VaNews

Sunday March 01, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia's Customer-Owned Electric Cooperatives

Providing reliable, affordable electric service to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth for over 75 years.

Executive Branch

WITH GOP IN CONTROL OF VIRGINIA'S LEGISLATURE, MCAULIFFE AGENDA SUNK

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

They canned his name for a health-care initiative, changed the name of his economic development fund, whacked his effort to expand pre-school — all in all, the governor had a tough time in the General Assembly this year. But it wasn't as fierce as last year, and the reason probably comes down to a handful of open state Senate seats that will be contested in November.

General Assembly

ASSEMBLY SEASON ENDS WITH ANOTHER NOD TOWARD ETHICS

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

With the banging of a gavel, the 2015 General Assembly session came to a close late Friday after a frantic race to finish changes to a bill capping the value of gifts lawmakers can accept from lobbyists. During the hectic 45-day session, lawmakers also agreed on an updated state budget, froze state authority over Dominion Virginia Power's base rates for the next five years and passed legislation aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault on college campuses.


VIRGINIA SENATE REPUBLICANS WERE SET TO SINK ETHICS BILL

By LAURA VOZZELLA, JENNA PORTNOY AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Senate Republicans were ready to sink an ethics reform bill they thought was flawed until House Speaker William J. Howell threatened to shame them publicly if they passed nothing, participants in Friday’s last-minute negotiations said. On the legislature’s front burner since a former governor and first lady were indicted in a gifts scandal in January 2014, ethics reform nearly fell apart in the final hours of the 2015 General Assembly session, according to four people with direct knowledge of the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private deliberations.


LOTS OF LAWMAKING, LITTLE DRAMA IN 2015 FOR VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

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

They started with an early promise on ethics reform, then waited to the last day to actually pass a bill. But in between, this legislature churned through issues large and small. At the end House leaders, Senate leaders and the governor all labeled the session a productive success.


CLOCKWORK ASSEMBLY SESSION NEARLY UNDONE BY ETHICS STANDOFF

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

The General Assembly was poised to adjourn a day early, with a two-year budget completed in record time, little acrimony, and raises for state employees, state-supported local employees, college faculty, and teachers. It was a perfect election-year narrative for Republican leaders in the House of Delegates and the Senate, but it almost fell apart in a standoff Friday night that threatened to end the legislative session without ethics reforms vital to reassuring voters after the corruption convictions of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.


24 REASONS THE SESSION MATTERED

By ANDREW CAIN AND JACOB GEIGER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The General Assembly took action on a wide array of matters aside from signature issues such as the budget, ethics, campus sexual assaults and oversight of Dominion Virginia Power’s rates. Here are 20 other reasons the session mattered.


KEY LEGISLATION PASSED IN 2015 SESSION

Associated Press

The Virginia General Assembly finished the 2015 legislative session Friday. Here are some highlights of what lawmakers approved.


DOMINION HAS STRONG 2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia's 2015 legislative session was a good one for energy giant Dominion Resources Inc., the state's most politically influential company. Legislation it wanted passed, passed. Bills it didn't like did not.


CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT BILLS GO TO GOVERNOR’S DESK

By KEVIN LATA , News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

It’s now up to the governor to sign legislation passed by the General Assembly that seeks to stymie sexual assaults on college campuses by requiring higher-education employees to report such incidents and by creating sexual assault response teams. On Friday, before they adjourned their 2015 session, both the House and Senate gave final approval to two identical bills – HB 1930 and SB 712 – to address the issue.


DEL. MASON POLLS VOTERS ON KEY ISSUES

By STEVE VAUGHAN, Virginia Gazette

Del. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, polled his 93rd District constituents and found out they were very interested in issues the General Assembly made limited progress on this session. For instance, asked to name the top three issues, improving access to health care was the number one answer, but the General Assembly did little in that regard this year.

State Elections

MCAULIFFE SAYS DEMS WILL TARGET HAMPTON ROADS SEATS

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

Two Republican-held state Senate seats in Hampton Roads will be Democratic targets in the November election, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Friday, including that of incumbent Sen. Frank Wagner. McAuliffe talked about the 2015 General Assembly session during a briefing with reporters on Friday evening in the Capitol. The Associated Press’s Alan Suderman asked him if he thought Democrats had a chance to retake the Senate in November.

State Government

STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION APPROVES DULLES GREENWAY RATE HIKE

Loudoun Times

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a 2.8 percent increase in the tolls charged for traveling the 14-mile Dulles Greenway, which runs between Washington Dulles International Airport and Leesburg.


VIRGINIA PORT AUTHORITY MAINTAINS HIGH BOND RATING

By J. ELIAS O'NEAL, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

The Port of Virginia's deep harbors — and its ability to dig deeper — has helped the port authority maintain its bond ratings with two leading international bond rating agencies. Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's last week publicly affirmed it rated the authority's port facilities revenue bonds Aa3 and A+ ratings, respectively, according to a news release.

Congress

KAINE WILL NOT ATTEND ISRAELI LEADER'S SPEECH

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress this week, citing the impropriety of the speech two weeks before the Israeli general election. Kaine, D-Va., is a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Armed Services Committee.

Economy/Business

HAMPTON ROADS DEFENSE CONTRACTORS WIN MORE WORK IN FEBRUARY

By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Huntington Ingalls Industries received additional work from the Navy in February, while other Tidewater firms won defense contracts in engineering services, technical support and even mobile kitchens. Newport News-based HII received $9.2 million for continued work on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford.

Higher Education

AT UVA, WHO LIVES ON THE LAWN?

By OWEN ROBINSON , Cavalier Daily

Housing and Residence Life released demographic and academic data Thursday on accepted Lawn resident applicants. The Lawn Selection Committee received 251 applications and offered residency to 47 individuals.


ODU SAYS HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR UNDERSTAFFED OFFICERS

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

In a letter emailed Wednesday to Old Dominion University Police, the school's chief operating officer said ODU is working to increase the number of recruits to the department and ensure they have needed resources. COO David Harnage sent the message the same day The Pilot published concerns of three officers enumerated in letters to the school's administration about staffing levels, morale and cooperation with Norfolk police.


UNIVERSITIES START PROGRAMS TO DEVELOP CYBERSLEUTHS

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

This semester, George Mason University began offering what it says is the world's first undergraduate degree in cybersecurity engineering. The program's director, Peggy Brouse, said she would have been happy to start with 15 students. They got 64.

Virginia Other

QUESTIONS FOR VIRGINIA21'S ALEXSIS RODGERS

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

QUESTION: You’ve been a constant presence at the Capitol during the General Assembly session and the many long committee meetings. How did you become a student advocate? ANSWER: When the recent recession hit, my father lost his longtime corporate job. That was around the same time that I was deciding where to attend college. My parents had been saving for my education for years, but suddenly everything felt uncertain.


PIPELINE OPPONENTS CHALLENGE SURVEY START TIMES

By BRIAN CARLTON, News Virginian

Letters sent out to landowners impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Augusta, Buckingham and Nelson counties violated state law, project opponents say. Dominion officials meanwhile claim the problem stems from a mistake made while typing up the documents and will soon be corrected.

Local

DEER KILL PERMITS SPLIT SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Daily Progress

Annette Grimm wants something done about the deer. “The damage to our properties has been so extensive and so costly that we felt compelled to seek drastic measures to decrease the number of deer,” she wrote in a recent letter to her neighbors on Hearthglow Lane in Albemarle County’s Fieldbrook subdivision.


CITY WEIGHING HOW TO TAX, REGULATE SHORT-TERM HOME RENTALS

By K BURNELL EVANS, Daily Progress

The sausage is being made. After years of monitoring the proliferation of short-term rentals in the Charlottesville area through websites such as Stay Charlottesville, HomeAway and Airbnb, city officials are developing a plan to tax and regulate the activity.


RICHMOND STRUGGLES TO FINISH BASIC FINANCIAL REPORT

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

The city of Richmond is struggling to complete a basic financial report required by state law and is by far the largest of a handful of Virginia localities that have not produced the document months after state-imposed deadlines. For a second straight year, the City Council has not received the city’s comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, as it prepares for the yearly budgeting process. Because of the delay, the council is facing the possibility of having to craft a budget without an audited recap of the most recently concluded budget year.


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia's Customer-Owned Electric Cooperatives

Providing reliable, affordable electric service to more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth for over 75 years.

Editorials

REIN IN PAYDAY LOANS

Free Lance-Star Editorial

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering doing what many states, including Virginia, seem unwilling to do: Rein in payday loans and car-title loans. The short-term, high-interest loans have provided some with a quick fix, but the damage they do outweighs the good.


LIFE OR DEATH IN VIRGINIA

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

With a decisive 56-42 vote on Tuesday, the Virginia House of Delegates defeated a bill that would have shielded manufacturers of lethal injection drugs from public view. Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation, said it drew opposition from two potent constituencies: opponents of capital punishment and open-government advocates.


FINALLY KILLING A BAD IDEA

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

A measure that aimed to seal information on the drugs used to execute prisoners failed this week, after a bipartisan bloc of delegates picked it apart on the House floor. SB1393, introduced by Democratic Sen. Dick Saslaw, sailed through the Senate with strong Republican support but hit an unexpected roadblock in the House.


THE MORRILL ERA

Roanoke Times Editorial

Chris Morrill can’t say he didn’t know what he was getting into when he signed on as Roanoke’s city manager. In February 2010 — as Savannah, Ga., basked in 60-degree temperatures — a foot of snow lay on the ground in Roanoke. Not unlike the last couple of weeks around here.

Columnists

DOUGHERTY: PETA'S GOT THAT GUILTY LOOK, FINALLY

By KERRY DOUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As I've said before, I try not to write about PETA. Really. Because talking about a group of true believers given to tasteless theatrics is like - pardon the expression - shooting fish in a barrel. But sometimes the news surrounding the publicity hounds who run the Norfolk-based animal rights group is so outrageous it begs for comment. Now, for instance.


SCHAPIRO: AGENCIES SET UP TO COUNTER BOSSISM GET BOSSED AROUND

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

It took less than two months for legislators to remake two agencies created in the last century to thwart bossism. But a new strain of bossism is responsible for their reinvention. The power of the State Corporation Commission, the agency that makes sure business strikes a balance between profits and people, was further reduced. It was another gubernatorial-legislative accommodation of Dominion, the Richmond energy giant that lets its money do the talking.


DAY: THE MORE THINGS CHANGE IN RICHMOND...

By SHAWN DAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As the General Assembly wound down its regular session last week, more Virginians learned of familiar names that won’t be on the ballot in November. Those resignations and retirements, however, aren’t likely to provide the opposing party or its supporters with much hope for picking up a seat.


CHESLEY: PAYING STERILIZATION VICTIMS HELPS, BUT IT CAN'T UNDO WHAT HAPPENED

By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

State legislators finally approved a moral imperative this week, agreeing to pay victims of Virginia's notorious program of forced sterilizations. The decision to allot the money through the state budget - $25,000 to each person still alive who suffered the operation - is long overdue, and credit must go to officials who refused to abandon the project.

Op-Ed

WEINER AND COOMBS: VIRGINIA GUN BILL SHOOTDOWNS SHOWS LITTLE LEARNED FROM VIRGINIA TECH

By ROBERT WEINER AND HANNAH COOMBS, Published in the Roanoke Times

In a state that witnessed one of the largest massacres in the country only eight years ago, Virginia Republicans in the legislature are now blocking all gun control regulation — and instead are passing legislation that may actually weaken defenses against massacres.

Robert Weiner was spokesman for the White House National Drug Control Policy Office. Hannah Coombs is a policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.


RAMSEY: D.C. CAN STILL GAIN FROM ITS 2024 OLYMPIC GAMES BID

By W. RUSSELL RAMSEY, Published in the Washington Post

For 18 months, many residents of the Washington region shared an enormous — some might say Olympic-size — dream: to bring the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to the nation’s capital. For the District, the Olympics would have meant an opportunity to breathe economic life into some of the region’s most underserved neighborhoods and inspire a generation of young athletes to invest in themselves and their futures.

The writer is chairman and chief executive of Washington 2024, the nonprofit organized to bid on the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.