THE BULLETIN — News to know

Quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

The State Corporation Commission

State Corporation Commission rejects billions in Dominion grid spending

Proving it still has some teeth left despite the General Assembly's best efforts, the State Corporation Commission has rejected billions in proposed spending by Dominion Energy it had sought permission to recover from its customers under the sweeping utility regulations signed into law last year.Though the commission did approve about $155 million in spending on security features, including cyber security and conventional security measures like barriers at distribution substations, it rejected other proposed projects, including smart meters, grid hardening, "intelligent grid devices" and emerging technology, that would have cost a total of more than $5 billion including financing costs.“Dominion’s...

Another idea near proposed Norfolk casino; New campaign finance reports show Republicans with advantage and other headlines

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, made waves when he called himself a Democratic Socialist. He knows most of his bills won’t pass in Virginia but thinks it’s important to try. “One of the biggest things has been trying to keep in mind that by electing a socialist, my constituents have made the choice to reject the status quo,” he said. “They want someone to go and fight, even if that person is on the losing end.” - The New York Times Republicans are preparing for a tough campaign season...

Another push for a plastic bag tax in Virginia dies

Environmental advocates tried again to staunch the flow of plastic bags into Virginia's waterways Wednesday, but to no avail.Sens. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax City, and Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, proposed allowing localities to add a 5-cent tax to plastic bags. Petersen's bill would have limited the range of the bill to localities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and Ebbin's would have applied statewide.Both bills died in the Senate Finance Committee on a party-line vote, but some Republican senators suggested that, while they aren't in favor of a tax, their plastic bag politics may be changing."I don't support a tax, but...
Virginia State Capitol

Senate rejects proposal to give Va. governors a shot at two terms. ‘Two words: Gilmore and McAuliffe.’

Virginia is the only state in the union that limits governors to one consecutive term and, at least for now, it's going to stay that way.The Senate rejected a constitutional amendment that would have let governors run for a second term in an 18-22 vote that cut across party lines, though Republicans made up the majority of the opposition.The constitutional amendment has been proposed by members of both parties for years, but this is the first time (at least in recent memory) it's made it out of committee to a floor debate.Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, sponsored the resolution. He...

UVA study finds increase in middle school bullying in parts of Virginia that voted for Trump

Researchers at UVA found an 18 percent increase in reports of bullying in Virginia middle schools last year in localities where Trump won.A survey before the 2016 election found no difference in bullying rates between the localities.The results, based on a semi-annual survey of 150,000 state middle school students, were published last week in the peer reviewed journal Educational Researcher.According to the abstract: In localities favoring the Republican candidate, there were higher adjusted rates of students reporting that (a) they had experienced some form of bullying in the past year (18 percent higher) and (b) “students in this school are...

Virginia has lost $21 million in revenue during the federal shutdown

The federal shutdown, now on Day 26 and the longest ever, has cost Virginia $21 million in payroll taxes that are normally collected from federal workers' paychecks.Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne told lawmakers Wednesday morning the state should be able to recoup that lost revenue if Congress and President Donald Trump agree on a bill to pay furloughed federal workers wages that are currently withheld. If the shutdown stretches into a full financial quarter — 13 weeks — federal workers in Virginia will lose $1.6 billion in wages and the state will lose about $94 million in payroll taxes, according to...
Virginia Mercury

Study: Allowing immigrants to pay in-state tuition is cost-effective for Virginia

A new study by the Commonwealth Institute suggests that allowing students with deferred action immigration status to pay in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities does not create a cost burden for the state.In the fall of 2017, there were only 418 students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status at the state's four-year public schools, and 995 at Virginia's community colleges. Of those, 96 percent qualified for in-state tuition.There were even fewer students with Temporary Protective Status, or TPS. Only 27 attended four-year schools, and 22 paid in-state tuition. Data on those with TPS status in...
Virginia Mercury

Virginia SNAP recipients to receive February benefits early due to government shutdown

With the federal government shutdown casting a shadow of uncertainty over benefits in Virginia, the state's Department of Social Services announced this week that it will be doling out recipients' February food benefits on Thursday.The move comes after the United States Department of Agriculture issued guidance that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps, should receive their benefits early so that they can access them in February."This is literally $85 million that is putting food on the table of our most vulnerable participants," said DSS Commissioner Duke Storen during a Senate Finance...

Virginia Senate approves ERA, but it might not even get a hearing in the House

The Virginia Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday afternoon, with the chamber's 19 Democrats and seven Republicans voting in favor.The Senate has passed the amendment before. The bigger lift for advocates who want to see Virginia become the 38th and final state to ratify the amendment will be in the House, where it's still not clear whether it will get a committee hearing, let alone make it to the House floor.Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, chairs the House's Privileges and Elections Committee, where the ERA has been referred.Last year, he didn't bring the resolution up for a vote....

How to watch the General Assembly from anywhere

By Owen FitzGerald/ Capital News Service As legislators gather in Richmond for the 2019 General Assembly session, citizens in the far corners of the commonwealth might feel distanced from their elected representatives. But any computer or cellphone user with internet access can watch live and recorded video of state lawmakers in action. The House and Senate each live-stream their committee meetings and floor sessions. And the advocacy group Progress Virginia broadcasts subcommittee meetings over the internet. ProgressVA launched its Eyes on Richmond project in 2017 before the legislative session. Initially, the program live-streamed both committee and subcommittee meetings — because at the time, the House...