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Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:57:51 AM EST

Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, January 5. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he "talks about the bipartisan agreement that Congress reached this week which prevented a middle-class tax hike, congratulates the newly sworn-in members of Congress, and looks forward to working with the new Congress in the new year to continue to grow our economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way."

*Job creation steady in December, unemployment at 7.8%
*White House sees promise in revisiting elements of 'grand bargain' on taxes, spending
*The GOP's stacked deck ("House majority doesn't represent the voters' will.")
*Hagel likely to be nominated for Defense Secretary next week (I continue to find it amazing that President Obama can't find a qualified Democrat for this job, even though there are plenty of them. Why?)
*Virginia Abortion, Contraception Bills Proposed In New Legislative Session
*PHOTOS: Virginian Tim Kaine Sworn In to U.S. Senate
*Jim Webb 'Steps Out' Of U.S. Senate
*Kaine Hopes New Senators Bring Bipartisanship To Congress
*McDonnell seeks elusive fix for Virginia roads
*Virginia faces possible recession
*What Virginians should know about Teach For America
*Tow truck complaints shifted to Va. AG's office
*Va localities eligible for federal Sandy aid grows
*Sen. Mike Crapo pleads guilty to drunken driving
*Virginia Beach mayor sets Monday deadline on arena deal
*House District #29 (NLS' series on all the Virginia House of Delegates districts continues. Great stuff!)
*PM Update: A chilly weekend; slight chance early Sunday light snow or rain

lowkell :: Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning
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Video: Teapublican LG Candidate Susan Stimpson speaks in Harrisonburg (0.00 / 0)
I hadn't heard Susan Stimpson speak before, but this talk confirms what I'd heard about her: she's a right-wingnut extraordinaire, substantively no different than Kookinelli, Palin, Santorum, etc. on guns, women's reproductive rights, "Obamacare," "states' rights," guns, the whole shebang.  What's scary is that she's also an articulate, attractive, and potentially appealing candidate for Virginia Republicans in 2013. Speaking as a Democrat who wants to win in 2013, I personally hope they don't pick her.

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Video: Theme song for House Teapublicans? (0.00 / 0)

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House Democratic Leader David Toscano's 2013 Gen. Assembly Preview (0.00 / 0)
Prospects for the 2013 General Assembly
January 5, 2013

On Monday, January 7, 2013, I arrive in Richmond for my eighth General Assembly Session, my second as Democratic Leader in the House.

Each General Assembly session takes on a special character and tone and this one will be no different.  Last year's session garnered national headlines as Republicans pushed socially divisive legislation, including a bill to force women to have an invasive ultrasound procedure before terminating a pregnancy, and numerous bills that made it more difficult for Virginia citizens to exercise their right to vote. We are less likely to see similar legislation this session, but until the bills are introduced, it's an unknown. Below is a list of issues that you are likely to read about in the coming months:

Fiscal Cliff/Sequestration. Virginia will be affected by decisions made in Washington, D.C. more acutely than almost any other state, given our reliance on defense contracts and federal spending. We avoided the first fiscal cliff, but Virginia's dependence on defense spending and federal procurement makes us very vulnerable to budget decisions made in Washington. Americans have clearly indicated their preference for a balanced approach to solving our budget problems - a position I fully support. The actions in Washington will be unfolding as our General Assembly convenes, and much of our budget discussions will be affected by these federal decisions. I fear the debates may provide a rationale for draconian cuts in spending at the state level. I will oppose these cuts because we need to invest more than ever in our educational system and transportation network.

Transportation. Governor McDonnell has spoken about transportation for the last three years, but, with the exception of a bonding program that simply increases our debt, the situation has only gotten worse. Even the Governor now admits that there is a severe lack of money for maintenance and that we will likely have no money for construction of roads in Virginia within the next several years. To date, his proposed solutions put a band aid on a large wound. A comprehensive transportation bill has been proposed in the Senate, and it will likely get considerable attention this session because it raises revenues. Whether it has a chance of surviving the Republican House, which is controlled by legislators who have taken conservative-libertarian Grover Norquist's "no tax increase" pledge, is anyone's guess. To remain competitive in the 21st century, we must invest in our infrastructure, and transportation is at the top of the list. Virginia has fallen from its position as the best state to do business in the nation largely because we have not properly responded to our transportation challenges. We risk falling farther if we do not address our critical needs to improve our infrastructure.

Educational Reform. There will be much discussion of educational reform this session, but I believe that until we provide local school divisions more flexibility to innovate and pay teachers what they deserve, our students will be challenged to obtain the education that they need to compete in the years ahead. Again, this will take more resources, and will require legislators to make it a priority in the budget.    

Uranium Mining. There will be a bill introduced in the General Assembly to lift the moratorium on uranium mining and allow for the creation of regulations that would permit it to occur safely with adequate protections for the environment. There is no doubt about the much-needed economic activity this would bring to Pittsylvania County. There are serious concerns, however, about how safely it can be done and whether adequate protections can be put in place to protect our water supplies and our citizens. The prospects for passing such a bill are very difficult to predict.  

Expanding the Vote. Last year, Republicans made a number of changes in our voting laws designed to address a so-called problem of fraud that no one had identified. What we were left with at the polls were long lines and efforts to discourage people from voting. This is simply unacceptable. I am supporting bills designed to make voting easier and quicker, including proposals for early voting, extending the voting day, and requiring additional voting machines so that people do not have to wait so long in line.  

University of Virginia and the Rector. The General Assembly will decide whether to support the Governor's recommended reappointment of Rector Helen Dragas to the University Board of Visitors. Given what happened last summer, I will not vote for reappointment. Beyond that, I have introduced several bills to change the appointment process, including one to install a faculty member on the Board.

The Governor's "State of the Commonwealth" address is on Wednesday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. As Democratic Leader in the House of Delegates, I will give our response immediately following his speech.

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Video: Krauthammer says GOP blocking Sandy relief bill prevented "rape of the Treasury" (0.00 / 0)
Hello, Washington/Kaplan Post? FIRE THIS GUY NOW!!!

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