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VaNews

Tuesday May 21, 2019

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


CANNABIS GROUP SEEKS TO INFLUENCE VIRGINIA HEMP, MARIJUANA REGULATIONS

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

An industry group has formed to advance the commercialization of cannabis in Virginia and is seeking to both broaden the number of licensed medical marijuana processors and to allow the use of CBD oil made from hemp to be added to food and supplements.

STATE ELECTIONS


AT FORUM, DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATES DISCUSS ABORTION RIGHTS

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

The two Democrats running in the June 11 primary for the chance to challenge state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, said they would make abortion rights a focus of the general election campaign and said Virginia is at risk of Alabama-style legislation banning abortion if Democrats don’t win the General Assembly this year. Republicans control the Senate 21-19, and the 12th District seat is near the top of the list of targets Democrats hope to flip.


STILL NO WORD FROM SUPREME COURT AS VIRGINIA PRIMARY NEARS

By BEN PAVIOUR, WCVE

It’s been over two months since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a redistricting case that could affect Virginia’s legislative maps in the upcoming June 11 primaries. Followers of the case say the court’s slow response suggests that new maps favored by Democrats are likely to survive through this November’s elections.


WYATT CLAIMS VICTORY IN 97TH AS GOP PANEL BACKS APPEAL; PEACE CALLS VOTE IMPROPER

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

Hanover County Supervisor Scott Wyatt claimed victory Monday night in the chaotic Republican nomination fight in the 97th House District against Del. Chris Peace, R-Hanover. The GOP’s 1st Congressional District Committee, meeting at the Stafford County Government Center, voted 17-5 in favor of an appeal filed by the Wyatt campaign opposing a decision by the 97th Legislative District Committee to pick the nominee in a June 1 party canvass.


1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT COMMITTEE VOTES TO UPHOLD WYATT'S APPEAL

By JACK JACOBS, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 5 Articles per Month)

The GOP 1st Congressional District Committee voted Monday to uphold an appeal filed by Hanover Supervisor Scott Wyatt against the 97th Legislative District Committee’s decision to hold a party canvass. Wyatt, who is tangled in a political fight against Del. Chris Peace for the GOP nod, filed his appeal to challenge the 97th District Committee’s decision to cancel the disputed May 4 convention just days before the convention occurred.


FINNEGAN, COPELAND RAMP UP (DIFFERENT) APPROACHES TO REACH DEMOCRATIC VOTERS

By MOLLY LONG, Harrisonburg Citizen

Brent Finnegan and Cathy Copeland, the two Democratic candidates running for the 26th state House seat, might leave little space between each other when it comes to their positions on issues, but the two are taking slightly different approaches to connect with voters before the June 11 primary.


TWO CONTESTED PRIMARIES IN THE VALLEY

By JULIA FAIR, News Leader (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Residents will decide the fate of two contested races at the June 11 primary election. The race results will decide who will be the Republican party nominee for the 24th Senate District and the 20th House District. The candidates make up familiar names and newcomers to the world of state politics.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS


FORMER REP. SCOTT TAYLOR SUGGESTS PROSECUTOR IS DRAGGING OUT PETITION PROBE OVER POLITICS

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

Former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd, says he’s concerned that a special prosecutor investigating allegations of petition fraud against Taylor’s former campaign staffers is dragging out the process for political purposes.

STATE GOVERNMENT


TRIAL BEGINS IN CHALLENGE TO 4 ABORTION LAWS IN VIRGINIA

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

A doctor testifying Monday in a lawsuit challenging four abortion-restriction laws in Virginia said abortion is “one of the safest medical procedures that exist.” Dr. Mark Nichols, an obstetrician/gynecologist who worked for years as the medical director of a Planned Parenthood chapter in Oregon, testified as the first witness for women’s health groups who are suing Virginia over laws they say are overly restrictive and limit access to abortion in the state.


COURT CASE SEEKING TO OVERTURN ABORTION RESTRICTIONS OPENS IN VIRGINIA

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A federal trial opened Monday with activists challenging four state laws that restrict abortion, including requirements that clinics meet stringent licensing standards, that patients get an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion and that only doctors perform the procedure in the first trimester.


FEDERAL TRIAL INVOLVING CHALLENGE TO VIRGINIA'S ABORTION LAWS IS UNDERWAY IN RICHMOND

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

A federal trial involving a legal challenge to Virginia abortion laws began in Richmond on Monday with testimony from a witness for the plaintiffs. The first witness, an expert in obstetrics and gynecology, began testifying shortly after 9 a.m. The trial is before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, and not before a jury.


ADVOCATES PUSH FOR NON-EMERGENCY MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

By KATIE O'CONNOR, Virginia Mercury

...Virginia is in the midst of a massive transformation of the behavioral health system so it provides ample access to outpatient and preventative care. The Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services are working on changing Virginia’s Medicaid program so it covers a continuum of behavioral health services.


CHRONIC PAIN PATIENTS RALLY, REFUSE TO ‘SUFFER IN SILENCE’

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

From a wheelchair in her Louisa County home, Amy Withrow is encouraging other people who suffer with chronic pain to let their voices be heard. In recent years, patients such as Withrow, a 35-year-old mother of three with an assortment of auto-immune disorders, have had trouble getting their medicine as a result of the ongoing opioid epidemic.

CONGRESS


MCCONNELL AND KAINE WANT TO RAISE THE FEDERAL SMOKING AGE TO 21

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a bill Monday to raise the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, a measure they say is aimed at reducing teen use of e-cigarettes.


BILL SETS NATIONWIDE SMOKING AGE AT 21

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

A bill has been introduced in Congress to raise the nationwide minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, and its chief backers are two senators whose names rarely appear on the same line politically. Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced Monday they would co-sponsor the Tobacco-Free Youth Act.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


SOFTWARE COMPANY OZMO TO ADD 40 JOBS, DOUBLE DOWN ON BLACKSBURG

By JACOB DEMMITT, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Blacksburg software company Ozmo will add 40 jobs as the 3-year-old startup plans a major expansion over the next year, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday.

TRANSPORTATION


COUNTY BOARD APPROVES TRANSPORTATION FUNDING FOR PROJECTS NEAR AMAZON HQ2

By ALREY, ArlNow

The Arlington County Board voted to fund several transportation projects this weekend that officials had used to woo Amazon during the tech giant’s search for its second headquarters. On Saturday, County Board members approved using $33,850,000 in state funds on the projects. The vote comes after Board members and state legislators pledged millions in transportation upgrades near Amazon’s HQ2 site as long as the company meets certain job creation and space occupancy benchmarks.


EX-AIRPORT DIRECTOR INDICTED

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

The former head of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport was arrested Monday, charged with a series of federal financial crimes involving the airport's secret $4.5 million loan to a defunct airline. Federal prosecutors charged Ken Spirito with 18 counts of of violating federal law, all involving a complicated series of financial transactions.

HIGHER EDUCATION


VCU LOOKS AT OPTIONS - WITH OR WITHOUT BASEBALL STADIUM - FOR ATHLETICS VILLAGE ON ABC PROPERTY

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

Virginia Commonwealth University is making plans — with or without a new baseball stadium with the Richmond Flying Squirrels — for turning 20 acres of state land into a “VCU Athletics Village” that would include tennis and practice facilities, as well as space for academic programs.


STRATFORD UNIVERSITY TO KEEP SHORT PUMP AND TWO OTHER CAMPUSES TEMPORARILY OPEN

By GREGORY J. GILLIGAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Stratford University will keep its campus in western Henrico County and two others in Virginia temporarily open with live classroom instructors but only until all of its currently enrolled students have completed their coursework.

LOCAL


MYSTERY MEMO IN FAIRFAX CO. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAIRMAN RACE REVEALED

By MAX SMITH, WTOP

The initially anonymous memo alleging that the front-runner for Fairfax County, Virginia’s top office had ethical issues originated from a challenger’s campaign. “The memo came from us,” developer Tim Chapman told WTOP Monday.


RRHA ROLLS BACK PLAN FOR DOVE COURT REPLACEMENT UNITS

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority may be pulling back from its promise of providing a replacement unit for each public housing unit it tears down. At least that is the case in the continuing development of the Highland Grove community in North Side, a redevelopment that was once cited as a model for the authority’s future communities when it was begun 12 years ago.


STATE POLICE: CHARGES PENDING AGAINST STRASBURG MAYOR

By MAX THORNBERRY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia State Police issued a media release Monday morning stating charges are pending against Strasburg Mayor Rich Orndorff as a result of an investigation they are conducting into a single-vehicle crash involving him Friday night. Orndorff was flown to INOVA Fairfax Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries after he lost control of the John Deere Gator utility vehicle he was driving


ROANOKE GIVES OFFICIAL NOD TO SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAM

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A syringe exchange in Roanoke has taken another step toward reality. The Roanoke City Council gave its official and unanimous approval Monday for a nonprofit to operate a program aimed at reducing infectious diseases and increasing access to drug treatment.


ROANOKE NAACP LEADER CALLS OUT POLICE CHIEF FOR ‘RAP VIDEO’ COMMENT

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When Roanoke’s police chief took to a podium last week to decry a downtown shooting, he had a message for the justice system: crack down on violent crime. Instead, some of Tim Jones’ remarks have raised eyebrows, prompting debates about issues of race, music, policing and gun violence.


HOW SHERIFF HATCHED A PRESS CONFERENCE TO ANNOUNCE HE WOULD BE SEEKING RE-ELECTION

By PAUL COLLINS AND JAMES WHITLOW, Martinsville Bulletin

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry’s plan to announce that he would seek a fourth term as the sheriff of Henry County was constructed carefully, communicated purposefully and included public employees, public facilities and even law enforcement agents perhaps on the clock in surrounding jurisdictions. Perry in early April directed his captain to stage a press conference and to keep the subject of that briefing unstated to ensure it would attract cameras, microphones and notepads.

EDITORIALS


PROGRESS CURBING EVICTIONS IN VIRGINIA

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The high eviction rate in Virginia is a knotty problem that is far from untangled despite a helpful package of new laws approved earlier this year by the General Assembly. It took years of entrenched attitudes, lax laws and shrinking availability of affordable housing for Virginia to earn the dubious distinction of having the highest eviction rate in the nation.


SO MUCH FOR PLANS TO ADD MORE COUNSELORS

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

In hindsight, the legislation looked so promising. Gov. Ralph Northam announced in his budget proposal last December that he wanted $36 million to begin a three-year program to increase the number of counselors in Virginia public schools. His proposal stemmed from the findings of a Republican-led House of Delegates committee, formed after the Feb. 14, 2018, Parkland school shooting that claimed 17 lives.


AIRBNB POLICIES MUST BE EVEN HANDED

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

There is no question Airbnb provides both hosts and guests a travel experience that did not exist a decade ago. The digital service allows overnight travelers to circumvent traditional hotels by staying in private residences while providing property owners an opportunity to make money by offering available space in their homes, condos and apartments.

OP-ED


ASCH: THE RECENT TUITION FREEZE FOR VIRGINIA’S PUBLIC COLLEGES ISN’T EVEN CLOSE TO ENOUGH

By JACOB ASCH, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Recently, the Board of Visitors for several public colleges in Virginia instituted tuition freezes after receiving an increase in funding from the General Assembly. This is welcome news, as in-state tuition has risen 79% in the past decade. And while we certainly should be celebrating these actions, it is important to note that these small, and likely temporary, measures are not even close to enough to permanently lower tuition rates

Jacob Asch is a rising fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia and the executive editor of The Cavalier Daily student newspaper.


STRICKLER: ADMINISTRATION IS PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

By MATTHEW J. STRICKLER, Published in the Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Protection of the environment and natural resources that define our country is one of the most pressing priorities facing our federal and state governments, and under Gov. Ralph S. Northam, Virginia is leading the way. Shortly after taking office, Gov. Northam negotiated and signed an unprecedented overhaul of Virginia’s electric utility law, setting the stage for historic investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

Strickler is the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia