30 minutes | Mar 16, 2023
83 - Is Virginia ready for ranked choice voting?
Episode Notes Maine does it. Alaska does it. And since 2021, Virginia can do it too, in certain city and county elections. It’s ranked choice voting, which works exactly how it sounds: voters rank their favorite candidates in order. If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, it triggers an instant run off election. The last place candidate’s votes are transferred to the voters’ second preference. And so on, until someone wins the majority. Proponents see it as a way to diversify candidate fields, even reduce polarization. It means that the ultimate winner will have a broader base of support, or at least more than 50% of the vote. And it also gives 3rd party candidates more of a fighting chance. For the past few years, ranked choice voting has been used in Republican party caucuses in Virginia. And this June, Arlington County will be the first Virginia locality to use it, in their county board primaries. If all goes well, Arlington may stand as an example for other cities and counties across the state. Sitting down with us today is Elizabeth Melson, president of FairVote Virginia, and Sally Hudson, who represents Charlottesville and Albemarle County in the House of Delegates.
32 minutes | Mar 2, 2023
82 - What did the General Assembly accomplish this year?
Episode Notes The 2023 General Assembly session drew to a close last Saturday. And with divided majorities in the General Assembly, it was a little underwhelming. Despite a year of big, hot topic issues, little was accomplished on abortion rights, gun control, or even setting up a market for cannabis. So after six weeks, we find ourselves more or less back where we started. To understand the perspective from inside the GA, we talk with Senator Barbara Favola, who represents parts of northern Virginia. Things aren’t entirely over yet… lawmakers are still considering amendments to the state's two-year budget. The House and Senate have very different ideas of what to do with Virginia’s significant budget surplus. House Republicans want to give that surplus back to taxpayers through a billion dollars in tax cuts. On the other hand, Senate Democrats want to use the money to boost social programs that have been under-funded for many years. Particularly public schools. Here to walk us through this is Laura Goren, Director of Research and Education Policy at The Commonwealth Institute. Check out more information on Virginia’s budget process and how the two proposals compare on The Commonwealth Institute’s website
31 minutes | Feb 16, 2023
81 - Why does Virginia make incarceration so expensive?
Episode Notes In Virginia, incarceration is expensive. In prison and jails across the state, inmates have to pay to communicate with family members. They also have to pay for extra food, clothing, and sanitary products in the prison commissary. And with the highest prison wages only 45¢ per hour, the burden of paying these fees often falls on inmates’ families. Last year, Virginia’s General Assembly organized a work group to study fees inside state prisons. They delivered a 50 page report, called “Reduction or Elimination of Costs and Fees Charged to Inmates in State Correctional Facilities.” Among other things, the report called for the elimination of fees for emails, video chats, and phone calls. It also called for the elimination of up-charges at prison commissaries and an increase in how much the state spends on prisoner meals. In this year’s Assembly session, lawmakers introduced some bills to implement these changes, in both state prisons and local jails. However, both bills failed in the Republican-majority House of Delegates. To help us dig deeper, we talk with Irene Shin, who represents the 86th District in the House of Delegates, and Fran Bolin, the Executive Director of Assisting Families of Inmates.
27 minutes | Feb 2, 2023
80 - Why is Virginia's government getting so little done?
Episode Notes After two years of Democratic control, Virginia's elected government is now divided once again. The result? A lot fewer laws likely to pass this year. This podcast started partly as a response to the media cycle that covered the General Assembly--every year around this time, there was a parade of stories about bills being introduced… and then they’d quietly die in committee. Or a bill that would pass in one chamber … and then quietly die in the other. Hardly anything ever translated into meaningful laws. Why were things like that? This week, we talk to two state reporters about the structural and historical reasons for the General Assembly's inaction and the media coverage that follows: Peter Galuszka, a Richmond-based journalist who has covered the state for decades, and Michael Pope, a reporter covering the General Assembly and the head of the Virginia Capital Correspondents Association. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
33 minutes | Jan 19, 2023
79 - What's behind right-wing attacks on education?
Episode Notes In 2021, Glenn Youngkin rode the idea of “parents' rights” to victory in his gubernatorial race. And now, Virginia conservatives have latched on to the idea as a tactic for banning books, attacking public education and starving publicly funded institutions. The fight for public education is playing out right now in the General Assembly, as a whole host of parental rights bills work their way through the legislature. We spoke with Lisa Varga, Executive Director of the Virginia Library Association, about the chilling effect those books could have on educators--and how librarians have been dealing with the recent slew of criticism. Then we talk to Bob Peterson, a lifelong educator, President of the Milwaukee School Board, and founder of the magazine Rethinking Schools, a grassroots magazine for social and racial justice in education. He gives us the bigger picture on the right-wing project: tracing attacks on education all the way back to 1954's Brown v. Board, the influence of dark money, and ultimate endgame of destroying the public sector. Related Links: VLA Advocate Mailing List Unite Against Book Bans This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
20 minutes | Jan 5, 2023
78 - What can we expect from the 2023 General Assembly?
Episode Notes The General Assembly starts its 2023 session next Wednesday--with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates for the first time since this show started in 2020. In this episode, journalist Michael Pope explains what we should be looking out for as lawmakers meet next week--especially what we can glean from the governor's state budget proposal. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
30 minutes | Dec 22, 2022
77 - Bold Dominion's Best of 2022!
Episode Notes As we approached the new year, we found ourselves feeling a little reflective. So we made a special episode for you. In “Best of 2022”, Nathan and Alana sit down to discuss some of our favorite episodes from this year on the podcast. Join us as we look back on the big issues of the year, from the overturning of Roe v. Wade, to Dominion Energy’s outsized influence, to how citizens can craft legislation. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
33 minutes | Dec 8, 2022
76 - How does collective bargaining empower workers in Virginia?
Episode Notes For decades, Virginia was one of only three states in the country that banned public sector collective bargaining. That meant teachers, healthcare workers, and first-responders couldn’t have a say in how their contracts were written, leading to lower pay and poorer working conditions compared to unionized workers. But things have changed. In 2020, the General Assembly repealed that prohibition, a historic moment for workers’ rights in Virginia. But it’s not without its quirks. Collective bargaining isn’t required across the state — it’s up to localities to pass collective bargaining ordinances. Plus the law itself is pretty vague, leaving it up to localities to hammer out the rules and framework. Which means depending on where you live, what you can and can’t bargain over can look pretty different. So today on the show, we’re looking at the state of public sector unions in Virginia. Helping us out is Mel Borja, Worker Power Policy Analyst at the Commonwealth Institute. We’re also joined by David Broder, president of SEIU Virginia 512, and Vernon Liechti, president of the Albemarle Education Association. Explore The Commonwealth Institute's interactive map of labor history in Virginia. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
33 minutes | Nov 25, 2022
75 - How can Virginia make homeownership more affordable?
Episode Notes This year, the average price of a single family home in Virginia crossed the $400 thousand dollar mark. Virginia’s urban populations are expanding without the housing supply to keep up. Staring down skyrocketing prices, many people are forced to accept that homeownership won’t be in their future. Confronting this goes beyond building more housing... that’s only one arrow in a quiver full of policies that could make housing more affordable. And we need to consider all of those policy arrows in the quiver. One such arrow is Community Land Trusts, or CLTs. CLTs trace their origins back to the Civil Rights era and are grounded in a philosophy of racial justice. We talk with Erica Sims, CEO of the Maggie Walker CLT in Richmond, about CLTs’ radical vision of "permanently affordable housing." But first, we talk with Wyatt Gordon, a reporter covering housing, transportation, and land use at Virginia Mercury. He breaks down the "missing middle” housing debate going on in Arlington, and how "missing middle" housing reframes visions of homeownership. Click here to learn more about Charles Sherrod, co-founder of the first Community Land Trust "New Communities."
30 minutes | Nov 10, 2022
74 - What's behind Youngkin's "parents' rights" rhetoric?
Episode Notes From the school board meetings in Loudoun County to pushes to ban "racially divisive" books in schools, conservatives have been relying on one concept in particular: “parents' rights.” Glenn Youngkin latched onto parents’ rights during his campaign and rode it to victory over Terry McAuliffe. Other Republican candidates across the country have taken note. During the midterms, many GOP candidates have declared themselves strong supporters of moms and dads. But this catch-all phrase "parents rights" is being used much more broadly than its legal precedent. Youngkin typically cites a 2013 Virginia law that stemmed from a court ruling regarding sperm donors and custody issues. So how did we get from a case about in vitro fertilization to parents rights being the basis for all sorts of stuff? And what does Youngkin's rhetoric portend for the political future? To help us figure this out, we speak with Bekah Saxon, a UniServe director at the Virginia Education Association, and Graham Moomaw, a state-house reporter for Virginia Mercury. Find Graham Moomaw’s article covering the history of parents’ rights here.
31 minutes | Oct 27, 2022
73 - Crossover! What's going on in the 2022 midterms?
Episode Notes Here at Bold Dominion, we typically focus on the machinations of power, money, and lawmaking in Richmond. But Virginia also sends 11 lawmakers to the U.S. House of Representatives. And all of them are on the ballot on Tuesday, November 8th. That means Election Day is less than two weeks away. If you're a Bold Dominion fan, you probably already know that. Maybe you even voted early. But if not, make sure you vote. You can even do same-day registration at the polls, thanks to recent changes to Virginia voting rules. Today, we're joined by fellow politics podcasters Michael Pope from Pod Virginia and Chaz Nuttycombe from CNalysis. They help explain how the midterm races are going and what they mean for our country. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
32 minutes | Oct 12, 2022
72 - Why are Virginia legislators in session for just 2 months?
Episode Notes Here at Bold Dominion, we pubish a new episode every two weeks. We have seventy something episodes under our belt, and still so much more to talk about. Keeping up with politics is a year-round job. But for Virginia legislators, it’s not actually year-round. In odd numbered years, lawmakers are in Richmond for 60 days, and in even years, just a month. That’s often extended by a few more weeks. But in most years, Virginia legislators start in mid-January and are packed up and ready to head home by March. Why so short? And what does that mean for Virginia politics? To unpack this, we'll be talking with Randolph-Macon politics professor Richard Meagher, as well as Richmond Times Dispatch reporter Charlotte Rene Wood (we'll discuss reporting she did with Charlottesville Tomorrow). We'll also get to hear from Virginia Delegate Kelly Fowler, representing the Virginia Beach area in District 21. This podcast is powered by Pinecast.
34 minutes | Sep 29, 2022
71 - How is Virginia leading the push for broadband expansion?
Episode Notes You're listening to this show thanks to high speed internet. And as awesome as this podcast may be, there's a whole lot more that makes high speed internet indispensable for modern life. During the pandemic, school, work, health, and social life all moved online. Access to the internet was, and still is, a must. That made life awfully challenging for families where high-speed internet was not available. Some good news on this podcast, for once! The 2021 Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act allotted $65 billion dollars to expand internet access across the country. That's through a program called Broadband Equity Access and Deployment, or BEAD. In this nationwide push, Virginia has emerged as a leader. Our commonwealth was prioritizing broadband access way before BEAD. As governor, Ralph Northam set a goal to get all Virginia communities online by 2024, and that has been continued by Glenn Youngkin. As other states receive BEAD funding, experts are advising to follow Virginia's footsteps. To help us understand what Virginia's doing right, we talk with Christopher Ali, Professor of Telecommunications at Penn State University, and Dr. Tamarah Holmes, Director of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Find out more on our prior episode on broadband expansion.
30 minutes | Sep 15, 2022
70 - What does the new federal climate law mean for Virginia?
Episode Notes This time of year, climate change is particularly hard to ignore. We’ve just made it through another scorching summer. Virginia’s coastal regions are grappling with sea water rise. And on some days, that haze covering the Blue Ridge is smoke from California wildfires. Despite this, the U.S. government’s response to climate change has long been… tepid. Years of kicking the can down the road, or in some circles, denying the problem altogether. But this year, that changed. Last month, U.S. Congress passed the biggest climate law in US history … under the unassuming name, Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA is the smaller version of last year’s Build Back Better bill, with a number of compromises made to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. So now, the IRA will provide strong incentives for people to choose clean energy through their consumer choices. To help us understand the ins and outs of the IRA and what it means for Virginia, we’re talking with writer and lawyer Ivy Main and environmental economist Bill Shobe. For further reading, check out Ivy Main's article on the IRA here. Also check out the 2021 report on carbon neutrality in Virginia, co-written by Bill Shobe: Decarbonizing Virginia's Economy: Pathways to 2050
32 minutes | Sep 1, 2022
69 - What does inequality look like in Virginia?
Episode Notes Virginia is home to four of the ten richest counties in America -- all in Northern Virginia. Virginia is also home to some of the most economically distressed counties in America -- all in Southwest Virginia. And of all fifty states, Virginia has the largest gap between the minimum wage and the bare minimum needed to support a family of four. That's according to the Commission Examining Racial Inequity in Virginia Law, set up during Ralph Northam's administration back in 2019. The commission released three reports covering the consequences of structural racism in Virginia. Later in the show, we sit down with the Vice-Chair of the commission, Andrew Block. He'll share what they found and what progress has been made since. But first we talk with sociologist Lawrence Eppard. He co-authored the 2021 study, “Social and Economic Costs of Inequality in the State of Virginia.” Turns out there are big disparities in social mobility across Virginia. Which is to say... in some counties, it’s a lot harder for people born in low-income families to escape poverty. Eppard breaks down what inequality of place looks like... and its consequences. Eppard also hosts the podcast Utterly Moderate, the official podcast of the Connors Forum for a Healthy Democracy. Listen here! The Commission Examining Racial Inequity in Virginia Law released three reports from 2019-2022. Check them out below: From Virginia's Law Books Identifying and Addressing the Vestiges of Inequity and Inequality in Virginia's Laws Identifying Virginia's Racially Discriminatory Laws and Inequitable Economic Policies
30 minutes | Aug 17, 2022
68 - How can citizens craft legislation?
Episode Notes What does a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" actually look like in practice? If you listen to Bold Dominion, you probably vote every November, call your lawmaker about issues you care about, maybe have attended a protest or two. But sometimes it's hard to see how those actions affect the legislation coming out of Richmond. If the GA feels a bit like a black box or a magic show, we don't blame you. Why do some bills make it all the way into law, and others die in committee? Who brings bill ideas to the table in the first place, and how can citizens have a hand in that process? Today we crack open that black box and figure out how citizens can help craft legislation. We talk with Sally Hudson, who represents the 56th District in the Virginia General Assembly, and Dan Holmes, Legislative Policy Director at the environmental nonprofit Clean Virginia.
30 minutes | Aug 4, 2022
67 - Five years after Unite the Right, what does right-wing extremism look like in Virginia?
Episode Notes This week, we revisit the terrible anniversary of August 11th and 12th, 2017. Five years after the Unite the Right Rally, "Charlottesville" is still a shorthand for Nazis and fascists invading a community. As we look at Virginia politics and American politics today, where are we now? To answer that question, we talk to Larycia Hawkins, a professor in both the department of Politics and department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Later in the show, we hear from data scientist Emily Gorcenski, UVA professor Jalane Schmidt, and Virginia Delegate Sally Hudson.
30 minutes | Jul 20, 2022
66 - Does Virginia really have a "shadow government" of lobbyists? (reprise)
Episode Notes Longtime Richmond Times-Dispatch journalist Jeff Schapiro has a sort of shorthand on Twitter that I appreciate. When he tweets about the consulting firm McGuireWoods, he refers to it as The Shadow Government. Such is the influence that McGuire Woods holds over policymaking in Virginia. Virginia may have a new governor this year, but the Shadow Government remains the same. (Interviews for this episode were originally recorded in April 2021.)
31 minutes | Jul 7, 2022
65 - With Roe overturned, what's next for abortion access in Virginia?
Episode Notes The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade. You’ve probably seen maps about what this means on a state-by-state basis. We know that abortion will be legal in places like New England and the West Coast. We know that women in the Deep South will need to travel long distances to receive adequate reproductive health care. And we also know that forced birth advocates in places like Texas are trying to criminalize that kind of travel. But what about Virginia? Today on Bold Dominion, we're updating an episode we recorded this spring with Charlotte Woods, reporter at Charlottesville Tomorrow, and Tannis Fuller, Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund.
25 minutes | Jun 23, 2022
64 - What is the "Best State for Business" like for workers?
Episode Notes Business news media company CNBC does annual rankings of the best state for business. And Virginia has come out on top as the Best State for Business two years in a row. ``` On this episode of Bold Dominion, we explore what this title means, and how ask how it affects working Virginians. ```