Lawmakers return to consider McAuliffe vetoes
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are returning to Richmond to consider Gov. Terry McAuliffe's changes to the General Assembly's 2014 legislation.
Legislators will consider McAuliffe's vetoes and proposed changes to several dozen pieces of legislation during a one-day session Wednesday.
McAuliffe has vetoed two bills concerning religious expression. One would have codified a student's right to pray at school. The other would have prohibited censorship of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard.
The governor also vetoed a bill that would give people who receive red-light tickets the right to contest citations in circuit court. That bill passed the House 99-0 and the Senate 38-1.
The General Assembly won't take up the state's budget. Republicans and Democrats remained deadlocked on whether the budget should include expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Bay Foundation: 2 amicus briefs back cleanup
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says more friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in support of a massive restoration of the estuary.
The leading advocate for the bay's cleanup says one amicus brief has been filed by several cities, including New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A second was filed by Florida conservation groups.
This month, Virginia's attorney general filed an amicus brief in support of the plan.
The briefs have been filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Philadelphia. It is considering an appeal by farm industry groups of a ruling upholding the plan. They have been joined by attorneys general from 21 states in a suit that questions the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to implement the plan.
Fire weather watch issued for Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Forestry has issued a fire weather watch for the entire state.
The advisory issued Wednesday signals an increased threat of wildfires. Forestry officials say the watch has been issued because of predictions of low humidity and high winds, among other factors.
They all add up to an increased wildfire danger.
If those conditions linger, the watch could be upgraded to a red flag warning. That is issued when conditions are ideal for wilderness fires to start easily and spread rapidly.
Meantime, the state's burn law remains in effect until April 30. That restricts burning until after 4 p.m. each day.
Dominion touts power from waste coal at Va plant
ST. PAUL, Va. (AP) - Dominion Virginia Power says its power plant in Wise County has used nearly 1.1 million tons of waste coal since it began operating in July 2012.
The Richmond-based energy provider says Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center near St. Paul uses waste coal from old mining operations as fuel for the power station.
Dominion says the waste coal, also called "gob," is piled along streams and rivers in Southwest Virginia. It is mostly rock and lower-quality coal. About 80 percent of the gob used at the station has come from Virginia.
In addition to waste coal, the power station also is designed to be able to burn waste wood from timbering operations. Officials are hoping to ramp up use of that renewable biomass as fuel at the facility.
Police to step up festival traffic enforcement
WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - Police are planning a one-day traffic safety enforcement blitz during the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
The Virginia State Police and the Frederick County Sheriff's Office are stepping up patrols on the county's highways Monday. State police say it is part of the national traffic enforcement project, Drive to Save Lives.
The campaign targets seatbelt violations, speeding and impaired and distracted driving. Police also will stress compliance with the state's so-called move over law, which requires drivers to change lanes if they are able to do so when passing emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road.
The Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester begins Friday and continues through May 4.
D-Day Memorial to unveil bust of founder May 26
BEDFORD, Va. (AP) - A bust of a veteran who spearheaded the effort to establish the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford will be unveiled on Memorial Day.
The late Bob Slaughter was a D-Day veteran who was wounded twice in France. He served as the Memorial Foundation's chairman from 1994 to 2001.
Slaughter died in 2012 at age 87.
The Roanoke Times reports that the bronze bust created by sculptor Richard Pumphrey will depict Slaughter wearing a coat, tie and sweater, with a small D-Day Memorial pin on the coat's left lapel.
Memorial Foundation president April Cheek-Messier tells the newspaper that the memorial has raised about half of its $100,000 goal for the bust's construction, installation, maintenance and other expenses. She says fundraising will continue after the bust is installed.
CULPEPER POLICE SHOOTING
Judge approves Culpeper police shooting settlement
CULPEPER, Va. (AP) - A judge has approved a $300,000 settlement of a lawsuit stemming from a fatal police shooting in Culpeper.
Media outlets report that the family of Patricia Ann Cook will receive about $170,000 from the settlement. Nearly $130,000 will cover attorney's fees.
The 54-year-old Cook was shot five times by former Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright on Feb. 9, 2012, following an altercation.
Harmon-Wright was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Cook's brother, John Weigler, filed the wrongful death lawsuit.
The settlement approved Tuesday by Culpeper Circuit Court Judge Susan Whitlock was between Weigler, on behalf of Cook's estate, and the town of Culpeper's former insurance carrier.
The settlement also dismissed civil claims against Harmon-Wright, Police Chief Chris Jenkins and former Police Chief Dan Boring.
Va. to promote US 60 stretch as I-64 alternate
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Virginia transportation officials want Interstate 64 travelers to know that there is a less-congested route between Richmond and Hampton Roads.
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to install electronic signs along the I-64 corridor highlighting U.S. 60 as an alternate route. The signs will compare the old highway's drive times with those of the interstate.
Department spokesman Ronald Watrous tells The Virginian-Pilot that temporary, portable messages are expected to be in place by Memorial Day. Permanent signs will be installed by the end of the year.
He says the project will cost about $1 million.
Transportation Secretary and Virginia Beach resident Aubrey Layne supports the initiative. Layne says he's driven U.S. 60 several times when traffic backed up on I-64.
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