Richard Martin Reporting

The Nationals intended all along for both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan to retain their spots in the starting rotation until Doug Fister was ready to return from a strained lat muscle, likely in early-May. At that point, the club would decide which young right-hander deserved to remain in the rotation and which one would be sent to Class AAA Syracuse.

But with Fister still two weeks away from making his 2014 debut, the Nationals suddenly have questions about Jordan’s ability to hold down the fort even for that brief remaining stretch.

Tuesday night saw Jordan once again put himself and his team in an early hole, torched for four first-inning runs by the Angels en route to a 7-2 loss. It was the third straight time he surrendered at least three runs in the first inning, and it left him 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA in four starts overall.

Afterward, manager Matt Williams was asked whether he would have to consider making a switch now, potentially with Ross Detwiler moved from the bullpen back into a starting role. His answer surprisingly left the door open.

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~ Comcast SportsNet

Fractious Virginia lawmakers gathering at the State Capitol today can respond to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s legislative amendments and vetoes - but not to a budget bill, since the state still doesn’t have one.

Lacking that, this veto session - as the General Assembly’s April interlude is known - could be brief, yet long enough for some partisan potshots.

House Republicans plan to reject McAuliffe amendments to keep at least 11 bills with fiscal impacts from taking effect until delegates and senators compromise on a two-year spending plan that would pay for them.

The Democratic governor this month added that restriction onto a series of technical measures pertaining to commercial driver’s licenses, judicial evaluation and bench staffing, patent infringement, fox-hunting licenses, and the state’s hiring of private lawyers.

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~ The Virginian-Pilot

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decision last week to reshape the Virginia Port Authority’s board marks the latest effort to correct the bustling port’s financial condition and stabilize an economic juggernaut rocked by turmoil in recent years.

By replacing five of the board’s 11 appointed members, including the board’s chairman and vice chairman, McAuliffe has implemented significant change. The scope of that change, however, is designed to inflict less disruption than the 2011 overhaul by his predecessor, Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell replaced 10 of 11 members that year, an unprecedented move among a series of abrupt changes during his term that hindered the port’s finances and operations. The former governor’s inability to articulate a clear vision for the port, and stick to it, injected uncertainty that adversely affected business.

In a span of three years, his administration negotiated a 20-year lease of APM’s sophisticated terminal in Portsmouth, sought to purchase the terminal outright, then entertained bids for companies to operate state-owned terminals in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News.

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~ The Virginian-Pilot

Republican Tom Davis voted on immigration reforms as a member of Congress in 2006, but House and Senate leaders couldn’t agree on the details, and the effort died with a whimper.

Eight years later, Davis is now retired from public office, and the issue is still rattling around the U.S. Capitol unresolved.

"The status quo is just entirely unacceptable," he said in a telephone conference Tuesday. "This is an issue that needs to get resolved."

Davis was speaking on behalf of Virginians for Fair Immigration Reform, which has ties to, a group of tech leaders including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates with a particular concern about restrictions on highly skilled workers.

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~ The Roanoke Times

A legislative committee will try to determine today how a public-private partnership to build a $1.4 billion toll road along U.S. 460 turned into a conventional design-build deal that placed almost all of the risk on state taxpayers.

The House Appropriations Committee has summoned Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne to testify on the process that led the state into a contract that already has cost about $300 million in public funds and private bonds that Virginia could have to repay. The money was spent without a single shovelful of dirt turned and before the necessary federal environmental permits were acquired.

Layne said in an interview Tuesday that an independent review panel told then-Gov. Bob McDonnell three years ago that the project was not viable without “a substantial public subsidy” of at least $800 million.

The next year, the McDonnell administration changed the U.S. 460 project from one that would have required significant private investment and risk into an agreement to design and build a 55-mile road between Suffolk and Petersburg that the state would operate, maintain and finance almost entirely with public funds.

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~ Richmond Times-Dispatch

The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.
Will Rogers

Virginia legislators return to the Capitol on Wednesday intending to wrap up some unfinished business but with no plans to tackle the budget and Medicaid stalemates that could ultimately shut down the state government.

The General Assembly will hold its annual “veto session” to complete work from the regular session that ended March 8. But no action is expected on the biggest issues looming over Richmond: Medicaid expansion and, because that matter was folded into the Senate’s two-year, $96 billion state spending plan, the budget.

Unless the chambers decide to suspend their rules and take up matters not on their agendas, they will finish the day as they started — with no plan to fund schools, colleges, local governments and all manner of state services for the next two years.

There will not even be rival budgets for negotiators to discuss. Because the House and the Senate have been unwilling to vote on the other’s budget, they do not have competing plans in conference, where teams from both chambers could begin hashing out differences.

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~ The Washington Post

Bill Howell won’t be in his usual spot today, at the dais in the House of Delegates, presiding over that restless body with his outsized gavel, clever one-liners and occasional glare. The Republican speaker is recovering at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center from hip replacement surgery.

Like 103 other legislators, Howell has gold-plated health insurance — supplied by the people of Virginia, more than 1 million of whom go without.

It’s a point that even Republicans say could be ammunition for Terry McAuliffe in his so-far unsuccessful struggle to bring the state in compliance with Obamacare. Some Republicans are confounded that the governor rarely mentions the full-time perk that part-time lawmakers enjoy.

Shame can be a powerful motivator, perhaps more than McAuliffe’s economic argument for a Medicaid-financed scheme to provide health care for 400,000 people: that it will stabilize hospitals and free dollars for other programs. It’s a claim that steels the resistance of the GOP-dominated House.

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~ Richmond Times-Dispatch

The chairmanship of the 6th District Republican Committee will be decided at the district convention on Saturday, and both incumbent Chairman Wendell Walker and challenger Vance Wilkins are campaigning until the delegates are tallied.

For Wilkins, Saturday’s convention offers a chance for political redemption after a sexual harassment scandal drove him from the position of Virginia House Speaker in 2002. Walker hopes to earn another term and keep building the party in 6th District with more minority members and newly recruited younger leadership.

“Part of my campaign has been to recruit more females and minorities for the political process. I believe in growing our party,” said Walker, who also served as chairman of the Lynchburg Republican Committee for 10 years. Walker said he has recruited committee chairmen under age 30, and he will continue to recruit more people.

“That’s what people want, someone with vision and goals,” said Walker. Walker has also garnered some impressive endorsements, including that of Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, last year’s Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general.

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~ The Roanoke Times

On Tuesday Jim Utterback, Virginia Department of Transportation Hampton Roads District director, and consultant project manager Steven Chapin briefed James City County supervisors on the state of the $144 million Interstate 64 widening project at their monthly meeting.

With both Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne pushing the effort to alleviate congested traffic in Hampton Roads, the project is gathering steam.

It will widen I-64 to six lanes from the Jefferson Avenue exit to just south of the Lee Hall exit, roughly 5.5 miles. The new 12-foot lanes will be added inside the existing east and westbound lanes, and the agency will widen six bridges along the route.

Utterback said the department issued a request for qualifications and has had five bidders respond. He told the James City supervisors the department hopes to issue request for proposals this summer “with the goal of awarding the contract this December.”

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~ Newport News Daily Press

It was supposed to be the end of the 2014 legislative season.

But lawmakers return to Richmond Wednesday to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes and amendments with the most important piece of legislation — the budget — still unresolved, and unlikely to shift from its partisan standoff.

McAuliffe vetoed only five pieces of legislation — including two public prayer bills and one regarding storing guns in secured containers in cars. With the Senate controlled by Democrats and the House dominated by Republicans, lawmakers at odds with the governor are unlikely to muster the two-thirds vote in both chambers necessary to overturn his vetoes.

Adopting the governor’s amendments to bills requires only a simple majority of votes. But on Tuesday House Republicans signaled their opposition to a series of amendments McAuliffe made to legislation earlier in April as a not-so-subtle protest of the budget impasse.

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~ Richmond Times-Dispatch

A report by a think tank at UCLA says legalizing gay marriages in Virginia could generate up to $60 million in spending in three years.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that about 7,000 same-sex couples may choose to get married in Virginia within three years of a change in law. In February, a federal judge in Norfolk struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. The decision has been stayed pending an appeal, and a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Richmond on May 13.

The report says the increased spending on wedding arrangements and by tourists would likely generate up to $3.2 million in state and local tax revenue.

~ Richmond Times-Dispatch

Longtime Fluvanna County Sheriff Ryant Washington is stepping down in May, due to a new state appointment.

He will serve as special policy advisor for law enforcement for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Washington tells us he will be training, making policy, and making education and business collaboration recommendations.

His last day on the job in Fluvanna is May 2.

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Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney personally donated $10,000 to the legal defense fund of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a man who was once in consideration to be his running mate but now finds himself indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally accepting gifts from a donor.

The donation was confirmed to the Washington Post by a former Romney aide who requested anonymity. But a longtime friend and adviser, Ron Kaufman, told the paper that McDonnell was “a true and trusted friend and ally” during the 2012 campaign.

"He did a great job running the RGA [Republican Governors Association], he did a great job running Virginia and Mitt has a very special place in his heart for Governor McDonnell. He wanted to help him at a time when he needed help, just as Governor McDonnell would do for Mitt if he needed help," Kaufman said.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will have to raise thousands to fight the charges in the indictment, which was handed down after the former governor left office in January. It alleges that the McDonnells accepted more than $135,000 in direct payments of gifts and loans from Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., a prominent businessman and donor, and then lied on loan applications and attempted to cover their tracks. The couple could face fines of more than $1 million and decades in jail.

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~ CBS News

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis is strongly encouraging fellow Republicans in a divided Congress to act soon on immigration reform for the good of the nation’s economic vitality and the political viability of the GOP.

The seven-term Northern Virginia congressman took those positions Tuesday on a Virginians for Fair Immigration Reform conference call — an offshoot group of the advocacy campaign led by technology titans such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Congress and the president are split on citizenship and residency pathways for those who entered the country illegally and those who overstay temporary welcome.

The U.S. Senate last year passed sweeping immigration reform legislation to create a 13-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

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~ The Virginian-Pilot