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VaNews

Friday December 14, 2018

EXECUTIVE BRANCH


CONTINUING EDUCATION PUSH, NORTHAM PROPOSES $36 MILLION FOR NEW SCHOOL COUNSELORS

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia students would have better access to school counselors under a proposal that Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled Thursday. The governor announced at Oak Knoll Middle School in Hanover County that his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 will include $36 million in new money to pay for more school counselors across the state


SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION NEEDS ARE "MUCH GREATER" THAN GOVERNOR'S $80 MILLION PROPOSAL

By SARA GREGORY AND JANE HAMMOND, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In the decade since Virginia last had money to help school districts with construction needs, localities have turned elsewhere to get projects done. Virginia Beach sold bonds to finance replacing Great Neck Middle School. Isle of Wight County secured over $7 million in federal loans to tear down Windsor Middle School and replace it with Georgie D. Tyler Middle School. But those and other now-completed projects still sit near the top of the state’s waiting list — a list frozen in time that may thaw if lawmakers approve a one-time allocation included in Gov. Ralph Northam’s next budget proposal.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


VA. HOUSE GOP ASKS U.S. SUPREME COURT TO STOP NEW ELECTORAL MAP

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates have formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court’s efforts to redraw the House map for the 2019 elections. In a court filing released Thursday, House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, asked the Supreme Court to grant an emergency stay that would halt a lower court’s efforts to enact a new House map to fix 11 districts found to be racially gerrymandered.


VIRGINIA HOUSE GOP ASKS FOR MAP STOPPAGE

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

Virginia House Republicans will ask the Supreme Court to stay lower-court action on redrawing House of Delegates district maps until the high court hears the party’s appeal on the constitutionality of the current district lines. Thursday, House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, filed a request with the high court to stay the progress of the Richmond-based Eastern District Court of Virginia.


GOP WANTS MCAULIFFE GUBERNATORIAL RECORDS MADE AVAILABLE

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Republicans are pushing to make sure former Gov. Terry McAuliffe's records from his time in office are available to the public if he runs for president.


VA. HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS WANT TO OPEN PAST GOVERNORS' RECORDS TO THE PUBLIC

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Republican leaders in the House of Delegates are moving to end years of secrecy surrounding the public records of previous Virginia governors. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, filed House Bill 1702 for the 2019 session that would require the records of an outgoing governor to be made public by the Library of Virginia within one year of their delivery to the library.


VIRGINIA'S HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL SAFETY BACKS 24 SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS

By OLIVIA BAILEY, WCYB

A Virginia House Select Committee on School Safety is expected to present 24 specific recommendations next month as Virginia's General Assembly gets underway. It is Virginia's first select committee in more than 150 years. We are learning what solutions are coming from the designated meetings.


KRIZEK PROPOSES SOME MUSCLE TO HELP WITH NONPAYMENT OF WAGES

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Sometimes, the tie vote that defeats a bill in a House of Delegates committee might just possibly signal it is worth trying again. Del. Paul Krizek, D-Fairfax, hopes that’s what happens with his effort to put some muscle on Virginians’ right to sue if their wages aren’t paid.

STATE GOVERNMENT


PANEL SAYS JUDGED ERRED IN DENYING REQUEST TO CHANGE INMATES NAME

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A transgender inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg may be entitled to change her name to reflect her gender identity, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The justices sent the case of Brian Allen Leonard, who wants to legally change her name to Bree Anna Leonard, back to Petersburg Circuit Judge W. Allen Sharrett III, ruling that the judge erred in the way he denied Leonard’s application for a name change.


VIRGINIA APPROVES NEW LICENSE FOR COLONIAL DOWNS, LIVE HORSE RACING SET TO RETURN IN AUGUST

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia regulators have officially approved a new license for Colonial Downs, clearing the way for live horse racing to return next summer. On Thursday, the Virginia Racing Commission signed off on agreements that will bring 15 Thoroughbred racing days to the New Kent County track in 2019. The track will host 30 race days in 2020.


LIVE HORSE RACING RETURNS TO VIRGINIA IN AUGUST; COLONIAL DOWNS GRANTED OPERATING LICENSE

By ASHLEY LUCK, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Live thoroughbred horse racing is coming back to Virginia in August. Colonial Downs was granted its operating license from the Virginia Racing Commission on Thursday. The facility will bring live racing and 600 historical horse racing machines to New Kent County, according to a news release by Colonial Downs.


DRONE, COAL PROJECTS GET GO VIRGINIA BOOST

By JEFF LESTER, Coalfield Progress

The GO Virginia Region One Council has approved a funding recommendation for a project using drones in agriculture. Also, the statewide GO Virginia board has approved funds for a project researching the conversion of coal to graphene.


STATE DSS BOARD VOTES TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND SCEARCE FROM LOCAL DSS BOARD

By MATT BELL, Chatham Star Tribune

The Virginia State Board of Social Services voted 5-3 Wednesday, Dec. 11 to suspend Pittsyvlania County supervisor Ron Scearce from the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services board until their Feb. 20, 2019 meeting. “Here I am just trying to do the job I was appointed to do, to catch oversight and mismanagement, and here I am getting suspended. Obviously the corruption with social services goes all the way to the top and perhaps the governor needs to look at the system.


ON FACEBOOK, SUPERVISOR STATED HE’S SURPRISED BY STATE BOARD'S SUSPENSION

By HALLE PARKER, Danville Register & Bee

After the state board announced his temporary suspension from the local social services board, county supervisor Ron Scearce stated he was surprised by the decision in a post on his campaign Facebook page on Wednesday. “Color me surprised!” he wrote, before going on to discuss the recent developments around the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services to eliminate “corruption at our local level.”


DEATH SENTENCES AND EXECUTIONS CONTINUE FALLING ACROSS VIRGINIA AND U.S.

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

It has been seven years since a death sentence was imposed in Virginia, and the state’s death row population, which once hovered near 60, is down to three inmates. The trend is similar across the country — 42 people were sentenced to death this year, the third-fewest in 33 years.

CONGRESS


INDUSTRIAL HEMP TO BE LEGALIZED WITH THE PASSING OF THE 2018 FARM BILL

By LAURA PETERS, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Congress passed the Farm Bill this week, which could be a game changer for the farming industry, especially the Shenandoah Valley. The Senate Conference Committee passed it Dec. 11 with a 87-13 vote. The House passed the bill on Dec. 12 with a 369-47 vote. ... The language of the Farm Bill allows for legal cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.


LATEST FARM BILL COULD BE BIG BOOST TO VIRGINIA FARMERS

By COLTER ANSTAETT, WSLS

Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine says the bipartisan farm bill passed by Congress Wednesday could be a big boost to Virginia farmers. The bill would allow farmers to grow and sell hemp as a cash crop.


JUVENILE JUSTICE BILL PASSES CONGRESS

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed a juvenile justice bill that includes key reforms Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, has been pushing for years.


LAWMAKERS PLEDGE MORE SUPPORT FOR TRADE SCHOOLS AT TCC DEDICATION CEREMONY

By TREVOR METCALFE, Inside Business

With a whirring trio of reciprocating saws, Virginia elected officials and Hampton Roads education leaders cut the ribbon on a $1.2 million training center for welders, pipe fitters and other trades workers. Tidewater Community College unveiled the new Skilled Trades Academy in Portsmouth in a Dec. 10 dedication ceremony.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


WHY THE AMAZON INVASION IN NEW YORK AND VIRGINIA WILL BE SLOW

By LAURA STEVENS AND SHAYNDI RAICE, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

Amazon.com Inc.’s announcement that it will bring 25,000 new jobs to both New York City and Northern Virginia has sparked a frenzy of local activity. Condos are flying off the market. City leaders are fighting over tax incentives. Businesses are already preparing for a rush of new customers. Lost in all the commotion: It will likely take many years, if not a decade, before residents see a massive army of Amazon employees invading their cities.


GMU PANEL: DON’T EXPECT AMAZON TO CHANGE THE REGION ALL AT ONCE

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Homeowners, renters and real estate agents in the Washington area have all been asking the same question for the past month: How will Amazon affect housing values, rents and sales? The answer, according to a panel of housing experts at a George Mason University panel Wednesday night: The effect will be geographically dispersed and gradual.


HERE'S HOW MUCH AMAZON WILL PAY IN RENT AT NATIONAL LANDING

By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Amazon will pay about $35 per square foot in rent for its initial leased space in Crystal City, about $2 below average asking rents in the Arlington County submarket, its future landlord disclosed Thursday.


STILL AWAITING REGULATORY APPROVALS, GENWORTH HOPES TO BE ACQUIRED BY CHINESE FIRM EARLY IN 2019

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Expressing gratitude to stockholders for their patience, leaders of Henrico County-based insurance company Genworth Financial Inc. said at the company’s annual meeting Thursday that they hope to complete the long-delayed acquisition by a China-based firm early in 2019.


DRS TO DOUBLE JOBS IN CLARKSVILLE

By DALLAS WESTON, News Progress, Chase City

DRS Imaging Services has announced that the firm plans to expand their operations in Clarksville and will be doubling jobs over the next 24 months. The company celebrated the official announcement on Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax.

TRANSPORTATION


METRO BOARD DEFERS VOTE ON LATE-NIGHT SERVICE, ADVANCES PEAK FARES

By FAIZ SIDDIQUI, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The Metro board on Thursday voted to charge riders peak fares for special events and agreed to hold a public hearing on expanding rush-hour service windows as part of General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. But the board tabled action on a measure to continue the system’s early-closing hours for another year after board members representing the District threatened to veto it.


‘FAST FERRY’ SAILING CLOSER TO REALITY IN WOODBRIDGE

By JOHN DOMEN, WTOP

Every day, thousands make the trip from the Woodbridge area to Southwest D.C., many of them driving alone to either Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) or the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. It’s a 20- to 25-mile trip that can easily take 90 minutes when you’re unable to use the HOV/Express Lanes. But an alternative form of transit is still in the works that could potentially cut those trips in half.


TOLLS RECOMMENDED TO FINANCE $2 BILLION IN I-81 SAFETY, CONGESTION IMPROVEMENTS

Fincastle Herald

It will likely take some sort of tolls to cover the cost of proposed $2 billion safety and congestion-relieving improvements on designated parts of the 325-mile Interstate 81 through Virginia. That’s the recommendation that the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will send to the General Assembly later this month following an I-81 Corridor Study it directed the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to complete this year. One aspect of the tolls that’s supposed to lighten the financial burden on local commuters and users is a proposed $30 annual fee for local commuters and users along the corridor. That fee would be the only toll the car would pay each calendar year.


STUDY: PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE IS 'NEEDED' FOR TWIN CITY

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A new study shows Amtrak service to the Twin City would likely be well-supported and not overly expensive to operate — but making it a reality could still take many years. A crowd of about 50 people heard details of the study Wednesday during a meeting at The Bristol Hotel. The study was prepared by AECOM, an international design, consulting and construction firm, in collaboration with the Community Transportation Association of America.

HIGHER EDUCATION


U-VA. PROFESSOR RETIRES AFTER INVESTIGATION INDICATES HE HAD INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL CONTACT WITH STUDENT

By NICK ANDERSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A veteran English professor at the University of Virginia is retiring after an internal investigation concluded he should be held responsible for inappropriate sexual contact with one of his students 17 years ago. John Casey, an award-winning fiction writer, kissed and touched the student in an unwelcome manner one night in 2001, according to a letter summarizing conclusions last week from a disciplinary review panel.


UVA PANEL FINDS CASEY RESPONSIBLE OF INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL CONTACT WITH STUDENT

By RUTH SERVEN SMITH, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

An investigation at the University of Virginia has found sufficient evidence that English professor John Casey inappropriately touched a student and violated UVa policy in 2001. According to a Dec. 7 letter from a disciplinary review panel, there was enough evidence to determine that Casey kissed and touched Lisa Schievelbein while she was an undergraduate student

VIRGINIA OTHER


FEDERAL APPEALS COURT REJECTS PERMITS FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A panel of federal judges has rejected permits for the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline to cross two national forests and the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, finding that the U.S. Forest Service “abdicated its responsibility” and kowtowed to private industry in approving the project.


COURT BLOCKS KEY PERMIT FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces an escalating legal battle for its existence after a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday blocked a critical crossing of the Appalachian Trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains near Wintergreen Resort. Dominion Energy, lead developer of the $7 billion project, vowed to immediately appeal the panel’s ruling to the full 4th Circuit


COURT TOSSES PERMIT FOR PIPELINE TO CROSS APPALACHIAN TRAIL

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, was thrown out Thursday by a federal appeals court that harshly criticized regulators for approving the proposal.


COURT VACATES KEY PERMIT FOR ACP

Highland Recorder (Subscription required)

A key permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been vacated. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a 60-page ruling today that vacated the U.S. Forest Service’s “Recorder of Decision” and Special Use Permit for the ACP. The panel of judges essentially agreed that while the USFS had raised serious concerns about the pipeline route crossing the national forests, it failed to get those concerns properly addressed before issuing the permit


STATE BOARD TO RECONSIDER KEY PERMIT FOR MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

After issuing a water quality certification that allowed construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move forward one year ago, a state board on Thursday seemed to be having second thoughts. On a vote of 4-3, the State Water Control Board decided to hold a hearing to consider revoking the certification, which was based on its earlier finding of a “reasonable assurance” that streams and rivers would not be contaminated.


WATER CONTROL BOARD STARTS PROCESS OF REVOKING MVP PERMIT

Highland Recorder (Subscription required)

The State Water Control Board, which had issued the Mountain Valley Pipeline a permit a year ago, met this morning and voted to reconsider that certification. The MVP’s nationwide permit was revoked months ago, but Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality did not take action to shut down pipeline construction. “The State Water Control Board has voted to start a process through which the water quality certification for the MVP may be revoked,” said David Sligh of Wild Virginia Conservation.


LAWSUITS CLAIM FALSE ARRESTS BY MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE'S SECURITY COMPANY

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Two Craig County residents are suing the security company working for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, claiming they were falsely accused of trespassing on a construction right of way. The charges against Nan Gray and Gordon Jones were dropped after police and prosecutors found no evidence to support them, according to the two lawsuits. Gray and Jones are each seeking $4 million in damages from Global Security, one of its employees and Mountain Valley.

LOCAL


DOZEN CANDIDATES PLANNING TO RUN FOR PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SUPERVISOR SEATS IN 2019

By EMILY SIDES, Prince William Times

The 2019 elections are still 11 months away, but a dozen candidates have already announced plans to run for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. All eight supervisor seats, including the at-large chairman’s post, will be on the ballot next November.


LOUDOUN COUNTY AGAIN LEADS THE NATION IN MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME

By STAFF REPORT, Loudoun Times

Loudoun County again led the nation in 2017 in median household income at nearly $136,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That mark is more than double the national average of $61,300 in 2017.


COURT ASKED TO FORCE STONEY TO REVEAL COLISEUM REDEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Six weeks after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney pledged support for the $1.4 billion proposal to build a new Richmond Coliseum and redevelop 21 acres of publicly owned downtown land, the plans have still not been publicly released. Now, a Richmond man is asking a judge to force Stoney to release the proposal the NH District Corp. submitted in response to a city-issued request for proposals back in February.


VIRGINIA BEACH TREASURER WHO LED ANTI-LIGHT RAIL CAMPAIGN WILL RESIGN AFTER 41 YEARS

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The city treasurer who was instrumental in stopping a light rail extension into Virginia Beach told The Pilot on Thursday that he is stepping down after 41 years....His reason for leaving? “Old age,” the 77-year-old said. “I have three children, four grandchildren, and a long list of things I want to do. I have been thinking about it for a long time.”


SUFFOLK RECORDS GO PAPERLESS

By KELLIE ADAMSON, Suffolk News Herald

Title examiners and researchers will no longer have to wait for Suffolk Circuit Court to open or thumb through decrepit, 100-year-old books to get their jobs done. On Wednesday, the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office unveiled its new land record system after a year of working with Logan Systems Inc.


SPOTSYLVANIA REPEALS SOLAR TAX BREAK

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to repeal local tax exemptions for large solar facilities. The decision was made as Utah-based Sustainable Power Group, known as sPower, is asking the county for special-use permits to build a 500-megawatt solar facility in the western part of the county. The facility would use 1.8 million solar panels to produce energy that would be pumped into the electric grid.


NEW LAWSUIT SEEKS SPECIAL ELECTION AND DISQUALIFICATION OF CANDIDATE

By JOSHUA WEINSTEIN, Southside Daily

Another lawsuit has been filed in the aftermath of the 2018 City Council elections, this time a petition to void a winner’s candidacy and have a special election Richard Kowalewitch, commonly known as “RK,” filed paperwork in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, contesting the November election for the Beach District City Council seat, according to his court filing.


LAWSUIT OVER FOIA ALLEGATIONS CONTINUED

By HALLE PARKER, Danville Register & Bee

Initially set to be heard on Thursday, the attorney for former social services director Sherry Flanagan filed a motion to continue a lawsuit against Pittsylvania County. The lawsuit names the county's board of supervisors, attorney and administrator, and alleges violations of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act.

EDITORIALS


A LETTER TO ATLANTA ABOUT NORFOLK SOUTHERN

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Dear Atlanta: Hope you like your new railroad headquarters. We enjoyed it for many years — well, part of it anyway. Please don’t misunderstand us: We’re not jealous or angry. We’re beyond all that. The railroad headquarters left Roanoke back in 1982 when our Norfolk & Western Railway merged with the Washington, D.C.-based Southern Railway and decided to pick Norfolk as a neutral headquarters.

THE FRIDAY READ


COOKIE ETHICS: CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT ASKS IF SHE'S STILL ALLOWED TO SELL GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

By NICOLE GAUDIANO AND ELIZA COLLINS, USA Today

Now that she’s a Congresswoman-elect, Abigail Spanberger is in a Trefoil over Girl Scout cookie season. She’s one of her daughter’s troop leaders, and as she prepares for her new job representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, she wonders if she has a conflict of interest.