VaNews

Tuesday March 31, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Executive Branch

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TRIES TO WOO INDIANA BUSINESSES

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is courting Indiana businesses amid the firestorm over that state’s religious freedom bill, which critics say allows companies to discriminate against gays. McAuliffe has issued an open letter to Indiana business owners that proclaims “Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone.”


MCAULIFFE INVITES INDIANA FIRMS TO ‘OPEN AND WELCOMING’ VIRGINIA

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is putting out the welcome mat for Indiana business leaders who might be troubled by that state’s new “religious freedom” law, which opponents say in effect legalizes anti-gay discrimination. In a letter submitted Monday to the editor of the Indianapolis Star, McAuliffe (D) makes a pitch for relocating to “open and welcoming” Virginia. He ticks off the commonwealth’s traditional business-friendly assets — ranging from low taxes to the “deepest seaport on the East Coast” — and suggests that the Old Dominion’s gay rights climate should be part of the draw.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS BILL THAT LIMITS ATHLETIC STUDENT FEES

By HARRY MINIUM, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Old Dominion, Norfolk State and many other state schools will have to depend more on fundraising and ticket sales and less on student fees to fund their athletic budgets under a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Sunday night. The bill, sponsored by Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, sets limits on the percentage of athletic budgets that can be funded through student fees.


MCAULIFFE SIGNS BILL ALLOWING SCHOOLS TO SELL DOUGHNUTS

By MIKE CONNORS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed legislation that will allow public schools to hold certain banned food fundraisers. Federal law requires that all foods sold during the school day must meet nutrition standards but allows states to exempt fundraisers. More than 20 other states have already taken that step.


HERRING ADDRESSES PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES

By ONOFRIO CASTIGLIA, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

Virginia’s highest legal practitioner met Monday morning with regional law enforcement and policy authorities to discuss mental health programs, drug courts, new laws meant to reduce illicit drug use and subsequent crime, and other public safety issues.

General Assembly

STATE SENATOR'S REPORT SHOWS HOTEL PAYMENT OVERLAP

By PATRICK WILSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Paperwork filed by a state senator from Chesapeake shows he received taxpayer reimbursement for part of a hotel stay at a conference last year even though his campaign paid the hotel bill. Sen. John Cosgrove's campaign finance report shows payments in July and August for a stay at a Hilton in Dallas for the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Federal Elections

SUPREME COURT SENDS BACK RULING ON REDISTRICTING FOR VIRGINIA'S 3RD

By MARKUS SCHMIDT , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said a federal court in Richmond must take another look at a ruling that had ordered the state legislature to redraw the lines of Virginia’s only black-majority congressional district. The high court’s decision comes after last week’s ruling in which the justices sided with black officeholders and Democrats in Alabama. In that case, the Supreme Court told a lower court to reconsider whether a redistricting plan drawn by the state’s Republican legislature packed minority voters into districts to dilute their influence.


SUPREME COURT REMANDS IN 3RD DISTRICT GERRYMANDER CASE

By TRAVIS FAIN, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

The U.S. Supreme Court sent Virginia's 3rd District gerrymander case back down the pipe on Monday, a move that brings Virginia another step closer to a redraw of its congressional map. The nation's highest court vacated and remanded a three-judge panel's decision in the case, which alleges that state leaders focused on race when lines were drawn for the 3rd District.


SUPREME COURT ASKS VIRGINIA PANEL TO REEXAMINE REDISTRICTING DECISION

By JENNA PORTNOY AND ROBERT BARNES, Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Monday told a federal judicial panel in Virginia to take another look at its decision that lawmakers improperly packed minority voters into one congressional district. The court sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia without comment, following its decision last week in a similar case from Alabama.


HIGH COURT SENDS BACK RULING ON VIRGINIA REDISTRICTING

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

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a case involving the racial makeup of Virginia's 3rd Congressional District, sending it back to a lower court for further consideration. The justices ordered the three-judge panel to review its own 2-1 decision in light of a recent high court ruling in a similar Alabama case.

State Government

CSX HIT WITH $361,000 PENALTY FOR OIL TRAIN SPILL

By REX SPRINGSTON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The State Water Control Board approved a $361,000 penalty Monday against railroad company CSX Transportation Inc. in the derailment of a crude-oil tanker car that caught fire April 30 along the James River in Lynchburg. The state Department of Environmental Quality proposed the civil penalty in a legal agreement called a consent order. CSX had agreed earlier to the order.

Higher Education

VIRGINIA TECH RAISES TUITION, PREPARES FOR LARGER FRESHMAN CLASS

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times

Tuition and fees are going up at Virginia Tech, as is the size of the university’s enrollment. The university’s board of visitors voted unanimously Monday to approve a 3.9 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees for both in- and out-of-state undergraduate students. Room and board fees are increasing by 3.8 percent.


FORMER VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT PAUL TORGERSEN DIES

By MATT CHITTUM, Roanoke Times

Former Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen, credited with fostering the school’s emergence as the 21st-century model of a land-grant university, has died. He was 83. No cause was immediately released, but Torgersen battled cancer in 2008. His death follows that of his wife of 60 years, Dorothea “Dot” Torgersen, who died in October.


ASSESSMENT OF ROLLING STONE ARTICLE SET TO BE RELEASED APRIL 8

By DEREK QUIZON, Daily Progress

The Columbia Journalism Review plans a week from Wednesday to release a report on Rolling Stone’s work in the shattered tale of gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity. Commissioned by Jann S. Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone, the independent review will be made public April 8, Columbia University spokesman Sabina Lee said Monday.


AMHERST CO. ATTORNEY SEEKS TO BLOCK SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE CLOSURE

By KARIN KAPSIDELIS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The Amherst County attorney is seeking an injunction to block the closing of Sweet Briar College and force removal of the president and board of directors. “The closure attempt is not only precipitous and unwarranted, it is also unlawful,” County Attorney Ellen Bowyer said in a complaint filed Monday in Amherst Circuit Court.


FACULTY OF SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN BOARD, PRESIDENT

By JESSIE POUNDS AND ALICIA PETSKA, News & Advance

The faculty of Sweet Briar College announced a vote of no confidence in the college’s president and board of directors Monday night as the battle over the Amherst County school raged on. In a resolution explaining the vote, the faculty said the board and Sweet Briar President James Jones had abdicated their responsibility and cut off substantive dialogue with the staff.


RADFORD PRESIDENT PENELOPE KYLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT IN 2016

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times

Radford University’s president, who was known for her nonacademic background and a string of building projects on campus, will retire at the end of the 2016 academic year. Penelope Kyle, Radford’s sixth president and first female president, will retire June 30, 2016.


RADFORD PRESIDENT TO RETIRE

By KARIN KAPSIDELIS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Penelope W. Kyle, the first woman to serve as president of Radford University, will retire at the end of the next academic year, the university announced Monday. The board of visitors approved Kyle’s plan to retire effective June 30, 2016, at its meeting Saturday.

Virginia Other

FBI ANNOUNCES TIPLINE FOR PUBLIC CORRUPTION

By SCOTT DAUGHERTY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Got dirt on a public official? The FBI wants to know. Special Agent in Charge John S. Adams - the head of the FBI's Norfolk Field Office in Chesapeake - announced a new tipline Monday to help his agents investigate public corruption in Hampton Roads.


STATE BAR CANCELS JERUSALEM MEETING UNDER PRESSURE

By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Paywall)

The Virginia State Bar has cancelled plans to hold its midyear legal seminar in Jerusalem in the face of organized opposition focused on Israeli travel restrictions. The change in location for the November 8-15 trip stirred controversy as some accused the bar of bowing to anti-Israel advocates.


JEWISH GROUP PRESSES VIRGINIA BAR TO REVERSE DECISION TO DROP ISRAEL TRIP

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post

The American Jewish Committee and several Jewish state legislators continued to press the Virginia State Bar on Monday to reconsider its decision to cancel a seminar in Israel over securities procedures that the bar described as “discriminatory.” The bar, a state agency under the Supreme Court of Virginia, decided Friday to cancel the trip in response to an online petition, which had been launched by bar members who said exit and entrance policies in Israel would discriminate against Arab, Muslim and Palestinian members of Virginia’s legal community.

Local

RICHMOND SCHOOL OFFICIALS MAKE PITCH FOR $24 MILLION MORE

By K. BURNELL EVANS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Vexed by Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ spending plan for the next fiscal year, Richmond school officials made their case to the City Council on Monday for millions more in operating and building funds. The $136.9 million in local money Jones pledged toward the division’s day-to-day costs falls about $24 million short of what Superintendent Dana T. Bedden said Richmond schools need to move forward.


PORTSMOUTH COUNCIL TO CONSIDER 17-CENT TAX HIKE

By BEN WERNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Portsmouth City Manager John Rowe has recommended a 17-cent increase of the city's real estate tax rate to fill an estimated $11.7 million budget shortfall. Most of the increase - 10 of the 17 cents - would be used as a permanent plug to a recurring $6 million-plus hole in the Portsmouth Public Schools budget.


SCHOOL BOARD CHANGES APPROACH TO TRANSGENDER ISSUE

By TRACY BELL, Stafford County Sun

Concerned parents addressed the Stafford County School Board on Tuesday, worried about a transgender elementary-school student permitted to use the girls' restrooms and locker rooms in the schools. Following the meeting, the school board voted to have the student use a single-stall, staff or boys' restroom instead.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS MAKE USE OF PRIVATE EMAIL

By LACEY NAFF, Charlottesville Tomorrow/Daily Progress

As former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a personal email account has recently come under scrutiny, Charlottesville Tomorrow has evaluated the email practices of Charlottesville’s City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Two of the 11 elected officials on these bodies advertise personal email addresses on their government website, and neither locality has made it a practice to routinely archive communications from personal email accounts.


WISE COUNTY’S HEALTH AMONG WORST IN STATE

By KATIE DUNN, Coalfield Progress (Subscription Required)

A national health assessment has again ranked Wise County among the least healthy localities statewide. The sixth annual “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” was released March 25 by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Editorials

ROLLING STONE SYMPTOMATIC OF LARGER ILLS

Daily Progress Editorial

Sanctimony is hazardous activity, the sort of which leaves faces spattered in yolk. Rolling Stone has discovered this and continues to receive reminders afresh. Charlottesville police provided one last week, releasing detailed findings of an investigation that proved what the world knew and Rolling Stone acknowledged in December: The magazine’s wild Nov. 19 tale of a University of Virginia student raped in 2012 by seven men at a fraternity house was rubbish.


ABC AGENTS DRUNK WITH POWER?

Free Lance-Star Editorial

In a statement issued through his attorney, University of Virginia student Martese Johnson says one thought ran through his mind as he lay bleeding on the pavement across the street from the U.Va. campus: “How could this happen?” And the thought that ran through many minds, no doubt, was, “How could this happen—again.”


RADFORD WON THE LOTTERY

Roanoke Times Editorial

Radford University’s governing board took a chance ten years ago, one that odds makers might call the academic equivalent of buying a lottery ticket. Presented with two candidates for president who had traditional academic backgrounds, Radford went with a third choice who did not: Penelope “Penny” Kyle, who at the time was running the Virginia Lottery.


VIRGINIA OFFICIALS HAVE A CHANCE TO ADD TEETH TO ETHICS REFORM LEGISLATION

Washington Post Editorial

FOR ALL their talk about ethics reform, Virginia lawmakers have proved stubbornly reluctant to give up the freebies they seem to view as rightful fringe benefits of public office. The feeble “reform” bill that emerged from the recently concluded General Assembly session has so many loopholes that it’s a step backward in some respects. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is on the right track in trying to correct its most egregious problems, and Virginians should pay close attention to what lawmakers do next.


PARTIES SHOULD STAY OUT OF SCHOOL ELECTIONS

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Gary Powers apparently has withdrawn as a candidate for the Midlothian District seat on Chesterfield’s School Board. His failure to win the Republican Party’s endorsement prompted his decision. Virginia’s school board elections are nonpartisan. Candidates do not need party nominations to earn access to the ballot. They rely instead on petitions. Although a candidate may be Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Socialist, Whig or Anti-Masonic, he or she runs as an independent.


RICHMOND SHOULD LOWER ITS BUSINESS TAX — TO ZERO

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Carol Hazard’s excellent Sunday story on the city of Richmond’s high business taxes included many illuminating details. To our mind the most telling was this one: Michael Hild, the chairman of a city task force studying the subject, moved his own company from Richmond to Chesterfield two years ago. Doing so cut his tax bill more than half.

Columnists

WILLIAMS: ON SHOCKOE BOTTOM HISTORY, THERE'S NO TIME TO WASTE

By MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Our national pastime and our national shame do not fit together like a ball and glove. But somehow, the archaeological exploration of Shockoe Bottom, a major antebellum slave-trading market, became tied to the fate of a minor league ballpark.

Op-Ed

LAROCK: NO TAX INCREASE

By DAVE LAROCK, Published in the Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

I’ve heard it said elections should be held on April 16, so people would cast their vote while still smarting from the pain of dropping that check in the mail on April 15. According to The Tax Foundation, Virginia state individual income tax collections per capita in Fiscal Year 2013 totaled $1,326 — eighth highest in the United States.

Dave LaRock, R-Hamilton, represents the 33rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates.


CUCCINELLI AND GASTAÑAGA: REJECT GOVERNOR’S EXPANSION OF THE SURVEILLANCE STATE

By KEN CUCCINELLI AND CLAIRE GUTHRIE GASTAÑAGA, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

There are two principles on which people from across the political spectrum can agree. First, in a democracy like America’s, we should know more about government than it knows about us. Second, privacy from government is an element of liberty. This general consensus was reflected in near unanimous passage by the General Assembly of legislation designed to rein in use by law enforcement of drones, license plate readers (LPRs) and other mass surveillance technology.

Ken Cuccinelli is a former Virginia attorney general and the 2013 Republican candidate for governor of Virginia. Claire Guthrie Gastañaga is executive director of ACLU of Virginia.


COOK: VIRGINIANS DESERVE STRONGER PROTECTION FROM TOXIC CHEMICALS

By KEN COOK, Published in the Roanoke Times

Every day, Virginians are exposed to toxic chemicals in air, food and water and in products they use, from the chemicals in cleaners and detergents to consumer goods like toys, baby bottles, sippy cups and children’s jewelry. Many people assume the substances that make up these products are harmless. But in truth, industrial chemicals do not have to be proved safe before they go on the market.

Ken Cook is the president and cofounder of Environmental Working Group, an environmental health research and advocacy organization based in Washington,


TOWN: RISING LEGISLATIVE TIDE

By MICHAEL TOWN, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Hampton Roads faces no greater threat than the rising seas that endanger homes, businesses and military installations. Leading scientists agree that manmade carbon pollution and the global warming it causes is to blame, as land ice melts and warmer seawater expands inland. At the same time, land in Hampton Roads is slowly sinking, making the region the second most vulnerable area to sea level rise in the U.S. next to New Orleans.

Michael Town is executive director of the Richmond-based Virginia League of Conservation Voters.