Confederate flag appeal argued in Virginia Supreme Court

wlni-defaultRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Heritage Preservation Association has argued its appeal against the city of Danville in the Virginia Supreme Court, hoping to convince the court to agree to hear the case involving the Confederate flag. The Danville Register & Bee reports HPA attorney Kevin Martingayle argued Tuesday that the latest version of a state statute protects the flag that flew at Danville’s Sutherlin Mansion. In August the Danville City Council approved an ordinance that allows only certain flags to be flown on city-owned property, excluding the Confederate flag. The HPA filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract in Danville Circuit Court. In October a judge ruled in the city’s favor and dismissed the case. Martingayle filed the appeal in December. If the court decides to hear the appeal, both sides will have 15 minutes to argue their cases.

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DEQ: Atlantic Coast Pipeline must meet environmental standards

atlantic-coast-pipeline-logo-1RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A state agency has informed the developers of two multi-billion dollar natural pipelines proposed in Virginia and West Virginia that their projects will have to meet specific environmental standards. Media outlets report the Department of Environmental Quality sent letters last week to Dominion Transmission Inc. and EQT, saying they will be required to meet certain erosion and sedimentation standards, if they build their pipelines. Dominion Transmission has proposed building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, while EQT has proposed constructing the Mountain Valley Pipeline. DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden said Tuesday that their agency wants to make sure that appropriate steps are taken to protect the environment if the projects are built. Both proposed pipelines, which are pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, are facing opposition from dozens of organizations.

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McAuliffe attorney: Probe should be closed

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – An attorney for Gov. Terry McAuliffe says the federal investigation into the governor has focused on his business dealings before he took office. Attorney James W. Cooper said Department of Justice officials told him have been looking into McAuliffe’s foreign sources of income before he became governor and whether he violated the law by lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of foreign governments. Cooper told The Associated Press that federal officials said they have found no evidence McAuliffe engaged in such lobbying. Cooper said federal officials did not mention concerns about campaign contributions. Cooper said he said he believes the investigation should be closed “promptly” because there’s no evidence McAuliffe violated the law.

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Virginia seeking residents to report poor internet service

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia officials want residents to help them pinpoint what areas in the state lack access to broadband Internet service. The new initiative announced Tuesday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe is aimed at helping officials fill gaps in broadband coverage across the state. McAuliffe is asking residents to sign onto a new website RUonline.virginia.gov to let officials know the level of internet connectivity they have. Residents will be asked a few questions about where they live and their Internet service. The governor’s office says the initiative will run through early August. Residents who can’t access the website at home can visit a local library or call (877) 969-6685.

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McAuliffe: I followed the law in accepting donations

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he’s confident he followed the law in accepting donations that now appear to be part of a federal criminal investigation. McAuliffe defended his actions Tuesday to reporters at an event in Alexandria. A law-enforcement official told The Associated Press on Monday that McAuliffe is the subject of a federal investigation looking at donations to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign. McAuliffe said he believes the investigation centers around a donation connected to Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. Federal law forbids foreigners from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, but McAuliffe said Wang has held a green card for nearly a decade and is a legitimate donor. McAuliffe is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He said he’s also confident the investigation won’t harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential

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Gov. McAuliffe takes state plane to Final Four, Cuba

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Records show that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has used a state airplane to fly to Cuba and a University of Virginia basketball game in Chicago, among other destinations. The Daily Press obtained the Department of Aviation records by invoking the Freedom of Information Act. McAuliffe took since September. McAuliffe took the plane all over Virginia, with short hops to Hampton Roads, the Shenandoah Valley and the District of Columbia as well as the trip to Cuba and Final Four game. His spokesman Brian McCoy says the Democrat will reimburse the state for two trips, both out-of-state weddings. McAuliffe’s flights have been scrutinized since he used the plane last year to attend a U2 concert and former President Bill Clinton’s birthday party.

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Supreme court dismisses GOP appeal over Virginia districts

wlni-defaultWASHINGTON (AP) – A unanimous Supreme Court has dismissed a Republican appeal over congressional districts in Virginia. The justices on Monday left in place a decision by a lower court that said Virginia illegally packed black voters into one district to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents. Republican members of Congress wanted the court to reinstate the districting map. But the justices ruled that the elected officials did not have the right to challenge the court ruling. The same three-judge court that threw out the map drawn by the state Legislature in 2012 has since created new districts that are in place for the 2016 congressional elections.

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Virginia jails housing thousands living in US illegally

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Authorities say that Virginia’s state and regional jails have housed at least 19,882 immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that data collected by the State Compensation Board shows that the between 2008 and 2015, jails housed at least 14,460 immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally. The board says there were another 5,422 offenders in jailers’ custody who were scheduled for deportation. Officials say the number is likely much higher. The immigrant or citizenship status of tens of thousands of inmates over that time period could not definitively be established and officials say many them are likely residing here illegally. Virginia lawmakers passed a law in 2008 that requires jails to report the number of people in their facilities who entered the U.S. illegally.

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Federal judge upholds Virginia voter ID law

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal judge has upheld Virginia’s 2013 law requiring voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls.  The Virginia Democratic Party sued state elections officials, saying the photo ID requirement unconstitutionally suppresses voting by blacks, Latinos and young people. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports  that U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson wrote Thursday that the Democratic Party did not prove that the law violates the Voting Rights Act or several constitutional amendments.  The judge noted that Virginia has made accommodations to allow everyone to vote, such as absentee voting, provisional ballets and free voter IDs.

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Judge hears arguments on frat’s suit against Rolling Stone

Rolling-Stone-LogoCHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A Virginia judge says that when he read Rolling Stone’s now-discredited story about a rape at the University of Virginia, he got the impression that a fraternity was the main villain. Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore made the remark Tuesday at a hearing on the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity’s $25 million defamation lawsuit against the magazine, its publisher and writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Lawyers for both sides argued over whether a reasonable reader would conclude that gang rape was part of the fraternity’s initiation ritual. The Daily Progress reports that Moore postponed ruling on the issue. If he rules in the fraternity’s favor, the lawsuit – one of three stemming from the article- will move to the discovery phase. A trial is set for October 2017.

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