This election season, there are two amendments to the state constitution on the ballot in Virginia. These amendments have already been approved by a majority of both legislative houses, allowing them to be placed on the ballot for state voters’ approval. If an amendment is voted up by a simple majority, it will officially become part of the state’s constitution. The two amendments would…
1) … prohibit governments in Virginia, state and local, from taking private property to build on if the primary use of the building will be private profit. Currently, governments can exercise eminent domain, meaning they can take property from citizens if they pay for it, to use for the greater good. For example, the government can force someone to sell their land to be used for building of roads or schools. A 2005 Supreme Court case held that sometimes the greater good is not public, like the building of a privately owned shopping mall that provides jobs. This amendment would limit Virginia governments to only exercising eminent domain specifically for public projects. It defines more extensively how the government must compensate people from whom it takes property and it prohibits the taking of more property than is necessary.
2) … allow the state’s General Assembly to delay its reconvened or “veto” session by up to one week. At the end of each legislative session the GA reconvenes to consider bills that the Governor has sent back, by vetoing or suggesting changes. Currently that session must begin on the sixth Wednesday following the end of a legislative session. This amendment would give the legislature added flexibility in accommodating holidays, if necessary.
Full text of the amendments can be found online here, including an informational brochure and poster created by the State Board of Elections.
By News Reporter Dean Seal
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office has certified the Virginia State Board of Health’s decision to adopt new abortion facilities regulations for all health centers and clinics that provide abortions.
The certification comes in the wake of a controversial 13-2 vote conducted by the Board of Health on September 14, which overturned the Boards’ earlier decision to exempt existing abortion facilities to regulations previously allocated only to the construction of new facilities.
The certification was sent in a letter on Tuesday to Dr. Karen Remley, the Commisioner of the Virginia Department of Health. The letter contended that the Board of Health “had the statutory authority under Virginia law to adopt the abortion facilities regulations it adopted at its September 14 meeting,” according to a release from the attorney general’s office.
The letter also certified that the regulations under scrutiny are “constitutional and do not conflict with existing federal or state laws or regulations.”
The new regulations being considered by the Board of Health would require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to follow the same structural regulations imposed on hospitals. These regulations require Virginia clinics that provide five or more abortions per month to upgrade their facilities to the same standard as hospitals. The standards imposed on existing facilities would require larger operating rooms, as well as wider hallways and increased parking.
While these standards have been normalized for the construction of new facilities, they would place responsibility on existing facilities to upgrade at their own cost.
These developments have prompted accusations from Pro-Abortion organizations that Cuccinelli, a staunch Pro-Life advocate, intends to shut down abortion clinics under the guise of arduous governmental policy. These organizations fear that the renovations required to remain in accordance with such strict policies will be too costly for abortion facilities to adhere to.
Members of the Board of Health have denied these claims, citing public health and safety as their only motivation. Governor Bob McDonnell has contested these claims, saying “I certainly don’t agree with the contention that this will put every abortion clinic out of business.”
The regulations will now be sent to Governor McDonnell’s executive branch for review, where, if approved, they will be published for a 60-day comment period before returning to the Board of Health for final consideration.
By news staff writer
Our nation’s Constitution is 225 years old yesterday. On Sept. 17, 1787 forty-two of the 55 delegates that attended the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting in Philadelphia to sign the great document that would forever change how our country functions.
The United States Constitution is the first document of its kind, and also the shortest constitution of any major government.
Despite its length, it took the 55 delegates since May 25, 1787 to draft a document that outlines how the country should be run, citizen’s basic rights, the powers and balance of the state and federal governments, among all the rest that the document defines.
In almost 5 months, they accomplished this lofty goal and forever had a profound impact on United States politics that we continue to celebrate to this day.
Around Virginia the historic document was celebrated yesterday, through speeches, special displays and readings of the document.
At Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s first home, his personal annotated copy of the Constitution was put on display today. The display, along with Constitution day itself, brought crowds to the historic home.
The National Archives will also be displaying the Constitution’s transmittal—or fifth—page for the first time, until Wednesday. This page spelled out how the constitution was to be ratified and put into effect, and is very rarely seen.
On the Virginia Tech campus today, University Honors sponsored a reading of the Constitution on the steps of Burruss Hall at noon to a reverent crowd, in order to honor the date and the legacy of 225 years of importance.
Collegiate Times reporter Justin Graves got the unique opportunity last week to attend the Democratic National Convention. Following is his account of the event.
I’ve never been one for politics. I believe that the issues change, and the solutions change even more, especially depending on who you’re talking to. But for me, an opportunity to help volunteer at the Democratic National Convention this year was a unique opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. This blog will not be an analysis of what policies were and weren’t discussed at the convention, but instead an analysis of what it was like to attend the event.
For this election, the Dems decided to hold the event at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. The location happens to be the second largest banking center in the country behind New York City and is only three hours away from Blacksburg. It is within ear shot of at least a dozen other higher education institutions and there seemed to be a ton of students there – from High Point, Duke, Davidson, and more. I, however, was one of only a few Hokies I knew in attendance at any point during the event.
I received an opportunity from a member of the staff for the First Lady of the United States, and was excited that they had thought of me and extended an offer based on our relationship formed during preparation for Virginia Tech’s commencement this past May. I had never been to a political convention of any kind, so I was excited to not only hear all of the excitement of a political rally, but also to see Hollywood A-listers hobnobbing right alongside your favorite news anchors — right across from your local Senators and lobbyists.
And that’s exactly what this event was. The event was orchestrated to secure a solid nomination, and make a solid bid for reelection of the nation’s first African-American President. Over the course of the three days that I assisted with and attended the convention, there were several well-planned and intentionally choreographed speeches and video montages.
I quickly realized that this was the purpose of such an event. Everything beautifully staged and coordinated in order to get the country – the political left, and right, if possible – excited about the next four years under the leadership of this one man.
At some points, it felt more like being on Capitol Hill in Richmond, walking the halls of the General Assembly with older men and women wearing pant suits and neck ties, shaking hands and giving interviews. At other points, it felt like walking around the streets of Los Angeles.
I was able to shake hands with, chat with, and fork over a business card or two to: Sen. John Kerry, Mayor Julian Castro, Mayor and DNC Chair Antonio Villaraigosa, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, and Vice President Joe Biden.
Amongst the famous people that were in attendance and I had a similar interaction with: Zach Braff, Eva Longoria, Marc Anthony, M.C. Hammer, BET founder Bob Johnson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Wolf Blitzer.
This event was clearly not only just an exercise in politics, but also an event that has transformed over the years to become more accountable to pop culture. I can only imagine that back in 1836, Charles Dickens or Davy Crockett didn’t attend this event to give his view on politics and to unite his fans for one political party. But, now, this has become a cross section of famous people, politicians, and more.
If you ever have the chance to attend an event like this, even if you’re not politically inclined, I couldn’t recommend it more. I’ll spend all weekend catching up with work, but now fifty more potential employers know my name, and this might be a chance to open a door somewhere down the road.
Former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely was sentenced to 23 years in prison yesterday for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love.
The high-profile case began May 3,2010 when Love, a senior lacrosse player at UVa, died of blunt-force trauma. She was found in her apartment after Huguely had broken in and beaten her while intoxicated. It was days before the two would graduate.
Huguely was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and grand larceny in February during a two week trial. The jury in the sentencing trial originally gave Huguely a sentence of 26 years, which was reduced to 23 by Circuit Judge Edward Hogshire.
Huguely and Love’s relationship was painted as a volatile on again off again affair during trial, but Huguely denied being responsible for her death, saying that she beat her own head against the wall.
According to CBS station WCAV in Charlottesville Huguely addressed the court after closing arguments.
“Mrs. Love and Lexie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that you are able to find peace. I want to thank my family and friends for all the love and support,” he said.
Lexie is Love’s sister.
The Love family still has two pending civil suits against Huguely and UVa athletic and lacrosse officials and lawyers for Huguely say they will appeal the sentence
The Love family released the following statement:
The Love family did not speak to the assembled media following Thursday’s court hearing only releasing the following statement:
“We would like to thank everyone who worked so tirelessly on Yeardley’s behalf. In particular, we would like to thank Dave Chapman for his dedication and compassion. Don’t know how we would have gotten through the past two years without him.
We find no joy in others’ sorrow. We plan to work diligently through the One Love Foundation to try and prevent this from happening to another family.
We are relieved to put this chapter behind us. Again, we would like to thank everyone for showing us such kindness during the most difficult time of our lives.
Sharon and Lexie Love”
By Dean Seal
While many are heading out to support the American Cancer Society at Relay for Life Friday, some are choosing to spend their April 20 supporting a different cause – marijuana.
April 20 has earned a stigma in American culture as an underground holiday devoted to the celebration, often through consumption, of marijuana. The designation of April 20 as a cannabis holiday originates from the term “4/20”, a code that typically refers to marijuana or the consumption of marijuana by its users.
Select students commemorate the occasion across the country, specifically in densely populated areas and college campuses, with anything from large-scale observances to more private affairs. For some students, this sentiment is shared.
But, because the possession, growth and distribution of marijuana remain illegal in Virginia, the use of cannabis remains largely hidden on campus. The Division of Student Affairs classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, marked for its “high potential for abuse” and a “lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.”
The Students for Sensible Drug Policy are working to change the current system with a booth in Squires today.
“We’re an international grassroots group who knows the war on drugs is failing our society and generation,” said Chloe Beemer, president of the SSDP and a sophomore international studies major. “We obviously chose to establish a booth on 4/20 for a reason. We don’t advocate or encourage drug use of any kind, but we’re against the drug war, and we know today there’s a heightened awareness for the subject.”
The group advocates for more reasonable drug policies on campus, actively working towards extending the “Good Samaritan” policy to be more inclusive to drug offenses, instead of just alcohol offenses.
Despite recent revisions in the school’s Zero Tolerance drug policy, wherein violators will be sanctioned with a more individualized approach, students purport that the drug atmosphere on campus remains minimal, with no particular difference on April 20.
“I’ve never really noticed a change in the atmosphere at Tech (on April 20). The people who typically smoke are taking everything off campus,” said Nick Michaely, a senior finance major. “People do what they do all semester long; there’s no discrepancy on one day over another, at least not on campus.”
In fact, April 20 doesn’t see an increase in drug violators for campus residents.
“We’ve seen a general increase in the amount of marijuana violations in general in the past few years, but not specific to 4/20,” said Tricia Smith, associate director of Housing and Resident Life. “I think RAs on 4/20 exercise the same observation and judgment as they do throughout the year, but no increase in vigilance just because of a date.”
That means you won’t be seeing dozens of patrol cars circling the drill field just for the occasion.
“We watch for marijuana violators year round, so we won’t put extra officers out or increase patrol,” said Deborah Morgan, spokeswoman for the Tech Police Department. “I don’t know of any particular date that receives more scrutiny. Residents halls are not the easiest place to smoke.”
Some students, however, do notice a different trend on the day, just not in dorms.
“Off campus activity spikes every year, or at least around where I live,” said a senior biology major, who also preferred to remain unnamed. “I’ll celebrate Friday, but the difference that 4/20 makes is that you see a lot more people [consuming marijuana] than typically would. And they won’t be anywhere near campus, where it isn’t acceptable.”
The relative risk of getting caught when using drugs on campus is largely effective in keeping marijuana use out of the dorms. Some users even appreciate the diligence of Tech’s drug procedures.
“Even though 4/20 is a great experience with my friends, I think Tech has a good policy in keeping drug use off campus,” said an anonymous sophomore international studies major. “They don’t impose themselves on us. It’s just common knowledge that however you celebrate, it can’t happen here.”