VaNews

Tuesday February 09, 2016

Compiled by Ray Reed


Today's Sponsor:

The University of Virginia Press

Publisher of Virginia Climate Fever, winner of the American Institute of Physics 2015 Award for Science Writing. University of Virginia Press

General Assembly

HOUSE PANEL AGREES TO WORK ON BILL BANNING MOST ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS

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

A bill under consideration by the Virginia House of Delegates would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on theories about when fetuses become capable of feeling pain. The bill, which a Republican-controlled House subcommittee Monday said needed more work in order to pass, would add Virginia to a list of a dozen states that have passed versions of the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”


I-66 TOLLING BILL HITS SNAG IN VIRGINIA SENATE

By ROBERT THOMSON, Washington Post

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to create HOT lanes on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway got a bit of a boost in the Senate on Monday when a subcommittee recommended killing a bill that would block tolling of the existing lanes.


TOLLING POLICY BILL HITS POSSIBLE DETOUR IN SENATE COMMITTEE

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

Legislation to establish a statewide policy on where tolls can be imposed and how they may be collected has hit a possible detour in a Senate Transportation subcommittee. The subcommittee on tolling today recommended against Senate Bill 295, proposed by Sen. L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and supported by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and instead suggested referring the legislation to a joint Transportation subcommittee that would meet after the General Assembly adjourns.


VA. BALLOTS TO LIST PARTY NOMINATIONS UNDER BILL PASSED BY STATE SENATE

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Political parties would no longer be able to require voters to sign loyalty pledges before participating in state-run presidential primaries under a bill that cleared the Virginia Senate with bipartisan support on Monday. The loyalty pledge came under attack this winter from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called it a “suicidal mistake” that would alienate voters fed up with traditional party politics — the very newcomers who might be drawn to his unconventional presidential bid.


VA. SENATE BACKS BILL TO BLOCK LOYALTY OATHS IN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES

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

The Virginia Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would prevent any political party seeking to have a state-run presidential primary election from requiring voters to sign a loyalty oath as a condition of casting a ballot. Senators also passed on to the House of Delegates legislation that would require candidates for local office nominated by a political party to be identified on the ballot as the party’s nominee.


MAJOR FOIA CHANGE AFOOT: BILL PROTECTS NAMES OF STATE, LOCAL EMPLOYEES

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

Legislation that could make it nigh impossible to discover the annual salaries of most state and local employees is headed to the Senate floor for a vote. Senate Bill 552 cleared committee Monday by a single vote, and with some confusion over just how broad the bill was — it was pitched as protection only for law enforcement names.


SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES BILLS TO WITHHOLD NAMES OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

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

Identity theft and the Islamic State group were offered Monday as reasons lawmakers should prohibit release of public employee salary databases and raise the threshold for which salaries are public. Senators on the General Laws and Technology Committee approved two bills limiting access to that information.


VA. SENATE POSTPONES VOTE ON REFORMS TO DEVELOPMENT PROFFERS

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post

The Virginia state Senate postponed a vote Monday on a bill aimed at restricting what extra amenities local governments can demand from homebuilders to mitigate the impacts of those projects. The reforms to the state’s so-called proffer system have generated controversy, with local officials in Northern Virginia arguing that the legislation would weaken their ability to mitigate the impact of new developments by requiring developers to add new roads or a school.


SEVERAL FREDERICKSBURG-AREA LAWMAKERS OPPOSE PROFFER REFORM BILL

By JEFF BRANSCOME, Free Lance-Star

Several state lawmakers from the Fredericksburg area voted last week against legislation that critics say would severely limit a locality’s ability to control development. But the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the bill, and the proposal is backed by a Spotsylvania County senator.


BILL TO REPEAL PIPELINE SURVEYING LAW KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Efforts to scrap Virginia’s controversial pipeline surveying law hit a wall in a Senate committee Monday afternoon. Senate Bill 614, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, was killed on a bipartisan 13-0 vote.


PANELS DEBATE DRONES, PUSH TO BAR NAMES FROM STATE SALARY DATABASES

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

Legislation that would have provided a civil course of action for property owners whose airspace is invaded by drones was narrowly defeated in a Virginia Senate committee Monday. But senators on the Courts of Justice Committee advanced a bill that would make it a separate crime to use a drone in the commission of a crime or in an attempt to commit a crime.


HOUSE PANEL BACKS EXPANDING BAN ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

By RACHEL BEATRICE, VCU Capital News Service

A legislative panel on Monday approved a bill to expand Virginia’s law against texting while driving to include other distracting activities, such as reading social media postings. Subcommittee No. 1 of the House Transportation Committee voted 6–1 in favor of House Bill 461, which would make it illegal for a driver to “manually select multiple icons or enter multiple letters” on a cellphone or other handheld personal communication device.


SENATORS AGAIN REJECT LOUISE LUCAS CASINO BILLS

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

A Senate committee again rejected a proposal by Sen. Louise, D-Portsmouth, to create a casino gaming commission and allow a casino in her city. Two of Lucas's bills on casinos were killed Feb. 1 in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. The third was killed Monday by a committee vote of 7-5.


BILL WOULD OFFER TAX CREDIT TO FARMERS WHO DONATE FOOD TO THE NEEDY

By ALEX ROHR, News & Advance

A tax credit could help bring more nutritious food from Virginia’s farms to the tables of its poor. The credit, up to $5,000, would apply to farmers who donate produce to Virginia nonprofits that provide food to the needy, such as the state’s seven food banks and Lynchburg Daily Bread, which serves a hot meal seven days a week.


CHESAPEAKE LAWMAKERS' ATTEMPT TO REQUIRE GREAT BRIDGE BATTLE IN VIRGINIA TEXTBOOKS FAILS

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

If Virginia schoolchildren are going to learn about Chesapeake’s claim to Revolutionary War fame, they’ll have to do it on their own. Local lawmakers have fallen short in their attempts to require that the Battle of Great Bridge be included in the state’s Standards of Learning curriculum for history and social science instruction.


DEL. MINCHEW WILL WITHDRAW CONTROVERSIAL ELECTORAL COLLEGE LEGISLATION

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times

State Del. Randy Minchew, a Leesburg Republican, will soon strike his legislation aimed at changing the way Virginia's Electoral College votes are counted, Minchew told the Times-Mirror this morning. The delegate's House Bill 1181 proposed switching the way Virginia's 13 electoral votes are counted, eliminating the state's “winner take all” rule.


LANDES BACKS STATE INTERNATIONAL TRADE AUTHORITY

By VIC BRADSHAW, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Del. Steve Landes wants to make it easier for Virginia business owners to identify the state employees who can help them get their products and services overseas, or vice versa. The Weyers Cave Republican has sponsored a bill to create the Virginia International Trade Authority. The independent agency would spearhead state export and import programs.


SEN. DEEDS SUPPORTS NEW JUDGES

By DIANA DIGANGI, VCU Capital News Service

The state Senate on Monday passed a bill adding a general district court judge to the 25th Judicial District, which includes Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro . Senators voted 39-1 in favor of SB 57, which would: • Increase from three to four the number of general district court judges in the 25th Judicial District.


BILL MAY ELIMINATE CITY’S MULCH ORDINANCE

By RACHEL CISTO, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Usually, the Harrisonburg Fire Department responds to calls for help, but proposed legislation in the General Assembly has it putting out a call of its own. House Bill 944, patroned by Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, seeks to ban such regulations as the city’s mulch ordinance.

Federal Elections

RANDY FORBES SWITCHING DISTRICTS IN 2016 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION

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

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes said Monday he’ll continue to live in the 4th Congressional District but is running for a new term this year next door in the 2nd District. The Chesapeake Republican said he’s making the move in the hopes of keeping his seniority on a key House defense panel, which he and his supporters say is crucial to Hampton Roads’ economy. Forbes argues he must remain in Congress to improve national security and grow the region’s defense-related assets and businesses.


FORBES TO RUN IN 2ND DISTRICT, CONTINUE LIVING IN 4TH

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

After a court-ordered redistricting took away hundreds of thousands of the people he's represented for the past 15 years, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, will ask residents of the next district over to send him back to Capitol Hill. Forbes says he wants to succeed retiring Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, to ensure a voice for the region in the senior position he's reached on Congress' key Navy affairs subcommittee.


FORBES LEAVING 4TH DISTRICT TO RUN FOR CONGRESS IN 2ND DISTRICT

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

Rep. J. Randy Forbes announced Monday that he is leaving the 4th District — now set to include Richmond and Petersburg — in order to run for Congress in the 2nd District, based in Virginia Beach. The Republican’s announcement could set off a chain reaction in the Richmond area’s political representation, stretching from Congress to the state Senate and the House of Delegates.


RANDY FORBES TO RUN IN DIFFERENT DISTRICT THANKS TO NEW MAP

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) will run in Virginia’s 2nd district rather than his own 4th district this fall, he announced Monday. A new congressional map imposed on Virginia by a federal court has made Forbes’s current seat, which stretches from central to southeast Virginia, significantly more African American and Democratic. Rigell’s neighboring coastal district became slightly more Republicans.

State Government

JUDGE APPROVES $1.5M IN FEES IN PRISONER HEALTH CASE

By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Paywall for some articles)

The state has agreed to pay $1.5 million to lawyers who sued to force improvements in medical care for women prisoners. The federal lawsuit led to reforms including performance monitoring by an outside expert on prison medical care. The suit alleged that inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women were persistently denied proper medical care. Read more: http://valawyersweekly.com/2016/02/08/judge-approves-1-5m-in-fees-in-prisoner-health-case/#ixzz3zfZXPlZr

Congress

WHAT THE DEPARTURES OF TWO VA. CONGRESSMEN SAY ABOUT THE STATE OF THEIR PARTY

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

When Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) announced last month that he would leave Congress at the end of his term, it came as such a shock that Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) called to ask if he was sick. He wasn’t. Both he and Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) are young (for congressmen), healthy, popular and perched on powerful committees. Both were expected to win reelection easily this fall. Instead, both are stepping down.


WITTMAN ADDRESSES VETERANS’ CONCERNS WITH VA

By KRISTIN DAVIS, Free Lance-Star

Retired Marine Bill Carico was declared 100 percent disabled a year and a half ago by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He’s been waiting for back pay ever since, Carico said during a veterans town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R–1st District, that drew about 50 people Monday night.

Transportation

FEDERAL FUNDING FOR D.C., VA., MD. AT RISK

By LUZ LAZO AND ASHLEY HALSEY III, Washington Post

The Federal Transit Administration has given Virginia, Maryland and the District a year to create a safety oversight body for Metro or risk losing millions in federal transportation funding. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote in a letter Monday to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) that he was frustrated to learn that the jurisdictions would not be pursuing legislation this year to establish a federally compliant safety oversight agency to oversee Metro’s rail operations.


RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BUS RAPID TRANSIT

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

Richmond City Council voted 7-1-1 on Monday night to approve a $49 million bus rapid transit project that supporters hope is the beginning of a regional transit system and opponents worry is a flawed first step that doesn’t do enough to expand access to public transportation. The action represented the City Council’s final opportunity to sign off on the project and followed a heated, 90-minute-long public hearing before a packed Council Chambers.

Virginia Other

A DILEMMA OF DEVELOPMENT VS. THE PROSPECT OF LOSING PEACE AND QUIET

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

Virginia Davis can picture the day construction on a natural gas pipeline might begin near her farmers market. Bulldozers rumble over a nearby hillside. Hundreds of jelly jars jangle on the shelves. “You save, you scrimp, you eat spaghetti, and they come in saying they can do whatever they want,” her husband, Kenneth Harris, said of the prospect of losing peace and quiet to development. “It’s just not fair. It’s not the American way.”


DOMINION RELEASED MILLIONS OF GALLONS OF COAL-ASH WATER

By JILL PALERMO, Sun Gazette

Virginia Dominion Power last spring released 33.7 million gallons of untreated coal-ash water into Quantico Creek, the utility confirmed to InsideNoVa.com last week. As part of the ongoing cleanup ahead of the eventual closure of five coal ash ponds at the Dumfries-area power plant, Dominion drained a total of 52.5 million gallons of untreated coal-ash water from one of those ponds last May.


COAST GUARD IDENTIFIES OIL IN REFUGE AND RIVER AS FUEL OIL; SOURCE STILL UNKNOWN

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN , Washington Post

The oil that leaked into the waters of a waterfowl sanctuary and the Potomac River last week was fuel oil, similar to home heating oil, officials investigating the spill said Monday, but they do not yet know its source. The incident commander of a multi-agency task force investigating the spill said he has ruled out the theory that the oil came from runoff after the Jan. 22-23 blizzard. But he has not eliminated the possibility that it was left over from a Jan. 24 mineral oil spill at a nearby Dominion Virginia Power substation.

Local

PORTSMOUTH MAYOR KENNY WRIGHT ANNOUNCES HE WILL RUN AGAIN

By JOHANNA SOMERS , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Mayor Kenny Wright announced Saturday that he is seeking another term as mayor, according to his Facebook page. Wright was elected in November 2010 after Mayor James W. Holley III was recalled for the second time. He won re-election in November 2012.


MONTGOMERY COUNTY SUPERVISORS GIVE ERICA WILLIAMS A WEEK TO ANSWER CONCERNS

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Montgomery County’s circuit court clerk came in for more criticism Monday as county supervisors threatened to cut about $21,700 from her salary and Supervisor Gary Creed called for information on activities that he said sounded “horrific.” In a 4-3 party-line decision, the supervisors’ Republican majority voted to give the Democratic court clerk a week to answer concerns about turnover in her office and about her own work hours.


BVU RECEIVES RESTITUTION PAYMENTS TOTALING $158,000

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier

BVU Authority received more than $158,000 in restitution payments today from a string of federal court cases, The clerk of the U.S. District Court in Abingdon forwarded payments related to the recent convictions of Todd Edwards, a former BVU contractor; and Jim Kelley, and David Copeland, former BVU employees, according to a written statement.


Today's Sponsor:

The University of Virginia Press

Publisher of Virginia Climate Fever, winner of the American Institute of Physics 2015 Award for Science Writing. University of Virginia Press

Editorials

MINIMUM WAGE HIKES INFLICT MAXIMUM PAIN

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

When liberals want to discourage smoking, they hike cigarette taxes. When they want to encourage college attendance, they subsidize tuition. They clearly understand the relationship between price and demand. Yet when it comes to the minimum wage, progressives insist on pretending there is no connection — and come up with all sorts of rationalizations to explain why making people pay more for labor will not make them buy any less of it.


FORBES MAKES MOVE TO SAVE HIS JOB

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

U.S. REP. RANDY Forbes announced Monday that he’s running for Congress again. But after 15 years in Virginia’s 4th District, Forbes is jumping to the 2nd Congressional District, based in Virginia Beach. He said he’s seeking the seat U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell is vacating to keep the power of a House Armed Services subcommittee in the hands of a Virginian.


UNDERMINING FOUNDATIONS

Daily Press Editorial (Paywall for certain articles)

You've got to give Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment Jr. credit — he knows who his friends are, and plays hardball when people get in his way. We believe that's the reason Sen. Norment, R-James City County, has championed — indeed authored — SB 560. It's a bill bankers want so they can save money when they foreclose on a home and one that also happens to hit the finances of newspapers that spend a lot of time keeping an eye on the antics and ethics of elected officials, including Sen. Norment.


VIRGINIA SENATE'S TREATMENT OF THE PRESS BOGGLES THE MIND

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

At long last, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment has relented and allowed reporters to return from their exile in the Senate gallery to which he banished them. Few can comprehend why he ever did so in the first place. Petty spite seems the only coherent explanation.


COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG FUMBLES THE SUPER BOWL AD

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The most talked-about Super Bowl ad was not the Mountain Dew “puppy monkey baby” or the sheep crooning to Queen or even Helen Mirren’s in-your-face ad from Budweiser about drunk driving: “If you drive drunk, you, simply put, are a short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting, human form of pollution.” Instead, it was a commercial that aired on only three markets in the country – Washington, Philadelphia and New York (although the New York CBS affiliate got national viewership because it was distributed nationally to DirecTV subscribers.)


STAFFORD GROUP'S GOAL: BUILD BETTER RELATIONS

Free Lance-Star Editorial

The first week of February — Black History Month, by coincidence — saw a new group spring into being that holds hope for better relations among people in Stafford County. Individuals created a multicultural coalition, with some county support, to give a clearer voice to those who struggle to be heard.

Columnists

POLITIFACT: DEL. JOHN O'BANNON SAYS PLANNED PARENTHOOD SOLD FETAL TISSUE FOR PROFIT

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

Appalled by controversial videos about the extraction of fetal organs for research, Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, recently asked his constituents whether Virginia should take action against Planned Parenthood. "Considering the revelation that some Planned Parenthood chapters have been selling the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit, do you support or oppose a state investigation into the Planned Parenthood chapters in Virginia?" he asked in an 11-question survey that was mailed to constituents and remains on his website.


POLITIFACT: JILL VOGEL SAYS VIRGINIA CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 12 ARE GETTING MARRIED

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

State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel recently surprised her colleagues while pushing for a bill to prevent underage marriages. "People are going and getting marriage licenses who are 12 and 13, and 14 and 15 years old," Vogel, R-Fauquier, said during a Jan. 27 appearance before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

Op-Ed

MORRISON, RUEBNER AND WEIN: PRESERVE FREEDOM TO BOYCOTT

By SETH MORRISON, JOSH RUEBNER AND NANCY WEIN, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Our Virginia General Assembly is considering a bill, HB 1282, that would waste the money of Virginia taxpayers by requiring the secretary of commerce and trade to spend valuable time and resources compiling information on the Palestinian civil society-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), a nonviolent movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. Such a use of taxpayer funds serves no legitimate purpose for the people of the commonwealth.

Seth Morrison of Arlington is on the national board of Jewish Voice for Peace. Josh Ruebner of Arlington is the policy director of the US Campaign to End the Occupation. Nancy Wein is active in Richmonders for Peace in Israel and Palestine.


PACE: BALANCING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND THE LAW

By G. MICHAEL PACE, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The rule of law is the secret to maintaining the delicate balance that has allowed republican democracy in America to work for 240 years. Our future as a nation depends on continuing adherence to the rule of law. However, respect for the rule of law is in decline.

G. Michael Pace, Jr. is president of The Center for Teaching The Rule of Law at Roanoke College.


FILLER-CORN: VIRGINIA'S HISTORIC GUN COMPROMISE

By EILEEN FILLER-CORN, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Several years ago I experienced the fear and terror that so many other crime victims in Virginia have experienced, when I became the victim of a carjacker. I remember my heart pounding and the pit in my stomach growing as I frantically wondered whether he had a gun and how my story would end. I was lucky enough to live to tell my story. Many victims are not. Many are forced to relive their traumas every day at the hands of their abusers.

Eileen Filler-Corn represents the 41st District — part of Fairfax County — in the Virginia House of Delegates.