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VaNews

Monday March 18, 2019

FROM VPAP


VISUALIZATION: ROLE OF DONOR NETWORKS IN 2017 HOUSE ELECTIONS

The Virginia Public Access Project

A decade ago, Republicans and Democrats had similarly sized networks of individuals who donated to multiple candidates for the House of Delegates. By 2017, however, the Democratic network had grown dramatically, giving Democrats an edge of nearly a $1 million. VPAP's latest data visualization lets you explore these data networks -- to see who was giving and who was receiving.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH


NORTHAM SIGNS LEGISLATION AMENDING STUDENT PRIVACY LAW

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill this week amending a law barring schools from disclosing student directory information. Last year, Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, sponsored a bill that said no school could disclose student contact information unless students or their parents explicitly say otherwise.


BILL SIGNED TO IMPROVE 'STEP THERAPY'

By LAINE GRIFFIN, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Dr. Harry Gewanter is still in a state of shock that House Bill 2126, which changes an insurance requirement known as “step therapy,” was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam this week. The bill, introduced by Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, was signed Wednesday, making Virginia the 20th state to improve insurance protocol, which will help patients receive the medication they need more efficiently.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


SUIT OVER VA. REDISTRICTING FACES ONE MORE BATTLE

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

After years of legal maneuvering and roughly $4.5 million spent by Republican leaders in the House of Delegates, Virginia’s long-running lawsuit over racial gerrymandering is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court for what could be the final battle. On Monday morning, the high court will hear oral arguments in the case that has forced Virginia to adopt a redrawn House map that has already reshaped the political landscape heading into a high-stakes election year.


U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR ARGUMENTS IN APPEAL OF VIRGINIA RACIAL GERRYMANDERING CASE

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

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in a redistricting case that could help determine the balance of power in Virginia’s legislature for years to come. A panel of lower-court judges ruled last year that 11 Virginia House of Delegates districts were racially gerrymandered and ordered a new map to correct them. House Republicans appealed that finding and will argue against the new map Monday before the high court.


U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING COULD HELP TIP BALANCE OF POWER IN RICHMOND NEXT YEAR

By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia Republicans will try to convince U.S. Supreme Court justices Monday that a state legislative map drawn nearly a decade ago is fair and doesn’t improperly use voters’ race as a factor. At stake is what House of Delegates candidates thousands of Virginia voters will see on their ballots this fall — which could help determine whether Republicans keep their narrow majority or Democrats take control.


RPS ATTENDANCE OFFICERS’ JOBS ON CHOPPING BLOCK DESPITE CRUCIAL NEED, SERVICE

By JEREMY LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

With little public attention, the Richmond delegation to the General Assembly joined most Democrats and Republicans last year in voting to dismantle most of the 20-year-old requirements imposed on Virginia public schools to prevent truancy. The bill that became law doubled from five to 10 the number of days that a student could miss, allowed schools to wait another 10 days before meeting with parents, eliminated most of the authority of school attendance officers to be involved and allowed school districts to use volunteers instead of paid staff to work on attendance issues.

STATE ELECTIONS


MODERATE DEMOCRATS IN VA. UNDER FIRE FROM LIBERALS

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

Over four decades, Virginia Sen. Richard L. Saslaw — the dean of the Democrats in Richmond — has embodied what political insiders call the “Virginia Way,” forging bipartisan deals and casting a mostly friendly eye toward business. That old-school approach is under attack by the party’s left wing headed into the 2019 elections, as energized liberals look to deepen their stand against President Trump and push for policies they see as more friendly to the environment, immigrants and women’s rights.


DICK SASLAW EMERGING AS TOP TARGET FOR LEFT-LEANING DEMS

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE

Dick Saslaw has served in the state legislature since 1976 and is the top Democrat in the state senate. The 79 year-old Saslaw sponsored bills this year that would create an independent redistricting commission and raise the smoking age to 21. But a host of progressive groups are backing human rights attorney Yasmine Taeb in what is shaping up to be one of the closest watched primaries in the state.


REEVES DEFENDS THREAT TO SUE GOP CHALLENGER BREEDEN FOR DEFAMATION

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A legal threat may have soured an already packed race for the 17th District state Senate seat. Republican hopeful Rich Breeden said two-term incumbent Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, threatened to sue him for defamation this past week during a chat they had after filing their paperwork to run.


CULPEPER GOP CELEBRATES VICTORIES, GIRDS AGAINST DEMOCRATS' TAKEOVER

By CLINT SCHEMMER, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

This year was ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ in Richmond.” That’s how state Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, kicked things off Saturday morning as the Culpeper County Republican Committee warmed up members and friends for this summer’s party primary.

STATE GOVERNMENT


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCLUDES 'HOMESTEADING' PROJECT FOR SW VIRGINIA

By JENAY TATE, Dickenson Star

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has recommended 10 coalfield-region projects for millions of dollars in federal abandoned mine land reclamation funds, including ones with direct economic impact on Dickenson County. The big winners, if funding is approved, will be a conventional industry site development project — and an unconventional initiative to bring new residents here through a homesteading project.

CONGRESS


KAINE: TRUMP’S RHETORIC ‘EMBOLDENS’ WHITE NATIONALISTS

By CONNOR O’BRIEN, Politico

Sen. Tim Kaine on Sunday slammed President Donald Trump’s rhetoric in the wake of a shooting that killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand. In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, ripped Trump for not calling out white nationalists and for “using language that emboldens them.”


REP. WEXTON ADDRESSES WHITE NATIONALISM, STUDENT DEBT DURING 1ST TOWN HALL

By MELISSA HOWELL, WTOP

The auditorium at Goshen Post Elementary School in Aldie, Virginia, was packed Sunday afternoon for Rep. Jennifer Wexton’s, D-Va. 10, first town hall, where she discussed her progress since taking office before giving residents a chance to ask her about the issues most important to them. Some of the main concerns: offshore drilling and the effects of climate change. She also stood by her call for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to step down.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


LONG-TERM-CARE INSURERS ASK VIRGINIA TO APPROVE HUGE PREMIUM HIKES

By DAVE RESS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Insurers are seeking increases of as much as 339.6 percent in the premiums they charge for long-term-care policies — the coverage many Virginians expect will pay for any nursing home bills or home health care. The companies, including Richmond-based Genworth Financial, moved aggressively into the business in the 1990s, but have long faced challenges pricing the product so that it generates enough of a pool of money to cover the ever-rising cost of long-term care.


COMPANY WRONGLY EVICTED SERVICEMEMBERS IN VIRGINIA BEACH

By SCOTT DAUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In 2016, a Virginia Beach sailor was evicted — some would say wrongly — from her apartment. Complaints were made. A federal investigation was launched. She wasn't alone. The property manager behind at least 10 apartment complexes in Virginia entered this week into what federal prosecutors described as the largest settlement ever obtained by the Justice Department against a landlord for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act


COLONIAL DOWNS HIRING FOR 100-PLUS JOBS IN VINTON

By ALICIA PETSKA, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Colonial Downs is gearing up to make its return to the Roanoke Valley next month. The horse track, which is under new ownership and reviving its network of sites, is looking to fill 125 jobs before its grand re-opening of such a satellite site in Vinton.


CARBON RESEARCH TO GET FUNDING

By STAFF REPORT, Coalfield Progress

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has closed a loan for up to $1.5 million for a carbon research and development project in Wise. The authority announced Monday that it closed the loan Feb. 26 for Carbon Research and Development Co. to locate in the Graphene Research Center at the Lonesome Pine Regional Business and Technology Park.

TRANSPORTATION


STARTUP WANTS TO TURN HAMPTON ROADS INTO PILOT PROJECT FOR HARNESSING THE POWER OF TRAFFIC

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Jim Nigg stood on the shoulder of a Seattle highway and examined a new expansion joint. As thousands of cars hammered on the rubber bit, a thought struck the engineering inspector: How can that wasted energy be harvested? At the time in 1990, Nigg realized the idea wasn't practical, but he kept it in his back pocket and continued on his career. Now, nearly three decades later, Nigg's idea could become a pilot project in Hampton Roads.

HIGHER EDUCATION


‘RAMPANT PLAGIARISM’ AND ‘PATENTLY DEFICIENT’ ONLINE EDUCATION

By ELIZABETH REDDEN, Inside Higher Ed

A small Virginia college that enrolls a predominantly international student population is facing a move by state regulators to seek to shut it down after an audit uncovered academic deficiencies. The staff of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is advancing a recommendation to initiate processes that could lead to the revocation of Virginia International University’s certificate to operate due to concerns uncovered in the audit about academic quality, including concerns about “rampant plagiarism” by students and grade inflation


BUSINESS SCHOOL COULD GET STATE APPROVAL NEXT WEEK

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

Virginia Business College, the new school proposed for the former Virginia Intermont campus, could receive provisional operating approval next week. The college’s application appears on the opening day agenda for the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia’s Academic Affairs Committee. The council meets Monday and Tuesday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The VBC application is accompanied by a resolution to grant provisional approval for one year and a positive staff recommendation.


UVA HOSPITAL CONTINUES TO BE PENALIZED FOR SAFETY ISSUES

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

The University of Virginia Medical Center is facing federal government safety penalties for the fifth year in a row. In the latest round of sanctions, UVa and some 800 other hospitals were docked for having high rates of injuries and infections among patients. UVa will see a reduction to Medicare payments of 1 percent, in addition to a reduction of 0.09 percent for having high rates of patient readmission.

VIRGINIA OTHER


HUNDREDS GATHER TO CELEBRATE JAMES MADISON'S 268TH BIRTHDAY

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Patriotic pomp and circumstance paid a visit to the Madison Family Cemetery on Saturday for a commemoration of the 268th anniversary of the birth of President James Madison....Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, warned against letting the government have too much power, saying those who represent the citizenry are not made of a finer clay. As birds chirped around the scenic setting, the delegate commented that the vast majority of human history is brutal, dark and full of oppression.


DO-OR-DIE DECISION FOR THE CHESAPEAKE BAY

By MARISSA J. LANG, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

He knows where the sea grass likes to grow, where the ospreys return to roost and the oysters have begun to form reefs — like back in the good old days before everything, it seemed, began to wither and die. John Page Williams, a naturalist with the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation, doesn’t want to go back to those days. Those days when he could smell the rot of the river in the middle of winter, when chemical waste and oyster degradation ran unchecked, when the sturgeon disappeared and even the birds seemed to give up hope.

LOCAL


ARLINGTON COUNTY BOARD APPROVES $23 MILLION INCENTIVES PACKAGE FOR AMAZON

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

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved a $23 million incentives package for Amazon to build a headquarters facility in Crystal City at a raucous meeting Saturday repeatedly disrupted by protesters who shouted “shame” and twice forced the board members to briefly leave the room.


AMAZON HQ2 RUNS INTO COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS IN VIRGINIA, TOO

By SCOTT CALVERT, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

Elected officials in Northern Virginia’s Arlington County are expected to approve a hotly debated part of a $2.5 billion deal for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, but critics of the subsidies plan to seek a delay at a public meeting Saturday.


OPEN-RECORDS ACTIVISTS QUESTION AMAZON-ARLINGTON DISCLOSURE CLAUSE

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

Arlington County’s agreement with Amazon has drawn the scrutiny of both activists and a leading Virginia open-records advocate over a clause that gives the company at least two business days to refute, redact or file a lawsuit when someone seeks records of its interaction with the county.


FAIRFAX SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT LAUNCHES REVIEW OF RESTRAINT AND ISOLATION POLICIES

By JENNY ABAMU, WAMU

Fairfax County Public School officials say they’re reviewing policies regarding the use of physical restraint and isolation in the district following an investigation by WAMU revealing hundreds of unreported cases. Documents obtained by WAMU showed that children in Fairfax County Public Schools, some as young as 6 years old, were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times. In some cases, a single child was confined to a room almost 100 times in a school year. Fairfax parents told WAMU that the routine isolation of children caused trauma.


FINE PAID IN CAMPAIGN SIGN CONTROVERSY IN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD RACE

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA

Republican campaign volunteers were met with an unpleasant surprise on Election Day last November. When more than 153,500 citizens headed to the polls to vote in the special election for Prince William County School Board chair, an unknown number were met with red signs declaring “Republicans for Stanley Bender.” The signs stated that they were authorized by a political action committee called “Republicans for Stanley Bender.”


PWCS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS CLASH OVER TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT POLICY

By STACY SHAW, Bristow Beat

Prince William County School Board Occoquan representative Lillie Jessie proposed that her board change its travel policy to allow for board members to be reimbursed for travel inside their districts and to and from board meetings. School division documents shared by Coles school board member Willie Deutsch reveal that between 2016 and 2018, Jessie received $6,772.52 in travel reimbursements. Others on the board submitted $301 or less, in addition to expenses from Virginia conferences they all attended.


POOR RICHMONDERS WOULD BE HIT HARDEST BY CIGARETTE TAX, EXPERTS SAY

By ROBERTO ROLDAN, WCVE

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has proposed a 50-cent cigarette tax as part of his 2020 budget, and tax experts say it will likely fall disproportionately on low-income residents. Research has shown that cigarette taxes, like other taxes on purchased goods, are regressive. With regressive taxes, low-income people spend a larger amount of their income on the tax. Poor Virginians and minorities also smoke more cigarettes, according to the Virginia Department of Health.


AS RICHMOND REGION GROWS, CHARLES CITY COUNTY LAGS

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

David Gaston knows his students likely don’t have the internet when they get home. If they do, it's too slow. Residents here struggle to find a bar or two of cell connection most places. There's no grocery store, no public transportation and a single clinic for health care. But Gaston, superintendent of the Charles City County public school system, is doing what he can to serve his dwindling district.

EDITORIALS


ONE-PARTY POLITICS IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

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

What’s politics without a little controversy? Let’s take a closer look at the one that’s erupted to our west. State Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson, announced on March 5 that he would not be seeking a new term after 18 years in the General Assembly. That news was big enough as is, but it was compounded by the curious timing — Carrico’s announcement came after the deadline for candidates to file for the Republican nomination. By then, Del. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, who had been tipped off by Carrico, had already filed.


HOW TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN THE BEST PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

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

No one ever takes a job in the public sector to get wealthy. Indeed, a public sector “job” isn’t really that — it’s a “vocation,” a calling to public service, be it at the head of a classroom teaching the next generation of America’s leaders, in a squad car serving and protecting the public from crime or in a fire truck or rescue vehicle running toward danger to save innocent lives.


FROM CHARLOTTESVILLE TO CHRISTCHURCH, THE DARK FORCES OF WHITE SUPREMACY

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

t’s 8,806 miles from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Christchurch, New Zealand, but we see now what the true distance between the places is: Only a few squeezes on the trigger of a semi-automatic rifle. Let there be no mistake: In August 2017, white supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, chanting their vile slogans and eventually killing one counter-protester who just happened to be standing in the way. On Friday, a white supremacist attacked two mosques in New Zealand, gunning down worshippers by the score. These events may be a world apart but they are separated only by degrees — and the death toll.

COLUMNISTS


SCHAPIRO: ANOTHER CASUALTY OF NORTHAM EXPOSURE - VA. PRESIDENTIAL RACE

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Before Feb. 1, several Democratic presidential candidates were considering early splashes in Virginia, a blue-trending state and the only one in the South that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. After Feb. 1, these candidates were reconsidering, bringing to a halt plans for possible appearances and fundraising forays, not just for themselves but for candidates in the approaching state elections that could restore Democratic majorities in the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate.

OP-ED


EDWARDS: I-81 TRANSPORTATION FIX REQUIRES STATEWIDE FUNDING

By JOHN EDWARDS, Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Interstate 81, running 325 miles from Bristol to Winchester, carries 41 percent of all interstate truck miles traveled in Virginia, and is critical to the movement of goods in the eastern United States. It is also critical to Virginia’s economy. A statewide increase in funding is warranted and needed to support critical improvements to I-81....As a major Virginia interstate, the need to “fix” the problems on I-81 calls for a statewide solution. It is not just a regional problem. It cannot be solved by a regional approach alone, such as by regional taxes or tolls, for both practical and political reasons.

John Edwards represents the 21st District in the Virginia Senate, which covers Roanoke, Giles County, and parts of Montgomery and Roanoke counties. He is a Democrat.


ROBERTS: REDUCED STATE SUPPORT HURTS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

By JAMES T. ROBERTS, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

THE MOST RECENT session of the Virginia General Assembly, which recently ended, was the 10th since the 2009 session, during which funding for public education in the state of Virginia was decimated, primarily due to the recession. Many programs and other elements of the state budget felt the reductions, but none as heavily as public education. As if those cuts were not bad enough, the more difficult part of this story is that the state budget approved on Feb. 24 has not restored the majority of those dollars to K-12 education

James T. Roberts, Ph.D., was the superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools from 2010 to 2018.


MORSE: ONLY PRESSURE WILL IMPROVE MILITARY HOUSING

By GORDON C. MORSE, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

“THIS IS NOT right,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said after visiting Norfolk recently to hear about problems with military housing conditions. By Thursday, having just left Fort Belvoir after another session with upset military families, Warner’s language had warmed further, with the senator’s anger palpable.

After writing editorials for The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, then spent nearly three decades working on behalf of corporate and philanthropic organizations.


JONES: ASSEMBLY FOLLOWED THROUGH ON BUDGET PROMISES

By CHRIS JONES, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

THE 2019 SESSION of the General Assembly marked my 22nd year representing the citizens of Suffolk and Chesapeake and my sixth year as chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates. It is an honor and privilege to lead this committee and I recognize the importance of not only producing a balanced budget that meets the needs of Virginia, but also make strategic investments for our future.

Chris Jones represents the 76th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.


WILLIAMS: CONGRESS SHOULD CONSIDER MORE METRO REFORMS

By ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS, Published in the Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

One year ago, our region was on the brink of a historic moment. Regional leaders came together to provide Metro with the $500 million in additional, annual, dedicated funding needed to support the future safety, reliability and vitality of the system.

Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, was D.C. mayor from 1999 to 2007. He is chief executive and executive director of the Federal City Council.


TOSCANO: WHEN IT COMES TO ENERGY, THE WEEDS IS A GOOD PLACE TO BE

By DAVID TOSCANO, Published in the Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

We hear a lot today about the Green New Deal, a great aspirational statement that tells us much about where we want and where we need to go but often lacks specifics. The real deal on energy policy is in the details, the weeds of social and economic policy. In Virginia, that means understanding the State Corporation Commission and how it works to support or frustrate the intent of the legislature and sound energy policy.

David Toscano, a Democrat, represents Charlottesville in the Virginia House of Delegates.


DIAMOND: STOP THE SPEED CAMERA SHAKEDOWN IN VIRGINIA

By RICHARD DIAMOND, Published in the Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has until midnight on March 26 to decide whether speed cameras should be unleashed on Old Dominion highways. A bill that would expand the use of automated ticketing machines sits on the governor’s desk. Before he pulls out his pen to sign the measure, Northam ought to take note of the reaction to the government’s abuse of motorists in France.

Richard Diamond lives in Alexandria and is a senior director at the White House Writers Group.