Richmond Politics 05/13/2022







Julia Blend, a 2020 VCU graduate, attended Friday’s board meeting and asked the university not to raise the cost of tuition. 




(A tuition hike, that is.)

Eric Kolenich reports that the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors voted unanimously Friday to raise the cost of tuition by 3% for the coming year, despite pleas by hundreds of students to keep costs flat and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s request that colleges not raise prices.

Board members said they hear the concerns of students like Kamari Branch, 19, a rising junior from Richmond who works three jobs to pay for college, but they felt compelled to increase tuition – after not doing so for three years – in order to maintain quality and minimize job cuts.

President Michael Rao said that had the university not upped the cost, it would have been forced to cut at least 350 jobs, increase class sizes and possibly remove classes.

People are also reading…

Even with a 3% increase, the university expects to face a budget deficit of at least $15 million because of all the new expenses looming next fall, including a 5% mandated salary increase, more financial aid and inflation-related maintenance. READ MORE

WHAT’S NEXT?

Nominations:  On May 21, Republicans in the 5th, 8th and 10th districts will pick their U.S. House nominees in party-run contests. The 5th now includes about 13,000 voters in Hanover County.







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DEQ Director Mike Rolband speaks during the April 20 meeting of the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board at Reynolds Community College in Richmond.




WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

RGGI: Patrick Wilson reports on the mystery of the secret Virginia air board document. READ MORE

Bond: Mark Bowes reports that some prosecutors and law enforcement officials blame a 2021 state criminal justice reform law for a rise in serious offenders being released with low or no bond. READ MORE

Medicaid: Michael Martz reports that Virginia is poised to review eligibility of 2 million people in the Medicaid “safe haven.” READ MORE







Baby Formula Shortage

Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sat mostly empty Tuesday at a store in San Antonio.




Formula 1

Politicians across the aisle raced Friday to let families know they are working to address the national shortage of baby formula.

President Joe Biden detailed his team’s actions to counter the shortage, then gave a defensive response to CNN, saying his administration might have acted faster “if we’d been better mind readers.”

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, told MSNBC that there are many factors in the shortage, from parents hoarding formula early in the pandemic, to “ebbs and flows” in production, to supply chain issues and the February shutdown of a Michigan plant owned by Abbott Laboratories after bacteria resulted in the deaths of two babies.

(Abbott says that while there were four complaints of bacteria in infants who consumed formulas produced in the plant, it was a “common environmental bacteria” and that “there is no evidence to link our formulas to these infant illnesses.”)

As for the national shortage of baby formula, Spanberger said: “There were no ringing alarms along the way,” calling it “a major issue” that she wants to work on legislatively.

Spanberger said it is now important to cut through red tape and make sure the U.S. can import quality baby formula from overseas.

Later Friday, Spanberger released a letter she sent to Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert E. Ford, asking for answers about upgrades to the plant and the timetable for reopening.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture urged states “to take advantage of flexibilities the department is offering” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, “to help families get the safe formula they need.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement that his administration “remains engaged with industry leaders on their production capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Health is working to ensure that there are adequate supplies of baby formula” statewide.

He said his administration has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “to utilize all resources to get the U.S. plant back into production as quickly as possible.”

Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined more than 30 Senate colleagues in writing Mardi Mountford, president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, and urging “immediate action” to “ensure that infant formula manufacturers are making every effort to mitigate this dangerous shortage and get children the nourishment they need.”

Said Youngkin: “Simply put, acquiring baby formula shouldn’t be a challenge in the United States.”







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The Virginia Museum of History & Culture underwent a $30 million renovation and expansion.




IN OTHER NEWS

• Colleen Curran reports that the Virginia Museum of History & Culture is reopening with a two-day weekend celebration. READ MORE

• Sabrina Moreno reports that more than one in six mothers in Richmond get postpartum depression and VCU researchers are studying how to help. READ MORE

• The Richmond and Henrico health districts will get a new leader in July. READ MORE

PHOTO OF THE WEEK







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 Henrico officer Scottie Shoemaker rang a bell on Friday for each of the 11 law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in Henrico County since 1895.




FRIDAY TRIVIA

The capital of Liberia is named for which U.S. president?

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Two views of a 2021 law that that removed all presumptions against granting bail to a defendant, regardless of the seriousness of their crime.

“Right now, this is the Achilles’ heel of criminal justice and public safety in Chesterfield County.”

– Chesterfield police Chief Jeffrey Katz

“I don’t think my bill is anything radical. It just restores the law to where we were before 1996. If there are magistrates or judges who aren’t doing their jobs — not carefully considering all those factors — then those people need to be replaced.”

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath

TRIVIA ANSWER

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is named after President James Monroe. 

 

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