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A Guide to Richmond Music

​Richmond is quickly becoming known as a music town, but for those new to the area or to the scene, knowing where to look can be a bit daunting. This map shows some of the best venues and record stories in the city and is great for newbies. Theaters and bars that often feature live music, as well as thrift stories that sell vinyl, were left off to avoid confusion. (Map by Tyler Hammel of VCU Capital News Service)

​​http://tinyurl.com/rva-music-map

Meet the men running for Governor

Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia will elect a new governor this year.

The governor’s position is one of great power and influence, as the current officeholder, Terry McAuliffe, has demonstrated by breaking the record for most vetoes in Virginia history.

However, during the last gubernatorial race in 2014, the voter turnout was less than 42 percent, compared with 72 percent during last year’s presidential election.

While not as publicized as the presidential campaign, the governor’s race will have just as much, if not more, influence over the everyday lives of Virginians. That’s why it’s important to stay informed about who is running and what they stand for.

The state Democratic and Republican parties will each hold a primary on June 13 to choose a nominee for governor. The general election will be Nov. 7.

Here is a brief summary of each candidate’s qualifications. We also have developed a quiz to help determine which candidate best reflects your political views.

Democrats

     

Democrats Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello

Ralph Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia and a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Specialty Group in Norfolk. He served in the U.S. Army and as state senator for the 6th Senate District, before joining McAuliffe’s gubernatorial ticket in 2013. Northam hopes to continue the work he started with McAuliffe and is focusing his campaign on economic progress. He said his priorities are affordable health care and education and has introduced a plan to make community colleges and workforce training free for what he calls “new-collar” jobs in high-demand fields like health care, cybersecurity and skilled construction trades.

Tom Perriello, a former congressman, is a lawyer whose early career focused on prosecuting atrocities in Africa. He was special adviser to the prosecution of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and served as special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo under the Obama administration. Perriello’s campaign has focused on his resistance to what he calls the hateful politics of President Trump. He has proposed a plan to make community college debt-free for two years. Perriello has been endorsed by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

Republicans

          

Republicans Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner

Ed Gillespie is a political strategist and former chair of the Republican National Committee. He is deeply connected in both national and Virginia politics and has spent his career working for high-profile Republicans including presidential candidate John Kasich, George W. Bush and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. He served as counselor to President Bush during Bush’s second term of office, co-founded a bipartisan lobbying firm and in 2014 narrowly lost a bid for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat to Democratic incumbent Mark Warner. Gillespie vows to pursue “timeless conservative principles,” including a 10 percent cut in state income tax rates.

Corey Stewart is a self-proclaimed “Trump before Trump was Trump.” He co-chaired Virginia’s Trump for President campaign and currently chairs the Board of Supervisors in Prince William County, where he implemented “the nation’s toughest crackdown on illegal immigration” and helped remove local fees for getting a concealed weapons permit. Stewart said he is running for governor “to take back Virginia from the establishment and political elites in Richmond.” An international trade attorney, he has vowed to protect Confederate monuments such as statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. “I’m proud to be next to the Confederate flag,” he said.

Frank Wagner portrays himself as the only Republican candidate who “has built multiple successful, manufacturing businesses in Virginia” and has significant legislative experience. Wagner has represented the 7th Senate District (Virginia Beach and Norfolk) since 2002 and was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992-2001. He is a Navy veteran and until recently owned two ship repair firms. Wagner supports reducing regulations on businesses and wants to focus on career technical education for high school students and college affordability. A top priority for him is infrastructure development, including transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion in Virginia.

 

Editor's Note: This story, which originally sent by the Capital News Service on Monday, erred in listing Emmanuel Peter as a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor; he did not make the ballot for the primary. The CNS deleted that information from the article and adjusted the quiz.

Online Quiz: How well do you know Virginia's official emblems?

State budget targets localities in fiscal distress

By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND –While a study for local government finances was canned this past legislative session, the new state budget has revived the focus on fiscal stress in Virginia cities and counties.

Motivated by the city of Petersburg’s financial crisis, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta County, filed a bill to study the fiscal stress of local governments during the 2017 session. SJ 278 proposed the creation of a joint subcommittee to review local and state tax systems, as well as reforms to promote economic assistance and cooperation between regions.

Ultimately, the bill was rejected in the House Finance Committee as members deferred consideration of tax reform for next year’s longer session.

However, the state budget adopted this February has already begun to enact two fiscal stress preventive measures originally introduced in Hanger’s bill.

“Currently, there is no statutory authority for the Commission on Local Government to intervene in a fiscally stressed locality, and the state does not currently have any authority to assist a locality financially,” said Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D- Petersburg, who co-sponsored the fiscal stress bill.

To escalate state intervention, the budget has set guidelines for state officials to identify and help alleviate signs of financial stress to prevent a more severe crisis. A workgroup established by the auditor of public accounts will determine an early warning system for identifying fiscal stress. The system would consider such criteria as a local government’s expenditure reports and budget information.

Local governments that demonstrate fiscal distress will be notified and may request a comprehensive review of their finances by the state. After review, the state is expected to draft an ‘action plan’ detailing purpose, duration, and the anticipated resources required for the intervention. The governor also has the option to channel up to $500,000 from the general fund toward relief efforts for the local government in need.

The new state budget also called for the creation of a Joint Subcommittee on Local Government Fiscal Stress, with members drawn from the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations and House Finance committees. The subcommittee will study local and state financial practices such as regional cooperation and service consolidation, taxing authority, local responsibilities in state programs, and root causes of fiscal stress.

“It is important to have someone who can speak to first-hand experience dealing with issues of local government fiscal stress,” said Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “This insight will be essential in forming effective solutions that will be sustainable long-term.”

While all states hold limited authority to intervene in struggling localities, the level of involvement they actually play in fiscally stressed communities varies greatly. For Virginia, the new budget aims to widen the commonwealth’s powers to intervene, as well as more effectively spot fiscal red flags in an area.

“Prior to now, Virginia had no mechanism to track, measure, or address fiscal stress in localities,” Aird said. “Petersburg’s situation is not unique, and it is encouraging that proactive measures are now being taken to guard against future issues. This is essential to ensuring that Virginia’s economy remains strong and that all communities can share in our commonwealth’s success.”

You have until Tuesday to file federal taxes

By Haley Winn, Capital News Service

Usually, April 15 is the filing deadline hanging over the heads of U.S. taxpayers. But this year, Americans have been granted a slight reprieve: They have until April 18 – this Tuesday – to submit their federal income taxes.

By law, individual tax returns are typically due on April 15. But when that falls on a weekend or holiday, as it does this year, the deadline is automatically extended.

In this case, it has been extended to Tuesday because Monday is a holiday in Washington, D.C.: That’s when the district observes Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.

The Internal Revenue Service offers a number of tips for people still working on filing their 2016 federal taxes. These tipscan help taxpayers avoid errors and ensure that refunds are received as quickly as possible.

Last-minute filers who still need more time have the option to request a tax-filing extension to avoid late-filing penalties. While this gives taxpayers more time to file their federal taxes, it does not give them more time to pay what they owe.

State taxes are still due as scheduled on May 1. The Virginia Department of Taxation has online advicefor filing state returns.

In 2014, the most recent year for which the IRS has provided data, Virginians filed nearly 3.9 million individual federal tax returns. The total amount of income reported was about $284 billion – or approximately $73,000 per return.

In Virginia, the average income per return ranged from less than $35,000 in Petersburg and Emporia to more than $130,000 in Falls Church and Goochland County.

 

Gov. McAuliffe keeps a perfect veto record

By Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Terry McAuliffe not only set a record for the number of bills vetoed by a Virginia governor. He also has a perfect record for the number of vetoes sustained.

Republicans in the General Assembly failed to override any of the 40 vetoes that the Democratic governor issued on bills passed during this year’s legislative session, including measures that sought to increase voting requirements and make it easier to carry concealed weapons.

During his four years in office, McAuliffe has vetoed a total of 111 bills – more than any of his predecessors. None of them have been overturned, Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, noted.

“Whether he is fighting for the rights of women, immigrants, or the LGBT community, Governor McAuliffe has promised to keep Virginia open and welcoming for all its citizens. Thanks to the Democrats who fought to sustain his vetoes, he was able to keep that promise,” Swecker said in a statement.

“With the help of Democrats in the General Assembly, the Governor has formed a wall of reason to protect Virginians from harmful legislation that would hurt our economy and working families.”

Republicans see it differently. They say McAuliffe and Democratic legislators have shunned bipartisanship and blocked common-sense legislation that would prevent voter fraud and let Virginians defend themselves.

For example, McAuliffe vetoed SB 1299, which would have allowed Virginians who are under a protective order to carry a concealed handgun while they wait for their concealed weapon permit to be issued. McAuliffe said, “The bill perpetuates the dangerous fiction that the victims of domestic violence will be safer by arming themselves. It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more.”

On Wednesday, the General Assembly reconvened to consider the governor’s vetoes and legislative recommendations.

The Senate voted 23-17 in favor of overriding McAuliffe’s veto of SB 1299, with Democratic Sens. Chap Petersen of Fairfax and Lynwood Lewis of Accomack County joining the 21 Republican senators in voting yes. However, it takes 27 votes – a two-thirds majority – to override a veto in the Senate.

The bill’s sponsor – Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Winchester – was disappointed. She said the bill would have “allowed law-abiding victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual abuse to carry concealed weapons on an emergency basis so they are not left defenseless while waiting carry permit paperwork. Many other states have passed similar emergency provisions and victims’ lives have been protected. “

Legislators also sustained McAuliffe’s vetoes of bills that would have required more identification for in-person and absentee voting and increased scrutiny of registration lists. Republicans said such measures would make it harder for people to vote illegally. McAuliffe said that voter fraud has not been a problem, that the bills could prevent qualified people from voting and that the legislation would put a financial burden on local governments.

In addition to the vetoes, the governor sent 85 bills back to the assembly with recommendations. More than 80 percent of the recommendations were accepted.

However, the General Assembly rejected McAuliffe’s recommendations to expand Medicaid and to reinstate a law limiting handgun purchases to one per month in Virginia.

“I remain disappointed that Republicans chose to block our efforts to expand Medicaid and reinstate the one-handgun-per-month rule,” McAuliffe said after Wednesday’s session. “Both proposals are common-sense measures that would save lives in Virginia.”

GOP rejects governor’s bid to expand Medicaid

By Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe blasted Republican legislators Wednesday after they rejected his budget amendment to expand Medicaid in Virginia.

“Virginia Republicans block #Medicaid expansion once again,” McAuliffe tweeted after the General Assembly reconvened to consider legislation that the governor vetoed or wanted amended.

“400k Virginians remain w/o healthcare. We’re losing $6.6mil every day,” McAuliffe wrote after the GOP-controlled House of Delegates rebuffed his Medicaid proposal.

McAuliffe and other Democrats reiterated their call for Medicaid expansion after the U.S. House of Representatives last month failed to reach an agreement on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

That federal law, also known as Obamacare, encouraged states to expand Medicaid, the health coverage program for low-income Americans.

The proposed amendment would have given McAuliffe the authority in October to direct the Department of Medical Assistance Services to expand Medicaid if the Affordable Care Act is still in place. State officials say the expansion would cover about 400,000 low-income Virginians.

Every year since he was elected in 2013, McAuliffe has advocated expanding Medicaid. And every year, Republican lawmakers have voted against the idea.

“We rejected expansion in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and again in 2017 because it was the wrong policy for the commonwealth,” the GOP House leadership said in a statement Wednesday. “The lack of action in Washington has not changed that and in fact, the uncertainty of federal health policy underscores the need to be cautious over the long term.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,640 for an individual. About half of the 31 states that accepted Medicaid expansion have Republican governors. Earlier in the session, Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, outlined the Republicans’ position on the issue.

“Our Republican caucus believes in minimal government, in government doing only what it must,” Massie said.

He said Medicaid is the largest entitlement program in the state and costs are rising.

“As such, we cannot prudently responsibly expand such an entitlement program at this time,” Massie said. “We must reform it and look for the Virginia way. And that is exactly what we’re doing in this house.”

Delegate Massie has since announced his resignation from the Virginia House of Delegates.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a practicing pediatric neurologist, pushed for McAuliffe’s proposed amendment just before the veto session began Wednesday.

“We need to do the right thing here in Virginia. We need to go upstairs, both in the House and the Senate, and pass the governor’s amendment to move forward with Medicaid expansion,” Northam said.

Liberal organizations like Progress Virginia were angered by the GOP’s decision on the matter.

“Health care is a basic human right. It is beyond outrageous that House Republicans have prioritized petty partisan politics over real human lives by refusing to expand Medicaid,” Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, said in a press release. “These politicians should look in the eyes of individuals they’ve denied health care access and explain their vote.”

The issue is likely to remain contentious as McAuliffe finishes his term and Virginia elects a new governor in November. Northam is competing with former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination. Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination: Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach; and Corey Stewart, who chairs the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

“I will continue to fight for access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Virginians along with the Governor and our administration,” Northam said in a statement.

Lawmakers blast Trump budget that would cut Chesapeake Bay cleanup

Photo by TOM HAUSMAN      

By BRIANA THOMAS,  Maryland Capital News Service

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers from states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday expressed bipartisan criticism of President Donald Trump’s proposal to end federal support for cleaning up Chesapeake Bay.

“The president’s budget that would zero out the Chesapeake Bay Program is outrageous,” Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, said at a Capitol Hill meeting with members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition. “It’s dead on arrival.”

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said cutting investments for the bay clean up will not help the economy.

“Our Chesapeake Bay is an economic engine and the cleaner it is the more it produces economically,” he said.

The nonprofit coalition hosted its fifth annual lobbying day, centered around saving the federally funded Chesapeake Bay Program after Trump last month proposed a “skinny budget” thatwould eliminate the $73 million bay restoration project.

The Environmental Protection Agency provides the program with monetary support to restore the bay’s ecosystem and reduce pollution.

Started in 1983, the program is conducted under a six-state partnership with Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia.

Advocates from each state attended the meeting with lawmakers.

“We know how important the Chesapeake Bay is for the entire region,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. “We are going to fight harder and harder and harder.”

Ruppersberger said the bay generates more than $1 trillion annually and the restoration of oysters, tributaries and streams is a project that needs to be continued.

The bay is a source of drinking water for 75 percent of the region’s 17 million residents, according to the Choose Clean Water Coalition.

The Chesapeake also is the largest estuary in the United States serving as aplace for recreational water activities, as well as a workplace for the commercial fishing and crabbing industry.

Made up of 225 local, state, and national groups, the Choose Clean Water Coalition has been advocating for a healthy Chesapeake watershed since 2009.

“The Coalition will work to continue to push back on the president’s proposed budget, and secure the essential funding that is necessary to return clean water to the Chesapeake Bay,” coalition spokeswoman Kristin Reilly said in a statement Wednesday.

Members of the House and Senate said they were pleased to have bipartisan support for clean water.

“The Chesapeake Bay is the perfect thing to come together around and serve energetically,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, last year’s Democratic vice presidential nominee.

He said everyone has to work together to make sure checks and balances are implemented.

“We have an EPA administrator who doesn’t accept science. If you don’t accept climate science, it’s a fair question to ask if you accept science,” Kaine said, referring to Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA.

Trump signed an executive order last week to shut downthe Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a program aimed at reducing climate change by cutting carbon emissions from power plants.

“We are faced with a tough budget battle, but an attitude from the EPA that says we can ignore science,” Kaine said.

The bay is a valuable natural resource and if Trump wants more jobs, then he should work to rehabilitate the bay, Wittman said.

The congressman said he was deeply concerned about Trump’s budget plan and wrote a letter to the administration asking to restore resources to the bay.

Wittman wants more money to help revitalize wetlands.

“Our wetlands are the nursery for everything that lives in those ecosystems...mother nature is the sponge that absorbs what man puts in it,” he said.

Assembly reconvenes Wednesday for ‘veto session’

By SaraRose Martin, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Legislators will return to the state Capitol on Wednesday to consider 39 bills that Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed during the General Assembly’s 2017 session.

To override a veto, the Republican-controlled Assembly must muster a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. Because the Democrats hold 34 seats in the House and 19 in the Senate, McAuliffe should have the votes to sustain his vetoes.

Legislators will vote on the governor’s vetoes of legislation covering a range of topics, including whether to impose more requirements on voter registration, restrict absentee voting and expand access to handguns.

McAuliffe vetoed a record 40 bills during the legislative session that ended Feb. 25. On the session’s final day, the General Assembly dealt with one of the vetoes – McAuliffe’s rejection of HB 2264, which would have cut off state funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. The veto was sustained by a 62-33 vote in the House.

McAuliffe warned at the beginning of the session that he would veto any social-issue bills that he believed may harm the rights of women or the LGBTQ community. Republican leaders in the House have said that McAuliffe has reneged on his pledge to be bipartisan and that his office has been “the most disengaged administration we have worked with.”

Among legislation vetoed are six education-related bills, such as SB 1283, which would allow the state Board of Education to create regional charter schools without the permission of local school boards.

McAuliffe also vetoed bills to allow a freestanding agency to offer online education programs to Virginia students (HB 1400) and to require schools to notify parents of sexually explicit material (HB 2191). McAuliffe said these bills collectively would “undermine” the state’s public schools.

The governor also rejected legislation to expand access to weapons. He vetoed HB 1582, which would allow 18-year-old active members of the military to apply for concealed handgun permits, and SB 1347, which would allow concealed carry of a switchblade knife.

McAuliffe also turned down bills that Republicans say would prevent voter fraud but the governor said would be obstacles to voting. They included SB 1581, which would require voter registrars to verify with the Social Security Administration that the name, date of birth and Social Security number of voter registration applications. Another vetoed bill, SB 1253, would require electronic poll books to contain photo identification of registered voters.

Lawmakers will also consider recommendations that McAuliffe made to 74 bills. Notably, the governor has proposed an amendment to the state budget (HB 1500) that would allow him to expand Medicaid, an optional provision of the federal Affordable Care Act. McAuliffe said this has become an urgent issue since Congress rejected President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month.

Virginians in the coverage gap held a press conference Monday to urge legislators to vote for Medicaid expansion. This expansion would mean 400,000 Virginians who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford health insurance will be able to get covered.

“Republicans no longer have an excuse for not passing Medicaid expansion in Virginia,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia. “All Virginians deserve to be able to see a doctor when they need one, regardless of income.”

Republican leaders said that their opposition remains the smart move and that they will reject McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendment. They fear that if Virginia expands Medicaid, the state will get stuck with the bills in the future.

Agenda for Wednesday’s reconvened session

McAuliffe vetoed 40 bills from the 2017 legislative session. The General Assembly will take up 39 of those vetoes during Wednesday’s session. They are:

     

Bill number

Description

Sponsor

HB1394

Franchisees; status thereof and its employees as employees of the franchisor.

Head

HB1400

Virginia Virtual School Board; established, report.

Bell, Richard P.

HB1428

Absentee voting; photo identification required with application.

Fowler

HB1432

Switchblade knife; exception to carry concealed.

Ware

HB1468

Incarcerated persons, certain; compliance with detainers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Marshall, R.G.

HB1578

Students who receive home instruction; participation in interscholastic programs (Tebow Bill).

Bell, Robert B.

HB1582

Concealed handgun permits; age requirement for persons on active military duty.

Campbell

HB1596

Virginia Public Procurement Act; public works contracts, prevailing wage provisions.

Webert

HB1605

Virginia Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts; established, report.

LaRock

HB1753

Local government; prohibiting certain practice requiring contractors to provide compensation, etc.

Davis

HB1790

Administrative Process Act; development and periodic review of regulations, report.

Lingamfelter

HB1836

Spotsylvania Parkway; VDOT to maintain a certain segment beginning in 2020.

Orrock

HB1852

Concealed handguns; protective orders.

Gilbert

HB1853

Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course.

Gilbert

HB2000

Sanctuary policies; prohibited.

Poindexter

HB2002

Refugee and immigrant resettlements; reports to Department of Social Services.

Poindexter

HB2025

Religious freedom; solemnization of marriage.

Freitas

HB2077

Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000; reference to firearms, emergency shelter.

Wilt

HB2092

Application for public assistance; eligibility, review of records.

LaRock

HB2191

School boards; procedures for handling sexually explicit instructional materials, etc.

Landes

HB2198

Coal tax; limits aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed for employment, etc.

Kilgore

HB2207

Food stamp program; requests for replacement of electronic benefit transfer card.

Robinson

HB2342

Public schools; Board of Education shall only establish regional charter school divisions.

Landes

HB2343

Voter registration list maintenance; voters identified as having duplicate registrations.

Bell, Robert B.

HB2411

Health insurance; reinstating pre-Affordable Care Act provisions.

Byron

SB865

Furnishing certain weapons to minor; exemption.

Stuart

SB872

Absentee voting; applications and ballots; photo identification required.

Chase

SB1105

Registered voters and persons voting; reports of persons voting at elections.

Obenshain

SB1240

Virginia Virtual School Board; established, report.

Dunnavant

SB1253

Voter identification; photograph contained in electronic pollbook.

Obenshain

SB1283

Public schools; Board of Education shall only establish regional charter school divisions.

Obenshain

SB1299

Concealed handguns; protective orders.

Vogel

SB1300

Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course.

Vogel

SB1324

Religious freedom; definitions, marriage solemnization, participation, and beliefs.

Carrico

SB1347

Switchblade knife; person may carry concealed, exception.

Reeves

SB1362

Concealed weapons; nonduty status active military personnel may carry.

Black

SB1455

Voter registration; monetary payments for registering for another.

Black

SB1470

Coal tax; limits aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed for employment, etc.

Chafin

SB1581

Voter registration; verification of social security numbers.

Peake

     

On the last day of the regular session, the House tried but failed to override the veto of one bill:

     

HB2264

Department of Health; restrictions on expenditure of funds related to abortions and family planning.

Cline

     

 

On Wednesday, lawmakers also will consider recommendations that McAuliffe made to 74 bills. The most important is the budget bill (HB 1500). Other legislation cover topics ranging from education and health care to tow trucks and government transparency.

     

Bill number

Description

Sponsor

HB1411

Privately retained counsel; rules and regulations, client’s failure to pay.

Albo

HB1491

Background checks; exceptions, sponsored living and shared residential service providers.

Hope

HB1500

Budget Bill.

Jones

HB1525

Driver’s licenses; revocation or suspension, laws of other jurisdictions.

Albo

HB1532

Fire Programs Fund.

Wright

HB1539

Virginia Freedom of Information Act; public access to records of public bodies.

LeMunyon

HB1663

Northern Va. Community College, et al.; computer science training, etc., for public school teachers.

Greason

HB1671

Natural gas utilities; qualified projects, investments in eligible infrastructure.

Morefield

HB1691

Widewater Beach Subdivision; DCR to convey certain real property.

Dudenhefer

HB1708

Standards of Accreditation; industry certification credentials obtained by high school students.

Filler-Corn

HB1721

Community Colleges, State Board for; reduced rate tuition and mandatory fee charges.

Anderson

HB1791

Conspiracy, incitement, etc., to riot; penalty when against public safety personnel.

Lingamfelter

HB1829

Teacher licensure; certification or training in emergency first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Dudenhefer

HB1846

Death certificates; filing.

Cox

HB1851

Assault and battery against a family or household member; deferred disposition, waiver of appeal.

Gilbert

HB1854

Conflicts of Interests Acts, State & Local Government & General Assembly, lobbyist; filing.

Gilbert

HB1855

Court-ordered restitution; form order, enforcement, noncompliance, etc.

Bell, Robert B.

HB1856

Restitution; supervised probation.

Bell, Robert B.

HB1960

Tow truck drivers and towing and recovery operators; civil penalty for improper towing.

Hugo

HB2014

Standards of quality; biennial review by Board of Education.

Keam

HB2016

Electric personal delivery devices; operation on sidewalks and shared-use paths.

Villanueva

HB2017

Virginia Public Procurement Act; bid, performance, and payment bonds, waiver by localities.

Villanueva

HB2026

Property and bulk property carriers; regulation, combines authorities.

Villanueva

HB2053

Direct primary care agreements; the Commonwealth’s insurance laws do not apply.

Landes

HB2101

Health care providers; data collection.

Byron

HB2105

Investment of Public Funds Act; investment of funds in Virginia Investment Pool Trust Fund.

Byron

HB2149

Aircraft; defines ‘unmanned aircraft’ and requires aircraft to be registered with Dept. of Aviation.

Knight

HB2163

Buprenorphine without naloxone; prescription limitation.

Pillion

HB2168

Virginia Coal Train Heritage Authority; established.

Pillion

HB2201

Failure to drive on right side of highways or observe traffic lanes; increases penalties.

O’Quinn

HB2245

Virginia Research Investment Committee; expands role of Committee.

Jones

HB2289

Divorce or dissolution of marriage; award of life insurance.

Leftwich

HB2297

Oyster planting grounds; Marine Resources Commission to post.

Miyares

HB2324

Jurors; payment by prepaid debit card or card account.

Yost

HB2336

Law-enforcement officer; report of officer involved in accident.

Miller

HB2367

Virginia Port Authority; removal of members on Board of Commissioners.

Lindsey

HB2383

Combined sewer overflow outfalls; DEQ to identify owner of outfall discharging into Chesapeake Bay.

Lingamfelter

HB2386

Unpaid court fines, etc.; increases grace period for collection.

Loupassi

HB2390

Renewable energy power purchase agreements; expands pilot program.

Kilgore

HB2442

Collection fees, local; an ordinance for collection of overdue accounts.

Ingram

HB2471

Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; membership, powers and duties.

Jones

SB800

Direct primary care agreements; the Commonwealth’s insurance laws do not apply.

Stanley

SB812

Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors, Board for; home inspections, required statement.

Marsden

SB854

Unpaid court fines, etc.; increases grace period for collection.

Stanley

SB864

Electoral board appointments; chief judge of the judicial circuit or his designee make appointment.

Stuart

SB898

Combined sewer overflow outfalls; DEQ to identify owner of outfall discharging into Chesapeake Bay.

Stuart

SB962

Sales and use tax; nexus for out-of-state businesses.

Hanger

SB1008

Barrier crimes; clarifies individual crimes, criminal history records checks.

Hanger

SB1023

Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information.

Stuart

SB1073

Bridgewater, Town of; amending charter, sets out various powers typically exercised by towns, etc.

Obenshain

SB1102

FOIA; records of completed unattended death investigations, definition, mandatory disclosure.

Surovell

SB1116

Public school employees, certain; assistance with student insulin pumps by register nurse, etc.

McPike

SB1178

Buprenorphine without naloxone; prescription limitation.

Chafin

SB1239

Child day programs; exemptions from licensure, certification of preschool or nursery school program.

Hanger

SB1258

Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority; increases membership.

Ebbin

SB1282

Wireless communications infrastructure; procedure for approved by localities.

McDougle

SB1284

Court-ordered restitution; form order, enforcement, noncompliance, etc.

Obenshain

SB1285

Restitution; supervised probation.

Obenshain

SB1296

County food and beverage tax; referendum.

Vogel

SB1303

Voter registration; deadline for registration by electronic means.

Vogel

SB1312

Conflicts of Interests Acts, State & Local Government & General Assembly, lobbyist; filing.

Norment

SB1315

Foster care; possession of firearm.

Carrico

SB1364

Property and bulk property carriers; regulation, combines authorities.

Newman

SB1371

Virginia Research Investment Committee; expands role of Committee.

Saslaw

SB1398

Coal combustion residuals unit; closure permit, assessments required.

Surovell

SB1415

Virginia Port Authority; removal of members on Board of Commissioners.

Spruill

SB1416

Investment of Public Funds Act; investment of funds in Virginia Investment Pool Trust Fund.

Newman

SB1418

Electric utilities; costs of pumped hydroelectricity generation and storage facilities.

Chafin

SB1486

Law-enforcement officer; report of officer involved in accident.

Stuart

SB1492

Water utilities; retail rates of affiliated utilities, definitions, etc.

Stuart

SB1493

Northern Va. Community College, et al.; computer science training, etc., for public school teachers.

McClellan

SB1574

Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; membership, powers and duties.

Ruff

 

Endorsed by Sanders, Perriello campaigns in Richmond

By Tyler Hammel, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, Tom Perriello says he would make community college free, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and confront the Trump administration over its policies on immigration and other issues.

Perriello – who has won an endorsement from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – discussed those topics Monday night at a town-hall style meeting at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

Promising to combat President Donald Trump’s administration and help create a “community of conscience,” the Charlottesville native received consistent applause from the crowd.

He touted his support of the Affordable Care Act when he served in the U.S. Congress in 2009-11. Trump, who succeeded Barrack Obama as president in January, has vowed to repeal and replace the ACA. Perriello gave credit to demonstrations such as the Women’s March on Washington for preventing that from happening.

“Five months ago, people could have curled up on the couch and cried, and I’m sure all of us did. But instead, people decided to say, ‘No, this isn’t who we are as a commonwealth; this is not something we are going to stand by passively and watch,’” Perriello said. “Because of these efforts, because of the marches, because of the protests, because of the stories, today the Affordable Care Act remains in place.”

Perriello also discussed his hope to provide free community college to Virginia residents, calling it a good investment. He said trickle-down economics – the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy will generate benefits for poorer people – doesn’t work.

“What the evidence does show you is when you actually increase wages and invest in people, then you do get growth locally, and more growth for small business,” Perriello said. “This is not something we’re doing out of the goodness of our hearts. We’re doing this because it’s a good investment strategy.”

A big part of Perriello’s speech was establishing himself as a viable candidate in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Perriello announced his candidacy in January, when it appeared that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam would be uncontested in seeking the nomination.

Perriello encouraged supporters to knock on doors and volunteer on his behalf to spread the word about his campaign. That was a critical strategy at the time: Only one in five Virginians even knew his name, according to a poll published in February by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Last week, a survey by the center showed that Perriello and Northam were tied: Each had support from 26 percent of Democratic-leaning voters; almost half of the people polled were undecided.

At the event at Virginia Union University, Perriello had few critical things to say about Northam. Instead, he mentioned issues on which the two candidates agreed – but Perriellosaid he was the first to take those positions.

“We came out and led the way on standing up for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. A few weeks later, we saw Ralph and others court that decision,” Perriello said. “Same thing with criminal justice reform and debt-free community college. I think what we need right now is someone who’s actually leading a policy agenda.”

Perriello echoes many of the positions that Sanders espoused during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last year. On Tuesday, Sanders issued a statement endorsing Perriello.

“We need to elect progressives at every level of government if we are going to beat back the dangerous agenda of the Trump Administration and its Republican allies,” the statement said. “Tom is committed to fighting the rigged economy and income inequality. He was the first major statewide candidate in Virginia to run on a $15 minimum wage and the first to say two years of community college should be tuition-free.”

Perriello will face off against Northam in the Democratic primary election on June 13. Northam has the support of outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe and most Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation.

On the Republican side, three candidates are vying for the GOP nomination for governor: Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach; and Corey Stewart, who chairs the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

‘My illness is not larger than my world’ Despite pain, student excels in class and in life

By Dai Já Norman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Pictures of family members and friends and a British flag cover the walls of her dorm room at Virginia Commonwealth University. Anatomy textbooks, note cards and a Himalayan pink salt crystal lamp occupy her desk.

On Majesta-Doré Legnini’s nightstand is an assortment of prescription and over-the-counter pill bottles. She takes six pills every evening and one in the morning, along with three vitamin supplements. “I am in pain every second of my life,” the 19-year-old sophomore says.

Legnini describes the feeling this way:

“Imagine your legs are stuck between a bed frame and a box spring. And they are under the box spring, and then there’s a mattress, and then there’s an anvil, and then there’s a 500-pound-man sitting on top of the anvil playing a grand piano. That’s what it feels like.”

Legnini was recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a rare disorder that afflicts connective tissues and joints. But she has been fighting through the pain as an honors student, a double major (health science and political science) and a community volunteer, working with homeless and mentally ill people.

Although EDS tries to slow her down, Legnini (pronounced lay-NEE-nee) lives a fast-paced life.

On campus, she is a member of the VCU Honors College and VCU Globe, a living and learning program that focuses on global education and international experiences. She helps arrange campus tours for the Undergraduate Admissions Office and leads Their Home RVA, a website and student organization dedicated to improving community relations – especially between VCU students and the homeless population.

Off campus, Legnini is an intern at the Daily Planet, which provides health care and other services to homeless individuals and other people in need. She also is a writer for The Mighty, a website for people with disabilities, diseases, mental illness and other challenges to share their stories.

Susan Sereke, advancement coordinator for the Daily Planet, said Legnini is a testimony to the power of passion.

Legnini is driven by “her passion about the issues of health care and homelessness, and a desire to improve the lives of others,” Sereke said.

About Ehlers Danlos syndrome

EDS is genetic. Symptoms can range from mildly loose joints and hyperelastic skin to debilitating musculoskeletal pain and aortic dissection, a life-threatening heart condition. At least one in 5,000 people have some form of the illness, according to the Ehlers Danlos Society, a support group.

Legnini says she has been wracked by pain from her earliest memories. As a child, she remembers crying when she went on long walks. She was always prone to injuries when playing sports.

Growing up, she sought medical attention numerous times, but doctors dismissed her complaints, attributing them to growing pains. Last May, Legnini’s condition worsened, and she decided to try her luck again by seeing another physician.

“Pain became more frequent,” Legnini recalled. “I felt weaker. I was getting exhausted by seemingly simple activities. It started to become difficult to concentrate, and most importantly PAIN, PAIN, PAIN. It got more intense, more frequent, and made my life much more difficult.”

After almost a year of doctor visits and road trips between Richmond and Manassas, a rheumatologist diagnosed Legnini as having EDS. Legnini was already familiar with the illness: Her best friend also has a form of EDS.

In fact, during high school, Legnini did a lot of research about the disease and even helped raise money for theEDS research center in Maryland. While researching the disease, Legnini thought she might have the symptoms but then rejected that notion as a projection of her friend’s situation.

Many people, even physicians, are unfamiliar with EDS. So Legnini brings a binder explaining the illness whenever she goes to see a doctor.

There is no cure for EDS; however, patients can take medication to reduce their pain and lower their blood pressure. (High blood pressure is associated with the disease.)

Living with pain: ‘I see outside of my illness’

Because of the constant pain, Legnini often must gauge whether she is well enough to leave her bedroom. When the answer is no, she stays in her dorm and tries to get as much homework done as she can.

Walking, cooking and writing are things that many people take for granted. But for EDS patients, these tasks are not effortless. However, Legnini has found ways to overcome adversity.

She is enrolled in some online classes. Also, her older brother, Luciano Legnini, lives across the hall in VCU Globe and can assist her with everyday tasks, such as lifting heavy objects, grabbing items from a high shelf, cooking and cutting up food.

“She doesn’t want to portray herself as like this dependent,” Luciano Legnini said. “But I am here to help, and I am always willing to help her.”

Majesta-Doré Legnini begins each day with an elaborate morning routine. It starts with her cracking every joint in her body – a laborious process that alleviates some of the pain.

“I crack my back first, and then I move my knees and ankles so that they crack a little bit,” Legnini said. “I crack my toes, and then my hands just crack constantly.”

Then she stretches for 10 minutes, showers and wraps her knees, ankles, and shoulders in KT tape – a tape used for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support. She gets dressed and grabs breakfast that meets her diet restrictions – gluten free, sugar free and dairy free – before heading out.

Legnini says it would be easy to play the victim and wallow in self-pity. She refuses to do so.

“I am not able to do some things,” she said. “And I know those things, and I don’t do those things. But I am able to learn.”

Legnini plans to get a joint degree between VCU and the University of Richmond with a master’s in health administration and a specialty in civil rights law. After college, she intends to advocate for inclusive and accessible health care.

Her goal is to ensure that people from all walks of life have access to the health care system. She won’t let her own disease define her.

“I see outside of my illness,” Legnini said. “But my illness is inside of everything I do. And so, the world is larger than my illness, but my illness is not larger than my world.”

More Virginians have health insurance, data show

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The percentage of Virginians without health insurance fell by 2 percentage points in 2015, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. All but two localities in Virginia saw a drop in the number of uninsured residents.

The uninsured population of Virginia fell from 12.4 percent in 2014 to 10.4 percent in 2015, the data showed. Nationwide, the proportion of Americans lacking health insurance went from 13.5 percent to 10.9 percent.

Health insurance has been the subject of political debate at the federal and state levels. The goal of the Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare, was to get more people insured. Republicans say the law has been a disaster; Democrats say it’s working but needs improvement.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Virginia ranked No. 28 in its percentage of uninsured residents in 2015. Massachusetts had the lowest uninsured population (3.2 percent); Texas had the highest (19.2 percent).

From 2014 to 2015, the uninsured population dropped in all states except South Dakota, where the percentage rose 0.2 percent.

Among Virginia localities, the city of Lexington showed the biggest decrease in uninsured residents: Its percentage fell from 15 percent to 10.2 percent. The uninsured rate also dropped significantly in Highland County, Cumberland County and Roanoke.

The city of Richmond also had a sizable decline: Its proportion of uninsured residents declined from 18.4 percent in 2014 to 14.5 percent the following year.

Despite the improvements, more than 15 percent of the population was uninsured in a dozen localities in Virginia, including Harrisonburg, Accomack County and Manassas Park.

In many states, the reason for the decrease in uninsured residents could be the expansion of Medicaid, the government-funded health program for lower-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act offered states federal funding to expand Medicaid. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have done so, according to the Census Bureau.

Other states, including Virginia, declined to expand Medicaid for fear that they would be saddled with the costs down the road.

On Monday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe again urged Virginia legislators to expand Medicaid.

“Failing to expand Medicaid has cost Virginia $10.4 billion and has left 400,000 of our residents without health care,” McAuliffe said. “President Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, and even Speaker (Paul) Ryan has said that Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future. The time has come for us to bring our taxpayer dollars back to serve the individuals who need them the most.”

Republicans, who control the Virginia General Assembly, are likely to reject McAuliffe’s request.

Limit handgun purchases to 1 a month, McAuliffe says

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proposed an amendment to restore Virginia’s “one handgun a month” law. The amendment would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone other than a licensed firearms dealer to purchase more than one handgun within a 30-day period.

Virginia limited handgun purchases to one a month in 1993 when Democrats controlled the General Assembly and Douglas Wilder was governor. Back then, McAuliffe said, Virginia had the reputation of being “the gun-running capital of the East Coast.”

The law was repealed in 2012 when Republicans controlled the House and Senate and Bob McDonnell was governor. As a result, McAuliffe said Monday, “Virginia is once again becoming the go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk.”

Earlier this month, 24 people, including 22 from Virginia, were arrested on gun-smuggling charges. They transported more than 200 weapons north on Interstate 95 to New York, law enforcement officials said.

According to prosecutors, one of the suspects was recorded as saying, “There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. . . . I can do that Monday through Friday. . . . They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.”

New York officials have urged Virginia to take action.

“When you hear a trafficker boasting about the weak gun laws in Virginia, it is crystal clear that this needs to be addressed,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told The New York Times.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said he supports reinstating the “one handgun a month” law.

“This is a great step to restore a common-sense measure that never should have been repealed in the first place,” Herring said. “Virginia’s weak gun laws make it too easy for guns to get into the hands of criminals, making our families, communities, and especially our law enforcement officers less safe, not to mention the heartbreak and damage these guns cause in neighboring states.”

McAuliffe proposed amending Senate Bill 1023 to include a one-a-month limit on handgun purchases in Virginia. The bill would prohibit Virginia from sharing information about its concealed handgun permit holders with states that do not recognize Virginia’s permits as valid within their borders.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, sponsored SB 1023. He called the governor’s amendment disingenuous.

“He’s just making a game out of it,” Stuart told The Washington Post. “It’s disheartening to me that the governor is more concerned about the people in New York City than he is about Virginia citizens who are actually . . . playing by the rules.”

The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5 to consider McAuliffe’s vetoes and recommendations. Republicans control the House and Senate and are unlikely to agree to the “one handgun a month” proposal, Stuart said.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” The governor’s supporters say he is a firewall to block bad bills passed by a gerrymandered legislature.

“This new record is the disappointing result of four years of failed leadership by a disengaged governor, and is certainly not something to be celebrated,” Speaker William Howell and other GOP House leaders said in a statement last week. “Divided government has been the norm over the past two decades of Virginia politics, but this governor has brought a new level of animosity and acrimony than we’ve ever seen.”

McAuliffe maintains that it’s Republicans who are playing politics – by sending him bills that he says are unnecessary or dangerous. On Monday morning, he vetoed:

  • SB 1253, sponsored by Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, which would have required electronic poll books to include photo identification of registered voters.
  • SB 1455, sponsored by Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, which would have made it a Class 1 misdemeanor to solicit or accept payment in exchange for registering people to vote.
  • SB 1581, sponsored by Sen. Mark J. Peake, R-Lynchburg, which would have required voter registrars to contact the Social Security Administration to verify the name, date of birth and Social Security number of all voter applicants.

McAuliffe said that the state already has strict voter registration laws and that there is no evidence to suggest that voter fraud is a problem in Virginia.

On Monday afternoon, McAuliffe vetoed HB 2000, sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin, which stated that “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” The bill, which took aim at so-called “sanctuary cities,” would “send a hostile message to immigrant communities,” McAuliffe said.

He also vetoed HB 2092, by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, which sought more scrutiny of people seeking public assistance, including whether they have received undeclared winnings from the Virginia Lottery; and HB 1790, by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, which supporters said would streamline government regulations but McAuliffe said would do the opposite.

On Friday, the governor rejected five gun-related bills, including HB 1852, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and SB 1299, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester.

Under that legislation, people protected by a restraining order could carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the order was issued, provided that they are not prohibited from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm.

“It provides petitioners of a protective order the ability to carry a concealed firearm for a limited period time in order to protect themselves as they see fit while they await the issuance of their permanent concealed carry permit,” Gilbert said.

In announcing his veto, McAuliffe said the legislation perpetuates a false narrative that victims of domestic violence are made safer by arming themselves.

“It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more,” McAuliffe said. “I will not allow this bill to become law when too many Virginia women have already fallen victim to firearms violence at the hands of their intimate partner.”

McAuliffe also vetoed two other identical bills by Gilbert and Vogel: HB 1853and SB 1300. Under those bills, the state would have provided funding to businesses that offer free gun safety and training programs for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking or family abuse.

Moreover, anyone who gets a protective order would have received a list of firearm training courses approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

The fifth gun-related bill vetoed by McAuliffe was SB 1362, sponsored by Black. It would have allowed military personnel who are not on duty to carry a concealed firearm in Virginia, as long as they have their military identification card.

McAuliffe called the bill an unnecessary expansion of concealed handgun carrying rights.

“The bill would create a separate class of individuals who do not require a concealed handgun permit,” he said.

The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5 to consider override McAuliffe’s vetoes.

Print may die but journalism won’t, veteran columnist says

By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Print journalism will eventually end, says former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, but the close of the print era hardly means the death of journalism.

Levey, a visiting journalism professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, delivered a lecture Thursday on “the future of the media,” examining journalism in the digital age – and in the era of President Trump.

For Levey, sustaining responsible journalism requires overhauling the business models and content systems that guide the news industry today. As newspaper advertising has fled online to Craigslist, Facebook, Yahoo and Google, publishers have all but lost their ability to charge for news.

“If journalism is going to survive in its best form – authoritative, accurate, fair, unbiased and on the ball in terms of timing – the business problem is going to have to be solved or dealt with,” said Levey, who has been a working journalist for nearly 50 years, including 36 as a reporter and columnist at The Washington Post.

He compared The Post’s acquisition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with The New York Time’s public ownership and resulting pressure of “being beholden to Wall Street.” Journalism requires revenue to thrive, and Levey discussed philanthropy and government funding as emerging channels of financial support for news sites.

Revamping media content for today’s audiences may be a more complicated task. Levey described a modern breed of readers who use news as a way to confirm, rather than challenge, their knowledge. This trend, Levey said, will only fragment audiences, promote intolerance and discourage fresh news sources and journalists in the field.

“We no longer trust news sources to open our eyes to things we don’t know, and we don’t seek them to provide things that we don’t know,” Levey said, speaking to several hundred people gathered in the VCU Commons Theater and watching the lecture online.

“We are going home. We are going to a stripe and a political orientation that we know, that we expect and that we trust.”

Equally troubling to the landscape of journalism is the popularity of online platforms that seek to cement an identity somewhere between legitimate news and pop-culture listicles.

Case in point: BuzzFeed and its decision to publish private information regarding then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s personal life. Levey criticized online news outlet for presenting the information to readers without a filter of journalistic standards. Responsible journalism involving editing, and a brand of accuracy will always exist, he said, but it must increasingly compete with content that shies away from editorial involvement and responsibility.

Toward the end of his lecture, Levey outlined his predictions for the future of journalism and received questions from the audience. Newspapers will eventually halt circulation, Levey said, and television and radio news will continue to decline each year.

As for the internet, Levey predicts Facebook will rise as a dominant publisher of journalism in a time as media outlets are sucked into larger enterprises, much in the way of The Washington Post and Amazon.

After fielding questions about censorship, commoditization of content and journalism ethics, Levey summarized his thoughts regarding journalism’s future as the lecture drew to a close.

“Journalism depends on patience, time and editing,” he said. “My money’s on journalism. We always find a way.”

Governor vetoes Republicans’ ‘educational choice’ legislation

By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed several bills that Republicans say would have increased school choice but McAuliffe said would have undermined public schools.

Two bills, House Bill 1400 and Senate Bill 1240, would have established the Board of Virginia Virtual School as an agency in the executive branch of state government to oversee online education in kindergarten through high school. Currently, online courses fall under the Virginia Board of Education.

“In establishing the Virginia Virtual School outside of the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, and most importantly, local school boards, this legislation raises significant constitutional concerns,” McAuliffe stated in his veto statement.

HB 1400 was sponsored by Del. Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, and SB 1240 by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico. The bills were identical to legislation the governor vetoed last year.

McAuliffe also vetoed HB 2342 and SB 1283, which would have authorized the State Board of Education to allow local school boards to collaborate in establishing regional charter schools. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently and are exempt from certain policies regular schools must follow.

“In establishing regional governing school boards that remove authority from local school boards and their members, this legislation proposes a governance model that is in conflict with the Constitution of Virginia,” McAuliffe wrote in his veto statement. “Public charter school arrangements are already available to divisions at the discretion of the local school board.”

HB 2342 was sponsored by Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta. Sen Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, sponsored SB 1283. Obenshain was disappointed in the Democratic governor’s decision.

“Florida has upwards of 500 charter schools; Virginia has just nine that serve 2,000 students,” Obenshain said. “If we’re serious about providing families with meaningful educational choices when faced with failing schools, then that has to change.”

Obenshain said charter schools provide parents with a choice when their local schools are failing.

McAuliffe also vetoed:

  • HB 1605, sponsored by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun. It which would have established “Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts.” The governor said such savings accounts would divert state funds from public schools and redirect them for educational services outside of the public school system.
  • HB 2191, introduced by Landes. It would have required school boards to notify parents of any material assigned to students that could be deemed as sexually explicit. Schools would have had to provide substitute materials if the parents requested.

Ed Gillespie, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in this year’s election, criticized McAuliffe for vetoing the bills.

“I’ve never seen a governor so proud of everything he didn’t get done for the Commonwealth,” Gillespie said. “Unfortunately for Virginians, he’s added to his record by vetoing four pieces of legislation to expand opportunities in education. These were common-sense bills that would have helped all Virginia students.”

Hello Kitty Truck rolls into Richmond on Saturday

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Hello Kitty fans, rejoice. On Saturday, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, described as “a mobile vehicle of cuteness,” will make its first visit to Richmond.

The truck will be at Short Pump Town Center, 11800 W. Broad St., from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The vehicle will be near the mall’s main entrance by Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck has been traveling nationwide since its debut at the 2014 Hello Kitty Con, a convention for fans of the iconic character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. The truck has made stops in major cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles.

The mobile cafe will be selling sweets and other items, including macarons, mini cakes and bow-shaped water bottles. According to Yelp reviews, treats cost around $15. Besides food, you can purchase souvenirs such as a Hello Kitty Cafe Truck T-shirts and mugs.

Because of the success of the truck, Sanrio opened the Hello Kitty Pop-Up Container in Irvine, California, last July. The pop-up store, which will be there only for a year, was founded to spread “a message of happiness, friendship, and fun through yummy goodies and beverages featuring Hello Kitty and other Sanrio friends.”

For updates about the truck’s visit to Richmond and other cities, you can follow the venture’s postings on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey

By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.”

According to the bill, Washington was also a “gentleman planter” who began distilling rye whiskey on his property at Mount Vernon in early 1797 at the suggestion of James Anderson, his farm manager.

Today, the staff at Mount Vernon continues to distill the whiskey for sale at the property’s gift shop.

In a speech on the floor of the Virginia Senate on Feb. 22, Washington’s 285th birthday, Ebbin explained the historical pairing of Washington’s political career and booze.

According to Ebbin’s speech, when Washington first ran for the House of Burgesses in Frederick County in 1755, he lost by a landslide, receiving only 40 of the 581 votes. Ebbin attributed this loss to his failure to provide “bumbo” – a common practice at the time to provide alcohol to voters.

Three years later, Washington tried once more to win over voters and won, but switched his campaigning technique.

“During that election, he supplied 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer and 2 gallons of cider (an impressive 160 gallons of liquor) to 391 voters,” Ebbin said during his commemoration speech. “That’s more than a quart and a half per voter. Washington had clearly learned his lesson, because a key to victory was ‘swilling the planters with bumbo.’”

After retiring from politics, Washington began distilling whiskey at his Mount Vernon property. In the year of Washington’s death – 1799 – the distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey.

The Mount Vernon distillery was reconstructed at the original location that Washington used and produces small batches of distilled spirit for sale on site, including the rye whiskey that now holds the state title. The distillery attempts to produce the whiskey through the same techniques that Washington would have used at the time.

Besides declaring the official state spirit, McAuliffe also signed a bill designating the TV show “Song of the Mountains” as Virginia’s official state television series.

SB 1332, sponsored by Sen. Charles Carrico of Galax, noted that “Song of the Mountains” is the first nationwide television program featuring the bluegrass music of Appalachia.

The show was founded in 2003 as a monthly stage concert series hosted by the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia. “Song of the Mountains” is broadcast on more than 150 PBS stations in about 30 states.

The program “continues to consistently present to the nation the unique musical and cultural heritage of not only the Southwest region of the state but the entire Commonwealth,” the bill stated.

McAuliffe OKs $1.6 million for wrongfully imprisoned man

By Maura Mazurowski, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has cleared Keith Allen Harward to receive nearly $1.6 million from the commonwealth of Virginia for the 33 years he spent in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.

McAuliffe last week signed House Bill 1650approving the compensation package for Harward.

“On April 7, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted Mr. Harward’s Writ of Actual Innocence, formally exonerating him of all the crimes for which he had been convicted,” the legislation stated.

Harward, now 60, was convicted of a 1982 rape and murder in Newport News. According to trial summaries, the rape victim was awakened around 2 a.m. by a loud thumping sound as her husband was being beaten by a man.

The woman was thrown out of bed and repeatedly sexually assaulted as her husband lay dying. Her assailant held a diaper over her head and threatened to harm her children if she did not cooperate.

In 1986, Harward was tried and convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life when two forensic odontologists testified that Harward’s teeth matched those of the bites on the woman.

He was released from prison on April 8, 2016 after DNA testing proved he was not the killer. Harward had always maintained his innocence.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Arlington, notes that because of his wrongful conviction, Harward “suffers from numerous painful physical injuries, systemic health conditions, and severe mental anguish and emotional distress and has lost countless opportunities, including the opportunity to marry and have children” and that he “is an impoverished man, with no job skills or career prospects and no savings or accumulated pension benefits, and does not qualify for social security benefits.”

The legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by McAuliffe will take effect July 1. To receive the money, Harward must sign documents releasing the state of any present or future claims.

Then, within 60 days, Harward will receive a check for $309,688. By Sept. 30, the state treasurer will buy a $1,238,751 annuity for Harward. He also will be provided up to $10,000 for tuition for career and technical training from the Virginia Community College System.

During his ordeal in prison, Harward received legal support from the Innocence Project.

He is at least the 25th person to have been wrongfully convicted or indicted based at least in part on bite mark evidence, according to the project.

Walk seeks to raise awareness about eating disorders

 

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Bayan Atari, a public relations major at Virginia Commonwealth University, has spent nine months in treatment for an invisible ailment. Two of her friends have died from the disorder. Atari is one of 30 million Americans struggling with an eating disorder.

Despite the prevalence and severity of the condition, Atari and others have had trouble getting help. That’s because many people have misconceptions about eating disorders, experts say.

“If you’re not underweight, they might not take you seriously. At my sickest, I was still at a normal weight, and that was enough to be like, ‘Well, you’re not dying, you have an electrolyte imbalance, but you’re not dead,’” Atari said. “Even in the medical system, I’ve known people whose kidneys were failing, but because they were overweight or normal weight, they were not given the care they needed.”

Efforts are underway to bring attention to eating disorders.

On Saturday, the National Eating Disorders Association will hold its first NEDA Walk in Richmond in hopes of raising awareness about the problem. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. at the VCU Commons Plaza.

Kristen Tully, the organizer of the walk, expects 200 to 300 people to participate.

Tully decided to organize the walk because she herself is in recovery. When she was in the throes of her eating disorder, Richmond didn’t have an eating disorder clinic or other resources to help.

However, in the last five years, more resources have popped up. One is Stay Strong Virginia, which has compiled lists and maps of treatment programs and support groups for people with eating disorders. Stay Strong Virginia helped Tully organize Saturday’s walk.

Another resource is Veritas Collaborative, a treatment center for eating disorderson Broad Street. Veritas is a sponsor of the NEDA Walk.

It’s important to get someone with an eating disorder into treatment because the illness can be fatal. Someone dies from their eating disorder every 62 minutes, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition.

The main kinds of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia, or restricted eating. This can lead to severe dehydration, which sometimes results in kidney failure.
  • Bulimia, or binging and purging. This can cause inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from repeated vomiting.
  • Binge eating, or eating to excess. This can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and other health problems.

Meredith Kerley, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, said getting treatment is important, but recovery involves more than that.

“I always say the work really begins when someone leaves treatment,” Kerley said. “Treatment is a kind of way to break the pattern and get one’s body into a healthy place. Once they leave that bubble, there’s the pressure of doing all these things whether or not someone tells them to. It’s far from cured when someone leaves treatment.”

Tully agreed. She said recovery is never linear. “It’s hills and valleys, and recovery isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do.”

Not everyone with an eating disorder is lucky enough to get treatment. Only one-third of people suffering from anorexia receive treatment – and only 6 percent of those suffering bulimia.

Part of this may be due to the stigma of an eating disorder. According to a 2010 study, 12 percent of people surveyed believed eating disorders are related to vanity. Kerley said that notion is patently false.

“There’s always emotion underlying it (the eating disorder),” Kerley said. “It’s not about the food, and it’s not the vanity, but that’s how it manifests.”

For Atari, the trigger was personal issues rather than her body image.

“I was miserable,” Atari said. That is when she turned to using bulimia. “The terrible part is that it works. You need to cope with something, and it works, and I couldn’t see anything else working as well.”

Eating disorders are often accompanied by other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.

“Sometimes, eating disorders do develop as a way to cope with anxiety or depression,” Kerley said. “Other times, malnutrition can certainly affect the brain and cause depression.” She said it can be hard to tell which mental illness comes first.

It also can be impossible to tell who has an eating disorder and who doesn’t. Kerley has had 20 to 30 patients over the years, ranging in age from 12 to 50. Many have been of normal weight, and the patients include men.

“There’s kind of a stigma it’s an adolescent girl’s issue, but I see the whole range, and again, it is males and females,” Kerley said.

More about Saturday’s NEDA Walk

You can register for the walk on the NEDA website. Online registration ends Friday, but that’s to guarantee getting a T-shirt. People also can register in person at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the VCU Commons Plaza, 907 Floyd Ave., Richmond. If you can’t walk, you can sponsor a walker or make a donation on the NEDA website.

New laws target puppy mills and allow lifetime pet licenses

By Ashley Luck, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia soon will have three new laws that will impact its furry residents and their owners. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed bills that will bar pet stores from buying dogs from unscrupulous sellers, allow local governments to offer lifetime pet licenses and change the legal description of a “dangerous dog.”

McAuliffe signed the legislation last week. The bills will take effect July 1.

SB 852, introduced by Sen. William Stanley, R-Franklin, is aimed at brokers and breeders who sell dogs to pet shops. The new statute says the seller must have a valid license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Moreover, pet stores may not procure a dog “from a person who has received citations for one critical violation or three or more noncritical violations from the USDA in the two years prior to receiving the dog,” according to a summary of the bill by the Legislative Information System.

Violating the law will be a Class 1 misdemeanor for each dog sold or offered for sale. That is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Tabitha Treloar, director of communications at the Richmond SPCA, said the organization is grateful for the new law.

“SB 852 closed loopholes in a section of code that became law in 2015, making it clear that pet stores may not acquire pets either directly or indirectly from puppy mills,” Treloar said. “While adopting from a reputable shelter or humane society will always be the best way to get a new companion, this is a law that helps to protect Virginia customers, and we are grateful to Sen. Stanley for carrying this bill and to Gov. McAuliffe for signing it into law.”

McAuliffe also signed HB 1477, sponsored by Del. Robert Orrock, R-Caroline County. It will allow local governments to provide lifetime licenses for cats and dogs for a maximum fee of $50. (The cost of an annual pet license will remain at up to $10.)

The lifetime license will be valid if the animal’s owner continues to reside in the locality and keeps up the animal’s rabies vaccinations. If an animal’s tag is lost, destroyed or stolen, the legislation sets a $1 fee for getting a duplicate tag.

The bill also states that local ordinances can require an animal to have an identifying microchip.

Pet owners must get a license for any dog or cat that is 4 months or older. Guide dogs or service dogs that serve disabled people are exempt.

McAuliffe also signed HB 2381, sponsored by Del. Matthew Farris, R-Rustburg. It modifies the legal description of a “dangerous dog.” It’s a designation with big ramifications: If a dog is officially labeled as dangerous, it is listed in an online registry, and the owner must get insurance and pay a $150 annual fee.

Farris wanted to give a dog the benefit of the doubt if it bites a person or another animal. The bill will give animal control officers the option of determining whether a dog should be considered dangerous just because it inflicts a nip, scratch or minor injury on someone, or on another pet.

Matthew Gray, Virginia state director of the Humane Society of the United States, applauded McAuliffe for signing the bills but was disappointed that other legislation failed during the General Assembly’s 2017 session.

“We are grateful that these bills have been signed by Gov. McAuliffe, who has traditionally supported our agenda,” Gray said. “But the House of Delegates defeated nine of 11 bills that would have expanded protections for animals, including bills to protect dogs from living their lives at the end of a chainand to prevent indiscriminate euthanasia in animal shelters. That’s a dismal failure and a profound illustration of the challenge animal welfare advocates face in Virginia.”

Documenting the forgotten contributions of black legislators

By Dai Já Norman, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – At the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868, James Carter, who represented Chesterfield and Powhatan counties, introduced a resolution requiring students to attend public school for at least three months a year.

Also at the convention, James William D. Bland, who represented Appomattox and Prince Edward counties, called for guaranteeing the right of “every person to enter any college, seminary, or other public institution of learning, as students, upon equal terms with any other, regardless of race, color, or previous condition.”

In the Virginia House of Delegates in 1879, Johnson Collins, who represented Brunswick County, advocated eliminating the poll tax that prevented many people from voting. He also called for reducing the public debt.

Carter, Bland and Collins were among the first African-American legislators in Virginia. Their biographies are part of an online database that state officials are compiling to ensure that these political figures and their contributions aren’t lost to history.

Created by the state’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, the database currently features only Reconstruction-era legislators but eventually will include all African-American members of the General Assembly up to the present day.

The database is the brainchild of Brenda Edwards, a staff member for the Division of Legislative Services assigned to the MLK Commission. While doing research years ago, she came across the names of African-American men who participated in the Underwood Constitutional Convention in 1867-68 and in the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia during Reconstruction.

“I inadvertently made the discovery when fulfilling a research request” from a legislator who wanted to honor a former lawmaker, Edwards said. “I brought my discovery to the attention of the member who requested the research, who requested that the chairman of the MLK Commission add the creation of the database to the commission’s work plan for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.”

Most Virginians don’t know about the African-Americans who were elected to serve in state government in the years shortly after the Civil War. So the MLK Commission decided to take on the task of creating the database. Edwards, former Secretary of Administration Viola Baskerville and the Library of Virginia conducted the research.

According to the commission, Virginia is the only state that has researched and commemorated its early African-American legislators through such a project.

When reading the biographies of black legislators, it is easy to notice that chunks of information are missing compared with their white counterparts. This was due to the blatant discrimination and prejudice during that era. Black men were sometimes former slaves or descendants of slaves, and it was common for them to lack birth certificates, marriage licenses or other documentation.

That has made it hard to acquire well-rounded information on the legislators.

“In constructing the database, the primary challenge was the accuracy of and access to information because little if any information concerning African-American history, culture, achievements, contributions, education, sociopolitical status and biographies was preserved during the slavery and Reconstruction eras, and prior to the civil rights movement,” Edwards said.

“It was difficult for pioneering African-American historians to chronicle the history of black people. Due to the culture during the periods of the ‘Black Codes’ and Jim Crow, curators of African-American history and culture were basically nonexistent.”

The MLK Commission started compiling the database in 2004. In 2013, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, the commission launched the website with a roll call of the African-Americans elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 and to the General Assembly during Reconstruction from 1869 to 1890.

Around that time, however, Virginia and other Southern states enacted legislation known as “Black Codes” to thwart the newfound freedoms of former slaves – for example, by imposing poll taxes, literacy tests and elaborate registration systems to keep African-Americans from voting. As a result, from 1890 until the late 1960s, African-Americans were not represented in the Virginia General Assembly.

Finally, in 1967, William Ferguson Reid, a Richmond doctor and civil rights leader, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Edwards is currently researching the African-Americans legislators in the 20th and 21st century so they can be added to the database in the coming months.

More on the web

To learn more about African-Americans who have served as legislators in Virginia, visit http://mlkcommission.dls.virginia.gov/lincoln/african_americans.html

Editor's Note: Though not included in the Capitol News Service Article, Greensville County was represented both at the Constitutional Convention and in the General Assembly by an African American. Peter K. Jones (pictured left) represented Greensville and Sussex counties in the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868 and then served four terms in the House of Delegates (1869–1877). Born free in Petersburg, he first acquired property in 1857. Soon after the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he became active in politics and began urging blacks to become self-sufficient and advocating for black suffrage and unity. He moved to Greensville County about 1867, and that same year he won a seat at the convention required by the Reconstruction Acts to write a new state constitution. A member of the convention's radical faction, Jones voted in favor of granting the vote to African American men and against segregating public schools. He represented Greensville County for four consecutive terms from 1869 to 1877. During his time in office he worked tirelessly to protect the rights of African Americans. By 1881 Jones had moved to Washington, D.C., and he continued his work in support of African American interests and of the Republican Party. He died in Washington in 1895. You may read more about Peter K. Jones in the Enclycopedia Virginia.

Students lobby Kaine’s office over Trump’s budget proposals

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – After President Donald Trump proposed slashing the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, students with the group Environment Virginia urged Sen. Tim Kaine to fight back.

Trump’s budget would cut funding for the EPA by about a third and eliminate federal funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed budget cuts followed Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times and has questioned whether humans are responsible for global warming.

About a dozen students from Virginia Commonwealth University visited Kaine’s Richmond office Thursday afternoon to protest the Trump administration’s actions that they say will hurt the environment. The students met with John Knapp, Kaine’s state director.

“There’s a lot of energy out there, and it’s good. It’s exciting, and it’s good for our democracy,” Knapp said.

The students aren’t the only Virginians worried about the impact of Trump’s budget. State Democratic officials also have expressed concerns.

“Eliminating federal support to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, doing away with the Appalachian Regional Commission and slashing investments in community development, affordable housing, home weatherization, and heating assistance will do significant harm to Virginia families and our economy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Thursday.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who hopes to succeed McAuliffe as governor, also criticized the budget. “I am particularly disappointed by the total elimination of funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. As an Eastern Shore native, I know protecting the bay has both economic and environmental impacts.”

VCU students also are concerned about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the energy giant Dominion hopes to construct through Virginia. Dominion says the interstate pipeline would transmit natural gas to multiple public utilities and serve the “growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina.” McAuliffe supports the project.

During the meeting with Knapp, Crystal Bishop, an intern for McAuliffe in constituent services, said she has received a lot of calls with concerns about the pipeline, which spawned protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

Bishop also shared her concerns over the state of recycling in Virginia. She said she comes from Montclair, a community in Prince William County that does not have easy access to recycling. There’s a wide discrepancy in access to recycling across Virginia, Bishop said.

Bishop said her concerns grew after she spent time in Belgium, where even the tiniest piece of trash is recycled.

Knapp encouraged the students to stay active. He said:

  • Individual voices do matter. Knapp urged individuals to call their representatives. Elected officials do listen, he said. A lot of people get discouraged when the phone lines are busy, but that means people care and are making their voices heard. If you cannot get through, email the office, Knapp said.
  • Collective voices matter. Knapp told individuals to find an organization that supports what they believe in.
  • Voting in state elections is crucial. No matter what your opinion or political affiliation, voting in this year legislative, gubernatorial and other elections is sure to send a message to D.C., Knapp said. Only Virginia and New Jersey are holding statewide elections this year.
  • People should run for office or get involved by working for someone with a platform they support.

McAuliffe vetoes bills he says could restrict voting rights

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed a bill that he said could disenfranchise qualified voters but Republican legislators said could reduce voter fraud.

HB 2343, sponsored by Del. Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, would have required the state Department of Elections to provide local registrars with a list of voters who, according to data-matching systems, have been found to be registered in another state.

In support of his proposal, Bell said it would have given localities direct access to information regarding possible voter fraud among residents.

“Information would be provided to the general registrars from each county or city when it’s found that one of their voters is also registered in another state, and it gives them the liberty to do what they want to with that information,” he said.

In a statement explaining his veto, McAuliffe said he believed the bill would have endangered the voting rights of some Virginians and increased the administrative burden on local governments.

“This bill would invite confusion and increase the possibility of violating federal law,” McAuliffe said. “Moreover, it would expose eligible and properly registered Virginians to the risk of improper disenfranchisement.”

The governor said that the measure would have generated confusion and unnecessary stress among localities throughout the state by decentralizing the commonwealth’s process for maintaining voter registration data.

“The commonwealth’s proven and efficient methods of list maintenance serve as a national model,” McAuliffe said. “We should focus on improving this system rather than needlessly increasing administrative burdens.”

HB 2343had passed the House, 68-30, and the Senate, 23-15, during the recent legislative session. To override the veto, supporters of the bill must muster a two-thirds majority in both chambers when the General Assembly returns for a one-day session on April 5.

Also Wednesday, McAuliffe vetoed SB 872, which he said would be an “unnecessary and impractical barrier” to Virginia voters. The bill, sponsored by Del. Amanda F. Chase, R-Midlothian, would have required voters to submit photo identification when applying to vote absentee by mail.

The bill was identical to HB 1428, sponsored by Del. Buddy Fowler, R-Glen Allen. McAuliffe vetoed Fowler’s measure last week.

“The right to vote is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, and we should be doing all we can to facilitate eligible citizens’ access to the ballot,” McAuliffe said. “The requirement would not in any way deter fraudulent voting since it provides no means of verifying the identity of the individual depicted in the submitted photograph.”

The vetoed bills were among about 200 pieces of legislation that McAuliffe acted on this week. He signed into law such bills as:

  • HB 2113, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, which would help the state Department of Taxation deter identity theft.
  • HB 2119, also by Keam, which would require laser hair removal to be performed under the supervision of a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
  • HB 2217, sponsored by Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, which would aid victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.
  • SB 982, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, which would extend tax breaks for motion pictures being produced in Virginia.
  • HB 1664, sponsored by Del. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason, R-Loudoun, which requires state universities to release reports regarding their graduates’ job employment rates.
  • HB 2258, sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield, which would create a task force to raise awareness of suicide prevention services.

Activists, lawmakers demand attorney general resign

By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Bearing signs that read “No Concessions for Sessions!”, “Perjury = Prison” and “Nyet Paid,” more than 50 protesters in downtown Richmond demanded the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.

Calling him racist and unfit, the protesters gathered outside the SunTrust building on Main Street, where Sessions addressed law enforcement officers on combating violent crime and restoring public safety. “President Trump gave us a clear directive. It’s the policy of this administration to reduce crime in America,” he said.

Sessions was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last month despite previously being denied a federal judgeship because of accusations that he had made racist remarks. He has also been in hot water regarding allegations that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential race.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions denied having communications with the Russian government, but The Washington Post recently revealed that he had met twice last year with the Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. As a result, Sessions has had to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Russia tried to influence the election.

The protesters marched around the perimeter of the SunTrust building, led by an enthusiastic woman rhythmically banging a pan with a wooden spoon and chanting, “No bans, no walls, sanctuary for all” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions has got to go.” Many of the demonstrators objected to Session’s alleged involvement with Russia, his record on civil rights and his stance on immigration.

“He’s the person who’s supposed to hold other people accountable for their incongruities and their unlawfulness, and I’m very concerned about those characteristics and those qualities in our attorney general,” said Rev. Jay McNeal, executive director of United Faith Leaders, an interfaith interdenominational group that helped organize the protest.

A number of progressive organizations including the Sierra Club, Indivisible Richmond, Equality Virginia, and ICA Out of RVA collaborated to organize Wednesday’s rally. The American Civil Liberties Union was not involved in organizing the protest, but legal observers from the group were there to ensure that no one’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to organize were violated.

Charlie Schmidt, public policy associate for the ACLU of Virginia, said he is concerned that the top prosecutor for the country will negatively impact civil rights in the U.S.

“The administration has a lot of leeway to say, ‘Well, we’re not going to hire any more staff attorneys for the Office of Civil Rights; we’re not going to investigate police when there’s misconduct.’ They have a lot of discretion and a lot of power,” Schmidt said.

Last month, in his first speech as attorney general, Sessions said the Justice Department will pull back its monitoring of police departments with civil rights abuses. He said that the authority of police departments had been undermined by scrutiny from the Justice Department, and scaling back on federal oversight would improve their effectiveness.

“We want the Justice Department to continue to root out corruption and racism in our police department, instead of falling into the false narrative that police are the victims,” said Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

A few minutes before the protest, Swecker and several members of the General Assembly held a press conference and called on Sessions to resign for misleading the Senate. The legislators, all of them Democrats, included Dels. Delores McQuinn, Jeff Bourne and Betsy Carr of Richmond and Sen. Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg.

While in Richmond, Sessions praised Project Exile, which imposes a mandatory five-year prison sentence on felons convicted of possessing firearms.

While crime rates have been at historic lows nationwide, Sessions said violent crime has been increasing in some cities, including Richmond. He blamed the increase in part on the growing opioid epidemic, saying, “We have too much of a tolerance for drug use.”

Law ensures Virginians can resell tickets

By Mary Lee Clark, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In a defeat for Ticketmaster, a new state law will allow Virginians to resell tickets they’ve bought for concerts, football and basketball games, and other public events.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed two bills that would protect people involved in reselling tickets – a practice critics call scalping. The law also says you can’t be turned away if you show up at an event with a ticket you received from someone else.

One of the measures – House Bill 1825– was sponsored by Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax. He had a personal reason for proposing the legislation. It stemmed from a secret that, for a while, he kept even from his wife, Rita.

“One thing she did not know about me when we got married is, she figured Republican, lawyer – you know, straight guy. She does not know I am a metalhead,” said Albo, 54.

One of his favorite bands is Iron Maiden. And when Albo found out they were coming to Virginia to play at Nissan Pavilion (now called JiffyLube Live) in Bristow, he bought two $200 tickets as soon as sales opened up on Ticketmaster.

Rita Albo later broke it to her husband that the Iron Maiden concert was the same week as the family’s vacation. Del. Albo decided he needed to bite the bullet and try to resell the tickets.

But he couldn’t do that on the Ticketmaster website because the show wasn’t sold out. And Ticketmaster prohibits reselling its tickets anywhere else.

Albo said he couldn’t even give the tickets to a friend because Ticketmaster’s policies require the concert-goer to show an ID or credit card of the original ticket purchaser.

After Albo told legislators about his ordeal, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1825 and Senate Bill 1425, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin. The bills state that:

  • Tickets to any professional concert, sporting event or theatrical production cannot be sold “solely through a delivery method that substantially prevents the purchaser of the ticket from lawfully reselling the ticket on the Internet ticketing platform of the ticket purchaser’s choice.”
  • “No person shall be discriminated against or denied admission to an event solely on the basis that the person resold a ticket, or purchased a resold ticket, on a specific Internet ticketing platform.”

McAuliffe signed the bills March 3. The law will take effect July 1. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

Critics say the legislation opens the door for ticket scalping or “touting,” in which people, sometimes using computer software, buy tickets only with the intention of reselling them at a higher price to make a profit.

Ticketmaster did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment about Virginia’s new law. However, when Albo’s bill came before the House of Delegates in January, the company issued a statement saying, “This scalper friendly legislation is harmful to every sports and music fan in the Commonwealth, and the bill should be rejected just as it has been in other states across the country.”

Two other states – New York and Colorado – have adopted laws similar to Virginia’s.

On the other hand, ticket vendors like StubHub, a website owned by eBay designed for people to resell and buy second-hand tickets, applauded the new state law.

“This legislation protects Virginia fans and ensures an open and unrestricted ticket marketplace,” said Laura Dooley, senior manager of government relations at StubHub. “We are proud to advocate in support of legislation like the Virginia bills on behalf of our users.”

Gov. McAuliffe expected to sign marijuana reforms

By SaraRose Martin, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia probably will ease up a bit in its laws against marijuana by making it easier for epilepsy patients to obtain cannabis extract oils and by relaxing the penalty for people caught with small amounts of marijuana.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign the handful of marijuana-related bills passed by the General Assembly during its recent session. They include SB 1027, which will allow Virginia pharmacies to make and sell marijuana extract oils for treating intractable epilepsy, and HB 2051andSB 1091,which will eliminate the state’s punishment of automatically suspending the driver’s license of adults convicted of simple marijuana possession.

Currently, it is illegal in Virginia to purchase THC-A or CBD oils. In 2015, the General Assembly carved out one exception – for people who suffer from intractable epilepsy. Epilepsy patients and their caregivers are allowed to possess the marijuana extract oils. But they face problems buying the medication.

SB 1027, sponsored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, will allow “pharmaceutical processors” – after obtaining a permit from the state Board of Pharmacy and under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist – to grow low-THC cannabis, manufacture the oil and then provide it to epilepsy patients who have a written certification from a doctor.

“Virginia will only be the second state in the nation that has this type of program, the first being Missouri,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates liberalizing marijuana laws.

“It’s a far cry from an effective medical marijuana program, but it’s still a step in the right direction.”

Ellinger-Locke said 28 states and the District of Columbia have full-fledged programs in which people with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases can get a prescription to use marijuana.

Marsden’s bill includes an emergency clause. So when the governor signs it, the law will take effect immediately.

Del. Les. Adams, R-Chatham, and Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, carried the measures regarding driver’s licenses. Under the legislation, which would take effect July 1, judges will have the discretion to suspend the license of an adult convicted of marijuana possession – but the penalty would not be automatic. Juveniles would still be subject to an automatic six-month suspension of their driver’s license.

Ellinger-Locke said the laws are in step with reforms happening across the country.

“We are optimistic,” she said. “The polling shows that Virginians desperately want their marijuana policy changed and laws reformed in some capacity, and I think that lawmakers are starting to hear the call in Virginia as well as throughout the U.S.”

Those calls went largely unheeded during the 2017 legislative session, as about a dozen proposals, ranging from establishing a medical marijuana program to decriminalizing marijuana possession, failed.

For example, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester introduced bills to make marijuana products available to people with cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and several other diseases (SB 1298) and to create a pilot program for farmers to grow hemp (SB 1306). Both bills cleared the Senate but died in the House.

Marijuana likely will be an issue in statewide elections this year. Vogel, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, has vowed to be an advocate for medical marijuana.

“It has no psychotropic effects, and no one is dealing it on the illicit market. For the people that are sick and really wanted the bill to pass, it was heartbreaking,” Vogel said. “I think this is a little bit of bias and a little bit of lack of education ... The overwhelming majority of the voting public believes having access to that kind of medication is very helpful.”

Medical marijuana bills faced opposition from legislators afraid that expansion may become a slippery slope. Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun, recalled returning from serving in the Marines in Vietnam in the 1960s when, he said, marijuana use caused a collapse of “good order and discipline.”

VCU edges Richmond in overtime in A10

By Zach Joachim and Sophia Belletti, Capital News Service

PITTSBURGH – A well-rounded stat sheet, a dominant 14-6 overtime period and some timely senior leadership propelled VCU to its fifth consecutive Atlantic 10 championship finals after a heart-stopping 87-77 win over the University of Richmond.

VCU’s scoring depth lead the Black and Gold to victory – the Rams posted 35 bench points, compared to Richmond’s meager two. All five UR starters finished in double figures, while three of VCU’s starters reached the mark.

Senior guard JeQuan Lewis led the Rams in scoring with 18, followed closely by redshirt-freshman guard Samir Doughty (17), redshirt-senior forward Mo Alie-Cox (15) and junior forward Justin Tillman (11). Nine VCU players scored in the contest.

“We outrebounded them and scored 56 points in the paint,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “That’s our formula. We made some plays when we needed to.”

Richmond freshman guard De’Monte Buckingham was nothing short of sensational – he led all scorers with 26 and went 9-14 from the field.

The Rams found themselves in dire straits at the end of regulation. Richmond’s freshman guard Nick Sherod hit a corner-three with 25 seconds left to give the Spiders a 3-point lead.

When all seemed lost, Wade and the Rams looked to their senior leader and asked the world of him – and Lewis delivered.

The first-team all-conference guard rose up from the wing and tied the game after running a curl off a screen in the post. Junior guard Jonathan Williams fed him right in the shooting pocket on a play Wade said the Rams run frequently.

“I had shooting in my mind before the play even started,” Lewis said. “We practice that play a lot.”

On the final possession of regulation, Richmond senior guard ShawnDre’ Jones had a chance to give his Spiders the win. UR got the switch it wanted, with Alie-Cox matched up against Jones on the perimeter. The VCU senior forward showed off his versatility by forcing a fade-away, contested jump shot that went begging.

“A team that forces overtime wins 72 percent of the time,” Wade said. “They were going to have hit a crazy shot in regulation to beat us – and they didn’t.”

“Mo helps us so much defensively. How many other fives can switch off defensively onto a guard and just bottle him up and make him shoot an 18 foot, contested fade-away jump shot? He’s a freak of nature – that’s why he’s going to be playing in the NFL, or whatever he’s going to do.”

Freshman guard Samir Doughty, who was recently relegated to a six-man role after starting for much of the season, was a catalyst for the Black and Gold. Doughty’s ability to get to the rim was key for a VCU team that – according to Wade – settled for too many jump shots in the second half.

“We took so many pull-up jumpers in the second half, I was so mad,” Wade said. “Samir’s instinct is to put his head down and drive the ball. We needed that mentality today.”

Lewis agreed. “Samir is a great player and scorer. We need that from him. He’s scrappy.”

The VCU Rams will face the University of Rhode Island Rams on Sunday in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 on CBS. The last time the Rams played each other, Rhode Island out muscled VCU and won by a final of 69-59 up north. RI did not visit the Siegel Center this year.

“It’s going to be up and down. It’s going to be physical,” Lewis said. “We have good guards; they have good guards. We have good post players; they have good post players.”

“They obliterated us on the glass,” Wade said. “We weren’t strong in the paint. They’re the one team in the league that’s as physical as we are.”

One thing is for certain: By Sunday afternoon, a team named the Rams will be the 2017 Atlantic 10 tournament champions.

VCU beats George Mason in A10 tournament

By Zach Joachim and Sophia Belletti, Capital News Service

PITTSBURGH – In his third game back following a foot injury, freshman guard De’Riante Jenkins led the VCU Rams with 15 points to knock George Mason University out of the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, 71-60, Friday evening.

“It’s really nice to have De’Riante back,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “He was tremendous.”

PPG Paints Arena felt a lot like a home game at the Siegel Center Friday night, as RamNation traveled in superb fashion. At least 3,000 VCU supporters made their voices heard in the Steel City.

Following nine ties and 10 lead changes, VCU pulled away in the final six minutes of the game. Senior guards JeQuan Lewis and Doug Brooks fueled the late onslaught with a pair of three pointers each.

Lewis pointed to his team’s mindset as a cause for the late run.

“(We got) more aggressive,” Lewis said. “We were settling a lot for perimeter shots. We just ran plays to get us driving downhill.”

Lewis knocked down five shots in the second half en route to 13 points on the evening, following a dry spell for the Dixon, Tennessee, native. He also recorded six assists and three steals.

Redshirt-senior forward Mo Alie-Cox went 0-4 from the floor and junior forward Justin Tillman recorded seven points. The struggles down low rendered it pivotal for the guards to knock down outside shots. Alie-Cox did, however, did chip in a pair of vintage blocks, which came on consecutive possessions in the second half and fueled the late momentum shift.

VCU shot 57 percent from beyond the arc in the second half, largely thanks to Lewis (2-4), Brooks (2-3) and Jenkins (3-3).

The Black and Gold applied pressure early and often, attacking the Patriots in a full-court zone press for most of the night before dropping back into a half-court zone. The Rams forced 14 turnovers and created 20 points off the resulting opportunities.

“We talk about the last six minutes of the game a lot – we call it winning time,” said Wade, whose team finished second in the A10 regular season. The conference champion, Dayton, lost to Davidson in the A10 tournament earlier Friday.

“We executed down the stretch,” Wade said. “When we’re making threes like that, the scoreboard really adds up. They threw a bunch of junk defenses at us, and it took a second for us to adjust. But once we figured it out, our guys were tremendous. I’m really proud of all of them.”

‘Ambassador of the Arts’ views poetry as activism

James Ragan 2

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – In 1985, James Ragan and three other poets from Western countries were invited to perform before 10,000 Russians at the first International Poetry Festival in Moscow.

“I still remember how I’m thinking the audience is looking at the stage and they’re saying ‘Oh, my God, there’s Bob Dylan. Oh, my God, that’s Seamus Heaney, Robert Bly … Who the hell is that?’ That was me – the ‘who the hell is that?’” Ragan said.

Ragan managed to make himself stand out by speaking Russian. He told the audience in their native tongue that his parents were born in Czechoslovakia and that his translator, who was born in Siberia, was “my brother.”

“The place went crazy. ‘The American is speaking Russian to us!’” Ragan said. “I could have whispered my poem after that.”

Ragan is back on center stage in a new documentary, ““Flowers and Roots, James Ragan, An Ambassador of the Arts.” The film, which explores how Ragan’s poetry and writing provided an outlet for his social activism, was featured on Sunday, the last day of the weeklong Richmond International Film Festival.

When the documentary producers first approved Ragan in 2014, he had no idea why they wanted to make a movie about him. After all, he is not a household name, even though Ragan has read his poetry for seven heads of state, published nine books and had several internationally produced plays.

“It was amazing how they were looking in at me, and seeing this as all being spectacular, whereas I was looking out and saying, ‘We were supposed to be doing this back in the ’60s and ’70s – we didn’t see it as spectacular,’” Ragan said. “And they immediately liked that response.”

The movie navigates the Cold War era through Ragan’s own life. Born into a Czechoslovakian immigrant family in Philadelphia as one of 13 children, Ragan said that growing up speaking Slovakian got him into a lot of physical fights.

“As I learned English, I learned to fight less,” Ragan said. “I had a huge respect for the language, and a huge respect for the arts. I just loved that you could win fights with words and not fists.”

When Ragan grew older, his personal experiences continued to shape his use of language and art as a means of addressing issues. In college, Ragan received multiple bones spurs in his legs from playing basketball. The doctor treating him gave him radiation therapy to heal the spurs, but ending up giving Ragan an overdose that caused cancer.

Rather than simply writing about the pain his cancer caused him, Ragan used his pain to discuss “the cancers of the world,” such as the injustices that triggered the civil rights movement and communism.

To this day, Ragan uses his work to reflect “the truth of the times” – for example, in the poem “The Dumbing Down Finale,” which will debut in an upcoming book. In the poem, he explores his belief that American society is devolving with the increase of social media, reality TV and “alternative facts.” Ragan fears that a lack of respect for education and the arts will destroy America.

Despite his harsh commentary on society, Ragan calls himself an optimist. From seeing young people protesting as their counterparts did in the 1960s and ’70s, to seeing Americans treating each other kindly, Ragan believes there is hope for the moral foundation and future of the country.

“I’ve seen beautiful things happen with people who wouldn’t normally want to help that neighbor and they do,” Ragan said. “Recently someone had leveled the headstones in a Jewish cemetery, and the Muslims came to help the backup, as well as Protestant and other religions.”

Ragan has often used his work to speak out about communism, and his writings were banned in one country. When he was studying under a Fulbright scholarship in Slovakia, the U.S. Embassy asked him to distribute 10 copies of Newsweek and Times magazine at one of his candlelight readings. Ragan said the people in attendance were eager to receive the publications and were “grabbing at the truth.”

“Journalists have also played a very important part in that history, and especially now we need that,” Ragan said. “To see these people that had very much so been the victim of propaganda and also oppression, that one moment of truth I was giving them through a poem on the stage or through these magazines brought a great sense of responsibility to me, of what I could do. The power of language, the power words.”

Ragan said Americans sometimes take freedom of speech for granted – a freedom many people in the world don’t have. He thinks it’s important to use this freedom to stand up and speak out.

People must make “a moral decision to stand up or lay down,” Ragan said. “And I’ve never been one not to stand up

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