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Virginia Politics Blog: March 14, 2010 - March 20, 2010

Connolly to vote for health-reform package

Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) announced Saturday afternoon that he will vote for the Democrat's health-care reform package. In a press release, Connolly said: "For the past year, my constituents have told me they want health insurance reform, but only if it meets certain tests. Will it bring down premiums for families and small businesses? Will it reduce the deficit? Will it protect their choice of plan and doctor? Will it improve access to care? The answer to each of these questions is 'Yes, it will.'"...

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 20, 2010; 1:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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Perriello wants promise from Senate on health bill before he'll vote yes

From the Post's 44 blog: By Ben Pershing Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello (D) said Friday that he would vote in favor of Democrats' health package this weekend, but only after he gets a promise from the Senate that it will pass "fixes" to the bill designed to make it more palatable to the House. Perriello spokeswoman Jessica Barba confirmed that Perriello's support for the measure was "conditional on a letter signed by 51 Senators saying they will follow through on reconciliation fixes." Other House Democrats have broached a similar idea, as they fear that they will pass the Senate bill but the Senate will fail to move the subsequent "fixes" bill. So far, there has been no evidence that such a letter is forthcoming from the Senate, although Democratic leaders in that chamber have done their best to reassure the House that they will be able to get the whole...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 19, 2010; 3:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Tom Perriello  
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UPDATED: Democrats to gather in Richmond for low-key Jefferson-Jackson dinner

Each year, candidates seeking higher office in Virginia host hospitality suites after the Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. But so far, only state Sen. Mark Herring of Loudoun County is hosting one after the black-tie fundraiser Saturday night in Richmond. We hear Herring is considering a run for attorney general in 2013, but in an interview this week he said that 2013 is a "long way off" and that he's focused solely on his re-election to the Senate next year and being the best senator he can be. With no statewide races on the ballot and no A-list speaker, this year's JJ is slated to be ones of the most low key in years. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will be the keynote speaker at the dinner. State Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw of Fairfax and House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong of Henry also will address the Democratic activists. Virginia Sens....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 19, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , Glenn Nye , James Webb , Mark Warner , Rick Boucher , Terry McAuliffe , Timothy M. Kaine , Tom Perriello  
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Obama holds health-care pep rally in Fairfax

Thousands of people rallied loudly for passage of health-care legislation in Northern Virginia today as President Obama tried one final time to demonstrate public support for the health-care bill that is moving toward a Sunday afternoon vote in Congress. In an old-fashioned pep rally that consciously recalled the final days of Obama's presidential campaign, a crowd of mostly students packed the Patriot Center at George Mason University to hear the president deliver a feisty closing argument for what he called a "fateful debate" that has been raging for a century. Here's the full story by Michael D. Shear and William Branigin....

By Anne Bartlett  |  March 19, 2010; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Fairfax County  
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Grayson delegate's local office damaged by fire

The district office of Del. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson), located on Main Street in downtown Galax, was damaged in a small fire this morning. Carrico said no one was injured in the blaze, which gutted an apartment building next door. He said his aide, who lives nearby, spotted flames on the roof of the office at about 7:30 a.m. A former state trooper, Carrico purchased the building three years ago and totally remodeled it. His office is upstairs and downstairs is leased space. He said damage to his building was largely limited to smoke. "The fire departments of Hillsville and Galax responded," he said. "They did a tremendous job containing it and keeping it from destroying the whole block."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 19, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman  
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Live video: Obama on health care from George Mason University

UPDATE, noon: Obama's speech is over; read the early coverage. Original post: Want to see President Obama's last-minute health-care pitch at the Patriot Center on George Mason University's campus (in a state that may now be hostile territory)? Watch the streaming video. The event is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  March 19, 2010; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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UPDATED: Environmental groups take steps to legally oppose Cuccinelli EPA suit

If Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had hopes of picking a fight with environmental groups when he filed suit against the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases last month, he's got one. The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Norfolk-based Wetlands Watch, late Thursday filed motions to intervene in the suit on the side of the EPA. Thursday was the deadline to file as an intervenor in the case, and a variety of environmental and business groups, as well as other states, have filed to join on both sides. In a press release about the motion, the SELC argues that Cuccinelli's suit disrupts Virginia's efforts to learn how climate change is affecting its coastline and is a wasteful use of taxpayer money. "It's disturbing that our state attorney general chooses to challenge the mountain of evidence, considering the number of Virginia businesses and residents experiencing firsthand the consequences from...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 19, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Democrats criticize McDonnell for attending national Republican fundraiser

Virginia Democrats were quick to criticize Gov. Bob McDonnell today for agreeing to speak at a fundraiser hosted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee next month. McDonnell is being billed as the "special guest speaker" at the group's spring meeting, where attendees will pay up to $5,000 to hear him and U.S. senators speak about issues such as job creation, national security, energy and health care. "Bob McDonnell has gotten off to a rocky start as governor,'' said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Leopold said McDonnell took weeks to publicly announce his budget amendments, has yet to introduce a full transportation plan and delayed a statement protecting Virginians from discrimination. "When Virginians need a governor, Bob McDonnell takes his time,'' he said. "But when Washington Republicans ask Bob McDonnell to jump, McDonnell's only question is 'how high? It's a shame that Virginia's governor would rather...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 18, 2010; 5:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Cantor meets with Salazar to urge drilling off Virginia's shore

U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R) is the latest Virginia leader to urge U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to allow drilling off the coast of Virginia. Cantor met with Salazar yesterday to encourage him to keep Virginia in the Minerals Management Service's five-year plan and begin soliciting companies to drill off the coast next year. "During the last comment period ... nearly eight in 10 Virginians expressed support for some form of offshore exploration,'' Cantor said in a statement. "Offshore energy exploration has the potential to provide thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for Virginia and is supported by the people of the Commonwealth, our Governor and our legislature." As we reported this week, most Virginia leaders -- regardless of political party -- have expressed interest in joining Alaska, Texas, Louisiana and other states in setting up offshore platforms to drill for oil and natural gas. Gov. Robert...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 18, 2010; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Eric Cantor , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Two Republicans to challenge Barker for Senate in Northern Virginia

The election may be more than 18 months away, but already two Republicans have said they plan to run for the seat held by Democratic Sen. George Barker of Fairfax County. Scott Martin, an assistant dean at George Mason University who ran unsuccessfully for a Fairfax County School Board in 2003, recently announced he plans to run and started a website.. "The prime purpose of government is not to create jobs, but to provide opportunities for its citizens and to encourage economic growth in the private sector,'' he writes in a letter to residents on his Website. Former senator Jay O'Brien, whom Barker defeated in 2007, also said in an interview today that he plans to run. He will make a formal announcement this spring and is already lining up endorsements. "There may be several Democrats in the Senate who are vulnerable,'' O'Brien said. O'Brien said Barker is out of...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 18, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli: Private groups can bar guns in public spaces

Private organizations that rent space from local governments can ban or regulate weapons at their events, according to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Responding to a request for an opinion from Loudoun Del. Tag Greason (R), Cucccinelli wrote Wednesday that private groups can apply their own rules on guns when they have paid to use government space for private functions. Greason's request dealt specifically with the Alexandria Red Cross and whether the group can bar guns at a waterfront festival held on land leased from the city. "As a general proposition, the Constitution acts as a restraint on government, not private actors. It is well established that private actors may do certain things on government property that the government itself could not do," he writes. In his opinion, Cuccinelli likens the situation to others in which private groups can impose their own rules, even when meeting in public spaces, where government...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 18, 2010; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell re-opens eight rest stops across Virginia today

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), wearing a green tie for St. Patrick's Day, re-opened a highway rest stop off Rt.85 S in Dinwiddie County this morning -- one of eight rest stops to re-open today, among them two on I-66 in Manassas and two in Dale City. Four others re-opened last month. The remaining seven facilities are slated to be back in service by April 15. McDonnell announced in January that the state would re-open 19 rest stops that were shuttered last summer because of budget cuts. Private contributions through an "adopt a rest stop" program and $3 million from the state's maintenance reserve fund will pay the expense. The state will also use the labor of nonviolent prison inmates at the facilities. (Photo courtesy of Michaele White, Governor's Office)...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 17, 2010; 4:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Cuccinelli's office confirms Virginia will sue over health care

Virginia will file suit against the federal government if the Democratic health care reform bill is approved by the U.S. Congress, a spokesman for state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) said Wednesday.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 17, 2010; 3:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (200)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell: No special counsel to enforce directive banning discrimination against gays

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in a recent interview that he will not appoint a special counsel to oversee his new executive directive prohibiting discrimination as he has been requested by the gay advocacy group Equality Virginia. McDonnell's directive to all 102,000 state employees prohibits discrimination in the state workforce, including on the basis of sexual orientation, and warns he will reprimand or fire anyone who engages in it. He issued the non-legally binding directive a week after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) distributed a letter to the state's public colleges and universities asking them to remove references to sexual orientation from their campus nondiscrimination policies. Cuccinelli says that only the General Assembly has the authority to extend legal protections to gays. In a letter sent to McDonnell Friday, Equality Virginia executive director Jon Blair argued Cuccinelli's advice indicates he and his staff would be "unable to render" legal...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 17, 2010; 2:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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First ad for Fimian plays with Connolly quote

At first, we were flattered to see that Fairfax Republican Congressional candidate Keith Fimian used a quote from this blog in the very first radio ad of his campaign against U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D). But when we looked a little closer, we were less amused. The ad works on a pig theme and accuses Connolly of going after earmarks at a time when the national debt is rising. Pretty standard political stuff. But then, the radio narrator tells you this: "Gerry Connolly says, quote, 'I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough.' " Connolly did indeed utter that quote during a July conference call with reporters about Republicans and the stimulus package. We put the quote on this blog. But was he talking about himself? Nope....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 17, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Pat Herrity , Rosalind Helderman  
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Obama will take health care fight to George Mason on Friday

President Obama will give hold a final, pre-vote rally for health care at George Mason University in Fairfax County on Friday, White House officials announced today. The rally, to be held in the university's Patriot Center auditorium, will begin at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public, officials said. Officials described the event as one in which Obama would make remarks about health care. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the final votes on health care late Friday or early Saturday. The capacity of the Patriot Center is 10,000 people. -- Michael D. Shear...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  March 16, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Fairfax County  
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Fairfax officials outline deep cuts under state budget

As local governments continue to pore over the General Assembly's new budget to assess the impact for the next two years, the early reviews were mixed, at least in Fairfax County. Fairfax schools superintendent Jack Dale told county supervisors Tuesday that despite a decision to unfreeze a key school-funding formula that would have cost the county even more, Virginia's largest school district will still have to cut back almost across the board. And he expressed concern that the cuts spelled out by the budget are likely to far outlast the two-year budget cycle. "These are permanent," Dale said. "Nothing's coming back in two years."...

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  March 16, 2010; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2010 legislative session , Fairfax County , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , Fredrick Kunkle  
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Kaine: Cuccinelli's birther comment 'ridiculous'

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) called the so-called "birther" remarks by the state's attorney general "ridiculous" and blamed the comments on "the realm of psychology." Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II (R) denied accusations Monday that he is a birther, saying that audio posted online of him saying it is not "beyond the realm of possibility" President Obama was born in Kenya reflected "a hypothetical legal answer" to a question. Cornered by reporters at the White House after a lunch with Obama, Kaine -- the chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- lumped Cuccinelli in with those who call themselves "birthers." "I scratch my head in amazement that somebody in a position of that altitude would express an opinion like that," Kaine said. "It's ridiculous. This president is an American citizen, duly elected by the voters. But some people just can't accept that and they are still having...

By Michael D. Shear  |  March 16, 2010; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell appoints Lohr agriculture commissioner

Gov. Bob McDonnell has appointed Del. Matt Lohr (R-Rockingham) as the next commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Matt understands the importance of agriculture to Virginia's economy,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "Virginia's farms don't just grow food; they also provide critically important jobs and revenue for our Commonwealth. I want an aggressive, experienced leader to head up the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is a crucial agency to the future prosperity of our state." Lohr, 38, was elected to his third term last November. McDonnell will set a special election to fill his seat in the Republican-leaning district when Lohr resigns. He will start his new job May 1. Lohr, a farmer, will replace Todd Haymore, who McDonnell promoted to secretary of agriculture and forestry. "I have been passionate about agriculture my entire life and have enjoyed being an advocate for it,...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 16, 2010; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Va. Republican congressional candidate: Not sure Obama born in U.S.

Ben Loyola, one of several Republicans competing in a 2nd congressional district primary in the Hampton Roads area to run against U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye (D), said in an interview posted on the blog Bearing Drift that he is not sure President Obama was born in the United States. When asked if Obama was a "natural born United States citizen," Loyola responded "I'm not sure, and that troubles me." Read the full interview. The interview from Va Blogger of Too Conservative was conducted in August 2009, but just posted online today. Loyola spokesman Joshua Clark said today that his boss's answers were accurate -- and that he answered that way because he doesn't know whether the president was born in the United States or not. Yesterday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) denied accusations that he is a birther, after audio posted online of him saying it is not "beyond the...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 16, 2010; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Anita Kumar , Glenn Nye  
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McDonnell to donate excess inaugural funds to charity, as state law requires

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has talked for the last couple of months about donating his excess inaugural funds to charity, and while everyone agrees that's a generous gesture, let's not forget that state law has changed and that's now required. A report released today by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics, shows that last year's statewide candidates actually raised far less for their inaugural festivities than their counterparts four years ago, who were able to hold onto the excess money by transferring it to political accounts. In 2006, Gov. Tim Kaine (D) transferred $800,000, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) transferred $168,000 and Attorney General McDonnell transferred $280,000. That money helped Bolling and McDonnell with their future runs and Kaine support other candidates. This year, McDonnell announced that he will contribute about $100,000 to charity, while Bolling and Cuccinelli raised exactly what they needed for...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 16, 2010; 3:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell will spend St. Patrick's Day in the nation's capital

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will spend part of St. Paddy's Day in Washington -- first at the White House and then with a bunch of reporters at one of the season's big journalism dinners. McDonnell will attend the St. Patrick's Day reception at the White House at 6 p.m. No word yet on who else is on the guest list -- for example, are other governors are invited or is it just the ones of Irish descent? McDonnell will then head over to Washington Convention Center at 7:30 p.m. for the annual Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner, where he will be a guest of NBC 4. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend dinner and up and coming comedian Joe Wong will entertain the crowd....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 16, 2010; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Perriello okays Senate bill abortion language, still undecided on health care

U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) announced in a statement today that he is satisfied that language in the Senate's health care bill will prevent federal funding for abortions, a condition for his support for health care legislation. In the statement, Perriello said he remains undecided about whether to back the whole bill, which could be put to a vote in the House this week. But he said he believes the Senate's language on abortion meets his pledge not to allow federal funding for abortions--and other provisions of the bill will result in fewer abortions. Perriello is considered Virginia's most vulnerable Democratic Congressman and both parties will be watching his votes carefully. He had previously backed the so-called Stupak Amendment to the House's health care bill, which not only prohibited federal funding for abortions but also would prevent some private individuals from getting coverage for abortions. Andy Seré, a spokesman with...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 16, 2010; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman , Tom Perriello  
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Lawmakers restore funding for erectile dysfunction drug benefit

State employees, have no fear -- thanks to the General Assembly, your health coverage will continue to cover drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) had recommended cutting funding for Viagra and similar drugs, as well as non-sedating antihistamines. According to budget documents prepared by his administration, eliminating coverage of the drugs while implementing a "90-day maintenance drug network" would have saved the state $6.8 million over the two-year budget. The General Assembly agreed to restore funding for the drugs, as you can see in Item 469 #C included as part of the conference report adopted Sunday. But are lawmakers squeamish? When Kaine recommended the cut, he spelled out the words "erectile dysfunction." But in the assembly's budget, the pills are referred to more obliquely as "ED drugs." No worries boys (and a few gals), we figured it out....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 16, 2010; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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More school-funding details from the two-year Virginia budget

This morning, Post Staffer Freddie Kunkle wrote about how Northern Virginia fared during this year's legislative session. (Answer: Badly -- but no worse than anyone else.) Interested in some more details? On the charts at the end of this document (pdf file), compiled by the Senate Finance Committee, you can see how every school district in the state will fare in each year of the two-year budget....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 16, 2010; 11:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli denies he is a 'birther,' says audio blog post is 'hypothetical'

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli (R) denied accusations Monday that he is a birther, saying that audio posted online of him saying it is not "beyond the realm of possibility" President Obama was born in Kenya reflected "a hypothetical legal answer" to a question. "I absolutely believe that President Obama was born in America. I don't buy into the claims that he wasn't," Cuccinelli told The Post in a statement. The Virginia politics blog NotLarrySabato had in the morning posted audio it obtained from a source who recorded Cuccinelli speaking during the post-election transition period: The full story by Garance Franke-Ruta and Rosalind S. Helderman is on the Washington Post's 44 blog....

By Garance Franke-Ruta and Rosalind S. Helderman  |  March 15, 2010; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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School funding formula benefits Northern Virginia but not other areas

Here's a corner of the budget that's likely to get a good hard look next year, when lawmakers do revisions on the second year of their two-year spending plan: In the budget approved Sunday, General Assembly agreed to "hold harmless" localities that lose out from updating the formula that determines state funding for local schools next year, but only 50 percent harmless in the following year. This won't have a big impact on Northern Virginia, but it will affect much of the rest of the state and it can't be long before we start hearing from local officials in those areas that will lose out from the decision. We'll explain....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 15, 2010; 3:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Thomas M. Davis III  
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Va. assembly increases fees to close budget hole but skips most controversial items

In this morning's story on the adoption of the state budget and the legislature's adjournment of its annual session, we talked a little about the fee increases agreed to by the House and Senate. How heavily to lean on fees had been a central budgeting question from early in the 61-day session for the legislature, particularly for Republicans who had promised not to raise taxes. In the end, the General Assembly accepted close to $100 million in revenues from increased fees--about 40 percent of what had been proposed by the Democratic-controlled Senate--but rejected some of the specific items that drew attention, including a new fee on phone lines. Sen. Edd Houck (D-Spotsylvania) was sure to mention during Sunday's briefing on the budget that Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) had not only accepted the fee increases in the budget but advocated on their behalf. McDonnell had said he could live with those...

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  March 15, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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McDonnell likely to call legislators back to Richmond for pair of special sessions later this year

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said he might call legislators back to Richmond for two special sessions later this year -- on transportation and government reform -- but only if he can first build support for his proposals. "I'm not going to put forth a half-baked proposal, have people complain and have it fail," he said in a recent interview in his office in the Patrick Henry Building. McDonnell said he will soon name the members of a commission on government reform and restructuring who will work to find savings in government. He said the group will conduct a "top to bottom" examination of state government, including privatizing state liquor stores, consolidating agencies and eliminating state reports. "There are some agencies I think that may have outlived their usefulness,'' he said. "Some have been around for decades and decades, centuries. We need to look at if there are smarter ways to...

By Anita Kumar  |  March 15, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Legislators act on thousands of bills during session before leaving town

The state's $4-billion budget shortfall garnered most of the attention, but the General Assembly considered thousands of bills during its 61-day annual session. 2,964 bills to be exact. They passed 1,597, killed hundreds of them and put off others until next year. Remember SB221? It would have prohibited homeowner associations from banning clotheslines. A House subcommittee killed the bill. Same with HB1115, which would have imposed 5-cent fee on disposable shopping bags. Check out our round-up of how major legislation fared. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) already has signed some bills, but has hundreds more to consider. Legislators will return to Richmond on April 21 for one day to act on the governor's amendments and vetoes....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 15, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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House, Senate pass Virginia's two-year spending plan

The General Assembly passed a two-year $82 billion state spending plan tonight that includes deep cuts to education, health care and public safety as legislators struggled to offset a $4 billion budget shortfall. "I cannot recall a budget that was a tough as this one," Finance Committee Chairman Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) told his colleagues, noting he's been a conferee for 19 years. The Senate passed the budget 34-6; the House passed it 73-23. Lawmakers have been dealing the worst economic downturn in decades. "Despite the fiscal challenges we faced, the House and Senate conferees started the conference committee with a shared commitment to approving a state budget that does not contain a tax increase,'' House Appropriations Chairman Lacey Putney (I-Bedford) said. Funding for schools will drop $646 million over the next two years; the state will also cut more than $1 billion from health programs. Class sizes will...

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman  |  March 14, 2010; 5:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli again explains his advice to colleges on gay policies

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote an op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch today to explain why he advised Virginia colleges and universities they should remove language dealing with sexual orientation from campus anti-discrimination policies. Cuccinelli, who attended the University of Virginia, writes that he thinks that no one should be discriminated against but maintains only the General Assembly can create "a specially protected class.'' "A public university simply lacks the power to create a new specially protected class under Virginia law,'' he writes. Read his full op-ed....

By Anita Kumar  |  March 14, 2010; 2:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Ken Cuccinelli  
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