Republican State Sen. Frank Wagner running for governor

State Sen. Frank Wagner

State Sen. Frank Wagner

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) – State Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach says he’s seeking the Republican nomination for governor. The Virginian-Pilot  reports that Wagner made the announcement on Sunday. He’s one of four candidates who’ve announced they are seeking the nomination. He’s the only state lawmaker of the group and the only candidate from Hampton Roads. Wagner will be challenging Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman who lost a close Senate race to Democrat Mark Warner in 2014. Also running are Rep. Rob Wittman and Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors who is also Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman. Wagner says he decided to run after the state GOP decided on Saturday to hold a primary next year instead of a convention.

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Three sexual assaults in a week near VCU campus

VCURICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Campus police at Virginia Commonwealth University say they’re investigating three sexual assaults in the span of a week. Police said in an alert to the campus that all three sexual assaults occurred at residences near campus and that the victims had just recently met their attackers. Police are urging students to socialize in groups and be aware of their surroundings. The most recent reported assault occurred on Thursday.

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McAuliffe on $1.5B shortfall: ‘Tough decisions ahead’

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Gov. Terry McAuliffe is warning Virginia lawmakers to brace for “tough decisions ahead” to address a roughly $1.5 billion budget shortfall. The Democratic governor told the General Assembly’s money committees Friday that budget woes are being driven by lower income and sales tax revenue collections than anticipated. The projected shortfall for the current-two year budget is $1.2 billion. That’s in addition to shortfall of about $280 million carried over from the budget year that ended June 30. McAuliffe said the state will fill some of the gap in the current fiscal first year with about $125 million that was supposed to cover raises for state employees, teachers and other state-supported workers. He proposed using another roughly $378 million from the state’s rainy-day fund; lawmakers would have to approve that.

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McAuliffe to update Virginia lawmakers on state budget

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to update Virginia lawmakers on the state budget. The Democratic governor will address a joint session of the House and Senate money committees at the Capitol on Friday. McAuliffe’s budget update comes nearly two months after his administration said that it would have to hold off on giving planned raises to state employees and others because the state ended last fiscal year in June with roughly $266 million less revenue than expected. McAuliffe’s administration said that total general fund revenues grew just 1.7 percent over the fiscal year, which was far short of the 3.2 percent that officials had projected.

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WDBJ7 plans moment of silence 1 year after colleagues’ fatal shooting

VT Helmet DecalROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia television station is marking a year since two journalists were fatally shot during a live broadcast watched by thousands of viewers. The Roanoke Times reports the television station, WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, plans a moment of silence during Friday’s “Mornin” newscast. Friday marks one year since 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward were killed. Parker was a reporter and Ward a cameraman. They were killed by a former co-worker who later turned the weapon on himself.

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Off-track betting sites may return to Virginia

AP photo

AP photo

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Off-track betting may soon be coming to the Richmond area.  The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that  the Virginia Equine Alliance recently won approval from the Virginia Racing Commission to open a satellite wagering facility in Henrico County. The alliance says it also hopes to open an off-track betting site as part of a planned brewpub in downtown Richmond. The facilities would be the first to operate in the state since Colonial Downs closed its track and off-site betting sites in 2014. Debbie Easter is president of the equine alliance, which will operate the new sites. She says they could bring in $5 million or more per year in gross revenue. The alliance hopes that will revive the industry in the state.

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Coal towns hit by layoffs to get job grants from US government

wfir-defaultHUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) – U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs in eight Appalachian states and Texas are being promised more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multimillion-dollar federal grant. Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the 29 projects totaling nearly $39 million at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia, on Wednesday. The funding comes from a job-creation organization involving multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Commerce and Labor departments and the regional commission. Officials say the investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other industries. Appalachian states involved in the projects are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The commission says about 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs were lost between 2011 and 2015.

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Richmond school district says it welcomes dialogue on discipline

wfir-defaultRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A spokeswoman for Richmond Public Schools say the district has already made efforts to address many of the concerns laid out in a federal complaint alleging the schools more frequently and harshly punish black students and students with disabilities than their classmates. Kenita Bowers said in a statement Wednesday that the district is “working diligently to ensure that all disciplinary actions are fair and consistent.” She says the district has moved away from “zero tolerance-based discipline.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Legal Aid Justice Center filed the complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. They’re asking federal officials to investigate Richmond Public Schools’ disciplinary policies and force the school system to make changes.Bowers says the district will fully cooperate in the investigation. She says the Richmond Public Schools system wants to find disciplinary measures that “balance safety and instruction” and welcomes the dialogue.

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Jens Soering petitioning Va. governor for pardon

Jens Soering (WDBJ7 file photo)

Jens Soering (WDBJ7 file photo)

DILLWYN, Va. (AP) – A German diplomat’s son convicted of murder is petitioning Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for an “absolute pardon” and parole based largely on blood analysis.  Jens Soering is serving two life terms for the 1985 slayings of his ex-girlfriend’s parents. The Washington Post  reports that Soering’s petition submitted to McAuliffe this week says a blood analysis concludes that Soering, who has Type O blood, was not the source of at least some of the Type O blood found at the scene.  The 50-year-old Soering spoke to the paper in a phone interview from Buckingham Correctional Center outside Dillwyn, Virginia.  Soering initially confessed to killing the couple but then recanted. He said his then-girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, killed her parents and told him afterward. Haysom is serving a 90-year sentence.

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McAuliffe: voting rights again restored to 13,000 felons

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has again restored the voting rights of about 13,000 felons after his previous attempt was blocked by the state’s Supreme Court.  McAuliffe’s announcement Monday came nearly a month after the court ruled that governors cannot restore rights en masse, but must handle them on a case-by-case basis. That ruling invalidated a previous executive order that had restored the voting rights of more than 200,000 felons who had completed their sentences.  The roughly 13,000 people are those who had registered to vote before their rights were stripped away last month. McAuliffe said his administration processed each felon’s paperwork individually to comply with the ruling. Republicans have accused McAuliffe of trying to add more Democrats to the voting rolls to aid presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in November.

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