Government & Politics

An in-depth look at the issues and policies of our government from the local, state and national levels.

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In South Sudan, there’s a saying:  When Elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.  More than fifty years of war has kept the young nation from finding its own footing.  But an effort by Virginia Tech aims to plant seeds of change there.

South Sudan won independence from the Republic of Sudan in 2011.  Much more than the grass was trampled and aid groups came in to help rebuild the region. But lasting change depends on the ability of local people to solve local problems and that means training teachers.  

A coalition of nonprofit and advocacy organizations says the General Assembly’s legislative process needs to be more open and clear to the public.  

Members of “Transparency Virginia” attended more than three-quarters of the Assembly’s 101 committee and subcommittee meetings during its recent session.  They found a less-than-stellar record of adequate notice for meetings, recorded votes, and full consideration of bills.

Human-rights advocates are applauding the passage and benefits of Virginia's first standalone sex trafficking law, which goes into effect this July.  They say the new law is long overdue and puts the Commonwealth in step with other states that have passed similar measures. But they also say this should simply start the effort to pass laws that deter sex trafficking-which is the second fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the U.S.

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Governor McAuliffe will soon have to decide whether to veto a bill that limits police use of drones without search warrants or accept the fact that the Senate decided to reject his amendments. That’s just one of the bills that the General Assembly debated today during its annual Reconvened Session.

A bipartisan agreement unveiled by state lawmakers and Governor McAuliffe will expedite the construction of two new veterans care centers in Virginia.  To set the plan into motion, the governor proposed amendments to recently passed legislation that would have released state funding only AFTER a U.S. Veterans Affairs grant was awarded -- but state officials say such a delay is unacceptable. 

The plan sets aside $66.7 million in state bonds to construct the centers.  McAuliffe said the federal funds requested by Virginia exceeded the amount allocated for the entire nation.  

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