, admitted the relationship while defending himself against allegations of wrongdoing made by a former legal client who tried to blackmail him.


VIRGINIA HORSEMEN TO HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN OFF-TRACK BETTING

By ADRIENNE MAYFIELD, Tidewater Review

It's official – the Virginia horsemen will be able to open up to 10 off-track betting facilities across the state if Colonial Downs doesn't reapply for a racing license by Aug. 1. Off-track betting is the key to horse racing in Virginia because it funds the industry for both the track and the horsemen.

State Elections

TOSCANO TO SEEK SIXTH TERM AS DELEGATE

By DEREK QUIZON, Daily Progress

State Del. David J. Toscano, former Charlottesville mayor and current House minority leader, will seek a sixth term. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, made the announcement Thursday morning. In all likelihood, according to a local expert on state politics, he’ll face no serious challengers.

State Government

PORT OF VIRGINIA POST $1.6M PROFIT IN MARCH

By J. ELIAS O'NEAL, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Record cargo hauls last month at the Port of Virginia appear to be paying off. The Virginia Port Authority, which operates terminals in Portsmouth, Newport News and Norfolk, posted an operating profit of $1.6 million in March, according to a report released Wednesday by the state port agency.


PORT REPORTS OPERATING PROFIT FOR MARCH

By ROBERT MCCABE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Record container volume at the port in March resulted in an operating profit of $1.6 million, putting it back in the black after two consecutive months of losses, the Virginia Port Authority announced Wednesday.

Congress

SENATOR TIM KAINE: VIRGINIA CAN BE A SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

By STAFF REPORT, GMU Fourth Estate

Former Virginia Governor and current Senator Tim Kaine (VA) says that Virginia can both serve as a prime example of climate change but also be forerunner in climate change solutions.


GOODLATTE TALKS ENVIRONMENT WITH ACHS STUDENTS

By NICOLE STEENBURGH, Amherst New Era Progress

When Advanced Placement students at Amherst County High School sent questions to Congressman Bob Goodlatte about current clean and renewable energy issues, he responded in-person. On Monday Goodlatte, R-6th, visited the school’s AP Environmental and AP Government classes.


CARRIER OVERHAULS IN NEWPORT NEWS WOULD BE SECURED BY HOUSE PANEL PROPOSAL

By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Last year, the Hampton Roads economy experienced a giant hiccup when the Navy considered retiring the aircraft carrier USS George Washington instead of performing a mid-life overhaul. A mid-life carrier overhaul is big business for Virginia's largest industrial employer, Newport News Shipbuilding. The job costs in excess of $4 billion and takes more than three years, bringing thousands of sailors into the downtown shipyard.


NO MORE FEDERAL CHECKS TO THE DEAD, WARNER SAYS

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

If you're dead, you're not supposed to keep getting federal benefits, but apparently our razor-sharp civil servants still managed to check checks totaling $125 billion to people who have ceased to be. Sen. Mark R. Warner wants to put a stop to that and joined with Senators and Representatives from both parties to introduce a bill to tighten up.


LAWMAKERS LOOK TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE THAT SENT CHECKS TO DECEASED

By BILL BARTEL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The gravy train may come to an end for tens of thousands of already-dead farmers and government retirees. After Washington sent hundreds of millions of dollars in checks for subsidies and pensions long after the recipients died, several federal legislators say it's time to crack down.

Economy/Business

DOMINION SAYS OFF-SHORE WIND PROJECT COULD COST FAR MORE THAN EXPECTED

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

Dominion Resources Inc.’s plan to install two wind turbines about 24 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach could cost nearly twice what the company originally expected, and the price tag likely will delay the project. Dominion originally had estimated it would cost about $230 million to install a pair of six-megawatt turbines as part of a project to determine whether offshore wind power was economically viable. A $47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy would help cover some costs.


DOMINION: OFFSHORE WIND TURBINES TOO EXPENSIVE

By AARON APPLEGATE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Dominion is putting the brakes on a plan to erect two test wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach because the project, as it stands now, is too expensive, according to the company. The move slows the timeline of the effort to bring offshore wind power to Virginia and throws into question whether it's affordable in the near future.


MINE LAYOFF LAWSUITS SETTLED: PLAINTIFFS AWARDED A TOTAL OF $1.37 MILLION

By JEFF LESTER, Coalfield Progress (Subscription Required)

Roughly 155 laid-off coal miners will receive individual settlements ranging from an average of $2,080 to an average of $8,145 from lawsuits claiming their employer did not follow federal requirements before terminating them.


CHANGE IN VIRGINIA CODE OPENS NEW MARKET FOR LYNCHBURG BUSINESS

By JASON RUITER, News & Advance

A two-sentence amendment to the Code of Virginia may open a new market for a small business in Lynchburg. The amendment, introduced by Del. Matt Fariss and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in March, allows police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances to use “an illuminated identification system” atop vehicles.

Transportation

STATE WANTS MILLIONS BACK FROM ROUTE 460 CONTRACTOR

By MICHAEL CAMPBELL, Sussex-Surry Dispatch

The ongoing saga with the U.S. Route 460 project continues as the Governor’s office announced that a termination notice had been sent to US 460 Mobility Partners, the contractor tasked with building the Route 460 project in Southeastern Virginia.


AMTRAK PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE IN NEW RIVER VALLEY BY YEAR 2020

By MELISSA DRAUDT, Collegiate Times

Leaders throughout the New River Valley are pushing the initiative to extend a passenger railway system to the area by the year 2020. This is following the January decision to extend Amtrak passenger rail service from Lynchburg to Roanoke beginning in the fall of 2017.

Higher Education

BOV HOLDS OPEN MENTAL HEALTH DISCUSSION

By MEREDITH RAMEY, Flat Hat

Deviating from its scheduled agenda, yesterday’s Board of Visitors’ Committee on Student Affairs meeting provided an open question and answer session for committee members to ask questions about the College of William and Mary Counseling Center, mental health and suicide on campus.


MCAULIFFE DEDICATES GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE IN MANASSAS

Prince William Today

Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera Thursday to launch the university’s Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research in Manassas, a multidisciplinary center that will pursue some of the toughest medical questions facing society.


ODU BOARD APPROVES MODEST INCREASE IN TUITION, FEES

By HARRY MINIUM, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Tuition and fees will increase $510 per year for in-state students next fall at Old Dominion, with about half of that money slated to pay for salary and benefits increases for faculty and staff. ODU’s Board of Visitors unanimously approved a $582 million operating budget for 2015-2016 today that includes a 3 percent permanent raise and a 1 percent bonus for teaching and research faculty.

Virginia Other

VIRGINIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ENDORSES PIPELINE PROJECT

By BRIAN CARLTON , News Virginian

Another group announced support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Wednesday, as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the federal government. Chamber President Barry DuVal wrote that the pipeline fell in line with “Blueprint Virginia,” a business plan his organization put together for the commonwealth. “This important infrastructure project will support jobs and economic development throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” DuVal wrote.

Local

ALEXANDRIA MAYORAL CANDIDATES AGREE: DON’T SELL OFF CITY HALL, MARKET SQUARE

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

The first faceoff between the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Alexandria’s mayor heated up Thursday over an issue that all three agreed upon — the historic City Hall and Market Square plaza are not for sale. Allison Silberberg, the vice mayor in her first term on the City Council, attacked Mayor William D. Euille for speculating to a weekly newspaper last summer that one way to deal with the estimated $56 million in repairs needed for the 144-year-old structure would be to sell it and move the seat of government west.


SHERIFF TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS USE OF STUN GUNS AT FAIRFAX COUNTY JAIL

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post

The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that it has temporarily suspended the use of stun guns at the county jail following the death of a mentally ill inmate in February. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that it is reviewing its policy on the use of the stun devices. “When an unusual event occurs, it is standard practice to review specific policy and procedures in reference to that event,” Capt. Tyler Corey wrote in an ­e-mail.


LOUDOUN SCHOOL LEADERS CALLED TO THE STAND IN FIOA CASE

By DANIELLE NADLER, Leesburg Today

A dozen Loudoun County school administrators and School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) spent four hours in Loudoun County Circuit Court Thursday in a case brought against the school system by a parent who says they are concealing information that should be public. Brian Davison has filed a writ of mandamus that alleges School Board members and school system administrators violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond adequately to numerous requests for information dating back to September.


PUBLIC SQUARE EXPLORES SEGREGATION IN RICHMOND

By JOHN RAMSEY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Nearly 200 people attended a midday Public Square forum Thursday to discuss why Richmond is more segregated today than ever before and how to change the troubling divide. The racial and economic isolation of the region’s communities didn’t happen by accident.


CULPEPER PROSECUTOR HAILS LIBEL CLAIM REJECTION AS VICTORY FOR FREE SPEECH

By DONNIE JOHNSTON, Free Lance-Star

Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney Megan Frederick, tears in her eyes, had just one verbal comment after a seven-woman jury found that she did not defame Supervisor Bill Chase by using the word “corrupt” in a September 2013 email. “The First Amendment is alive and well in Culpeper and I’m happy for my citizens,” she said.


Today's Sponsor:

Cox Charities Benefit Concert

Cox Charities presents Colbie Caillat at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk – May 15th at 8PM. All proceeds benefit youth education programs throughout Virginia. Tickets available at ticketmaster.com.

Editorials

AGAIN: MISSING TARGET ON MEDICAID

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

It's no surprise that Medicaid has taken a bigger slice of Virginia's budget. The program, funded by state and federal funds, covers health care for the poor, the aged and the disabled, and costs have surged as medical technologies have advanced. The program has become a political flash point since the U.S. Supreme Court left it to states to decide whether to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.


VIRGINIA'S CLOUT IN D.C. IS SHRINKING

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

Of all the reasons to vote for a congressman, hoping he or she will swing a lot of weight in D.C. for the home state does not rank among the most admirable. Nevertheless, votes do have consequences, as a recent ranking of the states by Roll Call shows.


VA. STUDY OF POLICE TECH IS NEEDED

Daily Progress Editorial

Considering the governor’s objection to efforts to restrain unwarranted use of drone surveillance (“No reason to block drone protections,” The Daily Progress, April 22), we’re interested to see what direction his new task force on security and emerging technologies might take. Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently created the task force as a subgroup of his Secure Commonwealth Panel.

Columnists

POLITIFACT: JOE MORRISSEY SAYS ROSALYN DANCE OPPOSED MEDICAID EXPANSION

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

Former Del. Joe Morrissey is raising Virginia’s refusal to expand Medicaid as a key issue in his bid to unseat state Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg. At the announcement of his candidacy last month, Morrissey distributed a flier that accused Dance of apostasy in representing her heavily Democratic district.

Op-Ed

JAFFE: IN VIRGINIA, SIGNING ON TO EARTH DAY

By CALE JAFFE, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

On Earth Day, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a package of six clean-energy jobs bills carried by a bipartisan group of legislators (six Republicans and six Democrats). These new laws - focused on solar energy and energy efficiency - have the potential to create thousands of jobs in Virginia. They leverage advances in renewable energy and efficiency to increase consumers' carbon-free choices.

Cale Jaffe is director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The Friday Read

UNCLE SAM MAY HAVE PICKED THE WRONG CASH COW

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Randy Sowers always expected the government to show up one day and ask where all the cash he was depositing at his bank came from. He thought he had the right answer: from his business selling eggs and milk at farmers markets. But under a federal law designed to target money laundering, Sowers and his Maryland dairy farm lost a big chunk of that income — $29,500 — to the government.