VaNews

Tuesday May 23, 2017


Executive Branch


MCAULIFFE ANNOUNCES LOAN FOR SCHOOL ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 12 articles a month)

A $5.6 million low-interest state loan is expected to fully fund a host of energy efficiency improvements at nine Russell County schools and the energy savings will be used to repay the loan. Gov. Terry McAuliffe trekked to Castlewood Elementary to announce the award of Qualified Energy Conservation bonds Monday during what was billed as the kickoff event of the governor’s clean energy jobs tour. It was part of a whirlwind day that also included stops in Abingdon, Cedar Bluff, Roanoke and Chantilly.



HERRING VISITS LOUDOUN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE TO TALK OPIOID CRISIS, UNVEIL NEW TRAINING VIDEO

By CHANTALLE EDMUNDS, Loudoun Times

Attorney General Mark Herring (D) has thrown his weight behind a new roll call video to educate law enforcement officers on responding to heroin or opioid overdoses. The 10-minute film, "When Seconds Count: How Law Enforcement Can Save a Life during an Overdose,” was produced by the office of the attorney general and was officially unveiled by Herring at the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office Monday. The video will be sent to every law enforcement agency in Virginia with the aim of educating officers on the signs of an overdose and what can be done to save lives.

General Assembly


A "PERSONAL FRIEND" EXEMPTION ON GIFTS TO VIRGINIA'S ELECTED OFFICIALS LEAVES OPEN AN UNLIMITED LOOPHOLE

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

Six years after former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family began receiving money, loans, vacations, golf outings, designer clothes and a Rolex from a businessman he called a friend, little has changed to prevent such largesse being provided to Virginia's top executive, state officials say. To be sure, the General Assembly tightened ethics laws after McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of felonies in September 2014 for accepting more than $170,000 in loans, money and gifts from Jonnie Williams Sr. Prosecutors argued William's generosity was criminal because it was in exchange for the governor's help in promoting his firm's tobacco-related product.

State Elections


MIMICKING TRUMP, GILLESPIE CALLS FOR ELIMINATING 2 VIRGINIA REGULATIONS FOR EVERY NEW 1 ADDED

By BROCK VERGAKIS , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie wants to eliminate or modernize two state regulations for every new one that’s implemented as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul Virginia’s regulatory environment in an effort to help businesses grow. “We need more small-business formation and expansion here, and I think providing some regulatory relief and a rational approach to regulatory policy will help in that regard,” Gillespie said in an interview.



PERRIELLO CRITICIZES TRUMP POLICIES DURING MOSQUE VISIT IN DULLES

By ALEX KOMA, Loudoun Times

No matter where Tom Perriello went in the world in his days as a State Department envoy, he says he always felt welcome — now, he worries his home state isn’t living up to the same standard. The former Central Virginia congressman has been a frequent and vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s policies since he joined the race for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s gubernatorial election. But he’s also working to sketch out policies that would move this state from simply decrying Trump’s travel ban or crackdown on undocumented immigrants, to confronting the forces that convince people that those efforts somehow make the country safer.



VIRGINIA ELECTIONS WEBSITE SHOWS SECURITY WARNINGS ON LAST DAY TO REGISTER FOR GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Elections website displayed warning messages Monday saying the site was insecure on the last day of voter registration for the June 13 gubernatorial primaries. The issue lasted a little more than an hour and was cleared up shortly after election officials became aware of it. But it was the second time in less than 12 months that the elections agency has had technical difficulties with a registration deadline for a statewide election looming



LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CANDIDATES SQUARE OFF IN STAUNTON

By GABE CAVALLARO, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Discussion of Medicaid expansion and education funding dominated the conversation Monday night between the three Democratic candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor during a live forum in Staunton. Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor, Susan Platt, a political consultant, and Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor, agreed on much as approximately 100 audience members at Mary Baldwin University listened



VA. HOUSE CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF RACIST POSTS SAYS THERE'S MORE TO THE STORY

By PATRICK WILSON , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Tom Brock, a Democratic House of Delegates candidate from Hampton Roads under fire for past social media posts, said Monday that his posting of racial jokes in 2011 is being taken out of context. Brock had already been under criticism for Facebook posts from 2012 and 2014 relating to women that he described early this month as “totally inappropriate and offensive.”

State Government


WATCHDOG GROUP: AT LEAST 6 DEATHS AT CVTC CAUSED BY 'PREVENTABLE' INFECTIONS

By SARAH KLEINER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

At least six residents of the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights have suffered "prolonged and painful" deaths because of preventable urinary tract infections, according to the disAbility Law Center of Virginia. The Richmond-based watchdog organization, which is responsible for monitoring serious incidents at state-run institutions, released a report Monday outlining six deaths between March 2015 and May 2016. The names of the patients who died were blacked out of the report.



VIRGINIA INSPECTOR GENERAL CALLS FOR TIGHTER FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT OF AIRPORTS

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The state Department of Aviation needs to tighten its oversight of state airport funds, the state office of the inspector general said Monday in a report prepared in response to the Peninsula Airport Commission keeping state aviation officials in the dark about its use of taxpayer funds to pay off a loan for the now-defunct People Express Airlines.



HOW DID MORE THAN $3.5 MILLION IN STATE MONEY GO TO PAY OFF A PRIVATE AIRLINE'S LOAN IN NEWPORT NEWS?

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

An audit of the Virginia Department of Aviation, conducted in the wake of revelations that the Peninsula Airport Commission used more than $3.5 million in state money to guarantee a loan for a private airline that later defaulted, found much to improve in how the department receives and reviews financial information from airports. The Office of the State Inspector General, which performed the now-completed review, found that "internal controls need strengthening in several areas related to DOAV oversight of the airport funding programs," according to the audit. A final report was issued Monday.



THOUSANDS OF SCHOOL BUSES ACROSS VA. ARE MISSING CRITICAL SAFETY DEVICE

By K. BURNELL EVANS , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Thousands of school buses across the state — including more than 500 in the Richmond metro area — are missing a critical safety component mandated by the state six years ago, education officials announced Monday. The oversight was noticed several weeks ago by the transportation unit of the Virginia Department of Education during a spot check and a notice was sent out to the state’s 132 public school divisions.



NEW MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAM LAUNCHED IN VIRGINIA

By SARAH KLEINER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Virginia Health Care Foundation has announced a new $1.5 million behavioral health program that is designed to increase access to mental health care for uninsured Virginians and those with little to no access to medical care. The two-year initiative revealed Monday, called Beyond Blue, will focus on three areas starting this summer:

Congress


VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR $1B IN GRANTS TO AID CITIES DEALING WITH SEA LEVEL RISE

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hampton Roads could get a piece of $1 billion in competitive infrastructure grants as part of a bill introduced in Congress by Virginia Democrats to help communities mitigate the effects of sea level rise and recurrent flooding. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined with U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott on Monday to introduce the Building Up Infrastructure and Limiting Disasters through Resilience (BUILD Resilience) Act in the Senate and House.



VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BILL TO HELP COMMUNITIES GUARD AGAINST SEA LEVEL RISE

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

A trio of lawmakers from Virginia said they’ll introduce legislation in Congress to create a nationwide competition for $1 billion a year to help communities fend off tidal floods and other natural disasters. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Rep. Bobby Scott, all Democrats, said their bill will be called the Building Up Infrastructure to Limit Disasters through Resilience Act.



WARNER, IN RICHMOND STOP, SAYS HE WANTS DETAILS OF TRUMP AND COMEY CONVERSATION

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is among the lawmakers who want to know if President Donald Trump recorded his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey. In his capacity as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he and the committee chairman, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, have the power to find out more.



WARNER: 'REAL SENSE OF URGENCY' ON RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said Monday that he still sees need for his Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian election tampering, and potential connections to President Donald Trump, despite last week's appointment of an independent counsel to oversee a criminal investigation running roughly parallel. For starters, the Virginia Democrat said, not everything that's wrong counts as criminal.

Economy/Business


PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY TO EXPAND IN VIRGINIA

Associated Press

A pharmaceutical company from India is expanding its Virginia operation thanks in part to state incentives. Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday announced that Granules India will spent $35 million to expand its operation in Fairfax County.



DECISION ON MOUNTAIN STATES, WELLMONT HOSPITAL MERGER EXPECTED IN SEPTEMBER

By LUANNE RIFE, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Health commissioners for Virginia and Tennessee expect to decide in September whether to allow a merger between two predominant health care systems serving parts of their states. Tennessee health commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner said Monday that the merger application from Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System has been deemed complete and its Certificate of Public Advantage process will more forward.

Higher Education


TUITION TO INCREASE AT VIRGINIA’S COMMUNITY COLLEGES

By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Students at Virginia community colleges soon will see an increase in tuition. On Friday, the Virginia Community College System board established the 2017-18 academic year's in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $150.25 per credit hour.



COUNCIL DIVIDED OVER REQUEST FOR MED SCHOOL INVESTIGATION

By BRIAN CARLTON & MICKEY POWELL, Martinsville Bulletin

Did officials with the College of Henricopolis School of Medicine follow the guidelines when spending an $800,000 grant? That’s what one member of the Martinsville City Council wants to know. Sharon Brooks Hodge wants the council to request a probe by the state attorney general’s office into how the money was spent.

Virginia Other


SUPREME COURT RULES RACE IMPROPERLY DOMINATED N.C. REDISTRICTING EFFORTS

By ROBERT BARNES , Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature relied on racial gerrymandering when drawing the state’s congressional districts, a decision that could make it easier to challenge other state redistricting plans. The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly tainted redistricting decisions by GOP-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some cases involved congressional districts, others legislative districts.



SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN TWO NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

By JESS BRAVIN AND REID J. EPSTEIN, Wall Street Journal (Paywall)

The Supreme Court on Monday found that North Carolina’s congressional map was illegally drawn to concentrate black voters in two oddly shaped districts, a ruling that Democrats think could help them challenge other Republican-tilted political maps across the South.



AMID STATUE DEBATE, ALBEMARLE COURTHOUSE’S CONFEDERATE SOLDIER STANDS IN SILENCE

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

While city officials continue to wrestle with the fates of two statues of Confederate leaders, a nearby Albemarle County monument to Confederate soldiers has stayed out of the spotlight. The monument, a bronze, life-size Confederate soldier in uniform, was erected in 1909 and paid for by Albemarle County, the city of Charlottesville and with funds raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.



ALEXANDRIA INCHES FORWARD ON NAME CHANGE FOR JEFFERSON DAVIS HIGHWAY

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The renaming of Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria, ordered eight months ago by the City Council, inched forward last week with the appointment of an advisory group to consider new names. Having the name of the president of the Confederacy on the highway, also known as U.S. Route 1, has long aggravated residents of this liberal historic city.

Local


RICHMOND COUNCIL URGES NAMING BUSINESS THAT RECEIVED $3M TAX REFUND

By NED OLIVER , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Several Richmond City Council members made it clear Monday that they want city finance officials to reveal the name of a mystery business that received a $3 million tax refund in March. The payment included $475,000 in interest doled out at taxpayer expense despite the fact that the refund was a result of the company overpaying its taxes based on self-reported revenues.

TV/Radio


RALPH NORTHAM HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE WITH LGBT, GUN CONTROL PAC

NBC 29

Guns continue to be a hot button issue in this year's elections in Virginia. Monday, Democratic candidate for governor Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam held a press call with the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC. It's a political group inspired by the mass shooting in Orlando that backs candidates in state and federal elections based on their support for gun control and LGBT rights.

Online News


WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE VIRGINIA NUMBER ONE FOR BUSINESS AGAIN?

Potomac Local

Virginia’s rural counties are dying as the population continues to flee the southwest portion of the state. Along the state’s “urban crescent” on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia to I-64 to Hampton Roads, things are booming. In fact, they’re the two only growth regions in the state. Stephen Morret at Virginia’s Economic Partnership hopes to change all that while working to restore the state to its “lofty” perch to the top of the best states in the nation to business, where it sat in 2008.



THE RUMBLE IN VIRGINIA

By ALEX SHEPHARD, The New Republic

Tom Perriello draws a Bernie crowd. At a town hall at the University of Mary Washington, bearded college kids in flannel buzz at the back of the room, while older voters in khakis and checked shirts occupy the folding chairs up front. They’re all eager to hear Perriello, who’s running for governor of Virginia, rail against the corrosive influence of money in politics, a political system rigged against workers—and, of course, the new president of the United States.



DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR DEBATE GUN CONTROL

By EMILY LEAYMAN, Patch.com

Democratic candidates for Virginia governor Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam pitched how they can push gun control in a state historically for gun rights at a forum Sunday. Around 150 people came out to the forum at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town.


Editorials


OUR NO. 1 CHALLENGE

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Last week, business leaders from around the region gathered for the Roanoke Regional Chamber’s annual business summit. They heard from nearly two dozen speakers. They mostly heard just one message, though: If you want to grow your local economy, the talent level of the work force matters. A lot. That’s hardly a new message but one that communities are hearing with ever-growing frequency (and volume) as we hurtle into a new economy. Barry DuVal, the president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, put it this way: “Virginia will be whatever our workforce allows us to be.”



SHE BOUGHT A CLOCK FOR A BUCK. THE COPS THREW HER IN JAIL FOR IT.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Remember Clock Boy? Ahmed Mohamed became a national sensation — and a guest at the White House — after he showed his teacher a clock he had built. She thought it looked like a bomb, and he was handcuffed, arrested, and suspended from school. Daphne Page probably won’t get an invitation to the White House, even though much the same thing happened to her over the weekend.



COURTS MUST PROTECT VOTING RIGHTS

News Virginian Editorial

Efforts to rig elections and limit voting among one demographic group or another have been around as long as elections have. Both of the major parties have taken a crack at it. And both have succeeded, to varying degrees. Those efforts aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, but recent court activity offers hope that they will succeed less than in eras past. Example No. 1: The Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling from the Richmond-based 4th Circuit that struck down discriminatory voting laws in North Carolina. Granted, the nation’s high court did so because the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democratic governor split over the issue. But the decision still preserves a ruling that amounts to a warning.