GOVERNMENT + POLITICS

Virginia Mercury

Foster care bills breeze through first committee

BY: - January 18, 2019

Several bills aimed at addressing deficiencies in Virginia’s foster care system highlighted in a report released in December, made their way easily through their first Senate committee Friday. The most far-reaching is the omnibus bill carried by Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, for which Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, is carrying the $3 million budget amendment. It […]

Some energy donors gave Democrats more than Republicans

BY: - January 18, 2019

Editor’s Note: See below for correction from VCU’s Capital News Service. By Daniel Berti/Capital News Service In a break from past years, some large energy-related political donors gave more money to Virginia Democrats than to Republicans in 2018, according to campaign finance reports posted Friday by the Virginia Public Access Project. For example, United Co., […]

Senate committees hear several mental health bills, with varying outcomes

BY: - January 18, 2019

Two bills aimed at addressing both the state’s psychiatric hospital crisis and mental health in schools passed easily through their respective committees Thursday, while a subcommittee punted on another designed to expand teachers’ ability to recognize mental illness. Virginia’s psychiatric hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients under temporary detention orders, often operating near 100 percent […]

Lawmakers asked insurers and doctors to find a solution on balance billing. They didn’t, and neither have lawmakers.

BY: - January 18, 2019

The struggle over balance billing spilled into lawmakers laps on Thursday, leaving them to tussle over who should have to pay the bills that would otherwise go to patients. And they didn’t get far. Balance billing occurs when patients, usually unknowingly, gets a bill from a provider that they thought was in-network and covered by […]

Bill meant to level the playing field for pipeline takings passes Senate

BY: - January 18, 2019

New legislation that would level the playing field for property owners in an eminent domain taking lawsuit sailed through the Senate on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, would eliminate provisions in the assessments of costs in eminent domain proceedings for some condemnors, such as public service companies like utilities. Property […]

Lawmakers clash over prison-made furniture. ‘Do you like the desk in your office? … Well you should bring one from home’

BY: - January 18, 2019

Republican lawmakers shot down a bill Thursday challenging a program that pays Virginia prison inmates about 80 cents an hour to manufacture furniture for state offices, including at the Capitol and General Assembly Building. Del. Emily Brewer, R-Smithfield, said she had toured those inmate-staffed factories and said the workers, incarcerated as they may be, work […]

COMMENTARY

Former state board member was accused of ‘working for the opposition’ after raising concerns about pipeline construction damage

BY: - January 18, 2019

Visiting the Mountain Valley Pipeline construction corridor in southwest Virginia was a promise I made to  local residents while I was a member of the State Water Control Board. It was a promise that wasn’t kept until Jan. 2, when I toured many farms and residential lands impacted by the MVP construction activities. Unfortunately, it […]

Va. Republicans reject Trump-endorsed ‘red flag’ law (Plus most of the other gun control bills filed this year)

BY: - January 17, 2019

Republicans in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have voted down the full suite of gun control measures endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam, including a “red flag” law backed by President Donald Trump’s administration. The law, which is a recommendation of Trump’s post-Parkland school safety commission, would allow police to temporarily confiscate someone’s guns […]

Prison officials say they’re still blocking women wearing tampons from full visitation privileges over contraband concerns

BY: - January 17, 2019

Women wearing tampons are still being denied full visitation privileges at some Virginia prisons, Department of Corrections officials told lawmakers Thursday. The department announced in September that women wearing tampons would either be strip-searched or turned away from visitations as part of a bid to crack down on contraband like drugs. They quickly walked back […]

COMMENTARY
The State Corporation Commission

State Corporation Commission rejects billions in Dominion grid spending

BY: - January 17, 2019

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 […]

House subcommittee kills bill aimed at helping social workers in the field

BY: - January 17, 2019

A proposal meant to help social workers in the field by giving them more information about a family’s history died on a party-line vote in subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill, sponsored by Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Loudoun, would have required the Department of Social Services to keep records of investigations that were deemed unfounded for three […]

Virginia House Democrats tread lightly on impeachment rhetoric

BY: - January 17, 2019

WASHINGTON — Some House Democrats are openly calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Among them: Michigan freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who made waves the day she was sworn in for saying, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherf****r.” That same day, California Rep. Brad Sherman introduced articles of impeachment against […]