VaNews

Monday February 20, 2017


Today's Sponsor:

League of Women Voters of Virginia

We serve as a communications hub for our members and coalition partners to "make democracy work for all." www.lwv-va.org

Executive Branch


GOVERNOR: CUT JAMESTOWN CELEBRATION, FUND MENTAL HEALTH

By ALAN SUDERMAN AND SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Virginia lawmakers want the General Assembly's 400th birthday in 2019 to be a celebration worthy of the country's oldest legislative body, but the state's bon vivant governor is worried about the cost. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking Republican lawmakers to cut spending to commemorate the 1619 founding of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, the first arrival in British colonies of African slaves, and other parts of the state's colonial past.



HSBC MORTGAGE BORROWERS IN VIRGINIA TO GET SETTLEMENT CHECKS TOTALING $2.5 MILLION

By CAROL HAZARD, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Former HSBC mortgage borrowers who were harmed by the loan servicing and foreclosure practices of the banking giant will receive settlement payments of about $1,200, according to Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s office. The first checks from the settlement administrator were mailed Friday. The aggregate total of checks for about 2,100 people in Virginia is about $2.5 million. All checks should be received by consumers in the coming weeks. ... HSBC agreed to a national settlement with Virginia, 48 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal government, following state and federal investigations that alleged numerous violations in its servicing of mortgages and its foreclosure procedures.

General Assembly


HOWELL WON'T SEEK RE-ELECTION, WILL RETIRE AFTER 14 YEARS AS VIRGINIA SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

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

Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford, will not run for re-election this year but instead will retire after 29 years in the House of Delegates, the last 14 as speaker. Howell, who will turn 74 in May, is expected to announce his decision Monday, but sources close to the speaker confirmed his intention to retire after the end of his two-year term in January. His aide, Chris West, said Sunday that the speaker declined to comment about the pending announcement.



AS WOMEN CLAMOR TO GET IUDS, VIRGINIA'S BUDGET WON'T INCLUDE COVERAGE

By KATIE DEMERIA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, gun sales surged. But after President Donald Trump’s win in November, instead of stockpiling firearms, women have been arming themselves with IUDs. “Starting the day after the election, we already had phone calls coming in because people panicked,” said Kelly Yeong, a nurse practitioner with Virginia Women’s Center. Meanwhile, there’s debate in the Virginia General Assembly over whether to pay to expand access to long-term contraception.



BILL WOULD REQUIRE VIRGINIA SCHOOL SYSTEMS TO DEVELOP LEAD-TESTING PLANS FOR OLDER BUILDINGS

By ROBERT ZULLO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

State Sen. Jeremy McPike, the director of general services for the city of Alexandria, didn’t think the recreation centers, fire stations and other buildings he manages had any lead contamination in their drinking water systems. But he also realized last year, as the crisis was metastasizing over lead contamination in Flint, Mich., that he had no way to confirm that. ... A bill by McPike that is advancing through the General Assembly would require local school systems to create and carry out a plan to test drinking water for lead in school buildings built “in whole or part” before 1986.



BILLS WOULD PLACE $5M HISTORIC TAX CREDIT CAP ON AMOUNT TAXPAYERS CAN CLAIM FOR 2017

By CAROL HAZARD, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Virginia’s tax credit program for rehabilitating historic properties has revitalized whole sections in dying towns throughout Virginia. The program has operated without caps or limitations on the amount of credits awarded on any particular project since its inception in Virginia in 1997, generating billions of dollars of economic activity and creating thousands of jobs. State lawmakers want to impose a $5 million cap on the amount of credits any taxpayer can claim to reduce their state income tax liabilities in a given year.



OPIOID REFORM BILLS HEAD TO GOVERNOR'S DESK

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

A slate of bills aimed at curbing rampant opioid addiction and abuse will head to the governor’s desk. The six bills sponsored by Del. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, are designed to curb opioid abuse by reducing the amount of pain pills health care professionals prescribe, including limiting those used for medication-assisted treatment to ween addicts off opioids.



GENERAL ASSEMBLY OKS AMENDMENT TO HELP SURVIVING SPOUSES OF DISABLED VETS

By ASHLEY LUCK, VCU Capital News Service

A constitutional amendment to expand a tax exemption for surviving spouses of disabled veterans has passed unanimously in the House and Senate. The amendment cleared the Senate on Friday after winning approval from the House on Feb. 6. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who will have until late March to act on the measure. Currently, surviving spouses of disabled veterans get an exemption on the property taxes for the house in which they and their partner lived. Under HJ 562, the amendment proposed by Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, spouses would continue to get the exemption if they move to another home.



ENVIRONMENTALISTS DISAPPOINTED BY HOUSE’S COAL ASH BILL

By JULIE ROTHEY, VCU Capital News Service

A bill approved by the House on Friday would require Dominion Virginia Power to study whether its controversial coal ash ponds might pollute the water, but environmentalists say the legislation doesn’t do enough. SB 1398 would requires energy companies to identify the risks of heavy metals polluting the groundwater and alternatives methods of disposal when they apply for a permit to decommission a “coal combustion residuals unit,” commonly called a coal ash pond. ... Under the House-approved version, the Department of Environmental Quality would not have to consider the environmental studies when granting permits to close coal ash ponds.



SOME HOPE TO INCREASE DIVERSITY AMONG VA. LEGISLATIVE AIDES

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The lack of diversity in Virginia’s government is apparent among legislative assistants to the 140 state lawmakers. In the state Senate, 36 of 40 chief legislative assistants to lawmakers are white, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis. In the House, 91 of 100 assistants are white. That means nearly 91 percent of the General Assembly’s 140 chief legislative assistants are white. Commonly referred to on Capitol Square as “L.A.’s,” the paid assistants research issues, communicate with constituents and serve as gatekeepers and confidential advisers to lawmakers. They are often as knowledgeable about the nuances of bills as the lawmakers.



COALFIELDS LEGISLATORS USING POWER OF THE PURSE TO PUSH NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Two Southwest Virginia lawmakers plan to require a regional economic development authority to pay $500,000 a year for a coalfields marketing initiative that the organization’s director characterized as unnecessary. The money, which would go to the Lenowisco Planning District Commission, is one of the budget amendments awaiting final approval as the General Assembly heads toward adjournment Saturday.

State Elections


GOP CANDIDATES PLAY NICE AT MILLENNIAL DEBATE

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Virginia Republican hopefuls for governor played nice during their first debate Saturday, a break from some of the pointed attacks that have taken place online and in the media. Corey Stewart, a one-time chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign in Virginia, has consistently attacked GOP frontrunner Ed Gillespie in interviews and on Twitter and Facebook. But when the two shared a stage Saturday at Charlottesville's Paramount Theatre, Stewart had not a mean word to say about his opponent.



NO BARBS, BUT SUPPORT FOR DECRIMINALIZING POT AT FIRST GOP VA. GOVERNOR DEBATE

By FENIT NIRAPPIL, Washington Post

The Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidates who gathered Saturday for their first primary debate talked about revising the criminal-justice system — and two said marijuana should be decriminalized. The event, hosted by millennial GOP groups and moderated by the chairman of the state Republican Party, featured brief discussions about the cost of higher education, criminal justice and the future of health care in the state.



MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION HANGS OVER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR'S RACE

By BROCK VERGAKIS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Candice Rader is a 66-year-old retiree who grew up in a conservative home, voted for Donald Trump and watched her father suffer as a terminal cancer patient in the late 1970s before he died at age 53. Even though a friend offered her father marijuana to help alleviate his nausea, Rader said, he refused it because he didn’t believe it was ethical to take an illegal substance. ... Rader is among the majority of Virginians from both political parties who believe marijuana possession should be decriminalized, and she’s taking note of the positions candidates for governor take on the issue.



GOP CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR STAY SURPRISINGLY CIVIL IN FIRST DEBATE

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The closest the first Republican debate of the 2017 election cycle came to onstage combat was when a candidate chucked a water bottle at the moderator. Focused on relatively uncontroversial issues impacting millennials — including higher education costs, lackluster economic prospects, opioid addiction and clean government — the format of the event Saturday at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater didn’t lend itself to fireworks.



DEMOCRAT TOM PERRIELLO TALKS JOBS, TRUMP IN BRISTOL STOP

By ROBERT SORRELL, Bristol Herald Courier

Democrat Tom Perriello stopped in downtown Bristol Saturday evening after visiting the coalfields of Southwest Virginia discussing ways to bring back jobs to the region. Of the jobs lost over the last few years, Perriello, a one-term former congressman in the 5th District, said a large portion have been lost due to automation and technology. “More and more of the jobs and wealth today are being concentrated in just a few zip codes in just a few companies,” Perriello said.



DAVIS MAKES LT. GOVERNOR PITCH AT WAYNESBORO FUNDRAISER

By BOB STUART, News Virginian

Glenn Davis rolled into Waynesboro Wednesday night for a meet and greet as part of his bid to become Virginia's next lieutenant governor. The state delegate from Virginia Beach walked into a Pelham home and found 80 people waiting to hear his pitch. The Republican was accompanied by a Washington Post reporter and photographer, and was soon joined by a reporter for The News Virginian. ... "There is a tremendous turnout here,'' said Davis, who spoke of his hopes for creating jobs, doing away with burdensome state regulations on small business and the opportunities of school choice.



STEWART PLACES SECOND IN FUNDRAISING FOR GOP GUBERNATORIAL NOMINATION

By ALEX KOMA, Sun Gazette

Corey Stewart is casting himself as the outsider candidate in the race for the Republican nomination for Virginia governor, and in one sense that characterization is correct — he lags far behind frontrunner Ed Gillespie in filling his campaign war chest. The at-large chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors still took in a hefty haul in 2016, with state campaign finance records showing that he raised more than $504,000 over the second half of the year and currently has about $402,000 in the bank.



PENINSULA LEGISLATORS, STUDENTS TALK STEM CAREERS

By KATE MISHKIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

She's still in middle school, but Alauna Samuels is already mapping out her career. She'd like to blend her passion for medicine and law by studying forensic science — after graduating from eighth grade at Jones Magnet Middle School. And she won't let anyone tell her no. "We all put our pants on the same way," she told a full room at the Hampton History Museum that included like-minded students, U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and, wife, Pam, Saturday afternoon. ... for a roundtable spearheaded by the Northams to talk about careers in STEM



VA. DEMOCRATS TO CHALLENGE GOP STATE LAWMAKERS IN EACH DISTRICT CLINTON WON

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

Buoyed by a wave of progressive activism that began after the election of President Trump, Virginia Democrats plan to challenge 45 GOP incumbents in the deep-red House of Delegates this November, including 17 lawmakers whose districts voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton. In some districts, multiple candidates will compete in Democratic primaries for the chance to challenge a Republican incumbent.



CHRIS HURST CLAIMS HIS CAMPAIGN RAISED $30,000 IN FIRST WEEK

By CARMEN FORMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

When former WDBJ (Channel 7) reporter Chris Hurst kicked off his political campaign Saturday he included a fundraising update — his campaign has raised more than $30,000 in the past week since he announced his run for Virginia’s House of Delegates. Hurst celebrated the start of his political career by announcing he has raised more than half of the $48,000 in campaign cash his Republican opponent has left over from previous elections.

Federal Elections


IN MARSHALL, VA., SUPPORT FOR DONALD TRUMP HASN’T WAVERED

By DANTE CHINNI, Wall Street Journal (Paywall)

James Cookson hadn’t voted for a president since 1976, when he backed Democrat Jimmy Carter. But last year, Donald Trump drew him back to the polls with a promise to reduce business regulations. Now, Mr. Cookson is watching Mr. Trump’s tumultuous first month in office with hope and a bit of hesitancy, but mostly with continued support. Mr. Cookson, who installs satellite TV hookups, said he hopes the new president settles into his job quickly so he can follow through on his campaign promises.

State Government


VIRGINIA VOTER REGISTRATION RECORDS HAVE LOOPHOLES BUT NO EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD FRAUD

By BILL BARTEL , Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Can someone who isn’t an American citizen illegally register and vote in Virginia’s elections? Yes. Can a felon whose rights haven’t been restored vote undetected in Virginia? Yes. Can someone be registered to vote in Virginia and another state and illegally cast ballots in both places? Yes. State and local election officials acknowledge all those crimes can happen in the Old Dominion because the state’s voter rolls aren’t airtight. Even with those gaps, the same officials and a prominent election expert argue there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.



SICK OF WAITING AROUND AT THE DMV? NOW YOU CAN CHECK HOW LONG IT'LL TAKE BEFORE YOU GO.

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Few things are dreaded as much as the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Half-hour lunch breaks can turn into half-days. But fear not. Virginia DMV officials have introduced a new wait-time estimation system that allows users to see their wait time before arriving. Here’s how it works: From the DMV’s website, click “Locations” and enter your ZIP code. When you find the location you want, click under “View estimated wait times” and scroll down.



BITE MARK ANALYSIS, OTHER FORENSIC TECHNIQUES UNDER REVIEW

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

In a decades-old episode of “Columbo,” the deceptively bumbling detective holds up a piece of chewing gum discarded by a suspect and a piece of cheese found at a murder scene. Wearing his trademark rumpled raincoat, he shows them to the puzzled suspect, telling him that the same teeth had bitten into each. “This is getting to be a big thing — bite-mark evidence,” explained Columbo, played by Peter Falk. ... Fast-forward to 2017, and forensic experts widely agree that identification of an individual by bite mark is risky business — and, according to many bite-mark experts, is invalid if the bite is in human skin.

Congress


WITTMAN TO HELM NAVY PLAN FOR LARGER FLEET

By HUGH LESSIG, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Nearly 10 years ago, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman launched his career in Congress by being the calm voice in a tough room. That experience could pay dividends in the coming weeks as the affable Republican prepares for another tough job: helping to steer the biggest buildup of the Navy fleet since the Cold War through Congress. ... Wittman now chairs the House Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, which is highly influential in shipbuilding, ship repair and larger issues affecting the Navy.



MEET THE WOMEN WHO ARE UP IN BRAT'S GRILL

By VANESSA REMMERS AND PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Since Donald Trump was elected president in November, Rep. Dave Brat has had a new challenge on his hands: outraged constituents who want to bend his ear. Maureen Hains, a professional living in Chesterfield County, has replaced “Pride and Prejudice” binge-watching with nights maintaining a Facebook page with nearly 1,600 followers. Alsuin Preis, a stay-at-home mom in Richmond, now jokes that her car trunk of signs and markers is like a protest-to-go kit.

Transportation


FOR LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES, THE PURPLE LINE IS AN OPPORTUNITY AND A THREAT

By LUZ LAZO, Washington Post

There’s no luxury in the garden-style apartments of Langley Park, Md. But with rents averaging $1,300 a month for two bedrooms, they offer residents modest living in the heart of a vibrant Latino enclave, with easy access to 11 bus lines. In a few years, if plans stay on track, two Purple Line light-rail stations will connect those residents to jobs in more affluent Montgomery County.

Virginia Other


THE CHOCOLATIERS AND THE WHITE NATIONALIST, COEXISTING IN OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post

Kim Gustafson, wearing her chef’s smock, stood on the iron staircase of Blüprint Chocolatiers in the midday drizzle last Sunday to check out the growing crowd of protesters across the street. Ever since her landlord rented the upper two floors of the Old Town Alexandria townhouse to Richard Spencer and his National Policy Institute, a think tank that promotes white-nationalist ideologies, she and her husband, Bruce, had been trying to make sure everyone knew that their 22-month-old designer chocolate shop had nothing to do with the tenant upstairs.



FOSSIL FUELS FOE CONTENDS MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE IS A 'CLIMATE DISASTER'

By DUNCAN ADAMS , Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

An organization that describes its mission as exposing the true costs of fossil fuels contends that the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate but similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be “climate disasters.” Oil Change International, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., cites evidence it says debunks the conventional wisdom that natural gas is a cleaner fuel than coal for generating electricity.

Local


RACE FOR BROOKLAND SEAT COULD BE 'BIGGEST ELECTION IN HENRICO IN A GENERATION'

By DEBBIE TRUONG , Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

An unlikely political battle may be afoot in Henrico County. A majority of the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to a Nov. 7 election date to fill the board’s Brookland District seat.



PETERSBURG BEHIND ON PAYMENTS FOR EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT

Associated Press

State officials say the cash-strapped city of Petersburg is more than $4.5 million behind in payments for its employees’ retirement fund. Virginia Retirement System Director Patricia S. Bishop recently sent a letter to legislative leaders saying Petersburg owed VRS $4.51 million on Sept. 1, with $3.6 million more than 60 days past due.



CITY GETTING NEW TOOLS TO FIGHT BLIGHT

By TREVOR METCALFE, Danville Register & Bee

Programs to help streamline Danville’s blight removal process and aid community college students are making headway after legislation was approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year. One measure will allow Danville to create Virginia’s first land bank program which will allow the city to auction off properties and streamline the blight removal process in the city. “It gives us another tool to address blight in our city,” said City Councilman Lee Vogler, who proposed the legislation to Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, for last year’s General Assembly session.

Online News


JCC GRANTED 10-YEAR ‘STOPGAP’ TO FIND SUSTAINABLE WATER SOURCE

By ANDREW HARRIS, Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily

James City County has secured a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality that city staff believe will provide the county with a source of drinking water for the next decade. County Administrator Bryan Hill and James City Service Authority General Manager Doug Powell announced the permit at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.


Today's Sponsor:

League of Women Voters of Virginia

We serve as a communications hub for our members and coalition partners to "make democracy work for all." www.lwv-va.org

Editorials


ON WELFARE REFORM, REPUBLICANS ARE ALL TALK

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

Republicans have spent years — decades — talking up welfare and entitlement reform. But for the past two decades that’s all they have delivered: talk. This year Virginia’s General Assembly considered a half-dozen measures that would have curtailed various social-welfare benefits. Only two minor ones have survived the gauntlet. One would audit a family that loses multiple benefit cards. The other would cross-check welfare beneficiary lists against lists of lottery winners. If the changes were any less significant you would need an electron microscope to see them.



PRACTICALITY — NOT POLITICS — IN CHOOSING THE NEW FBI HEADQUARTERS

Washington Post Editorial

It would be naive to imagine that politics would play no part in the selection of the FBI’s new headquarters location, a decision which is now imminent in a three-way competition involving two sites in suburban Maryland and one in Northern Virginia. Still, the process, terms and criteria by which the new campus is chosen matter, and there are right and wrong ways of going about it.



GOV. MCAULIFFE KEEPS THROWING YOUR MONEY AROUND LIKE CONFETTI

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

The other day Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the state was giving Owens & Minor $1.5 million to put a new customer-service center in Riverfront Plaza in downtown Richmond. Owens & Minor is a splendid company with a storied Richmond history. Its move downtown is a nice shot in the arm to the area. The company also worth about $2 billion. Virginia, meanwhile, is scrambling around under the sofa cushions, trying to close a budget gap.



THE HOUSE GOP'S DESPICABLE DEFENSE OF GERRYMANDERING

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

In the least surprising development of the session, Republicans in the House of Delegates killed every attempt to enact nonpartisan redistricting. The difference this year? A lot of people sat up, took notice — and let lawmakers have it. During debate over some of the measures, Republican Del. Mark Cole disputed the idea that gerrymandering contributes to political polarization. He seemed to suggest it’s the other way around: “I challenge you to draw a competitive district in Arlington County. You can’t do it. In most of rural Virginia you can’t draw a competitive district.”



IN VIRGINIA BEACH, TIME FOR A DISPARITY STUDY

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Virginia Beach wants to be known as a center for economic opportunity, a place where everyone with a promising idea, sound planning and proper financing can chase their dreams. There is a debate, however, as to whether reality matches that aspiration, especially when it comes to the ability of minority-owned businesses to gain access to projects involving city money. Bruce Smith contends that City Hall’s doors aren’t open for all. In November, the NFL great turned commercial developer circulated a letter arguing that minorities were not getting a fair shot at city projects, citing two unsuccessful attempts to develop property at the Oceanfront as evidence.



BILLS PROTECT CHILDREN, DON'T RESTRICT RELIGION

News & Advance Editorial

There’s nothing more horrific a parent could imagine than the death of a child under any circumstances. But when a child dies under mysterious circumstances while in the care of a person the parents thought they could trust, the pain, shock and grief are exponentially greater.



GROWTH RATE PROMPTS QUESTIONS ABOUT FUTURE

Free Lance-Star Editorial

We are slowing down. A recent story in The Free Lance–Star noted that the Fredericksburg area’s population grew 0.6 percent between July of 2015 and July of 2016, a rather mediocre growth rate, one that would come out to well below 10 percent over a decade. ... In Virginia as whole, the growth is even slower than the region: 0.3 percent over the same year. And the growth rate from 2010 to 2016 is the lowest it has been since the 1920s. Nationally, it’s more of the same. ... A reader might think: Great. Fewer people, more stuff for me. Except it doesn’t quite work that way.

Columnists


SCHAPIRO: VMI GRADS HELP ONE ANOTHER, NO MATTER THEIR PARTY

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

Jeff Smith is a 36-year-old lawyer-lobbyist. Because Smith works in a highly polarized setting — the state Capitol — his politics are ecumenical. That may strike some as strange, given his dynastic name — Jefferson Davis Smith IV — and his storied alma mater: the Virginia Military Institute. It has a reputation for flinty conservatism. But Smith, who was graduated from VMI in 2005, and his brother and sister “rats” — his classmates, in the parlance of the Institute — are not easily pigeonholed.



HINKLE: GOOD NEWS - THERE'S ANOTHER ELECTION TO FIGHT ABOUT!

By A. BARTON HINKLE, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

If you have been moping around at home for the past few months, barely able to stir from the couch because you are so despondent over the lack of excitement in politics these days — well, cheer up. Relief is on the way. In about nine months Virginians will go to the polls to elect a new governor. If the contest sustains its current trajectory, it will make the Trump-Clinton contest look duller than a chess match in an old folks’ home.



SHENK: SLOWPOKES A PAIN BUT NOT DEADLY

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star

It’s nice to see Virginia lawmakers cracking the whip on those dastardly slowpokes with the $250-left-lane-law. Those tortoise-like drivers are pains, but I'll take them over drunks, speeders and the growing horde of SPDD (smart phones dumb drivers) any day. The worst that happens with the slowpokes is you get home a little later. But at least you get home. That other group is more apt to send you to a morgue. And the trend of travelers ending up in the morgue is heading in the wrong direction.



THOMSON: YOU DON’T HAVE TO RIDE METRO TO CARE ABOUT ITS FUTURE

By ROBERT THOMSON , Washington Post

Most people in the D.C. region don’t ride Metro regularly. So why spend a lot of time talking about its uncertain future? Travelers who write to me or comment on the Dr. Gridlock blog offer these observations: Metro is irrelevant to today’s travel since commuters have so many more options than they did when the rail system was designed in the mid-20th century.

Op-Ed


KAINE COLUMN: ABSTRACT ACA FIGURES REPRESENT REAL VIRGINIANS

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

Sixteen percent. Eight percent. Twenty-to-twenty-five percent. Eighteen million. Twenty-seven million. Thirty-two million. Politicians and policy wonks so often rely on seemingly abstract data while debating the Affordable Care Act that it’s easy to forget that every statistic has thousands or millions of human stories behind it. The six numbers listed above have been thrown around a lot as the Senate debates the ACA in the new Congress; I would like to introduce you to some of the Virginians those figures represent.

Tim Kaine represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate



MILLER: HIGHER ED IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

By SCOTT MILLER, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

I recently attended briefings on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities at its annual meeting. On the agenda was launching the Independent College Caucus, a bipartisan initiative to recognize contributions of independent colleges and universities. ... Most important, however, in the view of many of my colleagues is resisting arbitrary bans on immigration and travel that negatively impact our nation’s campuses.

Scott D. Miller is the president of Virginia Wesleyan College.



MCNAB & AGARWAL: FEDERAL HIRING FREEZE MAY CHILL HAMPTON ROADS

By BOB MCNAB & VINOD AGARWAL, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

President Donald Trump, in one of his first executive orders, froze the hiring of executive branch federal workers. The order says that “no vacant positions existing at noon on Jan. 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances.” Trump also directed the head of the Office of Personnel Management to recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce by attrition. He is certainly not the first chief executive to limit federal hiring, but the prospect of a reduced federal workforce will hamper growth in Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Bob McNab and Vinod Agarwal are professors in the Department of Economics at Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business.



SIBILLA: CREATING JOBS BY CUTTING RED TAPE

By NICK SIBILLA, Published in the Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

With the start of a new year, Norfolk should take a new look at ways to bolster economic growth. Paring back the growing regulatory state would go far to encourage entrepreneurship, benefiting workers and consumers alike. For starters, the city’s transportation industry could use a regulatory overhaul. Thanks to a state law passed in 2015, ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft can operate throughout Virginia. Unfortunately, it’s a different story for taxis. Norfolk caps the number of taxicab permits at 250.

Nick Sibilla is a communications associate at the Institute for Justice.



MARSHALL: LYNCHBURG SUCCESS STORY AN EXAMPLE FOR VIRGINIA

By NAT MARSHALL, Published in the News & Advance

As the vice chairman of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development and a human resources manager at BWX Technologies Inc. (BWXT), it’s clear that the concept of workforce credentialing is becoming more and more important in Virginia. Last July, the commonwealth launched the New Economy Workforce Industry Credential Grants program to encourage people to train for well-paying jobs that employers are eager to fill. The program has roots in the heart of Virginia. Its co-sponsors in the legislature were Del. Kathy Byron, who represents portions of Central Virginia, and Sen. Frank Ruff, whose district stretches across Virginia’s Southside.

Marshall is vice chairman of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development and a human resources manager for Lynchburg-based BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT).



WILL: RICHMOND-AREA JUDGE AN ADULT VOICE AMID PANDEMIC CHILDISHNESS

By GEORGE WILL, Published in the Washington Post

In his 72 years, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, who was raised in segregated Richmond, acknowledges that he has seen much change, often for the better, including advances in the 1960s. But in his elegant new memoir, "All Falling Faiths: Reflections on the Promise and Failure of the 1960s," he explains why today's distemper was incubated in that "burnt and ravaged forest of a decade."



HAMMERSTROM: JOHNS FINALLY GETTING RECOGNITION SHE DESERVES

By DICK HAMMERSTROM, Published in the Free Lance-Star

To anyone even remotely aware of our nation’s civil rights history, the name of Rosa Parks is instantly recognizable. The woman, who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, became a crucial figure in the civil rights movement. Her place in history is unquestionably and justly deserved. She helped change the Jim Crow laws that discriminated against blacks during that era. But before Rosa Parks, there was Barbara Rose Johns. Her name is not readily identifiable, but it should be—particularly to Virginians.



SEAMAN: THE HARMFUL MYTH OF WIDESPREAD VOTER FRAUD

By CHRISTOPHER B. SEAMAN , Published in the Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 20 articles a month)

The 2016 election has been thrust back into the headlines with President Trump’s unsupported claim of “massive” voter fraud and promise to conduct a “major investigation.” But academics who have studied this issue, election administrators, and even President Trump’s own lawyers already agree: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. We have been down this road before. ... False allegations of massive voter fraud have been invoked by Republican-led legislatures in states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia to pass strict new photo identification requirements for voting.

Seaman teaches election law at Washington and Lee University School of Law and has written several articles regarding the history, enforcement, and future of the Voting Rights Act.