VaNews

Monday March 30, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

VA. "TEBOW BILL" TO BE VETOED BY GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE

By HARRY MINIUM, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he will veto a bill that would have allowed homeschool students to participate on public school sports teams. HB1626, sponsored by Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle County, was dubbed the Tebow bill after former University of Florida star and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who played high school football in suburban Jacksonville, Fla., while being homeschooled.

General Assembly

HOW MUCH STATE LEGISLATION GETS READ? LEGISLATORS SUBMITTED 1,919 BILLS, 857 RESOLUTIONS IN 2015 SESSION

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

At a single page apiece, the volume of bills and resolutions filed in this year’s General Assembly session would surpass the length of Leo Tolstoy's voluminous classic "War and Peace." Lawmakers introduced 1,919 bills and 857 resolutions — for a total of 2,276 — in the 45-day session that ended Feb. 27.


BILL WILL MAKE IT EASIER TO GET ZONING VARIANCES

By MICKEY POWELL, Martinsville Bulletin

Legislation introduced by an area lawmaker will make it easier for people to get variances from zoning rules to make improvements to their properties, according to Henry County and Martinsville planning/zoning officials. House Bill 1849, introduced by Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, received the General Assembly’s approval and was signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday. It will take effect on July 1, a legislative website shows.

State Elections

CHALLENGE TO HOWELL ILLUSTRATES GOP SPLIT

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

Dave Brat’s stunning primary defeat of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last year has emboldened the Virginia GOP’s conservative wing to rise against the party’s establishment, which it believes is out of touch with Republican principles of limited government and low taxes.


BERG CHALLENGER: ‘I NEED YOUR SUPPORT’

By ONOFRIO CASTIGLIA, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Supporters and politicos gathered at Piccadilly’s Public House on Saturday afternoon for the campaign kickoff for local attorney Christopher Collins, who is running against 29th District Del. Mark Berg, R-Frederick County, in the Republican primary on June 9. Collins, 43, registered his declaration of candidacy with the Frederick County Registrar on March 9.

Federal Elections

WEBB TIPTOES INTO SPOTLIGHT, CONSIDERS 2016 CAMPAIGN

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

Since forming an exploratory committee in November to gauge a potential run at the Democratic presidential nomination, former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia has deliberately stayed below the radar. That's starting to change.

State Government

STATE MOVING AHEAD ON TRANSFORMATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUILDING, OLD CITY HALL

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

The transformation of the Virginia seat of government around Capitol Square is picking up speed, with bids out on the design of a new General Assembly Building and renovation of Old City Hall. Gov. Terry McAuliffe allowed the state to issue bid requests this month for architectural and engineering design on the projects, nine months after freezing them in response to the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Virginia’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.


RACIAL DISPARITIES EXISTS IN PROBATION VIOLATION PENALTIES, REPORTS SHOW

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

More whites than blacks who are charged with probation violations get a break when they go before circuit court judges, case status records from 2014 suggest. Supreme Court of Virginia representatives have refused to release the compiled statewide database of case records. A Daily Press review of records assembled by open government advocates who went case-by-case through more than 110,000 cases of records from across the state found:


INFORMATION FROM VIRGINIA CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS LARGELY EXEMPT FROM FOIA

By DANI KASS, Daily Progress

At the request of the governor and prosecutors, the Virginia State Police are investigating the arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, but it’s unlikely the public will have access to much of the investigation. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act allows nearly all aspects of a criminal investigation to remain private, even after the investigation has closed.


IN VIRGINIA ABC ARREST NUMBERS, TILT IS TOWARD BUYERS RATHER THAN SELLERS

By RACHEL WEINER AND T. REES SHAPIRO, Washington Post

Agents working for Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued more arrest warrants to minors for buying or having alcohol than to stores for selling to underage drinkers in 2014, agency records show. The statistics, which The Washington Post obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, shed some light on the ways in which the agency in charge of the state’s liquor monopoly also cracks down on crimes ranging from shoplifting to child abuse.


CIGARETTE TRAFFICKING SPAWNING OTHER CRIMES AND POSSIBLY VIOLENCE

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

One frigid afternoon last January, two men transferring cigarettes to a van from a Glen Allen rental storage unit were interrupted by robbers who ordered them to the floor and held them at gunpoint. The thieves finished loading the vehicle and then drove it off with $90,000 worth of cigarettes and $25,000 in cash.


VIRGINIA NOW HAS 2 STATE SONGS

By CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE, VCU Capital News Service

After almost 20 years without a state song, the commonwealth of Virginia now officially has two. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed into law SB 1362 and HB 1472.

Transportation

IN THE PATH OF ROUTE 460: NEW ROUTE LIKELY TO DISPLACE HOMES, BUSINESSES

By RYAN MURPHY , Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Sid and Rose Newsome set out to build their dream house in 1977. He was a welder for Union Camp. She was a beautician.

Higher Education

WATCHDOG GROUP QUESTIONS CRUZ APPEARANCE AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

The watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling foul on Sen. Ted Cruz’s appearance at Liberty University last week and pointing to it as an example of the need for renewed IRS enforcement. In a letter to the IRS, Americans United said Cruz’s speech at an LU convocation on March 23 amounted to a campaign rally that students had to attend or risk being fined.


ADVOCATES SAY CHANGING STUDENT ATTITUDES IS KEY TO FIGHTING SEX ASSAULTS

By DEREK QUIZON, Daily Progress

November’s Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at the University of Virginia took another hit last week as Charlottesville police announced there was no evidence to support the gang rape described in graphic detail by writer Sabrina Ruben Erdely. But the debate over how to deal with sexual misconduct at UVa is still very much alive.

Virginia Other

VA. BEACH RESTAURANT GROUP JOINS OIL DRILLING OPPOSITION

By AARON APPLEGATE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The city's Restaurant Association has come out against drilling for oil and gas off the coast, joining what appears to be a growing opposition in Atlantic coastal communities. In a recent letter to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association argued that an oil spill could jeopardize the city's tourism industry.


STATE BAR CANCELS ISRAEL TRIP

By ONOFRIO CASTIGLIA, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

A prominent group of Virginia lawyers is declining to hold a seminar in Israel, citing what it says are the nation’s discriminatory border policies. The Virginia State Bar (VSB) — a Richmond-based administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, whose purpose is to regulate the legal profession in the Commonwealth — had planned to travel to Jerusalem for its Midyear Legal Seminar from Nov. 8-15.


VIRGINIA STATE BAR CANCELS ISRAEL TRIP, CITING ‘DISCRIMINATORY’ BORDER POLICIES

By DONNA ST. GEORGE AND STEVE HENDRIX, Washington Post

The Virginia State Bar has canceled its midyear legal seminar in Jerusalem, citing “unacceptable discriminatory policies and practices pertaining to border security that affect travelers,” in a decision that provoked a swift reaction Sunday among some political leaders


STATE BAR: ISRAEL TRIP NOT FULLY THOUGHT OUT, CANCELLING NOT A BOYCOTT

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

The Virginia State Bar canceled a planned seminar trip to Israel late last week after some members complained of the country's immigration rules. Bar leaders got a letter, and a petition with 39 online signatures at this point, quoting U.S. Secretary of State travel advisories. The petition says Arab, Muslim and Palestinian members would face discrimination at the border, potentially be denied entry and that the bar was "effectively preventing these members from attending."


DUKE GIVES $100K FOR RIVERWALK EXTENSION

By JOHN R. CRANE , Danville Register & Bee

Danville will receive $100,000 from Duke Energy’s Water Resources Fund to help pay for a Riverwalk Trail extension behind Danville Plaza Shopping Center....Duke officials announced formation of the $10 million fund during a ceremony held in September at Abreu-Grogan Park following clean-up of a 2,500 coal-ash deposit near Schoolfield Dam last summer.


SMOKING POT IN D.C. COULD COST VA. WORKERS THEIR JOBS

By SARAH KLEINER VARBLE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

You can go for a ride with the Pineapple Express - or any other strain of cannabis - while visiting friends in D.C., but you might get fired from work back home in Virginia as a result. Legalized marijuana is closer than ever, now that adults can smoke, grow and share it in the nation's capital. But some local companies are sticking with tests that screen employees for the drug because it's still illegal in Virginia.


MD. MIGHT OWE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MILLIONS FOR HEALTH-CARE EXCHANGE, AUDIT FINDS

By JENNA JOHNSON, Washington Post

A federal audit of Maryland’s once-troubled health-insurance exchange found that the state waited too long to formally update its enrollment projections and numbers with federal grant providers, resulting in the misallocation of $28.4 million.

Local

AS FAIRFAX GROWS MORE DIVERSE, CANDIDATES FOR OFFICE MOSTLY DON’T

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

The roster of candidates running for office in Fairfax County this year is at odds with the demographic changes sweeping through the area, despite a push for more diversity from ethnic groups and some party leaders. Forty-two percent of the county’s 1.1 million residents are either Asian, Latino or African American — up from a third of the county’s population in 2000.


RICHMOND'S HIGH BUSINESS TAXES BLAMED FOR PUSHING COMPANIES TO SUBURBS

By CAROL HAZARD, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Michael C. Hild lives in Church Hill and wanted to keep his growing mortgage lending and servicing business in Richmond. But he considered the business tax too high. The tax liability of operating in Richmond was nearly three times what it would be in Chesterfield and Henrico counties and much greater than it would be in Hanover County, which doesn’t charge any business tax.


TOWN OF WAVERLY FINDS ITSELF IN TURMOIL

By TED STRONG, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

In Southside Virginia, the town of Waverly in Sussex County has seen unusual political tumult this year, leading to a court case and suggestions of a recall election. Much of the tumult surrounds actions taken by the new mayor. The town, which registered 2,149 residents in the last census, is in a slow decline. It’s littered with defunct shops and derelict buildings. The school is shuttered, and the only supermarket in town recently closed as well.


AS PRAYER BATTLE DRAGS ON, PITTSYLVANIA BOARD KEEPS THE FAITH

By JOHN R. CRANE , Danville Register & Bee

The legal fight over sectarian Christian prayer led by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has dragged out over three and a half years. Through legal setbacks — including a federal court injunction against board-led prayer in place since 2012 — and related court rulings in other districts, supervisors have tenaciously stood their ground. They have refused to give up.


Editorials

A QUESTION OF POWER

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

In an effort to make the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control less political and more business savvy, the General Assembly approved legislation this year making dramatic changes to the agency's operations. In the wake of an incident in Charlottesville, it now seems evident that a more comprehensive review, one focused on the department's enforcement powers, is also warranted.


YES, BAN THE BOX

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

Believing in second chances for convicted criminals is easy. Giving second chances is harder. The City of Staunton has the opportunity to walk the talk by becoming part of the national "ban the box" movement, which seeks to remove the criminal record question from job applications. Several states and Virginia cities — including Harrisonburg and Charlottesville – have already taken the box off applications for their municipal job openings.


U.VA. PRICE GOING UP

Daily News Record Editorial (Subscription Required)

By all accounts, it has been a trying year on the grounds of the University of Virginia, with the Hannah Graham tragedy and the Rolling Stone fiasco dominating the headlines out of Charlottesville for months. But, some recent action by the Board of Visitors in its pricing and approach to setting tuition should attract attention for more mundane reasons.


WELCOME CHANGE IN HIGH-STAKES TESTS

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

Last year, state lawmakers collaborated on a measure that reduced the number of Virginia's mandatory Standards of Learning exams. The bill, the first in what Republicans and Democrats pledged would be a series of changes in state education testing, aimed to lessen the burden on students and give teachers more time to focus on foundational reading and math skills.


PUTTING BRAKES ON PREDATORY LENDERS

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

Attorney General Mark Herring announced last week that his office will work in tandem with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect customers sucked into the debt trap laid by predatory short-term lenders. Across Virginia, and especially in Hampton Roads, these short-term, payday and car-title loan stores have popped up in strip malls and independent stores with the blessing of state lawmakers.


TIME FOR COURAGE ON LIGHT RAIL PLANS

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

Virginia Beach's City Council has spent too long cowering before a loud but small group whose blinkered vision for the city involves time travel to the 1960s. Or the 1950s. While that bloc - anti-taxers, but with fellow travelers far beyond the fringes of polite society - would prefer a city without the amenities most Virginia Beach residents now take for granted, a half-century of civic leadership has left them standing on the outskirts of the city's political life.


THIS IS NO TIME TO STAND IN THE WAY OF SOLAR POWER

Free Lance-Star Editorial

PEOPLE TUNED into the housing market and construction industry in the Fredericksburg area know firsthand the increasing popularity of residential solar power. As the initial cost comes down, more homeowners are putting photovoltaic rooftop panel technology to use, and the clean energy it produces is more important than ever.


THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF NET NEUTRALITY

Roanoke Times Editorial

We don’t often get to use “Congressman Bob Goodlatte” in the same sentence as “murderous dwarf” or “fire-breathing dragon” or “child assassin.” Some of our Republican readers are probably right now reaching for their blood pressure medicine, but the ones who know their pop culture understand that somehow we’re going to make a leap from the GOP congressman who represents much of Western Virginia to the mythical land of Westeros.


CHECKING UP ... ANONYMOUS, PRESBYTERIANS AND ACTORS

News & Advance Editorial

Thumbs up to “Anonymous,” the unnamed trustee of Randolph College who has donated $2 million to the school. And not for a prominent project like, say, a named building, but for decidedly unsexy infrastructure work around the 125-year-old campus. We’re talking boilers, HVAC systems, roofs, steam lines ... all the things needed to keep a building operational but definitely not “cool” stuff.


A SILVER LINING AT U-VA.

Washington Post Editorial

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION by Charlottesville police found no “substantive basis” to support the Rolling Stone account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. That announcement by Police Chief Timothy J. Longo pretty much completes the debunking of the already discredited article; still to come is a postmortem commissioned by the magazine and perhaps a lawsuit from a fraternity unfairly maligned in the article.


GOOD STEPS ON THE ABC

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

Credit Gov. Terry McAuliffe for taking swift steps in the wake of another scandal involving the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The governor has ordered the ABC to take several steps, including retraining all agents on the use of force and coordinating with local law-enforcement agencies in college towns.


KEEP UP THE PUSH FOR REDISTRICTING REFORM

News & Advance Editorial

In true Terry McAuliffe fashion, Virginia’s governor — the ultimate political partisan going back to the 1990s — dramatically made the case Thursday that Virginia needs to embrace nonpartisan redistricting reform. The stage was Gov. McAuliffe’s monthly live, call-in show on a Richmond radio station. He brought with him half a dozen bills passed by the General Assembly, three from the Senate, three from the House of Delegates.


THE ABCS OF POLICING UNDERAGE DRINKING

Washington Post Editorial

WE DON’T KNOW the sequence of events that ended with the bloodied face, captured on video, of Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old African American junior at the University of Virginia who required 10 stitches after he was tackled and arrested by agents of the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control , who were white. We don’t know if he was drunk or swore or somehow obstructed justice after he was carded and refused entry to a bar adjacent to the school, as the misdemeanor charges against him allege. Mr. Johnson maintains he did nothing wrong.

Columnists

SCHAPIRO: ETHICS DEBATE COULD RIPPLE INTO THE FALL

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

About two weeks ago, the principal House authors of a General Assembly ethics overhaul, Democrat Jennifer McClellan and Republican Todd Gilbert, along with lawyers from the speaker’s office and the General Assembly’s bill-writing department, met in the governor’s conference room with top members of Terry McAuliffe’s policy staff. Among them: his chief legal counsel, Carlos Hopkins, and legislative lobbyists Anna James, Felix Sarfo-Kantanka and Randy Marcus.


DOUGHERTY: SURPRISINGLY, GOVERNOR TAKES HIGH GROUND WITH ASSEMBLY ON ETHICS BILL

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

Well, what do you know. Looks like hanging around the ethically impaired Clintons for all those years is paying dividends for Gov. Terry McAuliffe. It's turning into a win for Virginians, too.


POLITIFACT: DAVE BRAT SAYS OBAMA HAS ISSUED 468,500 PAGES OF REGULATIONS

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

U.S. Rep. Dave Brat says President Barack Obama’s inauguration ushered in an era of sticky red tape. "Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the federal government has issued more than 468,500 pages of regulations," Brat, R-7th wrote in a March 17 statement heralding the release of a House GOP budget. Brat said the Republican plan takes aim at the "overwhelming amount" of rules enacted under Obama.

Op-Ed

POTEAT: THE ACP: PRIVATIZE PROFIT, SOCIALIZE RISK

By R. MATTHEW POTEAT, Published in the News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Like thousands of other people in the Atlantic Coast pipeline’s path, I’m what Dominion calls an “adjacent property owner.” The proposed pipeline won’t cross my property, but it’s next to it. People like me won’t get any money, recompense or gas from it, only the risk.


MARTIN AND SULLIVAN: ENHANCING THE U.VA. EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

By GEORGE MARTIN AND TERESA SULLIVAN, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Last Friday, March 27, the following letter was sent from the University of Virginia’s rector, George Keith Martin, and its president, Teresa A. Sullivan, to members of the Virginia General Assembly. We reprint the letter in its entirety. We are pleased to announce the University of Virginia’s new Affordable Excellence program, which will offer many benefits to Virginia residents who attend U.Va.


MORSE: THE BILL FOR VIRGINIA'S COLLEGES

By GORDON C.MORSE, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

With judiciously chosen words and finely scrutinized data, a new report on the status of higher education in Virginia bellows a warning. What deterred financial disaster previously may no longer suffice. Equally troubling, Virginia's approach to funding higher education has exacerbated "an already wide achievement gap between the state's wealthiest and poorest students."

Gordon C. Morse wrote editorials for this newspaper in the 1980s and was former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles' speechwriter.


WRENN: A WORKER'S STRUGGLE OVER WHETHER TO QUIT OR COMMUTE

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

At the Portsmouth Kroger, we have all been saying our goodbyes. One longtime customer gave me a big hug. "You guys are like family," she said. "I'm losing family." I have known her for nearly 20 years and have watched her children, and now her grandchildren, come through my store.

Laverne Wrenn, a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 400, works at the Kroger grocery store in Portsmouth.


OLIVER: TIME FOR UNUSUAL LEADERSHIP

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

Norfolk's schools need the community's help. Someone asked me, as a former city manager, what I suggest. Here is the context of the situation, as I understand it. Norfolk has lost, or dismissed, three school superintendents in five years.

Jim Oliver was a city manager in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampton and is a member of the board of the Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement.


DUER: DON'T SUBSIDIZE AMTRAK TO ROANOKE

By DOUGLAS W. DUER, Published in the Roanoke Times

As citizens, we elect men and women to represent us. We expect our elected officials to practice ethical behavior and to be good stewards of the government’s funds. Although we believe elected officials are generally well intentioned, sometimes they are just plain wrong.

Douglas W. Duer Duer is retired and lives in Bassett.


YOST: BRAIN RESEARCH IN ROANOKE HOLDS PROMISE FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

By JOSEPH YOST, Published in the Roanoke Times

Earlier this year, former Surgeon General David Satcher and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy published a commentary in USA Today entitled “How to fix our mental health system.” In it they outlined four points to ensure the best possible mental well-being for every American, one of which was a focus on greater innovation to expand research and further our knowledge of the brain.

Joseph Yost, a Republican, represents Radford, Giles County and parts of Montgomery County and Pulaski County in the House of Delegates.


JACK: WHEN STRATEGIC SOCIAL EXCEPTIONALISM FAILED MARTESE JOHNSON

By CHELSEA A. JACK, Published in the Daily Progress

Should we resist racial injustice from the inside out or from the outside in? This was the question that first came to mind as I watched the disturbing video of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents violently arresting Martese Johnson, a black University of Virginia undergraduate.

Chelsea A. Jack is a research assistant at The Hastings Center. As an undergraduate at UVa, she studied and wrote her thesis on minority experiences of place and belonging at the university.