McAuliffe to propose gun control measures

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is pushing for new regulations on gun ownership. The governor introduced a package of gun control measures in Arlington Monday that he said were necessary to keep Virginians safe. Among the legislation he will pursue during the 2015 legislation session is a bill that would limit handgun purchases to one a month. Another bill would prohibit people subject to protective orders from possessing firearms.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate, was a major donor to McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign.  The measures will likely face strong opposition in the GOP-controlled General Assembly. A spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell said the governor’s announcement was “disappointing.”

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McAuliffe plans to budget $28M for voting machines

STATE-NEWSVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe is planning to include $28 million in his budget for new voting machines across Virginia that would create a paper trail for individual votes. McAuliffe announced the plan during an appearance in Virginia Beach on Monday.  The Virginian-Pilot reports (http://bit.ly/1GIexD4 ) that the proposal would pay for new machines in about 2,100 precincts and reimburse about 400 that have already moved to the newer systems.  In addition to the newer technology, uniformity in the machines would avoid confusion and make it easier to find repairmen if needed during elections.  Some voters and candidates reported difficulties casting accurate votes using touch-screen voting machines in the November election.

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Virginia lawmaker in teen sex case withholds decision on future

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia legislator who made a recent plea in a teen sex case says he will wait to decide on his political future. Del. Joseph Dee Morrissey, D-Henrico, spoke after attending church services Sunday in Richmond. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Morrissey says he was “disappointed” that Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other legislative leaders urged him to resign. Morrissey entered an Alford plea Friday to a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there’s sufficient evidence for a conviction but doesn’t admit guilt. Morrissey was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six suspended. His attorney, Anthony Troy, says Morrissey will ultimately serve three months.

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Incentives to help Virginia students get certifications

WLNI-MRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Seven Virginia community colleges will receive $500,0 in incentives for students that complete certifications in demand by businesses and industry. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office says the pilot program will help 500 Virginians earn certifications in areas such as welding, commercial driving and project management. Participating community colleges include Blue Ridge, Germanna, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Western, Danville, Patrick Henry and Southside Virginia. The initiative is part of McAuliffe’s plan to grow and diversify the state’s economy and supports his goal of seeing an additional 50,000 getting industry certifications before the end of his term. Officials say the certifications can lead to careers that boast median wages  that are at or above Virginia’s per capita personal income of $48,377.

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Friends try to correct UVA rape story

UVA-LogoCHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Almost a month after a scathing magazine article portrayed three friends as uncaring in the face of a woman’s sexual assault, Kathryn Hendley, Alex Stock, and Ryan Duffin say they’re still trying to set the record straight. The three told The Associated Press that a Rolling Stone magazine article about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity was wrong on a number of key points. Most important, the friends say they encouraged the victim, identified as “Jackie” in the article, to report the attack to police. That’s in contrast with the article, which claimed the three encouraged her to keep quiet. Other news media have interviewed the friends, but this is the first time Duffin has agreed to use his full name.

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Virginia participating in annual Christmas Bird Count

WLNI-MRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Nature lovers are fanning out across Virginia for the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. The count that debuted in 1900 gathers data about trends and the general health of the bird population. It started Sunday and runs through Jan. 5. Each year the count mobilizes more than 70,000 volunteers in 2,400 locations. More than three dozen counts are planned in Virginia.

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Report: Virginia lacking on tobacco prevention funding

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A group of public health organizations say Virginia isn’t spending enough money on programs to prevent tobacco use. According to a report, states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the national tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. But they’ll spend less than 2 percent of it on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The report was released this week by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and several other groups. The report says Virginia is spending $8.5 million on tobacco prevention funding in the current fiscal year. That’s only about 9 percent of the $91.6 million recommended to be spent by federal officials. The groups say states are shortchanging programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, as well as save lives and health care costs.

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Feds: no charges coming on senator’s resignation

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors have decided not to pursue federal criminal charges related to the resignation of a Democratic state senator that helped sink Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s effort to expand Medicaid. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy J. Heaphy sent a letter to various interested parties Friday saying his office was closing its investigation into former Sen. Phil Puckett, whose decision to quit the Senate prompted potential job offers from powerful officials in both parties. His abrupt departure gave Republican control of the upper chamber. Puckett was in line for a potential high-level job at the GOP-controlled Virginia tobacco commission at the time of his resignation. He was also offered a potential job for his daughter not to resign by McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan.

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Delegate proposes new bill on college reporting of violent felonies

UVA-LogoStudent boards and college administrators should not be determining whether or not a charge of sexual assault is reported to law enforcement agencies … so says a delegate ready to co-sponsor a bill in the General Assembly session next month… more from WLNI’s Gene Marrano:

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Puppy Room Returns to Liberty

Liberty FlamesThere’s nothing that “man’s best friend” can’t fix. Each semester, Liberty University’s final exams take a toll on the students. A few years back, the Falwells realized the stress level and decided to have a ‘puppy room,’ for students to come and visit during business hours. The popularity of the ‘puppy room’ grows each year and is a great way for students to de-stress, even if it is for ten minutes.

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