A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - February 7, 2013
Today's Sponsor: Virginia Association of Realtors®
Thank you Members of the General Assembly for welcoming Virginia Realtors on their annual visit to Capitol Square!
Compiled by Sue Lindsey
So uranium mining in Virginia is dead this year, right? Really? Mining opponents find themselves wanting to celebrate but, at the same time, worry that they might have overlooked something - perhaps a new proposal that will suddenly pop up in some committee and unravel their apparent victory.
Norfolk Sen. Ralph S. Northam's day job is as a physician, which is probably a good thing, considering the amount of legislative maiming that has been taking place on the floor of the Virginia Senate lately. But on Tuesday, Northam's healing arts were needed in the Senate gallery, when an elderly man fell and hit his head, opening a large wound.
Eight lawmakers who sponsored legislation to ban texting while driving held a news conference Wednesday to celebrate its passage and call for a public-education campaign to let people know of the heavy fines involved. Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County, who orchestrated the legislation, held up his cell phone and said, “When you are driving, this needs to stay in your pocket or its holster or in your purse.”
The House of Delegates passed a transportation bill Tuesday that would generate $3 billion in five years for roads and passenger rail, but the Senate rejected two bills that would have raised smaller amounts. Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg and sponsor of one of the rejected measures, held out hope afterward that both the House and Senate can agree on a bill similar to his proposal.
A bill speeding through the state legislature upends a major tenet of information access, say the foes of the measure. House Bill 1524 seeks to reverse the "open unless closed" presumption of the Freedom of Information Act to make the law "closed unless open," according to Megan Rhyne, executive director for the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.
Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, ruled Wednesday that the surprise Senate amendments to House redistricting changes were not germane, apparently ending the most turbulent chapter of the General Assembly session. Senate Republicans pushed through their proposed changes to Senate district boundaries on a 20-19 party-line vote when Democrats were down one member because Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, attended inauguration ceremonies for President Barack Obama in Washington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
His intent, state Sen. Frank Wagner told a House subcommittee Wednesday, was to close a tax loophole. “We’re trying to level the playing field here,” the Virginia Beach Republican said in defense of his bill (SB767), which would require that sales and occupancy taxes on hotel rooms be computed on the full price paid by the consumer.
“Dooring” may not be a household word yet, but it’s on the way to becoming a traffic infraction in Virginia. It’s what occurs when someone opens a car door into a lane with moving traffic and a bicyclist slams into it. Sen. Chap Petersen’s legislation (SB736) would forbid opening a door into moving traffic “unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so.” A violation would carry a $100 civil penalty.
Sen. Tom Garrett put in an unusual piece of legislation this week, seeking $50,000 in state funds to assist a Lynchburg resident who is about to lose her driveway access to Richmond Highway.
Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, addressed members of the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association on Wednesday night at their annual dinner. During the event in Richmond, two journalists who reported on Virginia politics and government for decades were inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame.
It’s only February of 2013 and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is making time in Virginia. The possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate will travel to Richmond to appear at events Friday with two of the state’s top GOP leaders, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Bankruptcy filings in Virginia dropped for calendar year 2012, with filings in the Eastern District falling by 12.7 percent and new cases down by 10.8 percent in the Western District. These figures were slightly less than the overall decline nationwide of 13 percent, according to data released Feb. 4 by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
The housing market in Virginia turned a corner in 2012, underscoring a long-awaited recovery, according to a report released Wednesday by the Virginia Association of Realtors. Home values rose across the state. Foreclosures fell. And home sales in Virginia increased nearly every month last year compared with the same month a year earlier. “The story of this housing rebound in Virginia is slow and steady wins the race,” according to the 2012 Virginia Housing Market Report.
As of March, a local health care system will no longer hire anyone who uses tobacco products. Hospital officials said the policy is an effort to set a good health example. "Using tobacco is one of the most devastating things people can do to their bodies," said Teresa Hicks, communications manager for Mountain States Health Alliance, which operates 13 hospitals and seven urgent care clinics in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. "We will set the example that tobacco use has no place in a healthy lifestyle."
Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman were making final preparations for deployment Wednesday when a breaking news alert spread through the ship. Local news outlets were reporting that defense officials had canceled their deployment, set to begin in less than 48 hours.