VaNews

Friday April 20, 2018


Today's Sponsor:

The Nature Conservancy

April 22 is Earth Day. The Nature Conservancy is celebrating the planet by celebrating science.

Executive Branch


NORTHAM DESIGNATES 'OPPORTUNITY ZONES' TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT

By JEFF STURGEON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam chose chunks of the Roanoke and New River valleys to become “Opportunity Zones” calculated to lure new private investment. This is the rollout of a new economic development program under the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a Trump administration initiative that also cut the corporate tax rate.

VaNews April 20, 2018

General Assembly


VIRGINIA RESERVE FUND A PROBLEM IF NOT BOOSTED BY BUDGET, CONSULTANT WARNS

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

Virginians could pays millions more than planned to finance public projects if the state budget impasse ends without a boost for financial reserves, a state consultant warned. A relatively meager reserve fund has already prompted a warning from Standard and Poor’s, one of the three major credit rating agencies, that the state’s triple-A rating could be at risk.

VaNews April 20, 2018



POTENTIAL DOWNGRADE OF STATE DEBT COULD BE COSTLY TO VIRGINIA, ANALYSIS SHOWS

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

A potential downgrade of Virginia’s credit rating could cost the state dearly in future issues of bonds for capital projects, a new analysis shows, and the issue could become a factor in the budget showdown over Medicaid expansion in the General Assembly. The preliminary assessment by the Public Resources Advisory Group, a New York-based consultant hired by the state, suggests that a downgrade of Virginia’s credit by one or all of the three national bond rating agencies could raise interest costs on nearly $5 billion in state debt by $33.9 million to $72.7 million a year.

VaNews April 20, 2018



HOUSE LEADER TAKING ON SAFETY FOR SCHOOLS

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

When visitors were arriving at Colonial Heights High School one morning this week, the receptionist at the front desk made sure no one slipped in the door behind someone else without being buzzed in. Once inside, guests had to sign a logbook and hand over a photo ID, which the receptionist used to make a quick-printed visitor badge showing the face of each person entering the building.

VaNews April 20, 2018

State Elections


REPUBLICAN PARTY OF VIRGINIA BLOCKS FORMER LOUDOUN GOP DEL. RAMADAN FROM TWITTER PAGE

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times

The Republican Party of Virginia on Thursday blocked from its Twitter page a former GOP elected official from Loudoun County. David Ramadan, a former two-term Republican state delegate, emigrant, businessman and frequent critic of President Donald Trump, said he noticed Thursday he'd been blocked by the RPV on Twitter after a tweet critical of the president.

VaNews April 20, 2018

Federal Elections


AT LIBERTY'S GOP DEBATE, FREITAS SAYS STEWART CAMP MOCKED ETHNICITY

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

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Nick Freitas in a debate on Thursday called out rival Corey Stewart’s campaign for making ethnic jokes about his name. Stewart responded that if a little name-calling got under Freitas’ skin, he would be thrashed by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine should he be the GOP nominee in the general election. The scrap came toward the end of a lively debate at Liberty University featuring Stewart, Freitas and minister E.W. Jackson of Chesapeake.

VaNews April 20, 2018



LOYALTY TO TRUMP KEY FOCUS OF VIRGINIA GOP SENATE DEBATE

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Republicans hoping to upset Hillary Clinton's former running mate in a U.S. Senate race heaped praise on President Donald Trump at a debate Thursday while arguing over who would be more loyal to the president if elected. Trump was a central focus of the hour-long debate, which pitted a polished young up-and-comer who has the backing of the establishment wing of the state party against an ultra-Trump supporter whose bomb-throwing style mirrors the president's.

VaNews April 20, 2018



REPUBLICANS SEEKING TO UNSEAT KAINE EMBRACE TRUMP AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY DEBATE

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The trio of Republicans vying for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine spent nearly an hour in harmony with President Trump and each other until two of the contenders veered off into sharp personal attacks. Asked at a debate about a variety of Trump’s domestic and international policies Thursday, Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas and E.W. Jackson had the president’s back. Border wall? Check. Threatening to scrap a nuclear deal with Iran? Check. Russia investigation?

VaNews April 20, 2018



GOP SENATE CANDIDATES DEBATE IN QUEST TO FACE SEN. KAINE

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

As two of the three Republicans competing in their party’s June 12 primary get ready for tonight’s debate at Liberty University, both said they don’t want an intraparty war to decide who will take on Sen. Tim Kaine in the fall. But based on recent interviews, it may not be long before the gloves come off. The candidates – Del. Nick Freitas, of Culpeper County; Corey Stewart, Prince William County Board chairman; and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson – will take the stage in a 7 p.m. forum that will be livestreamed on the university’s Facebook page.

VaNews April 20, 2018



REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK SAYS SHE HAS NO DESIRE TO SURRENDER HER SEAT

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

All around Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), her GOP colleagues are retiring in record numbers in anticipation of what they think will be a blue wave. Even her friend Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is on his way out. Yet Comstock, a two-term congresswoman from a Northern Virginia district that Democrats Hillary Clinton and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam won by double digits, is determined to stay.

VaNews April 20, 2018



WEXTON FOCUSES ON EXPERIENCE, PROTECTING FAMILIES IN ELECTION BID

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, wants to continue protecting and improving the lives of families in Northern Virginia. Wexton is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the 10th Congressional District seat in the November election.

VaNews April 20, 2018

State Government


STATE BOARD ISSUES DISCHARGE PERMITS TO POULTRY HOUSES

By LINDA CICOIRA, Eastern Shore Post

The State Water Control Board (SWCB) approved Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits last week to three poultry growers in Accomack County that were required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because the growing operations have the potential to discharge stormwater contaminated from chicken manure.

VaNews April 20, 2018

Economy/Business


SC SENATE VOTES TO SLASH SCE&G'S POWER BILLS, RISKING DOMINION DEAL

By AVERY G. WILKS, The State

.C. senators Wednesday OK'd temporarily slashing by 13 percent SCE&G’s highest-in-the-region power bills, a move that sets up a fight with the S.C. House and governor over how much the utility’s customers should continue to pay for a failed nuclear project. The proposal could lead Virginia-based Dominion Energy to withdraw its offer to buy SCE&G’s troubled parent company, SCANA, and offer its S.C. electric customers a permanent 7-percent rate cut and refunds worth about $1,000 a household.

VaNews April 20, 2018



GOVERNMENT URGES SUPREME COURT TO HEAR URANIUM MINING CASE

Associated Press

The federal government has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit over Virginia's ban on uranium mining. Attorneys for the Department of Justice and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission filed a brief with the high court earlier this month supporting a Virginia company's bid to have its challenge to the ban heard.

VaNews April 20, 2018

Virginia Other


ROANOKE COUNTY POLICE CHARGE 2 WOMEN IN TREES BLOCKING THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Roanoke County police have filed criminal charges against a mother and daughter holed up in trees to block a natural gas pipeline from crossing their family land. But the women remained beyond the reach of the law Thursday from their perches. ... After obtaining the charges from a magistrate on Wednesday, Roanoke County police made no effort to arrest the two women, holding out hope they will come down on their own.

VaNews April 20, 2018

Local


WITH THE VIRGINIA BEACH MAYOR LEAVING, CITY COUNCILMAN SAYS HE WANTS THE JOB

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

A day after Mayor Will Sessoms announced his plans to resign April 30, Councilman Bobby Dyer said he wants to lead Virginia Beach. Dyer said his campaign will focus on creating an environment that offers a level playing field to all businesses and inclusion for all people. Dyer, 67, has represented the Centerville District on the City Council since 2004. The city charter says council members who decide to be a mayoral candidate have to resign on Dec. 31.

VaNews April 20, 2018



HAMPTON COUNCIL CANDIDATES ON TAX COLLECTOR'S RADAR IN PAST

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

At least two Hampton City Council candidates have been on the city’s radar due to delinquent tax payments. According to records obtained from City Treasurer Molly Ward, candidates Steven L. Brown and Richelle D. Wallace have been habitually late paying their Hampton taxes, often requiring the city to issuing liens to collect back payments.

VaNews April 20, 2018



CHARLOTTESVILLE LOBBYIST PAID $50K LARGELY STRIKES OUT IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

By CHRIS SUAREZ, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Prior to the start of the 2018 General Assembly session in January, Charlottesville officials agreed to pay $50,000 for lobbyist services. Nearly all of the legislation the contracted firm was hired to support failed. According to city officials, proposed legislation would have given the city authority to remove its Confederate monuments and adopt specific firearm restrictions.

VaNews April 20, 2018

TV/Radio


OPIOID OVERDOSES CLAIMED LIVES OF OVER 1,200 VIRGINIA RESIDENTS LAST YEAR

WRC - NBC 4 Washington

More Virginia residents died of opioid overdoses in 2017 than in any year in at least the past decade. The city of Richmond had the next-highest number of opioid overdose deaths, at 100 last year.

VaNews April 20, 2018

Online News


GENERAL ASSEMBLY OKS EXEMPTING GROCERIES FROM INCREASED SALES TAX

By TROY JEFFERSON, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily

Gov. Ralph Northam’s decision to not subject groceries to the proposed sales tax bill was adopted by the Senate and House. The bill submitted by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, will raise the sales tax in the City of Williamsburg, and James City and York counties by 1 percentage point.

VaNews April 20, 2018



COOK POLITICAL REPORT DOWNGRADES GARRETT’S CHANCES IN VA-5 MIDTERMS

By JAKE GOLD, Cavalier Daily

The Cook Political Report, an independent election analysis firm, lowered its predictions of the likelihood of incumbent Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) winning reelection in the upcoming midterm elections.

VaNews April 20, 2018



JITTERY REPUBLICANS CAMPAIGN AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN IN WEST VIRGINIA SENATE PRIMARY

By BEN WOLFGANG, Washington Times

With less than three weeks until West Virginia’s primary election, national Republican leaders seem to finally recognize that ex-con Don Blankenship has a very real chance to win the Senate contest and represent the party this fall against incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin III — and they are unleashing a last-ditch effort to stop him.

VaNews April 20, 2018


Today's Sponsor:

The Nature Conservancy

April 22 is Earth Day. The Nature Conservancy is celebrating the planet by celebrating science.

Editorials


VIRGINIA MAKES PLANS TO GROW MEDICAL MARIJUANA

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

Today is April 20, better known in some quarters as 4-20, which has become shorthand for marijuana. For this, we can thank (if that’s the verb you prefer) five pot-smoking teenagers in San Rafael, California, who in 1971 set 4:20 p.m. each day as their preferred time to gather after school and toke up. Add in some publicity in High Times, and here we are . . .

VaNews April 20, 2018



QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT CHESTERFIELD MEGASITE

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

Members of Chesterfield’s Planning Commission posed some tough questions to economic-development officials recently. The subject was a proposed industrial “megasite” slated for an area zoned for residential development.

VaNews April 20, 2018



A 10-BILLION-OYSTER GIFT TO THE CHESAPEAKE

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

Ten billion oysters. What a difference they could make in the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Whether you consider them a delicacy or disgusting, there is more to oysters than what meets the mouth. Oysters are a particulate vacuum cleaner for whatever body of water they're in, as each adult oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water a day.

VaNews April 20, 2018

The Friday Read


HOW LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BUILT A BILLION-DOLLAR EMPIRE ONLINE

By ALEC MACGILLIS, Pro Publica

With a hard sell to prospective students and huge amounts in taxpayer funding, Jerry Falwell Jr. transformed the evangelical institution into a behemoth.

VaNews April 20, 2018

From vpap.org


LEGISLATORS' CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES

The Virginia Public Access Project

Each year, General Assembly members are required to disclose information about their personal financial holdings that could pose a potential conflict with their public duties. VPAP has compiled the 2018 disclosures, which include income, stock holdings, debts, business interests, real estate and any gifts they received valued at more than $50. Click on any legislator's name and view their disclosure.

VaNews April 20, 2018