VaNews

Friday January 19, 2018


Today's Sponsor:

JazzRVA.com

The Richmond jazz calendar. Your web connector to live music for the anatomy: heart, guts, brains. JazzRVA.com has a crush on VPAP.

General Assembly


LAWMAKERS PLAN BIPARTISAN BILL TO END DOMINION RATE FREEZE, PROMISE REBATES

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

Legislators plan to unveil a bipartisan bill on Friday to undo the controversial utility rate freeze that has shielded Dominion Energy from review since 2015 and issue rebates to customers who have overpaid during that time. The bill would once again subject Dominion to rate reviews by the State Corporation Commission, but would set those reviews every three years instead of every other year, as had been the state’s practice, according to two lawmakers who are co-sponsoring the House and Senate versions of the bill.



LAWMAKERS DELAY ROLLOUT OF ELECTRIC RATE REGULATIONS

Associated Press

A group of lawmakers have put off unveiling legislation to overhaul how Virginia regulates its electric rates. The bipartisan group was set to unveil utility-backed legislation Thursday overhauling how the state regulates electric monopolies. But Republican Del. Terry Kilgore said the legislation was not yet ready and would be introduced Friday, the last day to file bills.



SENATE APPROVES RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLD

Associated Press

A bill designed to soften penalties in Virginia for stealing smaller-dollar items has passed the state Senate. The Senate voted nearly unanimously Thursday to raise the felony theft threshold from $200 to $500.



SENATE REPUBLICANS DEFEAT DACA IN-STATE TUITION BILL IN COMMITTEE

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

A Republican-led Senate committee on Thursday defeated a bill that would have given in-state tuition rates to beneficiaries of an Obama-era program that shields the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Senate Education and Health Committee voted along party lines — eight Republicans and seven Democrats — to not report Senate Bill 237 from Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, to the full Senate.



ASSEMBLY RETURNS 46 JUDGES TO THE BENCH

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

Virginia legislators re-elected 46 incumbent trial court judges in the first round of judicial selection at this year’s General Assembly. One new circuit judge was among those elected Jan. 16. One sitting judge was left off the list without explanation.



COMMITTEE DROPS BILL TO OUTLAW CONVERSION THERAPY FOR LGBTQ YOUTH

By KATIE O'CONNOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A bill aimed at preventing children from undergoing controversial gay “conversion therapy” failed in its first committee hearing Thursday. Republicans on the Senate Education and Health Committee flexed the power provided by their slim majority to kill the bill on an 8-to-7 party line vote.



SENATE PANEL REVIVES PATRICK COUNTY HOSPITAL BILL

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A Virginia Senate committee granted Patrick County’s lone hospital a second chance Thursday. The Senate Education and Health panel revived a bill by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, that would extend the license of Patrick County’s Pioneer Community Hospital, giving the 25-bed facility another chance to reopen.



ABORTION BILLS DIE IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

By KATIE O’CONNOR , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

One state senator’s impassioned speech in which she identified as a survivor of incest didn’t stop a Senate committee on Thursday from killing a handful of bills that proponents said would have increased access to abortions. Votes fell along party lines on the bills, which covered topics including changing regulations applying to clinics that perform abortions and preventing women from having to report cases of rape or incest to law enforcement if they are receiving an abortion funded by the state.



ON THE BUDGET WISH LIST FOR THE PENINSULA

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

Dredging the silted-up channels that bay watermen and rural boating businesses rely on, turning Newport News’ summer program for at-risk youth into a year-round effort and helping the Fort Monroe Authority with its ballooning maintenance expenses are all on Peninsula legislators’ budget wish list this year.



LEGISLATORS PUSH FOR WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

By CHELSEA JACKSON, VCU Capital News Service

A group of Democratic legislators on Thursday urged the General Assembly to approve a package of bills aimed at helping small businesses and training young people for good-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.



CHAMBER MOVE SPARKS FLURRY OF LITIGATION BILLS

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

Three business-friendly tort reform measures offered at the 2018 General Assembly triggered a trial-lawyer counter-attack this month with bills that would remove the cap on punitive damages, allow claims for loss of consortium, and open avenues of recovery for crime victims. Among other suggested reforms: Overruling the Virginia Supreme Court on spoliation remedies



CITY, NORFOLK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AT ODDS OVER STORMWATER FEES

By RYAN MURPHY , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Adding seven words to the state code could save Norfolk International Airport a quarter of a million dollars – and cost the city the same amount. The savings would come from exempting runways and taxiways at airports from fees cities collect to pay for the treatment and management of stormwater runoff.



LAWMAKERS SEEKING INTERSTATE-81 IMPROVEMENTS

By NOLAN STOUT , Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at addressing ongoing and future traffic problems on Interstate 81. The bills cover traffic, safety issues and funding for future construction.



LANDES TROUBLED BY NORTHAM SPEECH

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

He's been in office less than a week, but Gov. Ralph Northam has already rankled Republican lawmakers with a joint address to the General Assembly. The 20-minute Monday night speech urged the General Assembly to approve an expansion of Medicaid, pass universal background checks to reduce gun violence and repeal limitations on a woman's right to make health care decisions. House District 25 Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, said the speech by Northam was "one of the most partisan" he has witnessed in 23 years in the General Assembly.



BILLS OF LOCAL INTEREST ADDRESS POWER LINE, FISHERIES, SPEED LIMITS AND AGRICULTURAL OPERATIONS

Rappahannock Record (Paywall)

Several bills of local interest were pre-filed for the 2018 Virginia General Assembly legislative session, according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System, lis.virginia.gov. Also, District 4 Sen. Ryan T. McDougle’s office this week reported that he will introduce a bill to give Dominion Energy access to install, operate and maintain a transmission line under the Rappahannock River.



LAWMAKERS FACE RAFT OF CLEAN WATER, CHESAPEAKE BAY BILLS

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Tidewater Review

Oysters, trees, stormwater, farmland and more are the subjects of a raft of bills designed to improve Virginia waters and the Chesapeake Bay that state lawmakers will consider this session.



ADDRESSING RISING TUITION A PRIORITY FOR VIRGINIA BEACH SENATOR, BUT ACTION WAITS ANOTHER YEAR

By JORDAN PASCALE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The youngest child of State Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, finished college in December, and some of DeSteph’s interns carry $200,000 of school debt. He is well aware of the rising cost of attending college. “(Student) loan payments shouldn’t equal house payments,” DeSteph said. “Anybody is going to have a hard time trying to pay back student loans.”



NORTHERN VIRGINIA LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR MENSTRUAL EQUITY

By MICHAEL LEE POPE, Alexandria Gazette Packet

When a City of Alexandria woman was booked into the Fairfax County jail, she wasn’t wearing white underwear, the only color allowed. It’s not like she packed a bag, and she didn’t know that she would be arrested on a shoplifting charge. So when the deputies confiscated her underwear she started worrying about what would happen when she started menstruating.

Federal Elections


COREY STEWART LATCHES ONTO TRUMP-INFLAMED IMMIGRATION DEBATE IN BID FOR SENATE

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

Corey A. Stewart, the Virginia Republican vying for a chance to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine (D) in November, tapped into the inflamed debate over immigration Thursday, vowing to be a champion of tougher policies favored by President Trump if he is elected to the U.S. Senate.

State Government


32-YEAR LAW ENFORCEMENT VETERAN SWORN IN AS 13TH SUPERINTENDENT OF VIRGINIA STATE POLICE

By MARK BOWES , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gary T. Settle was sworn in Thursday as superintendent of the Virginia State Police, replacing Col. W. Steven Flaherty, who announced his retirement last month after 14 years at the helm. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Settle’s promotion last month on the same day he announced that Flaherty would retire, effective Feb. 1. Settle is a 32-year law enforcement veteran who most recently served as director of the department’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Congress


VIRGINIA'S SENATORS ASK FOR OFF-SHORE DRILLING HEARINGS IN VIRGINIA BEACH AND EASTERN SHORE

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

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner requested Thursday that federal officials conduct public hearings in Virginia Beach and the state’s Eastern Shore on proposals to allow drilling for oil and gas off Virginia’s coast. The Virginia Democrats sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking for the hearings after Zinke’s department shunned the coastal communities and set up one in-state hearing in Richmond.



KAINE, WARNER SAY THEY WILL OPPOSE HOUSE FUNDING BILL

By JORDAIN CARNEY , The Hill

Virginia's Democratic senators say they will oppose the House plan to fund the government, putting the bill on an increasingly uphill path in the Senate. "We oppose the House Continuing Resolution, which punts budget discussions until mid-February," Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said in a joint statement Thursday.

Economy/Business


‘GAME-CHANGER’: AMAZON’S HQ2 SHORTLIST INCLUDES D.C., MONTGOMERY AND NORTHERN VA.

By ROBERT MCCARTNEY, BRIAN FUNG AND RACHEL CHASON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Washington region won three spots on Amazon.com’s list to host its second headquarters and the accompanying 50,000 jobs on Thursday when the online retail giant included the District, Northern Virginia and Montgomery County on its shortlist of 20 possible locations.



A SURPRISE ON THE SHORT LIST FOR AMAZON HQ2: THREE AREAS AROUND WASHINGTON, D.C.

By SCOTT CALVERT, Wall Street Journal (Paywall)

Three of the 20 finalists on Amazon.com Inc.’s short list for its second headquarters are in the area around the nation’s capital—Washington, D.C.; Montgomery County, Md.; and Northern Virginia. Their candidacy sets up an unusual competition among neighbors that are as close as a 5-mile drive apart.



D.C. OFFERS GLIMPSE AT HOW LUCRATIVE A DEAL IT OFFERED AMAZON

By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ , Washington Business Journal

The District has offered Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) an incentives package that would far exceed the record-setting deal it offered to retain The Advisory Board Co. in a bid to win the Seattle-based firm's second headquarters.



VIRGINIA TO INTENSIFY COURTSHIP OF AMAZON FOR HQ2 SITE IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA

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

The courtship is getting serious for Virginia to woo Amazon to build its second world headquarters in Northern Virginia, one of 20 urban areas in North America on the short list for a project that could produce a $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs for the winner.



AMAZON NARROWS HQ2 FINALISTS TO 20, AND VIRGINIA BEACH DOESN'T MAKE THE CUT

By ALISSA SKELTON , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In the end, even “the greatest city in the world” couldn’t persuade Amazon to build a second headquarters in Virginia Beach. But Mayor Will Sessoms said it was worth the shot. “If we don’t try, we will never get anything,” Sessoms said. “I don’t regret it a minute. I think we will evaluate what criteria Amazon wanted to see, and we learn from it.”



ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PANEL BACKS FUNDING FOR 5 WESTERN VIRGINIA PROJECTS

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

A regional economic development council has recommended five projects for state funding under the new GO Virginia initiative. Two of the proposals involve construction: building water and sewer lines on a 109-acre site that is being primed for economic development at the intersection of Interstate 81 and Interstate 581 in Roanoke County, and the completion of grading for a potential new tenant at the New River Valley Commerce Park in Pulaski County.



ALPHA MOVING CORPORATE OFFICES TO BRISTOL

By DAVID MCGEE , Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 12 articles a month)

Alpha Natural Resources is returning to Bristol next month and its corporate offices will soon occupy space in a long-vacant Shelby Street building. The coal producer is scheduled to relocate its approximately 80-member management team and administrative staff from leased space in Kingsport into the third and fourth floors of the E.W. King building at 636 Shelby St.

Higher Education


JEFFERSON COLLEGE TO MERGE WITH RU

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Carilion Clinic’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences will become part of Radford University under a plan announced Thursday. The merger of Jefferson into Radford’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services is expected to take up to two years to complete, as leaders of the three entities determine how to combine the private college with the public university, which programs to keep, expand or create, and the types of housing and other services the students will require.

Virginia Other


WATER LEVELS AROUND CHESAPEAKE BAY WANE IN WAKE OF EPIC COLD, NORTH WINDS

By TAMARA DIETRICH, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hampton Roads is known as a global hot spot for rapid sea level rise, but the recent cold snap seems to have put sea level rise on retreat. Temporarily. Experts at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point report that a spate of lower water levels and tides noted around the Chesapeake Bay are likely a matter of the natural winter cycle, planetary alignment and a complex suite of atmospheric forces.

Local


LOUDOUN COUNTY SUPERVISORS NARROWLY APPROVE TRUE NORTH DATA CENTER

By CRYSTAL OWENS, Loudoun Times

Loudoun supervisors in a controversial vote Thursday rezoned 106 acres in the county’s Transition Policy Area to make room for True North, a 760,000-square-foot data center, going against staff recommendations and, according to those opposed to the facility, setting a dangerous precedent. Those who voted to approve the Dallas-based Compass Datacenters application said data centers already exist in the area – “Data Center Alley” is about five miles away – and the facility will bring in $22 million in annual revenue that can go toward education and needed infrastructure in the county.



HOPEWELL NEWS CLOSES ITS DOORS

By JOHN ADAM, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

The Hopewell News, the publication that covered the Hopewell area for almost 100 years, announced Thursday morning that it is closing its doors.

TV/Radio


DELEGATE: STRIP SEARCHES NEEDED TO FIGHT OPIOIDS

By MICHAEL LEE POPE, WVTF

Sheriffs across Virginia are worried that the opioid crisis is coming to a jail near you. That is why they are asking Delegate Patrick Hope, a Democrat from Arlington, to introduce legislation allowing strip searches of inmates. “These drugs are very serious because in fentanyl a grain the size of a grain of salt someone can overdose on, and so it’s a very serious concern of the jails,” Hope said.

Online News


CW’S PAST FINANCIAL STRUGGLES CONTINUE TO COME TO LIGHT

By STEVE ROBERTS, JR., Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily

Colonial Williamsburg’s past financial struggles continue to come to light nearly half a year after it ‘fundamentally restructured’ and laid off 71 employees. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has released its 2016 tax returns, indicating the organization’s endowment shrank by nearly $58.6 million. The returns also show a slight increase in the total amount of admission ticket revenue, according to the tax documents.



CHAIRMAN WANTS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS TO HAVE ‘UNFETTERED’ ACCESS TO PREDECESSORS’ EMAILS

By STACY SHAW, Bristow Beat

Prince William School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers wants to add an item to the school board agenda that would allow board members to gain full access to their predecessor’s emails. Additionally, in a letter to Brentsville school board representative, Gil Trenum, Sawyers told Trenum he would need to recuse himself from that vote because it would benefit him as a long time member.


Today's Sponsor:

JazzRVA.com

The Richmond jazz calendar. Your web connector to live music for the anatomy: heart, guts, brains. JazzRVA.com has a crush on VPAP.

Editorials


IS VIRGINIA'S GOP OBLIGED TO THROW IN THE TOWEL? OF COURSE NOT.

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

As the Virginia General Assembly gets to work and Gov. Ralph Northam begins his four-year term, there have been multiple reminders to Republicans, including several from newspaper editorial pages, that the GOP rather decisively lost the 2017 elections. And indeed it did. All three Republican candidates for statewide office were beaten soundly. After that kind of shellacking, the Republicans should be expected to show some humility, perhaps the rarest of human virtues on display in the halls of capitols everywhere.



AT LONG LAST, JUSTICE FOR STATE'S TRIBES

News & Advance Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

It was Martin Luther King Jr., whose life the nation commemorated Monday, who once observed at the height of the civil rights movement, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”



RADFORD-JEFFERSON COLLEGE MERGER SHOWS ROANOKE IS THE FUTURE

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

“Roanoke is the future.” How often do we hear that? And yet here we are: That’s exactly Radford University President Brian Hemphill had to say in describing Thursday’s announcement that Carilion’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences will be merging into Radford’s programs.



EXPANDED PUBLIC INPUT IS HEARTENING

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

We like the way City Council’s thinking. Charlottesville’s governing body is considering adding ways to help residents share their opinions with their leaders.



LET LOCALITIES DECIDE IF THEY WANT TO FINANCE SPORTS STADIUMS

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

SPORTS franchises are a point of pride for many American localities. That pride, though, comes at a cost. Stadiums and coliseums must be built for those teams, and much of the bill falls to taxpayers. Del. Michael Webert of the Virginia House of Delegates’ 18th District thinks the price is too high, which is why he’s introducing legislation that would prohibit all taxpayer financing of professional sports stadiums in Virginia.

Op-Ed


TOMAZIN: STATE PROGRAM IS CLEANING WATERWAYS ACROSS VIRGINIA

By REBECCA LEPRELL TOMAZIN, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Clean water is one topic that Virginians of all political stripes agree on. In fact, pollution in local rivers, streams, and lakes is an important issue for 98 percent of Virginia voters, according to a 2017 poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy and the Virginia Environmental Endowment. Fortunately, this General Assembly session Virginia legislators have the opportunity to invest in the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, a highly competitive grant program to help communities reduce pollution and restore local waterways.

Rebecca LePrell Tomazin is the Virginia executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.



WILSON: NURSE PRACTITIONER MODERNIZATION BILL WILL HELP ROANOKE’S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

By NANCY DEVILBISS WILSON, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

As members of the healthcare industry in Roanoke, we strive to ensure that the needs of all of our patients are met. Unfortunately, state laws prevent us from doing our job as we were educated and trained, but a bill (HB 793) that is making its way through the General Assembly could change that. If passed, HB 793 — introduced by Del. Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield) — would remove restrictions on board certified nurse practitioners (NPs), as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Federal Trade Commission

Wilson is a Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified in Roanoke

The Friday Read


ALMOST 35 YEARS AGO, SHE LET A STRANGER HOLD HER NEWBORN. IT HAS HAUNTED HER EVER SINCE.

By PAUL DUGGAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

...The woman, about 5-foot-3 and slender, struck up a conversation with Williams in the passenger waiting area, cooing over Williams’s infant daughter. After a while, in the sweetest voice, she asked whether she could hold the child. Please? Just for a minute?

From vpap.org


VISUALIZATION: HOW REPRESENTATIVE ARE VIRGINIANS' REPRESENTATIVES?

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP's latest data visualization looks at how the 100-member House and 40-member Senate compare to Virginia's population based on four metrics: age, education, race and gender.