VaNews

Saturday January 20, 2018


Today's Sponsor:

Tim Sullivan

To the honored memory of Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. and Senator William B. Spong Jr.,who always put Virginia first.

Executive Branch


AFTER ‘RUFFLED FEATHERS,’ NORTHAM SAYS HE IS BACK ON TRACK WITH REPUBLICANS

By LAURA VOZZELLA AND GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday was the best day yet of his young governorship, and not just because he felt he’d gotten his relationship with Republican legislative leaders back on track. The alarm clock that former governor Terry McAuliffe (D) had hidden in the bedroom of the mansion to torment him had finally turned up — in a linen chest, attached with double-sided tape.



NORTHAM OPTIMISTIC AFTER FIRST WEEK

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

As the state Capitol turned quiet Friday afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam said he was having “the best day” yet of his weeklong governorship. He joked that he had finally found the alarm clock that former Gov. Terry McAuliffe had taped under a linen chest to go off each night at 3 a.m.



GOVS. HOGAN, NORTHAM ASK TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO EXEMPT MD. AND VA. FROM EXPANDED OFFSHORE DRILLING

By OVETTA WIGGINS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A bipartisan group of governors along the Atlantic Coast are asking the Trump administration to exempt their states from expanded offshore drilling. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) led the effort to send a joint letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke opposing the “leasing, exploration, development and production of oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean.”



VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TO STILL SEE PATIENTS AT MEDICAL PRACTICE

Associated Press

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he plans to continue his medical practice as a pediatric neurologist on a limited basis. Northam told WFIR-AM on Thursday that he plans to see some patients every other month or so. He had also continued the practice while serving as a state senator and lieutenant governor.

General Assembly


LAWMAKERS PROPOSE MAJOR ELECTRIC RATE REGULATION OVERHAUL

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

New utility-backed legislation in Virginia would mean lower monthly bills in the short term but would still allow electric monopolies to charge rates that currently produce excessive yearly profits of hundreds of millions of dollars.



LAWMAKERS CRAFT BIPARTISAN BILLS TO END DOMINION RATE FREEZE, PROMISE REBATES

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Legislators unveiled bipartisan bills Friday to overhaul the controversial utility rate freeze that has shielded Dominion Energy from review since 2015 and issue rebates to customers who overpaid during that time. The legislation would once again subject the state’s largest utility to rate reviews by the Virginia State Corporation Commission,



BILLS ARE FILED TO OVERHAUL CONTROVERSIAL 2015 UTILITY RATE FREEZE

By ROBERT ZULLO , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The legislative battle over how to reset the regulatory landscape for Virginia's two largest electric utilities — nearly three years after the controversial 2015 rate-freeze law that has allowed Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to keep millions in excess earnings — can now begin in earnest. Watched for since the powerful Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed a rate-freeze repeal bill Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a sweeping, Dominion-backed legislative package Friday



VIRGINIA HOUSE SPEAKER REJECTS DEMOCRATIC LEADER'S REQUEST FOR MORE SEATS ON KEY COMMITTEE

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox rejected a request from Democratic leader David Toscano this week for two additional seats on the House Rules Committee, saying the disproportionately Republican panel was part of the deal the two struck while negotiating how the House would be organized.



RULING ON MEDICAID EXPANSION AT HOUSE RULES?

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The House Rules Committee seems to be moving to try to keep control of the debate about Medicaid expansion in the GOP leadership’s hands, with the recent referral of a proposal popular with critics of Obamacare into its hands. The proposal by Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg, to clear the way for insurance policies that don’t include all the “essential health benefits” mandated by the Affordable Care Act,



ALTRIA SEEKS STATE REVIEW OF TAX POLICY ON NEW 'REDUCED RISK' TOBACCO PRODUCTS

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Tobacco giant Altria is asking its home state of Virginia to take a fresh look at the way it taxes tobacco products, especially those based on new technology that federal regulators find would pose less health risk than cigarettes.



VIRGINIA SENATE BACKS 'BAN THE BOX' LEGISLATION FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Virginia Senate on Friday voted 23-16 to pass “ban the box” legislation governing public employment.



NEW STATE LEGISLATION TARGETS CONTROVERSIAL I-66 TOLL PRICES

By ALEX KOMA, Inside NOVA

A pair of Northern Virginia lawmakers is pushing new legislation to reform the controversial tolling system for Interstate 66 inside the Beltway during the morning and evening rush hours. State Sen. Dick Black, R-13th District, and Del. Dave LaRock, R-33rd District, introduced a bill Jan. 18 that would shrink the tolling window on the congested highway, and even force state transportation officials to offer refunds to commuters who pay more than $200 in tolls each month.



BILL SEEKS TO REPEAL JIM CROW WAGE LAW

By CAITLIN BARBIERI AND LIA TABACKMAN , VCU Capital News Service

More than half a century after the end of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the South, legislators are finding remnants of racism in Virginia law. The Code of Virginia makes it legal for employers to pay less than minimum wage to "newsboys, shoe-shine boys, caddies on golf courses, babysitters, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and cashiers in theaters."



NORMENT PROPOSES REGIONAL TOURISM LEVY, OFFSETTING TAX CUTS

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Historic Triangle could get a new, bigger and more predictable way of financing its efforts to boost tourism by following the approach that put Interstate 64’s widening on a fast track. State Sen. Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment Jr., R-James City County, is proposing a kind of tax swap — a one percentage point surcharge on the sales tax in Williamsburg, James City County and York County in exchange for eliminating or rolling back a slew of tourism-related taxes the localities charge.



BILL WOULD BOOST MINIMUM WAGE FOR RESTAURANT WORKERS

By CAITLIN BARBIERI AND LIA TABACKMAN, VCU Capital News Service

The unstable nature of relying on tips to make a living is reflected in the paychecks of restaurant servers like Connor Rhodes, who has been serving Richmond's restaurant goers for four years and says it's not unusual for his paycheck to be zero dollars. That's because he earns $2.13 an hour - a "subminimum wage" - which, after taxes, can result in an empty wallet if tips are weak and shifts are sparse



BILLS KILLED THAT WOULD HAVE MADE IT EASIER TO IMPOSE MEALS TAX IN FAIRFAX

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette

Measures in Richmond that would have allowed the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to impose a meals tax in the county without voter approval have been dispatched to the political graveyard for 2018. The same measures would have allowed localities to up their meals-tax rates to 8 percent, double the current rate – a rate imposed on top of the 6-percent sales tax. The Senate Committee on Finance killed, on a not-particularly-close 9-4 vote, the two measures.



HANGER, OBENSHAIN INTRODUCE BILLS IMPACTING I-81

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Two Shenandoah Valley senators have introduced General Assembly legislation that could ultimately improve congested Interstate 81. Sen. Emmett Hanger has introduced a bill that would create a Western Virginia Transportation Fund designed to fund priority road needs in the Shenandoah Valley and western Virginia such as I-81. Hanger's Senate colleague, Sen. Mark Obenshain, Friday filed a bill directing the Commonwealth Transportation Board and Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment to look at using truck tolls to fund improvements to 81.



A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE HOUSE

By ANGELA WOOLSEY, Fairfax Times

Kathy Tran has come a long way since she first arrived in the U.S. with her parents as refugees from Vietnam. The 42nd District’s new representative in Virginia’s House of Delegates was not even 2 years old when her family fled their home country, but she still remembers the experience of watching her parents rebuild their lives in a foreign place with empty pockets.

State Elections


FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN STATE INCUMBENT PROTECTION LAW

By STAFF REPORT, News Virginian

A federal judge Friday barred further enforcement of a Virginia law that allows incumbent office holders to choose the method used by their parties to nominate candidates. Judge Michael Urbanski's ruling on the Incumbent Protection Act in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg came in response to a suit brought by the 6th Congressional District Republican Committee.

State Government


VIRGINIA TAKES LEGAL ACTION TO RECOVER ALMOST $5 MILLION FROM TRANLIN

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginia is preparing for legal action to recover the remainder of a $5 million grant to Tranlin Inc. for a once-promising plan to build a $2 billion paper manufacturing plant in Chesterfield County.

Congress


THE WASHINGTON REGION KNOWS HOW A SHUTDOWN FEELS. AND IT’S NOT GOOD.

By ANTONIO OLIVO AND RACHEL CHASON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Washington-area residents and elected officials tried to prepare Friday for the effects of a federal government shutdown, a familiar possibility that keeps thousands of residents from being paid, costs contractors serious money and leaves restaurants and businesses with far fewer customers.



HOW WOULD A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AFFECT HAMPTON ROADS?

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

Should the federal government partially shut down, the effects will ripple across Hampton Roads, affecting many government services and paychecks. But it won’t bring the region’s defense-dependent economy to a standstill.



SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK WILL REMAIN PARTIALLY OPEN

Northern Virginia Daily

Officials at Shenandoah National Park on Friday afternoon were preparing for the government shutdown at midnight but it appears the park will remain partially open while the standoff in Congress continues.



FREDERICKSBURG AREA'S GOP CONGRESSMEN DIVIDED ON SHORT-TERM FUNDING BILL

By JEFF BRANSCOME, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Fredericksburg region’s Republican congressmen found themselves divided on a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown. Rep. Rob Wittman, whose 1st District includes much of the Fredericksburg region, voted against the continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels through Feb. 16, calling it a “short-term solution to a long-term problem" that, "on principle … is simply something I could not support.”



FEDERAL COMMISSION APPROVED FOR 400TH COMMEMORATION OF AFRICANS, AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN U.S.

By JEREMY LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

In late August 1619, a storm-tossed English warship flying a Dutch flag stopped at one of the earliest English settlements in Virginia and changed the future of America and the world. In exchange for supplies, the crew of the White Lion traded “20 and odd” Africans seized from a Portuguese slave ship to the settlers at Old Point Comfort, the future site of Fort Monroe and the city of Hampton, according to the National Park Service.

Economy/Business


DONALD TRUMP IS STILL THEIR MAN

By BOB DAVIS AND JOSHUA JAMERSON, Wall Street Journal (Paywall)

Times were so tough in the coal mining region around Buchanan County, Va., in 2016 that people looked for a political savior. They got Donald Trump. A year after his inauguration, they say it is working out just fine. Gary Palmer had been laid off from local mines three times. In 2015 he moved four hours away to take a construction job in West Virginia and saw his wife and four children just once a month. After Mr. Trump’s election, with mines reopening, he moved back.



ARLINGTON BOARD CHAIRMAN PROMISES (EVENTUAL) TRANSPARENCY ON AMAZON INCENTIVES

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Inside NOVA

Arlington’s County Board chairman says that, win or lose, the local government is willing to provide residents with an accounting of any incentives it dangles in an effort to lure Amazon to the local area. Provide it eventually, that is, though not immediately.



NEW TWICE-WEEKLY NEWSPAPER TO PUBLISH IN HOPEWELL/PRINCE GEORGE

By STAFF REPORT, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

The Wonder City and Prince George County have a new twice-a-week newspaper following the closure of the Hopewell News on Thursday. The Hopewell Herald–Prince George Post is slated to launch on Tuesday of next week.

Higher Education


FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY TO TEACH AT WILLIAM & MARY

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Former FBI Director James Comey will teach an ethical leadership course at the College of William & Mary starting next fall, the school announced Friday. The William & Mary alumnus will serve as an executive professor in education as he teaches the three-credit course. Drew Stelljes, the school’s executive assistant professor of education and assistant vice president for student leadership, will co-teach the class during the next three semesters.

Virginia Other


GROUPS CHALLENGE KEY APPROVAL FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE

Associated Press

A coalition of community and environmental groups has filed a legal challenge to Virginia regulators' decision to grant a conditional water quality permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The groups filed a petition Thursday with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond contesting the Virginia State Water Control Board's December approval of a water quality certification.



AGENCY GRANTS REQUEST TO BEGIN TREE CUTTING FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a request by the Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline to begin cutting down trees along parts of the 600-mile pipeline route in West Virginia and Virginia, despite the fact that the project still lacks some regulatory approvals.



ROANOKE COUNTY TO HOLD MEETING ON PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Roanoke County will host a community meeting Thursday to talk about the Mountain Valley Pipeline — not about whether it should be built, but about what to expect when it is.

TV/Radio


RIDING ANTI-TRUMP WAVE, NORTHERN VIRGINIA WOMEN HOPE TO RESHAPE HOUSE OF DELEGATES

By PATRICK MADDEN, WAMU

There are more women delegates in the Virginia House of Delegates than ever before. In November, Democrats flipped 15 seats in the lower chamber — eleven of them were won by women. Most of these new, female lawmakers hail from Northern Virginia. They represent a diverse group: Virginia’s first Latina state lawmakers, the first Vietnamese-American delegate, and the first transgender state lawmaker in Virginia history.



VIRGINIA WOMEN FOR TRUMP SET THEIR SIGHTS ON ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL WIN IN 2020

By CARMEL DELSHAD, WAMU

Virginia Women for Trump Founder Alice Butler-Short had a question for the group of about 30 women and men assembled in the basement of her Lorton home. “Are we all very happy with what the president has done?” she asked the room. The answer is a resounding yes.

Online News


WITH STATE FUNDING CUTS, REVELEY SAYS W&M ENDOWMENT ISN’T BIG ENOUGH YET

By STEVE ROBERTS, JR., Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily

College of William and Mary president Taylor Reveley wants to see the college’s endowment grow enough to make higher education cheaper for more students in Williamsburg. While the endowment is at its highest level ever, at nearly $900 million according to Reveley, the college’s endowment isn’t big enough yet.



CITING ‘VITRIOLIC’ RESPONSE TO REMOVAL OF NUDE PAINTINGS, HRT DISCONTINUES ALL ART EXHIBITS

By ADRIENNE MARIE MAYFIELD, Southside Daily

One week after an artist was asked to remove her paintings from a gallery located inside of a Hampton Roads Transit building, the public agency announced that it will no longer partner with Norfolk Arts to host rotating art exhibitions in any of its facilities.


Today's Sponsor:

Tim Sullivan

To the honored memory of Governor Mills E. Godwin Jr. and Senator William B. Spong Jr.,who always put Virginia first.

Editorials


FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF “FIRST CONTACT” TRIBES LONG OVERDUE

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

After decades of failed attempts, a bipartisan effort by members of Virginia’s congressional delegation to pass legislation granting long-overdue federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes has finally succeeded.



SENATORS ACHIEVE RECOGNITION FOR VA. TRIBES

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

Deserved kudos go to U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, who used a sly bit of parliamentary procedure recently to correct an oversight decades — some would say centuries — in the making. On Jan. 11, the U.S. Senate approved by unanimous consent a bill formally recognizing six Native American tribes located in Virginia.



DON'T IGNORE A CLEAR MESSAGE FROM VIRGINIA'S VOTERS

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

You’d think the GOP won the House of Delegates by a landslide rather than a game of chance. Before the winner's name was drawn from a mixing bowl, Republicans were full of goodwill, bipartisanship and cooperation.



FELONY THEFT THRESHOLD SHOULD BE RAISED

News Virginian Editorial

“Virginia’s threshold for classifying a larceny as a felony is $200. This threshold was first set in 1980, almost 40 years ago. What one could buy with $200 in 1980 now costs over $500. The reality that a Virginian could face one to five years in jail for stealing a smartphone is disproportionate to the crime committed.” So argued Ed Gillespie , the Republican candidate, during last year’s race for governor. Gillespie was correct — as are the many others around the state who insist that Virginia should raise the dollar amount for felony larceny.



CAMPAIGN DONOR BILL GETS ZAPPED

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Give state Sen. Creigh Deeds credit for sticking to his convictions. Mr. Deeds was one of only two lawmakers to vote for a campaign finance reform bill when it recently came up before a committee. The bill would have ended campaign donations to lawmakers from public-service corporations like Dominion.



VIRGINIA HOPE

Richmond Free Press Editorial

We give high marks to Virginia’s newly inaugurated governor, Dr. Ralph S. Northam. The pediatric neurosurgeon and his Democratic team of Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring stepped into the limelight and their important posts on Saturday with an inaugural ceremony that spoke to what’s right and good about Virginia by embracing its rich diversity.



DON QUIHERRING RIDES AGAIN, THIS TIME OVER NET NEUTRALITY

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Mark Herring, the most activist attorney general since the previous one — Ken Cuccinelli — is at it again. This time, he is joining a lawsuit challenging what he and his fellow AGs, including New York’s Eric Schneidermann, term the Federal Communications Commission’s “unlawful” repeal of net neutrality. Their gripe — ostensibly — is that the FCC did not properly follow the Administrative Procedure Act. (As everyone knows, Herring has built a robust reputation as a real stickler for administrative procedures.)

Columnists


SCHAPIRO: ERA OF GOOD FEELING? NOT YET

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When Terry McAuliffe left the governorship, statehouse politics was supposed to be a lot quieter - and not just because The Macker, as a human vuvuzela, is for now out of earshot, having returned to Northern Virginia, perhaps to plot a play for the presidency. In the eight days since fellow Democrat Ralph Northam was sworn in as McAuliffe's successor, the political parties have been quarreling, laying waste to expectations that Virginia was entering an era of good feeling.

Op-Ed


NACHMINOVITCH: VIRGINIA CAN STOP LONELY CHAINED DOGS LIKE XENA FROM FREEZING TO DEATH

By DAPHNA NACHMINOVITCH, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

If you were like most people, you spent the bomb cyclone snuggled up indoors with the heat turned up. Thousands of dogs across the commonwealth weren’t so lucky. They were chained up in the ice and snow just as they are every second of every minute of every hour of every day, isolated and deprived of companionship, exercise, respect, and everything that is natural to “man’s best friend.” ...But this legislative session may bring welcome change for these forgotten “backyard dogs.”

Daphna Nachminovitch is senior vice president of cruelty investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.