Conservative group to challenge abortion regulation changes

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The conservative Family Foundation of Virginia says it plans to file a legal challenge over the way the state did away with restrictive regulations for abortion centers.The group says it notified Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration Tuesday of its intention to file an administrative appeal over the health and safety regulations, which were updated in October.Foundation President Victoria Cobb says the administration violated state law in its “quest to water down” the standards.The Board of Health voted to do away with hospital-style regulations for abortion clinics imposed by the General Assembly in 2011. The vote came after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down tough abortion restrictions in Texas.A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

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Muslim advocacy group seeks broader travel-ban injunction

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) – A judge is weighing a request from a Muslim civil rights group for an even broader injunction against President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban than what is already in place.Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have issued orders that already block the vast majority of Trump’s revised ban, which would restrict immigration from refugees and from six majority-Muslim countries.At a hearing Tuesday in Alexandria, lawyers for the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked a judge to issue an injunction blocking the entire executive order. Lawyer Gadeir (geh-DEER’) Abbas said a section of the order affecting how waivers are granted for visa applicants remains in force.Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said the remaining provisions of the travel ban have no practical effect on how the government issues visas.

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Trump Winery seeks more foreign workers this season

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A Virginia winery owned by President Donald Trump’s son has applied to hire foreign workers to pick grapes.The Daily Progress reports Trump Vineyard Estates, better known as Trump Winery, has asked to bring in 29 workers this season through the federal H-2A visa program.The Charlottesville-area winery is owned by Eric Trump, whose father has called on businesses to hire Americans.The H-2A program enables agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or other temporary or seasonal services. To apply, employers say they’ve been unable to find American citizens to fill the jobs. At least three other local vineyards also applied to hire foreign workers.Trump Winery didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Virginia governor signs bill giving $1.55M to exonerated man

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a bill to provide $1.55 million to a man who spent more than three decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.Keith Allen Harward was released from prison in April 2016 at age 60 after DNA evidence proved him innocent of the 1982 killing of Jesse Perron and the rape of his wife in Newport News. Harward was a sailor on the USS Carl Vinson, which was stationed at the shipyard near the victims’ home at the time.Legislation compensating Harward unanimously passed the House and Senate. McAuliffe signed the bill last week. In order to accept the money, Harward must waive his right to seek damages from the state in court.Harward didn’t immediately return a message left ¬†yesterday.

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Trump budget would cut funding by 25 percent at institute

GLOUCESTER POINT, Va. (AP) – President Trump’s budget proposal would slash funding by 25 percent at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.Associate Dean Mark Luckenbach says the impact would be felt throughout the Tidewater region.For instance, VIMS gives guidance to communities trying to comply with Chesapeake Bay pollution standards. It also provides significant support to the growing oyster industry, including its breeding program.The losses would stem from proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.VIMS receives much of its funding through grants that support state and federally mandated programs.Based in Gloucester Point, VIMS is among the country’s largest marine research and education centers. It is affiliated with William & Mary.

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Bridges helping birds recover in coastal Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Bridges in coastal Virginia have played a key role in helping boost the breeding population of large birds.The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary says peregrine falcons have consistently nested on the Robert O. Norris bridge, which spans the Rappahannock River, for 21 years.The center said bridges have supported more than 30 percent of the known breeding population in the state for peregrine falcons since 1993.The conditions of the bridges mimic those of cliff formations not naturally found on the coast. Virginia’s large bird population has made a dramatic comeback in recent years after being decimated by DDT and other pollutants.

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Trump budget cuts funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate federal funding for the program that has coordinated Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts for decades.The president’s spending plan for the 2018 budget year, released Thursday, significantly reduces funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. As part of those cuts, it completely eliminates money that currently goes to regional environmental efforts including the Chesapeake Bay Program.Last year, the program received $73 million in federal funds, most of which
was doled out in grants to states, local governments and community groups for cleanup efforts.Lawmakers will have the final say on Trump’s proposal. A bipartisan group of the states’ congressional delegations have expressed support for the program.The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York,Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

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Federal appeals court declines to halt Virginia execution

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court has refused to put a Virginia death row inmate’s execution on hold so he can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued an order Thursday declining the request from Ivan Teleguz, who is scheduled to be executed April 25.Teleguz was sentenced to death in 2006 for hiring a man to kill his ex-girlfriend but maintains he’s innocent. He asked the 4th Circuit last week to stay his execution so the high court could review his argument that he was denied the right to effective counsel.His attorneys said in a statement that Teleguz will now petition Gov. Terry McAuliffe to grant him clemency.

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Virginia GOP candidate for governor drops out

Denver Riggleman

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A political newcomer running for Virginia governor in a populist style similar to President Donald Trump’s has suspended his campaign. Republican Denver Riggleman announced Thursday that he had no choice but to stop campaigning because of “resource shortages” and other considerations. A distillery owner with no previous political experience, Riggleman had struggled to raise money. Riggleman styled himself a political outsider who would take on entrenched interests in Virginia politics. He was particularly focused on Dominion Resources, an energy company that’s the biggest corporate donor to Virginia politicians. There are now three GOP gubernatorial hopefuls set to compete in the June 13 primary, including consultant Ed Gillespie and state Sen. Frank Wagner. Riggleman’s departure is likely most helpful to Corey Stewart, a former Virginia chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign.

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GOP candidate Ed Gillespie pledges to cut state income taxes

Ed Gillespie

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie says he’s going to make cutting taxes a centerpiece of his campaign. Gillespie said Thursday he would trim state income tax rates for all tax brackets in Virginia. The plan would lower taxes on income over $17,000 a year from 5.75% to 5.15%. Gillespie says the move would grow the economy. He says he would pay for the tax cuts with a portion of expected state revenue growth, not with cuts to state spending. Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial contest is expected to be widely watched as an early indicator of how voters are responding to President Donald Trump’s presidency.

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