Top Virginia House Republican to seek university athletic fee cap

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia state House Republican Majority Leader Kirk Cox says he wants to limit the amount of mandatory fees public universities can collect from students to pay for athletic programs. Cox said Thursday that he plans to introduce legislation limiting fees during the 2015 legislative session. The lawmaker says legislation is needed to make higher education more affordable. He says students who don’t participate in athletics are paying too high a cost to help subsidize the 3 percent of students who play intercollegiate athletics. Cox says his proposal is based on a report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the General Assembly’s watchdog agency. The report found that costs for auxiliary programs like athletics have been the biggest driver of increased college costs in Virginia.

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McDonnell’s son arrested for DUI in Va. Beach

Robert Ryan McDonnell

Robert Ryan McDonnell

Virginia Beach police say one of former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s sons has been arrested for driving under the influence. Police say 23-year-old Robert Ryan McDonnell was arrested in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach early Thursday morning. Police say he refused a breath test and is not currently in custody. Police say Ryan McDonnell lives in Glen Allen, a suburb of Richmond. Last year, McDonnell’s other son, Sean McDonnell, was found guilty of public intoxication in Charlottesville near the University of Virginia.

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Va. shortens process for felons to seek rights restoration

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia is taking additional steps to make it easier for convicted felons to regain their voting rights. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced policy changes Thursday that will shorten the application process for people convicted of more serious crimes. The changes include eliminating notarization, letters to the governor and other requirements. The application was reduced from 13 pages to one. In April, McAuliffe reduced the waiting period for violent felons to apply for restoration of rights from five years to three. He also removed drug offenses from a list of violent crimes that are subject to the waiting period. McAuliffe says more than 5,100 ex-offenders have regained voting rights this year.  The Virginia Department of Elections says 71 percent of Virginians who regained their voting rights this year have registered to vote.

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Va. lawmaker to resign, then seek seat in special election

Joseph Morrisey

Joseph Morrissey

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia Democratic state lawmaker is resigning from office after recently entering a plea in connection with accusations that he had an improper sexual relationship with a teenager. Del. Joseph D. Morrissey sent a letter Thursday to the House speaker saying he will resign, effective Jan. 13. Morrissey entered the Alford plea last week in Henrico County Circuit Court on a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there is sufficient evidence for a conviction but doesn’t admit guilt. According to prosecutors, the 57-year-old Morrissey and a 17-year-old girl who worked for him had sex multiple times at his law office in August 2013 and texted their friends about it.

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UVA to make public reviews of response to rape allegations

UVA-LogoCHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan says the school will make public reviews of how it responds to sexual assault allegations. The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/1r2m0Lf ) reports that Sullivan announced the move Wednesday at a Faculty Senate meeting. Sullivan established an ad hoc group to conduct a review of the school’s policies and practices. She also asked the Charlottesville police to conduct a review. Another review will be done by an independent counsel. The reviews follow a Rolling Stone article describing an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house. The magazine has since apologized for what it calls discrepancies in details of the account. The university also is being reviewed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ Title IX.

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Virginia groups get funding for youth anti-smoking

wfir-linkRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth is awarding grants to groups across the state for youth tobacco-use prevention programs. The foundation says the $9.2 million in funding over the next three years for 62 groups will fund classroom-based prevention programs for preschool through high school students. Officials also say 24 other groups will share $48,000 to start or support chapters of its teen volunteer group that promotes healthy, tobacco-free lifestyles for youth. Y Street was named the top youth advocacy group for tobacco-use prevention in the nation in 2011 by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. In 2013, the group added 527 new members, who collectively completed nearly 1,000 projects and volunteered more than 3,000 hours. Since 2004, more than 7,000 teens statewide have participated in Y Street.

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Gifts to governor toned down under McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he has not received any big-ticket gifts since taking office this year, a notable departure from what was commonplace under past administrations. A list of gifts received by McAuliffe was included in the governor’s recently filed statement of economic interest. The list shows the governor accepted mostly trinkets related to trade missions. The statement says he didn’t receive access to vacation homes or tickets to sporting events that were frequently given to previous Virginia governors. McAuliffe instituted a $100 gift limit shortly after taking office. He said it was part of an effort to clean up Virginia’ reputation. McAuliffe’s predecessor, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, was found guilty in September of illegally accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for promoting dietary supplements.

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McAuliffe proposes Virginia state budget changes

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to more than double the pot of money he can spend trying to lure companies to Virginia, ease school districts’ teacher retirement burdens, and give raises to rookie deputy sheriffs. The governor unveiled these and other proposed changes to the state’s biennial budget Wednesday at a Capitol briefing to state lawmakers. To help pay for the Democratic governor’s priorities, McAuliffe wants to limit tax credits designed to bolster the coal industry and sell off $250 million worth of unclaimed property that’s been turned over to the state. The governor is renewing his push to expand Medicaid, a top legislative priority that’s been blocked by Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly. Lawmakers will take up the governor’s proposal in January when the 2015 legislative session begins.

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Governor McAuliffe wants to regulate day care centers

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to require day care providers that receive public subsidies to acquire a state license. The governor’s staff told reporters in a press briefing in Richmond late Tuesday that McAuliffe will seek the new regulations during the 2015 legislative session.The measure could affect 1,920 day care providers that currently operate without a license. The governor’s staff said the measure is in response to recent tragedies involving unlicensed day care providers, including an Oct. 21 fire at an in-home day care in Chesterfield County that killed a 1-year-old boy. McAuliffe is set to unveil a proposed budget Wednesday morning that will include $2.7 million for 28 additional licensing staffers to handle the extra workload.

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Virginia awarded health care grant

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia has been awarded a $2.6 million federal grant to develop new statewide health care models. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the grant on Tuesday. The models will be built around a series of public health goals ranging from reductions in tobacco use to improved mental health care. The one-year grant was awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It will provide financial and technical support beginning in January to develop the Virginia Health Innovation Plan. The goal of the plan is to improve health outcomes for Virginians, regardless of insurance status. The Virginia Health Innovation Plan will be developed by the Virginia Center for Health Innovation in collaboration with public and private stakeholders.

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