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Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

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Here are a few Virginia and national news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, January 29. Also, check out the “enhanced” video of President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night. Personally, I liked parts of it, didn’t like other parts (e.g., the glaring contradiction between his “all of the above” energy strategy and the urgency he professed to do something about climate change); overall, I’d say it was kinda…meh. And, of course, Republicans are an almost completely obstructionist, reactionary force at this time, so good luck getting anything even half decent through Congress. Sigh.

*GOP is melting down: The real SOTU story (“The president’s speech was a conciliatory, modest affair. But with enemies like these, it’s hard not to be a winner”)

*Obama: I won’t stand still (“He pledges to push economic agenda that Congress has failed to support”)

*Obama’s muted call (“If his proposals for executive action did not live up to the hype, they also did not justify GOP fear-mongering.”)

*In the State of the Union, Obama pledges strong action on climate (“A century from now, climate policy will be about the only thing anybody remembers about this political era. Legislation from Congress is still needed, badly, but at least somebody in the government is doing something about our most urgent long-term problem.”)

*Republicans and the media flub their lines to women

*Jekyll And Hyde: The Two Sides Of Obama’s Energy Strategy

*GOP Congressman Threatens to Kill Reporter After SOTU (Video)

*Democrats take control of Va. Senate, bolstering sway in divided Capitol (“Democrats intend to use their new power to advance prospects of Medicaid expansion.”)

*Assembly Democrats flex newfound muscle

*Herring: On authority and obligation to act (“One cannot help but notice that the loudest critics are a handful of strident partisans and social conservatives who have been most vehemently opposed to treating gays and lesbians as equal Virginians.”)

*Can McDonnell talk to relatives during his case? His lawyers want to know.

*Democrats urge boost in minimum wage (“While a debate over income equality stirs at the national level, efforts are under way in Virginia to hike the minimum wage and make the state’s earned income tax credit refundable.”)

*Jeff E. Schapiro: Corruption case could be McDonnell vs. McDonnell (“You don’t have to be Nancy Grace, Greta van Susteren or Jeffrey Toobin to know that federal prosecutors are more interested in sending former Gov. Bob McDonnell to prison than his wife, Maureen.”)

*Estimated cost of Medicaid expansion lowered

*Loudoun Supervisor Delgaudio ordered to appear in court (“Judge’s order follows petition by Sterling residents requesting Delgaudio’s removal from office.”)

*His cancer is under control, and so is the message of a Washington flack (“Jesse Ferguson’s political job may personify what people hate about D.C., but it’s what he lives for.”)

*First Silver Line test run complete, but no results yet

*Loudoun man hopes gift of land for state park is just the beginning (“The 600 acres in western Loudoun County are close to the Appalachian Trail and near Harpers Ferry.”)

*Weather-related closings and delays for Wednesday in the D.C. area (From a dusting of snow? Alrighty…)

*Fairfax approves $1.4 billion for roads, sidewalks

*Three Democrats line up for caucus on County Board seat (“An IBM consultant, a restaurateur and a former Planning Commission member are seeking to serve.” Sounds like the start of a “walk into a bar” joke. Seriously, though vote Howze #1 and Fallon #2 tomorrow evening or Saturday.)

*Our view: Doing a number on schools

*Snow blankets Hampton Roads, North Carolina

*Ban against Sunday hunting may soon be shot down

*D.C. area forecast: Doggone cold again today, then defrosting slowly but surely (“One day at a time we emerge from this latest bout with brutal cold. Highs should manage the 40s by Friday through the weekend, but still with a chance of mixed precipitation.”)

  • From the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: “On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 20, 2014, approximately 500 Virginia residents attended a “Vigil and Advocacy Day” at the State Capitol sponsored by the Virginia Center for Public Safety. Speakers at the vigil included Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Members of the Virginia General Assembly.”

  • From the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:

    On January 27, 2014, Philip Van Cleave, the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) provided testimony before the Virginia Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee on SB 510, a bill that would prohibit individuals convicted of violent misdemeanor offenses from possessing firearms for a period of five years.

    In the video, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw asks Van Cleave, “So you think that if you go out and you slap your wife around and all it is is a misdemeanor [conviction], you shouldn’t lose your weapon after that. Is that what you’re telling me?”

    Van Cleave responds, “Correct. If she slaps me, I wouldn’t expect her to lose her gun rights either.” He then adds that the notion that slapping your wife should deny someone the ability to legally own firearms is “silly.”

  • Today, the Senate began the day with a floor ceremony remembering two American scientists, long-time residents of Virginia, who worked on the Manhattan project in the 1940′s and helped usher in the nuclear age.

    Shortly after the ceremony, the Senate re-enacted Newton’s Third Law of Physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Two years ago, the Senate walked out of an election cycle with a 20-20 deadlock. The Lt. Governor was in “R” hands, which meant that they had the 21st vote, if necessary, to impose their will.

    This was new ground for the Senate. In the only previous “20-20″ chamber in 1995, the Senators had entered a power-sharing agreement which evenly divided committees (for the most part) and appointed co-chairmen. We could have done that again in January 2012, when we convened a new Assembly.

    But the Republicans opted not to do that. Instead, they took 100% of the power, using the tie-breaking power of the Lt. Governor. There were a lot of unhappy people (me included), but the central message was clear – “20+1″ equals a majority.

    Of course, that interpretation held an inherent risk. Once the Lt. Governor changed hands, then the situation would be reversed. Regardless, the Republicans rolled the dice.

    Last fall, it came back as snake-eyes. The R’s lost every statewide race, as well as the two special elections to fill Senate vacancies. So the Democrats returned with the advantage and every right to use it.

    Today, we reshuffled the deck. Democrats took control, with Chuck Colgan being elected President Pro Tem, Dick Saslaw as majority leader, and Creigh Deeds, Janet Howell, Mamie Locke, Toddy Puller, Don McEachin, Phil Puckett and John Edwards as committee chairs. (Walter Stosch will remain as a “co-chair” of Finance).

    For my part, I was able to reclaim the seat on Courts of Justice which I lost in 2012.

    In other words, the Democrats pulled off the inverse of the power play of January 2012. Of course, it didn’t have to be this way. A little cooperation in 2012 would have given long-term dividends to everyone (including Bob McDonnell who could have used a Democratic-controlled Health Committee in 2013 to defeat the ultrasound bill).

    Anyway, those were the cards dealt in 2012. And 2014 merely evened the score. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    I was pleased to see that the three state senators from rural (and red) Virginia got high-profile chairmanships that should assist them in the 2015 election. Creigh Deeds is pretty safe, and John Edwards should be, too, but Phil Puckett can use all the help he can get to hold on to that seat.

    I also was thrilled to see Steve Newman lose a chairmanship.  

  • If hard-right-wing, Republican attack dog Barbara Comstock is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives next November (which she won’t be if we all work to help Democrat John Foust defeat her!), one thing’s for sure: Eric Can’tor will be one happy camper. Let’s make Eric Can’tor an UNhappy camper. 🙂

  • Rep. Connolly Votes against Farm Bill, Citing SNAP Program Cuts and Bloated Taxpayer Handouts to Agribusiness & Special Interests

    WASHINGTON – Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) voted against the Farm bill in the House Wednesday, citing the hypocrisy of providing excessive taxpayer-subsidized payments to agribusiness, while cutting the SNAP program to help feed low-income families.

    “At a time when families are still struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Great Recession it is shameful that Republicans in Congress continue to chip away at our nation’s safety net for the weakest among us, while feathering the nests of agribusiness with millions upon millions of dollars in crop subsidies, export support programs, and other handouts,” Connolly said.

    “It is blatant hypocrisy that the recipients of the farm bill’s taxpayer-funded largesse – some of them the very same Tea Party Republicans who rail against government spending – view themselves as givers, while they characterize as takers the single mothers with kids, who receive $180 a month to put food on the table,” Connolly said.

    “They see no contradiction in their position of wanting the American taxpayer to minimize their risk and guarantee them an income while telling those at risk of hunger that they are on their own,” Connolly said.  “It is a Dickensian world view that defies reason.”

    “Who are the real takers here?  Poor babies and their mothers trying to put food on the table?  Or those who pocket millions of dollars in crop subsidies and insurance payments and tax credits and accelerated equipment depreciation and federally-funded soil and crop R&D, and then have the gall to vote to cut nutrition programs and characterize them as excessive federal spending,” Connolly asked.

    Connolly said the Farm bill contained some good provisions on the environment and other critical issues.  “I wish I could have found my way clear to support the bill, but there were too many serious pitfalls that will cause us plenty of grief over the 5-year lifespan of this bill,” he said.

    “I refuse to accept this false choice. Families shouldn’t be forced to worry about how they will put food on the table in order to foot the bill for these agricultural handouts,” he said.

    “It’s time the House majority gets serious about reforming costly farm subsidies, as the Senate did in the Farm bill it passed, and stop targeting the most vulnerable among us,” the Virginia Congressman said.

  • Also of interest, I hear that Kerry Donley will NOT be running, but will be supporting Don Beyer. And I heard that Aneesh Chopra is probably NOT running, but that’s not definite. So right now, we’ve got: Adam Ebbin, Don Beyer, Charniele Herring, Mark Sickles, Patrick Hope, Bruce Shuttleworth, and probably Alfonso Lopez and Bill Euille. Also, possibly Mark Levine (supposedly “seriously considering” it, according to Post reporter Ben Pershing). No word on Walter Tejada, and no definitive word on Scott Surovell either. Jay Fisette has announced he is NOT running, and Barbara Favola does not appear to be running. Jeff McKay is backing Mark Sickles. Who did I miss?