VaNews

Friday March 27, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE VETOES REDISTRICTING BILLS DURING RADIO SHOW

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

Displaying his well-honed sense of political theater, Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday signed gubernatorial vetoes on six redistricting bills while on the air during his monthly radio show in Richmond. Speaking on WRVA (1140 AM), McAuliffe said he was vetoing the measures — which made politically advantageous technical adjustments to a number of lawmakers’ districts — because he considered the changes unconstitutional.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS BUDGET, LAUDS COOPERATION WITH LEGISLATURE

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

There will be no budget drama when the General Assembly convenes next month for its annual veto session. Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday signed a two-year budget with no amendments, no vetoes and no conflict with the General Assembly budget officials he gathered in his third-floor Capitol office for the ceremony.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS STATE BUDGET WITH RAISES FOR STATE WORKERS

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a new state budget that includes pay increases for state employees, boosts cash benefits for welfare recipients and has more money for the governor to spend on economic development. The Democratic governor signed the budget Thursday at the Capitol while touting his good working relationship with Republican leaders on the state's spending plan.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS CLEAN BUDGET, BILL VETOES COMING

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed off on the state budget Thursday without suggesting any amendments or line item vetoes, the first time that's happened in Virginia since 1998. McAuliffe, a Democrat in his second year as governor, was at the signing joined by Republican budget writers and GOP House Majority Leader Kirk Cox.


MCAULIFFE SAYS HE WILL AMEND ETHICS BILL BEFORE SIGNING

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

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Thursday that he's planning to sign an ethics bill passed by the General Assembly but will make amendments to it first. "I'm going to have some amendments on the ethics bill, I think that's pretty clear," he said on WRVA radio's Ask the Governor program.


MCAULIFFE VETOES SIX REDISTRICTING BILLS

By JENNA PORTNOY AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed six Republican redistricting bills live on his monthly call-in radio show Thursday, then took the highly unusual step of signing the budget plan produced by Virginia’s GOP-led legislature without a single amendment. McAuliffe’s actions came one day before the Democrat is expected to announce vetoes on a raft of Republican legislation turning on political flashpoints such as guns, home schooling, “living wage” rules and the limits of federal power.


BRIDGEWATER BOUNDARY BILL NIXED BY GOV.

By PRESTON KNIGHT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

In one fell swoop Thursday morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed six Republican-sponsored bills related to redistricting, including one from Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway. The Democratic governor said each of the bills appeared to violate the Virginia Constitution, which states that the General Assembly should realign its electoral districts every 10 years after the U.S. census is taken.


MCAULIFFE STANDS BY ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE

By ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

Gov. Terry McAuliffe reaffirmed his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project Thursday, calling it an energy superhighway that will spur a manufacturing revival in Virginia. “For manufacturing, what is their biggest cost they worry about? Energy,” McAuliffe said. “We now will have cheap energy costs … We can have a renaissance of manufacturing.”


WATCHDOG SAYS SENIOR HOMELAND OFFICIAL BROKE NO LAWS

Associated Press

A senior Obama administration official violated agency ethics policies but did not break any laws when he intervened in three visa cases involving foreign investors with ties to prominent Democrats, a government watchdog told Congress Thursday.


VIRGINIA AG SAYS HE WANTS TO FOCUS ON PAYDAY LENDING

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

Attorney General Mark Herring said today he plans to reorganize the consumer protection section of his office to put new focus on fighting payday lending. His comments came at a meeting of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the convention center in Richmond.


VA. ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING TO FOCUS ON PREDATORY LENDING

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Thursday that he is revamping his office’s consumer protection unit to make predatory lending its core focus. “I read a few weeks ago that Virginia is now considered the predatory-lending capital of the East Coast, and I cannot accept that,” Herring (D) said. “It hurts our reputation as a state. And more than that, it means that there are Virginians who are being hurt.”


STATE JOINS EFFORTS TO CURB PAYDAY DEBT TRAPS

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

Virginia will develop strategies to combat predatory lending practices that ensnare thousands of people in cycles of debt, Attorney General Mark R. Herring said Thursday at a field hearing in Richmond held by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The state’s effort coincides with the federal agency’s announcement at the hearing that it will begin a regulatory process to place limits on high-interest, short-term loans.


VIRGINIA BECOMES 11TH "RIGHT TO TRY" STATE

By PRUE SALASKY, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

On Thursday, March 26, 2015, Gov.Terry McAuliffe signed HB 1750— the Virginia Right To Try Act — into law. The Goldwater Institute, an advocate for "Right to Try," issued this statement.

McDonnell Case

PROSECUTORS: EVIDENCE SUPPORTS EX-VA. GOV'S CONVICTIONS

By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press

The actions taken by former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in his public corruption case were in some ways more blatant than those of a former congressman who hid nearly $100,000 in bribe money in his freezer, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Prosecutors made that argument in papers filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, disputing McDonnell's claim that his convictions were based on an overly broad interpretation of what constitutes an "official act" by a politician.


U.S. CALLS MCDONNELL VERDICT 'UNQUESTIONABLY SOUND'

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

Government prosecutors are asking a federal appeals court to reject former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s bid to overturn 11 corruption convictions, calling the jury’s verdict “unquestionably sound.” “Over the course of nearly two years while serving as governor of Virginia, defendant Robert F. McDonnell engaged in a bribery scheme with his wife and Jonnie Williams Sr., a Virginia businessman,” the government’s 102-page brief began.


PROSECUTORS URGE APPEALS COURT TO UPHOLD MCDONNELL CONVICTION

By MATT ZAPOTOSKY, Washington Post

Federal prosecutors on Thursday urged an appeals court to uphold the public corruption convictions of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, arguing in a 102-page filing that jurors correctly found the one-time Republican rising star guilty in a clear-cut bribery case. The filing — prosecutors’ first response to McDonnell’s appeal — argued that he used his office to help Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. promote a dietary supplement.

State Elections

DERIK JONES ENTERS SENATE RACE FOR DANCE'S SEAT

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

Richmond School Board member Derik E. Jones on Thursday entered the race for state Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance’s seat in the 16th Senate District. Jones, the son of Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, has not yet formally announced his bid, but he submitted his petition for candidacy hours before the filing deadline.


ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA DEMOCRATS LINE UP FOR LOCAL, STATE RACES THIS SPRING

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

The Alexandria mayoral race, the Arlington County Board races and the fight to succeed Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) in the Virginia House of Delegates will be among the liveliest campaigns of the season. For the first time in 30 years, no one is challenging the six incumbents who are running for the Democratic nomination for reelection to the Alexandria City Council.

Congress

VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS BREAK FROM PARTY ON BUDGET

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Virginia lawmakers from both sides of the aisle broke with party ranks on budget votes this week, embracing the kind of fiscal moderation that has long been popular among their constituents in the swing state. Rep. Barbara J. Comstock, elected to Virginia’s 10th Congressional District last fall, was one of a handful of Republicans — and the only Virginia Republican — to vote against three budget proposals that she said did too little to shore up national security programs or protect government employees, many of whom live in her district.


LOCAL LAWMAKERS CONCERNED WITH FEDERAL BUDGET PLANS

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

Federal spending plans approved by the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday and being considered by the Senate late Thursday aren't going down easily among many in South Hampton Roads' congressional delegation. Some have concerns about keeping defense spending intact next year by side-stepping rather than ending automatic cuts known as sequestration.

Economy/Business

MONTHLY DOMINION VIRGINIA POWER BILLS TO BE LOWERED

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

The average monthly electric bills for Dominion Virginia Power customers will decline 5.5 percent starting Wednesday. The State Corporation Commission approved rate decreases Thursday as part of five cases involving rate reviews and changes requested by Dominion Virginia Power.

Higher Education

AT U-VA., A PRICE HIKE FOR SOME WILL FUND A PRICE CUT FOR OTHERS

By NICK ANDERSON, Washington Post

For Virginians in financial need, leaders of the state’s flagship university just approved what amounts to a cut of up to $10,000 in the price of a bachelor’s degree. To engineer this feat, the University of Virginia will raise annual tuition an extra $1,000 for in-state students beginning at Charlottesville this year. For the incoming class the following year, in fall 2016, this extra charge — beyond regular tuition growth — will grow to $2,000.


NORFOLK STATE TUITION GOING UP AMID SCHOOL'S STRUGGLES

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The price of an education is going up at Norfolk State University, even as the school struggles to keep its accreditation. Starting July 1, in-state tuition rates and mandatory fees will rise by $814, bringing the price of an academic year to $8,366 for undergraduates and $9,506 for graduate students.

Virginia Other

STATE STEPS IN ON DANVILLE WATER ISSUE

By VICKY MORRISON , Danville Register & Bee

The Dan River has had its share of unwelcome guests in the last year and a half, beginning with the coal ash spill in February 2014. The city has called on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for help with the latest river visitor: algae. City officials announced Thursday that DEQ had accepted its request to survey the Dan River.

Local

FAIRFAX COUNTY SUPERVISOR RACE HEATS UP OVER ‘TROLL’ REMARK ON TWITTER

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

The general election for a new supervisor in Fairfax County’s Braddock District is eight months away, but already it has taken on a toxicity that signifies how close it may be. Shortly after Democrat Janet Oleszek attacked Republican Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) during her formal campaign announcement, the county Republican Party committee called her “a troll” on its Twitter feed.


FIREHOUSE PRIMARY WILL NOW INCLUDE ALL PRINCE WILLIAM GOP CANDIDATES

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Today

The primary season just got a lot shorter for Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and three other local Republican incumbents whose hopes of defending their seats in the June statewide primary were dashed by a judge last week. Stewart, Sheriff Glendell Hill and county supervisors Marty Nohe, R-Coles, and Maureen Caddigan, R- Potomac, were denied the opportunity to participate in the June 9 contest after the local Republican Committee missed a deadline to file state paperwork.


ALBEMARLE SCHOOLS TO VOTE ON SOLAR EXPANSION

By TIM SHEA, Charlottesville Tomorrow/Daily Progress

Next school year, some of Albemarle County’s public schools might be producing a portion of their own electricity. On Thursday, the Albemarle County School Board heard about a potential solar power purchase agreement with Secure Futures, a Staunton-based solar development company.


HARRISONBURG SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN TO STEP DOWN ON APRIL 2

By AMELIA BRUST, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

After nearly three weeks of speculation, the fate of the city School Board chairman’s seat has been decided. On Thursday, Dany Fleming submitted a formal letter of resignation to the division. He would resign from the board and relinquish all member responsibilities on April 2.


Editorials

RED-LIGHT CAMERAS IMPROVE SAFETY

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

Opponents of red-light cameras offer various reasons for their aversion: 1) Cameras invade privacy. Since there's no privacy expected or given at a public intersection, that's always been the easiest to dispense with.


‘WYATT EARP’ ISSUE

Winchester Star Editorial (Subscription Required)

Does the enforcement arm of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency possess too much power? And even if the answer to this question were “No,” are ABC agents more than a little over-zealous in wielding the powers they do have? We pose these questions in the wake of two embarrassing incidents involving ABC officers and U.Va. students over the past 18 months.


CELEBRATE A FAMOUS VIRGINIAN — SECRETARIAT

Free Lance-Star Editorial

A look at the wheat and the chaff in the Fredericksburg area and elsewhere. Virginia is full of famous birthplaces, from Washington and Jefferson on down. Now, an equine nativity site is being added to the list. Meadow Historic District in southern Caroline County has been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register.


THE LAST BIG HURDLE FOR DOWNTOWN

News & Advance Editorial

With Lynchburg City Council’s approval Tuesday of a “gap financing” between the city economic development authority and developers behind the restoration of the Virginian Hotel, the remaining big pieces of downtown’s revival are coming into place. The hotel has been a fixture downtown since it opened in 1913; for the last 27 years, it was owned by investors who rented its rooms as Section 8 subsidized housing.


MOVES BY OUTSIDE INTERESTS TO BLOCK PAMUNKEY RECOGNITION ARE REVOLTING

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

Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian tribe will soon learn whether it will receive federal recognition, which would make it eligible for various benefits. There’s no doubt the tribe, which dates back centuries, deserves to be recognized. The history is clear.

Columnists

DOUGHERTY: WHEN IT COMES TO ALCOHOL ENFORCERS, IT APPEARS GOVERNOR HAS HAD ENOUGH

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

It's a start. On Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signaled a willingness - maybe even an eagerness - to rein in rogue Alcoholic Beverage Control agents with an executive order sending them to re-education and retraining classes.


WILLIAMS: VOTERS CAN FORGIVE WITHOUT FORGETTING

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

Too err is human, to forgive divine, the saying goes. But somewhere along the way, in politics, we elevated misbehavior to a virtue. Forgiveness became less a divine intervention than a foregone conclusion. Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, less than three months after holding on to his seat in a special election, announced plans Wednesday to run for the Virginia Senate.

Op-Ed

GILBART: WHY VIRGINIA'S BIOTECH INDUSTRY NEEDS PROTECTION

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

A lab-created virus that could eradicate brain cancer. A breakthrough in the production of a critical AIDS drug. A first-of-its-kind antidote to drug poisoning. These are some recent advances that will transform medicine and save lives — and they are all being developed right here in Virginia.

Jessica Gilbart is the president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America-DC/MD/VA Chapter and serves as a co-chair of the We Work for Health Virginia coalition.


DULANEY: CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS ON THE PIPELINE

By BRADLEY DULANEY, Published in the Roanoke Times

I am opposed to the pipeline because I have friends, neighbors and parishioners whose personal property stands to be slashed by a 125-foot construction right-of-way, and whose homes, farms and safety will be threatened by the potential for future leaks, ruptures and explosions — to say nothing of their reduction in property values.

Dulaney is the pastor of Redwood United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount.

The Friday Read

STREETCAR FATIGUE: IT’S CRASHED, IT’S BURNED, AND WE’RE SICK OF TALKING ABOUT IT

By LAVANYA RAMANATHAN, Washington Post

At work in the busy kitchen of Impala Cantina y Taqueria, Troy Hickman warily agrees to spare another minute or two of his life to talk about the streetcar. Forgive him, though, if he doesn’t bother to turn off the mixer churning the chili-chocolate doughnut dough to do it.