VaNews

Monday January 26, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia Education Association

Proud to announce today a new campaign with the Virginia PTA to Put Kids First.

General Assembly

WOMEN STILL LAG IN STATE LEGISLATURE REPRESENTATION

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Modified Pay Wall)

In the 21st century, men still largely comprise representation in state legislatures from coast to coast, according to a recent study by The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Virginia continues to lag near the bottom of the national list of elected women serving in state government with females comprising just 16.4 percent of the General Assembly, the study showed.


PRIVACY CONCERNS CREATE STRANGE ALLIANCES IN RICHMOND

By KATHY HIEATT, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Bob Marshall and Claire Gastañaga huddled together at a table in the General Assembly Building Wednesday, trying to carve out the best language for a bill to penalize eavesdropping on confidential conversations. It was a rare sight: the conservative delegate from Prince William County and the state's American Civil Liberties Union executive director on the same side.


FORMER DEL. PHIL HAMILTON SAYS FEDS TARGET VIRGINIA POLITICIANS

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

He's behind bars in a federal prison a good four-and-a-half hour drive away, but the people former Del. Phil Hamilton feels sorry for these days are members of Virginia's General Assembly, Hamilton is in the middle of a nine-and-a-half-year sentence on federal bribery and extortion charges — crimes he says he did not commit — and believes more Virginia legislators could find themselves in the same jam.


AFRICAN-AMERICAN LAWMAKERS SURPRISED BY REDISTRICTING SUIT

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

A recently filed lawsuit seeking to redraw Virginia House district boundaries has surprised and sparked concern among some of the Democratic African-American lawmakers. Filed in December by a law firm with ties to both national and state Democrats, the suit argues that state Republicans illegally packed black voters into a dozen House districts when it drew new district lines in 2011.


LAW COULD LEAD TO SPIKE IN ELECTRIC BILL

By MATT LEONARD, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Dominion Virginia Power would be allowed to avoid state regulation for eight years while having the ability to increase consumers’ electric bills, if the General Assembly passes a measure before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. The legislation would require Dominion to maintain its base rate for eight years beginning in 2013 — when the state last reviewed the company’s rates — until 2020.


LAWMAKERS TO CONSIDER ETHICS, GUN BILLS

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

Virginia lawmakers will take a closer look at ethics legislation as the General Assembly session heads into its third week. House Bill 2070, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, is expected to come before the full House Courts of Justice Committee this week. Among other things, the bill would put a hard $100 cap on gifts that lawmakers may accept.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY: REDISTRICTING REFORM, TWO-TERM GOVERNOR BILLS ADVANCE

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

Annual efforts to change the way Virginia draws election districts and to allow a second term for governors moved forward last week at the Capitol. They won bipartisan support in lopsided Senate committee votes, but continue to face an uphill climb that has toppled similar measures for years. Legislative leaders from both chambers didn't give any of these measures high chances for success.


WITH MEDICAID EXPANSION UNLIKELY, HOSPITALS AND LAWMAKERS IN BIND

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

Virginia lawmakers are beginning to see what lies on the other side of their decision not to expand Medicaid or health coverage of uninsured Virginians. A trio of private teaching hospitals is pushing a provider assessment — once derided as a “bed tax” — to collect extra federal Medicaid dollars to help them pay for uncompensated indigent care and graduate medical school residencies.


VA. LAWMAKERS' DEBATE OVER POLICE CAMERAS CONTINUES

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

Just as one state legislator pulled back his bill to require police wear body cameras, a second lawmaker said Friday he doesn't want to wait and will introduce his own legislation. Del. Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk, told a House subcommittee on Thursday that they should table his body camera bill because a study group is planning to review the issue. Others suggested it would be too expensive.


VA. HOUSE BILL TARGETS ASSET FORFEITURES THAT FUND POLICE

By GARY A. HARKI, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A bill moving through the General Assembly could eliminate a legal process that brings in millions of dollars for law enforcement agencies, but which critics say allows the government to confiscate property unfairly. HB1287, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, would end civil asset forfeitures - state legal proceedings that allow police to keep property seized from criminal suspects.


STATE PROPOSES TO INCREASE HOMEOWNERS' COSTS TO CLEAN LEAKING HEATING OIL TANKS

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

If you are a homeowner with a leaking heating-oil tank in your yard, Virginia requires you to clean up the mess. A cleanup can often cost $6,000 to $8,000, but for years, a homeowner’s expense has been $500, with the rest picked up by a Virginia fund created by a fee on petroleum products.


BAR BILL ON TAP FOR LAWMAKERS

By PRESTON KNIGHT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Years down the road as patrons swap bar stories in city watering holes, they will likely unknowingly have the 2010 General Assembly to thank in part for their good times. Building off amendments to regulations that started to occur five years ago, more changes to the advertising and offering of alcohol are proposed in this year’s legislature.


VAHAPPYHOUR HERE HERE AND HERYE HERE EHRHXY

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

It’s after five but before seven on a recent Friday evening, and across Clarendon, despite the odds, office workers have found themselves sitting in front of discounted drinks. Happy hour in Virginia is a somewhat secretive affair. Bars can detail drink specials anywhere inside an establishment. But signs in windows, chalkboards on the street, online menus and social media accounts are heavily restricted.


SENATE BILL TARGETS SEX TRAFFICKING

By SARAH DRURY, VCU Capital News Service

A bill introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, would create new laws against sex trafficking in Virginia, Republican officials said Wednesday. Senate Bill 1188 would clearly define the offense of sex trafficking and establish the crime of sex trafficking involving a minor. Additionally, it states that when the victim is a minor, prosecutors wouldn’t have to prove that the trafficker used force, fraud or coercion.


BILL TARGETS SEX TRAFFICKING

By BRYAN GILKERSON, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

A Valley lawmaker is moving forward with legislation he hopes will bring tougher punishments to human traffickers. Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, has introduced a bill to create the first standalone sex trafficking statute in the state.


NURSE BACKGROUND CHECKS SAIL THROUGH COMMITTEE

By PATRICIA BORNS, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

A criminal background check bill for nurses won unanimous approval in committee during Thursday morning's General Assembly session. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg), was combined with an identical bill offered by Sen. Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield). It goes next to the Senate for a full vote.


BIG DROP IN GIFTS TO LOCAL LAWMAKERS

By PATRICK KANE, Progress Index

With the cloud of federal corruption charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and wife Maureen McDonnell hanging over Thomas Jefferson's Capitol, most lawmakers from the Tri-Cities accepted fewer gifts, meals and free travel from lobbyists last year.


NEW RIVER VALLEY LEGISLATORS RANK LOW ON GIFT LIST

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times

New River Valley legislators logged a total of just over $3,600 in gifts last year, a drop from the prior year that mirrored trends in the General Assembly as a whole. And one legislator contested an annual ranking of gifts to Assembly members that is compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, saying that it was misleading to call his compensation for appearing on a panel at a conference a gift.


FAIRFAX CHAMBER GETS BIRTHDAY SALUTE FROM GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Sun Gazette

Saying it has helped Fairfax County emerge as “one of the premier global locations to start or grow a business,” the General Assembly is lauding the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce on the occasion of its 90th anniversary. The business organization was founded in May 1925 by a group of business and professional leaders and, in 2015, is “poised to lead the Northern Virginia business community toward a bright future,” notes the joint resolution, patroned by Del. Dave Albo (R-Springfield) and cosponsored by 22 other members of the legislature.

State Elections

VIRGINIA GOP ELECTS JOHN WHITBECK AS NEW CHAIRMAN

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

The newly elected chairman of the Virginia Republican Party on Saturday promised to stick to GOP principles of fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. John Whitbeck, a 38-year-old lawyer from Loudoun County, ran on a platform of healing a fissure within the party and expanding its reach through a renewed focus on fundraising.

State Government

LESBIAN COUPLE WINS RIGHT TO HAVE NAMES ON CHILDREN'S BIRTH CERTIFICATES

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

When Maria Hayman delivered her twins, Merida and Finn, on June 13, 2013, at St. Francis Medical Center, there was no doubt in her mind as to who the other parent was. Her wife, Joani Hayman, had contributed eggs that were placed in Maria after being fertilized with sperm from a donor who had revoked his parental rights.


STATE COYOTE CURBS FACE FUNDING CUTS

By ELAINA SAUBER, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Valley farmers may face the doggone difficult task of keeping their livestock safe from coyotes in coming years with less resources. The Virginia Cooperative Coyote Damage Control Program, jointly funded by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, may lose almost $200,000 in state funding for fiscal 2016.

Economy/Business

MEADWESTVACO, ROCK-TENN JOIN TO FORM $16B PACKAGING BEHEMOTH

By STAFF REPORT, Associated Press

Rock-Tenn and MeadWestvaco will join forces to create a $16 billion packaging company, driving down its own costs and possibly gaining the scale to better dictate prices. The company, which had not been named as of Monday, will have combined sales of $15.7 billion and its board will include eight directors from Rock-Tenn and six directors from MeadWestvaco.

Transportation

SOLO-DRIVER TOLL PROPOSAL AIMS TO EASE I-66 COMMUTE

By LORI ARATANI, Washington Post

Virginia transportation officials have pondered many ways to improve traffic flow on Interstate 66, but a push to charge solo drivers to use the roadway inside the Beltway may be their boldest gambit yet.


HOV USE HEAVY ON THE NEW INTERSTATE 95 EXPRESS LANES

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star

As expected, carpools and vanpools have flocked to the Interstate 95 express lanes, which opened on Dec. 14. “We saw a high percentage of HOV users right off the bat,” said Mike McGurk, spokesman for Transurban, the company that operates the electronically tolled lanes, which stretch 29 miles between Garrisonville and Edsall Road on Interstate 395.

Higher Education

WAYNESBORO STUDENT FIGHTS JMU LANGUAGE POLICY

By LAUREN BERG, News Virginian

Waynesboro High School junior Michelle Smith wants nothing more than to go to James Madison University and pursue a career in social work. To prepare, she knew she would have to keep up her grades, participate in extracurricular activities and write a stellar admissions essay. But what she didn’t anticipate was that her dream school would not accept her three years of American Sign Language credits to fulfill the foreign language requirement.

Virginia Other

VIRGINIA INFRASTRUCTURE EARNS GRADE OF C-

By SARAH DRURY, VCU Capital News Service

Virginia’s bridges, roads and other infrastructure have earned a grade of C-minus from the American Society of Civil Engineers. That is slightly better than the state’s previous assessment – a D-plus in 2009, ASCE officials said this week in releasing the 2015 Report Card for Virginia’s Infrastructure.


OVERDOSE DEATHS FROM HEROIN GALVANIZING LEADERS IN MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA

By JENNA JOHNSON AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Political leaders in Annapolis and Richmond are searching for ways to combat a wave of heroin overdoses that is killing dozens of their constituents each month — in inner-city neighborhoods, suburbs and rural enclaves.


DOMINION POWER LINE PROJECT ALSO NEEDS FEDERAL APPROVAL

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

State approval for a power company's plan to build new electrical towers across one of the nation's most historic waterways awaits a crucial decision from the state's highest court. But a separate federal approval process — just as necessary as the state's — is beginning to heat up, with no timetable yet for completion.


KILLINGS OF BLACKS BY POLICE IN VIRGINIA FUEL DEBATE

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

African-Americans have been disproportionately killed by police in Virginia as a percentage of their population since 2000, but as a group they have committed a disproportionate number of violent crimes and assaults on officers that could lead to deadly encounters with law enforcement, an analysis of state crime data shows.


CONSERVATION PROGRAM MAY HELP JAMES RIVER RESTORATION EFFORTS

By ALEX ROHR, Nelson County Times

A new conservation program may bolster restoration efforts along the James River through a United States Department of Agriculture plan to invest in public-private partnerships. United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $370 million in competitive grants this week as part of the five-year Regional Conservation Program made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Local

NORFOLK PAYS IRS TAXES IT MISSED FOR NEARLY 4 YEARS

By TIM EBERLY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The city failed to pay federal taxes for nearly four years on money that was set aside from about 1,600 employees' paychecks for their pension plans, city officials recently confirmed. When the mistake was discovered last year, the city notified the Internal Revenue Service and paid the $657,071 that was due.


PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP PROPOSED FOR PART OF TECH CENTER IN NEWPORT NEWS

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

he developer of the Tech Center has asked the city to enter into a formal public-private partnership as the scope of the proposed project continues to grow. A public-private partnership is a contractual arrangement outlined in state law that can give private firms long-term claims on public money and property if they perform services normally done by a government.


ISLE OF WIGHT SITE HACK GIVES CITIES DOSE OF CYBER FEAR

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

In lowercase black letters, "i love isis" and references to recent terror attacks in France appeared on the Isle of Wight County website. In red, "Hacked By Team System Dz" was written above the mention of the militant Islamic State.


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia Education Association

Proud to announce today a new campaign with the Virginia PTA to Put Kids First.

Editorials

PROTECT RIGHTS OF STATE'S GAY EMPLOYEES

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

Twenty-one states have passed laws that ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Virginia should be the 22nd. A proposal to ban public employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation is set to draw a vote as early as today in a Senate committee.


AVOIDING BAD DEALS FOR TRANSPORTATION

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

The errors and reckless decisions that shaped key transportation projects under former Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration were so egregious, so inexplicable, that lawmakers rightfully feel burned. And they appear increasingly willing to overhaul the state's Public-Private Transportation Act to prevent them from happening again and to ensure that the public's interests are served.


TEACHERS DESERVE STARTING BUMP, BUT IT'S UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN

Culpeper Star Exponent Editorial (Modified Pay Wall)

If it was our call, all teachers would get raises. Surprisingly, many on Facebook commented likewise following Culpeper County Public Schools Superintendent Bobbi Johnson's proposed $1.29 million increase to the fiscal year 2016 budget to include increased salaries for new teachers.


PULL BACK THE CURTAIN ON HOW GOVERNMENT WORKS

News & Advance Editorial

Elected leaders in Virginia profess to support the concept of open and transparent government and involvement by everyday citizens in the political process, but do they really? Critics of how politics in Virginia currently operate contend the commonwealth isn’t as bad as some states, but argue there’s room for a great deal of improvement in Richmond.


PLAYING POLITICS IS NOT THE HIGH ROAD

Daily Progress Editorial

However meritorious the impulse might have been, Del. Rob Bell’s bill to freeze improvements to U.S. 29 employs a distasteful method. Frankly, the bill is nothing more than political grandstanding. It has little chance of adoption. Even if it passes the General Assembly, Gov. Terry McAuliffe — who wants progress on U.S. 29 — is likely to veto it, and the odds are slim that the legislature could produce a veto override.


TIME TO MOVE FORWARD ON SCHOOLS

News Virginian Editorial

It takes more than just a sales pitch to bring a company in. You have to show there’s enough infrastructure in place to support it. That includes water and sewer utilities of course, but quality schools also play a part. Businesses want to see evidence of a trained workforce, ready to fill positions when they come open. On the elementary level, they also want to see functional schools, places where the employees won’t be opposed sending their children. In order to accomplish that, Augusta County needs to do some construction work.


INDIA, RISING

Roanoke Times Editorial

Somewhere in the woods of Virginia, a tree-cutter owes his job to . . . India. Or a coal miner. Or an apple-picker. Or, for that matter, a trucker or a train engineer.


THE POLITICS OF PIPELINES

Roanoke Times Editorial

Politics is sometimes Machiavellian but more often Newtonian. Sir Isaac’s third law explains gravity but also the General Assembly: “For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.” If the three natural gas pipelines that have been proposed to cross Virginia were the action, then the reaction was from people living in their path who suddenly had something to say about the environment or their property rights.


SELLING THE MANSION WOULD SOLVE THE ISSUES

Danville Register & Bee Editorial

A century ago, Danville rescued the Sutherlin Mansion from decline by agreeing to purchase the historic building from the Danville Confederate Memorial Association. Part of that agreement made the city government responsible for maintaining the building’s exterior. The Sutherlin Mansion is important to Danville’s history because the full Confederate government met there for the last time before the generals in the field started surrendering their armies. That made the Sutherlin Mansion the Last Capitol of the Confederacy.


VIRGINIA’S MOVE TO CUT EMISSIONS THE SMART WAY

Washington Post Editorial

WHETHER REPUBLICAN state leaders like it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency is going to require them to cut their states’ greenhouse-gas emissions. They can choose to do it the easy way or the hard way. One Virginia Republican is proposing they choose the easy way — and the smart way.


THE D.C. AREA’S UNPREPARED FOR AN EMERGENCY, BIG OR SMALL

Washington Post Editorial

MORE THAN 13 years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in a world still menaced by terrorists and in a city at risk of attack as few others, how is it possible that basic radio communications used by the District’s first responders could fail in an emergency? How could the District’s transit system be unprepared to ventilate smoke from a subway tunnel? What other lapses in preparedness will the region’s residents discover, and will it take an emergency to discover them?


VIRGINIA SHOULD EXPAND MEDICAID

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Why another editorial on Medicaid expansion in Virginia? Republicans in the General Assembly have made it clear that pigs will fly before they approve it. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been advised not to waste his time. We continue to back Medicaid expansion for a very simple reason: It is the right thing to do.


LEGALIZE IT

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

State Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, is on what once would have been a fool’s errand: He wants to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia. He has introduced a bill that would make possession of small amounts a civil offense, punishable by a $100 fine, rather than a criminal act drawing a $500 fine and a jail sentence.


THE COST OF A FELONY

Free Lance-Star Editorial

As legislators look for ways to trim the state budget, here’s one idea: Raise the threshold for felony crimes in Virginia. The line between misdemeanor and felony in Virginia has been set at $200 for 35 years. Today that means the theft of a phone or name-brand sunglasses can net thieves prison time and a permanent felony record that will follow them forever.


RESTRAINING, SECLUDING VA. SCHOOLCHILDREN DEMANDS STRICT GUIDELINES

Washington Post Editorial

In a chilling 2009 report prepared for Congress, the Government Accountability Office surveyed an array of instances in which schoolchildren around the country had allegedly been subjected to restraint and seclusion, often under unimaginably harsh and abusive circumstances. Among the examples cited by the report were the death of a 7-year-old who’d been held down by school staff, 5-year-olds tied to chairs by bungee cords and duct tape, and the reported suicide of a 13-year-old who hung himself after prolonged confinement in a so-called seclusion room at school.

Columnists

JACKMAN: FAIRFAX COUNTY TURNS OVER MATERIALS TO LAWYERS FOR JOHN GEER FAMILY

By TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post

Lawyers for Fairfax County have turned over an undisclosed, but presumably large, amount of investigative reports, documents and other materials to the lawyers for the family of John B. Geer, who was shot and killed by a Fairfax police officer in Springfield in August 2013.


SCHAPIRO: A SCENARIO UNDER WHICH ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS ACTUALLY MATTER

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

With a 2-to-1 majority in the House of Delegates, Republicans ordinarily have little to fear. Their disciplined, sharply conservative caucus can and will use its hefty presence to thwart Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe on a health care fix, gun control and any issue that’s essential this legislative election year to revving up the base — his and theirs. But Republican strength in numbers belies a glaring case of Republican collective jitters.

Op-Ed

SMITH: THE PURPLE LINE - LET'S BUILD IT

By JAMES T. SMITH, Published in the Washington Post

Before Gov. Larry Hogan (R) took office Wednesday, he offered little information on policy decisions surrounding the Purple Line. I was asked at a meeting of Maryland’s Board of Public Works, “Why would you acquire land now for the Purple Line?” The answer lies in the simple facts: It would reduce congestion. It would be good for business.

The writer was transportation secretary under former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D).


SCHEXNIDER: BLACK COLLEGES AND THEIR FUTURE

By ALVIN J. SCHEXNIDER, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

For reasons both personal and professional, I have refused to weigh in on events swirling around two of Virginia’s tax-supported institutions. Full disclosure: I served on the Board of Visitors of Virginia State University in the 1980s and I was interim president of Norfolk State University in 2005-2006. The wise former president keeps a low profile and takes a vow of silence, particularly on matters regarding his former institution.

Alvin J. Schexnider is a former chancellor of Winston-Salem State University and former interim president of Norfolk State University.


ROSE: TO PROSPER, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA MUST BREAK WITH COAL

By VAN ROSE, Published in the Roanoke Times

In 1872, when Gen. John Daniel Imboden published the discovery of mineral resources in Southwest Virginia, prospects of a flourishing industry in Big Stone Gap brought hopes the town would become “the Pittsburg of the South.” People referred to Wise County as “the seat of the Mountain Empire.” Thus, the great era of King Coal in Appalachia began. For a century, coal was king.

Van Rose lives in Wise County.


CONNAUGHTON: VIRGINIA MUST CARE FOR ITS CAREGIVERS

By SEAN T. CONNAUGHTON, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Outside of our family, and perhaps some close friends, there are few relationships as powerful and as immediate as the ones we have with our physicians and other care providers. They counsel us, help us and care for us. They are there for us in some of our happiest moments, like childbirth, and they sustain us in some of our toughest.

Sean T. Connaughton is president and CEO, Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.


CORP: HOW MUCH OF A DEGREE OF SAFETY DO YOU WANT?

By PAT CORP , Published in the Roanoke Times

...The railroad industry seems to be ramping up its efforts to justify reducing from two crew members down to one. Only certain trains to begin with, they say, but I imagine if you give them that inch, the mile isn’t far behind.

Pat orp, of Roanoke, is the Virginia State Legislative Director for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union and a locomotive engineer by trade.


MAIN: HONEST POLITICIANS NEED STRONG ETHICS LAWS

By IVY MAIN, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell just received a two-year sentence for misusing his office for personal gain, one more step in a sorry drama that has smeared the commonwealth with mud. But while many people think of this as a story of one man brought down by greed, it's striking how many lawmakers of both parties have stood up for McDonnell.

Ivy Main has been a volunteer lobbyist for environmental and election reform issues at the General Assembly for more than 10 years.


EISMAN: RIGHTING RICHMOND

By DALE EISMAN, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Wouldn't it be neat to have a job that let you and your co-workers set your own salaries, budgets and working hours, even choose your bosses? Run for the General Assembly. Getting in could be challenging, but if you make it, you probably can set yourself up for a long tenure.

Dale Eisman, a former Washington correspondent for The Virginian-Pilot, is acting director of communications at Common Cause, a non-partisan citizens lobby.