VaNews

Monday March 02, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE PRAISES BIPARTISAN MODEL AS SESSION ENDS

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

What a difference a year makes. Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised lawmakers for working with him in a bipartisan fashion to produce a budget that safeguarded mutual priorities and serves the best interests of the commonwealth. It was a big step for the governor, who suffered through a tough and tense first year in office as he used a pile of political capital to pursue Medicaid expansion with a wary, Republican-controlled General Assembly.

General Assembly

VIRGINIA A FOCUS OF CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

By SEAN C.W. KORSGAARD, VCU Capital News Service

In statehouses across the country, a movement has been building for legislatures to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and limit the federal government’s power. The group pushing for a Convention of the States is based in Virginia and enjoys support from tea party luminaries like Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s former attorney general. At the start of the General Assembly’s 2015 legislative session, two resolutions were filed to have Virginia join in calling for a full-fledged constitutional convention.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES BILL ON SEX TRAFFICKING

By MORGAN WHITE, VCU Capital News Service

Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, has thanked his colleagues in the General Assembly for passing legislation to create Virginia’s first stand-alone law against sex trafficking. If signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the legislation would establish a clear definition of commercial sex trafficking and make it a Class 5 felony.

Federal Elections

GOP INFIGHTING IN VA. MAY HARM PARTY’S WHITE HOUSE BID IN 2016

By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN, Washington Post

Feuding within Virginia’s state GOP is alarming prominent national Republicans who think the infighting in a crucial swing state threatens the party’s quest to recapture the White House in 2016. The rift pits centrist conservatives against tea party and Libertarian activists, and it is playing out in divisive primaries and causing wrangling for control of the party’s state organization.

State Government

VIRGINIA PORT AUTHORITY FACES A BOTTLENECK OF PROBLEMS

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

For a port intent on raising its profile, the congestion at the container terminals in Hampton Roads poses a public-relations challenge on top of logistical hurdles. Days after a "Port Productivity Summit" in January - the second such event in nearly three months - a slightly reworked version of a report about the meeting in The Journal of Commerce, a trade publication, began to appear on the Internet.


PRIVATE POLICE CARRY GUNS AND MAKE ARRESTS, AND THEIR RANKS ARE SWELLING

By JUSTIN JOUVENAL, Washington Post

Michael Youlen stopped a driver in a Manassas apartment complex on a recent night and wrote the man a ticket for driving on a suspended license. With a badge on his chest and a gun on his hip, Youlen gave the driver a stern warning to stay off the road. The stop was routine police work, except for one fact: Youlen is not a Manassas officer. The citation came courtesy of the private force he created that, until recently, he called the “Manassas Junction Police Department.”


COMPANY ONCE SERVED FLUVANNA WOMEN'S PRISON

By STAFF REPORT, Associated Press

For a time, Corizon Health Inc. provided care at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, where complaints of delayed and inadequate health care already had triggered a lawsuit. Assisted by the Legal Aid Justice Center of Charlottesville, five inmates filed the suit in July 2012, detailing being regularly given the wrong doses of medication; having to stand in a “pill line” for more than an hour in rain, snow and excessive heat and cold at 3 to 4 a.m. to get medication; and not having requests for medical attention taken seriously, among other complaints, according to court documents.

Economy/Business

POT ADVOCATES, ENTREPRENEURS FLOCK TO MARIJUANA BUSINESS EXPO

By TINA REED, Washington Business Journal

Jeoffrey Mendez held out some cash and pointed to a flavored energy drink made with hemp. "I'll take a mango," he told a man who was also selling artisan chocolates and coffee Saturday at ComfyTree's Cannabis Academy, Expo and Career Fair. Mendez, a 32-year-old software developer, took a sip and nodded approvingly before moving to the next table.

Higher Education

POST-ROLLING STONE WORKING GROUPS TO HOLD TOWN HALLS AT UVA THIS WEEK

Daily Progress

The University of Virginia will hold three town hall meetings this week to discuss safety on Grounds. Each meeting will be hosted by a different working group covering one of three topics — prevention, response and culture.

Virginia Other

PIPELINE FUROR PROMPTS SEARCH FOR 'KARST'

By CALVIN TRICE, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

The ground under Augusta County, the way it's formed, is simple to conceptualize if you picture one grocery store item. A block of Swiss cheese. Specific geology beneath the surface, and the chemistry that forms it, defines this county and the surrounding region as much as the mountains that shape the terrain above ground.


VIRGINIA FARMERS ELIGIBLE FOR $3 MILLION TO REDUCE POLLUTANT RUNOFF

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Runoff from farmland has been called the largest source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Now Virginia farmers will be able to use about $3 million in federal and state funds during the next four years to cover nearly all the cost of increased fencing and other buffers to keep livestock from fouling waterways that feed into the historic estuary.

Local

IN ARLINGTON, GROWTH THREATENS A BUILDING SOME VIEW AS HISTORIC

By MORIAH BALINGIT, Washington Post

In this brick building on Wilson Boulevard, some see a historic gem in one of Arlington County’s oldest schools, where President Woodrow Wilson would pause and chat with children on the lawn. School officials see an outdated structure and an opportunity to relieve crowding elsewhere in the district, which is seeing unprecedented growth in the student population.


PLANS UNDERWAY TO EXPAND PRINCE WILLIAM’S COMPOST FACILITY

By VICTORIA ST. MARTIN, Washington Post

They call it black gold. No, it’s not oil, but it’s something Prince William County officials think is more environmentally conscious — if not just as valuable. It’s compost. “It kind of glows like gold,” said Tom Smith, the county’s chief of solid waste management, as he held a tennis-ball-size scoop of compost in his palm. “This is black gold — it works really good in your gardens.”


CHESAPEAKE OKS AFFORDABLE HOUSING

By MARY BETH CLEAVELIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The second time might be the charm for an affordable-apartment complex across from the city's Animal Services Shelter on South Military Highway. The City Council voted unanimously last week to issue $13.5 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds by the Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority for Catalina Crossing.


BUCHANAN SMALL BUSINESSES FACE COMPETITION FROM 'WAL-MART MENTALITY'

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times

From his vantage point walking along Main Street, a thoroughfare of contrast with its closed storefronts and charming shops, Dale Carter sees an uncertain future for Buchanan. Thirteen years ago, Carter and his wife refurbished the historic Buchanan Theater and made it one of the community’s key attractions, part of a small-town revival that has continued in fits and starts ever since.


Editorials

PORTSMOUTH'S LATEST POLITICAL EMBARRASSMENT

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

The dysfunction and turmoil in Portsmouth - a new school superintendent hired through an opaque process, a city manager's abrupt resignation, a city auditor who hasn't completed an official audit in nearly two years - have reinforced a perception of the city that has persisted for years. That's unlikely to change anytime soon.


THE TEBOW BILL

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Advocates have, after many years of trying, persuaded the General Assembly to pass a bill letting home-schooled students participate in public school sports. Now it’s up to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to sign or veto the legislation. The so-called Tebow bill is named for former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who was home-schooled in Florida and allowed to play football for his local high school.


THE $16,000 SOLUTION

Roanoke Times Editorial

If you’re alive to read this, not incarcerated and still have all your possessions, then maybe the old saying isn’t true. You know, the one that says “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” On the other hand, most of the bills the Virginia General Assembly passed in its most recent session won’t go into effect until July, so there’s still plenty of time for surprises.


GET PROBLEMS FIXED BEFORE EXPANSION

News Virginian Editorial

Before a car is ready to drive, there’s a few things required. Obviously you need an engine, brakes, a steering column and wheels, but what about the other parts? Leave out a wire and the alternator malfunctions. Forget to install the radiator and you’re not going anywhere. The point is that when building something, you need to make sure the pieces fit before rolling it out. We’ve seen what happens when that’s not the case, with the recent tax form programs with Healthcare.gov. We hope that as the political season starts here in Virginia, politicians take a lesson from this when it comes to the Medicaid discussion.


CONTRACT IS STEP FORWARD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Danville Register & Bee Editorial

Stanley Jones won’t take over the leadership of Danville Public Schools for a few more months, but this week, the Danville School Board sent a clear signal about what’s expected of Jones — and it matches what the people of Danville want from the leader of their school system.


NET NEUTRALITY RULING A BOON TO RURAL AMERICA

News & Advance Editorial

Just 20 years ago, the Internet was a novelty to most Americans. Today, it is a cornerstone of the modern, 21st century economy. Back in 1994, the only way to get “online” — a strange word to most of us — was through something called a modem, dialing over the phone line into something called a “server.” And there were those odd speed designations: 14.4 kbs, 28.8 kbs and 56.6 kbs. With a 56K modem, we thought we were flying at the speed of light, accessing those early websites.


LAWMAKERS HIDE ACTIONS FROM PUBLIC

Daily Progress Editorial

Good government advocates have an uphill battle in Virginia, where lawmakers would rather hold onto political power than risk listening to constituents or honoring the greater good. We especially witnessed that self-over-society behavior in the defeat of reform legislation that would have given a bipartisan commission a measure of input over redistricting.


STONEWALLING IN FAIRFAX COUNTY, AGAIN

Washington Post Editorial

IT’S BEEN a month since an elite, specially trained team of sheriff’s deputies went to extract Natasha McKenna from her cell at the Fairfax County jail and, when she resisted, shot her repeatedly with a stun gun. Taken to the hospital, Ms. McKenna, 37, who was mentally ill, died a few days later without regaining consciousness. There are a number of extraordinary aspects to Ms. McKenna’s death, not least that the incident at the jail was recorded. The 45-minute video spans the attempt to remove her from her cell to her departure from the jail in an ambulance.


DOMINION PIPELINE: THE HECK-NO BRIGADE

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

Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has inspired fierce opposition, as any significant Dominion proposal will. Pipeline critics have objected to routes, to potential environmental effects, to the possible harm for historic sites, and to the infringement of property rights. All of the objections are legitimate, at least in theory. In practice, they might simply be a smokescreen.


TWO KAINE STANDS ATTRACT CONTROVERSY

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

Barack Obama set a precedent. During the 2008 presidential campaign he addressed a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin. The appearance promoted his political aspirations. He won the German primary. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is following his example — which does not please the White House. The personal relations between Obama and Netanyahu do not resemble the friendly ties between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher or, for that matter, between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Columnists

POLITIFACT: BRAT: U.S. SCHOOL SPENDING UP 375 PERCENT OVER 30 YEARS BUT TEST SCORE REMAIN FLAT

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

U.S. Rep. Dave Brat wants to rein in federal funding for public education. Brat, R-7th, backs the Student Success Act, a GOP bill that would scale back Uncle Sam’s role in overseeing public schools and consolidate dozens of federal education programs.

Op-Ed

POSEY: MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE: OUR COMMITMENT TO VIRGINIA COMMUNITIES

By SHAWN POSEY, Published in the Roanoke Times

If you are one of the thousands of people who recently attended one of the five Southside and Southwest Virginia open house events hosted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline, thank you for getting involved, for coming with an open mind, for asking thoughtful questions, and for giving us valuable feedback that will help shape our plans as we move forward.

Shawn Posey is senior vice president, Mountain Valley Pipeline Engineering and Construction.