VaNews

Friday March 06, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

HERRING: SCHOOL BOARDS HAVE LEEWAY IN ANTI-BIAS POLICIES

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

Attorney General Mark R. Herring has issued an opinion that says local school boards have the authority to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-discrimination policies. Herring, a Democrat, says it is a “power fairly implied from the express grant of authority” to local school boards in the Virginia Constitution and state law.

General Assembly

SIX HOUSE MEMBERS URGE MCAULIFFE TO BEEF UP ETHICS BILL

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

Six members of the House of Delegates – none from the Peninsula, though – say there were House members lined up to speak or question the last minute deal on an ethics bill when Speaker Bill Howell cut short debate. In a letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, urging him to recommend changes to the bill, they say they believe that if they’d had a chance to question the bill, the House would have rejected it and told House and Senate negotiators to go back and try harder for a better bill.


LEGISLATORS TOUT EFFICIENT, SPEEDY SESSION WITH GOP MAJORITY

By TREVOR METCALFE, Danville Register & Bee

The Dan River Region’s state legislators touted an effective and on-time General Assembly session — due in part to the GOP majority avoiding a budget showdown over Medicaid expansion — while talking with Dan River Region leaders during a Legislative Lunch Thursday.


AMENDMENT TO BOATER SAFETY EDUCATION FAILS

By REBECCA JACKSON , Smith Mountain Eagle

Efforts to amend Virginia’s existing Boater Safety Education law favored by safety advocates at Smith Mountain Lake failed for a second year in the General Assembly when the House of Delegates voted it down 61-36, Feb. 24.


NEW STATE LAWS AIMED AT CURBING HEROIN-RELATED DEATHS

By DANIELLE NADLER, Leesburg Today

Law enforcement agencies will be armed with new tools to help curb the troubling spike in heroin and prescription drug overdoses. Before ending its six-week session Friday, the General Assembly passed three bills designed to get heroin addicts help before it’s too late.

State Elections

HANGER GETS ANOTHER CHALLENGER

By RYAN CORNELL, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

A fourth Republican seeking to represent the 24th Senate District in the General Assembly has joined the fray. A self-described “dyed-in-the-wool conservative,” Donald Sheets, 56, of Mount Solon, has announced his intent to challenge incumbent Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, for the seat he has held since 1996.


POGGE IN FOR ANOTHER RUN

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

Del. Brenda Pogge, R-Norge, sent word today that she'll seek re-election to the House of Delegates' 96th District. “I am excited to announce that I am seeking re-election to the Virginia House of Delegates," she said in an emailed release.

State Government

PORT PUTS EXPORT RAIL CONTAINERS HEADED FOR NIT ON HOLD

By ROBERT MCCABE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

While truck congestion at the port has gotten a lot of attention recently, backups have begun to affect some rail operations as well. The Virginia Port Authority announced Wednesday that a decision was made last week to temporarily ban export rail containers headed for Norfolk International Terminals.

Higher Education

FORMER STUDENT IN SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE SUES JMU

By PRESTON KNIGHT, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

A former James Madison University student filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court, accusing the school of discrimination under Title IX by mishandling her report of being sexually assaulted. In April, Sarah Butters of Hopewell filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, upset with the university’s response to her allegation. On June 4, the office initiated an investigation into JMU, adding it to a list of more than 60 schools reviewed for their response to such claims.


ROLLING STONE ARTICLE PROMPTED FEDS TO REQUEST UVA'S SEXUAL MISCONDUCT FILES

By DANI KASS, Daily Progress

On successive days following the release of Rolling Stone’s shattered exposé, federal officials demanded University of Virginia documents related to sexual attacks described in the story and announced plans to review two years of sexual misconduct files. Three large bankers boxes and one small box filled with formal complaints awaited officials from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, a UVa official said in an email. A standard bankers box can hold files containing 2,500 pages or more.

Virginia Other

OBITUARY: KATHERINE GODWIN, WIDOW OF GOV. MILLS GODWIN

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

Katherine Godwin, a former elementary school teacher who would twice occupy the Executive Mansion as Virginia’s first lady, the wife of Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr., died Thursday at her residence in Williamsburg. She was 98.


PIPELINE OPPONENTS COMMISSION ECONOMIC STUDY

By RACHAEL SMITH, News & Advance

Anti-pipeline groups Friends of Nelson and the Augusta County Alliance are commissioning an economic report to show the costs and impacts the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have on the two counties, the groups announced Tuesday. The two organizations recently hired Key-Log Economics LLC, of Charlottesville, to conduct the study.

Local

AREA VOTERS FACE BUSY ELECTION BALLOTS THIS FALL

By MARK THOMAS, Altavista Journal

There’s a little more winter and a long, hot summer to get through before fall and the next election. But it’s coming. Voters in Campbell and Pittsylvania counties will go to the polls Nov. 3 to elect members of local governing bodies and school boards, constitutional officers and representatives in the state Senate and House of Delegates.


FAIRFAX DEPUTY COUNTY ATTORNEY COULD LOSE JOB OVER HANDLING OF GEER CASE

By ANTONIO OLIVO AND TOM JACKMAN, Washington Post

Fairfax County officials are trying to oust the deputy county attorney who led the legal team advising the county police and Board of Supervisors in the 2013 police shooting death of an unarmed man, according to several people with knowledge of the decision.


FIVE LOCAL MAYORS UNITED ON HAMPTON ROADS ECONOMY

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

South Hampton Roads' economy has stabilized, but the region must take steps to remain powerful, its five mayors agreed Thursday. They spoke at a forum at The Founders Inn at Regent University that asked whether Hampton Roads is still in recession. "We have survived," Virginia Beach's Will Sessoms said. But he added that the recovery has been slow, and the cities - and businesses in them - need to focus on areas that will be of growing significance in the future.


YORK COUNTY LEFT TO SPEND $1.27 MILLION ON PIPES UNDER CSX RAILROAD

By JOHANNA SOMERS, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

The mile-long train carrying North Dakota crude oil to Yorktown that derailed, burst into flames and shut down two water treatment plants in West Virginia has York County officials trying to prevent a local worst-case scenario — a train derailment due to flooding at two outdated culverts under the CSX railroad track near Route 17. A train derailment near Route 17 and Fort Eustis Boulevard could send crude oil directly into the Poquoson River.


CHARLOTTESVILLE CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO END LEE-JACKSON DAY

By TIM PETRACO , Cavalier Daily

The Virginia state holiday Lee-Jackson Day will no longer be observed in Charlottesville following a City Council vote Monday. With this move Charlottesville joins other Virginia localities such as Richmond, Fairfax, Hampton, Lynchburg and Norfolk, which have also stopped observing the holiday.


Editorials

ETHICS REFORM STILL INCOMPLETE

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

"The secret to happiness is low expectations," said psychologist Barry Schwartz. If he is correct, the General Assembly must be thrilled with itself on ethics reform. Yes, the state legislators strengthened Virginia's lax ethics laws this year. They lowered the gift limit to legislators from $250 to $100 and eliminated a loophole that allows for intangible gifts. Senate Republican leaders even called this year's legislation "landmark."


HEMP, HEMP, HOORAY!

Roanoke Times Editorial

You can’t get high on hemp. It’s a genetic cousin of marijuana, so looks like weed, but doesn’t have the same levels of tetrahydrocannabinol — the THC that gives pot-smokers their buzz. So you can’t get high on hemp.


BILL TO HIDE EXECUTION DRUG INFO DESERVED TO DIE

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

To its considerable credit, the House of Delegates killed an ill-advised measure that would have created a freedom-of-information exemption for the drugs used in state executions. The public would pay for those drugs, but could not learn what they were, or who made them or how. State Sen. Richard Saslaw sponsored the measure at the request of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. The Washington Post reports that after the House killed the measure, the McAuliffe administration lobbied several members to change course and revive it. Fortunately, the effort failed.


RICHMOND'S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY ISN'T COOL

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

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” The immortal line is spoken by the warden (played by Strother Martin) in “Cool Hand Luke.” It came to mind when we read Graham Moomaw’s March 5 story, “Former head of RRHA will get $154,447 in severance pay.” Adrienne Goolsby resigned as CEO of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority in January.


VIRGINIA’S GOP MOVES FURTHER AWAY FROM DEMOCRACY

Washington Post Editorial

The fix was in from the start when Virginia Republicans picked their ticket for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2013. Hard-line conservatives who control the state party apparatus decreed that the nominations would be determined not by primaries but by a convention, a mechanism well suited to limit the number of participants.

Op-Ed

GRAY: WE MOURN SWEET BRIAR’S LOSS, BELIEVE WOMEN’S COLLEGES WILL GO ON

By NANCY OLIVER GRAY, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Sweet Briar College’s decision to close has, of course, saddened us at Hollins University. Our two colleges, while different, have enjoyed a lively rivalry for decades. The foundation of our relationship, however, has always been rooted in a strong spirit of sisterhood — and that we’ll miss.

Nancy Oliver Gray is the president of Hollins University.

The Friday Read

BEAR-HUMAN CONFLICTS RISE ACROSS VIRGINIA AS POPULATION GROWS

By TONIA MOXLEY, Roanoke Times

Virginia Tech doctoral student Bernardo Mesa clicked on the LED lights sewn into his neon green winter hat and bent over the hibernating bear, a thin wall of steel between them. Roused from his winter sleep by the prick of a tranquilizer dart, the bear, dubbed “Mickey,” growled twice and looked around. Mesa watched intently through a metal grate welded onto the bear’s artificial den.