VaNews

Saturday January 31, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Today's Sponsor:

Kirwin Development Strategies

Providing solutions to reach clients’ goals. Developing strategy, opening doors, and achieving objectives in government and public relations, political consulting, and project management. www.kirwinstrategies.com

General Assembly

BILL IN VA. GETS QUICK SURGERY TO RECAST ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CLAUSE

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Deep inside complex legislation to legalize phone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft sat language meant to prohibit drivers from discriminating against gay or transgender riders. The wording, picked up from legislation proposed in states where gay rights are enshrined in state code, went unnoticed until the bill made it to the Senate floor. Once the passage was discovered, the bill was abruptly sent back to committee for what was described as a “technical” fix, stripped of that language and returned to the chamber, where it passed this week.


HOUSE PANEL BACKS PHOTO ID FOR ABSENTEE VOTING

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

Almost two years after then-Gov. Bob McDonnell signed Virginia’s voter ID requirement into law, a House panel on Friday backed legislation that would add another provision by requiring absentee voters to include a copy of a photo identification when applying for a ballot by mail. “We put the bill forward because there is a gap in the law,” said Del. Jeffrey L. Campbell, R-Smyth, the measure’s sponsor.


RECOVERING TAX REVENUES OPENS DOOR TO STATE EMPLOYEE, TEACHER RAISES

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

It’s a wonder what a few months and the collection of unexpected revenue will do for the state budget. After cutting more than $2 billion in revenue from the two-year spending document since May, state budget officials are seeing some light from gains in collections of payroll withholding and corporate income taxes in December and so far this month.


TOBACCO RETAIL LICENSE BILL ADVANCES

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

A bill requiring cigarette and other tobacco retailers to obtain a license from the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control was reported out of the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services on Friday and is headed for the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Bill 1230, sponsored by Sen. Bryce E. Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, is aimed at curbing illicit cigarette trafficking.


PIPELINE FIGHT: BILL DIES IN COMMITTEE

By BRAD ZINN, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

A bill put forth by a local legislator – which called for public service corporations attempting to use eminent domain be subject to Virginia's Freedom of Information Act on projects where eminent domain is claimed – died in committee Thursday afternoon, according to a press release. House Bill 1696 was patroned by Del. Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, and centered around Dominion Power and the company's eminent domain authority for its controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.


REGULATIONS FOR UBER, LYFT CLEAR HOUSE

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

Regulations governing transportation companies Uber and Lyft were approved Friday by the Virginia House of Delegates in a 67-28 vote, with one abstention. The bill, which matches a measure approved by the Virginia Senate in a 37-0 vote last week, incorporates many of the regulations that the companies have operated under since the summer, when they reached a temporary operating agreement with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.


DOCUMENTS SURFACE IN MORRISSEY CASE

By JEREMY LAZARUS , Richmond Free Press

Information has begun to surface that appears to bolster Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey’s claim that the new felony charges against him “are absolutely false.” Take the court document that the Henrico County grand jury has charged the scandal-tainted legislator with forging — the key element of the four counts on which he is to be arraigned Monday, Feb. 9.


BILLS ON COLLEGE ASSAULT REPORTING IN GA

By AMELIA BRUST, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Last year, an unfavorable spotlight shone on several Virginia universities, including James Madison University, for their handling of sexual assault complaints. In response, lawmakers have proposed legislation requiring schools to report such complaints to police or other law enforcement rather than permit campus officials to handle incidents themselves.


VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS KILL BILLS MEANT TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF ACCUSED STUDENTS

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

Legislators shot down a trio of bills this week meant to give students who are accused of sexual assault more rights during the internal campus inquiries that can lead to expulsion. The bills were tabled at a small House subcommittee meeting, and as the Virginia General Assembly grapples with how to handle the suddenly high-profile issue of on-campus sexual assault.


BILL TO SIMPLIFY REPORTING OF BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES ADVANCES

Daily Progress

Legislation patroned by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, that would streamline business personal property tax filing for goods valued at less than $250 sailed through the General Assembly’s upper chamber Friday, 38-0. The bill, co-patroned by Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, would allow business owners to estimate the cumulative value of all goods worth less than $250 instead of having to calculate and itemize the value of every last calculator, bulletin board and pencil sharpener.


LAWMAKERS TOUT BILLS TO CURB DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By KELSEY CALLAHAN AND ASHLEY JORDAN, VCU Capital News Service

Two Northern Virginia legislators, joined by women who offered emotional testimony on their experiences with gun violence, asked their colleagues Thursday to pass laws making it harder for criminals to obtain firearms. Sen. Barbara A. Favola, D-Arlington, and Del. Kathleen Murphy, D-McLean, said such laws could help prevent domestic violence. At a press conference, the lawmakers discussed legislation they filed for the General Assembly’s 2015 session.


VIRGINIA SENATE CONSIDERS BAN ON 'PALCOHOL' — POWDERED ALCOHOL

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

Virginia took a step Friday toward banning powdered alcohol, something a number of states are making off limits before the product even comes to market. Senate Bill 1034 targets "Palcohol," whose maker says it can turn alcoholic beverages into light powders, suitable for transport.


DELEGATE WANTS TO CLARIFY LAW ON TREATMENT VS. SUFFERING

By ELIZABETH SIMPSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The bedside request has put many a doctor in a quandary: Relatives want to continue aggressive treatment of loved ones that won't improve their condition and may even prolong suffering. The cases aren't a daily occurrence, but they're important and difficult enough that a local delegate is sponsoring a bill to bring some clarity to the law.


BILLS TO CHANGE NOTICE MANDATE NIXED

By CALVIN TRICE, News Leader (Metered Pay Wall)

Two bills that sought to drop or relax the rules that local governments advertise notices in newspapers died in committee recently. Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, sponsored a bill that that would provide cities and counties other options to give public notices for rezonings or tax increases than just local print publications.


VIRGINIA MAY BAN RELEASING BALLOONS INTO ATMOSPHERE

By BILL SIZEMORE, Associated Press

A Virginia lawmaker says banning the release of helium balloons into the air could help save wildlife on land and in the water. Balloons are fouling the state's beaches and can be deadly to wildlife, says Republican Sen. Jeff McWaters of Virginia Beach, who is sponsoring a bill to prohibit releasing lighter-than-air balloons into the atmosphere.


BILL WOULD ‘BAN THE BOX’ ON JOB APPLICATIONS

By ALI MISLOWSKY, VCU Capital News Service

A Senate committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that would prohibit state agencies from asking job applicants if they have a criminal history on employment applications. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted 8-7 in favor of Senate Bill 1017, sponsored by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg. It would remove the box from applications that prospective employees must check if they’ve been convicted of a crime.


BATTLE LINES DRAWN OVER RAW MILK SALES

By LORRAINE EATON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hope Damergis thought it would be fun to make a batch of Greek cheese with her 98-year-old mother using a family recipe calling for copious amounts of raw milk. She didn't think she'd have to buy part of a cow to do it. In Virginia, it's illegal to buy raw - or unpasteurized - milk directly from a farmer. It's an edict that some lawmakers aim to change.


VIRGINIA’S BOATER SAFETY LAW UNDER FIRE

By REBECCA JACKSON, Smith Mountain Eagle

Opposition is mounting at Smith Mountain Lake, as well as across the commonwealth, to what many see as yet another attempt in the Virginia General Assembly to water down Virginia’s Boater Safety Education Law by exempting motorboat operators age 45 and older from passing a safety education course. This, despite statistics from the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries that say that boaters in that age category are responsible for a majority of serious mishaps and fatalities on the water.

State Elections

VA. DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUED OVER WAY CANDIDATE WAS NAMED TO FACE MORRISSEY

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

Three African American residents of Virginia filed suit Friday contending that their constitutional rights were violated by the process recently used to pick a Democratic challenger to convicted Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Henrico). Morrissey was recently found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In a special election held Jan. 13, he won decisively against both a Republican and the Democratic Party’s chosen challenger.


HINTS ABOUT THE WAR FOR CONTROL OF VIRGINIA'S STATE SENATE

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

Looking at the money state Senators have raised since their last elections hints at some interesting politics going on -- though much of it, confoundingly, is out around Roanoke. And that could be a sign the Democrats are going to pushing flat out to try to win control of the state Senate, even trying their luck in districts that lean Republican -- shoot, that vote so Republican it's best to say they yaw.

Congress

COMSTOCK VISITS STARBASE

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-10th, watched as young engineers with nicknames like Camo, Buck and Moustache put small robots through their paces Friday at the Cherry-Beasley Readiness Center.

Economy/Business

GERMAN TECH COMPANY TO LOCATE NORTH AMERICAN HEADQUARTERS IN FRANKLIN COUNTY

Franklin News-Post

Edelmann Technology, a global leader in equipment for the non-woven materials industry, will locate its North American headquarters in Franklin County. The facility in Rocky Mount will be the German company's first office located outside Europe.

Transportation

I-66 EFFORTS COULD HAVE BIG IMPACT ON FAIRFAX, ARLINGTON, REGION

By JILL PALERMO, Sun Gazette

State transportation officials have bold new plans for addressing the future of Interstate 66, and they include several things now in place on Interstate 95: three-passenger high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, dynamic tolling, expanded commuter bus service and “a carpool culture.” In other words, the Virginia Department of Transportation wants the I-95 phenomenon known as “slugging” to migrate to I-66.

Higher Education

SULLIVAN LOOKS FORWARD, SAYS UVA WILL LEAD ON DEALING WITH SEX ASSAULTS

By DEREK QUIZON, Daily Progress

Officials at the University of Virginia are hoping to move past the controversies of last semester, but they are still trying to find ways to reduce the risk of sexual assault on Grounds. On Friday, UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan talked about the university’s plans this year, including new initiatives to combat sexual assault, plans to recruit a wave of new faculty members and the restoration of the Rotunda.


U.VA. HEAD: SCHOOL TO BE NATIONAL LEADER ON CAMPUS SAFETY

By BROCK VERGAKIS , Associated Press

After being thrown into the national spotlight on issues of sexual assault, the University of Virginia will consider plans to create a research institute on violence, offer new courses on campus safety and use surveys to create new strategies - all in an effort to become a national leader in improving campus safety. U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan made the remarks Friday during a speech to the campus community to address "recent issues."


AREA PRIVATE COLLEGES MULL SEXUAL-ASSAULT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

By ELEANOR ROY, News & Advance

While the General Assembly considers legislation that would make reporting of sexual assaults to police mandatory for public universities, officials at Lynchburg-area private colleges could not say this week whether their schools would follow suit if the bill becomes law.


“IT’S JUST ONE NIGHT!” SORORITY LEADERS BAFFLED AT U-VA. RESPONSE TO FRAT PARTY BAN

By SUSAN SVRLUGA, Washington Post

National sorority leaders said Friday they have been very surprised by the reaction to a letter sent to University of Virginia chapters warning them to avoid fraternity parties on campus Saturday night. The letter from 16 national sorority presidents — members of the National Panhellenic Conference — sparked an outcry on campus from students who said it was sexist and didactic to order women to stay home for their own safety.


ADMINISTRATION WEIGHS IN ON MIXERS

By K.J. MORAN, Flat Hat

Administrators responded to concern over a “Gangsters and Golfers” mixer between the Alpha Eta Chapter of the Sigma Pi Fraternity and the Beta Lambda Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, as well as a Phi Beta chapter of Kappa Delta Rho’s “War of Northern Aggression” party.

Virginia Other

REPORT OFFERS STORM-RISK FRAMEWORK FOR HAMPTON ROADS, COASTAL COMMUNITIES

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

After Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast in October 2012, devastating coastal communities, President Barack Obama called for an analysis of flood risks to vulnerable areas and ways for communities to adapt. On Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which includes coastal Virginia and the Eastern Shore and identifies Norfolk as one of nine high-risk areas warranting a closer look.

Local

CLOSED-MEETING GAG CONSIDERED

By TRACY AGNEW, Suffolk News Herald

City Council members are set to consider during their meeting next week an addition to their code of ethics that directs them not to disclose to others what they discussed in closed session. Mayor Linda T. Johnson said Friday that she asked that the item be brought up for consideration. “It’s something people need to understand,” she said, noting she believes it will help members of the public understand as well. “You just don’t do it. It should be a piece of the code of ethics.”


KAECHELE TO STEP DOWN FROM HENRICO BOARD AT END OF TERM

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

The most-senior member of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors will not seek re-election in November. David A. Kaechele, a Republican from the Three Chopt District, will step down at the close of his current term, ending 36 years in office. Kaechele, 83, has overseen the growth of his district through the last 3½ decades, as it has transformed from a quiet swath of a rural county to a bustling commercial and residential corridor.


HOPEWELL SUED OVER COUNCIL'S CLOSED MEETING TO SELECT MAYOR, VICE MAYOR

Progress Index

Janice Denton, a city resident and member of the Hopewell Citizens for Good Government, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Hopewell over City Council’s closed session to appoint the mayor and vice mayor. On Jan. 6, council appointed Brenda Pelham as mayor and Christina Luman-Bailey as vice mayor.


FBI OPENS INVESTIGATION OF UHRIN'S VOTE ON CAVALIER

By JOHN HOLLAND, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into Councilman John Uhrin's vote that approved millions in taxpayer incentives to renovate The Cavalier Hotel and allow a luxury housing community on the site weeks before his wife was hired to market the homes. A federal grand jury ordered Virginia Beach to turn over computer records, emails and phone logs surrounding Uhrin's July 2013 City Council vote on The Cavalier Hotel renovation project. The request seeks documents related to East Beach Realty and several other companies associated with Uhrin's wife, Catherine J. Sassone, according to a federal subpoena released Friday.


Today's Sponsor:

Kirwin Development Strategies

Providing solutions to reach clients’ goals. Developing strategy, opening doors, and achieving objectives in government and public relations, political consulting, and project management. www.kirwinstrategies.com

Editorials

SCALES UNBALANCED

Richmond Free Press Editorial

On Jan. 19, the Virginia General Assembly scrubbed from the state judiciary the name of Judge Birdie Hairston Jamison, who was up for reappointment to the Richmond General District Court. Judge Jamison, 57, is chief judge of the city’s busy traffic court, having served on the bench for more than 23 years. She is the longest serving traffic court judge in the state.


VCU AND THE SATS

Richmond Free Press Editorial

We applaud the move this week by Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao to eliminate SAT scores as a criteria for admission. In a major policy change announced Tuesday, Dr. Rao said applicants with a GPA of 3.3 or higher no longer will be required to submit scores from the test that he called “fundamentally flawed.”


BOWING TO GUN LOBBY

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

Virginia lawmakers demonstrated remarkable fealty to the gun lobby this week, efficiently dispatching a series of bills aiming to balance the right to bear arms with public safety. Of course some measures had little chance of approval, such as restoration of the recently repealed one-gun-per-month law, or tighter restrictions on who could transfer a firearm. But other bills offered opportunity for common ground on an issue that has too often yielded none.


REFORM BILL RIGHTS MANY PROBLEMS FOR TOBACCO COMMISSION

Daily Progress Editorial

Virginia politicians got the scare of their lives last year, when former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife were convicted on federal corruption charges; the couple now can expect to serve time in prison. This year as a result, the legislative hoppers are churning out reform bills.


A BAD ZONING PLAN WOULD RESTRICT DC AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Washington Post Editorial

Affordable housing was a major issue in District elections for mayor and council, with most candidates agreeing that new strategies and investments are needed to meet the demand. So it is rather curious — even counterproductive — that city planners have advanced a plan that would limit the ability to expand housing in key neighborhoods. The zoning board should not sign off on such an ill-advised plan.


VOICE FOR VIRGINIA

Flat Hat Editorial

The Student Assembly’s annual Road to Richmond event gave students the opportunity to lobby state legislators on behalf of the College. This could not have come at a better time, as the Virginia General Assembly debates how it will cover a $2.4 billion shortfall. For the sake of the College’s future, students need to make themselves heard. But the General Assembly needs to prioritize the improvement of public higher education.

Columnists

THOMSON: VIRGINIA PLAN TO MAKE PART OF I-66 ALL HOT FOR RUSH HOUR RAISES CONCERNS

By ROBERT THOMSON, Washington Post

Even commuters who are familiar with high- occupancy toll lanes haven’t seen anything like Virginia’s plan to go all HOT on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway at rush hours. We already have a HOT lanes network more than 40 miles long in Northern Virginia, and HOT lanes are planned for I-66 outside the Beltway. Each program involves extra pavement.


JACKMAN: GEER HAD HANDS UP WHEN SHOT BY FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE, DOCUMENTS SHOW

By TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post

John B. Geer stood with his hands on top of the storm door of his Springfield townhouse and calmly said to four Fairfax County police officers with guns pointed right at him: “I don’t want anybody to get shot . . . And I don’t wanna get shot, ’cause I don’t want to die today.”

Op-Ed

LARGE: BEACH DEVELOPER RESPONDS

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

As one of the real estate developers cited in The Pilot's Nov. 8 story about Mayor Will Sessoms ("Beach mayor's votes benefited customers of his bank") I found much of the coverage highly misleading. I appreciate the paper's statement on Page A2 and an opportunity to respond in this column.

Brian Large, senior executive at WPL Site Design in Virginia Beach, has built more than 2,500 residential, office, industrial and commercial properties.


CATHCART: VIRGINIA SHOULD RATIFY ERA

By FREEDA CATHCART, Published in the Roanoke Times

The 2014 rally to support the Equal Rights Amendment opened with women veterans reading the names of women who had died in service to our nation going back hundreds of years, concluding with the observation that all these women gave the ultimate sacrifice for a nation that still doesn’t protect their rights in the Constitution.

Freeda Cathcart is the legislative chair for the Blue Ridge Region of the Virginia General Federation of Women's Clubs


COMSTOCK: WHY I SUPPORT THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

By BARBARA COMSTOCK, Published in the Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

It’s rare in politics these days that you have a coalition that includes Republicans, Democrats, major unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tea Party, and The Washington Post! But support of the Keystone XL Pipeline brings together all of these different voices.

Barbara Comstock represents Virginia’s 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.