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McAuliffe Announces International Trade Alliance

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced on Wednesday (7/15) the creation of the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL).

VITAL will work with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to increase international trade in Virginia.

Goals of VITAL over the next five years include growing Virginia exports by over $1.5 billion dollars, as well as creating 14,000 new trade-supported jobs.

The Governor says expanding trade is a must.

McAuliffe Recalls General Assembly To Redraw Congressional District

Governor Terry McAuliffe is calling the General Assembly back to Richmond on August 17th for a special session to redraw Virginia’s 3rd congressional district boundaries.

A court had ordered the maps be redrawn by September 1, 2015 after they found the House Republican authored plan packed black voters in the 3rd district, weakening their voting power in surrounding ones.

Coy says the Governor will adjust that date should the court agree to extend the September 1st deadline they issued 2 months ago.

Lobbyist Spending on Entertainment is Down

Virginia lobbyists spent roughly 16 percent less on drinks, meals and entertainment for state lawmakers over the last 6-month reporting period than before Governor Bob McDonnell’s indictment on corruption charges.

A new report compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project found the total number of entertainment dollars down to $456,000 from $541,000 two years ago.

Some lawmakers, staff and lobbyists appear to be taking greater care to report the gifts that they receive.

McDonnell Supporters Seek Donations To Continue Appeals

Supporters of former Governor McDonnell have issued an urgent appeal for donations to his legal defense fund.

They say his lawyers will pursue the fight to overturn his convictions, after a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld his convictions Friday (7/10)

A non-profit defense effort was set up in 2013, raised about $335,000 and spent $283,000 through the end of last year. 

Republican Delegate Chris Jones Defends House District Boundaries in Court

The Republican Delegate who drew the House of Delegates redistricting plan in 2011 took to the witness stand in Alexandria yesterday (7/8) to defend his work, saying race was just one of many factors used to set the boundaries.

The plaintiffs in the case allege that Jones unnecessarily packed black voters into the 12 districts in question, diluting their voting power in the surrounding ones.

Gilmore to Run for President

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore says he plans to announce in August that he will run for President.

Gilmore told the Richmond Times Dispatch that he would bring unique expertise in national security and economic issues that the other Republican candidates don’t have.

The former Governor, now 65, has also served as a national security advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

He now runs a conservative think tank in Washington.

SCOTUS Redistricting Decision Energizes Reform Advocates

Advocates for redistricting reform say the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that states may redistrict by using an independent commission, should put pressure on Virginia to adopt such a process.

The elections clause in the U.S. Constitution gives states the authority to redistrict. Most state constitutions, including Virginia's, give that power to the legislature, but some grant that responsibility to independent groups.

SCOTUS Ruling on Lethal Injection Drug May Affect Virginia

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow the use of the controversial drug, Midazolam for lethal injections, will affect execution policy in Virginia.

The drug is approved for use in 8 states, including Virginia, as part of a three drug cocktail to execute death row inmates.

Critics say Midazolam does not induce a deep enough coma to ensure inmates experience no pain.

Midazolam has not yet been used in the commonwealth and there are currently no executions pending.

Mixed Reactions in Virginia to Supreme Court EPA Ruling

There were mixed reactions in Virginia to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday that the EPA did not properly consider costs of implementing new mercury and air toxin standards for coal and oil fired power plants.

Benjamin Knotts, Deputy State Director of the Virginia chapter of the conservative tax policy group Americans for Prosperity says the EPA regulations factored into the closure of the Glen Lyn power plant and could have forced others to shut down.


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