Week in Review: Police spying and economic woes

By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

POLICE SPYING: This week, Watchdog.org revealed how Police capture and store license plates and what lawmakers intend to do about it.

PURCELLVILLE, Va. — This week, Watchdog.org broke a story revealing how Alexandria police capture and store license plate information and what lawmakers intend to do about it.

Virginia’s economy is being overshadowed by its southern neighbor, while the fight over Medicaid expansion could injure Virginia’s AAA bond rating.

Gov. Terry McAulife has remained silent on restoring felons voting rights, so some students have decided to speak up.

This is your week in review.

Eyes off: Some lawmakers want to restrict license plate readers
While some Virginia lawmakers plan to file legislation restricting police use of controversial automatic license plate reader technology, others are hesitating.

Police use of ALPR technology is something that hits home with many Virginians and people around the country, as dozens of emails from readers indicated after Watchdog.org broke a story this week revealing how Alexandria police had captured a reporter’s license plate multiple times on camera over a six-month period.

Who’s watching me? Police took photos of my license plates

The police know exactly where reporter Katie Watson’s car has been — and when — during the past few months.

They could have the same information — or more — about you.

As a part of her series on the use of automatic license plate readers in Virginia, Watson wanted to find out what kind of information local police might have. By law, the only information she’s privileged to is her own.

Last week she filed a public records request with the Alexandria Police Department. Watson has lived in the lovely city of Alexandria for just two years, and her driving record — aside from the occasional parking ticket — is virtually spotless.

What she found, however, left her riveted.

Republicans ‘don’t see an end’ to Medicaid standoff, fear for bond rating
If leading Republicans are right, the battle over Medicaid expansion could leave Virginia wounded.

House Republicans are “more resolute” than ever on holding off Medicaid expansion, Majority Whip Jackson Miller said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters.

Since neither Republicans nor Democrats want to budge, the standoff over whether to expand Medicaid could very well pass the June 30 deadline to lock down a budget.

Failing to write a budget in time could tank Virginia’s AAA-bond rating, a prized status that allows the state to borrow money at a low interest rate.

Governor silent on felons’ voting rights, so law students speak up

Gov. Terry McAuliffe so far has been quiet about restoring voting rights for felons, but students in the law school at William & Mary College are stepping in.

The students have launched a project, Revive My Vote, to help eligible felons navigate the process of applying to have their voting rights automatically restored. It’s a 24/7 hotline, staffed by 20 student volunteers and overseen by a group of practicing attorneys.

North Carolina dominates Virginia in economic outlook report
Virginia lawmakers don’t like to bring it up, but their neighbor to the south is outdoing the Old Dominion — at least, when it comes to economic prospects.

It’s hard to have a conversation with a state lawmaker about business or the economy without him or her mentioning the state’s top ranking in Forbes’ 2013 best states for business. It’s much less likely that lawmaker will bring up how North Carolina’s recently decreased tax burden, coupled with Virginia’s recent tax increases, means Virginia is getting overshadowed.

It’s a contrast that could become even more apparent in the future, if the economic outlook of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2014 Rich States, Poor States report is right.

Contact Bre Payton at bpayton@watchdog.org or follow her on Twitter @Bre_payton.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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