VaNews

Tuesday January 16, 2018


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Executive Branch


GOV. NORTHAM SPENDS FIRST WORKDAY WATCHING GOP DECIMATE DEMOCRATIC BILLS

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

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam spent the first official workday of his governorship Monday watching gun-control bills he backed get killed off by former colleagues and friends in the state Senate. Two days after Northam (D) assumed office with warm wishes from both sides of the aisle, the limits of bipartisan bonhomie were on display in a Capitol narrowly controlled by Republicans. Many GOP legislators genuinely admire Northam, a former state senator and lieutenant governor, but they still intend to flex their muscle at times.



NORTHAM TELLS LEGISLATORS MEDICAID EXPANSION IS 'A MATTER OF BASIC ECONOMIC JUSTICE'

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

Gov. Ralph Northam used his first speech to the General Assembly to seek common ground with Republicans on workforce training, education and economic development, but he also forcefully called for expansion of the state’s Medicaid program as “a matter of basic economic justice” and challenged them on hot-button Democratic political priorities.



NORTHAM ASKS LAWMAKERS TO PASS PROGRESSIVE AGENDA IN ADDRESS

Associated Press

Saying voters sent a clear message in last November's election, new Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is asking the Republican-backed General Assembly to pass a progressive agenda that includes expanding Medicaid, stricter gun regulations and protecting abortion rights.



JUSTIN FAIRFAX TAKES THE GAVEL, PRESIDES OVER STATE SENATE ON FIRST WORK DAY IN ELECTED OFFICE

By PATRICK WILSON , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was greeted warmly by colleagues from both parties Monday as he began duties presiding over the state Senate. Fairfax’s November win over Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier, sent the lawyer and former federal prosecutor into the part-time statewide office that is considered a steppingstone to running for the governor’s mansion. Fairfax has not held elected office before.

General Assembly


VIRGINIA PANEL VOTES DOWN PUSH FOR STRICTER GUN LAWS

By ALAN SUDERMAN , Associated Press

Newly sworn-in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's push for stricter gun laws was dealt a swift defeat Monday, with a Republican-led Senate panel blocking legislation to increase background checks and limit guns at public rallies. The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted to block legislation that would allow cities and counties to ban firearms at certain public events like the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last summer in which several participants were heavily armed. The committee also voted against a measure that would mandate background checks on all guns bought at gun shows.



MOST OF THE DEMOCRATIC GUN CONTROL AGENDA DIES EARLY IN SENATE COMMITTEE

By PATRICK WILSON AND GRAHAM MOOMAW , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam made a pitch for gun control at a Capitol Square rally Monday afternoon, but much of his firearm agenda had died Monday morning in a Republican-controlled Senate committee. A Democratic bill to require universal background checks for gun purchases — a key component of Northam’s gun agenda — was defeated in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee. Another Northam-backed bill to allow localities to ban firearms at permitted events, which arose from the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year, also failed to get through the committee.



SENATE PANEL VOTES TO BAN BUMP STOCKS

By AYA DRIOUCHE, Northern Virginia Daily

A survivor of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas helped persuade a Virginia Senate committee Monday to approve a bill outlawing bump stocks, a device that allows a rifle to mimic an automatic weapon.



RICHMOND WOMAN WHO WAS AT LAS VEGAS CONCERT MASSACRE PLEADS FOR BUMP STOCKS BAN

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

Cortney Carroll remembers the noise. She thought it was fireworks, but then realized it sounded like a machine gun, “a noise you only hear in the movies.” The Richmond-area resident – a country music lover, a Republican and a gun supporter – remembers the screams, the crying, the confusion and people yelling.



SENATE PANEL KILLS ELECTRICITY RATE FREEZE BILL, PROMISES BIPARTISAN SOLUTION TO COME

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

A Senate panel voted Monday to scrap a bill that would undo a utility rate freeze and lower electricity rates for most Virginia residents. For the second year in a row, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed a measure to undo a controversial rate freeze that locked customers of Appalachian Power Co. and Dominion Energy into base rates that earned the companies millions.



SENATORS KILL EFFORT TO RESTORE STATE CONTROL OVER VA. ELECTRIC RATES, BUT PROMISE TO REVISIT THE ISSUE

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

State senators on Monday killed yet another attempt to restore state control over electricity rates paid by consumers but this time they promised to revisit the issue later in the week. Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) had re-introduced legislation that would lift a rate freeze that Dominion Energy has enjoyed since 2015 - a bill that also failed last year. He pointed out that Virginia voters elected a number of Democrats to the House of Delegates in November who campaigned in part on undoing the General Assembly’s protections for the state’s largest utility and its biggest corporate political donor.



POWERFUL SENATE COMMITTEE KILLS RATE-FREEZE REPEAL; AWAITS SASLAW'S BILL

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Don’t call it Dominion’s bill. Sen. Dick Saslaw of Fairfax, the senior Democrat on the Commerce and Labor Committee, took issue Monday with the idea that his yet-to-be introduced legislation on overhauling a regulatory regime that has allowed Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to pocket hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits since 2015 was not entirely his own.



IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SUSPICIONS AND PROMISES RAISED OVER ELECTRIC RATE CHANGE

By DAVE RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

An electric rate reform that nobody’s seen — but that everyone was talking about Monday as a Senate panel declined to repeal Virginia’s controversial rate freeze — is raising both suspicions and promises in the General Assembly.



VIRGINIA SENATE PANEL VOTES TO RAISE FELONY THEFT THRESHOLD

Associated Press

A bill designed to soften penalties in Virginia for stealing smaller dollar items is moving through the state Senate. A Senate panel voted Monday for a bill to raise the felony threshold from $200 to $500. Virginia has kept its felony bar at $200 since 1980 and is tied with New Jersey for the lowest in the country.



PROPOSED BILL WOULD CHANGE VIRGINIA'S 'THREE-STRIKES' LAW ON PAROLE ELIGIBILITY

By FRANK GREEN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

In March 2007, Michael Swanson was overjoyed when told that after more than a half-dozen tries, he finally had been granted parole. He called his mother with the news. Less than a week later, however, the Virginia Department of Corrections notified him that it had determined he was not eligible for parole and that he was not going anywhere. Once again, he telephoned his mother, who had prepared his room and was planning a welcome-home meal.



BILL WOULD PUNISH FETAL DEATH IN DUI CRASHES

By ALEX BRIDGES, Northern Virginia Daily

A state senator wants to allow prosecutors to go after drunken drivers who cause crashes that result in the death of fetuses. Sen. Mark D. Obenshain filed a bill for consideration in this session of the Virginia General Assembly that, if enacted into law, would expand the crime of involuntary manslaughter to include the accidental death of a fetus as the result of a motor vehicle crash caused by a person who drove under the influence.



ASSEMBLY PANEL ADOPTS SOME FEDERAL TAX CHANGES IN STATE CODE

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

Virginia lawmakers have taken the first step toward conforming the state’s tax code with provisions of sweeping federal tax reforms enacted before Christmas. But they and Gov. Ralph Northam are taking a cautious approach to major changes in state policy — including potential rebates for taxpayers or revising state revenue projections — until they fully understand the effects of the federal law on the state.



NEW RICHMOND DELEGATE PLANS TO KEEP JOB IN STATE GOVERNMENT WHILE SERVING IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, said Monday that she intends to keep her job at a state agency while serving in the General Assembly, despite a legally murky rule laid out in the state Constitution that says “no person holding a salaried office under the government of the Commonwealth” may serve in the legislature. Adams is on unpaid leave from her job as director of the Office of Integrated Health in the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services



JOBS, TOURISM, ROADS, SCHOOLS, OPIOIDS AMONG BILL TOPICS

By JEFF LESTER, Coalfield Progress

Local General Assembly lawmakers have filed dozens of bills that aim to boost regional economic development and tourism, finance major transportation projects, help struggling school divisions, address the opioid crisis and more



GOVERNOR RECOMMENDS FUNDING FOR COUNTY TRAILS, HEALTH WAGON

Coalfield Progress

A new building for The Health Wagon and multi-use trails in Dickenson County are among the federal funding recommendations that Gov. Terry McAuliffe made Friday. In his final days as governor, McAuliffe recommended that the Appalachian Regional Commission award more than $1.1 million in grants for projects that would benefit the coalfield region in expanded outdoor tourism, health care and regional leadership development.

State Government


WASHINGTON COUNTY’S GO VIRGINIA REQUEST PASSED OVER

By JESS NOCERA, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 12 articles a month)

Washington County’s $300,000 grant application to build a space for technology businesses wasn’t approved in the first round of GO Virginia funding reviews. The application, which proposed designing a technology space in the county, was “passed along” to the next GO Virginia review deadline of Feb. 5, county officials said.

Congress


KAINE: OFFSHORE DRILLING PUTS HAMPTON ROADS AT RISK

By REEMA AMIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine met Monday with 13 representatives of Virginia Beach, research groups and the tourism industry to suss out how they could shield the state’s coastal waters from offshore drilling. The conclusion was straightforward: get state and federal officials on board, as well as associations that represent the industries who assert that offshore drilling will pose a serious threat to their livelihood.

Transportation


HIGH SPEED RAIL GROUP WANTS 11 TRAINS FROM NORFOLK DAILY

By KATHERINE HAFNER , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Nine round-trip trains to Washington, a rail line linking colleges in the commonwealth, train travel that rivals time on the road. Those are all on the wish list of a group advocating affordable high speed rail. Timed to coincide with the start of the General Assembly session last week, a new report came from the nonprofit Virginians for High Speed Rail.

Higher Education


UVA TAPPED FOR $27M DATA CENTER

Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering & Applied Science has been selected to establish a national center to address data bottlenecking. Bottlenecking refers to the limited amount of information able to flow due to computer resources, an issue that has been holding back technological advancement, according to Kevin Skadron, chairman of the engineering school’s Department of Computer Science.

Confederate Statues


MCAULIFFE BLAMES AUG. 12 CHAOS ON THE CITY OF CHARLOTTESVILLE

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe told a radio station in Richmond that Charlottesville is to blame for what happened Aug. 12. In an interview with Matt Demlein at Newsradio 1140 WRVA, McAuliffe said the state should have been in control on Aug. 12 and that he wished Charlottesville had never given the permit for the Unite the Right rally in the first place.

Local


TEN DEMOCRATS CROWD ALEXANDRIA COUNCIL RACE MONTHS BEFORE FILING DEADLINE

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Alexandria Democrats are lining up to run for City Council seats in the June 12 primary, with more than two months until the filing deadline. The latest to seek a seat on the six-person council is Canek Aguirre, 32, chair of the local economic opportunities commission and president of the board of Tenants and Workers United.



DEFENSE CONTRACTOR DISPUTES $1.7M IN LOCAL TAXES

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

When is building missile systems for warships not manufacturing? That’s the $1.67 million question at the center of defense contractor Raytheon’s lawsuit against the city of Norfolk.



INCIVILITY AT COUNCIL MEETINGS DEFENDED

By KAYLI WREN, Charlottesville Tomorrow/Daily Progress

Since the deadly Unite the Right rally Aug. 12, locals have come before Charlottesville’s City Council to demand answers about the summer, air their grievances and press for change from their government. Over the past six months, meetings have been punctuated with screaming matches, confrontations, calls to order, and even arrests.

Online News


WOMEN’S RIGHTS GROUPS URGE VIRGINIA TO RATIFY ERA

Capital News Service

The fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia has gained momentum with the national discourse about sexual harassment and gender equity and social media campaigns such as #MeToo and #YesAllWomen.


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


BILL ON VA. TRIBES MERITS SIGNATURE

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

With so much Native American culture having been overrun and nearly obliterated in the heavily populated East, most of today’s 8.5 million Virginians probably give little thought to the historic tribes that occupied — and still occupy — this land. However, remembrance — and recognition — of the tribes took a major step forward this month when Congress finally agreed on a bill to formally acknowledge six tribes.



LEGISLATORS' CHANCE FOR TRANSPARENCY

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

THE VIRGINIA General Assembly has in this session a tremendous opportunity to dramatically improve the commonwealth’s approach to transparency in government. Numerous bills now pending before the legislature would make documents more accessible, strengthen the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and bolster accountability for public officials. They would afford residents a clearer view of how government works, which is essential in a democratic republic.



THE COURTS SHOULD BE OPEN TO PUBLIC SCRUTINY

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

Here’s a simple two-question quiz most middle school students should be able to pass. (1) Should Virginia government be open to public scrutiny?



BUYING KEYS TO GRIDLOCK

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

In Hampton Roads, we spend a lot of unnecessary time in our vehicles. We’re regularly stuck in traffic jams, in queues at busy intersections and in never-ending construction zones. So approaches intended to reduce transportation gridlock are welcome, even if it means that getting to our destinations in a more timely manner has a price tag.



GRADING MCAULIFFE

News Virginian Editorial

Back in 2003, then-Gov. Mark Warner visited Waynesboro to get a first-hand look at the downtown business district and the damage caused there by recent flooding. As he walked down Main Street towards the hardest hit businesses, the governor was asked about the flood and its aftermath, but also about other issues. A reporter asked him what he hoped to accomplish in the remaining two years of his term. He thought a bit, then mentioned an idea that seemed at first oddly self-serving given the reason for his visit.