Aug. 5 thru 11, 2019

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A tree-sitter, who declined to be identified, blocks the progress of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Montgomery County. (Mason Adams/ For the Virginia Mercury)

Summary

Feature Article – Education:
Yearly cost of college increase was the smallest since 2000, new report finds

Federal:
Va. Dems to Mitch McConnell: Pass languishing gun control bill

General Assembly:
Trump renews calls for red flag laws … Va. GOP voted down earlier this year

Board of Elections member makes unsuccessful push to get Del. Nick Freitas on the ballot

Democracy:
The wrong US response to Russia and China may trigger a “new Cold War,” warns Stanford University’s Larry Diamond

Environment:
Getting in the way:’ Inside the standoff over the Mountain Valley Pipeline
DEQ orders work stopped on Mountain Valley Pipeline section
SCC partially approves Dominion rider that will increase bills
Northern Virginia continues to dominate advanced energy jobs, report shows

New Richmond Arena:
Richmond considers committing millions in tax revenue to build the state’s largest arena

 

Federal

Va. Dems to Mitch McConnell: Pass languishing gun control bill

By Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – August 5, 2019

After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, which killed at least 29 people and injured many more, Virginia members of the U.S. Congress joined Democratic leadership in assailing the GOP-led Senate for refusing to take up a bill to strengthen background checks that passed the House but has gone nowhere in the upper chamber. The House legislation would require federal criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.

State Legislature

Trump renews calls for red flag laws … Va. GOP voted down earlier this year

But over the course of remarks Tuesday morning, he did renew his administration’s calls for so-called red flag laws, or extreme risk protective orders, which have been implemented in 17 states, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Virginia is not one of them.

While Republican legislatures elsewhere have supported the bills, including in Indiana and Florida, GOP committees in the Virginia House and Senate voted down the measures in January.

VA House of Delegates

Board of Elections member makes unsuccessful push to get Del. Nick Freitas on the ballot

By Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – August 6, 2019

John O’Bannon, the lone Republican on the Board of Elections, made two failed motions Tuesday to give the Republican Party of Virginia another chance to get a nominee on the ballot in a House of Delegates race.

O’Bannon first made a motion to allow Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, on the ballot despite late and missing paperwork. When that failed, O’Bannon made a motion to allow the Republican Party to nominate someone else.

Issues

Environment

‘Getting in the way:’ Inside the standoff over the Mountain Valley Pipeline

By Mason Adams
Virginia Mercury August 4, 2019

The encampment on Yellow Finch Lane has become a hotspot over the summer. In July, three protesters were arrested at the camp after others walked onto an MVP work site on a nearby road. An Austin man who had sat in a tree on the site for several months was also arrested after locking himself to a concrete structure and halting pipeline construction for several hours.

DEQ orders work stopped on Mountain Valley Pipeline section

By Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – August 2, 2019

DEQ Director David Paylor said in a statement that the department was “appalled that construction priorities and deadline pressures would ever rise above the proper and appropriate use of erosion control measures.”

An inspection Thursday found that Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, a joint venture headed by EQM Midstream Partners, had failed to construct and maintain sediment and erosion control measures in line with site plans and that some existing controls weren’t working correctly.

SCC partially approves Dominion rider that will increase bills

By Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – August 5, 2019

Schrad said that a “ball park estimate” of bill increases is just under $2 per month, but no final number will be available until Dominion files its Rider E tariff with the commission in the next 30 days.

The rider will take effect no later than Nov. 1. It is the fifteenth rider that the utility has been allowed to add to customer bills since 2007.

Northern Virginia continues to dominate advanced energy jobs, report shows

By Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – August 8, 2019

Advanced energy jobs continue to be largely clustered in major metro areas in eastern Virginia, a report released this week by a national energy industry business group shows.

Education

Yearly cost of college increase was the smallest since 2000, new report finds

By Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – August 6, 2019

The agency attributed the relatively small increase in cost (about $479 more a year) to the General Assembly’s approval of additional state funding if colleges agreed to keep tuition level. Every public college and university did it.

The average total cost of public college tuition and mandatory fees for an in-state undergraduate is now $12,836, with community colleges being the cheapest option at $4,620 a year. The College of William & Mary was the most expensive at $23,628 a year.

Democracy

The wrong US response to Russia and China may trigger a “new Cold War,” warns Stanford University’s Larry Diamond

By Eric Johnson
Recode – August 7, 2019

I’ve been looking at how democracies struggle to emerge and improve and avoid failing in Africa, Asia, to some extent, Latin America. I spent three months in Iraq after the invasion trying to do what could be done to help the Iraqi people in that ill-fated situation. I never dreamed I’d have to worry about defending liberal democracy in the United States or that it would be at risk within the European Union, but the growing evidence that that was the case and that we were descending into something very deep and dangerous in terms of the trends for freedom in the world, that’s what motivated me to write the book.

New Richmond Arena

Richmond considers committing millions in tax revenue to build the state’s largest arena

By Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – August 9, 2019

Richmond’s mayor promises taxpayers won’t be left holding the bag and the city’s financial advisers say it’ll fill public coffers, not drain them.

But a proposal to build a 17,500-seat arena downtown is fueling deep skepticism in a city where residents have long complained about neglect of basic services like schools and roads in favor of shiny development deals that don’t always pan out.

The proposal, spearheaded by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell, includes eye-popping promises: the largest arena in the state, 9,300 new jobs, 2,000 apartments, a 500-room hotel, dozens of new restaurants.

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