A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - March 10, 2014
Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw
Savings in charity health care could more than make up the eventual difference in federal funding for expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program, according to Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel. Last week, Hazel continued his support for expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program under terms of the federal Affordable Care Act. He and Gov. Terry McAuliffe visited health care facilities in Southwest Virginia on Tuesday and Hazel made a number of stops in the region Wednesday, including a meeting with the Bristol Herald Courier’s editorial board.
After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, Virginia lawmakers injected tens of millions of dollars into the state’s mental-health system, including local mental-health agencies that are the first stop for people in crisis. But last November, when Austin “Gus” Deeds needed a local agency to find him a psychiatric bed, the staff was smaller, its wait list for psychiatric services had tripled and a long-planned online registry of beds that could have speeded the search was not ready.
Seven mayor of cities stretching from South Hampton Roads to the Peninsula have jointly sent a letter to House of Delegates Republican leaders urging them to agree to Medicaid expansion. "We are urging all members of your delegation to do what is best for Virginia’s economy and communities by accepting federal funds to close the coverage gap," reads the March 7 letter. It is signed by the mayors of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg.
About 21,100 veterans in Virginia and 4,100 of their spouses could qualify for health coverage under Medicaid if lawmakers decide to expand eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, according to estimates. Most of these veterans either haven't enrolled for health care they can receive through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or they don't qualify for the benefit because they didn't serve for the minimum required amount of time or were dishonorably discharged.
Ahead of an upcoming Virginia Beach GOP meeting, two Republicans seeking a key state party post are clashing over use of an arcane electoral procedure that could let one candidate corner the market in advance of the actual contest. The contestants for GOP 2nd Congressional District chairman, Beach businessman Curtis Colgate and state Sen. Frank Wagner, are split on "slating" delegates for the April 26 district convention.
The State Corporation Commission is inviting public comments on rules that govern long-term care insurance policies, which have seen dramatic premium increases in recent years. The deadline for written comments is Friday.
The Texas oilman says that every time hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is discussed in the region, people present the “nightmare scenario.” “There is a lot of fear because people have told them, if they frack, they’re going to completely ruin our water system,” said Stan Sherrill, president of Shore Exploration and Production Corp. in Texas. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.” The process of fracking injects chemicals deep into the ground to fracture shale and release gas and oil. The chemically tainted wastewater used during the drilling is then stored on site until it’s hauled away for treatment.
The parents of a state inmate with cancer are attempting to win clemency from Gov. Terry McAuliffe so he can die outside of prison. “We just want to be able to bring him home to us before his time runs out,” said Brenda Kirby, mother of Jason Scott Davis. “My son is dying of terminal, incurable … lung cancer.”
A national bump in January home sales has local real estate agents and brokers crossing their fingers for the small boost to be a positive premonition for this summer’s home-buying season. Nationally, home sales this January were 9.6 percent above the previous month, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That number exceeded analysts’ expectations amid predictions of numbed economic activity due to numerous snowfalls and freezing temperatures.
The Fairfax-based Peterson Family Foundation plans to announce Monday that it will donate $1 million to a nonprofit group that recruits college students to teach in low-income communities. The money from Milton V. Peterson, owner of National Harbor, a waterfront development of hotels, restaurants, stores and a proposed casino, will be used specifically for Teach for America-D.C. Region to attract, train and develop teachers to work in the public schools in Prince George’s County.
AT SEVERAL points during the mostly congenial town-hall-type meeting held recently by Spotsylvania County Supervisor Gary Skinner, the conversation became tense. And some interesting things were said. At one point, a frustrated Skinner wondered off the cuff if running a rail system along the Interstate 95 median wouldn’t have been a better plan than the coming conversion to electronically tolled lanes.
Editor’s note: This is the second in an occasional series on the federal Affordable Care Act and its impact on local hospitals and consumers. In the next few years, medical school graduates face prospects once unknown to newly minted doctors — a squeeze for residency slots and a bleaker jobs market. This could happen at a time when new doctors are needed more than ever, as baby boomers get older and expanded health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act gives an estimated 25 million more people access to medical care.
A judge’s decision to overturn the first fine against a drone operator may lead to more commercial unmanned aircraft flights in the U.S. before rules are written to govern their use. Judge Patrick Geraghty of the National Transportation Safety Board, which decides appeals of enforcement actions by the Federal Aviation Administration, dismissed the agency’s $10,000 fine against Raphael Pirker for reckless flying. At the time of Pirker’s flight to shoot a promotional video over the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2011, “there was no enforceable FAA rule” on the type of model aircraft he used, Geraghty said in his decision.
As more of Richmond’s old industrial buildings are turned to apartments, city planners are worried that some urban dwellers might not get enough of a rather essential commodity: natural light. Two years ago, the Richmond Planning Commission passed a resolution expressing its aversion to windowless dwellings and warning of potential health issues tied to dimly lighted living.
When Henrico County officials start their budget process Tuesday, they’ll need to craft a document that uses recurring revenue to replace one-time funding that the county used to plug budget holes in tough economic times. But revenue growth in the county is slow, and the Board of Supervisors has pledged not to increase property taxes