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Virginia Politics Blog: April 18, 2010 - April 24, 2010

McDonnell plants a tree, celebrates Virginia's rivers

Gov. Bob McDonnell helped plant an American hornbeam -- a tree native to Virginia -- along the banks of the James River today as part of event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Virginia Scenic River Program. During this year's legislative session, the General Assembly passed bills designating 81 additional river miles as scenic -- the most miles added at one time in the program's history. The program now includes 28 river segments totaling 610 miles. "From the Blackwater in the coastal plain to the Jordan and Hughes east of the Blue Ridge in Rappahannock County to the Russell Fork that cascades through the mountains and valleys of Southwest in Dickenson County, the rivers designated as scenic this year are a microcosm of Virginia's waterways,'' McDonnell said. "Virginia's rivers are one of our most unique resources, contributing to Virginia's economic vitality, beauty, and quality of life." (Photo Courtesy of Michaele...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 23, 2010; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell  
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Lawyers' group: McDonnell plan to change felon voting rights process needs federal approval

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has written a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to ask why Virginia has not obtained preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act to implement changes to the state's process to allow felons to get their voting rights restored. The letter cites an April 11 Washington Post article that reported Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) may require nonviolent offenders to submit a letter to him outlining their contributions to society since their release as part of their application. McDonnell's office has said more recently that no decision has been made on the changes, and that an announcement will be made in the coming weeks. "Virginia...may not implement any change in a 'voting qualification or prequalification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting' unless and until preclearance is obtained from either the United States Attorney General or...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 23, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli, Voting Rights Act  
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Virginia First Lady to honor programs that build local communities

Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell began to flesh out areas that will be her policy focus for the four years her husband is governor today, announcing a program to recognize Virginians giving back to their communities in certain areas. Dubbed the First Lady's Initiatives Team Effort, or FLITE, McDonnell said she would formally induct programs that have had particular impact on their communities into an "Opportunity Hall of Fame" in November. Programs recognized will be those that have had special impact in local communities in the areas of preventive health and wellness, economic development (particularly wine, film or tourism), military families or women. McDonnell will launch a website to highlight successful programs and help Virginians interested in replicating them. "These are all areas close to my heart. By reaching out into our communities to find individuals, groups, teams or organizations making an impact, we will begin to bring recognition and...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 23, 2010; 3:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Anne Holton, Tim Kaine, Virginia  
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McDonnell to speak to North Carolina Republicans

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will head south to headline a speech in North Carolina to a group of Republicans Saturday night, according to the Raleigh News & Observer . In reporting the fundraiser, the newspaper based in a state that has its own complicated history with race focuses on McDonnell's recent mistake in declaring April Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery. "The Wake County GOP, fresh off a school board election victory that touches on sensitive racial issues, is bringing in a political figure involved in a Confederacy flap to help them raise money.'' the newspaper writes. The dinner at the State Fairgrounds will raise money for the county party. Tickets cost $100 per person, $180 per couple, with sponsorships up to $1,000. McDonnell's staff has said that the governor has been invited to dozens of political events across the state and the nation since being sworn in Jan. 16...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 23, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell  
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Louisiana oil rig fire could play role in Virginia drilling debate

There's no word yet on the cause of Wednesday's explosion on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, where 11 workers are missing. But the disaster is already affecting the politics of off-shore oil drilling elsewhere, including Virginia. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who has been a leading opponent of coastal drilling, is calling for an investigation into what caused the Louisiana fire. "The tragedy off the coast of Louisiana shows we need to be asking a lot more tough questions of big oil," Nelson said today, according to the Associated Press. "I think we need to look back over 10 years or so to see if the record denies the industry's claims about safety and technology."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 23, 2010; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bill Nelson, Drilling rig, Louisiana, Oil well, Virginia  
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UPDATED: Legislators reject McDonnell ethics amendment; governor mulls bill

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told reporters last night that he was unlikely to veto any bills this session even though there are a few that he doesn't like too much. He has 30 days to make a decision. If there is a possible candidate for a veto, here it is: the ethics bill. Legislators rejected McDonnell's amendment to HB 655 to end the public investigation into a legislator and send the case to the attorney general if the lawmaker has left office. McDonnell made it clear in a chat with reporters late last night that he thought lawmakers had made a mistake in rejecting his change. "I think it would be faster, more efficient. It made perfect sense to me," he said. "What you have is more political. I think that really is undermining that process." Updated: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Matin said the governor will not veto the bill....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 22, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Senators present indomitable Colgan with gavel from marathon session

Remember U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and his gavel? (Dingell, Congress' longest-serving member, lent the gavel he used to preside over Congress' approval of Medicare in 1965 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to preside over the House's recent health-care vote. He's been taking the gavel to public appearances ever since, including a recent one on the Daily Show.) Now Virginia Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William), the state Senate's longest-serving member, will have a gavel of his own. Colgan presided over Wednesday's marathon one-day legislative session, which did not adjourn until 9:45 p.m. He was called to the rostrum after Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), the Senate's usual presiding officer, got stuck at an economic development conference in Florence, unable to fly back to the United States because of flight cancellations due to ash from the Icelandic volcano. Colgan, 83, got rave reviews all around for his endurance and steady...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 22, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  | Tags: Bill Bolling  
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McDonnell looks for ways to speed up rights restoration process

As Gov. Bob McDonnell looks to make good on his campaign promise to restore the civil rights of felons faster than any previous governor in recent history, he asked legislators to expand the Virginia Parole Board, which is responsible for conducting the applicants' background checks. McDonnell (R) is revamping the system for felons to have their rights restored as he works to process every application within 90 days. He said he will announce the changes in the next few weeks. The GOP-controlled House approved McDonnell's proposed budget amendment, but the Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly rejected the change at the General Assembly's one-day reconvened session Wednesday....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 22, 2010; 3:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Despite a few losses, McDonnell claims success on most issues with one-day legislative session

So what was the scorecard for Gov. Bob McDonnell at Wednesday's reconvened session of the legislature? The vast majority of McDonnell's proposed changes to 122 bills and 96 amendments to the state's two-year budget cleared both chambers of the General Assembly. (Ninety-two percent, raved his office in a news release put out shortly after the Senate finished action and adjourned at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday.) "I want to commend the legislature," McDonnell said in a late-night meeting with reporters shortly after the legislative conclusion. "They were overwhelmingly supportive."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 22, 2010; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Va. legislature votes to restrict abortion funding

Gov. Bob McDonnell scored a victory tonight when the General Assembly voted to restrict state aid for certain types of abortions. As expected the Republican-controlled House passed the measure overwhemingly. The Democratic-led Senate voted 20-19. The amendment to the state budget proposed by McDonnell would limit state funding for abortions to those performed in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. Nothing in state law had previously banned Medicaid-funded abortions in instances when the health of the mother was in jeopardy. McDonnell, a Catholic who has long opposed abortion and who had been lobbied since taking office by social conservatives to restrict funding for the procedure. He argued that his proposal would bring Virginia into line with federal law on the issue, recently restated by an executive order signed by President Obama. "Tonight, the Commonwealth of Virginia finally joined the majority of states...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 9:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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GOP-led House kills McDonnell's amendment on euthanizing dogs

House Speaker Bill Howell tonight ruled out of order Gov. Bob McDonnell's amendment on euthanizing dogs -- essentially killing one of his fellow Republican's priorities. Howell said the amendment, which would have prohibited pounds from euthanizing dogs based only on their breed, was not germane to an underlying bill that dealt with penalties assessed for animal cruelty. The decision led to a lot of ribbing of the speaker, a close friend of McDonnell's, who had not publicly parted ways with the governor since his inauguration. (Howell also voted against one of McDonnell's amendments today.) House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong asked the speaker if he was sure he wanted to rule that way. "I don't think you're getting invited back to the mansion, Mr. Speaker,'' Armstrong (D-Henry) quipped. "That's okay,'' Howell responded. In 2006, McDonnell, then attorney general, issued an opinion that public animal shelters could not euthanize dogs based solely...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 8:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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General Assembly restores cuts to public broadcasting

Legislators tonight restored $2.2 million in budget cuts to public TV and radio that had been been proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) last week. Broadcasters statewide had argued in recent days that the funds should not be trimmed because most state aid to public broadcasting is actually used to teach children in public schools. McDonnell had recommended trimming money from two funds -- but only one is earmarked for education, according to the governor's office. He proposed cutting more than $1.6 million from an account designed to pay for education over two years and nearly $600,000 from another to pay for programming in the second year of the two-year budget (keeping $1.9 million the first year and $1.3 million the second year). The Republican-controlled House restored the $1.6-million. Hours later, the Democratic-controlled Senate restored the $600,000. The Senate also killed a McDonnell proposal that would have stopped state officials...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 8:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Cuccinelli issues rare praise for EPA in stormwater case

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli praised the Environmental Protection Agency this afternoon for its enforcement of stormwater runoff violations by a homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, which has agreed to pay $1 million and take steps to prevent run-off as part of a settlement agreement with the EPA. Yes, really. Since taking office in January, Cuccinelli has gained a reputation as a leading antagonist to the EPA, suing the agency over its attempts to regulate greenhouse gases. But the EPA alleged Hovnanian stormwater run-off violations occured in Virginia (as well as 17 other states and the District of Columbia), and the Commonwealth will share in the penalty money, along with the District of Columbia, Maryland, and West Virginia. All were plaintiffs in the suit. The settlement agreement is designed to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. And Cuccinelli wants to make clear, he's on board with those goals. "Working with the...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 21, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Attorney General of Virginia, Environmental Protection Agency, Hovnanian Enterprises, United States Environmental Protection Agency  
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McDonnell's former brother-in-law speaks at gay rights rally

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's former brother-in-law, who is transgendered, was one of several speakers at a rally outside the Capitol today pushing for a state law to provide protections for workers based on sexual orientation. Robyn Deane said she decided to go public today to offer her former brother-in-law help in coming around on his views on gay rights issues. "I believe Bob is in a unique position,'' she said in an interview. "I want to help him." Deane, 55, of Richmond, was married to First Lady Maureen McDonnell's younger sister, Ellen, for 17 years. The couple divorced 1999 and has three children, ages 26, 22 and 19. About 50 protesters, many wearing red, gathered under umbrellas and rain coats at a rainy rally in Capitol Square held by the gay rights group Equality Virginia. They urged legislators to "Don't Hate/Legislate," asking that lawmakers change write legal protections for gay...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Gay Lesbian and Bisexual  
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Protesting 'Confederate' proclamation, lawmakers wear black ribbons in memory of slave ancestors

Some members of the Virginia General Assembly, gathering in Richmond for a one-day session to consider amendments to legislation proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), are wearing black ribbons in memory of ancestors who were held in slavery. The move was prompted by McDonnell's proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month. When first issued, the proclamation did not include reference to slavery. McDonnell has subsequently apologized repeatedly for what he called a "major omission" and amended the proclamation to include reference to slavery as an abomination and the cause of the Civil War. "This is why I can celebrate Confederate History Month," said Del. Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton). "I am celebrating the thousands of African slaves brought to this Commonwealth for forced labor and in spite of societal restrictions and countless tribulations, they became some of the most learned men of all time. Yes, they found a way out of no...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 21, 2010; 12:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Confederate History Month, Virginia General Assembly  
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Updated: Members of black caucus want more communication from governor, but not necessarily a meeting

Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, in town for the legislature's one-day reconvened session today, said Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) needs to do a better job of reaching out to them before he makes decisions on important issues. "It would be nice if the governor would meet with the caucus beforehand -- not do things, get in trouble and then call us,'' Del. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) said. In recent weeks, members of the black caucus have criticized McDonnell for declaring April Confederate History Month and revising the rights restoration process for nonviolent felons. But sources in governor's office say McDonnell has been trying to set up a meeting with the caucus for weeks with no success. During the 60-day session that ended last month, McDonnell invited the caucus to the governor's mansion for dinner but many members did not show. Del. Kenny Alexander, caucus chairman, said that was because...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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McDonnell's proposed budget cuts to public broadcasting include education

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is asking legislators to slash $2.2 million in state aid to public TV and radio when they return to the state Capitol Wednesday for their one-day reconvene session.

By Anita Kumar  |  April 21, 2010; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Hampton Roads, Television, Virginia  
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Police investigate suspicious package addressed to Va. Sen. Jim Webb

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that police evacuated a building in downtown Richmond this morning after a suspicious package was delivered there addressed to Sen. Jim Webb. According to the Times-Dispatch, the package arrived at a building two blocks away from Webb's own Richmond office. Police would not say what made them call the package suspicious but said it did not appear to be a threat at the scene. It was removed from the area and is being analyzed, they said. Will Jenkins, a Webb spokesman, said the matter is being handled by law enforcement and his office has no information....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 20, 2010; 7:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell sets June 15 special elections to fill vacant House seats

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has set special elections to fill vacancies in the House of Delegates in the 26th and 27th districts for June 15. Voters will choose successors to Del. Matthew J. Lohr (R-Harrisonburg) and Del. Samuel A. Nixon Jr. (R-Chesterfield). Both resigned from the House to take jobs in McDonnell's administration--Lohr as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Nixon as Chief Information Officer for the state. According to McDonnell's office, interested candidates must file to run for the seats by May 14. Chesterfield optometrist Roxann Robinson, a member of the GOP, has indicated she will run for Nixon's seat, which is considered solidly Republican. Lohr's district has also been reliable for the GOP. A number of candidates from both parties have said they are interested in that seat....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 20, 2010; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Virginia House of Delegates  
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Mayors press Warner, Webb to support closing gunshow loophole

Gun-control advocates are making a full-court press for a federal law to close the so-called gun show loophole, rules that allows gun purchases from private vendors at gun shows without background checks. First, several family members of victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings signed a full-page ad in the Richmond Times Dispatch Monday calling on Virginia Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner to back legisation. Today, a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching a national television campaign urging passage of the bill. The mayors include New York's Michael Bloomberg and Richmond's Dwight Jones. The ads will begin running today and will last into next week, airing on national cable news channels as well as in local markets in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. They note that both Sen. John McCain and President Obama have voiced support for changing the gun show law and, in Virginia, urge...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 20, 2010; 4:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  James Webb , Mark Warner , Rosalind Helderman , Virginia Tech massacre  | Tags: Mark Warner, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Michael Bloomberg, Virginia Tech massacre  
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McDonnell camp does not deny Virginia might drop from Race to the Top

Gov. Bob McDonnell's office is not exactly shooting down a recent report from Post reporter Nick Anderson, which indicated that Virginia education officials are thinking about withdrawing their application for federal Race to the Top funds. All McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson had to say when asked to respond to the story was that the "the administration is reviewing the issue, and we will have further comment in the coming weeks." The notion that Virginia might withdraw from the competition, which awards big federal grants to states trying innovative education techniques, is intriguing. After all, McDonnell (R) repeatedly praised President Obama during the campaign for the Race to the Top program, with its emphasis on merit pay for teachers, raising student achievement standards and charter schools. And McDonnell urged the General Assembly to adopt a package of education proposals that will make it easier to start new charter or virtual schools...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 20, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Race to the Top, Virginia  
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It's official: Bolling will not be back from Italy in time legislative session

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will not be back in Virginia in time to preside over the state Senate when the General Assembly returns for a one-day session Wednesday, his chief of staff Randy Marcus said this afternoon. Bolling is stranded in Italy because of the ash from an Icelandic volcano that has crippled air traffic across much of Europe. Bolling's flight from Florence, scheduled for Tuesday night, was canceled. He was able to book a flight from Florence through Frankfurt to Dulles airport on Thursday. The General Assembly will return to the state Capitol for the one-day session to consider Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's (R) proposed amendments to 123 bills, including the state budget. Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), who as president pro tempore of the Senate will preside in Bolling's absence. Bolling serves as the tiebreaking vote in cases of deadlock in the 40-member chamber, which...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 20, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bill Bolling, Virginia General Assembly  
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Updated: McAuliffe travels to Cuba to promote Virginia products

The Washington Post's Thomas Heath reports that former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe launched his own trade mission to Cuba last week with several Virginia businessmen. McAuliffe journeyed to Cuba from April 12 through 15, where he persuaded the Cubans to accept more Virginia poultry, apples and soybeans -- and, for the first time, Virginia wine. "There is a tremendous opportunity to create jobs in the U.S. by doing business in Cuba," said McAuliffe, who chaired Hilary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton. "Most importantly, we got them to agree to open up the market for Virginia wines. We are going to export Virginia wines to Cuba for the first time ever." The group met at the Havana offices of Alimport, the Cuban entity that signs all contracts with U.S. food and agriculture companies which sell to Cuba. McAuliffe, 53, said the...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 20, 2010; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe  | Tags: Cuba, Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Terry McAuliffe  
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Update: McDonnell orders flags to fly at half-staff for Height

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) ordered all state flags to fly at half staff in honor of Richmond native Dorothy Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement who died Tuesday. "A Virginian, Ms. Height demonstrated the incredible good that can be accomplished by a passionate individual advocating a just cause,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "As president of the National Council of Negro Women, she was the leading female civil rights leader of her time. Presidents sought her counsel and Americans learned from her example and intellect. ... We have lost a great Virginian and American. Today I order all state flags to fly at half staff in honor of Dorothy Height, and I ask all Virginians to pause in remembrance of her life and her legacy. Our nation is a better place because of Dorothy Height." Update: The commonwealth of Virginia will actually fly the flags...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 20, 2010; 12:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , James Webb , Robert F. McDonnell  
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D.C. region's three leaders agree: Metro needs to be safer

It was sort of like the Three Tenors of Washington politics, the way that the leaders of the Washington metropolitan area's three principal jurisdictions met Tuesday morning in Alexandria, and then appeared in front of cameras and spotlights to harmonize on the subject of regional cooperation. Their theme was making Metro safer after a series of crashes, including the deadliest crash in the system's history last June. All three -- Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty -- took turns agreeing that Metro's safety record is bad, and that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the agency that runs Metro, needs better management. All three agreed that they wanted to have better oversight over WMATA's management and the people they appoint to run it. All three were more than a little vague about how this would happen, except to say they would ask...

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  April 20, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle  | Tags: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority  
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Bolling assures gala attendees he is hard at work in Italy

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) were both on hand at the Richmond Convention Center Monday night to address the annual gala of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. The two politicians praised the University of Virginia-based program for offering nonpartisan public policy and political training to aspiring candidates, government officials, college and high school students. They called for more civility in public discourse. That was also the theme of a speech from a larger-than-life Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) who delivered remarks via video on an enormous screen. That's because Bolling is attending an economic development conference with his wife in Florence. Bolling went for laughs in the video, recorded before he left the country, complaining that he was being forced to miss the fun at the Sorensen gala because of the tough Italy trip. "While you're partying in Richmond, rest assured, I'm working hard...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 20, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Bill Bolling, Bob McDonnell, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, University of Virginia  
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Governor's daughter to be crowned apple blossom queen

Each year, organizers of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester search for the daughter -- or granddaughter -- of a prominent family to be their queen. In 1975, they tapped President Ford's daughter, Susan. In 1993, they selected the granddaughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, Elizabeth. Three years later, they picked the daughter of actor Michael Landon, Shawna. This year, they looked to Virginia's new first family. Rachel Lynn McDonnell, 21, the middle daughter of Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will be crowned the 83rd queen of the festival during a coronation ceremony April 30. Kay Bolliger, a past president of the festival and a co-chair of its celebrity department, described Rachel McDonnell as a "gracious, articulate young woman." Rachel McDonnell will preside over the festival's events, between April 23 and May 2, including of course the Grand Feature Parade on May 1. She will graduate from...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 20, 2010; 8:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell announces members of economic development commission

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the members of the Governor's Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission, which he created through Executive Order Number One on inauguration day. The commission will hold its first meeting next month and will complete its report Oct. 16. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the state's chief jobs creation officer, and Bob Sledd, the governor's senior economic adviser, will serve as co-chairmen. Members include Cabinet secretaries, legislators and a variety of influential business leaders from across the state. "By looking for additional ways to make Virginia a more competitive state and invest in proven economic development and job creation programs, we can strengthen our reputation as the most pro-business state in America, and secure the capital investment and jobs we need to provide the people of Virginia with greater economic security," Bolling said in a statement. The full list of members:...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 19, 2010; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Bolling stranded in Italy, likely to miss Wednesday's reconvene legislative session

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is stranded in Italy and is unlikely to make it back to preside over the Senate Wednesday when the General Assembly returns for its one-day session, Bolling's chief of staff Randy Marcus said this afternoon. Bolling's flight from Florence scheduled for Tuesday night was canceled because of the volcano ash from Iceland that has created havoc in trans-Atlantic air traffic. His office has consulted with top United Airlines officials, the National Guard, the Virginia Department of Aviation and charter officials, but has been unable to get a flight earlier than next Tuesday. "It's a very real possibility he will not be back,'' Marcus said. The lieutenant governor's office informed Gov. Bob McDonnell and the clerk's office. The Senate, which Democrats control by a slim 22-18 margin, will take up a number of sensitive topics Wednesday, including an amendment to state budget on abortion funding that...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 19, 2010; 3:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bill Bolling  
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UPDATED--VaTech families: Webb is committed to closing gun show loophole

A group of six victims and family members of victims of the 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech is pushing Virginia Sens. Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D) to endorse a bill pending in Congress that would close the so-called gun show loophole, requiring anyone who purchases a firearm at a gun show to undergo a background check. Currently it is possible in some states, including Virginia, to purchase guns from private vendors at gun shows without a background check. In a full-page ad in today's Richmond Times Dispatch, six family members write that Webb committed to them in a private meeting that he supported the change in law. They called on him to "deliver on your promise" and endorse legislation on the issue. In an interview, Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was injured in the shootings, said the group met with Webb on May 22, 2009 in his...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 19, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Jim Webb, Mark Warner, Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech massacre  
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McDonnell announces new top administration staffers

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) released the names of new staffers he has hired in the areas of natural resources and health and human resources. Dianne Reynolds-Cane will serve as director of the Department of Health Professions, James Stewart as commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Douglas Bevelacqua as inspector general for Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in the Office of the Inspector General. McDonnell reappointed three natural resources agency heads: Kathleen Kilpatrick as director of the Department of Historic Resources, Steve Bowman as commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Jack Travelstead as deputy commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. He also asked Bob Duncan to continue to serve as director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and reappointed Karen Remley as state health commissioner. Read the full release....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 19, 2010; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Virginia Marine Resources Commission  
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McDonnell defends his changes to ethics legislation

As we told you before, even some lawmakers acknowledge that the ethics bills passed by the General Assembly last month might not do much to halt the questionable behavior that some of their colleagues have engaged in. House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) asked Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to strengthen the ethics bills through amendments before the legislature returns Wednesday. He now says the governor weakened the main bill instead. One of McDonnell's proposed changes would end the public investigation into a legislator and send the case to the attorney general if the lawmaker has left office. "It puts real teeth in it -- get it right to the statewide official that can actually do something about it,'' McDonnell told reporters. "This will create more sanctions, more quickly if there's bonafide misdoing." Armstrong doesn't agree. He thinks the investigation should continue until its conclusion and should remain in public --...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 19, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  | Tags: Bob McDonnell, Ward Armstrong  
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McDonnell announces his first independent audits for state agencies

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) this morning announced that he will begin a series of audits designed to improve performance and efficiency of Virginia's transportation agencies. "Before we can talk about revenues or additional investments of public and private capital into our highways, work is needed to improve public confidence in our ability to manage our current transportation dollars,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "We must restore the credibility of our transportation programs in the eyes of the General Assembly and the general populace. Thorough independent audits are the first step in that process." McDonnell signed bills Thursday that allowed him to conduct the audits, which will cost less than $500,000. The General Assembly had considered -- but failed to pass -- the audits for a number of years....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 19, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate , Transportation  | Tags: Virginia Department of Transportation  
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