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Dominion Plan for New Gas-Fired Power Plant Would Worsen the Climate Crisis

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 12:14:19 PM EDT

Statement from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on Dominion's latest bull****:
RICHMOND-Dominion Resources, already the top emitter of planet-heating greenhouse gas pollution in Virginia, announced a proposal this morning to build a new 1,600-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Southside Virginia. If approved, the plant would be the largest gas-fired power plant in the state.

Kirsten Collings, deputy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, had the following statement in response:

"You can't solve the climate crisis by investing in more fossil fuels. A growing body of evidence shows that fracked gas could be worse for the climate than coal over the next 20 years because of leaks of heat-trapping methane. Governor McAuliffe has his facts wrong in endorsing this project as 'clean,' just as he did when endorsing Dominion's massive Atlantic Coast pipeline for fracked gas.

"The reality is that Virginia simply doesn't need and can't afford new investments in fossil fuels. Dominion could more than offset the need to build a new gas-burning power plant by investing in modest energy-saving technologies that would reduce demand along with Virginians' utility bills. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Virginians pay the 7th highest average electric bills in the nation, and our state ranks near the bottom on energy efficiency. Dominion should invest in the commonwealth's vast clean energy resources, which would create jobs, lower bills and reduce emissions of climate-disrupting pollution."

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Another Candidate Set to Jump in Dem Primary to Succeed Sen. John Watkins?

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 10:25:18 AM EDT

In the race to succeed retiring State Senator John Watkins (R-SD10), the candidates currently listed on VPAP are: Dems Emily Francis (a strong progressive and environmentalist, Dan Gecker (who has run as an "I" in the past and who says his political hero is Ronald Reagan); Republican Glen Sturtevant; and Libertarian Carl Loser. In the Dem primary, since the strongest progressive and environmentalist by far is Emily Francis, you just know who the Dem "powers that be" (e.g., Dick Saslaw, who despises progressives and environmentalists with a burning passion) would be supporting the conservadem, and you'd be right.

But now, a major wild card is rumored to be entering the race, and it could mess up all of the "powers that be"'s well-laid plans. That would Alex McMurtrie, a former Republican (correction: the Washington Post article I linked to was wrong, McMurtrie was a Democrat, although it's easy to confuse, as his campaign slogan reportedly was "Conservative Alex McMurtrie" - lol) House of Delegates member (back in the 1980s), now, who last ran (as an "I") and got crushed by John Watkins (R), who's now retiring, back in 1999.

Who knows what the guy really is now, but he donates to both Rs and Ds. Anyway, I hear from sources that he turned in his petitions yesterday to run as a Democrat in the primary for the SD-10 Dem primary. This could be fascinating, as it means two white, male, conservadems will be running, along with a woman who happens to be a progressive and environmentalist. Also, McMurtrie is by all accounts "loaded" in terms of money. So...could McMurtrie split the votes with Gecker and gives Francis a clear path to winning this primary? We can only hope. Stay tuned.

P.S. I also hear our old friend Paul Goldman may be involved in the McMurtrie race. Goldman's really got to be giving Dick Saslaw heartburn these days, and I can't say that doesn't put a smile on my face. :)

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Video: Courageous Stafford County Parent Gives Impassioned Plea for Respect of Transgender Student

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 17:36:24 PM EDT

Last night, the Stafford County School Board, prior to voting, took public feedback on a debate over transgender students' bathroom access. For some background,  see Think Progress, which explains:
Hartwood Elementary School, part of the Stafford County school system, started by accommodating the student's identity. She was allowed to use the girls' room per her gender identity and in consultation with her parents. When another parent complained, the district's Executive Director of Human Resources, Rick L. Fitzgerald, released a message on behalf of the district referring to recent guidance from the Department of Justice that indicates that the "sex" protections under Title IX protect transgender students' use of facilities that match the gender with which they identify. Allowing the fourth-grader to use the girls' room was simply the district complying with the law.

...The transgender student's father, Jonathan Adams, also testified. He admitted to having some of the same misconceptions when the child he thought was his son insisted she was a girl. "And then I watched my little girl grow up," he said. Adams proclaimed that he was "very proud to have a special little girl," and implored others "not to trade understanding for fear or trade misconceptions for hate."

Later in the evening, however, the school board voted 6-0 to direct the superintendent to restrict the girl's bathroom use.

Also interesting were the comments by the public. For the entire debate, most of which involved parents opposed to allowing the transgender student (who identifies as female) to use the girls' bathroom, see here. The video I've included is of a courageous parent (of two students in the Stafford County school system) delivering and impassioned plea for respect and tolerance for the transgender student. Sadly, her pleas feel on deaf ears...
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Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 06:32:16 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, March 26. Also, courtesy of Stafford Dem Marc Broklawski, check out the "'greatest hits' compilation of extreme Tea Party testimony bullying the Stafford School Board into abandoning Title IX." It's kinda like watching Faux "News" or Glenn Beck or something. And no, that is NOT a good thing! Ugh.

*Slandering solar is not about protecting taxpayers, but utility's monopoly status (By former Rep. Barry Goldwater, Jr.)
*Saudi Arabia launches heavy strikes in Yemen
*Pilot reportedly locked out of cockpit as plane crashed
*Bowe Bergdahl, once-missing U.S. soldier, charged with desertion
*Opinion analysis: A small victory for minority voters, or a case with "profound" constitutional implications?
*Should Your State Be Able to Ignore the Nation's Most Important Pollution Law? ("Republicans think so." And of course, yet again, they are wildly wrong.)
*Obama's Very Smart Reason for Being So Tough on Netanyahu (Agreed, stay the course.)
*McAuliffe to sign state budget with no amendments or vetoes ("A year after Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly engaged in a bitter, three-month standoff over adopting a budget, the governor on Thursday is expected to sign a revised budget without any amendments or line-item vetoes.")
*Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to veto about 20 bills (He should have vetoed or heavily amended the Dominion bill too.)
*Rep. Beyer set to replace Rep. Van Hollen as DCCC finance chair
*Dominion plans to build natural gas power plant in Southside (Again, they should first and foremost be maxing out energy efficiency, which they most certainly are not, and also renewable energy, before building any new fossil-fuel power plants.)
*Morrissey announces Senate bid, vacates House seat ("Del. Joe Morrissey, I-Henrico County, on Wednesday formally announced his bid for state Sen. Rosalyn Dance's seat in the 16th Senate district. As required by state law, Morrissey vacated his seat in the 74th House of Delegates district.")
*McAuliffe orders Va. ABC officers to be retrained in use of force, diversity
*Budget to take Beach forward ("The knee-jerk response to a proposal - by anyone, anywhere - to increase taxes by 6.4 percent is NO. It's particularly true in Virginia Beach, where the city manager has recommended increasing the real estate tax rate to 99 cents per $100 worth of property. Residents are unconvinced of the need.")
*SCOTUS Alabama decision may affect Virginia election maps
*Mother, daughter from Virginia on flight that crashed in French Alps
*Editorial: Morrissey isn't getting state political leaders' hints
*Temperatures in 70s Thursday, showers likely; snow possible Friday night

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SCOTUS Ruling on Alabama Racial "Packing" Could Be Important Precedent for Virginia Cases

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 12:58:16 PM EDT

Today's Supreme Court decision on racial gerrymandering invalidates an Alabama redistricting plan that packed minority voters into  majority-minority districts. What "packing" African Americans does is to basically guarantee an African-American will be elected in the "packed" district(s), but that African Americans' voting power will be diluted everywhere else.

Here in Virginia, this issue came to a head last fall, when three federal judges ruled "that the lines of the state's 3rd Congressional District were drawn in violation of the U.S. Constitution" and "ordered the General Assembly to redraw them by April 1, in time for the next congressional election in 2016."

The 3rd District is the only one of Virginia's 11 congressional districts with an African American majority. It has been represented since 1992 by Rep. Bobby Scott, a Newport News Democrat who is unopposed in the Nov. 4 election.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges agreed with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed a year ago that the congressional redistricting plan adopted by the Republican-controlled Assembly in 2012 amounted to racial gerrymandering, packing African American voters into Scott's district and leaving adjoining districts safer for their Republican incumbents.

In order to comply with the panel's ruling, the legislature might have to pull some Democratic-leaning voters out of Scott's district and redistribute them to surrounding districts, possibly creating less-hospitable electoral terrain for Republican Reps. Randy Forbes of Chesapeake and Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach.

Note that in 2012, Barack Obama lost the 4th CD (Forbes' district) by just 1 point, while Tim Kaine narrowly won it. Thus, a shift of even a few points could make Randy Forbes' political life a lot less cozy. Same thing with Scott Rigell, whose second district Barack Obama narrowly won in 2012.

Meanwhile, yet another Virginia lawsuit accuses "the General Assembly of 'racial gerrymandering' by packing black voters into 12 of the state's House of Delegates districts." For that reason, "[t]he plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the challenged districts invalid and to block the state from holding elections because of the disputed districts." If plaintiffs win this case, it could lead to the redrawing not just of the affected districts, but also potentially surrounding ones as well. And that, in turn, could have significant consequences for the balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates. Not surprisingly, House of Delegates Republicans are in no hurry to deal with this situation, and would clearly prefer that it just go away. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for those who dislike racial gerrymandering and "packing," that's not likely.

Bottom line: Today's SCOTUS ruling has potentially big implications for Virginia, because Rep. Bobby Scott's case is factually similar, as is the House of Delegates case.  

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Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly Slams House GOP Draconian Budget

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 24, 2015 at 17:57:24 PM EDT

So true!
Mr. Chairman, this year's Republican Budget Resolution is incredulously titled "A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America." But by every measure, the draconian cuts proposed in this budget would severely WEAKEN America's innovative advantage and competitiveness. It might as well be called "Let's Disinvest in America".

Consider the cuts to basic research, once a bedrock federal priority that has spurred new discoveries that are now vital in our daily lives and the economy. R&D is critical for my Northern Virginian district, where the technology community is driving innovation. But this Republican budget would slash R&D funding by 15% to its lowest levels since 2002. That is a retreat from America's role as the global innovation leader, and essentially cedes the playing field to our international competition.

Similarly, the Republican budget would disinvest in our classrooms. To achieve their ruse of balancing the budget over 10 years, Republicans would cut non-defense spending 24% below the already-reduced sequester levels. For K-12 education, that translates into an $89 billion cut over the next decade and would surely leave every child behind their international peers. It also would put higher education further out of reach for low- and middle-class families.

America did not ascend to its role as the world's leading economy by quashing the potential of future innovators and leaders.

Mr. Speaker, our Republican colleagues are once again showing they know the cost of everything and  the value of very little. I often hear my colleagues lament that we should run government more like a business. Well, if that's the case, perhaps we should start by listening to the business community, which is advocating for us to invest more, not less, in R&D, in education, and in infrastructure for the future workforce and the building blocks of a competitive economy.

These are investments that yield tremendous returns for our families, for our children, for our future, and the Republican budget would eviscerate these pillars of America's exceptionalism.

I yield back

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Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 06:37:40 AM EDT

Here are a few Virginia and national news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, March 25.

*How American journalists deal with climate deniers ("The basic mental model that has governed U.S. journalism for decades - two mirror-image sides, each with their moderates and extremists, engaging in normal politics - is crumbling and it's not clear what journalism will look like when the dust clears.")
*Oil And Gas Giant BP Cuts Ties With Conservative Group ALEC
*Obama: Remarks dim prospects for Palestinian state (Thanks in large part to the right wing, both in Israel and their misguided supporters here.)
*Black box damaged in German jetliner crash
*Satellite scientist cited by Ted Cruz disagrees with him on climate change (Cruz just lies and lies and lies and lies and...)
*Ted Cruz going on Obamacare (Almost seems like an "Onion" headline for this lying hypocrite and Joe McCarthy-style demagogue.)
*Liberals, Conservatives, and Jobs ("Republicans...are desperately trying to claim that the economic recovery now underway is an illusion. They can't handle the truth.")
*Editorial: Gov. McAuliffe should impose a moratorium on the death penalty
*Ruling could mean delays for Atlantic Coast Pipeline (How about delaying it forever? Stupid idea by a bunch of greedy people.)
*Vetos likely for bills on home-schooled athletes, absentee ballots (Good on both!)
*Navy response to Islamic State "hit list" frustrates families
*U-Va. board approves 11% increase in tuition, fees for in-state freshmen ("The plan will also lower borrowing caps for those in need by $10,000.")
*Jeb Bush donates $10,000 to state GOP (Guess who wants to win the Virginia Republicans primary? LOL)
*Report: Va. governor received special treatment from Homeland Security ("DHS's now-No. 2 official intervened for Terry McAuliffe, who sought visas for investors in his company.")
*Our view: What police didn't say in the UVa rape report
*A better way to pick judges in Virginia ("Judgeships shouldn't be patronage positions, yet that's what they've routinely become; after leaving elected office, state lawmakers themselves frequently end up years - or, in some cases, months - later working full time in the judiciary.")
*Martese Johnson's education happened on that sidewalk ("He asked 'How could this happen?' as he was violently arrested. But he needed to have known before then.")
*Fairfax county attorney lays out plans for change after Geer controversy
*Schapiro: ABC bust of Martese Johnson spotlights alphabet soup of cop shops
*U-Va. sought inquiry into gang-rape claim 6 months before magazine story
*Editorial Charlottesville police, justice department reports are cautionary tales
*Morrissey claims unfair treatment as he bids for Senate seat
*Virginia Beach's arena development is moving at a slow crawl
*David Lambert announces run for Morrissey's seat
*A chance of passing showers today ahead of Thursday's burst of spring

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Dominion/Atlantic Coast Pipeline Suit Dismissed in Suffolk Circuit Court

by: pontoon

Tue Mar 24, 2015 at 17:18:03 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

In May, 2014 Dominion Transmission sent letters to property owners from West Virginia to North Carolina requesting to survey private property for the proposed natural gas pipeline known then as the Southern Reliability Project. Many landowners refused, including approximately 70% of landowners in Nelson County.

In December, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation, began suing landowners who had refused to allow Dominion Transmission to survey. The first of these cases was heard today in Suffolk Circuit Court. Below is a press release from Chuck Lollar, the attorney who argued the case for a landowner in Suffolk who had refused the survey.   Suffice it to say, neither Dominion nor the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC are happy this evening. On the other hand, many landowners across the Commonwealth are celebrating, including Heidi Cochran, a landowner in Nelson County who called us this afternoon to alert us of this victory in court.

A Virginia court today dismissed the petition of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC against a Suffolk property owner represented by Chuck Lollar of the law firm of Waldo & Lyle, which exclusively represents property owners only in eminent domain and property rights matters.

The Court heard arguments from Mr. Lollar and ACP attorney John Wilburn on the constitutionality of Virginia Code § 56-49.01.  Mr. Lollar argued that because property is now specifically referred to in the recent amendment to Virginia's Declaration of Rights (Article 1 Section 11 of the Constitution) as a "fundamental" right, ACP is required to show a compelling governmental interest and no lesser restrictive alternative to the requested entry;  and that applying the required strict scrutiny ACP had not alleged nor could establish either.  Mr. Lollar also noted that ACP was not a Virginia public service corporation and did not have the extraordinary power of eminent domain.

ACP was proceeding under § 56-49.01 in seeking a court order allowing entry to survey and take soil and other samples from private property, prior to filing its application with FERC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity.  The Court did not have to rule on that constitutionality of § 56-49.01 due to the Court's  conclusion that Atlantic Coast Pipeline had neither requested permission from the owner to enter nor sent the owner notice of intent to enter, both of which are prerequisites to actual entry under § 56-49.01. The Court further held that Dominion Transmission, Inc. could not assign to ACP its sending of letters requesting permission and giving notice to owners,  in order for ACP to have met those requirements.

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How Are Virginia Dems Doing So Far in House of Delegates Recruitment?

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 24, 2015 at 16:06:54 PM EDT

A few weeks ago, I posted a graphic showing Virginia's House of Delegates districts, ranked in descending order by the percent that AG candidate Mark Herring received in 2013. Now, I'm well aware that turnout in 2015 will be even lower than 2013 (a statewide/governor's election year), but it's still a more accurate baseline, IMHO, than any "even year" election.

Anyway, what this ranking showed was that there are currently 12 House of Delegates districts where Mark Herring received 50% or greater in 2013, yet are held by Republican delegates. There are also two 49% Herring districts, two 48% Herring districts, two 47% Herring districts, and four 46% Herring districts currently held by Republican delegates. So how are we doing (e.g., how are House Minority Leader David Toscano and Del. Alfonso Lopez, Campaign and Political Chair of the House Democratic Caucus) in terms of recruitment in these districts so far?

According to VPAP, we now have a (super-strong) candidate, Jennifer Boysko, in the 86th district, where Del. Tom Rust has announced his retirement. Nothing's an automatic, but that one looks like a superb pickup opportunity for Democrats this November. We also have candidates in the following districts:

*HD-87 (56% Herring district): Democrat Jack Tiwari vs. Del. David Ramadan
*HD-32 (54% Herring district): Democrat Elizabeth Miller vs. Del. Tag Greason
*HD-42 (53% Herring district): Democrat Joana Garcia vs. Del. Dave Albo
*HD-13 (51% Herring district): Democrat Don Shaw vs. Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall
*HD-12 (50% Herring district): Democrat Laurie Buchwald vs. Del. Joseph Yost
*HD-21 (50% Herring district): Democrat Susan Hippen vs. Del. Ron Villanueva
*HD-50 (50% Herring district): Democrat Kyle McCullough vs. Del. Jackson Miller
*HD-94 (49% Herring district): Democrat Shelly Simonds vs. Del. David Yancey
*HD-100 (49% Herring distirct): Democrat Willie Randall vs. Del. Rob Bloxom
*HD-28 (48% Herring district): Democrat Kandy Hilliard vs. House Speaker Bill Howell (let's hope Tea Partier Susan Stimpson wins that primary!)
*HD-40 (47% Herring district): Democrat Jerry Foltz vs. Del. Tim Hugo

All in all, not too shabby, and we still have time to recruit candidates in remaining potentially competitive, House of Delegates districts. In the end, this could turn out to be an excellent year in terms of recruitment. The question is whether we'll be able to adequately fund these candidates, as Republicans started off 2015 with a big money advantage for House of Delegates.

The remaining top House of Delegates recruiting priorities, as far as I can tell, are: 1) someone to challenge Del. Jim LeMunyon in his 54% Mark Herring district (in 2013, Democrat Hung Nguyen got 45.3%); 2) ditto for right-wingnut extraordinaire Del. Scott Lingamfelter, in his 52% Mark Herring district (last time around, Jeremy McPike lost by just 228 votes; not sure why he's not trying again this year!); 3) ditto against Del. Rich Anderson in his 50% Mark Herring district (Democrat Reed Heddleston got 46% in 2013).

One other seat worth noting is the 2nd, a 56% Mark Herring district being vacacted by Del. Michael Futrell. Our candidate there is Roderick Hall, who will take on former Del. Mark Dudenhefer.  

P.S. I just read this morning that "Political newcomer Chuck Hedges, a Democrat, will challenge incumbent state Del. David LaRock (R) in this year's House of Delegates 33rd District election." That's a tough district (44% for Mark Herring in 2013), but what the heck, you can't win if you don't play!

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10 Out of 11 Members of Virginia House Delegation Sign Letter to President Obama on Iran

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 24, 2015 at 10:57:18 AM EDT

Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced that 367 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had signed and "released a bipartisan letter to President Obama underscoring the 'grave and urgent issues that have arisen' relating to the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran." The actionable part is at the end (see blockquote below), following a list of Iran's transgressions (e.g., " Iran has still not revealed its past bomb work, despite its international obligations to do so;" "Iran's decades of deception," and "Iran's destabilizing role in the regio").  The letter also states a clear demand that any agreement with Iran "must constrain Iran's nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting."
The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation, imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.

Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of grave importance to our nation's security. As the Administration continues to negotiate with Iran, we are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies. We remain hopeful that a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon may yet be reached, and we want to work with you to assure such a result.

The Iran letter was signed by 10 out of 11 members of Virginia's House delegation, the only non-signatory being Rep. Don Beyer. I'm curious why Beyer didn't sign (I emailed his office late yesterday but haven't heard back), while the other two Virginia Democrats - Gerry Connolly and Bobby Scott - did. Personally, I can see reasons for signing and for not signing. Although I don't really disagree with anything in the letter, the question is whether it is helpful, harmful, or where exactly in between those two?

P.S. For a list of the 59 House Dems and 6 House Republicans who didn't sign the letter, click here -- a mixed bag ideologically, geographically, etc.  

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Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 24, 2015 at 06:28:03 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, March 24. Also, check out Joe Morrissey saying he'd be willing to caucus with far-right-wing State Senator Tommy Norment and the Republicans if he is elected to the State Senate. Yet ANOTHER reason not to vote for this slimeball.

*Ted Cruz wants to bring his aversion to compromise to the 2016 fight (The LAST thing this country needs is someone as extreme as Ted Cruz.)
*Meet Ted Cruz's Karl Rove: "He Leaves a Path of Destruction" ("As Cruz's 2016 rivals will soon find out, Jeff Roe is infamous for his 'ruthless' tactics.")
*367 House Members Send Letter on Iran Nuclear Negotiations to President Obama (The letter is here. As far as I can tell, 10 of 11 memmbers of the Virginia House delegation signed, the only exception being Rep. Don Beyer.)
*Netanyahu Apologizes; White House Is Unmoved (I wouldn't believe a word Bibi says on anything.)
*Smithsonian Stands By Wildly Misleading Climate Change Exhibit Paid For By Kochs (Totally unacceptable.)
*Warner, Kaine call for crude by rail safety investments
*Liberty lets Cruz crash McAuliffe speech date
*Editorial: Did Sen. Kaine start political climate change?
*15 Hampton Roads sailors on Islamic State "hit list"
*Our view: Will there be a Republican presidential primary in Virginia?
*Charlottesville police: No evidence found of gang rape at U-Va. fraternity
*Police chief: No evidence that UVa gang rape took place
*Editorial: Shameless Joe Morrissey refuses to go away
*Deep feud splitting Virginia's GOP evident in party's fundraising woes ("Split between the tea party and a less-conservative faction, the state's GOP is struggling financially.")
*Tyler, Thomas drop out of running for Watkins seat ("... leaving Richmond School Board member Glen Sturtevant as the likely Republican nominee.")
*Under bill, college transcripts would note misconduct ("A bill on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's desk would require schools to mark the transcripts of students involved in misconduct, in hopes of stopping sexual predators from transferring schools.")
*UVa fraternity exploring legal options regarding Rolling Stone story
*Suing Rolling Stone might be a 'colossal mistake' for the U-Va. frat
*Attorney: Va. student in bloody arrest to plead not guilty
*Legislation proposes to remove ABC's law enforcement powers
*24th District Republicans want to shut down primary
*Morrissey moved outside of his district - but plans to stay put in the House
*Va. Beach real estate tax rate could rise by 6 cents
*Fairfax police commission begins work with emotional pleas for results
*A chance of flurries early today; warming up to the 70s on Thursday

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Rep. Beyer Joins Gov. McAuliffe and HHS Sec. Burwell in Arlington on 5th Anniversary of ACA

by: lowkell

Mon Mar 23, 2015 at 17:45:53 PM EDT

What amazes me about the Affordable Care Act is how it's worked out so well, even better in some ways than people had predicted, and how Republicans were were wrong about pretty much every aspect of what would happen. Now, just imagine if Republicans had been cooperative, instead of obstructionist, how many more people could have health insurance coverage right now under Medicaid expansion, etc. It's truly disgraceful how Republicans have acted, as well as bizarre, given that the ACA was modeled heavily after their own plans and proposals (e.g., Romneycare).
Fifth Anniversary of Affordable Care Act

March 23, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Representative Don Beyer joined Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, along with local officials, leaders, and consumers in Arlington this morning to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

"Historians will one day write that the Affordable Care Act was the single most important act of moral leadership in the early 21st century," said Rep. Beyer. "Emancipation, women's suffrage, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act - each a bold move to expand upon the idea that all Americans have the equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"But we still have more work to do. Especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is no denying that we badly need Medicaid expansion. We are lucky to have a true champion, fighting the good fight in Richmond. Governor McAuliffe has been courageous and relentless - and one day soon he will prevail, and the amount of human suffering he will banish is almost beyond imagination."

Governor McAuliffe's plan expands access to care, improve care for veterans and those with severe mental illness, and enhance value and innovation across our health system in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Healthy Virginia Plan provides health insurance to as many as 25,000 Virginians, however more than 400,000 Virginians will continue to be uninsured as long as Medicaid expansion is not passed through the General Assembly.

Over 16 million Americans have gained quality, affordable health insurance since the ACA became law. More than 11 million Americans were able to sign up or re-enroll through the Marketplace during this year's Open Enrollment. Nearly 80 percent of 2015 Marketplace customers using HealthCare.gov purchased coverage for $100 or less after tax credits.

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Shutdown Ted Un-Ironically Announcing Campaign in Virginia

by: lowkell

Mon Mar 23, 2015 at 09:11:56 AM EDT

From DPVA:

Ted Cruz couldn’t have picked a worse place than Virginia to launch his soon-to-be-failed campaign for president. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that over 80% of Virginians overwhelmingly disapproved of his government shutdown – a political tantrum Cruz still threatens to repeat today. Virginia, home to thousands of federal workers and military personnel, was more affected than any other state by his dangerous antics.

Cruz would happily keep thousands of Virginians from their jobs and paychecks just to show his opposition to affordable healthcare. Meanwhile, in the Lynchburg area alone, there are over 11,000 Virginians languishing without access to quality care thanks to his national right-wing movement against closing the coverage gap.

“Ted Cruz is remarkably tone-deaf to launch his campaign in Virginia, of all places, after engineering the government shutdown that kept thousands of Virginians from their jobs and cost the national economy $24 billion,” said Robert Dempsey, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “His policies are wrong for the Commonwealth and wrong for the middle class, from repealing all corporate income taxes to opposing a living wage and affordable healthcare. Ted Cruz can take his shutdown politics elsewhere -- Virginians know better than to take him seriously.”

Ted Cruz is the embodiment of everything wrong with today’s Republicans: all he’s done is oppose and obstruct help for the middle class through his bombastic outbursts and unwillingness to govern. Shutdown Ted is starting off on the completely wrong foot coming to a state disproportionally hurt by his partisan brinksmanship to launch a campaign for more of the same. 

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Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Mar 23, 2015 at 06:32:44 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, March 23. Also, check out the video, which shows what a success the Affordable Care Act has been, and how Republicans were wrong about basically everything (as usual).

*Andy Borowitz: Disturbed Man Tries to Get Into White House (That would be craaaazy Ted Cruz, of course.)
*Ted Cruz Is About To Announce For President. Here's What You Need To Know About Him. (e.g., denies climate science and "Fears a United Nations plot to ban golf courses." Also remember, this nutjob was in Arlington for St. Patrick's day with fellow right wingnuts Ken Cuccinelli and Pete Snyder.)
*Why Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., is the perfect launchpad for Ted Cruz
*Inequality hypocrisy ("The GOP's problematic budget proposals." The Republican budget would make income inequality much, much worse.)
*Ready for Hillary ready to step aside as she prepares campaign
*20 Obamacare Stats Republicans Don't Want You to See ("A routine check-up finds that health care reform is alive and kicking. For now.")
*Laushkin and Bailey: The Gospel and clean air ("The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for Virginia not only to protect creation from the peril of climate change, a peril that has already reached our shoreline, but also to create jobs and a clean energy future that will make the commonwealth more prosperous.")
*Legislative sssion a mixed bag for immigrants
*Traitors? ("Virginia's other senator, Tim Kaine, was even more critical of his colleagues across the aisle. He called their letter foolish, disrespectful, extremely counterproductive and ridiculous. Kaine's own approach to foreign policy has been serious and thoughtful, and it has included vigorous resistance to the Obama administration's use of force without proper authorization.")
*Steve Thomas Withdraws from Race in the 10th Senate District ("Democrats Dan Gecker and Emily Francis are running for the 10th district seat.")
*Pipeline opponents go to "another level" with ad campaign ("Opponents say they are expanding fundraising to the Richmond and Northern Virginia areas to pay for the next round of television advertising that has begun in the Charlottesville and Harrisonburg markets.")
*Hampton Roads officials celebrate five years of health care legislation
*Southwest Virginia coal production continues decline
*Region needs cheap and high-speed Internet ("Last week, Virginia Beach agreed to study ways to bring ultra-high-speed Internet service to the city, and possibly the region. The move is essential if the Beach expects to lure biomedical research and health care businesses.")
*Michigan State plays its usual March role, ending Virginia's season, 60-54
*Cold beginning and end for the week, but some mild in the middle

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

The Deterioration of the U.S.- Israeli Relationship: A Major Test for Hillary Clinton

by: Andy Schmookler

Sun Mar 22, 2015 at 17:39:13 PM EDT

Under normal circumstances, Hillary Clinton's position on Israel would be a no-brainer. She would take the usual position of a Democratic candidate: strong in alliance with Israel, and expressing support for a peace process working toward a two-state solution.

These, however, are not normal circumstances.

The way the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, sought re-election, and succeeded in that quest -- by an unprecedented slap at an American president in speaking as he did to Congress, in alliance with the president's enemies; and by the ugly way he drew upon fear and bigotry in the final days when he faced possible defeat -- have made the usual position impossible.

Hillary must now --that is, whenever she enters the presidential race -- find a way to solve some difficult simultaneous equations. How does she 1) support Israel in ways that satisfy those who care about Israel and generally support the Democrats, 2) take into account the blow that Netanyahu inflicted on any notion of a peace process, and 3) stand with the president of her Party-- a president who, being full up to here with Netanyahu, has deliberately (and in my view, quite rightly) affirmed the serious breach in the normal constellation of relations between the two countries.

Whether she finds a way to do so will demonstrate a good deal about her political skills. And about what she's made of.

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