Gov. McAuliffe Makes Workforce Development ‘Number One Priority’

 

Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe

According to the Roanoke Times, Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) plans to make workforce development his number one priority.

During a brief stopover in Danville on Tuesday, VA, McAuliffe spoke at a business and community meeting held by the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. In his remarks, McAuliffe touted his achievements since taking the governorship, and pledged to work with Virginia to grow jobs, improve education and boost the economy.

“We’re all in this together,” McAuliffe told the economically troubled community.

To boost jobs across the state and especially in economically disadvantaged communities like Danville, McAuliffe promised to make workforce development the “number one priority” for the remainder of his term. He also promised to help improve the state’s education system to attract businesses to the area.

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Warner Begins Reelection Bid With Tour Across VA

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) began his journey to reelection- literally. Warner kicked off his bid with a six-day tour across the state of Virginia.

As he shared his professional growth, from entrepreneur to politician, in Richmond, small business people from across the state came out to show support and ask about his future ideas.

On the subject of entrepreneurship, Warner inspired some of the crowd with “Innovators in the room, I failed miserably twice,” he said. “Third shot though, I got into a little business called cell phones, managed to eke out a living.”

Warner also expressed his thoughts on the recent Veterans Affairs scandal, stating that he, like many other Democrats across the nation, is requesting that Veterans Administration Secretary, Eric K. Shinseki, resign.

“Like every American, I’m outreached by the lack of care to our veterans,” Warner said.

It is projected that Warner will run against Ed Gillespie (R) in November, which will be officially determined at the state convention in Roanoke next month.

Virginia Death Penalty Laws Affected by Supreme Court Ruling

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that defendants with IQ scores near 70 should not receive capital punishment, contrary to current Virginia laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia commended the court’s ruling, saying that it’s time to address “serious flaws” in the state’s death penalty regulations.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU said, “In addition to making clear that Virginia’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional on its face, today’s decision highlights the inherent arbitrariness of Virginia’s capital punishment system.”

“Currently an individual can be executed in Virginia if they have an IQ score of 71, but not 70, even though the margin of error in the IQ test is acknowledged to be greater than 1” Gastañaga explained.

Back in 2002, the Supreme Court decided that mentally challenged defendants would not be allowed capital punishment. However, what lacked was a clear classification of the mental state, in which they decided to use an IQ score of 70 or lower.

In critique of Virginia’s current death penalty laws, the American Bar Association said “Virginia’s standard for determining intellectual disability in death penalty cases could allow a person to be executed who does not, in fact, have the intellectual capacity to understand the punishment or the reason why he or she is to be put to death. That makes it unconstitutional.”

No longer will a single IQ score determine a defendant’s execution.

 

 

Virginia Death Penalty Laws Affected by Supreme Court Ruling

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that defendants with IQ scores near 70 should not receive capital punishment, contrary to current Virginia laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia commended the court’s ruling, saying that it’s time to address “serious flaws” in the state’s death penalty regulations.

In a news release, Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU said, “In addition to making clear that Virginia’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional on its face, today’s decision highlights the inherent arbitrariness of Virginia’s capital punishment system.”

“Currently an individual can be executed in Virginia if they have an IQ score of 71, but not 70, even though the margin of error in the IQ test is acknowledged to be greater than 1” Gastañaga explained.

Back in 2002, the Supreme Court decided that “mentally retarted” defendants would not be allowed capital punishment. However, what lacked was a clear classification of the mental state, in which they decided to use an IQ score of 70 or lower.

In critique of Virginia’s current death penalty laws, the American Bar Association said “Virginia’s standard for determining intellectual disability in death penalty cases could allow a person to be executed who does not, in fact, have the intellectual capacity to understand the punishment or the reason why he or she is to be put to death. That makes it unconstitutional.”

No longer will a single IQ score decide on a defendant’s execution.

Former VA Senator James Webb Explains His Political Comeback

James Webb, former Virginia senator, says he is ready to be a part of policy and politics, again, according to The Washington Post.

In an interview with the National Archives on Thursday, Webb said his 2013 retirement was to get “healthy” and to “gain my independence back.”

Now, Webb is preparing to be active in the political world again, saying, “I care a lot about the issues facing our country, and I’m going to be participating, helping people and doing things.”

Though we know Webb will be immersed in politics, will he run for president while he’s out there? That question has been asked in many recent interviews, but Webb has not given any concrete answers.

To clarify, on Thursday, he said he’s “not saying I’m not” running for president, but then added that his response is “kind of…a default answer.”

With a recent arrival back from a yearlong political break, the chances of Webb running for office are slim, but his dubious responses continue to keep Americans guessing.

McAuliffe Vetoes Bipartisan Ethics Legislation

1389476103000-AP-McAuliffe-InaugurationGovernor McAuliffe (D) has vetoed bipartisan ethics legislation after Virginia lawmakers rejected a series of amendments, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The General Assembly unanimously approved the legislation, House Bill 1212, which would bar the governor, his campaign and his political action committee from soliciting or accepting any donation or gift worth more than than $50 from anyone seeking funding from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund. Violators would have to pay a $500 fine or up to two times the amount of the contribution or gift.

McAuliffe tried, unsuccessfully, to have these stipulations extended to cover state legislators as well. 

As reported by the Times-Dispatch, the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund is “a vehicle to provide grants and loans to businesses seeking to move to Virginia or expand their presence here. Awards from the fund, worth about $35 million, are made without competitive bidding, according to the sponsors of the legislation.”

 

Obama Promises to Address VA Issues

Earlier this week, President Obama vented his anger towards the allegations of misconduct at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, and promised to remove anyone responsible for the alleged acts.

During a press conference, Obama expressed his approach on the VA claims, stating, “I will not stand for it. Not as commander-in-chief, but also not as an American.”

The allegations stemmed from consistent reports of veterans being waited on too slowly; in some cases, the wait lasted over a year.  In late April, arguably the most shocking report of VA mistreatment was released.

CNN reported that 40 U.S. veterans died at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, as they waited for treatment. From there, it was discovered that a “secret wait list” was being used by the care center, of which top management knew.

Obama vows to address the veteran care issues, and claims, “Once we know the facts, I assure you, if there was misconduct, people will be punished,” he said.

College Tuition vs. Child Care: Which Costs More?

06_child_careRecently, all of the buzz seems to be centered around the rising cost of college tuition, but a new study shows that child care is a pricey competitor.

Child Care Aware of America reports that child care is more expensive than college tuition in most states.

Parents in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia can expect to pay roughly $22,000, $13,000, and $10,000 per year on child care. In comparison, tuition at a public college in those areas costs about $8,500 annually.

The report also shows that families making the median income for those areas spend between 10.6 percent and 14.1 percent of their income on infant care via daycare center.

Contrary to public opinion, in-home daycare in D.C. and Maryland costs as much, if not more, than a daycare center, both of which cost more than a year of college tuition.

So, what’s the good news for parents? Child care prices decrease with age. Placing a  four-year-old in daycare costs less than infant care, and a school-age child costs less than that.

For more information on American child care visit: http://childcareaware.org

Gov. McAuliffe Seeks to Review Abortion Laws

When Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) took office in January one of his promises was to do everything he could to amend the rules recently inflicted upon Virginia abortion clinics. On Monday, McAuliffe began his promised action plan to protect abortion access for women.

The regulations that were imposed on abortion clinics last year were responsible for the closing of five state clinics, leaving Virginia with 18 left. These rules require that all state abortion clinics make health and safety renovations, which include adding parking spaces and widening hallways.

“I am concerned that the extreme and punitive regulations adopted last year jeopardize the ability of most women’s health centers to keep their doors open and place in jeopardy the health and reproductive rights of Virginia women,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe has ordered a formal review against the abortion laws to continue his fight for Virginia women.

RVA Parents Consider Opting Children Out of Tests

As the education reform continues, RVA parents are contemplating whether they should opt their students out of the standardized tests, according to a recent NBC12 (Richmond) article.

Parents across the country are trying to keep their kids away from standardized tests, and the parents of RVA students are no exception. Earlier this week, RVA Opt Out and Richmond Teachers for Social Justice organized a meeting for parents to discuss their concerns with SOL testing. There, the groups found fear that test taking has consumed the classroom and robbed both students and teachers of creativity.

George Bayer, Henrico county parent, has noticed the shift in his child’s school. “It’s hamstringing our teachers. They can’t really teach the lessons in a way that the children are really able to understand the concepts. They’re just being taught to take this test”, Bayer said.

RVA Opt Out plans to host another meeting Monday, May 19th to continue raising awareness of their stance against SOL testing.