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Democratic Senator Resigns, Shifting Balance in Virginia Budget Dispute

Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett will resign June 9, effective immediately, giving control of the evenly divided Senate chamber, at least temporarily, to the GOP and threatening Democrats' hopes to expand the state’s Medicaid program. Republicans reportedly have offered Puckett a spot on the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission staff and given assurances that his daughter will be confirmed as a juvenile circuit court judge.

Warner Calls for Private Input on Vets Fix

Senator Mark Warner along with a bipartisan group of nine other Senators are calling on President Obama to take advantage of private sector help to fix the Veterans Administration scheduling system. Warner says private sector partners could deliver an action plan in 30-45 days. Warner took similar action five years ago when he partnered with the Northern Virginia technology community, which  helped on a pro bono basis to tackle problems at Arlington National Cemetery.

Two Abortion Clinics Want Waivers from Building Regulations

Two abortion clinics are seeking waivers to strict new building regulations, which require such clinics meet the same structural standards as full service hospitals. The State Board of Health is currently reviewing the regulations to determine whether a repeal or amendment are appropriate. The review was ordered by Governor McAuliffe, who has said he will be a brick wall against efforts to restrict women’s access to health care. Victoria Cobb, President of the Virginia Family Foundation supports the regulations.

Clergy Join Marshall in Call for Herring’s Impeachment

A group of African American religious leaders has joined Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Prince William County in his call on the General Assembly to explore impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Mark Herring. The ministers say that at a candidate forum at Chicago Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond on October 21st of last year, Herring said he would uphold Virginia’s Constitution and not make undermining the marriage amendment a priority.

McAuliffe Intrigued By Hanger Medicaid Budget Compromise

Governor Terry McAuliffe says he’s intrigued by the compromise offered by Republican Senator Emmett Hanger, to the stalemate on the state budget and the issue of Medicaid expansion. Hanger has proposed decoupling Medicaid expansion from state budget negotiations in exchange for reforms to the legislative panel charged with the final say on the passage of any expansion plan.

Warner Holds Discussion on Transportation Safety

Senator Mark Warner held a panel discussion with state and local officials at VDOT yesterday to discuss what went wrong in last month’s train derailment and fire in Lynchburg, and to more safely transport crude oil in the future.

Senator Warner says because the U.S. is producing more crude oil domestically and importing less from other countries, most cargo trains are transporting this oil at their maximum capacity.

Mixed Reactions to New EPA Carbon Emissions Standards

Reactions are mixed to the new carbon emissions standards released by the EPA yesterday. In a written statement Congressman Eric Cantor called the new regulations an assault on working families that will increase home electricity bills and says the President owes an explanation to the 5,000 Virginians who work in the coal industry.

Kate Addelson with the Virginia Sierra Club says the regulations will be beneficial for the economy through the creation of new clean energy jobs.

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