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Webb Tells National Press Club He Is “Seriously Looking” At Presidential Bid

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb said yesterday that he is “seriously looking” at a Democratic presidential campaign in 2016. Webb said in a speech to the National Press Club that he has talked to respected advisers about a presidential bid and will continue to have those discussions during the next four or five months. Webb’s potential move would create a challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.

Republican Speaker of the Virginia House Says He Will Block Some McAuliffe Appointments

Virginia’s Republican House Speaker says he is blocking the appointments of three recently-resigned Democratic state lawmakers who took new jobs in state government. Speaker William Howell’s office said yesterday he would not allow the House of Delegates to confirm the appointments by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, until he is given guidance by federal prosecutors on whether they are legal.

In a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, Howell said he was motivated to seek guidance because of the federal probe into former Democratic Senator Phil Puckett.

Howell Asks Holder for Guidance on McAuliffe Appointments

Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, to issue a ruling on whether Governor Terry McAuliffe’s appointment of 3 state legislators to state position is legal. Howell believes the appointments are legal, but says the ongoing investigation into the resignation of former Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett raises concerns that should the House confirm the appointments they could be facilitating the violation of federal law.

McAuliffe Wants All Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk Schools Accredited in 3 Years

Speaking yesterday at Peabody Middle School in Petersburg, Governor Terry McAuliffe set an ambitious goal for all schools in Richmond, Petersburg and Norfolk to reach full accreditation by the end of his term in three years. Governor McAuliffe believes the goal is achievable by implementing the best practices of accredited schools with high poverty rates.

In addition, McAuliffe wants to further streamline the SOLs, pursue federal grants to expand access to Pre-K programs and offer incentives to keep teachers in hard to staff schools in their jobs.

House Rejects GOP Authored Medicaid Expansion Alternative Plan

Last night on a 64 to 33 vote, the House of Delegates rejected a private insurance based Medicaid expansion alternative proposal from a northern Virginia Republican. The plan from Republican Delegate Tom Rust of Fairfax would return $1.9 billion that Virginians are already paying under the Affordable Care Act to the Commonwealth, to expand coverage through employer based insurance, managed care organizations and qualified health plans and would also remake the existing Virginia Medicaid program.

House Authorizes Speaker to Hire Outside Counsel in Same Sex Marriage Case

The House of Delegates has voted to give the Speaker of the House the power to hire outside counsel to defend the state’s ban on same sex marriage or any other state law. Attorney General Mark Herring declined to defend the same sex marriage ban earlier this year and has since actively worked against it. The resolution represents the position of the House and does not need the approval of the Senate or Governor.

Advocates Urge Legislators to Vote Their Conscience on Medicaid

Advocates for Medicaid expansion say real people will be affected by the decisions the Virginia legislature makes during its two-day special session, beginning today (September 18) at noon.

Ray Scher, a member of Virginia Organizing, wants legislators to vote their conscience when the consider expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Scher says Medicaid expansion is a social ethical issue, not a political or special interest group issue.

Rust Explains His Medicaid Expansion Alternative Plan

The plan from Republican Delegate Tom Rust of Fairfax returns $1.9 billion that Virginians are already paying under the Affordable Care Act to the Commonwealth, to expand coverage through employer based insurance, managed care organizations and qualified health plans on the federal exchange to create a bridge program.

The Rust plan also provides financial assistance to those who earn between 133% and 150% of the federal poverty rate to encourage them to buy coverage. His bill would then substantially remake the existing Virginia Medicaid program.

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