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Virginia Politics Blog: January 24, 2010 - January 30, 2010

McDonnell asks Obama to reconsider student loan proposal

Gov. Bob McDonnell penned a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him to reconsider his proposed changes to the student loan program that the governor says could cost "hundreds of jobs" in Virginia. McDonnell (R) says the proposal will impose unfunded federal mandates on public and private colleges and universities, eliminate jobs and "result in disruptions in the delivery of critical funding for students in the fall of 2010." Obama has proposed ending private industry involvement in new student loans. Instead, the federal government would be the sole provider of student loans in the United States. We hear the letter was sent to help Reston-based Sallie Mae, which is trying to bring more than 1,000 more jobs to Virginia and that U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner are also on board. The U.S. House approved a bill implementing the president's plan, but it has yet to pass the...

By Anita Kumar  | January 30, 2010; 6:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, James Webb, Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Michelle Obama & Maureen McDonnell campaign against childhood obesity

Gov. Bob McDonnell didn't score an invite to see President Obama when he came to the state last week, but first lady Michelle Obama asked Maureen McDonnell to join her in Arlington yesterday. Maureen McDonnell joined Michelle Obama to kick off an intiative against childhood obesity at the YMCA in Alexandria. "Let me begin by thanking the new first lady in the room, Maureen McDonnell,'' Obama said yesterday. "We are going to have a great time working together. She is already very engaged and supportive of these initiatives. And since she's so close I am counting on her to work alongside me on some of these issues." We wish we could tell you more about the event, but we learned about it after it was already over. The governor's press office said Virginia's first lady received a last minute invitation, and the media could not be notified before the event....

By Anita Kumar  | January 29, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell privately asks Democrats for time on budget

At a morning meeting with Democratic leaders, we're told Gov. Bob McDonnell pleaded for time and help in closing the state's $4 billion budget shortfall. According to several participants, McDonnell referred to comments made on the Senate floor made in recent days on cuts, and essentially asked Democrats to lay off a bit and give him time to put forward suggestions. The Democrats said that McDonnell repeated his intentions to give them his suggestions on where the budget should be cut in the not terribly distant future. He did not commit to sending down his ideas as formal amendments to the budget nor to suggesting cuts that would total the full shortfall. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William), who earlier this week had said he believed the governor's public comments about whether he would be releasing budget amendments did not match what he had told lawmakers privately,...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 29, 2010; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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UPDATED: McDonnell cancels appearances to prepare for snow storm

Gov. Bob McDonnell has cancelled his pair of political appearances this weekend in the Washington-Baltimore region because of an impending snowstorm in Virginia that may leave as much as a foot of snow in parts of the state. Tomorrow morning, McDonnell was scheduled to speak to Republican members of Congress who will gather for their annual retreat, titled "Winning Back America," in Baltimore. In the evening, he was supposed to be the guest of major Republican donor Fred Malek at the exclusive black-tie Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual gathering of inside-the-Beltway elite usually attended by the president in Washington. Instead, he will remain in Richmond to monitor what is expected to be a major storm. McDonnell declared a state of emergency Thursday for an area stretching from southwest Virginia to Hampton Roads due to the approaching storm. The southern half of Virginia is under a winter storm warning. In November,...

By Anne Bartlett  | January 29, 2010; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell gets the full Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert treatment for State of the Union response

They made fun of Gov. Tim Kaine's eyebrow. They made fun of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's ... well, just about everything. And, last night it was Gov. Bob McDonnell's turn. Yes, delivering the response to the state of the union is pretty much like hanging a sign on your back that says, "Comedy Central: Kick Me." Sure enough, Gov. Bob McDonnell came in for a good ribbing from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert last night. They both focused on McDonnell's decision to give his response to a crowd of invited Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates, breaking from past practice to offer something of an alternative state of the union address. For your amusement, or your pique, we offer you the clips below. The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cStephen's State of the Union Speech...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 29, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell to meet with Democratic legislative leaders

Gov. Bob McDonnell may have been less than inclusive in whom he invited to his State of the Union response last night, but tomorrow he is welcoming members of the opposition party to his home. McDonnell is hosting Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House at the Executive Mansion for breakfast tomorrow morning. The governor's aides say the event will be largely social, but we're guessing the little matter of the budget might come up. Today on the Senate floor, Ed Houck implored McDonnell to help legislators find $2 billion in budget cuts. "What's the plan? What is our governor's plan to address the second $2 billion in cuts?" Houck thundered on the floor. "What is the plan to address the second two? Tell us!" Earlier today, McDonnell sidestepped a question on his first monthly call-in show on WRVA radio in Richmond about when he will send budget cuts...

By Anita Kumar  | January 28, 2010; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 legislative session, Anita Kumar, General Assembly, Robert F. McDonnell  
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The response to McDonnell's State of the Union rebuttal

Gov. Bob McDonnell awoke this morning feeling good about his turn in the national spotlight last night giving the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, his aides say. He fielded congratulatory calls on his first appearance on his monthly call-in show on WRVA in Richmond. He chatted with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who tapped him to give the speech. His joke about SportsCenter has been leading SportsCenter since last night. And the reviews about his speech were not bad -- nothing like the ones last year for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Or for Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in 2006, when no one could stop talking about his raised eyebrow. National Democrats continued to criticize McDonnell for his partisan message and his venue -- the House of Delegates' chamber filled with an audience of about 250 family members, friends and donors -- but for the...

By Anita Kumar  | January 28, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATE: Warner, Webb, Perriello lukewarm on President Obama's State of the Union address

U.S. senators Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb and U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, all Virginia Democrats, issued separate statements last night showing lukewarm support for President Obama's State of the Union address. (They presented an interesting contrast with their colleagues across the river in Maryland, where Sen. Ben Cardin, and Reps. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen all issued high praise for Obama.) Warner congratulated the president for proposing to make credit more available to small businesses -- "an initiative we proposed last fall." But Warner said he was disappointed that he did not hear "a more robust approach" to addressing the nation's budget deficit. "I continue to be extremely disappointed in the Senate's unwillingness this week to support a bipartisan fiscal commission to address needed budget and entitlement reform." Warner did not attend the speech at the Capitol last night as he was attending the funeral of his mother,...

By Amy Gardner  | January 28, 2010; 7:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Amy Gardner, Gerald E. Connolly, James Webb, Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell, Tom Perriello  | Tags:  Ben Cardin, Bob McDonnell, Chris Van Hollen, Jim Webb, Mark Warner, President Obama, State of the Union, Steny Hoyer, Tom Perriello  
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In State of the Union, Obama talks up oil drilling, carefully

Could there be some bipartisan action coming on oil-drilling off Virginia's shore? It's one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's favorite topics--he often talks of his desire to see Virginia be the first state on the eastern seaboard to drill off its coast. The latest news from Washington has not been encouraging on the subject, suggesting there could be a delay coming for moving forward on drilling. And yet, during his State of the Union address, President Obama just told the nation that energy independence will require "making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development." Could that include Virginia? Stay tuned....

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 27, 2010; 9:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell's guests at tonight's State of the Union response

Here is a list of some of the guests who will be attending Gov. Bob McDonnell's State of the Union response tonight at the Capitol. Most of these people will be seated behind the governor: Glen Booker is a 10th grade student at Elijah House Academy in Richmond. www.elijahhouseacademy.com Jim Cheng is the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Sergeant Donald Childs was the helicopter pilot who was involved in the incident in Appomattox last week. Jacoray Coleman is an 8th grade student at St. Joseph School in Petersburg. Sean Connaughton is the Secretary of Transportation....

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 8:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Excerpts: Gov. Bob McDonnell's response to the State of the Union address

We've now received excerpts of Gov. Bob McDonnell's response to the state of the union address this evening. Here they are: JOBS "Good government policy should spur economic growth, and strengthen the private sector's ability to create new jobs. We must enact policies that promote entrepreneurship and innovation, so America can better compete with the world. What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class." SPENDING "The amount of this debt is on pace to double in five years, and triple in ten. The federal debt is already over $100,000 per household. This is simply unsustainable. The President's partial freeze on discretionary spending is a laudable step, but a small one. The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level." HEALTHCARE "All Americans agree, we need a...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 27, 2010; 7:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: McDonnell issues late Democratic invites to State of Union response

Early today, Gov. Bob McDonnell's office told us that the 300 people that were hand -picked to hear the governor give his response to President Obama's State of the Union tonight included Democratic leaders of the General Assembly. But House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong tells us that he was just invited to attend the speech that will take place in the state Capitol two hours ago when he received a personal call from the governor on his cell phone. "It may be little late, but I'm not offended,'' Armstrong said. "He's trying to figure things out." McDonnell's press office has not released the list of guests attending the speech tonight despite our requests today. "The Democratic leadership is being invited to the speech,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said earlier today. "And if they want to join us for the Republican Address to the Nation, in response to the remarks...

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 7:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Medical marijuana bill dies despite surprise support from Republican leader

A House subcommittee has unceremoniously tabled a pair of bills that would have liberalized Virginia's marijuana laws, in effect killing them. One measure would have made possession of under one ounce of pot a civil infraction punishable with merely a $500 fine. The other would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any medical condition, if the Federal government ever allows it. Virginia already has a law that says if FDA changes its rules on pot, doctors could prescribe marijuana for cancer and glaucoma. A few days ago, we wrote about how these bills were being viewed largely with humor in the conservative House of Delegates. But at today's subcommittee meeting, each received a lengthy and serious hearing. Their death was a surprise to no one. But there was one big surprise: Republican Majority Leader Morgan Griffith announced to the subcommittee that though he opposed the bill to decriminalize marijuana...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 27, 2010; 6:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell's response: What to watch for, how to watch it, where to discuss it

In a few hours, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell will deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech. It will be streamed live online on washingtonpost.com and archived for later viewing, and Post associate editor Robert G. Kaiser will analyze and answer questions about both speeches at the end of the night (10 p.m. ET). For now, The Post's Lee Hockstader provides a preview of McDonnell's moment in the spotlight on the excellent PostPartisan blog: Mild-mannered Bob McDonnell, the newly installed GOP governor of Virginia who went out of his way to praise President Obama during his successful campaign last fall, has been cast in the role of Republican superstar, a savior rivaled at the moment only by Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown. Hand-picked to deliver the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union speech tonight, McDonnell -- telegenic, affable, focused, and conservative -- is, at...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | January 27, 2010; 6:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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McDonnell stirs the pot on Brunswick Stew Day at the Capitol

Only hours before he was expected to give his first televised address to the nation -- the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address -- Gov. Bob McDonnell kept with a Virginia tradition: Sampling brunswick stew on Brunswick Stew Day at the Capitol. For the ninth year in a row, a Virginia governor has stopped by to see the visitors from Brunswick County, located about on the North Carolina border, who had been cooking since 2 a.m. "What kind of animals do you have in that thing, do you know?" McDonnell asked stewmaster Clark Bennett as he peered into the massive pot of stew. "Nevemind. Just tell me it's chicken." Actually, the stew really does have chicken in it, though some brunswick stew has been known to contain squirrel or rabbit. The folks from the Brunswick County/Lake Gaston Tourism Association will dole out 90 gallons or...

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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In the 5th Congressional District: A candidate who's in it to win

Jim McKelvey, a Smith Mountain Lake real estate developer and one of seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge freshman Democrat Tom Perriello in Virginia's 5th Congressional District, has loaned his campaign $500,000, according to the latest reports with the Federal Election Commission. This is pretty interesting since some conservative activists in the district have been hoping to unite behind a single conservative candidate in order to block state Sen. Robert Hurt, who is viewed as too moderate by some but is enjoying the backing and financial support of national and state Republican Leaders. McKelvey's disclosure that he's loaning himself such a big chunk of money signals that he's got no plans of stepping away any time soon. That distinction applies to Laurence Verga too, another real estate developer from Albermarle County who has loaned himself $214,000. Perhaps this is good news for all the supporters out there for...

By Amy Gardner  | January 27, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Election 2010, Robert Hurt, Tom Perriello  
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Democrats call for budget guidance, as McDonnell prepares for big speech

As Gov. Bob McDonnell prepares for his big national debut this evening, he continues to face criticism from Democrats at home for not putting forward his ideas on how the General Assembly should close Virginia's $4 billion, two-year budget shortfall. Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) took to the Senate floor today to blast McDonnell for taking time to address the nation about the state of its union before offering guidance on cutting the state's budget. "I have to tell you I have a problem with the notion that he says he's only been in office a short time and he can't get it all together in that short of a time," McEachin said. "Nevermind the fact that other governors have done the very same thing. This governor knew what he was signing up for when he ran for this office. He ran for this office for months -- if not...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 27, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Barack Obama, General Assembly 2010, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate, Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell concerned about a new possible delay in offshore oil drilling

Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters today that he immediately called U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's office after news broke late yesterday about the federal government's plan to postpone oil and gas drilling off Virginia's coast. But, McDonnell said, his office has not been able to confirm the delay despite news reports that say the earliest the area would be leased is in 2012. "Any delay beyond 2011 I would strongly oppose,'' McDonnell said. "A delay of a year in the lease means yet another delay in the revenue...I am dead serious about trying to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. We have every God-given natural resource that a state could want to make that happen and a big piece of that goal of energy independence is offshore production of oil, gas and wind and we don't need federal government delays. We need cooperation." McDonnell wants to use...

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Rep. Boucher: I'm running for re-election

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia's 9th Congressional District issued a statement a moment ago declaring unequivocally that he will seek re-election this year. Speculation had mounted in recent days that Boucher might bow out, given the national atmosphere, the increasingly Republican leanings of his district and the potential for a competitive challenge from a well-known Republican such as Morgan Griffith, the majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates. Boucher had tried to tamp down speculation a few days ago with a statement to Politico that he always announces later in the year -- but that, when he does announce, he wouldn't be surprising anyone. But apparently it wasn't enough. Here's the statement he issued this morning: "I am planning to seek re-election. I have given no consideration to retiring. While I never make political announcements this early in the year, due to the press inquires we are...

By Amy Gardner  | January 27, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Election 2010  | Tags:  9th Congressional District, Congress, Democrat, Morgan Griffith, Republican, Rick Boucher, midterm elections  
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McDonnell's selection of the House chamber for State of the Union response

When the GOP's congressional leaders -- Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell --asked Gov. Bob McDonnell to deliver their party's response to President Obama's State of the Union address one of his first considerations was: Where to speak from? Often, speakers are members of Congress and they choose to give the response from Washington. That's what Sen. Jim Webb (D) did in 2007. Four years ago, Gov. Tim Kaine (D) delivered the rebuttal from the Executive Mansion's historic ballroom. Last year, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) spoke from his office at the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge. McDonnell's team of advisors considered a variety of venues before settling on the House of Delegates' chamber in the majestic state Capitol. On Sunday, staffers from both Boehner's and McConnell's offices traveled to Richmond, along with FOX News, which is providing pool cameras for the rebuttal, to inspect the location. They approved....

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, House of Delegates, James Webb, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell invited to attend GOP retreat, Alfalfa dinner

Gov. Bob McDonnell will spend his weekend a few hours north at two national events -- speaking to Republican members of Congress and hobnobbing at the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner in Washington. On Saturday morning, he will talk to U.S. House Republicans who wll gather for their annual retreat, titled "Winning Back America," in Baltimore. He will attend a day after President Obama. Republicans are eager to duplicate McDonnell's success in the 2010 midterm elections. He was chosen to speak at the event two months ago just after his 18-point win over state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds. "He has recent, first-hand accounts from the American people about how they are frustrated with the out-of-control spending and big government mentality in Washington,'' said Mary Vought, a spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference. "He will speak to us about his on-the-road experience and help us strategize how we can best fix the...

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell: No decisions yet on school funding factor

Gov. Bob McDonnell has not decided whether he will support a freeze in the adjustment to the local composite index, a change left behind by Gov. Tim Kaine in his final two-year budget that would prove costly to Northern Virginia's school systems. That's the word from McDonnell's office this afternoon, after an article circulated around the General Assembly Building this week in which his office is cited as saying he would uphold the budget cut. But McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said in a statement that the idea remains under consideration and no decisions have been made. "We are evaluating all of the components of the current budget and will be working with House and Senate budget conferees to gather their input on existing spending reductions as well as potential new cost savings strategies. No final decisions have been made regarding the composite index freeze by the legislators or the Governor's...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 26, 2010; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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UPDATED: McDonnell might not make further budget cut proposals

Will Gov. Bob McDonnell recommend budget cuts to make up for the state's multibillion-dollar shortfall? We still aren't sure. Last week, McDonnell told budget negotiators (and reporters) that he expected to send legislators a list of proposed budget cuts. He was asked if he would offer cuts beyond the ones needed to offset his new spending initiatives. "I intend to,'' he told reporters at a news conference. "Two billion is the hole. ... In due course, I will make cuts to the money committees." But today, at a news conference, he backtracked and said he might not offered further budget amendments (beyond the ones introduced yesterday to offset his $50 million in new programs.) Instead, he said he might just continue to meet privately with legislators and provide guidance....

By Anita Kumar  | January 26, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell unveils jobs plan

Gov. Bob McDonnell unveiled his jobs plan at a packed news conference at the state Capitol today. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and legislators of both parties. The legislative package consists of 20 bills, as well as previously announced budget amendments. The package includes providing tax credits for movie production, helping veterans open small businesses, directing future royalties from offshore drilling to transportation and creating the Virginia Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation to encourage energy research and economic development. A preliminary economic impact analysis prepared by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership estimates that the budget initiatives will lead to more than $311 million in new revenue for the state over five years and the creation of more than 29,000 jobs over two years. "I have made creating jobs and bringing more opportunity to every region of Virginia...

By Anita Kumar  | January 26, 2010; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Senate panel approves bill to make health care mandate illegal

In something of a surprise, the Senate's commerce and labor committee voted 8 to 7 this afternoon to approve bills that would declare it illegal in Virginia to require a person to purchase health insurance. The bills will head to the floor of the Senate later this week, where they will likely test the resolve of the Democrats' slim 22 to 18 vote majority in the chamber. The bills are a direct challenge to Democratic health-care reform efforts at the federal level. Bills that have passed both the U.S. Senate and House would require individuals to maintain health insurance. A version of the same bill is being carried in the House by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), one of the chamber's most conservative members, and it was a top priority of Tea Party activists who rallied in Richmond last week. Thus, it's passage in the Democratic-controlled committee is both...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 25, 2010; 7:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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The first signs of Fairfax's budget woes

One common refrain during budget season: County officials and residents say that cuts to local agencies and programs rarely are seen or felt. It's unusual than a locality or a public agency broadcasts losing staffers or consolidating services to save money; many cuts take place behind the scenes. But in a possible sign of things to come, patrons, employees and volunteers of Fairfax County's library system already are starting to feel the pinch of a second straight year of drastic cuts, which could amount of an 18 percent cut in the department's annual funding for 2011 (on top of a 15 percent cut this year). Virginia Politics has learned that the county has begun posting signs in library branches to indicate when reference materials, including magazine and newspaper subscriptions, have been discontinued because of budget cuts. So far, Fairfax County Public Library has ended their "Ask a Librarian" program and...

By Derek Kravitz  | January 25, 2010; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Plum calls on McDonnell to get involved in redistricting

For a bipartisan news conference about biparistan redistricting, Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) had some not entirely bipartisan comments to make about Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell this morning. Plum joined Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) and a variety of other legislators, business leaders and representatives from the Virginia Interfaith Center to push bills that would establish a commission with representatives of both parties to redraw legislative and congressional districts after the 2010 census. Vogel, an elections lawyer, is carrying one bill in the senate. Virginia will be one of the first states in the country to go through the process, since it has off-year elections in 2011. But Plum, who it was noted first proposed bipartisan redistricting in 1982, took the opportunity to call out McDonnell for not being more publicly supportive of the legislation now that he has taken office. In a widely publicized shift, McDonnell publicly endorsed bipartisan redistricting...

By Rosalind Helderman  | January 25, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Fairfax Republicans taking stock after state Senate loss

Fairfax County Republicans are licking their wounds and assessing the damage after Sen. David W. Marsden's upset victory over Stephen M. "Steve" Hunt in the January special election for the Virginia state Senate. The southwestern Fairfax County district where Marsden won, the 37th state Senate District, had been represented by Republicans since 1992 and conservative Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinnelli II had been the district's senator for seven years. (Not quite a U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) level upset. After all, the 37th has not been easy for Republicans to hold onto, even with Cuccinelli in the seat. But an upset nonetheless.) Marsden's win was hailed by Democrats as a game-changer in a part of Northern Virginia that had voted for Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell in November. However, Republicans and some political experts view it differently. Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said it came down...

By Derek Kravitz  | January 25, 2010; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz, Fairfax County, State Senate  
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Warner searching for a state director again

Newly out-of-work Virginia Democrats are eyeing a key vacancy on U.S. Sen. Mark Warner's staff. Eva Teig Hardy, a former longtime executive at Dominion Virginia Power, recently stepped down as Warner's interim state director -- a job she held since last spring. Hardy indicated from the start that she would only stay six months, and the state's junior senator has started talking to a number of people about filling the job. With a Republican filling the governor's mansion for the first time in eight years, a number of Democrats have found themselves out of work in Richmond. Names being mentioned for the job include: Alfonso Lopez, director of the Virginia Liaison Office under former Gov. Tim Kaine, Kate Hanley, secretary of commonwealth under Kaine and Dietra Trent, deputy secretary of education. Warner tapped Hardy last April after he was unable to find the right permanent person for what he considers...

By Anita Kumar  | January 25, 2010; 12:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Mark Warner, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Marsden plans to buy a house in his Senate district

Dave Marsden rented the lower level of a house for $600 a month from longtime state Democratic donors in Burke to run for state Senate. Now that he's won -- and in stunning fashion -- will Marsden actually move into the 37th District? Marsden says yes, eventually. "That's certainly the plan,'' he said. After the busy 60-day session in Richmond, Marsden said he will spend time fixing up his family's house just three miles down the road from the rental house and put it on the market. Until then, Marsden will continue to sleep in the rental house and go back to his Jackson Street home during the day, which is officially designated as his legislative office, to check mail and see his family. While in Richmond, he stays with House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry). Some colleagues have suggested that he not move and just wait until lawmakers could...

By Anita Kumar  | January 25, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2010, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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McDonnell's last two Cabinet members are sworn in

Eight days after his inauguration, Gov. Bob McDonnell has a complete Cabinet. Janet Polarek (secretary of the commonwealth) and Terri Suit (assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness) were sworn in at a packed ceremony at the state Capitol shortly after noon today. Former attorney general Bill Mims spoke at the ceremony. "It's an exciting day,'' McDonnell told the hundreds of guests seated on the House floor and in the upstairs gallery. "Today we double the number of women in the Cabinet." Last Sunday, all other members of the Cabinet were sworn in. Virginia law calls for these two Cabinet members to wait a week. That means former Gov. Tim Kaine's appointees Kate Hanley (secretary of the commonwealth) and Bob Crouch (assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness) had been working a week after his departure. All members of the Cabinet still need to be confirmed by the General Assembly....

By Anita Kumar  | January 24, 2010; 2:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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