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This Hour: Latest Virginia news, sports, business and entertainment

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FELONS' RIGHTS

McAuliffe alters felons' voting rights procedures

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe is making it easier for felons to regain their voting rights.

McAuliffe announced Friday that he is reducing the waiting period for violent felons to apply for reinstatement from five years to three years. He is also removing drug offenses from the list of violent crimes that are subject to the waiting period.

The changes build on former Gov. Bob McDonnell's efforts to streamline the process. McDonnell's administration restored the civil rights of more than 8,000 felons, nearly twice as many as any previous administration.

McAuliffe says his administration already has restored the rights of more than 800 Virginians in his first three months in office.

STRIKE GROUP-HOMECOMING

USS Harry S. Truman, strike group returns to Va.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The USS Harry S. Truman has returned to its homeport in Virginia.

The aircraft carrier and the other ships in its strike group returned to Naval Station Norfolk on Friday. Thousands of friends and family members awaited the ships' return on a chilly pier waving flags and carrying signs welcoming their loved ones home.

The strike group had been on a nine-month deployment to Europe and the Middle East. While deployed, the Truman's aircraft flew about 2,900 combat sorties as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Other ships in the strike group that arrived in Norfolk on Friday include the USS Bulkeley, USS Mason and USS San Jacinto.

The Navy says the strike group includes about 6,000 sailors and Marines.

UNEMPLOYMENT-VA

Va.'s jobless rate rises to 5% in March

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Employment Commission says the state's jobless rate rose slightly to 5 percent in March.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is up from 4.9 percent in February and down from 5.6 percent a year ago.

Virginia had seen its jobless rate decline for seven consecutive months, reaching its lowest rate in February since November 2008.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates dropped in 21 states, rose in 17 and was unchanged in the remaining 12. The national unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent in March.

HEROIN MEETING

Northwest Va. meeting to focus on heroin use

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - Community leaders are coming together in Winchester to discuss what police call an alarming increase in heroin use.

The meeting Friday will include law enforcement, medical and educational representatives and others to discuss prevention, enforcement and treatment approaches. The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force says this year alone has seen 11 heroin-overdose deaths.

The region includes the city of Winchester, the towns of Front Royal and Strasburg and neighboring counties.

The meeting is a follow-up to one held in Warren County in December. More than 75 people attended that session.

AIRPORT-LOADED GUN

TSA: Ind. man arrested after gun found in bag

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - TSA officers at Lynchburg Regional Airport arrested a Bedford, Ind., man after they found a loaded gun in his carry-on baggage.

The Transportation Security Administration says the .38-caliber handgun with five rounds was found Thursday as the bag passed through an X-ray machine. The TSA says the Lynchburg police confiscated the handgun and arrested the traveler on a weapons charge.

The man's name was not available Friday from the Lynchburg Police Department. He was traveling to Indianapolis.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE-WATER PLANT

Va. water authorities to split cost of new plant

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) - Two regional water authorities are planning to split the cost of a new $14 million Smith Mountain Lake water treatment facility.

The Western Virginia Water Authority's board on Thursday voted unanimously to split the cost of the facility with the Bedford Regional Water Authority, which approved the agreement earlier this week.

Both authorities plan to expand their reach and quantity of water available for distribution. The new plant in Moneta is expected to produce up to 4 million gallons of water per day.

The agreement outlines a financial plan in which both authorities would split evenly construction, capacity and operation costs for the plant.

The Roanoke Times reports that the contract is set to last 16 years, with additional renewals available thereafter.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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