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Saturday February 24, 2018

GENERAL ASSEMBLY


VA. LAWMAKERS CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST FORMS WON'T BE PUBLIC UNTIL THEY LEAVE TOWN

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

Virginia's 140 lawmakers, like local and many other government officials, must file an annual form that discloses their economic interests....The deadline for lawmakers to file their new annual form was Feb 1. But there's a glitch: The public can't get the forms until a few days after the lawmakers are scheduled to leave Richmond, March 10, the last day of the General Assembly session.


REPUBLICAN SENATOR LECTURES DEL. MARK LEVINE OVER 'CIVILITIES OF THE CHAMBER' AFTER EMAIL ABOUT GUNS AND GOP

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

Republicans in the legislature have been furious at Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, over an email he sent to constituents Sunday about the school shooting in Florida with the headline, “How the GOP Makes it Easy to Commit Mass Murder.”


ELECTRIC BILLS TO GO DOWN, COULD GO BACK UP UNDER PROPOSAL

By ALAN SUDERMAN , Associated Press

Customers of Virginia's largest electric utility will see a short-term reduction in their bills but could eventually see significant new charges — potentially $120 a year or more for the average customer — under legislation advancing in the General Assembly. Lawmakers are set to vote next week on a major overhaul of how the state regulates Dominion Energy, Virginia's most politically influential corporation. The legislation makes it easier to get approval for renewable energy projects and grid upgrades while giving Dominion new ways to account for various costs.


AS COLLEGE TUITION RISES, SENATE PANEL KILLS BILL MANDATING PUBLIC INPUT

By LIA TABACKMAN AND DEANNA DAVISON, Capital News Service

In Fall 2010, Virginia Commonwealth University increased annual tuition by almost 24 percent, tacking $1,700 on to each in-state student’s bill in one fell swoop. While that jump may seem like an outlier, tuition increases have been the norm at the state’s institutions of higher education during the past decade.


'LUNCH SHAMING' BAN MOVING FORWARD IN LEGISLATURE

By IRENA SCHUNN, VCU Capital News Service

A Senate committee Thursday unanimously approved a bill to prohibit “lunch shaming” – the practice of singling out students who owe the school cafeteria money or cannot pay for their lunch. The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 15-0 in favor of House Bill 50, which would bar schools from giving students a hand stamp or wristband when their lunch account is empty, or ask students to do chores or throw away their meal if they cannot pay. The bill specifies that any concerns regarding students’ lunch debt must be taken up directly with their parents or guardians.


SOME VIRGINIA STUDENTS ONLY GET 15 MINUTES OF RECESS; TWO LAWMAKERS SAY 'LET THE KIDS PLAY'

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Barbara Larrimore wondered why her oldest son only had 15 minutes of recess. She wanted him to have more, so in fall 2016, the mother of three started advocating for more recess. “We need to address the whole child,” said Larrimore, of Lake Ridge. “This is just common sense.” Now, less than two years later, two bills that would permit Virginia school boards to increase recess times in elementary schools are making their way through the General Assembly with little opposition.


NORTHAM SIGNS BILL AUTHORIZING SALE OF SPECIAL FFA LICENSE PLATES

Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, announced Friday that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed his FFA license plate bill into law. House Bill 761 would allow people to buy a special license plate that says “We are the birthplace of the FFA.” The youth organization was founded in Virginia in 1927.


BILL TO LEGALIZE ARLINGTON SCHOOL BOARD TAKES ANOTHER STEP FORWARD

Inside NOVA

Arlington’s elected School Board is another legislative step closer to being absolutely, positively, for-sure legal under state law. The state Senate Committee on Education and Health voted 15-0 on Feb. 22 in support of a bill patroned by Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th) adding sections to the Code of Virginia permitting the county to have an elected School Board.


VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE PASSES BILL ALLOWING DOGS INSIDE WINERIES, BREWERIES

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times

Dogs will soon be legal inside Virginia wineries and breweries as long as they're not around food production. Legislation proposed by Del. John Bell (D-87th) of Loudoun that allows dogs at wineries, breweries and distilleries has passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate unanimously approved the measure Friday, while the House of Delegates passed the bill 97-2 in January.


VIRGINIA TEENAGERS MAY RESCUE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS

By LOGAN BOGERT, Capital News Service

A bill to allow teenagers to join volunteer fire and rescue squads may save many operations around Virginia that have seen an increasein service calls but a decrease in volunteers. Volunteers make up more than 65 percent of Virginia’s firefighting services – but according to the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, “retention and recruitment of new members has never been more challenging.”

FEDERAL ELECTIONS


VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN BLASTS COREY STEWART AS A 'CHARLATAN' AND 'DEMAGOGUE' IN SPEECH ON HOUSE FLOOR

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

After anti-establishment firebrand Corey Stewart came to the Virginia Capitol to question the manhood of Republicans who support Medicaid expansion, Del. Glenn Davis responded Friday with some fire of his own. A normally mild-mannered IT entrepreneur from Virginia Beach, Davis blasted the man who nearly became the 2017 Republican nominee for governor as a corrosive force, someone who “stains” the party, conservative voters and ideals of political civility.


COREY STEWART CALLED VIRGINIA HOUSE MEMBERS "FLACCID" AND A BEACH DELEGATE WAS "DONE" WITH IT

By JORDAN PASCALE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart brought props to an impromptu news conference outside the Capitol on Thursday. He held up toilet paper to illustrate how “flimsy” and “weak” the 19 Virginia House Republicans were for letting Medicaid expansion pass 68-32.


SENATOR TIM KAINE'S WIFE VISITS CHARLOTTESVILLE

By DESIREE MONTILLA, CBS 19

Senator Tim Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, stopped by Charlottesville Friday afternoon to talk with Women of the Fifth at Kardinal Hall. This event is one of Holton's stops on her tour to help her husband with his re-election campaign.


SANTOPIETRO AIMS FOR CONGRESS RUN

By JENAY TATE, Dickenson Star

A young man from Montgomery County has been in the coalfields introducing himself as a Ninth District native who want to unseat Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith. Seeking the Democratic nomination, Justin Santopietro knows he's now in what's considered Trump Country. But Santopietro also knows the region was a Democratic stronghold for decades.


6TH DISTRICT HOPEFULS TALK PLATFORMS

By ELLIE POTTER, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

The four Democrats vying for the nomination for the 6th Congressional District race discussed their platforms with voters in Luray on Wednesday evening. The Page County Democratic Committee hosted a question-and-answer session at the Luray VFW with the candidates, marking the first time all four stood alongside one another.


RULES CHANGED FOR UPCOMING 6TH DISTRICT GOP FORUM

By JOSH MOODY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The use of electronic devices will be banned at the fourth and final 6th District GOP forum Saturday. Event organizers declined to share the rules governing Saturday’s event, but a copy of the rules provided by candidate Kathryn Lewis shows use of devices will be prohibited at the forum.

STATE GOVERNMENT


VIRGINIA TO RECEIVE $646K FOR BOATING INFRASTRUCTURE

Associated Press

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced that Virginia will receive a grant of nearly $407,000 to improve boating infrastructure and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. State partners will provide an additional $239,000 in matching funds, bringing the total to about $646,000.

TRANSPORTATION


AVIATION EXPERT: NEW AIR SERVICE HUGE FOR SVRA — NOW, THE HARD PART

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport will have the most reliable air service in its history when SkyWest Airlines starts service there in April, an aviation expert told area business leaders Friday. Landing the airline as its new carrier was a huge get for SVRA, said William Swelbar, a research engineer at MIT's International Center for Air Transportation. But now comes the hard part: showing SkyWest that the airport can find the passengers to fill its seats.


VALLEY AIR SERVICE AT RISK

By VIC BRADSHAW , Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Bill Swelbar touted the new commercial air service that starts in April at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport before delivering a simple, sobering alert. “Use it,” he warned, “or lose it.”

HIGHER EDUCATION


VIRGINIA TECH, RADFORD ANNOUNCE GRADUATION SPEAKERS: NORTHAM AND KAINE

By ROBBY KORTH AND DOMINICK MASTRANGELO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam will be Virginia Tech’s 2018 spring commencement speaker, keeping with a tradition that dates back to 1990. Northam, a Democrat, will address the graduating class at Tech’s commencement ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on May 11 in Lane Stadium, the school announced Friday. Meanwhile, another Virginia politician — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D — will give the keynote address at Radford University’s spring graduation,

VIRGINIA OTHER


STATE REGULATORS PROMISE 'VIGILANT' INSPECTIONS OF MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE

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

State regulators outlined a strategy Friday to monitor construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which opponents fear will leave a trail of environmental damage through Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said it will dispatch a team of inspectors, augmented by outside contractors, to conduct routine audits, stream evaluations and water quality tests as part of its oversight.


VIRGINIA NATURAL GAS FILES LAWSUITS IN CHESAPEAKE TO ACQUIRE LAND FOR PIPELINE

By VICTORIA BOURNE , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

When Alice Alston bought her Indian River home 17 years ago, she never guessed she’d be fighting to keep a natural gas pipe from running through her backyard. “I’m out of my element,” she said. But the blue “No Pipeline” sign that sits next to an angel lawn ornament in front of her house is a testament to her opposition.

LOCAL


TESTS SHOW LEAD IN DRINKING WATER AT SEVEN CHESTERFIELD SCHOOLS

By JUSTIN MATTINGLY , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

High levels of lead have been found in drinking water at seven Chesterfield County schools. The school division recently sent letters to parents at six schools — Bellwood Elementary School, Bird High School, Midlothian High School, Providence Middle School, Salem Middle School and Swift Creek Middle School — informing them of the high levels of lead.


TAXPAYERS ON HOOK FOR $11.25M FOR REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP

By JEREMY LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Richmond taxpayers are being handed an $11.25 million bill for the Washington pro football team’s summer training camp on Leigh Street. That’s what it will cost to pay off the remaining $8.5 million debt on the 6-year-old building over 15 years, according to Selena Cuffee-Glenn, the city’s chief administrative officer.


PETERSBURG POLICE ACQUIRE A FLEET OF DRONES AS OTHER LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WEIGH COST, BENEFITS

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

State law sharply limits how law enforcement agencies in Virginia can use drones, but that hasn't dissuaded the Petersburg Bureau of Police from acquiring a small fleet of the unmanned aircraft for their operations. Last Wednesday, Petersburg Police Chief Kenneth Miller used his Twitter account to announce his department had acquired three new drones "to tackle crime and keep the community safe."

TV/RADIO


WARNER SEEKING BIPARTISAN SOLUTION TO GUN CONTROL

By STAFF REPORT, CBS 19

U.S. Senator Mark Warner says he's looking for a bipartisan solution to gun control, especially by looking at the types of weapons people can buy.


VA. VETERAN ID BILL PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

By EVANNE ARMOUR, WRIC

Virginia veterans’ wallets could soon get a little lighter. Right now, veterans can have two ID cards — a $10 Veteran Identification Card, which provides proof of veteran status for discounts from retailers and restaurants, and the standard driver’s license.


BEYOND $40 TOLLS: HOW EXPRESS LANES ARE HELPING NORTHERN VIRGINIA BEAT TRAFFIC CONGESTION

By TAMIKA SMITH AND KATHY GOLDGEIER, WAMU

The new express lanes on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway have gotten plenty of press for their $40 toll charges. But a report out this week says that in fact the average toll is more like $8 — and the result is better traffic flow for everyone. Transportation expert Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, told WAMU that the toll lanes are just one piece of Northern Virginia’s pioneering approach to traffic congestion — an experiment that is being closely watched across the country.

ONLINE NEWS


GOV. NORTHAM OPEN TO 'CARROT APPROACH RATHER THAN A STICK APPROACH' ON MEDICAID

By KIMBERLY LEONARD , Washington Examiner

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signaled Friday that he was open to some flexibility for how the state might expand Medicaid under Obamacare, though he continues to oppose the possibility of requiring beneficiaries to work as a condition of staying enrolled. Without offering specifics, he suggested a willingness to hear about policies on Medicaid that might help people find work or become healthier, without being coercive.


AN ASSAULT AT AGE 21 HAS HELPED SET THE POLITICAL AGENDA FOR THIS DEMOCRAT

By JOANNA WALTERS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Lindsey Davis Stover has made sexual violence prevention a focus of her campaign for Congress from Northern Virginia because she was assaulted as a young woman. And it may cause her to stand out in a crowded race, as she vies with seven other Democrats in Virginia’s 10th District for the right to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock, who has taken a leading Republican role in addressing sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill.


BILL WOULD BRING THE PONIES BACK TO COLONIAL DOWNS

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

A bill that aims to bring horse racing back to New Kent County’s Colonial Downs is working its way through the General Assembly.

EDITORIALS


ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Loudoun Times Editorial

Virginians were devastated when 32 people were killed and 17 wounded at Virginia Tech in 2007. The second deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history brought unspeakable grief to a state that sends its children to the public university in Blacksburg. Citizens looked to elected leaders across the state for answers. More than a decade later, a conflicted commonwealth sticks to its guns as school massacres continue. On Valentine’s Day, 17 people were killed in mass shooting at a Florida high school. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Now Parkland. The communities have become part of a tragic American narrative.


BILL TO AID POOR AREAS HAS BIPARTISAN BACKING

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

INNOVATIVE legislation that would provide state income tax breaks to companies that locate in depressed areas of the commonwealth—and to the employees who work for them—has been passed by both General Assembly chambers. Once lawmakers iron out the differences between the two bills, Gov. Ralph Northam should sign the legislation.


KICKING DOGS WHILE THEY'RE DOWN

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Last year state lawmakers summarily dispatched a bill to limit the chaining of dogs. This year animal-welfare advocates tried again with a measure carefully tailored to meet opponents’ objections. Senate Bill 872 passed the state Senate 33-7.


THE HISTORY THEY DON'T TEACH US

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

The people who defend Confederate statues often warn that we are in danger of “erasing history.” Whatever you think of Confederate imagery, there is a real danger of history being erased. That’s because a lot of it already has been. Here’s some history that we guarantee you weren’t taught in school.

OP-ED


KEENE: GOP DUG IN ON BLOCKING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS THIS SESSION - IT'LL BE THEIR DOWNFALL

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

In January, I celebrated my 10th anniversary as the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. The last decade has been replete with attacks on reproductive rights and fights in the trenches in Richmond — and I have the scars to prove it. But with the election of 15 new pro-choice delegates, and only one seat away from the majority in both the House and Senate, I started this year’s General Assembly feeling hopeful for the future. It did not take long for the House and Senate to bring me back to reality — anti-choice legislators are still firmly in control.

Keen is executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.


FREDERICKS: VIRGINIA'S CONSERVATIVES SHOULD LIKE HEALTH PLAN

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

Virginia conservatives — and the Trump administration — should embrace the health care plan rolled out this week in the House of Delegates budget by Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights.