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VaNews

Tuesday December 10, 2019

FROM VPAP


VISUALIZATION: COMPARING CANDIDATES' SOURCE OF FUNDS

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP ranks General Assembly candidates by the percentage of money from six types of campaign donors, ranging from small donors who give $100 or less to businesses that lobby the state legislature. There's also an option to view each category by dollar amount. The updated campaign finance numbers run through November 28.


VISUALIZATION: THE MILLION-DOLLAR CLUB

The Virginia Public Access Project

A record 34 legislative candidates spent $1 million or more this election cycle. That's nearly twice the previous record for a part-time job with an annual salary of less than $20,000.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH


NORTHAM UNVEILS PLAN TO BOOST MATERNAL HEALTH, REDUCE RACIAL DISPARITIES

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget proposal will include a $22 million investment to boost health care access and support for new moms and babies, as well as to reduce the racial disparity in the state’s maternal mortality rate. The plan would fund the expansion of the state’s Medicaid offerings for uninsured pregnant women, including extended coverage and reimbursement for support services like educational home visits. The plan would also increase access to contraceptives.


NORTHAM PROPOSES SPENDING TO STOP BLACK WOMEN FROM DYING IN CHILDBIRTH

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

Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday proposed spending nearly $22 million over two years to help reduce maternal mortality rates among women of color, previewing the stamp he’ll put on the state’s budget when it comes out next week.


NORTHAM WANTS TO SPEND $22 MILLION TO REDUCE WOMEN’S DEATHS AFTER CHILDBIRTH

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

Virginia’s pediatrician governor wants to tackle maternal mortality, the premature deaths of women who’ve just given birth, with $22 million of new spending. Gov. Ralph Northam’s early hint of his plans for the next two-year state budget — the first he’s solely responsible for and the first in more than two decades to go to a General Assembly with Democratic majorities — suggests it will be heavy on human services spending.


VIRGINIA CONSIDERS GAS TAX HIKE TO COVER GROWING TRANSPORTATION NEEDS

By MAX SMITH, WTOP

With huge demands for transportation improvements across Virginia, the state could raise gas taxes next year, Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine suggested Monday. Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration plans to include transportation funding initiatives in his agenda in the General Assembly session starting in January, including some type of new revenues and restoring funding shifted to Metro from local governments in Northern Virginia, Valentine said.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


NORTHAM-BACKED ASSAULT WEAPON BILL WILL INCLUDE ‘GRANDFATHER CLAUSE’ FOR EXISTING GUNS

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

A pending assault weapon ban backed by Gov. Ralph Northam will include a provision allowing Virginians to keep firearms they already have, the governor’s office said Monday.


AT CAPITOL RALLY, VAN CLEAVE PROMISES MASSIVE LOBBYING EFFORT ON GUN RIGHTS NEXT YEAR

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

In a warmup to a Jan. 20 rally, about 100 gun rights supporters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday to decry a state Senate bill they said would turn law-abiding citizens into felons. Philip Van Cleave, the state’s most powerful gun rights activist, promised a lobbying effort the likes of which Virginia’s legislators had not seen in 10 to 15 years


VIRGINIA GUN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS VOW TO FIGHT NEW RESTRICTIONS

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

More than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday in Virginia, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership.


NINE JUDGES FALTER IN PERFORMANCE SURVEYS

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

At least nine incumbent Virginia trial court judges seeking new terms could expect tough questions this month about their reviews from attorneys and others. The Supreme Court of Virginia released Judicial Performance Evaluation reports Nov. 26 for 50 judges eligible for re-election by the 2020 General Assembly. Since the preparation of those reports, three of the surveyed judges decided to retire.


VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS, EAGER TO DELIVER ON CAMPAIGN PROMISES, INTRODUCE FAIR HOUSING BILL

By JOHN RILEY, Metro Weekly

In the decade since Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) first took office, fair housing bills have been introduced each year in the Virginia General Assembly, only to never see the light of day under Republican leadership. Come January, McQuinn is hoping that Democratic control of the House of Delegates will break that legislative impasse.


RICHMOND COUNCILMAN RENEWS PUSH FOR LOCAL CONTROL OVER CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS

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

A Richmond councilman is renewing his push for local control of Richmond’s Confederate monuments. At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Councilman Michael Jones reintroduced a resolution requesting the state grant Richmond authority over its statues. With Democrats taking control of the Virginia General Assembly, Jones said the request, if endorsed by the council, could win approval from state lawmakers.


VIRGINIA DELEGATE FILES GREEN NEW DEAL BILL

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

The Green New Deal has got people talking in Washington, and now it looks as if it will in Richmond, too. Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, has filed a Virginia Green New Deal Act, which aims to move the state away from fossil fuels.


LAWSUITS TURN SPOTLIGHT ON ANTI-SLAPP LAW

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

A California congressman and his multiple libel lawsuits in Virginia courts have triggered a nationwide explosion of satire while increasing pressure to beef up a Virginia law designed to discourage baseless defamation actions. Free speech advocates say Virginia has one of the weakest anti-SLAPP statutes in the nation.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS


EX-REP. SCOTT TAYLOR TO SEEK OLD VIRGINIA SEAT

By REID WILSON, The Hill

Former Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) will drop his challenge to Sen. Mark Warner (D) and will instead run for his old seat in Congress. Two sources familiar with Taylor’s thinking said he has begun making calls in recent days to Virginia Republicans to tell them of his decision. Taylor’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.


GOP CANDIDATE BEN LOYOLA SLAMS SCOTT TAYLOR OVER REPORT THAT HE WILL END SENATE BID TO SEEK FORMER HOUSE SEAT

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

Ben Loyola, a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 2nd District, slammed former Rep. Scott Taylor, a fellow Republican, on Monday over a news report that said Taylor is abandoning his bid to challenge Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and will instead run for his former House seat. Loyola is running to challenge Rep. Elaine Luria, D-2nd, who beat Taylor a year ago to flip the Hampton Roads seat that is based in Virginia Beach.

STATE GOVERNMENT


VIRGINIA MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES AVOID BAN ON THC VAPE PRODUCTS

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

After initially mulling a blanket prohibition on vape products in Virginia’s soon-to-launch medical marijuana market, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy is instead pursuing an emergency ban on one ingredient sometimes found in black-market products, vitamin E acetate. The sticky additive is thought to be responsible for thousands of vaping-related injuries and dozens of deaths around the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


SHORTAGE OF CLERKS AT CRISIS LEVEL IN VIRGINIA'S DISTRICT COURTS

By MALLORY NOE-PAYNE, WVTF

Earlier this fall, the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Virginia stood before lawmakers pleading. He was asking for more money so courts across the state could hire more clerks. According to his office, more than half of the state’s district courts are under-staffed. That includes large counties like Fairfax, Chesapeake and Henrico - but also smaller courts in Smyth, Carroll and Rockingham Counties.


STATE STUDY SHOWS FEW LARGE SITES IN VIRGINIA ARE READY TO MARKET FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

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

Virginia has 466 large sites available for development as factories, distribution centers and other job-producing businesses, but just 30 are ready to market in competition with other states for big economic development projects, according to a new state study presented to the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board on Monday.

CONGRESS


MONEY GIVEN TO VIRGINIA BEACH VICTIM FUND WOULD BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE UNDER LURIA’S BILL

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

The House of Representatives passed a bill Monday to make sure donations to the fund for families of those killed or wounded in the May 31 Virginia Beach mass shooting are tax deductible. The bill, introduced by Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, addresses one loophole in federal tax law that says cash donations ordinarily can’t be treated as charitable contributions if intended for the exclusive use of a family.


VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC REP IN SWING DISTRICT FACES HEAT AT TOWN HALL OVER IMPEACHMENT

By DEVAN COLE, CNN

A Virginia Democratic congresswoman who was a reluctant supporter of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump found herself in the middle of a tense town hall on Sunday when she explained her position on the matter. Constituents in Rep. Abigail Spanberger's moderate district -- she unseated Republican Rep. Dave Brat last year -- who both supported and opposed the impeachment effort shouted at times during the event in Spotsylvania, Virginia.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


VIRGINIA LEGAL LANDSCAPE SHIFTS AS CANNABIS SUPPORT GROWS

By JEFF RAINES AND MORGAN EDWARDS, Associated Press

We do grams, eighths, quarters, half ounces, pounds, wholesale pounds -- however you want it,” Jacob Stretch said, standing between crates of dried hemp in his living room that doubles as his hemp processing and drying facility. Stretch, owner of Chesapeake Blue, just finished his first season growing industrial hemp as a registered grower and processor on his family’s farm. Industrial hemp is poised to be a fast growing sector of agriculture in Virginia.

VIRGINIA OTHER


AGS URGE ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION TO CONTINUE

Associated Press

Attorneys general from 18 states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to continue. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office will lead the coalition. A friend of the court brief scheduled to be filed Monday argues that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, erred when it ruled last December that the U.S. Forest Service lacked authority to grant the pipeline rights of way across the Appalachian Trail and through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests.

LOCAL


A POLITICAL BOSS WHO RULED WITH KINDNESS LEAVES THE STAGE

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

During three decades on Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova became known as perhaps the nicest elected official in Northern Virginia, barely raising her voice during painful budget debates or the acrimony over a 2013 police shooting that brought shame to her community of 1.1 million residents.


LOUDOUN COUNTY SUPERVISORS OPPOSE SECOND AMENDMENT SUPPORT IN LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 3 voted against supporting a Second Amendment policy statement within its Richmond legislative program. After items on affordable housing and waiving land use permit fees were quickly added to the program, the board’s mood shifted after Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) asked the board to consider supporting a policy statement showing affirmation for the Second Amendment.


USING HAND-HELD DEVICES WHILE DRIVING IN RICHMOND WILL SOON BE ILLEGAL

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

The Richmond City Council on Monday unanimously passed a measure banning the use of hand-held devices while driving within the city limits. Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration proposed the ban in October, citing a desire to reduce traffic fatalities and promote safer streets. Distracted drivers have killed or hurt 218 people in the city this year, according to Richmond Police Department figures provided in a city news release.


BEDFORD COUNTY DECLARES ITSELF A SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY

By SHANNON KEITH, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors declared Bedford County a Second Amendment sanctuary on Monday during a meeting attended by more than 1,000 residents who came to voice concerns their gun rights will be infringed by Gov. Ralph Northam and Democratic legislators in January.


BRISTOL VIRGINIA COUNCIL STOPS SHORT OF APPROVING “SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY” RESOLUTION

By LURAH LOWERY, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Bristol Virginia City Council voted unanimously Monday to oppose proposed state gun-control legislation but stopped short of approving the city as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” The council, in a called meeting, approved a resolution in support of the U.S. Constitution and Virginia’s Constitution.

EDITORIALS


MEDICAID’S UNTENABLE LINK

Daily Press Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

This month, Gov. Ralph Northam announced his intentions to pull Virginia back from the Medicaid work requirement passed in 2018. Medicaid expansion has opened access to quality health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s poorest residents. The legislation’s passage was hailed as an example of bipartisan compromise that comes around so infrequently in Richmond. Northam’s announcement, however, has soured the political waters ahead of the 2020 legislative session, even as it releases the commonwealth from prolonged legal challenges


LET'S GET ALL RACIST LAWS OFF BOOKS, FINALLY

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

A state commission initiated by Gov. Ralph Northam has rounded up some 100 old, racist Virginia laws from the Jim Crow era that it recommends be repealed during the upcoming General Assembly session. This is one of those issues that no one can be against, right?


VIRGINIA MISSED A CHANCE TO GIVE WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE

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

Virginia could have been first. That’s the one thing we want you to remember today. Virginia wasn’t first, though, so Wyoming was. One hundred and fifty years ago today, Wyoming — then a territory, not yet a state — became the first place in the United States to give women the right to vote.

OP-ED


WATKINS AND REGELBRUGGE: FARM WORKFORCE BILL OFFERS HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY

By JOHN C. WATKINS AND CRAIG REGELBRUGGE, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In the face of the partisan gridlock gripping our nation’s capital, we are on the cusp of a historic opportunity to make legislative progress on one of the toughest policy issues of our time. We’re referring to a House bill known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, now scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Modernizing our immigration system is in our national interest.

John C. Watkins of Powhatan County is a former state senator and past chair of the legislative policy committee for AmericanHort. Craig Regelbrugge is senior vice president of advocacy and research at AmericanHort, representing the horticulture industry.