VaNews

Friday April 17, 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

MCAULIFFE TOUTS ESL IN MANASSAS

By JAMES IVANCIC, Prince William Times

Students at West Gate Elementary School in Manassas received a special visit Friday from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who sat in on lessons, asked about their career plans, shared high-fives in the hallway, and read a story out loud while seated next to Kermit the Frog. He came to tout the achievements of the English as a Second Language program at West Gate, which has a student body that is 66 percent non-native English speaking, with 22 languages represented.

General Assembly

MANDATORY JUDICIAL RETIREMENT STILL AT ISSUE FOR ASSEMBLY

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

It remains to be seen whether Virginia's extension of the mandatory judicial retirement age will affect sitting judges in the state's circuit, district and juvenile courts. Legislation extending retirement from age 70 to 73 passed the General Assembly last month. But when it comes to these local courts, the change would only apply to judges elected after July 1.


FIXING ERROR IN VA. ETHICS BILL PROVES TO BE NOT SO SIMPLE

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

House and Senate leaders plan to use a rare procedural move Friday to get their latest ethics bill back on track, allowing lawmakers to fix an error in one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s amendments and claim credit for striking another blow against the Capitol’s freebie culture. Legislators in both parties predicted that McAuliffe (D) will have no trouble getting the General Assembly to go along with his plan to limit the value of gifts lobbyists and others can give public officials to an aggregate $100 a year.


VA. HOUSE AMENDS SEXUAL PREDATOR BILL THAT RESPONDS TO JESSE MATTHEW CASE

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

The Virginia House of Delegates late Wednesday accepted some of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s amendments to a bill aimed at preventing sexually violent predators from transferring colleges and committing subsequent offenses. The bill requires public and private colleges to make a note on the transcripts of students who have been expelled for certain crimes. It’s now up to McAuliffe (D) to sign the newly amended bill or veto it.

State Elections

CANDIDATES FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY RAISE $5.4 MILLION IN FIRST QUARTER

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

Candidates in this year’s legislative elections raised more than $5.4 million in the first quarter, a reflection of the high stakes in November and increased competition since 2011, the last time all 140 seats were on the ballot. Between Jan. 1 and March 31 a total of 303 legislative candidates raised the $5.4 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Four years ago, 223 candidates raised nearly $3.1 million in the first quarter.


DEMOCRAT MCCOLLUM RAISES $250,000 AGAINST FRANK WAGNER

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

Democrat Gary McCollum raised $250,815 in the first quarter of the year in his campaign against state Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach. The amount was the second highest of any Senate candidate in the quarter. Lawmakers cannot raise money during General Assembly sessions. Wagner, who held a fund raiser after the 45-day session ended in late February, reported raising $89,495 during the quarter. His ending balance was $310,678.


WHEN THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WRAPS UP, LET THE FUNDRAISING BEGIN

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

The money season in Virginia politics got underway last month with the end to the state's legislative session, and the close of the state's in-session fundraising ban. And after Wednesday's deadline to file campaign finance forms with the state Board of Elections, we know where things stand after the first quarter of 2015. These reports show a baseline that will quickly be augmented as races kick into high gear.


REPUBLICAN LAUNCHES BID TO UNSEAT SEN. FAVOLA

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette

Republican George Forakis on April 15 announced plans to challenge state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) in the November general election. “I think I can represent the people of this district very well,” Forakis – a relative newcomer to the local political scene – said at the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee.


DEADLINE FOR 26TH HOUSE RACE NEARS

By PRESTON KNIGHT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Candidates interested in becoming the Republican nominee to represent the 26th District in the House of Delegates have one week left to file paperwork and pay a fee.

State Government

BEACH COUPLE FIGHTING VDOT WINS SUPREME COURT APPEAL

By DAVE FORSTER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Supreme Court of Virginia delivered a victory Thursday to a Virginia Beach couple who have been fighting the state highway department for years in an eminent domain case. The justices reversed a 2014 lower court judgment against James and Janet Ramsey.

Congress

ON VA. TECH ANNIVERSARY, KAINE TAKES AIM AT NRA

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

On the eighth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine blasted the National Rifle Association for working to block state and federal efforts to adopt stricter background checks for gun purchases. Kaine said in a Senate floor speech he's come to believe the NRA doesn't care about gun owners and is focused on protecting gun manufacturers' ability to sell as many firearms as possible.


SCOTT RIGELL, BOBBY SCOTT OPPOSE DEATH TAX REPEAL

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

Death and taxes are certain, the old saying goes. So was the House of Representative's push to repeal the federal levy on large estates — the "death tax" as opponents call it. But just because passage of a bill is certain, it doesn't necessarily make sense, as Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Newport News, and Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, see things.

Economy/Business

VA COURT RULES AGAINST YELP IN FREE-SPEECH CASE

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a judge did not have the authority to compel Yelp to reveal the identities of anonymous users who panned an Alexandria carpet-cleaning company in a case closely watched by free-speech advocates and businesses alike. The decision sidestepped the thorny conflict at the heart of the case: Where do the First Amendment rights of Internet users to speak anonymously end and the rights of a company to defend its reputation begin?


VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT ALLOWS YELP TO KEEP IDS OF ONLINE CRITICS PRIVATE

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

A divided Virginia Supreme Court tossed out a contempt citation in an anonymous-speech defamation case involving Yelp, a California social media company, and Virginia-based Hadeed Carpet Cleaning. The closely watched case raised a number of First Amendment concerns and issues, but it was decided Thursday on jurisdictional grounds.

Transportation

CLASS-ACTION SUIT CLAIMS PREDATORY TOLL SCHEME ON 495 EXPRESS LANES

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post

The company that manages the Interstate 495 toll lanes in Northern Virginia is socking violators with “unfair, illegal and unconscionable” fines and fees that have reached tens of thousands of dollars in some cases, according to a class-action lawsuit announced this week. The suit, which was filed in federal court in Alexandria, claims that Transurban uses a predatory scheme because the Capital Beltway express lanes have not been as profitable as expected and some drivers are being hit with violations that never occurred.


VIRGINIA’S ECONOMY NEEDS DULLES AIRPORT TO SOAR AGAIN, BOOSTERS SAY

By LORI ARATANI, Washington Post

Dulles matters. That was the message Thursday at an event that was part pep rally, part strategy session and all about turning around the troubled fortunes of Dulles International Airport. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) opened the conversation about the airport’s future with the trademark energy he seems to bring to all things Virginia.


ADDITIONAL I-64 WIDENING ON THE PENINSULA GETS GREEN LIGHT

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

Planned traffic relief along the Interstate 64 corridor on the Peninsula appears to be in the fast lane. Members of the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) voted unanimously Thursday to a funding agreement to complete segment two of the I-64 widening project.

Higher Education

VSU SET TO APPROVE 3 PERCENT RATE INCREASE

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

Virginia State University is set to approve a 3 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees for the next academic year, a rate that would make the university the least expensive of the state’s 15 public four-year institutions. The board of visitors’ finance committee approved the rate change Thursday, and it will come before the full board today.


CAPITOL SQUARE MEMORIAL HONORS THOSE KILLED, WOUNDED AT VA. TECH

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

Family members, state officials and faith leaders gathered Thursday at Capitol Square in Richmond on Thursday in solemn recognition of the 32 students and faculty members killed eight years ago at Virginia Tech. “We come to honor the memory of those who died, to hold in the light their families” and others affected by the tragedy of the nation’s worst mass shooting, said Secretary of Education Anne Holton.


AFTER ARRESTS, DIVEST UMW GROUP VOWS TO DEMONSTRATE

By LINDLEY ESTES, Free Lance-Star

Noah Goodwin’s freshman year at the University of Mary Washington isn’t ending with fond memories and flipping through course catalogs for next semester.


WILLIAM & MARY REELS FROM ANOTHER SUICIDE

By SUSAN SVRLUGA, Washington Post

Thursday was supposed to be opening night, when Paul Soutter, a sophomore at the College of William & Mary, would be on stage in a student-written play about how the stresses college students face can break them. People instead will gather for his funeral at a church in Arlington, where he grew up.

Virginia Other

OPPONENTS CHEER VA. RULING ON JAMES RIVER TRANSMISSION LINE

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press

The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that local approval is required for a key element of a proposed high-rise electrical transmission line over a historic section of the James River. Opponents celebrated the decision, but stopped short of saying the ruling would kill the project.


DOMINION FOES CONCEDE RULING ONLY A PARTIAL VICTORY

By STEVE VAUGHAN, Virginia Gazette

Opponents of Dominion Power's plan to erect towers across the James River were happy about the ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court, but realize the issue is far from decided. "I think it's great that it's being sent back to the State Corporation Commission," said Jim Zinn, a trustee and founder of the Save The James Alliance.


VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT: DOMINION CAN'T BYPASS LOCAL ZONING FOR NEW POWER LINE PROJECT

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the State Corporation Commission was wrong in exempting the state's largest electricity provider from needing local approval for a crucial part of its proposed James River power line. The high court said a planned switching station in James City County — a station Dominion Virginia Power asserts is fundamental to the project — must win county zoning approval, and that the SCC erred in its 2013 finding that such authorization wasn't necessary.

Local

ALEXANDRIA POSTPONES RIBBON-CUTTING AT FIREFIGHTER-LESS FIRE STATION

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

Alexandria officials have postponed a Saturday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled at a new fire station in order to give the city time to decide how and when to assign firefighters to the station. City manager Mark Jinks made the decision Thursday at the request of members of the City Council, spokeswoman Andrea Blackford said.


ARLINGTON DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES SEEK TO RESTORE CITIZEN TRUST IN COUNTY BOARD

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

The six Democrats running for two open seats on the Arlington County Board seemed a little nervous Wednesday night at their first debate. One forgot to introduce himself. He and another candidate stayed seated at the dais during opening remarks, instead of standing up, leaving themselves invisible to much of the crowd. Another candidate suggested that he didn’t have answers to the county’s pressing issues, but planned to listen a lot in hopes of figuring it out.


SCHOENEMAN LEADS MONEY RACE IN REPUBLICAN CONTEST FOR FAIRFAX SEAT

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

With about a week left before voters in Fairfax County’s Sully District pick a Republican nominee for supervisor, former electoral board secretary Brian Schoeneman is leading in fundraising, campaign finance reports released Thursday show. Schoeneman led his two competitors in the April 25 firehouse canvass with about $21,700 raised in direct contributions between January and April, the reports show.


SUFFOLK CITY COUNCIL VOWS MORE MONEY FOR TEACHERS

By MIKE CONNORS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

City Council members vowed late Wednesday to find more money in their next budget for frustrated teachers who flooded a public hearing to complain about low pay. More than 30 people spoke at a meeting on the proposed 2015-16 budget. Most urged the council to meet the school division's request for $53.6 million in city funding.


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

VIRGINIA'S TRIBES TRY ONCE AGAIN

News & Advance Editorial

Getting legislation recognizing six of Virginia’s historic American Indian tribes through Congress has been a personal goal of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine ever since his days as Virginia’s governor. Today, he may be closer than he’s ever been in the past. It’s been a long, hard slog for the Monacan Indian Nation and the Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock and Nansemond tribes during the past decades in their quest to gain federal recognition.


​END RACIAL GERRYMANDERING IN VIRGINIA

Cavalier Daily Editorial

Last October, a panel of federal judges ruled that Virginia’s congressional district map is unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering in the 3rd Congressional District. After this decision, the Supreme Court sent a case challenging a redistricting plan in Alabama back to a lower court for further review.


ANOTHER VESTED INTEREST

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

“While hospitals provide a vitally needed service to their communities, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they have a vested interest in Medicaid expansion,” notes Michael W. Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute. He made the comment in relation to a new report the Institute has released, which points out that most of the money from Medicaid expansion would go to large and profitable hospitals.


DISCUSSION, NOT ARRESTS, NEEDED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARY WASHINGTON

Free Lance-Star Editorial

State police loaded three young people with hands and ankles shackled into a cage in the back of an unmarked white van outside the University of Mary Washington’s George Washington Hall while students chanted words of protest.


LESSONS FROM SWEET BRIAR

Roanoke Times Editorial

We’ve written a lot about the impending closure of Sweet Briar College, even though it’s on the other side of the Blue Ridge, because it offers a cautionary tale for other private colleges, of which we are blessed with many on this side of the mountains. It also offers some lessons for nonprofits of all kinds, be they large, well-known charities, or your local volunteer fire department or civic club or church.


HIGH COURT: VDOT'S BULLYING MUST STOP

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

Virginia's Supreme Court on Thursday corrected a particularly egregious wrong done to a Virginia Beach couple during their tenacious, six-year fight with the Virginia Department of Transportation. The unanimous ruling should help protect other property owners from a common governmental overreach.


DELAYS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

News Virginian Editorial

Actions have consequences, as the old saying goes. Unfortunately, so do delays. Now sure, you can put something off and kick that can down the road, but eventually, the road comes to an end. More often than not, the can hasn’t disappeared at that point. No helpful stranger came by to pick it up. There was no change in state law ordering it removed. And so you still have to make a decision about what to do with it. It’s the same with the future of Waynesboro High School. When school officials present their case to the city council later this year, a decision needs to be made.


THE POLITICAL MINEFIELD THAT IS U.S. 29

News & Advance Editorial

Whether we like it or not, the long-planned western bypass of U.S. 29 in Charlottesville is dead, never to be resurrected. A path was selected 20 years ago, rights-of-way purchased and planning done, but opponents in Charlottesville and Albemarle County rendered the highway obsolete before a spade of dirt was ever turned by approving any and all development north of its terminus, allowing sprawl to ooze even farther up the highway.


DISCUSSION, NOT ARRESTS, NEEDED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARY WASHINGTON

Free Lance-Star Editorial

State police loaded three young people with hands and ankles shackled into a cage in the back of an unmarked white van outside the University of Mary Washington’s George Washington Hall while students chanted words of protest. “This is what democracy looks like,” they yelled and sang: “ They told us the world is getting colder, they told us too much was on our shoulders, we believe that we will win.”

Columnists

DOUGHERTY: IF ODU STUDENTS FACE DANGER, SILENCE ISN'T GOLDEN - IT'S IRRESPONSIBLE

By KERRY DOUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

An ODU student we’re going to identify by first name only – Hudson – ought to be enjoying the splendid April weather and studying for finals. Instead, he’s home in Northern Virginia, getting ready for surgery and vowing never to return to Norfolk.

Op-Ed

HAMPTON: GOP HOUSE PRIMARY

By PAUL HAMPTON, Published in the Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

After recently speaking with a candidate for House of Delegates at my door and reading coverage of the campaign, I’ve been considering if I could justify voting in the Republican primary. Though I consider voting an important civic responsibility, I am also mindful that, at its core, the act of voting is an act of taking responsibility for the outcome.

Paul Hampton resides in Winchester.

The Friday Read

MIDDLE CLASS, OR SO THEY THINK

By PATRICIA COHEN, New York Times

It’s not only what you have, but how you feel. When it comes to membership in the middle class, earnings and assets are just part of the definition. Nearly nine out of 10 people consider themselves middle class, as a recent survey by the Pew Research Center found, regardless of whether their incomes languish near the poverty line or skim the top stratum of earners.