A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - December 5, 2013
Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe signaled Wednesday that he might put the brakes on one of his predecessor's top transportation priorities: a tolled, limited-access highway that would parallel U.S. 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg.
Despite healthy GOP opposition, Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday showed no signs of retreating on his push for Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe also said he supports tightening the state’s ethics laws, and putting more funding toward the state’s mental health system. The Democrat spoke to reporters and editors gathered at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building for the annual AP Day at the Capital.
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe expects changes to Virginia’s mental health system in the upcoming state budget process and legislative session. McAuliffe said he has talked to outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell about putting more money for state mental health services into the budget, after last month’s high-profile case in which state Sen. Creigh Deeds’ son, for whom an emergency psychiatric bed had not been found, stabbed Deeds then shot himself.
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that Hampton Roads' needs, particularly on transportation, will be a top priority in his administration, but called for greater regional cooperation during a session with reporters and editors from across Virginia at the annual AP Day at the Capitol.
As ongoing state and federal investigations hover over Gov. Bob McDonnell in his final weeks in the executive mansion, McDonnell's successor has called for reform to an ethical code that some say is riddled with gray areas and gaps. Some legislators and open government groups are echoing that call.
Del. Chris Jones, a Republican from Suffolk, has been named chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which is pivotal in shaping Virginia's budget. Jones was one of 13 committee chairmen appointed Wednesday by House Speaker William Howell. Six are reappointments.
Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, has been named the chairman of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee, an appointment that puts him at the helm of an influential budget-writing group. Jones replaces Del. Lacey Putney, 85, who is retiring after serving 52 years in the General Assembly.
The new chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee is an independent-minded conservative who delivered a $6 billion tax increase to fund the state’s threadbare transportation system. Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, was named chairman of the budget committee on Wednesday by House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, who sponsored the transportation funding package this year on behalf of Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Transportation bills approved by the 2013 General Assembly not only boost transit and rail project funding, they require a new method for figuring out how much money states will provide to transit systems, and how much localities must add to the pot.
Medicaid expansion is expected to be a marquee issue in the upcoming General Assembly session, but the attack on state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds by his mentally ill and suicidal son has pushed mental health reform to the top of the agenda.
New ethics laws that result from the scandal looming over Gov. Bob McDonnell are unlikely to include criminal penalties because of possible unintentional violations, a state delegate said Wednesday. “This is a minefield for detonations,” said Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William. Marshall was a panelist at a discussion of ethics and disclosure laws at Associated Press Day at the Capital, held at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Virginia has historically prided itself on its relative lack of government scandals. But recent events — namely when Gov. Bob McDonnell accepted significant gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams — have prompted concern over the state’s system of ethical checks and balances, leaving some to question whether the law goes far enough in holding its governing officials financially accountable.
The all-Republican local contingent of General Assembly members will venture to Richmond next month under new leadership, with Democratic Gov.elect Terry McAuliffe set to assume command. But the members’ expectations are about the same as this time last year: In short, they don’t know what to expect.
Gov. Bob McDonnell reminded Bedford County business leaders Wednesday night that Del. Lacey Putney capped his 52 years of General Assembly service by guiding the governor’s state budget through the Great Recession and coming out with surpluses each of the past four years.
A Richmond circuit judge set Dec. 17-18 for the statewide recount in the attorney general’s race but gave populous Fairfax County a one-day head start. In a four-hour hearing Wednesday, lawyers for Democrat Mark R. Herring, the contest’s certified winner by 165 votes, and Republican Mark D. Obenshain clashed over several issues, including access to poll books, the rights of recount observers and testing procedures for voting equipment.