VaNews December 19, 2014

Compiled by Bernadette Kinlaw


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Engaging our Commonwealth's voters and elected officials on conservation priorities since 2000. Learn more at valcvef.org.

Executive Branch

MCAULIFFE SAYS RIGHTS RESTORED FOR 5,100 EX-OFFENDERS

By JIM NOLAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

James W. Ray sat silently in the front row of the church meeting room, rubbing his eyes. Ray wasn’t mourning a loss. Rather, the Vietnam veteran and felon wept over something that had just been returned to him — the right to vote. “Those are tears of joy,” observed Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who came to First Baptist Church in South Richmond on Thursday to formally restore the rights of Ray and two others.


NEW DMV, OTHER VIRGINIA PENINSULA PROJECTS IN MCAULIFFE'S BUDGET

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

Williamsburg would get a new Department of Motor Vehicles office under Gov. Terry McAuliffe's latest budget proposal. The facility would move out of a leased facility and into one owned by the state. The governor called for $1.8 million for the project, starting in fiscal year 2016.


GUN CONTROL EFFORT UNDER FIRE

By BRYAN GILKERSON, Daily News Record (Subscription Required)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s new gun control proposals have gotten a frosty reception from several Shenandoah Valley firearms dealers. “I understand he’s trying to placate his base … [but] it’s a little bit of political pandering,” said Dennis Golden, owner of firearms shop Ashby Arms on North Liberty Street in Harrisonburg.


MCAULIFFE 'OPTIMISTIC' ABOUT CANON EXPANSION IN NEWPORT NEWS

By THERESA CLIFT, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is "very optimistic" that Canon will bring its global research and development center to Newport News, he said Thursday. "I'm hoping in the next couple months we're going to have some exciting news," McAuliffe said during an interview after announcing that the state had approved a second enterprise zone for the city.


GOVERNOR PROPOSES STRATEGIES TO CLOSE STATE’S $2.4 BILLION SPENDING PLAN GAP

By KALI SCHUMITZ, Fairfax Times

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) proposed more investments in economic development, education and health care as he offered his take on how to close Virginia’s $2.4 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. Speaking to members of the General Assembly’s three fiscal committees Wednesday, McAuliffe also proposed reducing or eliminating some tax credits and increasing fees, along with budget cuts, to help balance the books.


AG OPINION HALTING HAMPTON ROADS TRANSPORTATION GROUP'S PUSH TO BANK FUNDS

By J. ELIAS O'NEAL, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

An official opinion from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General is preventing a newly-created transportation group from deciding where to park nearly $200 million in taxpayer monies. Thomas C. Inglima, an attorney with Norfolk-based Willcox and Savage that serves as the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission's (HRTAC) general counsel, told the committee Thursday that he's still awaiting word from the attorney general's office on how to proceed

General Assembly

MORRISSEY RESIGNS, WILL RUN IN SPECIAL ELECTION; LOSES WORK-RELEASE PRIVILEGES

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

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Henrico, said Thursday that he will resign his seat in the House of Delegates but will run in the special election to fill the vacancy Jan. 13, the day before the start of the 2015 legislative session. But Morrissey’s plans hit a major roadblock Thursday night when Henrico County Sheriff Michael Wade said he was revoking Morrissey’s work-release privileges. Under the conditions of Morrissey’s work-release program, he was supposed to get permission from jail officials to go places when he was outside jail.


MORRISSEY RESIGNS IN WAKE OF CONVICTION — AND PROMISES TO RUN AGAIN

By LAURA VOZZELLA AND RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post

State Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, fresh off a misdemeanor conviction stemming from his relationship with a 17-year-old girl, agreed Thursday to step down, and Virginia’s Capitol heaved a sigh of relief. Until the Richmond Democrat promised to run again next month. Virginia is in for more spectacle, on top of all the rest: a state delegate sent to prison for corruption; a federal investigation, just wrapped up without charges, that exposed a seeming bidding war over a state senator; and, most shocking of all in a state long known for clean government, the federal corruption conviction and imminent sentencing of a popular former governor and first lady.


HOWELL BLASTS MORRISSEY, MCAULIFFE DECRIES 'CIRCUS'

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

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey's friends and foes alike were caught off guard Thursday by the Democrat's announcement that he would run again in the Jan. 13 special election for the seat that he just gave up. House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, blasted Morrissey, calling the announcement a "despicable, arrogant political stunt that should disgust each and every citizen of Virginia."


MORRISSEY SAYS HE'S RESIGNING AFTER TEEN SEX CASE

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

A Virginia state lawmaker who recently entered a plea in connection with accusations that he had an improper sexual relationship with a teenager said Thursday he will let the voters decide whether he should stay or go. Democratic Del. Joseph D. Morrissey announced that he has submitted his resignation but said he plans to run for the same seat in a special election set for Jan 13.


18-YEAR-OLD IN MORRISSEY CASE COMES FORWARD

By BILL MCKELWAY, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The juvenile office receptionist at the center of Del. Joseph D. Morrissey’s misdemeanor conviction last week is coming to the aid of the beleaguered legislator. Now 18, the young woman says in a letter to a state senator that she is challenging the senator’s comments that she was preyed upon by Morrissey, D-Henrico, and vows that she intends “to help clear his name and reputation.”


JOE MORRISSEY, IN HIS OWN WORDS

By NED OLIVER, Style Weekly

State Delegate Joe Morrissey is serving a six-month sentence in Henrico County Jail for a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Prosecutors alleged he had sex with a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office. But because a judge granted him work release and he’s employed as a politician, he was able to leave jail to make a public appearance at a Highland Springs church in his district on Sunday. Here’s what he told the congregation and reporters.


HENRICO SHERIFF DETAILS THE JAIL ARRANGEMENTS

By NED OLIVER, Style Weekly

Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade answered nearly every conceivable question the public might have Tuesday morning about Joe Morrissey’s stay in jail. The state delegate is serving a six-month sentence for a conviction of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A judge granted him work release so he can serve in the General Assembly and continue to practice law.


COX TO SEEK LIMITS ON ATHLETIC FEES FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

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

Following recommendations from the state’s watchdog agency, Del. M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said Thursday he will seek limits on the fees students are charged for athletics at Virginia’s public universities. The House majority leader said he plans to propose legislation requiring schools to incrementally reduce over five years mandatory fees as a percentage of overall athletic revenue.


SEN. CARRICO BLASTS GOVERNOR'S AGENDA AS 'ANTI-SOUTHWEST'

By ALLIE ROBINSON GIBSON, Bristol Herald Courier

Virginia Sen. Bill Carrico said Thursday that Gov. Terry McAuliffe's agenda for the upcoming session of the General Assembly is "anti-Southwest." Carrico, R-Galax, issued a statement Thursday afternoon expressing his dissatisfaction with the governor's announced agenda, saying it is akin to President Barack Obama's and will "cripple coal, violate our gun rights and diminish our economy."


AREA LEGISLATORS SAY BUDGET AMENDMENTS A GOOD START

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Members of the area's General Assembly delegation say budget amendments offered Wednesday for the 2014-2016 biennial budget by Gov. Terry McAuliffe offer a good starting place for legislators when they return to Richmond next month. However, there is a consensus that McAuliffe's desire for expansion of Virginia's Medicaid program has no chance when the legislative session starts.


BRISTOL RELEASES AGENDA FOR 2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

By LURAH LOWERY, Bristol Herald Courier

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth will convene its 2015 legislative session on Jan. 14, 2015 and the city of Bristol, Virginia has released its agenda of items to bring before legislators. The session will last 30 days unless extended up to a maximum of an additional 30 days. During the session the city of Bristol, Virginia would like for legislators to be aware of the City Council’s position regarding certain issues considered crucial to the city’s mission.

State Elections

DEMOCRATS HAVE LITTLE TIME TO CHOOSE CANDIDATE

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

With a Dec. 23 nomination deadline for the Jan. 13 special election, Democrats have less than five days to pick their candidate for the seat Del. Joseph D. Morrissey is relinquishing. Morrissey said he’ll run again for the seat he is giving up. He could face Democratic challengers for the nomination. Kevin Sullivan and Lamont Bagby, a member of the Henrico County School Board, recently announced their bids for the Democratic primary in June.


TOP VA. REPUBLICAN WILL SEEK REELECTION, FACE PRIMARY CHALLENGE FROM THE RIGHT

By JENNA PORTNOY, Washington Post

The speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William J. Howell, on Thursday announced that he will seek another term, setting up a Republican face-off between the 27-year incumbent and his protege. In a video that was filled with soft-focus images of his district, in the Stafford-Fredericksburg area, Howell emphasized his “conservative leadership” and touted such accomplishments as blocking Medicaid expansion and slashing proposed government spending.


VIRGINIA HOUSE SPEAKER HOWELL TO SEEK RE-ELECTION

By JIM NOLAN , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Saying he is “humbled and honored” to represent the people of the 28th legislative district, longtime Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, on Thursday formally announced his bid for re-election next year. Howell, 71, who has served in the House since 1988 and as speaker since 2003, made the announcement in a brief video posted online Thursday.

State Government

W.VA. EDUCATION OFFICIAL HIRED, FIRED AMID INVESTIGATION IN VIRGINIA

By ERIC EYRE, Charleston Gazette

West Virginia Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano’s first major administrative hire lasted four days on the job, after Department of Education officials learned that the office’s new executive director is being investigated for allegedly misusing state funds at a similar post in Virginia.

Congress

KAINE TAKES CLOSE LOOK AT LOCAL SEA LEVEL RISE

By AARON APPLEGATE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Sen. Tim Kaine stood in the Larchmont neighborhood street and took in the strange view. "There are two over there," he said Thursday morning, pointing to homes across a sparkling inlet of the Lafayette River. "And two right there. There's one over there. And another one down there." He was talking about older homes elevated on new cinder block foundations to rise above flood waters that plague the neighborhood.


BRAT CHATS WITH CULPEPER CONSTITUENTS

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION, Culpeper Star Exponent (Modified Pay Wall)

About five weeks into his first term of elected office, 7th District Rep. Dave Brat, R-Richmond, mingled with his Culpeper constituents Thursday at a standing-room only Q&A exchange at Beer Hound Brewery downtown. The crowd of at least 100 was 100 percent home team, too, with people holding signs reading, "Congressman Brat stood strong and we noticed" — a reference to his recent vote against funding for the president's executive action on immigration — and "Saving our freedom."


GOP’S COMSTOCK IS NAMED TO A THIRD U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE

By SALLY VOTH, Winchester Star (Subscription Required)

U.S. 10th District Congresswoman-elect Barbara Comstock has been named to her third U.S. House of Representatives committee. Comstock, a Republican, succeeds 17-term U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, also a Republican, on Jan. 6.

Economy/Business

NAVAL SHIPYARD HIRING FOR 1,500 JOBS IN COMING YEAR

By ROBERT MCCABE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Already one of the top employers in Hampton Roads, Norfolk Naval Shipyard is looking to hire another 1,500 workers by the end of September, the close of the federal fiscal year. That will mean a net gain of about 800 positions at the yard in Portsmouth, after accounting for roughly 700 employees expected to be lost through retirements, resignations and transfers.


MCAULIFFE: NEWPORT NEWS CHOSEN BY STATE TO RECEIVE NEW ENTERPRISE ZONE

By THERESA CLIFT, Daily Press (Paywall for certain articles)

State officials have selected Newport News to receive a new enterprise zone, an economic development tool to aid local businesses, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday in Newport News. The new zone includes portions of the central and north sections of the city, hugging upper Warwick Boulevard between Fort Eustis Boulevard and Oyster Point Road. Oakland Industrial Park, Continental, the Ferguson headquarters and other businesses around the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport and the Patrick Henry CommerCenter are included in the new zone, effective Jan. 1.


BRISTOL, VA., RECEIVES VIRGINIA ENTERPRISE ZONE DESIGNATION

By ALLIE ROBINSON GIBSON, Bristol Herald Courier

More than 600 acres in Bristol, Virginia, have been designated a Virginia Enterprise Zone, which city officials said Thursday will help them attract businesses. The city was one of five areas that received designations after a months-long application process.

Transportation

I-95 EXPRESS LANES OPEN

By TARA SLATE DONALDSON, Northern Virginia Times

If you don't have an E-ZPass yet, you're running out of time. The new toll roads on Interstate 95 opened over the weekend with free travel until Dec. 28 but after that, drivers will need an E-ZPass in order to ride. “Everything went really well,” Express Lanes spokesman Mike McGurk said of Sunday's opening. “Very smooth, typical HOV volume, actually.”


LOUDOUN CLOSES ON SILVER LINE LOAN FROM FEDS

Leesburg Today

Loudoun’s government announced this afternoon that it has closed on a $195 million federal loan to help finance Metrorail’s Silver Line extension to Ashburn. The low-interest loan and associated $1.3 billion loan to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will help MWAA hold Dulles Toll Road rates at current levels through 2018 and limit future toll increases, officials said.

Local

SIGNATURE THEATRE SAVED, BUT ARTISPHERE FACES SHUTDOWN

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

In a seven-hour span Wednesday, the Arlington County Board struck a death blow to a Rosslyn arts center and authorized a lifesaving $5 million loan to Signature Theatre in Shirlington. Board members said they would support a recommendation to stop funding the money-losing Artisphere and close it at the end of June. But they unanimously approved a major financial restructuring for Signature, forgiving a $2.7 million bank loan, loaning another $5 million at 1 percent interest and allowing the theater company to operate rent-free until the 19-year loan is paid back. Some $411,000 in overdue taxes and utility bills were forgiven.


PR. WILLIAM TO START SCHOOL BEFORE LABOR DAY, USING WAIVER FROM ‘KINGS DOMINION’ LAW

By T. REES SHAPIRO, Washington Post

While many children in Northern Virginia are lazing away the last days of summer next year, students in Prince William County will head to school before Labor Day for the first time, officials said. The county School Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a school calendar for the 2015-2016 academic year that has classes starting on Monday, Aug. 31. The decision will give students a two-week winter vacation, an earlier end to the academic year in June and more time for teachers to prepare students for standardized tests, according to a school system statement.


PRINCE WILLIAM OFFICIALS VOTE TO HOLD DOWN TAX INCREASES NEXT YEAR

By JILL PALERMO, Leesburg Today

Next year’s real-estate tax bills could rise no more than the current rate of inflation – about 1.7 percent – under the “budget guidance” approved by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The move could sharply reduce expected revenues for local schools and county services.


HENRICO SCHOOL BOARD, LEGISLATORS DISCUSS SCHOOL START DATES

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

Speaking to members of Henrico County’s legislative delegation Thursday, county School Board Chairwoman Lisa A. Marshall renewed the division’s call for an end to the “King’s Dominion Law,” which mandates that school divisions start their school years after Labor Day. “Last year, we lost 10 days for instruction due to weather,” said Marshall, who represents the Tuckahoe District on the board.


CHESTERFIELD TRAILER PARK RESIDENTS GIVEN UNTIL FEB. 1 TO MOVE

By LOUIS LLOVIO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Residents of the Roadrunner Campground on Jefferson Davis Highway in Chesterfield County were told Thursday afternoon that they would need to be off the property by Feb. 1. The notice came two days after the property owner, Roadrunner Enterprises Inc., told Chesterfield officials that it would allow residents to stay in their homes for a while longer after previously indicating they would receive a 30-day notice.


Today's Sponsor:

Virginia League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Engaging our Commonwealth's voters and elected officials on conservation priorities since 2000. Learn more at valcvef.org.

Editorials

SPECIAL ELECTION WILL PUT VOTERS TO THE TEST

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

Yesterday, Joe Morrissey announced his resignation from the House of Delegates. Speaker Bill Howell set Jan. 13 as the date of the special election to fill the seat.


MCAULIFFE TAKES AIM AT GUNS WITH MODEST PROPOSALS IN VIRGINIA

Washington Post Editorial

POLLS HAVE shown repeatedly that Virginians, by overwhelming margins, favor tighter restrictions on gun purchases and ownership. Yet the legislative response to that is contempt, especially from Republican lawmakers in Richmond. It’s a fair bet that many Virginians would be surprised to learn that at gun shows, private dealers can solicit business from felons by advertising that they need not undergo background checks to buy a firearm. Many might be surprised that there is no impediment to gun ownership for people convicted for misdemeanor counts of stalking, domestic violence and sexual battery, or for those subject to protective orders granted by a court.


BUDGET PROPOSAL A GOOD STARTING POINT

News Virginian Editorial

Every conversation needs a starting point and the same goes for every good debate. After reading through Gov. McAuliffe’s proposals for the state budget, that’s exactly what we feel this is: a good conversation starter. Granted, there are still plenty of questions in the document, which McAuliffe unveiled Wednesday in Richmond. Chiefly, once again at a time when the state is trimming back cost, the governor put forward a proposal to expand Medicaid and again, failed to provide a long-term solution on how to pay for that. If Virginia’s economy is going to grow, we can’t fall back on short term solutions to long-term issues. That however is a discussion for another day.


UVA LATE BUT RIGHT ON TRANSPARENCY QUESTION

Daily Progress Editorial

And then there was light. An independent counsel’s review of the University of Virginia’s sexual assault policies, practices and procedures will be a public record once complete, Rector George Keith Martin declared Wednesday. That revelation followed days of stonewalling by university officials in response to repeated questions from The Daily Progress about the subject. We viewed this as a fundamental question of transparency at a time when it is sorely needed.


STATE NEEDS TIGHTER DAY CARE REGULATIONS

News Leader Editorial (Metered Pay Wall)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proposed tighter daycare regulations, a move we find wise, but only a first step. He wants all daycare providers receiving public subsidies to acquire a state license. This will affect some 1,920 daycare providers, most of whom fall under a religious exemption.


ROAD RELIEF

Free Lance-Star Editorial

The Interstate 95 express lanes are open, earlier than expected, as of last Sunday night. The agony of I–95 should be reduced a bit with the lanes now stretching from Edsall Road inside the Beltway to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.


SAD TO SEE CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE IN CULPEPER LEAVE

Culpeper Star Exponent Editorial (Modified Pay Wall)

A few days ago, we praised 7th District representative Dave Brat for reaching out to the communities he serves by visiting them for questions and answers. Today, we still thank him for that opportunity, but we rebuke him for another recent move. Thursday, the 7th District Congressional office in Culpeper closed.

Op-Ed

LAYNE AND SOUTHARD: INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING: THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

By AUBREY L. LAYNE JR. AND JEFFREY C. SOUTHARD, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

This holiday season, many of us will travel across Virginia to visit family. We will order packages online and we will dash to the grocery and to the mall to complete those last-minute chores. But very few of us, with good reason, will think about the infrastructure that makes these activities possible. Virginia’s highways and bridges are the backbone of our economy and way of life. A new study just released by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association shows that investment in these tangible capital assets yields tremendous economic returns for the state as well.

Aubrey L. Layne Jr. is Virginia’s secretary of transportation. Jeffrey C. Southard is executive vice president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance.


LAROCK: THREE KEY ADJECTIVES

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

Arbitrary, capricious and unlawful — first, that sums up the attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency, an unelected federal bureaucracy, to clamp down on energy production here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As I’ve noted before, the EPA recently released a set of rules that, if allowed to go into effect, will take a staggering toll on Virginians in the form of higher energy costs, lost jobs, and squelched economic growth.

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


NABHAN: FRACKING AND EARTHQUAKES: HAVING OUR CAKE AND EATING IT, TOO?

By DAVID NABHAN, Published in the Roanoke Times

Virginians should take the latest alarms of potential seismic disaster that hydraulic fracking is supposed to bring with a grain of salt. In all the hue and cry that has surrounded the matter, an immensely important foundational fact has been thrown to the side that neither viewpoint wants to acknowledge since it’s a real head-scratcher. Fracking causes earthquakes, does it?

David Nabhan is the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Answers in Plain Sight" and two other books on seismic forecasting.


SHARPE: TIME FOR MARIJUANA REFORM IN VIRGINIA

By ROBERT SHARPE, Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The last time a marijuana decriminalization bill was introduced in the Virginia General Assembly the year was 2011 and the patron was Del. Harvey Morgan, R-Gloucester, a former assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical school. The bill never made it out of committee. The Virginia General Assembly will again consider a marijuana decriminalization bill in the 2015 session, this one sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria).

Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst at Common Sense for Drug Policy.

The Friday Read

IT TOOK 10 MINUTES TO CONVICT, 70 YEARS TO EXONERATE

By LINDSEY BEVER, Washington Post

In March 1944, deep in the Jim Crow South, police came for 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. His parents weren’t at home. His little sister was hiding in the family’s chicken coop behind the house in Alcolu, a segregated mill town in South Carolina, while officers handcuffed George and his older brother, Johnnie, and took them away. Two young white girls had been found brutally murdered, beaten over the head with a railroad spike and dumped in a water-logged ditch. He and his little sister, who were black, were said to be last ones to see them alive. Authorities later released the older Stinney – and directed their attention toward George.