Current Weather Conditions

 
Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia
 

Community Calendar Sponsored By...

 

Kaytlin Nickens

General Assembly Members Ask DOT for Toll Freeze for Federal Workers Affected by the Government Shutdown

By Kaytlin Nickens, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, and 14 other members of the Virginia General Assembly sent a letter Friday to state Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine and other officials requesting toll relief for federal workers commuting without pay during the federal government’s shutdown.

“These residents are still going to work every day to ensure our nation’s operations continue, but they are not receiving a paycheck,” Delaney said. “They are trying to figure out how they are going to make ends meet, and here we have an opportunity to provide some relief from the tolls they incur during their commute.”

More than 34,000 workers in the commonwealth are affected by the three-week federal shutdown, caused by an impasse between Democrats and President Donald Trump over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In terms of federal workers, Virginia is the sixth-most affected state.

The letter requests that furloughed workers who can prove their employment status have their E-ZPass deactivated temporarily. It also seeks refunds for workers who pay highway tolls while working without pay during the shutdown.

“Those who are traveling the Greenway, I-66 and other tolled roads in Virginia to get to a job where they are not receiving a paycheck should not be further financially strained for simply fulfilling their duty as a public servant,” the letter says.

“We cannot undo the financial burdens and hardships this federal shutdown has brought to the homes of thousands of Virginians, but we can help alleviate it.”

Democratic Legislators on Gun Violence: ‘It’s Common Sense’

By Kaytlin Nickens, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- Democratic state legislators said Monday that legislation aimed at reducing gun violence, including a proposal to fine gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen guns, are “common-sense” initiatives.

“None of this is anti-Second Amendment; it’s a common-sense legislation,” said Del. Cliff Hayes, D-Chesapeake, co-sponsor of House Bill 1644, which requires reporting lost or stolen firearms.

Under his proposal, failing to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement authorities  within 24 hours would be punishable by a $50 civil penalty on the first offense, and the fine would increase on subsequent offenses.  

Hayes and Dels. Delores McQuinn of Richmond, John Bell of Loudoun, and Kathleen Murphy and Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax, all members of the Democrats’ Safe Virginia Initiative, held a press conference to discuss their policy recommendations for gun safety.

“Numbers are heartbreaking...I know this personally, having lost my own brother to gun violence,” Murphy said, whose brother was murdered during a robbery. “We are right to be outraged.”

Murphy said that following the Parkland, Florida shooting in February, the Republican Party chose to ignore guns in its approach to school safety.

Murphy and Filler-Corn co-chair the Safe Virginia Initiative. The regional chairs include McQuinn, Bell, Hayes and Del. Chris Hurst of Montgomery County. House Democrats formed the initiative during the 2018 General Assembly session after the Parkland shooting.

“Overall, we recognize that guns are the issue,” Murphy said.

Democratic legislators proposed several policies during the press conference.

They include requiring universal background checks to buy firearms and reinstating Virginia’s law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. “This is an initiative that deserves bipartisan support and endorsement,” McQuinn said.

Bell said better firearms training also deserves support from lawmakers. He said that currently, Virginians can get a concealed weapons permit merely by taking an online video quiz.

“We have to implement practical training requirements to ensure that gun owners know how to use their weapons safely,” Bell said.
In June, Hurst held an event in Lexington that focused on the prevalence of guns used in suicides. Hurst is the co-sponsor of HB 1763, a bill introduced again this session by Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Arlington, that would permit the removal of a firearm from someone who poses a  “substantial risk.” Such orders permit families and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person's access to firearms if there is documented evidence that the individual is threatening harm to themselves or others.

Parker Slaybaugh, a spokesman for Republican Kirk Cox, the speaker of the House of Delegates, said in a statement Monday that the House Democratic Caucus “created a campaign masked as focusing on school safety.”

“With today’s announcement, it’s clear their group solely focused on ways to restrict Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and not practical solutions to protect our students and teachers in the classroom,” Slaybaugh said.

Legislators Host Town Hall for Henrico Constituents

By Kaytlin Nickens and Maryum Elnasseh, Capital News Service

HENRICO -- With the federal government shut down over an impasse between Democrats and Republicans, state legislators from both parties emphasized bipartisanship at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Tuckahoe Library.

“This is the year that Virginia needs to come together,” said Del. Debra Rodman, D-Henrico.

More than 100 constituents came to hear Rodman, fellow Democratic Dels. Schuyler VanValkenburg and Dawn Adams, and Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant discuss taxes, education and the polarized political climate.

‘Conforming’ to federal tax overhaul

A key issue when the General Assembly convenes next week for its 2019 session is “tax conformity” — whether Virginia should adjust the state tax code to align with the federal tax overhaul approved by Congress in 2017.

VanValkenburg called conformity “a good thing.” He said it would simplify the tax-filing process and help maintain Virginia’s reputation as a business-friendly state.

Virginia would see an increase in state tax revenues through the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. A related issue is what to do with that money. Rodman and VanValkenburg want to increase state spending on education.

“In terms of investing, our schools need funding,” VanValkenburg said.

However, Dunnavant said she favors returning to taxpayers the additional state tax revenues that result from tax conformity. She said she will propose legislation to double the standard deduction when filing state income taxes.

“We still have plenty of money to live within our means and make the investments we need to make, but we really shouldn’t be taking money that isn’t ours,” Dunnavant said. “We should be returning that to the individuals that surrendered it.”

Dunnavant’s comments were the only ones to draw the audience’s applause.

School counselors and other education priorities 

VanValkenburg, a teacher at Glen Allen High School, said he supports increasing the number of school counselors as well as school resource and safety officers.

Dunnavant agreed about the need for more school counselors. She also suggested adding behavior analysts — specially licensed individuals who go into classrooms and help manage students.

“When we talk about the school-to-prison pipeline, a lot of that has to do with kids being sent out of the classroom because they’re having behavioral problems,” Dunnavant said.

She proposed funding one behavior analyst for every five schools so that the analyst could spend one day a week at each school.

Adams expressed concern about school shootings. After the shooting in Parkland, Fla. in February, Adams said she conducted research on school shootings since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Adams said the most common thread is that the average shooter is a white male with no prior mental health diagnosis, and that an age in the ballpark of 17 years old is not uncommon.

“Many of the shootings — more than 50 percent — were as a result of some kind of emotional upset,” Adams said. “It all speaks to the idea that we need to teach our children how to communicate, how to deal with their problems, how to cope better with life.”

Rodman, who serves on the House Education Committee with VanValkenburg, said she is sponsoring a bill to address the teacher shortage in Virginia. It would require the Virginia Department of Education to monitor and address the number of teacher vacancies each year.

“If there’s nothing we can come together on in a bipartisan way, it is for us to come together for our teachers,” Rodman said.

Bipartisanship in an age of increasing polarization

The legislators were asked how they will work together to continue making Henrico a place where constituents want to raise their families.

“I think we all work bipartisan all the time,” Dunnavant said.  Last year, for example, she co-sponsored with Democrats a bill expanding access to cannabis-based oils to treat or alleviate the symptoms of diseases and other diagnosed conditions.

Adams agreed, emphasizing the importance of listening to people who have different ideas.

“I think that’s the only thing you can do to be a good delegate or a good senator is to communicate well and try to come up with solutions,” Adams said.

VanValkenburg said he hopes to have Republicans co-sponsor his education bills.

“There’s compromise to be had on all of this stuff,” VanValkenburg said. “And I think there’s a coming together that’ll happen.”

Subscribe to RSS - Kaytlin Nickens

Emporia News

Stories on Emporianews.com are be searchable, using the box above. All new stories will be tagged with the date (format YYYY-M-D or 2013-1-1) and the names of persons, places, institutions, etc. mentioned in the article. This database feature will make it easier for those people wishing to find and re-read an article.  For anyone wishing to view previous day's pages, you may click on the "Previous Day's Pages" link in the menu at the top of the page, or search by date (YYYY-M-D format) using the box above.

Comment Policy:  When an article or poll is open for comments feel free to leave one.  Please remember to be respectful when you comment (no foul or hateful language, no racial slurs, etc) and keep our comments safe for work and children. Comments are moderated and comments that contain explicit or hateful words will be deleted.  IP addresses are tracked for comments. 

EmporiaNews.com serves Emporia and Greensville County, Virginia and the surrounding area
and is provided as a community service by the Advertisers and Sponsors.
All material on EmporiaNews.com is copyright 2005-2019
EmporiaNews.com is powered by Drupal and based on the ThemeBrain Sirate Theme.

Submit Your Story!

Emporia News welcomes your submissions!  You may submit articles, announcements, school or sports information using the submission forms found here, or via e-mail on news@emporianews.com.  Currently, photos and advertisements will still be accepted only via e-mail, but if you have photos to go along with your submission, you will receive instructions via e-mail. If you have events to be listed on the Community Calendar, submit them here.

Contact us at news@emporianews.com
 
EmporiaNews.com is hosted as a community Service by Telpage.  Visit their website at www.telpage.net or call (434)634-5100 (NOTICE: Telpage cannot help you with questions about Emporia New nor does Teplage have any input the content of Emporia News.  Please use the e-mail address above if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the content on Emporia News.)