Debt Ceiling: What’s in it for Virginia?

Richmond Times Dispatch

Jeff Schapiro

Could this red-white-and-blue weekend augur red ink for Virginia?

Default by the federal government, unless the debt ceiling is raised by Aug. 2, has potentially devastating effects for state government.

The flow of dollars from Washington to Virginia — No. 1 in federal spending per capita — would slow to a trickle. Federal workers wouldn’t be paid, driving up unemployment and choking off income-tax revenue. Medicaid, the federally financed, state-managed health-care program for the poor that is Virginia’s fastest-growing expense, would go begging.

To keep the budget in balance as required by law, Gov. Bob McDonnell would have to start cutting.

Also, transportation dollars would evaporate, potentially slamming the brakes on a defining feature of McDonnell’s just-passed road-building program: debt. He is planning to issue $1 billion in bonds backed by an anticipated federal handout.

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Mixing Guns and Mental Illness

 New York Times

Michael Luo 

PULASKI, Va. — In May 2009, Sam French hit bottom, once again. A relative found him face down in his carport “talking gibberish,” according to court records. He later told medical personnel that he had been conversing with a bear in his backyard and hearing voices. His family figured he had gone off his medication for bipolar disorder, and a judge ordered him involuntarily committed — the fourth time in five years he had been hospitalized by court order. When Mr. French’s daughter discovered that her father’s commitment meant it was illegal for him to have firearms, she and her husband removed his cache of 15 long guns and three handguns, and kept them after Mr. French was released in January 2010 on a new regime of mood-stabilizing drugs. Ten months later, he appeared in General District Court — the body that handles small claims and traffic infractions — to ask a judge to restore his gun rights. After a brief hearing, in which Mr. French’s lengthy history of relapses never came up, he walked out with an order reinstating his right to possess firearms. The next day, Mr. French retrieved his guns.

Is it really this easy?  How does this all work?  Should the chronically mentally ill be denied gun rights?  How do we balance protecting Virginians (and others) from unstable people and protect people who have had minor emotional illnesses from government abuse?