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Virginia Politics Blog: August 15, 2010 - August 21, 2010

Va. judge delays ruling in Cuccinelli climate change case

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a vocal skeptic of global warming, went to court Friday as he continues investigating whether former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann manipulated data to show that there has been a rapid, recent rise in global temperatures.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2010; 4:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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McDonnell, first lady take on new title: empty nesters

The governor's mansion just got a little emptier. Gov. Bob McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell, are spending the weekend in Charlottesville to drop off their youngest children, Sean and Bobby, who will be students at the University of Virginia this fall. The boys, who are fraternal twins, plan to room together. "It's part of the cycle of life,'' the governor told reporters last night. "We've been raising kids for the last 29-and-a-half years and this is the first time we won't have kids living in the house. It'll be different but it'll be a little more quality time for my wife and I." Just last weekend, the McDonnells were in Blacksburg dropping off daughter Rachel, who graduated from James Madison University, and will attend Virginia Tech as a graduate student. Their other two daughters are grown. "That was a little tough,'' the governor said. "We didn't do too well...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Va. judge to hear Cuccinelli's demand for climate change researcher's records

A judge is set to consider Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's demand for records related to a former University of Virginia professor's climate change research.

By Washington Post Editors  |  August 20, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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McDonnell refutes Saslaw's claim that ABC privatization plan is DOA

Hours after Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) told reporters that Bob McDonnell's proposal to privatize the state's liquor system was dead on arrival, the governor shot back. "Look, I know Senator Saslaw just wants to raise taxes,'' McDonnell said."He's not really appeared to be that much interested in government reform, finding creative ways to raise new money so that we don't have to raise taxes." Saslaw said he doesn't think the proposal could pass the Senate -- maybe not even the Republican-led House. "I would say right now it would not pass, nor is it even close at least right now," he said....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Liquor privatization , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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McDonnell says Washington could learn something from Richmond

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in an interview on FOX Business Network that Washington could learn some lessons from Richmond, where he announced a budget surplus of $403.2 million Thursday. "They sure could,'' he said. "What we need to do is incentivize the free enterprise system which has been the strength of American democracy for hundreds of years to grow. I hope Richmond would be a model for Washington." McDonnell spoke to anchor Gerri Willis about what he attributes Virginia's surplus to, and about the state's economic outlook. "We took a very conservative, fiscal, practical approach to budgeting. You can't spend what you don't have," he said. "There is some light at the end of the tunnel but there is a lot of uncertainty. We're not at all out of the woods." See the full interview here: Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Rep. Connolly to slug to work

Northern Virginia U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly plans to play the part of a slug on Friday. As reported on the Post's Dr. Gridlock blog, the Democrat who is running for reelection to represent the 11th District says he plans to begin his day at 7:30 a.m. in the new Tackett's Mill commuter lot. He will take his place in the slug line and catch a ride into Rosslyn, where he'll switch to Metro and ride the rails to Capitol Hill and the Cannon House Office Building. Connolly, a former Fairfax County commissioner, plans to spend two weeks in slug lines, and riding commuter trains and buses to underscore his record of involvement with transportation. "I learned early in my career that it is important to have a dialogue with those who are most affected by our region's dubious distinctions of having some of the worst traffic congestion in the...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2010; 7:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Election 2010 , Gerald E. Connolly , Transportation  
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Speaker applauds budget surplus being spent on transportation

House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) welcomed the news Thursday that $32.7 million of the budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30 will go to transportation. A provision in the landmark transportation package that passed in 2007 required that a portion of future general fund surpluses go toward transportation. (In addition, another $27.7 million also will be spent on transportation.) "Like so many, I'm delighted that transportation is benefitting from today's announced surplus and that my Comprehensive Transportation Reform and Funding Act of 2007 continues to help facilitate progress on this core responsibility of state government," Howell said. Howell also applauded a reconfigured rail junction on Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor near Front Royal. It is the final of six capacity improvement projects in Northern Virginia that will help more trains travel at higher speeds and ease traffic congestion. "Mobility is a cornerstone of economic success for Virginia and...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate , Transportation  
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McDonnell's speech to the General Assembly on the budget

Below are Gov. Bob McDonnell's prepared remarks to the General Assembly's money committees this morning on the budget: Thank you. Chairman Colgan, Chairman Putney, Chairman Purkey, members of the General Assembly money committees, ladies and gentlemen: good morning. As is the custom each summer, I come to provide a summary of the recently concluded fiscal year, and some thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Seven months ago we met in the State Capitol for my first Address to the Joint Houses of the General Assembly. In my remarks I noted that, together, "...We must agree to put in place policies that will unleash the innovation and ingenuity of the people of Virginia, opening the way for a new era of prosperity and progress. It starts with policies to promote job creation and economic development." The only difference between that time and today is the temperature outside. Our...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2010; 1:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Virginia will spend surplus on state employee bonus, roads, bay cleanup

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Thursday that Virginia will spend its budget surplus on a bonus for state employees, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, transportation and education. McDonnell told legislators the state will spend $82.2 million on a 3 percent bonus for state employees, $18.7 million for education, $60.4 million for roads and $36.4 million for Virginia's Water Quality Improvement Fund, which is used for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. State employees have not received a raise since November 2007. Other money will be spent on previous obligated accounts, such as snow removal. McDonnell has until Nov. 1 to recommend to spend a remaining $87.5 million. Virginia ended the fiscal year with a surplus of about $403.2 million -- almost twice the previous estimate, state officials said earlier this week. About $228 million was generated through tax collections, and the rest through state agencies' unspent balances. Most of the money...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation  
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Bipartisan support for Va. troopers to enforce immigration laws

Three Virginia congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), are urging Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to grant Gov. Robert McDonnell's request to allow state troopers to act as immigration and customs agents. In a letter to Napolitano dated Wednesday, Republicans Frank Wolf and Rob Wittman and Connolly, who has pushed to fund the so-called 287g program in Congress, wrote of their support: "This proposed partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the Commonwealth of Virginia will improve information sharing, leverage federal and state resources, and above all, contribute to improved public safety." McDonnell has spent months trying to reach an agreement with the federal government to train and deputize troopers to make legal status checks and refer individuals for deportation. The superintendent of the Virginia State Police, the Virginia secretary of public safety and McDonnell's chief of staff have met with federal officials. Last week, McDonnell sent...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 18, 2010; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Frank R. Wolf , Gerald E. Connolly , Rob Wittman , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Davis, Pickett to lead McDonnell's military commission

Former U.S. representatives Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Owen Pickett (D-Va.) have been tapped to lead a new statewide military commission.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 18, 2010; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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In new ad, Perriello attacks Hurt for missing debate

Rep. Tom Perriello (D) is looking to take advantage of his opponent's failure to appear for the first general election debate in the 5th district, accusing state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) of being unwilling to answer tough questions about his positions.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 18, 2010; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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McDonnell spends $17,000 to erect 'Virginia: open for business' signs

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has made no secret that he wants Virginia to be known as the top state for business. So much so that he's decided to begin advertising it. Seventeen signs have been erected in strategic locations around the state, including near Richmond International Airport and the Beltway at the American Legion Bridge, proclaiming that Virginia is, indeed, open for business. The new "Virginia: Open for Business" signs are attached to existing cardinal welcome signs to cut down on expenses. The total cost of the project -- about $17,000 -- came from the Department of Transportation's operations and maintenance account. Installation began six weeks ago and was completed last week. Other locations include I-64 in Alleghany County, I-81 in Frederick County, I-85 in Mecklenburg County, I-95 in Greensville County, US 301 in King George County, US 13 in Accomack County, I-77 in Carroll and Bland counties, I-81 and...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 18, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Transportation  
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VDOT launches search for CFO; creates new high-level job

The Virginia Department of Transportation is searching for a new chief financial officer. Reta Busher, who began serving as CFO in 2007 under former Gov. Tim Kaine (D), has been asked to take on a new role. Greg Whirley, the new VDOT commissioner, has asked Busher to serve as chief of programming and planning, which will focus on "transportation planning and investment management." "In this capacity as Chief of Programming and Planning, Reta will draw upon her extensive experience in balancing available state and federal funding with statewide transportation needs,'' Whirley wrote to VDOT employees late Tuesday. "She will work closely with the Secretary of Transportation, localities and multiple agencies to develop a forward-looking transportation program and vision." Whirley, appointed last month by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), is looking to shape the massive, oft-criticized department. McDonnell had been looking for an outsider to head VDOT, conducting a national search for...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 18, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation  
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McDonnell asks Obama to halt closure of Joint Forces Command

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has asked President Obama to reject Defense Secretary Robert Gates's decision to close the Joint Forces Command, a military installation employing more than 6,000 in Hampton Roads. McDonnell sent a pair of letters to Obama and Gates at the same time that members of Virginia's congressional delegation and the mayors of Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach also sent letters opposing the closure. McDonnell said Gates did not consult with him as a member of the Council of Governors, nor did the decision go through the normal Base Realignment and Closure procedure. "Now is simply not the time to engage in reducing the war fighting capabilities of the United States military by reducing the resources required by the military to execute the mission assignments of this nation,'' McDonnell wrote to Obama....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 17, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Groups file brief supporting U.Va. in case against Cuccinelli

Four groups have filed an amicus brief asking a judge to set aside a demand from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents related to the research of a global warming expert once employed by the University of Virginia. Read the brief. The brief was filed Tuesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court by the ACLU of Virginia, American Association of University Professors, Union of Concerned Scientists and Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. "If the court permits the attorney general to gain access to the private communications among scientists whenever he disagrees with their ideas, the scientists will simply stop sharing their ideas," said Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. "The chilling effect on academic freedom and scientific inquiry is incalculable." Cuccinelli issued a civil investigative demand in April, demanding research documents and e-mails related to the work of climate scientist Michael Mann, who...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 17, 2010; 4:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Ken Cuccinelli  
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Va. budget surplus reaches $400 million

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) will announce Thursday that Virginia's final 2010 budget surplus will be about $400 million, almost twice the previous estimate, state officials said. About $229 million comes from tax collections. The remainder comes from unspent balances. Robert Vaughn, staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, said McDonnell will also announce how the money will be spent, including $82.3 million for a 3 percent bonus for state employees, $20 million for education and $35 million to $40 million each to transportation and water quality improvement. McDonnell will make the announcement in his speech to the General Assembly's money committees, scheduled for Thursday morning. In past years, former Democratic governor Tim Kaine's annual speeches have centered on budget cuts. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to comment. In July, McDonnell announced a surplus of about $220 million -- making Virginia one of at least 10 states that had reported...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 17, 2010; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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GOP poll gives Hurt 6-point edge over Perriello

Rep. Tom Perriello (D) trails state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) by 6 points in their closely-watched 5th district race, according to a recent poll taken by a Republican-leaning group

By Ben Pershing  |  August 17, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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Planned Parenthood urges McDonnell to accept federal money for sex education

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia is urging Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to apply for a federal grant to teach comprehensive sex education instead of abstinence-only education. The group sent out an alert to supporters across the state last week and is encouraging them to contact McDonnell to ask him to apply for money for a program that would include information about disease and pregnancy prevention as well as abstinence. Already, 589 emails have been sent to the governor's office. The program would "provide much-needed revenue to teach medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education programs,'' according to the alert sent to supporters. The Obama administration recently made money available for the sex education program without requiring a state match. In previous years, the only money available was for the abstinence-only program that included a state match....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 17, 2010; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia creates panel to reform health care, cut costs

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has created a task force designed to curb health care costs while trying to improve services. The impetus for the Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council was the federal health care package, which McDonnell opposed, but the group will do more than just figure out ways to implement the law (should Virginia lose its lawsuit against the federal government). The governor introduced the 24-member panel, comprised of legislators, health professionals, doctors and insurers, at a news conference Monday afternoon at the Capitol. The announcement came the same day the state Bureau of Insurance received $1 million from the federal government to improve its oversight of health insurance cost increases. "What I have asked them to do is come up with a uniquely Virginia approach to health care improvement and systematic reform -- not just insurance reform but in fact health care reform,'' he said. "I'm hoping...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell, unlike Obama, opposes mosque at Ground Zero

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, joining others across the country, said Monday that he opposes the construction of an Islamic complex near New York's Ground Zero.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 4:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell , Sarah Palin  
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Webb calls for congressional hearings into defense cuts in Virginia

Sen. Jim Webb (D) Monday called for the Senate Committee on Armed Services to hold hearings on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to shutter the Joint Forces Command, a military installation employing more than 6,000 in Hampton Roads. "The requested hearing should address the full scope of the initiatives that Secretary Gates announced, to include the significant growth in the size of the DoD and military departments' staffs from the department's creation until the present day," Webb wrote in his letter. "Although many of the Secretary's directed actions appear to be well within his authority, others are more properly addressed as part of the normal budgeting and programming cycle." Webb, a committee member and chairman of the personnel subcommittee, called Gates's lack of prior consultation with Congress on his recommendations "deeply troubling." Last week, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, at the request of Rep....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Gerald E. Connolly , James Webb , Mark Warner  
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McDonnell tries to increase small, women and minority business procurement

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) formed a board to boost state purchases from small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell, Bolling headline fundraiser for Florida's Marco Rubio

Virginia's top two Republicans, Gov. Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, will headline a fundraiser next month for Marco Rubio of Florida, a conservative who is challenging his state's sitting governor for a U.S. Senate seat. The Sept. 16 reception will take place at the Hanover Tavern, a historic restaurant and theater outside Richmond. Tickets to the general reception are $35, but packages that include access to the VIP reception, recognition at the event and in the program go for up to $2,400, the maximum allowed in a primary or general election under federal law. View the invitation. Rubio, the former speaker of the Florida House who is considered a rising star in his party, had mounted a formidable challenge against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary. But in April Crist announced that he would run as an independent. Update: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli previously headlined a...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 16, 2010; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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