by VCU's

A daily roundup of media coverage of the Virginia General Assembly
Updated by noon each weekday by a student in Mass Comm 375 at Virginia Commonwealth University
:: today's editor ::
> Holly Clark

:: verbatim ::

"I would challenge anyone to take a site-built home in Chesterfield County, stick it on the back of a truck and see if it can hold up traveling 60 mph down the highway."

- Rhonda Allison of the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, regarding legislation that would allow manufactured homes to move into residential neighbors. Allison said she saw no difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home, hence her comparison. (Source: (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

:: on deck ::

At 9 a.m. today, the Senate Education and Health Committee meets in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building.

At 3:30 p.m. today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation meets in the Appropriations Room in the General Assembly Building.

:: bookmark this! ::

> Virginia Government

... is a Web site established by the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has links to other state and local government Web sites, such as Gov. Mark R. Warner's site. It also links to E-Government, a Web site listing government resources available in Virginia.

The site also provides a "Lobbyist in a Box" section for tracking legislation, as well as the "Commonwealth Calendar," a listing of government meetings and activities open to the public.

:: recess ::

Visit The Latest Sedition for political humor, news parody and current events.

Today's feature story: "Bush: Valuable Lesson in Pretzel Incident." The tongue-in-check story notes that President Bush choked on a pretzel while watching football on TV last weekend.

It quotes Bush as saying, "Whenever you eat a pretzel it's always important to wash it down with a beer."

:: feedback ::
> Suggestions, ideas,
tips for coverage? Tell us!

:: gifts galore ::

> Legislators got more than $117,700 in gifts from businesses, special interests and lobbyists. The gifts ranged from hunting trips and football tickets to steak dinners and golf balls.

Read about who gave what to whom, and search our database of legislative gifts.

:: mega-donors ::

> During the 1999 elections, members of the General Assembly received more than half their money from 150 groups and individuals.

Here are the top donors, and how they fared during the 2000 legislative session.


Thursday, Jan. 17, 2002

House committee OK's VCU's branch campus in Qatar

The House Education Committee advanced a bill authorizing VCU to establish a full, degree-granting branch campus in Qatar, a Middle-Eastern country running a program like VCU's School of the Arts, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported today.

The Qatar Foundation and VCU in 1997 signed a 10-year contract allowing the university to set up a design arts college in the oil-rich country. At the Qatar campus, VCU professors currently teach about 130 students from eight countries.

The program has support from both the State Council of Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, said Richard Toscan, dean of VCU's School of the Arts. Now it wants the General Assembly's approval.

Delegate Mitchell Van Yahres, D-Charlottesville, cast the only vote against the proposal, citing terrorism and safety concerns.

Hager no longer Lee-Jackson keynote speaker

Because of pressure from Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner, anti-terrorism czar John H. Hager has withdrawn as the keynote speaker at an event today honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Hager, a Republican and former lieutenant governor, issued a statement yesterday withdrawing from the event. He had been scheduled to address onlookers and discuss the importance of the Civil War to Virginia tourism.

"I appreciate Governor Warner's willingness to respect my earlier decision to keep the prior commitment, but I feel that it is no longer appropriate," Hager told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Bill burns its way through the Senate Courts Committee

A bill making cross-burning illegal in Virginia sailed through the Senate Courts of Justice Committee yesterday with unanimous approval, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The bill would make it a crime to burn a cross on private or public property. It would replace a similar law that was struck down last year by the Virginia Supreme Court. The court ruled that the old statute violated a person's First Amendment free-speech rights.

Lawmakers say schools still can't open before Labor Day

Two measures allowing schools to fashion their own calendars and start classes before Labor Day were rejected by the House Education Committee yesterday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The panel voted 16-5 against a bill repealing the so-called "Kings Dominion law," which says public schools can't open before Labor Day without state permission. The current law ensures that students can continue working through the summer at Kings Dominion and other theme parks.

Supporters of the existing law note that the state benefits from tax revenues from theme parks and other tourist attractions. Opponents believe local school boards should have control of their own school calendars.

"It is the responsibility of the school board to establish the school calendar, not the responsibility of the General Assembly," said Dick Pulley of the Virginia School Boards Association.

But Delegate J. Paul Councill Jr., D-Southampton, said he thinks the current system has worked well and the current law should be left alone.


:: links ::

> Home page for MASC 375, the Legislative Reporting course
at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Mass Communications

> Hotlist of newspapers covering the General Assembly

> Other online resources for legislative reporters