Republicans outline agenda for legislative session
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and other Republican leaders want the General Assembly to cut government spending and foster economic development during the legislative session that begins Wednesday.
At a press conference Tuesday, GOP officials outlined seven issues for the 2011 General Assembly. They dubbed their agenda “smaller government, stronger economy.”
“This is a positive, forward-looking agenda that recognizes the need for a smaller, smarter state government but also commits to job-creating efforts in the areas of transportation, economic development and higher education,” McDonnell said.
The Republicans said their joint agenda calls for:
• Fiscal responsibility and restructuring, including spending cuts, a hiring freeze and changes in the Virginia Retirement System
• Job creation and economic development
• Higher education reforms and reinvestment
• More funding for transportation
• Protection of private property rights
• Passage of a constitutional “repeal amendment” allowing states to federal laws for policy reasons
• Protection of Virginia’s right-to-work law by mandating that union elections be conducted by secret ballot
While all those points are important, McDonnell said he believes the economy is “the first and foremost issue facing Virginia with 285,000 Virginians unemployed.”
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said the GOP’s economic initiatives would help attract jobs to Virginia and support employers in bio-sciences, energy technology and communications. He called for legislation to provide $54 million in grants and incentives for job creation.
Bolling also wants the General Assembly to approve a $25 million program to help small technology companies in Virginia.
Another focus is renewable energy. Bolling said the Republicans’ proposed Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive Grant program would give financial assistance to companies that supply renewable and nuclear energy.
“It’s an important part of our overall effort to achieve the goal of making Virginia the East Coast’s energy leader,” Bolling said.
McDonnell plans on continuing state budget cuts with permanent hiring freezes to save about $25 million. He said he wants to reduce funding for areas that are not government priorities, such as public broadcasting.
The governor also proposed eliminating and reducing various vacant state positions, boards and commissions.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addressed private property rights of individuals. He said governmental entities should have to meet strict requirements before seizing a person’s property.
House Speaker William Howell of Fredericksburg touted the proposed “repeal amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. It would allow states to overturn a federal law by a two-thirds vote.
“It would have the important effect of deterring further expansion of federal power at the expense of the sovereignty of the people and of the several states. This resolution is timely, practical and non-partisan,” Howell said.
Sen. Thomas Norment, R-Williamsburg, laid out the Republicans’ plans for higher education reform.
Norment, the Senate Republican leader, called for accessibility and affordability to ensure that Virginia students have access to top-tier universities without having to worry about financial restrictions.
The General Assembly convenes at noon Wednesday for a 46-day session. On Wednesday night, McDonnell will deliver his State of the Commonwealth Address to a joint meeting of the House and Senate.
In the speech, McDonnell said he plans to discuss Medicaid reform, energy policy, education and other issues.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.
But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.
That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe McShin Foundation’s tenth annual Pool Party will take place at 1 p.m. at the home of John and Kathy Rueger in Henrico. There will be food, live music, raffle… Full text