RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants a $100 aggregate gift cap for state lawmakers and is vetoing several pro-gun bills. McAuliffe told reporters at a Capitol news conference Friday that he was amending a last-minute ethics package lawmakers passed last month. The governor said he wants lawmakers to be barred from accepting repeated gifts from lobbyists. Lawmakers wanted gifts capped a $100 per gift rather than an aggregate limit. The Democratic governor said he’s also vetoing a handful of pro-gun bills. The Republican-controlled General Assembly defeated several gun-control bills the governor supported in this year’s legislative session, which ended in February. State lawmakers are due back in Richmond to consider McAuliffe’s vetoes and amendments on April 15.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is launching an effort aimed at combatting predatory lending. Herring announced the move Thursday at a field hearing of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Richmond. The agency announced proposed rules to set standards for the industry. Herring’s office is aiming to develop a plan to revitalize consumer protection efforts by May 1. Critics of payday lending say short-term, high-interest loans prey on the poor. Defenders counter that they offer an option for people who find themselves in a desperate financial fix. Virginia’s efforts in regard to predatory lending will focus on enforcement actions, education and prevention, strengthening and expanding partnerships with other groups and examining new laws. Herring’s strategy also will include alternative lending solutions for consumers.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ State education officials are developing regulations to limit the use of restraint and seclusion to discipline unruly students. Signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia legislation requires the state Board of Education to develop the statewide regulations governing the use of those disciplinary practices. Critics say such techniques are almost always unnecessary to keep order in the classroom. The law was passed over the objections of lobbyists for school boards and principals who said it would allow school administrators too little discretion. The regulations will be drafted by November. Then they will be presented for public comment at a minimum of two hearings. Virginia is the 33rd state to govern the use of seclusion and restraint in schools by law or regulation.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ One charge filed against the suspect in the slaying of a University of Virginia student has been dropped in Charlottesville because the same charge is being pursued in Albemarle County, where the woman’s body was found. Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. appeared by way of video feed into Charlottesville General District Court on Thursday as a charge of abduction with intent to defile was dropped. He is being held for trial, which is scheduled for June. The 33-year-old Charlottesville man has been charged in Albemarle County with first degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Hannah Graham. He also is charged with abduction with intent to defile. Graham disappeared Sept. 13 after a night out with friends. The remains of the northern Virginia woman were found Oct. 18.
DUBLIN, Va. (AP) _ Authorities say the body of a 5-year-old boy who had been missing since Sunday has been found in a septic tank near his home. Pulaski County Sheriff Jim Davis announced the discovery Thursday during a brief news conference. Noah Thomas was last seen by his mother on Sunday morning at the family’s home in Dublin. Several hundred law enforcement officers and volunteers had been searching for him since then. Police had received more than 100 tips from around the country. Davis said earlier Thursday that the tips included sightings of boys and reports of suspicious vehicles in the child’s neighborhood. Davis stressed after Noah’s discovery that no one is in custody and an investigation is continuing. He said the boy’s family is cooperating with investigators.
On Wednesday, the Lynchburg Police Department learned that an attempted abduction of a child had been reported through social media. The incident was posted March 24 by an uninvolved third party who claimed that there was an attempted child abduction at the Walmart in Lynchburg. Police contacted the father of the purported child victim and it was determined that the incident occurred on March 23 in the 3900 block of Wards Road. The father says the matter was a misunderstanding and that an attempted abduction of his child did not occur. Police say the father did not want to file a report and believes he may have jumped to the wrong conclusion about the individual’s intentions. Investigators say the case is considered closed and unfounded.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a new state budget that includes a pay increases for state employees, boosts cash benefits for welfare recipients and has more money for the governor to spend on economic development. The Democratic governor signed the budget Thursday at the Capitol while touting his good working relationship with Republican leaders on the state’s spending plan. McAuliffe did not try and amend the budget that state lawmakers approved last month. The GOP-controlled General Assembly did not include expanding Medicaid in its budget, a top priority for state Democrats. Virginia’s budget situation has brightened in recent months due to higher-than-projected revenues and other factors, which gave lawmakers more money to spend this year’s legislative session. The new budget raises state employees’ pay by 2 percent.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors say there is plenty of evidence to support former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s public corruption convictions. In court filings Thursday, prosecutors told the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it’s clear McDonnell took steps to benefit a wealthy vitamin executive who lavished the former governor and his wife with low-interest loans and expensive gifts. The brief filed Thursday disputes McDonnell’s claim that his convictions were based on an overly broad definition of what constitutes an “official act” by an elected official. The appeals court has scheduled arguments in the case for May 12. A jury in September found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of doing favors for former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.
From the State Corporation Commission: The SCC has issued orders in five cases involving rate reviews and changes requested by Dominion Virginia Power. All of the rate adjustments will be placed into effect on April 1, 2015. The combined impact will decrease the average monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity by $6.47, from $115.95 to $109.48. In Case Number PUE-2015-00022, the SCC established a lower fuel rate for Dominion Virginia Power on an interim basis. The new fuel rate is 2.406 cents per kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh), which represents a decrease of 0.612 ¢/kWh from the current fuel factor of 3.018 ¢/kWh. For the average residential customer, the fuel rate decrease means the monthly bill for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity will decrease $6.12.
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