Attention Readers: Effective immediately all contact forms on EmporiaNews.com have been removed to prevent spam. Anything you wish to send to Emporia News should be sent to news@emporianews.com.

Current Weather Conditions

 
Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia
 

Community Calendar Sponsored By...

 

Tyler Woodall

Emporia News needs your help...

Do you read Emporia News every day? Have you ever considered supporting this community based news service with a donation? You may also make a recurring donation with a subscription.

Emporia News needs your help because it is time to replace a laptop and a camera, so that I may continue to bring you a quality site. It troubles me to ask for donations, but without support, Emporia News may be forced to shut down. Thank You.

After soaring under Obama, gun industry drops under Trump

 

By Nick Versaw and Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Earlier this year, gun rights groups and gun control advocates met at Capitol Square to face off in dueling rallies and seek support for their views. Gun rights advocates held blaze orange signs that read “Guns save lives.” Their adversaries preached stricter regulation with a sea of yellow signs that proclaimed the opposite – “Background checks save lives.”

This wouldn’t be the first time, or the last, that the opposite ends of the gun spectrum would meet to express their perspectives on firearms.

The Second Amendment has remained at the forefront of the American consciousness for decades. According to the Pew Research Center, gun policy was one of the five most important issues for voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.

As the country has become more partisan, opinions on guns have become increasingly polarizing. “The gap in how candidates’ supporters view overall priorities for the nation’s gun policy is much wider today than it has been in any presidential campaign dating to 2000,” Pew stated.

This polarization in Americans’ views on guns has created a climate where the firearms industry and the political landscape of the day share a closer relationship than one might think.

During the eight-year term of Democratic and gun-control-minded President Barack Obama, firearm sales soared.

In 2016, the number of queries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System required to purchase a gun topped 27 million – a 116 percent increase from 2008, the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency. Moreover, in the first six years of the Obama presidency, the number of guns manufactured in the United States more than doubled.

As much as firearm manufacturers may not like to admit it, the anti-gun ideology of the Obama administration provided a massive boost to business. The stock prices of two of the premier firearm manufacturers – American Outdoor Brands (formerly called Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. – experienced tenfold increases during the eight years following Obama’s 2008 election.

However, this close-knit relationship wasn’t always the case. For example, the last time a Democrat was in the White House, this connection was not as apparent. During President Bill Clinton’s second term in office from 1996-2000, the number of guns manufactured took a slight dip. During Clinton’s final two years in the Oval Office, sales followed a similar trend.

During George W. Bush’s eight years in office, the industry saw a 48 percent increase as the post-9/11 fear of terrorism spread across the country, but the rise paled in comparison to what the industry experienced during Obama’s presidency.

However, the industry began a swift downturn following the election of Republican Donald Trump, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, in November.

In the first three months of 2017, coinciding with Trump’s first 100 days in office, gun sale background checks dropped nearly 13 percent compared with the previous year. Taking those figures into consideration, the United States is on pace to sell nearly 1 million fewer guns than in 2016.

Virginia gun dealers have not been immune to these trends. Peyton Galanti, marketing manager for Richmond’s Colonial Shooting Academy, said the Broad Street gun range has witnessed this firsthand.

“Sales have been much slower since Election Day,” Galanti said. “The economy is still slow, especially in retail. Customers are not yet comfortable spending money. Without the panic of losing their (Second Amendment) rights, customers are making more calculated, prudent spending decisions.”

In addition to a drop in sales, overall consumer confidence in the firearms industry has plummeted since the Nov. 8 election. Stock prices of Vista Outdoor Inc. – owner of many of the most popular ammunition companies in addition to gun makers Savage Arms and Stevens – have dropped by nearly 50 percent.

This trend has led to layoffs at major manufacturers of firearms ammunitions and gun-related accessories.

In March, firearms manufacturer Remington – one of the top producers of guns in the country – laid off more than 120 workers in an upstate New York manufacturing plant the company has operated since the 19th century.

That same month, Federal Premium Ammunition cut 110 jobs in Minnesota.

Magpul – a top weapons accessories manufacturer – laid off 85 workers in April from a Wyoming-based plant. The workers were part of a hiring increase to help meet the market demands of the company’s products throughout the Obama presidency. The layoffs came after the company saw a return to normal demand in the first quarter of 2017.

Galanti believes the fear created by the Obama administration’s anti-gun ideology led to an oversaturation of the firearms market over the course of the past eight years.

“This industry was flooded with people who wanted a piece of the pie, and these fly-by-night companies probably will not weather the storm of 2017,” Galanti said. “There have already been many layoffs around the country, and companies are restructuring. The suppressor business has been especially hurt.” Suppressors, or silencers, can be attached to gun muzzles to reduce the noise of firing.

Galanti blames the Obama administration for uncertain economic conditions that have caused an unwillingness of Americans to spend their hard-earned money on guns.

“People are reluctant to spend because American incomes have been hit so hard over the last eight years,” Galanti said. “Given much change under the current president, the economy will become unchained and roll like a steam engine again in the future. We just don’t know how long it will take.”

Many within the industry believe the economic policies of the pro-gun Trump administration will lead to stability in the gun market after what they saw as eight years of uncertainty under Obama.

“The industry is expecting to normalize over 2017 and get back to steady consistent sales, instead of the yo-yo/panic buying of the past, where supply and demand were so off balance,” Galanti added.

However, it is unknown where that “new normal” will lie or when the market will stabilize after the distinctive surge under Obama. The pro-Second Amendment policies of the current president may stave off the fear of further control and regulation after what Trump called an “eight-year assault” on guns.

At the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting last week, Trump proclaimed that gun-owners now “have a true friend and champion in the White House.” Whether that will lead to a strong market for firearms remains to be seen.

Polarization over guns leads to surge in legislation

By Tyler Woodall and Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most polarizing election cycles in recent memory, as supporters from both sides of the aisle expressed their distaste for the opposing party’s candidate and hot-button issues rose to the front of the United States’ collective political mind.

With tragedies like the Sandy Hook, Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino shootings littering the past several years, the fight to crack down on guns has risen to the forefront of the American political landscape.

According to the Pew Research Center, gun policy was among the five most important issues to the American populace during last year’s election – more important to voters than even immigration, Social Security and education.

However, while guns remained a hot-button issue among Americans, there were some topics that supporters of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were able to agree upon.

For example, according to Pew, at least 75 percent of both candidates’ supporters agreed on mandated background checks at gun shows. At least 82 percent of each group also saw eye to eye when it came to restrictions on gun ownership for people with mental illness.

Even so, voters remained sharply divided over many other gun-related issues.

Nearly 75 percent of Clinton supporters endorsed restrictions on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, while only 34 percent of Trump supporters shared that viewpoint.

 

 

 
 

The distance between the two parties on guns has increased dramatically in recent years. According to Pew, there was a 20 percentage-point difference between the supporters of Al Gore and George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race when it came to controlling gun ownership versus protecting gun rights. That gap more than doubled to 41 points in the 2012 race and ballooned to a 70-point difference between Trump and Clinton supporters last year.

The country’s overall viewpoint on gun rights has flipped since the 2000 election. That year, 66 percent of voters supported restricting gun rights, with only 29 percent looking to protect gun ownership. By 2016, those figures had reversed, with more than half of voters supporting gun ownership.

In addition, Pew found that a majority of the public believes that gun ownership in the United States does more to protect citizens from being a victim of crimes. A little over a third think guns are putting the public in greater danger.

These trends have led to a flood of gun-related legislation at both the state and federal levels.

In Virginia, 111 weapons-related bills were introduced to the General Assembly in 2016 – a 170 percent increase over the previous year. Of those bills, only 14 were signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

 

 

 
 

During his four-year term as governor, McAuliffe witnessed this increase in gun legislation first-hand. McAuliffe’s predecessor, Republican Bob McDonnell, saw 171 weapons-related bills introduced during his time as governor. McAuliffe has seen 300.

With the 2017 governor’s race heating up, the state’s gun policy hangs in the balance. With a Republican-led General Assembly, a GOP gubernatorial win in November could lead to an expansion of gun rights over the next four years.

Even if a Democrat is elected governor, the trends indicate gun regulation will remain at the forefront of the local and national political landscape.

State lawmakers pass laser hair removal regulations

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Laser hair removal in Virginia would have to be done under the supervision of a doctor or other health professional, according to a bill approved this week by the General Assembly.

House Bill 2119, sponsored by Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, would require that laser hair removal treatments be performed by a medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner – or by a “properly trained person” working under one of those professionals.

Virginia and New York are the only states that allow people who aren’t health professionals to perform laser hair removal. Thirty states require at least some supervision by a physician during the procedure.

The push for regulation in Virginia began in 2016 when a constituent came to Keam with a horror story about a hair removal treatment performed by a spa employee who turned out to be a janitor.

The problem has affected many people in the Richmond area, according to investigative reports by television stations WWBT and WRIC. They interviewed people who have suffered burns, blisters and scars from local “med spas.” One woman said she feared for her life after receiving a botched laser facial from a spa in Henrico County.

For the 2016 legislative session, Keam introduced a bill that would have required individuals who practice laser hair removal to be licensed by the state Board of Medicine. That measure died in a subcommittee.

The bill Keam carried this legislative session had support from the Virginia Department of Health Professionals and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. In a 2016 report, those departments said the state’s regulatory framework governing the use of laser technology for hair removal was not up to their standards.

“The lack of comprehensive regulation over the use of laser technology for hair removal specifically, as well as conflicting oversight regarding minimally invasive cosmetic procedures generally, poses a risk of harm to the public’s health, safety and welfare,” the agencies’ report said. It urged lawmakers to consider increasing the regulation of laser hair removal.

Keam’s bill passed the House of Delegates, 90-7, on Feb. 7 and the Senate, 25-15, on Monday. It now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature. If approved, the law would take effect July 1.

State announces $722,000 in tourism grants

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia’s tourism programs are set to have a major payday after an announcement from Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday. More than $722,000 in matching funds from the state will be awarded to local tourism initiatives across the commonwealth.

The funding comes as a part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Marketing Leverage Program, which helps tourism entities attract more visitors from across the country.

This year, the funding cycle saw local partners commit more than $3.46 million to match the VTC grants, bringing the total to over $4.4 million in marketing funds. This is the highest dollar amount matched by partners ever in a funding cycle, state officials said.

The funds will aim to increase visitation to Virginia and ultimately impact more than 264 statewide tourism entities. The 264 entities receiving funding are the most in the history of the program.

“The Marketing and Leverage Program grants provide a vital opportunity for destinations and businesses across the commonwealth, helping to create jobs promote economic development and increase visitor spending,” McAuliffe said as he congratulated the tourism partners receiving funding.

If a tourism entity wants to receive a grant, it must partner with at least three other entities, which may include a visitors’ bureau or an area’s destination attraction or event.

“The Marketing Leverage Program grants provide vital funding to our tourism businesses across the commonwealth, helping to make Virginia an incredible place to visit but also live,” said Todd Haymore, the state’s secretary of commerce and trade.

One event that received funding is the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester. The festival, which runs from April 28 through May 7, will get $25,000 from the VTC.

“The funding for this year will help us and allow us to spend more money in a way to get the word out,” said Dario Savarese, marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the Apple Blossom Festival, which is celebrating its 90th year. “It becomes very difficult because advertising is expensive.”

Tourism is a significant revenue producer for the commonwealth. In 2015, it generated $23 billion and supported more than 223,000 jobs while providing $1.6 billion in state and local taxes, state officials said.

List of grant recipients and amounts they received

Program Name

Lead Partner

Award Amount

1864 Shenandoah Campaign Film and Third Winchester Orientation Film

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation

$8,515

2017 VA Commonwealth Games at Liberty University – Border State Outreach

Virginia Amateur Sports

$5,000

90th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

$25,000

Alleghany Highlands Arts & Mountain Heritage

Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

$14,700

Artisan Trail Network: Ever Expanding, Evolving & Engaging

Artisans Center of Virginia

$7,866.50

Back of the Dragon

Tazewell County

$5,000

Bike the Valley Marketing Program

Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission

$12,500

Biplanes and Triplanes

Military Aviation Museum

$5,000

Birthplace of Country Music – Marketing Campaign for 90th Anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions

Birthplace of Country Music

$25,000

Blue Ridge Root to Table

Nibblins LLC

$25,000

Cape Charles Art Soaked Weekends: July 2017

Experimental Film Virginia

$5,000

Celebrating Virginia in NYC with Richmond Ballet

Richmond Ballet

$13,232

Create Your Own Story in Wytheville, Virginia

Wytheville Convention & Visitors Bureau

$25,000

Damascus, Crossing Paths

Town of Damascus

$5,000

Danville Pittsylvania County Tourism Advisory Committee

Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce

$25,000

Discover Bristol Marketing Initiative

Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau

$25,000

Discover the Birthplace of American Wine: Revamping of Brand Identity and Online Presence.

Monticello Wine Trail

$5,000

Discover Virginia’s Romantic Blue Ridge Whisky Wine Loop – “Where Mountains, Wine & Adventure meet

Discover Shenandoah

$2,500

Downtown Blacksburg – 2017 Campaign

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

$4,500

Experience Appomattox

Appomattox County Chamber of Commerce

$4,500

Experience Russell

Russell County Tourism

$5,000

Fairfax County Interactive Rich Media Advertising Campaign

Visit Fairfax

$12,500

Farm-to-Fork in Luray & Page County

Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce

$25,000

Get Outside and Play “in the Burg”

Back Home on the Farm

$12,448.50

Glass Arts Conference/Spring Marketing

Chrysler Museum of Art

$14,317

Hampton Roads Sports Commission

Hampton Roads Sports Commission

$5,000

Key to the City

Visit Alexandria

$25,000

Kick Up Your Heels

Virginia Highlands Festival

$9,350

Lex It Up!

Rockbridge Area Tourism

$23,000.50

Marketing the 40th Anniversary of the Richmond Marathon

Metropolitan Richmond Sports Backers

$25,000

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville Speedway

$25,000

Music Lovers Weekend Getaway Package

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, Inc.

$5,000

Newport News Craft Beer Tourism Program

Economic Development Authority of the City of Newport News, Virginia

$5,000

NVVC 2017 Canada Program

Visit Loudoun

$9,375

Olde Towne Portsmouth Summer Arts Promotion

Olde Towne Business Association

$2,250

Richmond Beer Trail Marketing Campaign – Spring 2017

Richmond Region Tourism

$5,583

Roanoke River Blueway Promotion

Roanoke Valley - Alleghany Regional Commission

$5,000

Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail Magazine

Shen. Valley Wine Growers Assn.

$7,500

Showcasing the Blue Ridge Parkway

Primland

$25,000

Simply Panache Getaways

Mango Mangeaux, LLC

$5,000

Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo

Heartwood

$5,000

Southwest Virginia: “A Different Side of Virginia” Multimedia Marketing and Branding Initiative

Friends of Southwest Virginia

$25,000

Spartan Race

Infinity Downs

$17,500

SquirreLee University Marketing Initiative

Stratford Hall

$4,976

Starr Hill Brewery IPA JamBEERee & Hop On Tour Promotions

Starr Hill Brewery

$14,932.50

The Breaks: Centuries of Struggle

Breaks Interstate Park

$15,500

The Crooked Road Visitor Guide 2017

The Crooked Road

$13,100

The Perfect Getaway ... Is Not So Far Away

Northern Neck Tourism Commission

$5,000

The Year of Discovery

Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation

$3,000

Thomas Jefferson Craft Beer Tasting Event

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

$5,000

Today’s Shenandoah Valley

Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission

$25,000

Tom Founders Festival

Tom Founders Festival

$25,000

Virginia is for Music Lovers

Virginia Arts Festival

$25,000

Virginia Marine Trades Association – Boat Virginia

Virginia Marine Trades Association

$2,500

Virginia’s River Realm Brand Videos

Town of Kilmarnock

$7,500

VirginiaSpirits.org Phase 2 Launch

Virginia Distillers Association

$5,000

Visit Shenandoah

Shenandoah Valley Travel Association

$9,050

Waterford Fair

Waterford Foundation, Inc.

$7,431

Website Creation – Abingdon, VA

Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau

$25,000

Website Rebuild and Design and Update Marketing Materials and Images

Garth Newel Music Center

$12,500

Western Front Hotel ... Experience Southwest Virginia!

Western Front Hotel

$14,166.50

Williamsburg Harvest Celebration

Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance

$5,877.50

Small businesses may get break on tax penalties

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – New small businesses that fall behind on their state taxes would get a break under a bill passed by the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

SB 793 would waive the penalties for small businesses that are in arrears in paying their taxes during their first two years in operation.

The legislation was introduced by Republican Sens. Glen Sturtevant and Amanda Chase, both of Chesterfield. It would waive any penalties related to taxes administered by the Virginia Department of Taxation as long as the small business has signed an installment agreement to complete payment of its taxes.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill in January, and on Wednesday, the House voted 94-5 to approve it as well. However, the House amended the bill so that the tax penalty waiver would expire on June 30, 2022. The measure now goes back to the Senate.

The legislation defines a small business as “an independently owned and operated business that has been organized pursuant to Virginia law or maintains a principal place of business in Virginia and has 10 or fewer employees.”

Small businesses with 10 or fewer employees made up nearly 72 percent of the businesses in the commonwealth in 2012, according to the fiscal impact statement accompanying the bill.

Delegates argued briefly about the sunset amendment, which was offered by Del. James Massie, R-Henrico.

Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, asked why the change had not been proposed earlier when the House Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, questioned whether the amendment was needed. He said the House could pass the bill in its original form and eliminate the tax penalty waiver program later on if it’s not beneficial to the commonwealth.

But Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, supported the amendment. He fears that a business may get behind on its taxes, enter into an installment plan, get the tax penalty waived but never finish paying its taxes.

Toscano said the bill “doesn’t say ‘complete’ -- it says ‘enters into.’ So you have this situation where a person can enter into their agreement but never perform it, and then the taxpayer is on the hook.”

Small businesses may get break on tax penalties

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – New small businesses that fall behind on their state taxes would get a break under a bill passed by the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

SB 793 would waive the penalties for small businesses that are in arrears in paying their taxes during their first two years in operation.

The legislation was introduced by Republican Sens. Glen Sturtevant and Amanda Chase, both of Chesterfield. It would waive any penalties related to taxes administered by the Virginia Department of Taxation as long as the small business has signed an installment agreement to complete payment of its taxes.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill in January, and on Wednesday, the House voted 94-5 to approve it as well. However, the House amended the bill so that the tax penalty waiver would expire on June 30, 2022. The measure now goes back to the Senate.

The legislation defines a small business as “an independently owned and operated business that has been organized pursuant to Virginia law or maintains a principal place of business in Virginia and has 10 or fewer employees.”

Small businesses with 10 or fewer employees made up nearly 72 percent of the businesses in the commonwealth in 2012, according to the fiscal impact statement accompanying the bill.

Delegates argued briefly about the sunset amendment, which was offered by Del. James Massie, R-Henrico.

Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, asked why the change had not been proposed earlier when the House Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, questioned whether the amendment was needed. He said the House could pass the bill in its original form and eliminate the tax penalty waiver program later on if it’s not beneficial to the commonwealth.

But Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, supported the amendment. He fears that a business may get behind on its taxes, enter into an installment plan, get the tax penalty waived but never finish paying its taxes.

Toscano said the bill “doesn’t say ‘complete’ -- it says ‘enters into.’ So you have this situation where a person can enter into their agreement but never perform it, and then the taxpayer is on the hook.”

Senate clears a path for robots to deliver

By: Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Robots soon may be among us on the streets. Those who are homebound, busy or just don’t feel like going to the store gained a victory when SB 1207 passed unanimously through the Virginia Senate this week.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach, would allow the use of Electronic Personal Delivery Devices, or EPDDs, on sidewalks, crosswalks and shared-use paths throughout Virginia.

A similar bill in the House of Delegates, sponsored by Del. Ron Villaneuva, R-Chesapeake, is awaiting a floor vote. Villaneuva’s HB 2016received a21-0 approval in the House Transportation Committee.

Statewide approval of the devices would be the first of its kind in the United States, legislators and company officials say.

“Passage of the bill in the Senate demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to innovation and the Commonwealth’s willingness to encourage the use of unmanned systems,” DeSteph said.

A London-based robotics company, Starship Technologies, which backed the legislation, already is building a fleet of delivery robots designed to maneuver high-density urban areas in 15-30 minutes.

The devices would use sidewalks to deliver groceries, parcels and food. They come equipped with a sophisticated obstacle detection system and can travel up to 3 miles from a base location while carrying loads up to 40 pounds and traveling at a pedestrian speed, according to Starship Technologies’ website, www.starship.xyz

The primary aim of the robots is to reduce congestion and pollution in cities and neighborhoods, while providing convenience and reduced costs for customers and businesses.

To date, the robots have traveled tens of thousands of miles, met millions of people and have been tested in over 50 cities around the world, DeSteph said after his bill passed Wednesday.

“Starship Technologies is delighted with the passage of Sen. DeSteph’s legislation from the Senate, and the team are excited about the opportunity to bring this technology to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Allan Martinson, chief operating officer of Starship Technologies.

Democrats and Republicans Join Forces at Capitol Classic

By Tyler Woodall and Nick Versaw, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia government officials participated in the ninth annual Massey Capitol Classic Challenge on Tuesday night at Virginia Commonwealth University.

While Democrats and Republicans often are at odds at the state Capitol, members of the Senate and House of Delegates from both sides of the aisle fought for the same cause at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Adding to the night’s light-hearted feel, the legislators were joined by former NBA center Ben Wallace, NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler and former VCU Ram and second round NBA draft pick Calvin Duncan.

The atmosphere was electric, as raucous choruses from VCU’s Peppas pep band and Henrico High School’s Marching Warriors echoed throughout the arena.

However, in the shadow of VCU’s 2011 Final Four banner, the action on the court was far from the level normally seen at The Stu.

Although the night was filled with air balls and turnovers, the sloppy play got the job done, as the night’s festivities helped raise more than $23,000 for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center. The largest donations came from Ben and Chandra Wallace, the CSX Corporation, the Sadler family and Capitol lobbyists.

The night’s festivities kicked off in front of a crowd of several hundred as the governor’s staff took on Capitol lobbyists. The lobbyists ultimately took home the bragging rights after winning 45-34.

Shortly after, the Senate won the night’s All-Star Shootout by a commanding 81-19 final score. However, the senators’ joy was short-lived as they were unable to bring that same lights-out shooting to the night’s premiere event.

The House, led by Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, came out of the gates with the hot hand, taking a commanding 16-5 halftime lead. However, the first half’s action was less-than-stellar, and one announcer quipped, “That’s 15 minutes we’ll never get back.”

The second half was much of the same, with the exception of Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who came out of the huddle looking to carry his team back from the brink. However, Petersen’s efforts were not enough to carry his Senate colleagues past Sadler and Rasoul-led House.

At the final buzzer, the House came out with a commanding 31-17 victory, with Rasoul being named the game’s MVP.

Rasoul said he was happy to take home the honor in front of the friendly crowd and, for once, to join hands with his opponents across the aisle.

“It was great we got to have a good time and do it all for a good cause,” he said. “The one thing I love about this event is, it’s bipartisan. It’s House vs. Senate, and the more we can do in a bipartisan way, the more fun it is.”

Sadler, who helped Rasoul carry the House to victory Tuesday night, said he relished the opportunity to play at The Stu.

“I could’ve performed a little bit better, but the main thing is it’s for a great cause,” Sadler said. “I’ve been here to watch the Rams play, and it’s neat to be able to come here and play on this floor for such a good cause.”

After taking a moment to let it sink in, he added, “I think I’m undefeated on this floor right now, so that’s pretty cool.”

School Security Gun Bill Passes House

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – School security officers could carry firearms in schools under a bill passed Tuesday by the House of Delegates.

The GOP-controlled House voted 78 to 19, with several Democrats joining Republicans in support, to pass HB 1392. This is the second time in as many years that a version of the bill has made it past the House and into the Senate.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the measure last year.

The bill, introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, would allow school districts across the commonwealth to employ security officers to carry firearms in school if they meet requirements spelled out in the bill.

According to those requirements:

  • The school employee must be a law-enforcement officer who retired or resigned in good standing.
  • The employee has met additional training and certification requirements set by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.
  • The local school board solicits input from the locality’s chief law-enforcement officer regarding the employee’s qualifications.
  • The local school board grants the employee the authority to carry a firearm while on duty.

The bill would also require the DCJS to develop firearms training and certification requirements for school security officers who intend to carry a firearm.

In a statement, Lingamfelter said that he was happy that his bill had passed with bipartisan support. He called it “a common-sense measure to protect our children and teachers from the unthinkable.”

The bill faces another round of hearings in the Senate, which approved the measure last year and has enough Republican votes to pass it on to McAuliffe.

In vetoing similar legislation last April, McAuliffe said he feared that school security officers “do not receive training regarding firearms or the appropriate use of force with juveniles.”

“Allowing additional firearms in schools without appropriate training would create an environment that is less, rather than more, secure,” the governor wrote.

School Security Officer Gun Bill Gains Ground

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The House of Delegates voted Monday to advance to third reading a bill that would allow school security officers to carry firearms.

Under the legislation, school districts could employ security officers to carry a firearm in the performance of their duty if they meet certain requirements.

Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, told House members that HB 1392 addresses the concerns Gov. Terry McAuliffe raised when he vetoed a similar bill last year.

“In his veto message as I recall, he was worried about the vetting process: Are we going to be picking people who are well vetted to do this important work?” Lingamfelter said.

The bill is expected to receive the House’s final approval later this week.

Under HB 1392, school security officers could carry a firearm if:

  • The school employee is a law-enforcement officer who retired or resigned in good standing.
  • The employee has met additional training and certification requirements set by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.
  • The local school board solicits input from the locality’s chieflaw-enforcement officer regarding the employee’s qualifications.
  • The local school board grants the employee the authority to carry a firearm while on duty.

The bill would also require the DCJS to establish firearms training and certification requirements for school security officers who carry a firearm.

House Republicans said the bill is needed because law enforcement officers need more time to respond to emergencies in rural areas of the commonwealth.

“None of us want to contemplate the unthinkable that something horrible can happen in a school,” Lingamfelter said. “Law enforcement, particularly in rural areas, who have to travel greater distances, might be delayed in getting there to stop a calamity, and that is my motivation.”

Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Fauquier, backed the argument by speaking of his own district: “They don’t have a lot of resources, and this is another alternative for that locality to protect their children utilizing their resources.”

Webert said his district faces the struggle of having only one school resource officer to cover three schools. The resource officers are members of police or sheriff’s departments.

House Democrats opposed the bill. Citing grim statistics on teen gun violence, Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax said, “School resource officers are sufficient. We don’t need to expand the class of folks that can bring guns into our schools.”

Webert replied, “I don’t understand why the gentlemen would be against protecting children and giving localities the ability to protect our children.”

Hunting Dog Group Rallies Against Trespassing Bill

By Tyler Woodall and Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – About 150 hunters and members of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance turned out at the Virginia Capitol on Tuesday to show their displeasure with a bill that would fine the owners of dogs that trespass on other people’s property.

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, is sponsoring HB 1900, which would impose a $100 fine if a dog runs at large on property where the owner has given notice verbally, in writing, by placing signs or by marking trees with blue paint on the property line.

The speakers who addressed the passionate crowd adorned in blaze-orange hunting caps included H. Kirby Burch, the CEO of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance; Jeff Sili, a member of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors; and recently elected state Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg.

“Your participation sends a message that you care, that you are watching, and you do pay attention,” Burch told the crowd as the rally began with a few hoots and hollers from the members.

Burch said the bill would penalize accidental trespassing by hunting dogs.

Peake guaranteed the crowd that he will vote against the bill if it makes it past the House and will stand up to anyone to protect hunting rights.

Sili also said the bill is flawed. “A point that is lost in all of this,” he said is that “law enforcement is not prepared to take on what this is going to cause, because it will become a tool amongst neighbors who don’t like their neighbor’s dog in their yard. It’s not just a hunting issue.”

Nearly all the speakers said the bill is wrongfully aimed at hunters.

“I have no redeeming graces for the bill,” Burch said in an interview after the rally. “It is a bill to do harm because someone has an agenda.”

Users of hunting dogs “want people to understand we’re God-fearing, law-abiding citizens,” Burch said. “We’re not rednecks, we’re not troublemakers and we care about our animals.”

Theresa Miller, who with her husband owns Red Oak Foxhounds hunt club in Rawlings, echoed Burch’s message.

“You cannot fault the whole deer hunting community because of the actions of a few people,” Miller said.

HB 1900 is awaiting action by the House Rules Committee, which Howell chairs.

Under current law, it’s a misdemeanor to intentionally release dogs on another person’s land to hunt without the consent of the landowner. However, finding a dog on another’s property is not enough evidence to prove the intentional release of that animal.

If a hunting dog strays onto another person’s property, the hunter has the “right to retrieve” the animal. This applies even if the hunter has been previously asked not to trespass. Landowners have been pushing for a repeal to the “right to retrieve” law.

“The ‘right to retrieve’ law is an unconstitutional law,” said Donald Wright, a landowner in the town of Virgilina in Halifax County. He supports HB 1900, saying the bill “restores property rights to people like me.”

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance argued in a press release that conversations need to happen between neighbors before regulations are introduced. But Wright, a hunter himself, said he has tried that.

“I’ve been told, ‘You’re not from around here, you’re the problem, get used to it,’” he said. Wright stressed that he doesn’t want to see dog hunting done away with. “It’s just the bad apples.”

Landowners have complained about hunting dogs on their property, and hunters following them, in the past. The Virginia Landowners Association is pushing for stricter licensing regulations for dog hunters.

“I’m not able to enjoy my land. There’s dogs on my property almost every day,” Aaron Bumgarner, executive director of the landowners association, said in an interview with the Tidewater News. “I can’t take my own two dogs out on my land without conflict during the general [hunting] season and even during spring turkey season.”

From July 2014 to June 2015, about 5 percent of hunting complaints in Virginia involved dogs, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Advocates for Rape Survivors Applaud Grant

By Tyler Woodall, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Organizations that help rape survivors see benefits from Virginia receiving a $2 million federal grant to improve the commonwealth’s handling of sexual assaults.

They say the money will help the state train sexual assault investigators, test rape evidence kits and provide services to rape survivors.

“At YWCA Richmond, we acknowledge that all survivors respond differently to trauma and to news involving sexual assault. News of this continued testing may provide comfort to survivors and their families that justice will be served to the perpetrator of the assault,” Rachel Solomon, the Y’s development and relations coordinator, said Thursday.

“Many service providers, survivors and community members may also find comfort that the collection of evidence from physical evidence recovery kits could lead to the prevention of future sexual assaults by known perpetrators.”

The Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Wednesday that Virginia will receive the funding from the Federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

The grant is part of an effort that started in 2015 when Virginia received $1.4 million to conduct DNA testing on a backlog of more than 2,000 untested Physical Evidence Recovery Kits. PERKs contain evidence collected from the survivors of sexual assaults.

“This new investment is going to let us take those efforts to the next level, completely eliminating Virginia’s backlog of untested kits once and for all and making needed upgrades throughout our response to sexual violence,” Herring said.

“Survivors are going to be met with a more informed and compassionate response, cases against perpetrators will be stronger, and every survivor will know that their commonwealth stands with them as they seek justice and healing from these brutal crimes.”

The funding will enable Virginia to:

  • Finish processing untested PERKs.
  • Establish a statewide tracking system that will show each step of the PERKs from collection to the test results. Victims and all those involved in the handling of the kit will be granted access to the status of the kit.
  • Hire a dedicated specialist to provide support for sexual assault survivors through the investigation. The Department of Forensic Science also would hire a project manager and a research assistant to oversee and streamline the processing of PERKs.
  • Provide specialized training for Virginia law enforcement.

The training will help officers understand how the experience impacts a victim’s memory to aid in the investigation. Officers also will receive training about preventing gender bias to make sure all survivors are treated with respect.

Subscribe to RSS - Tyler Woodall

Emporia News

Stories on Emporianews.com are be searchable, using the box above. All new stories will be tagged with the date (format YYYY-M-D or 2013-1-1) and the names of persons, places, institutions, etc. mentioned in the article. This database feature will make it easier for those people wishing to find and re-read an article.  For anyone wishing to view previous day's pages, you may click on the "Previous Day's Pages" link in the menu at the top of the page, or search by date (YYYY-M-D format) using the box above.

Comment Policy:  When an article or poll is open for comments feel free to leave one.  Please remember to be respectful when you comment (no foul or hateful language, no racial slurs, etc) and keep our comments safe for work and children. Comments are moderated and comments that contain explicit or hateful words will be deleted.  IP addresses are tracked for comments. 

EmporiaNews.com serves Emporia and Greensville County, Virginia and the surrounding area
and is provided as a community service by the Advertisers and Sponsors.
All material on EmporiaNews.com is copyright 2005-2019
EmporiaNews.com is powered by Drupal and based on the ThemeBrain Sirate Theme.

Submit Your Story!

Emporia News welcomes your submissions!  You may submit articles, announcements, school or sports information using the submission forms found here, or via e-mail on news@emporianews.com.  Currently, photos and advertisements will still be accepted only via e-mail, but if you have photos to go along with your submission, you will receive instructions via e-mail. If you have events to be listed on the Community Calendar, submit them here.

Contact us at news@emporianews.com
 
EmporiaNews.com is hosted as a community Service by Telpage.  Visit their website at www.telpage.net or call (434)634-5100 (NOTICE: Telpage cannot help you with questions about Emporia New nor does Teplage have any input the content of Emporia News.  Please use the e-mail address above if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the content on Emporia News.)