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Virginia Politics Blog: January 23, 2011 - January 29, 2011

Cuccinelli says Fairfax can't charge for AP courses

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) says its illegal for public schools to require students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses to pay the AP course fee.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 28, 2011; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Fairfax County, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: McDonnell remakes Virginia Board of Elections

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed former Florida elections chief Donald Palmer as Secretary of the State Board of Elections on Friday, replacing Nancy Rodrigues, whose term expires Tuesday. Palmer was director of elections with the Florida Department of State, where he helped supervise the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 mid-term elections. Prior to that job, Palmer served as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, where he enforced the federal voting laws and provided guidance to states on compliance with the civil rights laws. He also worked for former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) who lost his election in 2008 after his Democratic opponent played up his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. McDonnell also named Charles E. Judd, former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, and Kimberly T. Bowers, who formerly worked for Gov. Tim Kaine (D), to the three-member board. The appointments already have...

By Anita Kumar  | January 28, 2011; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Cuccinelli says state grants to charities are unconstitutional

Virginia may not give state funds to private charities as Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has proposed in a series of amendments to the two-year budget, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said in an opinion issued Friday. Cuccinelli (R) was responding to a request by Del. John M. O'Bannon III (R-Henrico) who asked on behalf of constituent Norman Leahy, who has been critical of the proposed spending on the blog Tertium Quids. Leahy believes contributions to private groups violates a section of the Virginia Constitution that giving tax dollars to charitable organizations not controlled by the state. "The attorney general has issued an opinion that the Constitution of Virginia does not permit giving state funds to non-state agencies,'' O'Bannon said. "Regardless of one's views on the merits of including such funding in the budget, it is imperative that we follow the provisions of the Constitution. It would be a mistake to...

By Anita Kumar  | January 28, 2011; 1:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Budget, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, State Senate  
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Cuccinelli: Too soon to say if Va. could impose ban on gays in state guard

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) has concluded that the state could, legally, impose a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the Virginia National Guard--but his legal opinion on the issue suggests a ban that runs counter to the policies of the rest of the U.S. military may not be very wise.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 28, 2011; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Virginia General Assembly sets primary elections for Aug. 23

The Virginia General Assembly has agreed to hold primary elections in legislative races this year on Aug. 23. The legislative action was necessary because the state generally holds primary elections on the second Tuesday in June. But holding primaries this year on June 14 could run up against legislative redistricting, which the General Assembly will attempt at a special session in April. The legislature must redraw its districts every 10 years in response to census results. Because Virginia is covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it must also submit its plans to the U.S. Justice Department for approval before voting can begin. The Senate adopted an emergency bill on Friday to set primary elections in August. The bill has already passed the House of Delegates and could now be signed into law by the governor at any time....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 28, 2011; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  !Elections, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Wolf demands report on ICE database

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thursday, requesting a prompt report on an apparent shortcoming in the agency's electronic databases, namely the fingerprints of many people deported from this country before 2005. A report in Thursday's Washington Post detailed the case of Salvador Portillo-Saravia, who was deported to El Salvador in 2003, but returned to Northern Virginia at some point later. In November of last year, he was arrested and taken to the Loudoun County jail, which participates in the federal Secure Communities program. Secure Communities electronically checks the fingerprints of all arrestees against the databases of both the FBI and ICE, and is used by every jail in Virginia, as well as in Prince George's County and some other counties in Maryland. But when Portillo-Saravia was checked through Secure Communities, Loudoun and ICE officials said, no match was found. He was released....

By Tom Jackman  | January 28, 2011; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Frank R. Wolf  
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Bill to encourage autism treatment clears House panel

A bill sponsored by a Northern Virginia Republican that would require health insurers to cover the cost of a certain form of therapy for young autistic children cleared a House committee on Thursday, filling advocates with some of the strongest hope yet that the measure could pass the General Assembly. "We're absolutely thrilled," said Pat DiBari, president of the Virginia Autism Project. "This is a great success for the autism community." The bill sponsored by Del. Thomas A. "Tag" Greason (R-Loudoun), would require health insurers to pay for a specialized therapy known as applied behavioral analysis, as well as occupational, speech and other therapies, for children two to six years old. The annual maximum benefit would be set at $35,000. A similar measure sponsored by Sen. Janet Howell is in committee....

By Freddy Kunkle  | January 27, 2011; 7:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates  
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House panel kills bill banning guns in Virginia Capitol

"Something bad might happen some day; I don't think we can legislate against every bad thing," Gilbert said.

By Freddy Kunkle  | January 27, 2011; 6:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Arlington County, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates  
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Radtke speaks to Senate Tea Party Caucus on Capitol Hill

Jamie Radtke, a U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia and co-founder the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, called on President Obama and Congress to cut federal spending when addressing the of the Senate Tea Party Caucus Thursday morning.

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2011; 4:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2012, U.S. Senate  
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Moran: GOP won in 2010 because 'a lot of people' don't want black president

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) is once again drawing attention for making controversial comments to the press, after the told the Arab television network Alhurra that the GOP won in November because many Americans don't want a black president.

By Ben Pershing  | January 27, 2011; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (196)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, James P. Moran Jr.  
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Va. transportation chief says state did its best to deal with snowstorm

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said Thursday that state officials responded as "best as we could under the circumstances'' of Wednesday's storm that dropped as much as nine inches in parts of Northern Virginia. Connaughton said transportation department workers were stymied by rain that washed away pre-treated salt from roads and an earlier -than-anticipated rush hour when the federal government let employees go two hours early. An enormous number of cars were abandoned on roads, which state police have been towing. "When you have the most congested region in the country...bad things are going to happen,'' he said. As of early Thursday morning, 500,000 customers had no power in Northern Virginia and 200 traffic signals were out. Connaughton said that as of 10 a.m. all interstates in the state were clear while other roads had minor problems and icy patches....

By Anita Kumar  | January 27, 2011; 1:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation  
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Virginia lawmakers battle human trafficking

"We can't call them pimps anymore," Wilson said. "But if I call him a trafficker--because he's actually making mobile, one person from one location to another -- that's trafficking. Now, guess what -- we can bring in the RICO Act."

By Fredrick Kunkle  | January 27, 2011; 8:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Frank R. Wolf, General Assembly 2011  
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Appeals court to hear Va. health-care suit in May

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) says Virginia and lawyers for the Obama Administration jointly asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to speed the hearing process and have agreed they will file opening briefs in the matter on Feb. 28, response briefs on March 28 and reply briefs on April 11.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 26, 2011; 4:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: Conservation groups oppose McDonnell's transportation plan

A trio of conservation and smart growth groups announced Wednesday their opposition to Gov. Bob McDonnell's to issue $2.9 billion in bonds for transportation.

By Anita Kumar  | January 26, 2011; 2:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate, Transportation  
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Colgan sides with Republicans on parliamentary dispute

Republicans in the state senate complaining that some of their bills are not receiving hearings in full committees found an unlikely ally Wednesday: Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William).

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 26, 2011; 2:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Bills would make emissions tests easier in congested NoVa

A proposal being considered by the General Assembly would allow Northern Virginia motorists to complete their bi-annual emission inspection by driving past remote sensing emissions sites as part of a move to a faster, more convenient way to get their car tested.

By Anita Kumar  | January 26, 2011; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, State Senate, Transportation  
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Senate Democrats propose worker retraining, preference for Virginia contractors

Senate Democrats highlight a package of bills at a news conference Wednesday, as they work to show that they have a unified vision for addressing what they acknowledged every poll shows is Virginian's top priority--creating jobs.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 26, 2011; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Debate over state grants to charities continues

How to explain a budget amendment proposed this year by a leading member of the Republican caucus, Sen. William Wampler (R-Bristol) to fund a private charity, after his caucus proposed eliminating all such funding?

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 26, 2011; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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GOP cries foul over Democratic refusal to hold full committee vote on repeal amendment

Republicans in the state senate are accusing Democrats who control the chamber of trampling on the minority party's rights, as Democrats on the Senate's Privileges and Elections committee refused to hear a series of GOP-priority bills Tuesday that had already died in subcommittee.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 25, 2011; 6:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Va. House passes states' rights measure

Virginia's House of Delegates on Tuesday struck another largely symbolic blow against centralized power in Washington, D.C., by endorsing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow two-thirds of states to cancel federal laws and regulations. For supporters, Del. Jim Le Munyon's proposal, HJ542, offers a way of restoring balance in a federalist system in which the central government has overstepped its powers for decades. Skeptics, however, view the proposal as something like "nullification lite," a throwback to the 19th century disputes over whether a state had the power to ignore a federal law. In his floor speech, LeMunyon (R-Fairfax) said the amendment would give states more oversight over a federal power so gargantuan that Congress cannot even effectively oversee it, and allow states to opt out of thousands of laws and regulations that often conflict and smother commonsense solutions to everyday problems. To illustrate, he cited the difficulty...

By Frederick Kunkle  | January 25, 2011; 6:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2011  
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Webb still hasn't decided on 2012, won't take bait from Allen

Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he still has not decided whether to run for reelection in 2012, and he declined to get drawn into a war of words against the man he beat in 2006 -- ex-Sen. George Allen (R).

By Ben Pershing  | January 25, 2011; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, George F. Allen, James Webb, U.S. Senate  
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Del. Hugo holding up Arlington funding over HOT lanes suit

Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) is holding up about $1 million in potential tourism dollars for Arlington because of the county's HOT lanes lawsuit, in particular because the county is suing federal and state officials as private citizens, he said. A bill, sponsored by Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington), which would renew an existing surcharge paid by Arlington hotel guests is sitting in Hugo's finance subcommittee, as was first reported on Not Larry Sabato. The county has reportedly spent more than $1 million on a federal lawsuit filed in 2009 against both federal and state Departments of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and top officials at the time, including Pierce Homer, a former Virginia secretary of transportation. The suit alleges that the agencies did not fully evaluate the environmental impacts to the communities surrounding the project on I-95/I-395. "If they have so much money to spend on frivolous, intimidating, abusive...

By Christy Goodman  | January 25, 2011; 3:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Arlington County, Christy Goodman, Fredrick Kunkle, General Assembly, Transportation  
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Area members get in on the bipartisan seating act for State of the Union

The bipartisanship bug has infected the Washington-area congressional delegation, as local lawmakers are scrambling to find seatmates from across the aisle for Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

By Ben Pershing  | January 25, 2011; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, Eric Cantor, Frank R. Wolf, Gerald E. Connolly, James P. Moran Jr., James Webb, Mark Warner  
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Legislators want to limit future debt

Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw wants to Virginia's constitution that would cap the amount of debt the state could take on the future, but he says he is not targeting Gov. Bob McDonnell's current proposal to bond $2.9 billion over the next three for transportation.

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 25, 2011; 2:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate, Transportation  
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U-Va. taps McDonnell as commencement speaker

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will deliver the commencement address at the University of Virginia on May 22. U-Va.'s new president, Teresa Sullivan, made the selection from nominations forwarded by students and faculty. "We are honored and delighted to have Governor McDonnell as our commencement speaker," Sullivan said in a statement. "His participation will add to the significance of the day, and our students and parents will certainly enjoying hearing his remarks." McDonnell has delivered several graduation addresses as attorney general and governor, but this is his first at the state's flagship university. His two sons, Bobby and Sean, are first-year students in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences. "The governor was honored to receive the invitation to deliver the commencement address at Mr. Jefferson's University,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "He has always enjoyed visiting the grounds, something he does much more often now that his twin boys are first-years...

By Anita Kumar  | January 25, 2011; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell to testify on Capitol Hill about job creation

Gov. Bob McDonnell will head to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to talk about his favorite topic -- jobs.

By Anita Kumar  | January 25, 2011; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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George Allen's campaign team

Former senator George Allen, who officially announced he was entering the race for U.S. Senate next year, has started to assemble a campaign. Here are some of the people who have joined the team so far: Terry Hauser, director of the Virginia liaison office for Allen when he was governor, is policy director. Betsy Beamer, secretary of the commonwealth for Allen when he was governor, is an adviser. Katie Wright, deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, is a spokeswoman. Boyd Marcus, the lead consultant in Allen's successful races in 1991 for Congress and 1993 for governor, is a consultant. Dan Allen, communications director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2004 cycle when Allen was chairman, is an adviser. Dan Allen's firm, Scott Howell & Co., is the media consultant. John McLaughlin, is the pollster. Abbey Farris of Richmond-based Benedetti and Farris, is the fundraiser....

By Anita Kumar  | January 24, 2011; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Webb, U.S. Senate  
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Proposed bill addresses Leesburg utility rate dispute

A bill introduced into the General Assembly on Friday seeks to provide a permanent solution to a years-long dispute over water and utility rates in Leesburg.

By Caitlin Gibson  | January 24, 2011; 2:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Caitlin Gibson, General Assembly 2011, Loudoun County  
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Tiki Barber visits Virginia legislature

Football star Tiki Barber made an appearance at the Virginia General Assembly on Monday, part of the lineup of Virginia sports heroes honored with induction into the Virginia Sport Hall of Fame this year.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 24, 2011; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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5 Democrats sign on to sponsor McDonnell's transportation bill

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has successfully persuaded two leading Senate Democrats to sign on as co-sponsors of his transportation package, significantly boosting its chances of passage in the Democrat-led chamber. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William) and Vice Chairman R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania) had both said encouraging things about the plan, which would involve spending $2.9 billion in borrowed cash on roads, along with $150 million of the state's $403 million surplus. In separate bills, the governor has also proposed diverting $140 million in sales tax revenue -- generated in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia and now spent on other government services -- to roads in those regions. But now the two have taken their support a step further and agreed to co-sponsor the legislation -- as have Sens. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk), Phillip Puckett (D-Russell) and William Roscoe Reynolds (D-Franklin) - as well as a number of Republicans....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | January 24, 2011; 12:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Allen officially enters race for U.S. Senate

Former senator George Allen (R) officially announced in an e-mail to supporters Monday that he is running to reclaim his old job next year.

By Anita Kumar  | January 24, 2011; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Webb, U.S. Senate  
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Bill would allow McDonnell to appoint member to Metro board

Gov. Bob McDonnell would have the power to appoint a member to the Metro Board of Directors, under a bill proposed by a Northern Virginia delegate.

By Anita Kumar  | January 24, 2011; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation  
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Allen to announce Senate run Monday

Former senator George Allen (R) will officially announce Monday that he is running to reclaim his old job next year, according to sources close to Allen who were not authorized to speak publicly on his plans. The former Virginia governor will announce his candidacy to supporters through an email and online video before filing his candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission so he can begin raising money. But he will not launch his campaign publicly until later this year, probably Thomas Jefferson's birthday -- April 13 -- the formal start of his last two U.S. Senate races. On Sunday, the homepage of his Website simply read: "Stay Tuned." Allen spokesman Tim Nussbaum did not return messages Sunday. Allen's candidacy would thrust him into a tough primary fight for the Republican nomination against several possible candidates running to the right of him and a possible rematch with Sen. James Webb...

By Anita Kumar  | January 23, 2011; 8:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (77)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2012, George F. Allen, James Webb, U.S. Senate  
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