VaNews

Thursday July 02, 2015

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


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General Assembly

VA. ONE OF FEW STATES TO ALLOW DOMESTIC ABUSERS TO KEEP GUNS

By MICHAEL BUETTNER, Chesterfield Observer

Police officers knew Stafford Leo Shaw owned a handgun. He had used it in January as a club to beat his girlfriend on the head during a vicious assault. On Feb. 11, his girlfriend, Morgan Rogers, obtained a protective order against Shaw based on that assault. ...In about two-thirds of U.S. states, the protective order alone would have been enough to require that Shaw’s handgun be taken away from him. In most states, a misdemeanor domestic assault conviction would have required Shaw to turn in his weapon. But not in Virginia.


LAWMAKERS TACKLE MENTAL HEALTH REFORM IN VALLEY VISIT

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Democratic Sen. R Creigh Deeds knows the shortcomings of Virginia’s mental health system on a family level. The Bath County senator’s son Gus committed suicide in November 2013, shortly after he was released from an emergency custody order when Deeds was told there were no beds available for his son.

State Elections

FIRST ISIS, NOW EMILY’S LIST — VA. GOP SENATOR IS A POPULAR POLITICAL TARGET

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

For the first time in history, Emily’s List is targeting a sitting state lawmaker — and Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black has earned the dubious honor. The national political action committee is putting Black “on notice” for his opposition to Medicaid expansion, equal rights for women and access to abortion.

State Government

WOOD FUEL TARGETS NOT MET

By TERESA WRAY-WELSH, Independent-Messenger

The Greensville County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution in reference to a $350,000 Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit issued by Easter Virginia Bank on Oct. 28, 2014. County Administrator Dave Whittington explained that Wood Fuel Developers had been an industrial client that staff had been working with for quite a while....The company was expected to invest $18.7 million to begin wood pellet manufacturing operations in Greensville County, located off Wyatt's Mill Road.

Congress

WARNER, KAINE SAY VIRGINIANS HURT BY OPM HANDLING OF DATA BREACH AFTERMATH

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

The temporary but lengthening shut-down of a federal web site used for submitting background investigation forms after it was hacked is exactly the kind of thing that would drive a former tech executive nuts – and so Sen. Mark Warner, joined by fellow Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. wants to know what the Office of Personnel Management intends to do about it.


REP. HURT CO-SPONSORS PROPERTY RIGHTS BILL

Fauquier Times

Rep. Robert Hurt, who represents Fauquier County in Congress, recently introduced the Supporting Home Owners Rights Enforcement (SHORE) Act, H.R. 2929... The legislation would amend the Federal Power Act to ensure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission considers private property ownership rights when issuing a license or enforcement action over hydropower projects at Smith Mountain Lake and other similar areas throughout the country.

Economy/Business

ALPHA CREDITORS READY FOR POSSIBLE RESTRUCTURING TALKS

By MATT JARZEMSKY, Wall Street Journal (Paywall)

Creditors of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. have hired advisers to prepare for possible restructuring talks ahead of an August debt payment, as the coal-mining company grapples with an industrywide slump. Alpha, which is among the largest coal producers in the U.S., had $3.1 billion in long-term debt as of March 31, according to a filing. Creditors, as well as companies, tap advisers to explore options to raise capital, sell assets or cut debt through out-of-court restructurings or bankruptcy filings.

Transportation

TAXPAYERS ARE OUT $214 MILLION - AND STILL NO 460 HIGHWAY

By DAVE FORSTER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The state has struck a deal to recover $46 million of taxpayer money from a private developer for work that was never done on a 55-mile highway that was never built, according to sources in Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration. Under the settlement, US 460 Mobility Partners will keep about $210 million of the payments it received under former Gov. Bob McDonnell and waive a claim to an additional $103 million, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because McAuliffe planned to announce the agreement today.


CONSTRUCTION WILL HALT FOR NATION'S BIRTHDAY

By TED STRONG, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Road work lane closures in Virginia will wrap up today at noon in honor of the nation’s birthday. With millions of drivers hitting the road across the country, the Virginia Department of Transportation will pause work until Monday at noon.

Higher Education

UVA UPDATES SEXUAL ASSAULT POLICY

Daily Progress

The University of Virginia released an updated version of its sexual assault policy Wednesday afternoon to comply with changes in state law. One of the laws requires employees of colleges and universities report sexual assault to the institution’s Title IX coordinator. The coordinator, meeting with a committee, then decides whether it is necessary to report the information to law enforcement authorities.


A PREVAILING WILL: SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE FOUNDER'S WILL HAS SURVIVED MANY CHALLENGES

By NICOLE STEENBURGH, Amherst New Era Progress

Since the announcement of Sweet Briar College’s closure — and the subsequent battle to save it, which won at least another year for the college — the campus has been thrust into the national spotlight.

Virginia Other

CONSUMERS ADVOCATES TALK NEXT STEPS AFTER HEALTH CARE SUBSIDY RULING

By TAMMIE SMITH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Faith leaders gathered Tuesday evening in Richmond to press the case that the provision of health care for all Americans is a moral imperative. Last week’s Supreme Court ruling that upheld subsidies for people buying health insurance on state- and federally run insurance exchanges was lauded as a victory for millions of low- and middle-income Americans.


DRONES TO DELIVER MEDICINE TO RURAL VIRGINIA FIELD HOSPITAL

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

The sprawling field hospital that springs up in rural southwest Virginia every summer has been called the largest health-care outreach operation of its kind. This year, the event will host another first. Unmanned aerial vehicles — drones — will deliver medicine to the Wise County Fairgrounds in part to study how the emerging technology could be used in humanitarian crises around the world.


PRESENCE OF CONFEDERATE FLAGS ON COURT GREEN ENGENDERS CONTROVERSY

By SHERRY HAMILTON , Gazette-Journal

Small Confederate flags have periodically been placed next to the Confederate monument beside Mathews County’s historic courthouse for as long as anyone can remember, but now, in the wake of last month’s tragic church shooting in Charleston, S.C., some county residents think it’s time to stop putting the flag of the Confederacy on county-owned property. Others, however, feel the flag represents a proud heritage that should be honored and preserved.


DOMINION AMPLIFIES URGENCY, PUMPS UP PIPELINE PR EFFORTS

By JOHN BRUCE, The Recorder (Paywall)

Dominion’s public affairs and lobbying agency has announced the launch of a pro-Atlantic Coast Pipeline group proclaiming urgency for building the pipeline and alleging a tripling of demand for natural gas over the next 20 years.


PIPELINE SURVEY LAWSUITS TRANSFERRED TO NEW FEDERAL JUDGE, NEW HEARING LIKELY

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

A new federal judge will consider the same issues debated before a different judge four months ago in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a state law used by developers of a proposed natural gas pipeline to allow surveyors onto private property without the owners’ permission.


PIPELINE FILES ADDITIONAL SUITS IN BUCKINGHAM COUNTY

By JORDAN MILES, Farmville Herald (Paywall)

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC has filed additional civil suits in Buckingham Circuit Court against landowners in order to gain access to survey for a proposed natural gas pipeline. Though Dominion spokesman Frank Mack said until Dominion had confirmation he could only officially say they had filed legal action against six landowners, the Virginia Courts Case Information System’s Civil Division and Buckingham Circuit Court Clerk’s Office indicate that there are seven active civil suits with the ACP listed as the plaintiff.


DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS OPPOSITION TO PIPELINE IN NELSON, AUGUSTA COUNTIES

By RACHAEL SMITH, Nelson County Times

What started out for Abby Riggleman as helping a friend with a class project at James Madison University turned into contributing to a 23-minute documentary that now is being shown all over Virginia and even winning awards.

Local

ARLINGTON SCHOOL LEADERS OK GENDER-IDENTITY PROTECTIONS

By SCOTT MCCAFFREY, Sun Gazette

Arlington School Board members on July 1 added gender identity to a list of protected classes in employment, hiring and student life, moving with little fanfare on an issue that has roiled some other local jurisdictions. The 5-0 vote was taken with only limited public notice it was coming, but board members said it aligned with recent state and federal legal opinions and had broad community consensus within Arlington.


OCCOQUAN BECOMES PW’S BELLWETHER FOR 2015

By DAN ROEM, Prince William Times

While Democrats have consistently topped the Republicans in Prince William in federal and state-wide elections with only one exception since 2006, the dynamics on the ground locally are much different in local elections. At a time when the Republicans hold a 6-2 majority on the Board of County Supervisors, GOP candidates at the local level have found success in areas that should be, on paper, leaning toward the Democrats.


GLOUCESTER COUNTY ATTORNEY SAYS SCHOOL TRANSGENDER RESTROOM POLICY DOES NOT VIOLATE TITLE IX

By FRANCES HUBBARD, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

County Attorney Ted Wilmot said Wednesday he was not surprised that the U.S. Department of Justice filed court papers this week expressing its opinion that the lawsuit filed by a 16-year-old transgender student against Gloucester schools had merit under Title IX. However, Wilmot said he adamantly disagrees.


JUSTICE DEPT. SIDES WITH TRANSGENDER STUDENT, SAYS BATHROOM POLICY IS ILLEGAL

By T. REES SHAPIRO, Washington Post

The U.S. Justice Department has sided with a transgender teenager who alleges that a Virginia school board’s restroom policy is discriminatory. Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old rising junior, filed a lawsuit against the Gloucester County school system with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union claiming that he should be allowed to use the school system’s communal restrooms and not “alternative” facilities just for transgender students.


POLICE: WINCHESTER COUNCILMAN FACES WEAPONS CHARGE

By DEREK GOMES, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

City Council Vice President Milt McInturff has been charged with discharging a firearm stemming from a disturbance late Tuesday afternoon, according to a Winchester Police Department press release. Police responded to the 1400 block of Valley Avenue — near Handley High School — at about 5:30 p.m. in reference to a “mental subject,” according to a Wednesday night press release (McInturff’s residence is located on that block).


LAWSUIT MOVED TO FEDERAL COURT

By JOHN BARNHART, Bedford Bulletin

A lawsuit alleging that racism motivated the school board to close Body Camp Elementary School rather than Moneta Elementary has been moved to federal court. A hearing was originally scheduled in Bedford County Circuit Court, last Friday afternoon, but the decision to move it to federal court was made prior to the hearing.


WILL FLAG ISSUE FLY AT COUNCIL MEETING?

By DENICE THIBODEAU , Danville Register & Bee

Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders said Wednesday he won’t be the one to spur discussion of the highly controversial Confederate flag issue at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. But that doesn’t mean the topic won’t come up.


Today's Sponsor:

The Philip A. Shucet Company

Subscribe to and read your local daily newspaper to celebrate Independence Day, support freedom of speech and encourage transparency in government.

Editorials

OPEN UP VIRGINIA BEACH RECORDS

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

Police are right to be sensitive to the feelings of family and friends when a loved one takes his life. Death investigations often include gory photographs, heartbreaking goodbye notes and details, and disseminating any of that can exacerbate pain.


SHOULD WE TEAR DOWN CONFEDERATE STATUES?

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

When newcomers visit Roanoke, we give them a tour of the city, which usually includes a combination history-and-public-art lesson. Roanoke, we tell our visitors, is different from most other cities in Virginia in that it wasn’t here during the Civil War. We’re a product of the post-war industrial era when railroads opened up the Appalachian coalfields.


STUDY PAROLE, BUT MAKE SURE THERE'S TRUTH IN SENTENCING

Free Lance-Star Editorial

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wonders whether it’s time to reinstitute parole in the state’s criminal justice system. And he’s appointed a commission to look into the issue and prepare a report by December before next year’s General Assembly session.


GERRYMANDERING ENDURES, THANKS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

What if the General Assembly could do something that would save Virginia money and put at least a pinprick in the cynicism that shrouds state and national politics? They can, in fact, do that. They just don’t want to.


GEORGE ALLEN EVOLVES ON ISSUES

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

During his gubernatorial term and his legislative career leading to it, George Allen earned a reputation for conservative zeal expressed with vivid, perhaps strident, rhetoric. He told a 1994 convention of Virginia Republicans that they would enjoy “knocking (Democrats’) soft teeth down their whiny throats,” for instance. His 1993 landslide offered a hint of the GOP’s 1994 congressional sweep. Allen abolished parole, adopted truth in sentencing and reformed education and welfare. He ranked among Virginia’s consequential governors.


GERRYMANDERING DECISION A VICTORY, OF SORTS, FOR VOTERS

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

Virginians should be pleased by the outcome of a Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering, but not necessarily by how it was won. In a case out of Arizona, a divided court ruled that the state’s residents had the authority to take redistricting decisions away from the state legislature and place them in the hands of an independent commission, as they did in a 2000 referendum.

Columnists

CHESLEY: LOUD MESSAGE ON REMAPPING; DEAF EARS IN ASSEMBLY?

By ROGER CHESLEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The heat's rising on state legislators over redistricting. Flames might be flickering - for now - but sparks will continue to catch as Virginians tire of lawmakers concerned more about winning re-election than fashioning equitable district maps.

Op-Ed

PAIGE: GROWING CROWD OF WE THE PEOPLE

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

In junior high school, we were required to memorize the preamble to the Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Vivian J. Paige writes about local politics and other topics at blog.vivianpaige.com.