Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - AAA Mid-Atlantic says Virginia motorists will pay the lowest Thanksgiving week gasoline prices since 2008.
The auto club says the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Virginia on Sunday was $1.92. That's down seven cents from last week and significantly below the $2.66 that state drivers were paying a year ago.
The Richmond and Norfolk areas are tied for the lowest average price at $1.88, while the Charlottesville area is the highest at $1.95.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The makeup of Virginia's General Assembly remained virtually unchanged following an election that set spending records.

Republicans were able to hold off Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe Tuesday and keep control of the state Senate.

Political analysts say Republicans' victory will make it almost impossible for McAuliffe to achieve any significant legislative legacy in his remaining two years in office.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials say the cost of a benchmark plan on the health care exchange will go up 4 percent for Virginia residents.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia and West Virginia each are receiving $1 million in federal funding for their roles in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Education is intended to help farmland owners plant trees along rivers and streams to reduce runoff into waters that feed the bay.

FARMVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia's Longwood University will host the 2016 vice-presidential debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that the sole vice-presidential debate will be held Oct. 4, 2016, at the small public school in Farmville, which is in central Virginia.

School president W. Taylor Reveley IV said Longwood's selection was a "proud juncture" for the university, which was founded in 1839.

The school said its efforts to host the debate received strong support from Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia's congressional delegation.

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Around 40 people including students gathered outside Christiansburg high school this morning to protest the ban on Confederate flags being displayed on clothing and cars at the school.   

This follows the suspension of 20 students who refused to remove Confederate gear, which the school decided to ban because of incidents of racial tension.

Houston Miller, a senior who has been leading the effort and was one of those suspended, said the protests will continue until the school backs down or he'll take legal action.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia officials are reporting the state's first 2015 case of West Nile virus in a horse.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the 5-year-old Choctaw mare from Orange County had not been vaccinated for the mosquito-borne disease.

Mosquitoes can pick up the virus from infected birds and transfer it to humans, horses and other mammals. No drugs exist for treatment, and the mortality rate in horses is about 30 percent.

Continuous mosquito control can minimize risk of exposure.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Lawyers and Democratic elected officials are asking Virginia's legislative Republican leaders to reconsider plans to replace a newly seated Virginia Supreme Court justice.
But GOP leaders say they're unmoved by those pleas. They say they still plan to replace Justice Jane Marum Roush with Rossie D. Alston Jr. during a special session that starts Aug. 17.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed Roush late last month, to the displeasure of GOP leaders who said they were not properly consulted about the pick.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - State Republican lawmakers say they want oversight of how Virginia implements a federal plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Republicans said Monday they will introduce legislation in the 2016 legislative session requiring General Assembly approval of a state plan to abide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to discuss plans for redistricting reform.

Hogan has scheduled a news conference for Thursday.

The governor announced in his first State of the State speech in February that he planned to form a bipartisan commission to explore reforming Maryland's legislative redistricting process.

At the time, he expressed interest in giving the authority of redrawing the state's legislative districts to an independent bipartisan commission.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is backing the international accord with Iran.

The former Democratic Party chairman made the announcement on Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor. He says the deal takes Iran's nuclear program that was on the verge of success and disables it for many years through peaceful diplomatic means.

He said the pact reached by the United States, Western powers and Tehran is a "dramatic improvement over the status quo" in boosting global security.

Glen Dillon / wikipedia

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service has hundreds of concerns and comments on the prospect of a pipeline carrying natural gas through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.

The comments by Forest Supervisor H. Thomas Speaks Jr. are addressed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in response to filings by the builders of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The pipeline would transport fracked natural gas from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina.

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DANVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says it's up to Danville City Council to decide whether a Confederate flag should be removed from the grounds of a city-owned mansion.
Herring tells media outlets that the flag shouldn't be on public property. He says he supports its removal.
The council has said it doesn't have the authority under Virginia law to remove the flag from the Sutherlin Mansion. The law forbids removal of a war monument or memorial.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A craft brewery in Richmond is expanding, creating 56 jobs in the process.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday the $28 million expansion of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Goochland County.

The investment over the next five years involves a new brewery complex to complement its Richmond location. The 60,000-square-foot brewery will include a taproom, an amphitheater and more.

Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore says the expansion creates a "huge opportunity" to expand the craft beer supply chain in Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A lawsuit aimed at keeping cattle out of Virginia streams that feed into the Chesapeake Bay has been rejected by a Circuit Court judge in Richmond.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said Tuesday it will review the decision before deciding on its next step.

The foundation sued the state to push for regulations that would require Virginia's largest livestock operations to fence off streams to keep their animals out of the water.

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - The chief architect of a Republican legislative redistricting plan says race was just one of many factors used to redraw boundaries in Virginia's House of Delegates.

Delegate Chris Jones of Suffolk testified Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria. The GOP-controlled House of Delegates is defending itself in a lawsuit that alleges the 2011 redistricting unconstitutionally packed black voters into 12 legislative districts.

The lawsuit claims that packing black voters into those districts limited their influence in the rest of the state.

U.S. Navy

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A state commission has released a report detailing how Virginia can help grow the military's presence in the state.

The military is a major driver of the economies of northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. In 2013, the Defense Department spent more than $58 billion in Virginia.

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - The chief architect of a Republican legislative redistricting plan is expected to testify in a lawsuit that claims the plan unconstitutionally packs black voters into a dozen legislative districts.

Delegate Chris Jones of Suffolk is expected to take the stand Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria and defend the plan. Jones led efforts in 2011 to redraw that state's legislative boundaries for the 100-member House of Delegates.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A lawsuit is challenging Virginia rules governing large farm operations, arguing that waters feeding the Chesapeake Bay are being fouled by livestock.

The lawsuit was filed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Richmond Circuit Court. It argues that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board erred when they approved a new 10-year pollution abatement permit governing large dairy, cattle, pig and poultry farms.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The controversial execution drug approved by the U.S. Supreme Court is used in Virginia, but no executions are scheduled and the state's supply expires at the end of September.

Midazolam is one of three drugs Virginia can use in step one of its three-drug execution protocol. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney says the state doesn't have either of the other two step-one drugs and is unable to obtain them. Also, it's uncertain whether additional midazolam will be available after the current batch expires.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginians who take summer road trips can take advantage of the seventh-lowest gasoline prices in the nation.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the average price of gasoline in Virginia is $2.54 per gallon. That's well below the national average of $2.75 per gallon.

South Carolina has the lowest gas prices at $2.46 per gallon.

The auto club says about six in 10 Americans say they're likely to take trips of 50 miles or more this summer if gas prices remain steady. Last year, travelers had to pay an average of $3.65 per gallon.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The federal government says Virginia's economy was flat last year.

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau for Economic Analysis said Wednesday that Virginia's real gross domestic product was $427.45 billion in 2014, compared with $427.35 billion in 2013.

Slight growth in retail trade, information, durable goods, and health care and social assistance were offset by small declines in construction, real estate and nondurable goods.

Virginia's economy grew by rates of 0.4 percent in 2013, 0.7 percent in 2012 and 0.6 percent in 2011.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Dominion Virginia Power is seeking to convert sunshine into power at four public schools.

The utility is seeking applications from schools in its service area under a program aimed at helping students learn about solar energy.

The company's philanthropic arm, the Dominion Foundation, will select the four schools that will receive the 1 kilowatt photovoltaic system.

Dominion says 1 kilowatt is enough electricity to power 15 desktop computers, 33 ten-gallon aquariums, or three 42-inch plasma TVs.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia egg production totaled 765 million eggs in 2014, an increase of 6 percent from the previous year.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tallied up all the eggs and concluded they could be used to bake 190 million pound cakes or more than 1.5 billion holiday eggnogs.

The 2014 value of egg production was $114 million, up 15 percent, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. That ranks Virginia 27th in the U.S. in egg production.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - A deadline is looming for the annual Clean the Bay Day sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The annual shoreline litter cleanup is being held Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Wednesday is the final day to volunteer.

The foundation is seeking thousands of volunteers on foot and in boats to help tidy up the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and its many rivers and streams.

In 2014, more than 6,000 volunteers participated, removing 110,000 pounds of litter and debris along nearly 500 miles of shoreline.

University of Virginia website

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A task force has issued 21 recommendations to combat sexual assaults on Virginia's college and university campuses.

The recommendations from the Task Force on Combating Sexual Violence were submitted to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday. He created the panel last summer.

Many of the recommendations build on or complement existing programs and few require new legislation.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - For the better part of three decades, Virginia operated one of the busiest execution chambers in the nation. Not anymore.

Statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center show that Virginia has sent only six people to death row in the last nine years after sending 40 over the previous eight years. As a result, the state only has eight inmates awaiting execution - down from a high of 57 in 1995.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Newly filed finance reports show Virginia Republican state lawmakers have a large cash advantage over their Democratic counterparts going into this year's campaign season.

But Democrats say they don't have as much in the bank because they're already spending it on efforts similar to what helped their candidates, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, sweep all three statewide offices in 2013.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's state revenues are higher than previously projected with March collections up nearly 12 percent higher than a year ago.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office released figures Monday showing that total revenue collections are up 7.1 percent so far this fiscal year. That's more than 2 percentage points higher than the growth projected in a budget lawmakers approved in the 2015 legislative session.

McAuliffe said the strong revenues are a sign that Virginia's economy is improving.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a new state budget that includes a pay increases for state employees, boosts cash benefits for welfare recipients and has more money for the governor to spend on economic development.

The Democratic governor signed the budget Thursday at the Capitol while touting his good working relationship with Republican leaders on the state's spending plan.

McAuliffe did not try and amend the budget that state lawmakers approved last month.