A compilation of newspaper articles
about state government and politics.
VaNews - March 4, 2013
Compiled by Sue Lindsey
Robert F. McDonnell had just done something huge, something that for nearly a generation, every other Virginia governor had tried and failed to do. As leader of a state with some of the nation’s worst traffic and a road construction fund due to go broke by 2017, he’d ordered legislators to find a fix. At the very moment they complied, as the balky Senate voted to send a transportation funding bill to the Republican governor, somebody watching the proceedings from inside McDonnell’s third-floor Capitol office snapped a photo that soon wound up on Twitter.
On the day that steep federal spending cuts were to begin taking effect, Gov. Bob McDonnell repurposed a commission to help steer the state through changes. “Its purpose is to examine in detail the likely impact on Virginia of the planned defense cuts, and future [Base Realignment and Closure] actions, and to recommend to me the best courses of action to advocate for favorable policies in Washington, and respond to the economic and security impacts here at home,” McDonnell said in a statement.
With hours to go before $85 billion in automatic spending cuts are triggered, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has issued an executive order for the state to examine the possible effects of the cuts and best plan of action for the commonwealth. According to the White House, approximately 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be affected by the federal cuts known as the sequester. Army base funding would be slashed by $146 million, and Air Force operations funding would be cut by about $8 million. Cuts to the Navy would include cancellation of maintenance on 11 ships in Norfolk.
The transportation funding package passed by the General Assembly last weekend has drawn criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. But the plan is getting praised by one of three key Wall Street credit rating agencies. In its weekly credit outlook published Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service said the Virginia transportation package is “credit positive.” The state has a Aaa rating with a negative outlook from Moody’s.
The state’s transportation funding plan certainly has its critics, but one credit rating agency is looking favorable upon the package. Moody’s Investors Service called the plan “a credit positive,” though it does not alter the state’s rating of Aaa with a negative outlook.
Gov. Bob McDonnell is currently reviewing a bill that would make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement could pull drivers over if they suspect they've been messaging on their cell phones on the road. Enforcement might pose legal questions that even proponents of the bill say courts will need to decide — such as do you have to hand over your phone to a cop if he asks to see it?
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is considering entering the governor’s race as an independent, should not be taken lightly, says Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va. “He would be a formidable candidate,” Kaine told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on “The Daily Rundown” today when asked about Bolling’s email asking supporters on Thursday whether he should run as an independent against GOP rival Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
As Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) weighs whether to throw his hat into the Virginia gubernatorial race as an independent, at least one former occupant of the governor’s mansion — Democratic Sen. Timothy M. Kaine — thinks Bolling could run a strong race. “I’m a Terry McAuliffe friend and supporter, but I will say this: Bill Bolling is a good guy, and he’d be formidable,” Kaine said Friday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”
President Barack Obama's top fundraisers brought in at least $186 million for the president's re-election campaign. Obama's campaign released a list of 770 top donors today who brought in between $186.6 million and $268 million.
Terry McAuliffe, who is making his second run for the Democratic nomination for the governor’s seat, on Thursday morning met with supporters in Staunton and some unlikely audience members — independents and Republicans. Tom Sheets, an Augusta County Republican noted for hosting fundraisers for GOP candidates to state and federal seats, said Virginia voters are looking for a commonsense candidate. He and Charles Bishop Jr., an active Staunton Democrat, handled invitations to the private gathering at Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant and Bakery.
Del. Jim Scott’s long and storied career representing Northern Virginia including the City of Falls Church will end this year as he announced today he will not seek election to another term this November. F.C. Democratic Committee chair Betty Coll forwarded the news tonight. She said that at least one Democrat has expressed an interest in running for the seat, former aide to ex-Fairfax County Board chair Kate Hanley, Marcus Simon.
Mental health advocates welcomed the General Assembly’s approval of nearly $7 million in funds for programs to help children and adults with crisis services, supported housing and hospital discharge assistance.
Virginia is close to instituting a two-year ban on the use of drones, even as state officials lobby the federal government to become one of six new sites nationally where the controversial technology would be tested. Virginia is part of a multistate coalition -- with New Jersey and possibly Maryland -- applying to the Federal Aviation Administration to become a test site for unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, The Washington Examiner has learned. It's among 28 competitors vying for one of six slots.
Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va., on Friday underscored their support for same-sex marriage by signing an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. A total of 40 senators and 172 members of the House — including Virginia Reps. Gerald E. Connolly, D-11th, James P. Moran, D-8th, and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd — signed the brief.
A gun-rights group Friday launched television and radio advertisements against Rep. Scott Rigell, and the Virginia Beach Republican responded to say the ad campaign "deliberately distorts my conservative position and voting record on the Second Amendment." The television ad claims Rigell wants a federal registration system for gun owners and is working "to pass Obama's gun control schemes."