July 15 to July 21, 2019

Highlands-Lonesome Pin
Aerial image overlooking the Highland property area of The Nature Conservancy’s Cumberland Forest Project. (Cameron Davidson/Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy)


It’s not the NRA’s money that sways Virginia politics: It’s the members.

Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – July 14, 2019

But the NRA’s money in Virginia doesn’t go very far. Instead, analysts and people who work in Virginia politics say the power of the NRA comes from the sheer number of voters who align themselves with the organization and show up at the polls and in front of lawmakers, especially in solid red districts where politicians’ biggest fear is a primary challenge from the right.

“It’s their capacity to mobilize people at election time, ” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime Virginia political analyst. “It’s a better strategy to have the grassroots support than it is to pump dollars in.”

Dominion’s carbon cutting plans aren’t good enough

Ivy Main
Virginia Mercury – July 14, 2019

Other utilities have avoided the gas trap. National leaders like Minneapolis-based Xcel, Consumers Energy in Michigan, and NIPSCO in Indiana are replacing coal with renewables and leapfrogging over new gas. That puts them in a position to deliver on their promises of rapid emissions cuts.

In Appalachia, a massive forest is conserved, but mining can still proceed beneath its roots

By Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – July 15, 2019

Early Monday morning, the global environmental nonprofit announced it had added 153,000 acres in Virginia known as Highlands-Lonesome Pine to its Cumberland Forest Project. When combined with an existing 100,000 acres of forest in Kentucky and Tennessee, the total footprint of the site amounts to a quarter-million acres, larger than Shenandoah National Park.

Virginia plans two new cross-state bus lines, citing success of Blacksburg-D.C. route

After a state-run bus line between Blacksburg and Washington beat ridership estimates by more than 200 percent, state officials are planning to introduce two new routes connecting Southside Virginia with points north.

Trump effect the top question in Virginia’s key elections

By Alan Suderman
Associated Press – July 19, 2019

“That is the big thing I wrestle with every single day: Do we have the same intensity that we had in ’17?” said former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has been actively raising money and campaigning with state Democrats this year.

Republicans are cautiously optimistic that Trump, having been in office for more than two years now, will have less of an impact on voters this year.

Virginia’s community colleges will offer programs with guaranteed transfer credits next fall

Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – July 14, 2019

Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R- Henrico, and Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk introduced legislation in 2018 to create the Passport and the Uniform Certificate of General Studies. The certificate requires twice as many classes as the Passport to cut out about a year of college for students.

The programs come amid heightened attention to the cost of Virginia’s public colleges and universities. In Norfolk Thursday, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said he will roll out a plan for a “tuition for service” model for free community college.


US House

Congressional Republicans mostly keep quiet on Trump’s tweets

By Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – July 15, 2019

After remaining largely silent about Trump’s remarks over the weekend, congressional Republicans began weighing in on social media and in press releases Monday. Some were pressed on the president’s comments on Capitol Hill as they returned to Washington from their districts.

House Insurrections Are Here to Stay

By Steve Israel
The Atlantic – July 16, 2019

There’s nothing new about a speaker managing insurrection. It’s a safe bet, moreover, that these battles will only intensify and grow more frequent, no matter who grips the gavel or which party controls the House.

Bill to boost federal minimum wage passes House, likely to fizzle in Senate

By Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – July 19, 2019

“The Raise the Wage Act is not just good for workers, it’s good for the economy,” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-3rd) said on the House floor. Scott is the lead sponsor of the bill.

Politics  & Government

Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood

By Drew Gilpin Faust
The Atlantic – August 2019 issue

We stopped first at the cemetery. My brother had picked me up at the Philadelphia airport, and we had driven south and west from there—to Baltimore and Frederick, then down through the hills of the Blue Ridge, past the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers at Harpers Ferry and into the Valley of Virginia. Civil War country. The route of the Antietam and Gettysburg campaigns. The site of John Brown’s incendiary attempt to foment a slave uprising. The place where we grew up.

Apart from one brief drive-through, I hadn’t been back in nearly two decades—not since a visit the year after my father died. Now we could see next to his grave the dirt already unearthed to make a place for my stepmother’s ashes the next day. We had come for her funeral and in my father’s memory.


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