Thursday, October 22, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 22, 2020
Top of the News

Northam amends bill that would restrict police from making traffic stops

By PETER DUJARDIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam proposed changes to a bill that would bar police officers and sheriff's deputies from pulling drivers over on a wide array of vehicle equipment violations. The governor supports nearly all of the proposed restrictions on such stops that the bill's proponents contend will help reduce racial disparities in the justice system.

Push to open police records to public inspection continues in Virginia

By NED OLIVER, Virginia Mercury

Police in Virginia almost never release case files and body camera footage, even long after their investigations have concluded. A bill aimed at changing that failed during the special legislative session, which concluded last week. But lawmakers are already working to revise the legislation in response to concerns raised by police about graphic crime scene photos and victim privacy.

Virginia lawmakers pass 'revolutionary change' largely taking criminal sentencing decisions out of juries' hands

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A bill to revamp Virginia's jury sentencing system has passed the General Assembly and now awaits a decision by the governor on whether to sign it into law. Those on both sides of the issue say the change — which would largely take criminal sentencing decisions out of juries' hands — would mark one of the state's biggest criminal justice reforms in decades.

Radford University fraternity chapter faces interim suspension for COVID-related violations


A Radford University fraternity chapter is the second fraternity at Radford University facing consequences for violating COVID-19 safety guidelines this year. This week, Radford University administered 270 COVID-19 tests, 59 of which were positive. University officials said half of the cases were attributed to an off-campus party hosted by the Rho Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

COVID cases are exceeding Ballad's capacity to provide care

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Last week, 1,800 people living in Ballad Health's Virginia and Tennessee service area tested positive for COVID-19. Statistically, this means that soon 110 of them will become so ill that they will need to be admitted to one of Ballad's hospitals. Of those patients, 35 will die. CEO Alan Levine said Wednesday there's not a thing that can be done now to prevent that from happening, nor from similar things happening to an increasing number of people finding out this week of their infections.

COVID-19 relief money proves hard to spend

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

As of Sept. 30, Prince William County had spent just $36 million of the $82 million it received in federal relief funds to help local government, schools, businesses and residents weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic -- and time is running out to dole out rest. The county received two $41 million installments of federal CARES Act relief, one in March and the other in September.

Liberty University finance probe issues call for whistleblowers

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

A firm conducting an investigation at Liberty University will use an encrypted website to allow anonymous whistleblower complaints focused on financial misconduct by "current or former members of university leadership," the university announced Tuesday night.

The Full Report
52 articles, 23 publications


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


Governor requests changes to bill prohibiting no-headlight traffic stops

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph S. Northam tapped the brakes Wednesday on recently passed legislation that would have prohibited police officers to stop vehicles driving without headlights during evening hours. Northam sent a Senate bill back to the General Assembly with amendments that essentially reinstates existing state code about nighttime driving without headlights or brake lights.

Northam signs COVID-19 laws, including clarifying publication of outbreak information

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed more than a dozen new laws, including ones ensuring that information about COVID-19 outbreaks is published for public view and that schools post their plans for mitigating the spread of the virus. Northam is signing bills from the special session that began in August. The session focused on the response to COVID-19 and police and criminal justice reform.

Northam Signs Bill Strengthening AG's Power to Investigate Police


Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday he's signed a bill that would empower the state attorney general to investigate patterns of misconduct by law enforcement officers. Advocates like Attorney General Mark Herring, a fellow Democrat, argued the law is necessary to prevent practices like repeated use of excessive force, illegal searches, or biased policing.

Northam announces $65.8M to increase child care access

By RICH GRISET, Virginia Business

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and first lady of Virginia Pamela Northam announced $65.8 million in new funding on Wednesday to increase access to child care and support child care providers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new investment is supported by $58.3 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars as well as a reallocation of $7.5 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Virginia can start inspecting its ICE facilities in early 2021

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill Wednesday backed by immigrant rights advocates that would widen the state's ability to inspect its two privately owned immigration facilities and require health safety standards of the detention centers. It would also allow the state to pursue wrongful death investigations involving the centers.

Northam breaks hand while winterizing boat

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam broke his hand over the weekend while working on his boat. An Eastern Shore native who grew up fishing, Northam (D) was winterizing his skiff when the winch he was cranking flew back and hit the back of his hand, spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said Wednesday. It caused a minor break that the governor only got checked out Tuesday, after helping to unload pumpkins at the Executive Mansion to recognize Virginia Pumpkin Month.


Assembly restores some of court clerk staff money

By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Subscription required for some articles)

Understaffed district court offices may be able to bring on some new employees in the next two budget years with the budget package approved by the General Assembly this month. Most of the new hiring will have to wait until the second budget year. In its regular session, the Assembly authorized spending for 90 new deputy clerk positions in the first year of the two-year budget and 30 additional posts in the next year. Then COVID-19 struck and the belt was tightened.

Virtual participation in public meetings recommended by Virginia FOIA advisory council subcommittee

By TYLER ARNOLD, Washington Examiner

Legislation that would expand the use of virtual participation in public meetings received a thumbs up Tuesday from a Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council subcommittee. House Bill 321, sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, would allow a person to conduct public business virtually if that person cannot attend the meeting in person because of a serious medical condition or a serious medical condition of an immediate family member. There would be no limit on how many meetings a person could miss in this instance.


Crucial suburban voters weigh in on Congressional 7th District race


Voters in the suburban areas outside Richmond may once again play a major role in deciding the 7th Congressional District. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D) is running for a second term against Delegate Nick Freitas (R), in a race that is being watched closely on the national level and seeing millions of dollars spent on attack ads.

Cook shifts Luria-Taylor race to 'leans Democratic'

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN AND MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In the middle of two debates between Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Republican challenger Scott Taylor this week, the Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race in Luria's favor, just as a poll was released showing her with a slight lead. Cook shifted the race, which had been considered one of the most competitive in the nation, from a "toss-up" to "leans Democratic."

Poll: Elaine Luria leading Scott Taylor in rematch for 2nd Congressional District

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Rep. Elaine Luria has a healthy seven-point lead — 50% to 43% — over Scott Taylor in the congressional race for Virginia's 2nd District, according to a poll released Wednesday. Her gains are due largely to her majority support with women, independents and college-educated voters, according to the poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. Taylor's 2018 election fraud scandal also continues to hang over him, the center's analysts said.

Webb continues to outraise Good in 5th Congressional District  race

By DANIEL BERTI, Fauquier Times

5th Congressional District Democratic candidate Dr. Cameron Webb has outraised every other Virginia congressional candidate, including his Republican opponent Bob Good, between July 1 and Sept. 30,  according to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 15.  The candidates are vying for the seat currently held by Rep. Denver Riggleman in the sprawling 5th Congressional District, which stretches from the North Carolina border to Fauquier County.

Additional early voting sites open in Richmond area; advance balloting surging

By ANDREW CAIN AND JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Richmond-area voters have additional places where they can cast their ballots early ahead of the Nov. 3 election, as advance voting reaches unprecedented levels locally and throughout the state. Statewide through Tuesday, 1.55 million Virginians already had voted — 900,804 in person and 658,482 by mail, with 483,586 mail-in ballots still out, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

In absentee ballot mixup, hundreds of York County voters were mailed the wrong oath

By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

At this historic scale of mail-in voting, there's bound to be screw ups on both sides of the process. Take what happened in York County, where up to 300 voters were mailed the wrong type of "secrecy sleeve" — otherwise known as Envelope B, where completed ballots are tucked before the whole shebang is slipped into the return envelope.


Va. 28 bypass faces another possible roadblock – Fairfax County residents

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors' decision to move forward with the Va. 28 bypass has sparked a backlash from residents in neighboring Fairfax County who say their supervisors have not allowed residents to voice concerns about the road's impact to Bull Run Regional Park. The $300 million bypass would extend Godwin Drive to create a new four-lane road along Flat Branch Creek in Manassas that would cross Bull Run Creek and cut across Fairfax County's Bull Run Regional Park to connect with the existing Va. 28 near Compton Road in Fairfax's Sully District.

Governor and regional officials announce name for new 40-mile Ashland-Petersburg trail

By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

An approximately 40-mile biking and walking route that will stretch from Ashland to Petersburg now has a name: the Fall Line Trail. Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled the upcoming north-south trail's new name Wednesday in a groundbreaking ceremony with local officials and trail advocates from throughout the region at the planned trail's northern terminus in Ashland's Carter Park.


Changes have increased costs for college students

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

College classes were moved online, extracurriculars were derailed, and the campus experience has been transformed because of the pandemic. But the price tag of a public college education in Virginia increased anyway. The average cost for an in-state student rose nearly 2% this year to $25,112.

As COVID cases go up, Radford University fraternity placed on interim suspension for party

By SAM WALL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Radford University placed the Rho Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity on interim suspension this week for hosting an off-campus party that exceeded the school's 10-person gathering limit. The school's announcement comes as its coronavirus dashboard data Tuesday showed 59 new COVID-19 cases from 270 tests at the student health center over the last week. The city has also seen a spike in cases over the last several days after the rate had gone down in recent weeks.

JMU Athletics short $5.5 million since COVID-19


As JMU Athletics stares at a deep loss, it's one of many college athletic departments across the country that's facing sizable financial burdens. In a Zoom call with members of the media, Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said JMU is looking at an estimated loss of $5.5 million due to factors caused by the coronavirus. "We need a lot of money," Bourne said.

Hampton University to stay with online instruction in the spring

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Hampton University students will not return to campus this spring, President William Harvey announced Wednesday. Harvey cited in a letter to the community current trends in COVID-19 data as the basis for the decision. The college's campus has been closed to students and visitors since March.

Black Former Cadets Say Racism Probe At Virginia Military Institute Is Overdue


Chris Ferrill says he was at a track workout in his first month at the Virginia Military Institute, lying on his back and doing flutter kicks. The sun beat down and the teenage football player pulled down his hat to shield his face. Ferrill says a fellow student who was tasked with discipline approached him, saying, "take your hat off, you're not in the hood anymore." "Mind you, I live in Northern Virginia," Ferrill recalled.


October becomes deadliest month for COVID-19 in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District

By STAFF REPORT, Danville Register & Bee

October officially has tilted to the deadliest month in the coronavirus pandemic for the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District. With the addition of another fatality Wednesday morning — a Danville man in his 60s — more residents have died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus this month than any other.

Virginia COVID-19 cases increase by 1,018 from Tuesday

By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 168,772 — an increase of 1,018 from the 167,754 reported Tuesday. The 168,772 cases consist of 157,998 confirmed cases and 10,774 probable cases. There are 3,515 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 3,266 confirmed and 249 probable. That's an increase of 30 from the 3,485 reported Tuesday.

Ballad to defer some procedures as cases climb

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Ballad Health announced steps Wednesday to address a surge of COVID-19 cases but officials stopped short of petitioning elected officials for additional public restrictions. On Wednesday Ballad reported 135 COVID-positive patients in its hospitals — a one-day record — plus 29 suspected cases. Its previous single-day record was 125 inpatients. Additionally, the region's average testing positivity rate hit a record 12.6% — prompting officials to anticipate even more cases in the days ahead.

6 area virus deaths reported in single day

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

The Rappahannock Area Health District reported six new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily total since the pandemic began. The people who died represented every locality in the health district, except King George County. Three were residents of Spotsylvania County, and there was one death each in Fredericksburg, Caroline County and Stafford County. Three were white, two were Black and one was Asian or Pacific Islander. Two were in their 50s.

Health Officials: Richmond Will 'Probably' See COVID Spike Soon


Richmond health officials are continuing to warn of a potential spike in coronavirus cases as we head into the winter. Currently, Richmond is seeing an average of 25 new cases each day. New cases have trended downward over the last five days, but Dr. Danny Avula, who heads the Richmond City Health District, says the overall trend since early October has been upward. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Avula said he expects to see bigger spikes heading into late November and December.

Regional rise in COVID-19 cases reflected in schools, who report uptick in infections

By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Several school divisions in the Roanoke and New River valleys have reported an increase of student and staff COVID-19 cases throughout the month of October, reflecting a regional trend in the larger community. The uptick comes as local health officials plead with people to continue following health recommendations, and as school divisions enter the second half of the semester.


Arlington County grappling with budget shortfall from pandemic

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In flush times, money left over from Arlington County's previous fiscal year would be used for County Board members' priorities, such as affordable housing, in the next budget. But this year, the cost of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will soak up virtually every penny that's available, making additional funding uncertain for building or renovating apartments for those who make less than the median income in this wealthy inside-the-Beltway community.

White House weighs in on Fairfax teachers' union virtual-learning stance

By KARI PUGH, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

The Fairfax County Education Association put out a statement two weeks ago advocating for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year to remain virtual. Now, two weeks before the presidential election, the group's stance appears to have grabbed the attention of the White House. The regional communications office for President Donald Trump reached out to on Tuesday, offering reaction from the White House to the FEA's position.

Loudoun Students Quarantined After Contact with Infected Staff Member

Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

As Loudoun school administrators continue to gear up to the expansion of in-person learning, the school division today reported the first instance in which students were directed to quarantine at home after coming in close contact with an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19 while on campus. The cases were reported at Mountain View Elementary School, where it was determined that an unspecified number of students and staff members had spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of the staff member who had a positive test.

Loudoun School Board, Board of Supervisors talk learning models, broadband, equity

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Joint Committee of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Loudoun County School Board met virtually Monday afternoon to exchange updates regarding their recent respective efforts. Committee members — including supervisors Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run) and School Board members Denise Corbo (At-Large) and Leslee King (Broad Run District) — particularly focused on Loudoun County Public Schools' staged implementation of a hybrid learning model, as well as equitable community practices and broadband access for western Loudoun residents.

Prince William School Board Approves 2nd Phase of Return-to-Learning Plan

By STACY SHAW, Bristow Beat

The Prince William County School Board voted to approve the Superintendent's return-to-learning in-school plan for the second and third quarter with the flexibility to make changes in response to pandemic needs. The voted occurred two minutes to 1 a.m. on Thursday. The new calendar information will have students in grades 5-12 return in the third marking period.

Prince William board creates commission to examine racial justice concerns

By DANIEL BERTI, Prince William Times

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a "racial and social justice commission" tasked with improving race relations and examining local police, government and school policies despite objections from the board's Republican supervisors. The 12-member commission will consist of eight citizen members appointed by the board of supervisors in addition to the Prince William County police chief, county executive, human rights commission chair and a representative from the Prince William County school division.

First reported COVID-19 case among public school students announced at Kettle Run

By STAFF REPORTS, Fauquier Times

A student attending in-person classes at Kettle Run High School has tested positive for the COVID-19, a health department letter to Kettle Run parents and staff announced Monday. No students or staff members were considered "close contacts" of the infected individual, the letter said. The case is the first reported in a student attending a Fauquier County public school.

Henrico school officials are one day away from a decision on in-person learning

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

On Thursday, the Henrico County School Board is slated to weigh expanding in-person learning for up to 50,000 students — a decision that comes amid tears, frustration and optimism from families and teachers with competing hopes. Some are begging the School Board to think about physical safety. Others want the option of in-person instruction.

Virginia Beach to move forward with renovations to building where mass shooting occurred

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Building 2 of the municipal center — abandoned after the mass shooting on May 31, 2019 — will be renovated soon. City officials this week released millions of dollars for several projects that had been on hold during the pandemic, including money to refurbish the building where 12 people were killed and four were critically injured.

Norfolk won't bring students back into schools Nov. 4 — that much is for certain

By SARA GREGORY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Health metrics need to be in the lower- to lowest-risk categories before Norfolk will resume in-person instruction, the school board decided Wednesday. Only after the health measures are "in the green" for 14 consecutive days can students begin returning, starting with some students with disabilities and those learning English.

Hampton schools set Nov. 4 target date for some grades to return

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

Some students could return to Hampton schools on Nov. 4 under a plan Superintendent Jeffery Smith presented to the school board Wednesday. The board didn't vote on Smith's proposal at the virtual meeting — it has voted to give him the authority to lead the decision on reopening. But a majority of members supported the return date for some grades as part of a two-day-a-week hybrid model, Phase 2 of a four-phase plan to return to full-time, in-person instruction.

Stafford supervisors seek regional buy-in on library concerns

By JAMES SCOTT BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Still dissatisfied with a litany of issues related to Stafford County libraries, Stafford supervisors on Tuesday agreed to take further action at their next meeting. On Nov. 4, supervisors will vote to make their concerns official before they are brought to the library's board of trustees for consideration.

County to update code to use pronouns other than 'he'

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Albemarle County will now expressly allow the use of pronouns other than "he" in the County Code. On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to change the way that gender pronouns are applied throughout the county code. Gender was defined in the code as "a word used in the masculine includes the feminine and the neuter," and now gender pronouns will be defined as " a word used in the masculine or the feminine, in particular 'he,' 'she,' 'him,' and 'her,' includes all gender identities."

COVID-19 pandemic affects free bus rides to polls in Danville

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

For the third year in a row, Danville is offering free bus rides to the polls on Election Day — even with COVID-19 forcing the city to make adjustments in the way it offers public transportation. On Nov. 3, the city's transportation department will have an additional bus sent to pick up passengers at heavy ridership routes because only 12 riders are allowed to be on a bus at a time, transportation director Marc Adelman said.



'Special' session it wasn't

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

About the only thing "special" about the General Assembly's special session this year is that it lasted longer and got much less done than the 46-day regular legislative session that ended in March. The legislature had already passed a $135 billion biennium budget, and Gov. Ralph Northam's subsequent freeze on new state spending in April, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Virginia, should have made short work of adjusting budgetary wish lists to the new coronavirus reality.

Legislators rig the redistricting system to benefit themselves

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The fix is in. Virginians this fall are being asked whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would take the power of drawing new legislative lines out of the hands of the majority party in the General Assembly and give it to a bipartisan commission composed of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, who for years argued in favor some sort of commission when they were the minority party, have mysteriously decided this particular version isn't quite good enough and now argue for a "no" vote.

State Parole Board's continuing violations

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Five of seven new complaints lodged against the Virginia Parole Board were substantiated earlier this month by the Office of State Inspector General Michael Westfall, which found that the VPB once again violated state law and its own policies and procedures by releasing inmates without first notifying prosecutors, victims and their families.

Time will tell effectiveness of legislature's special session

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The long, long, special, special session has reached a conclusion. Or will reach a conclusion, soon. Any day now. Brave assurances have been dispatched to the population that our citizen legislature will at last stop legislating. At least until January.

Depression and COVID-19

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The global coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on all aspects of our lives. It's upended our work routines, our children's education and our economic stability. And it's affected another arena that needs attention: mental health. October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, designed to raise awareness of a condition that's becoming more prevalent during the pandemic.

The Virginia legislature just achieved good criminal justice reforms. But there's a long way to go.

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

After two months of deliberation, the Virginia special legislative session has effectively ended. State lawmakers should congratulate themselves for a number of worthwhile criminal justice and policing reforms and prepare themselves for even more difficult, necessary work when the regular session begins in January.


Schapiro: Change at the point of a political bayonet

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Every 25 years or so it's April 1865 again at the Virginia Military Institute. The school, as the South did 155 years ago, surrenders to reality. In 1968, it admitted Blacks for the first time, the last public college in Virginia to do so. In 1997, women enrolled at VMI, the school having lost in the U.S. Supreme Court the previous year its long battle to remain males-only. In 2020, VMI is struggling to strike a balance between its Confederate past and people of color who represent its future.

PolitiFact: Ad Claims Spanberger Wants Public Campaign Financing


Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger wants the public to pay for her campaign, according to Nick Freitas, her Republican challenger this fall. "Washington Democrats love to spend your money," says a Freitas TV ad. "They even voted to spend public public funds on their political campaigns; up to $5 million each for travel expenses, staffers, even TV ads. And Abigail Spanberger voted with them, not you." . . . We fact checked whether Spanberger voted to give politicians up to $5 million for their campaigns.


Munley: MVP should not cross water bodies

By CYNTHIA MUNLEY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The virtual Roanoke River Currents Conference this October 21-22 is timely because our Roanoke River and hundreds of Southwest Virginia streams across MVP's (Mountain Valley Pipeline) path are in imminent danger now that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has extended the Mountain Valley Pipeline's (MVP) certificate for two years and lifted its stop-work order.

Munley is an organizer of Preserve Salem.

Miller: The last days of the Lee monument

By PENN MILLER, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Some see vandalism and desecration, others see art. The dramatic tagging of the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue might be giving some people distress, but it is giving me joy in the finest traditions of graffiti art. Art that easily is accessible to the public, placed there outside the boundaries of the law, and ephemeral. It is an expression and celebration of people, making Lee Circle a more egalitarian shrine than an oligarchic one.

Penn Miller of Ashland is the author of the novel "Confederate Gold: A Modern-day Romp through the Civil War History of Richmond, Virginia."

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Virginia Public Access Project · P.O. Box 1472 · Richmond, VA 23218 · USA

Monday, October 19, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

October 19, 2020
Top of the News

After a decline, coronavirus now surging throughout much of Virginia

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

If you're watching the coronavirus pandemic by the numbers for signs of improvement, you could get whiplash from one week to the next. Coming off a brief period in which no health district was surging in new infections, Virginia's caseload appeared to be receding while other states across the country were headed down the opposite path. Now, all but the northern part of the state is having an upward trajectory, based on data collected by the Virginia Department of Health.

Assembly approves deferred disposition

By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Subscription required for some articles)

After a decade of nuanced judicial refinements to the standard for deferring dispositions for criminal defendants, the General Assembly has agreed to give judges nearly unfettered discretion to delay criminal judgments for later consideration. The reform given final approval Oct. 7 is a "sea change" in the practice of criminal law, according to one of the sponsors. "It shows the criminal justice system can be tempered with mercy instead of being focused solely on punishment," said Del. Michael Mullin, D-Newport News.

Legislative panel votes to include incumbents' addresses in 2021 redistricting data

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

A joint General Assembly committee preparing for the 2021 redistricting process voted last week to include incumbent lawmakers' home addresses in the data that will be used to redraw their districts. Some lawmakers insisted the move doesn't necessarily mean the address data will be used to draw lines that protect incumbents. But dissenting legislators said it looked like a step toward the type of incumbent protection that's happened in the past and some General Assembly members now want to ban.

As Chesterfield schools open, district asks parents to provide transportation

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the world to shut down in March, Lucy Wade, then a kindergartner with Chesterfield County Public Schools, struggled with the pivot to virtual learning. Lucy has autism. She didn't want to sit in front of a computer and didn't like to see her classmates' faces on the screen, said her mother, Stephanie Wade. Now a first-grader at Watkins Elementary, Lucy is back in the classroom four days a week as part of the school district's first cohort to return to school.

Migrant Farmworkers Under Lockdown: 'You're Practically a Slave'

By MIRIAM JORDAN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Each spring, a thousand or more Mexican tomato pickers descend on Virginia's Eastern Shore to toil in the fields of Lipman Family Farms, enduring long hours stooped over to pluck the plump fruit and then hoisting it on their shoulders onto a waiting truck. An adept worker will fill a 32-pound bucket every two and a half minutes, earning 65 cents for each one. The region is considered the toughest on the tomato circuit. . . . This year, there is a new and even more difficult working condition: To keep the coronavirus from spreading and jeopardizing the harvest, Lipman has put its crews on lockdown.

At VMI, Black cadets endure lynching threats, Klan memories and Confederacy veneration

By IAN SHAPIRA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than a half century after the Virginia Military Institute integrated its ranks, Black cadets still endure relentless racism at the nation's oldest state-supported military college. The atmosphere of hostility and cultural insensitivity makes VMI — whose cadets fought and died for the slaveholding South during the Civil War and whose leaders still celebrate that history — especially difficult for non-White students to attend, according to more than a dozen current and former students of color.

Crowd gathers in Fredericksburg for 'We the People' rally

By JOEY LOMONACO, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Attendees of the "We the People" rally at Old Mill Park on Saturday were greeted at the gate with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson, reminding them that, "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." That obligation was the pointed focus of a series of speakers, who spent the next five hours decrying perceived attacks on the Second Amendment, COVID-19 government mandates and the erosion of religious freedom among other grievances.

The Full Report
48 articles, 24 publications


VPAP Visual Business Giving on Hold

The Virginia Public Access Project

Off-year giving by many business-related PACs to General Assembly members is down sharply through the first three quarters of 2020. Economic uncertainty has led some PACs to delay setting a budget for the year and some legislators have postponed fundraisers. Shown are PACs that gave at least $20,000 to legislators in the first nine months of 2018 -- and what their giving looks like this year.

From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


State First Lady visits Suffolk Head Start Center

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

After greeting Suffolk Head Start Center staff, Delegate Clinton Jenkins and state Sen. Louise Lucas, Virginia First Lady Pam Northam got to the heart of her visit — the four children to whom she would be reading. "Hi! How are you guys? I'm so happy to be here today," Northam said to the children, part of Chyretta Ferrill's and Monchel Stallins' class. "Are you hiding a smile behind your mask? I bet you are. I'm hiding a smile too."


Virginia lawmakers pass bill giving citizen oversight panels actual investigative powers in police misconduct complaints

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The General Assembly has passed a bill to allow localities to establish "citizen oversight bodies" to investigate police misconduct complaints — and discipline officers who they determine break the rules. The bill allows city councils and county boards of supervisors statewide to create the civilian panels starting next July 1 to examine use-of-force complaints, cases of deaths and serious injuries while in custody, as well as abuse of power and discrimination concerns.

Criminal justice reform bills head to the governor's desk

By WILL GONZALEZ, VCU Capital News Service

The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up on Saturday a special session that began Aug. 18 and saw debate on more than 50 police and criminal justice reform bills. Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and can veto or amend the approved bills.

A budget amendment is laying down the tracks for a Shenandoah Valley rail trail

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

When Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, introduced a budget amendment funding a study on creating a new 43-mile long rail trail in the Shenandoah Valley, the odds of the proposal making it into the final budget for the governor to sign looked slim. After Wilt's amendment was stricken from the House version of the budget, the idea appeared doomed. However, thanks to the efforts of his regional ally, Sen. Emmet Hanger, R-Augusta, the measure made it into the Senate's budget to be adopted by the two bodies' conference committee last week.


Coronavirus dominates low-key Senate race in Virginia

By ALAN SUDERMAN, Associated Press

Much like the presidential contest, the U.S. Senate race in Virginia has been heavily shaped by the coronavirus. Unlike the presidential contest, few people are paying attention. Virginians are nearly two weeks away from deciding between two-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Daniel Gade, a political newcomer, in a contest that's become largely an afterthought.

Republican challenger Daniel Gade criticizes Warner, Democratic Party during Danville stop

By PARKER COTTON, Danville Register & Bee

Republican United States Senate candidate Daniel Gade spent Saturday morning at Danville's Westside Diner meeting with residents and framing himself as a career servant — the opposite, he said, of Democrat incumbent Mark Warner, who he called a career politician. As nearly 30 supporters and local GOP officials gathered for breakfast just more than two weeks out from Election Day, Gade, 45, told the story of his life, which centered on his extensive Army record and the 2005 explosion in Iraq that claimed his right leg.

Don't expect results on election night in Hampton Roads, registrars say

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

If you're planning to stay up late to hear if your candidate won on Election Day, you might as well get the extra sleep. City election registrars around Hampton Roads — the ones who could spare a minute or two to talk — are warning that the public shouldn't expect to see solid results from local, state or federal races on election night.


SCC considers the ups and downs of Appalachian Power's rates

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

What the monthly electricity bill will look like next year remains murky for Appalachian Power customers, as a roller-coaster regulatory process plays out. The State Corporation Commission is considering three separate cases that will affect rates. Appalachian is asking the SCC to approve an increase in its base rates, which are reviewed every three years.

Virginia panel sets Nov. 17 public hearing, asks input on replacement for Lee statue at U.S. Capitol

By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

A state panel charged with recommending a replacement for Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue at the U.S. Capitol has set a Nov. 17 public hearing and is encouraging the public — including students in public and private schools — to submit their suggestions. Written suggestions are due to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources by Nov. 27, the end of the public comment period.


Virginia Tech campus, Potomac Yard development earn approval in Alexandria

By JONATHAN CAPRIEL, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

The first phase of Virginia Tech's campus and plans for six other buildings in Alexandria's section of Potomac Yard earned approval from City Council on Saturday morning. Developers JBG Smith Properties (NYS:JBGS) and Lionstone Investment have reenvisioned the entire district and brought it through the city's planning process in a little over a year after they earned the university's $1 billion computer science-focused campus after it exited a nearby site.

Dharma opens to serve Virginia patients

Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Dharma Pharmaceuticals formally opened its doors Saturday to patients seeking medical cannabis treatment. The firm is the first medical processor to open in Virginia so registered medical cannabis patients across the state have access to the treatment, according to a written statement from the Virginia Medical Cannabis Coalition. Its facility is located in the Bristol Mall.

As Local News Dies, a Pay-for-Play Network Rises in Its Place

By DAVEY ALBA AND JACK NICAS, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

...Maine Business Daily is part of a fast-growing network of nearly 1,300 websites that aim to fill a void left by vanishing local newspapers across the country. Yet the network, now in all 50 states, is built not on traditional journalism but on propaganda ordered up by dozens of conservative think tanks, political operatives, corporate executives and public-relations professionals, a Times investigation found.....Conservative activists are running similar sites, like the Star News group in Tennessee, Virginia and Minnesota.


Virginia State University launches institute to nurture Black political, government leaders

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

Saying it wants to create a place "for individuals who look like us," Virginia State University announced Wednesday the establishment of Virginia's — and possibly the nation's — first program dedicated to the development of Black political and governmental leadership. College officials joined two state lawmakers and others to launch the John Mercer Langston Institute for African-American Political Leadership, JMLI will be accessible not just to collegiate scholars, but also Black Virginians interested in doing a public service.

NCI to be first in state to offer wind energy training

By HOLLY KOZELSKY, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Some education innovation is blowing into Martinsville. New College Institute will be the host institution of the new Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, and by next year, the school will offer two classes to train wind-energy technicians. The Alliance is made up of NCI, Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy.


VDH Sunday coronavirus data: Cases up 900 statewide

Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Coronavirus cases statewide rose by 900 from Saturday to Sunday, according to Virginia Department of Health data. Statewide, hospitalizations rose by 30 and deaths by 11. The 7-day positivity rate in Virginia is 5%, a figure that has been essentially flat for the past several days.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations climb in Lynchburg region

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

After nearly two months of declining new COVID-19 cases, the Lynchburg region is once again seeing a rise in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Since the start of October, more than 900 positive cases have been reported in the Central Virginia Health District, eclipsing the surge in infections reported during late July and early August, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

Far more people have died from the pandemic than the virus death toll indicates, VCU study says

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. in January, nearly 218,000 Americans have become infected and died. But for every two coronavirus deaths, a third death occurs that's indirectly linked to the pandemic, according to a study led by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University. That translates to an additional 100,000 pandemic-related deaths so far this year.

How one Virginia doctor's coronavirus infection led to 25 people in quarantine

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A doctor in training who wasn't feeling well went into work. The attending physician who supervised the Eastern Virginia Medical School resident sent the new doctor home. A little later, the doctor started to feel better and went to a barbecue with about 25 people.

Virginia Beach General District Court closed after four people test positive for coronavirus

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Beach General District Court will be closed Monday and Tuesday after four people tested positive for coronavirus. Two Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office deputies assigned to court security and two other non-sheriff's office personnel tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, said Kathy M. Hieatt, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, in a news release.


Virginia county escalates sanctuary battle with ICE

By STEPHEN DINAN, Washington Times

Prince William County's jail released an illegal immigrant late last month despite a federal criminal warrant for his arrest, marking what federal officials see as an escalation of sanctuary policies. Edras Onel Vasquez-Perez, 25, had been deported before. When he was found in the U.S. again, federal authorities persuaded a magistrate judge to issue a felony warrant for his arrest.

Trial to get underway over Northam's effort to remove Richmond statue of Robert E. Lee

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Arguments are scheduled to get underway Monday morning in the lawsuit over Gov. Ralph Northam's effort to take down the giant statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on state property along Monument Avenue. The 60-foot colossus of Lee became the focal point of protests this summer over racial inequity, triggered in Richmond and across the country by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Judge to hold trial on Northam's plans to remove Lee statue

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A lawsuit seeking to prevent Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond is scheduled to go to trial Monday. The plaintiffs, a group of Richmond residents who live near the monument, filed suit after Northam ordered the removal of the statue in June amid the outcry and unrest caused by the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Family, Richmond community join to celebrate Marcus-David Peters' 27th birthday

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, Commonwealth Times

Dance performances, screen-printed T-shirts and birthday cake marked on Saturday the 27th birthday of Marcus-David Peters, a VCU alum who was killed by Richmond police while experiencing a mental crisis. Richmond community members gathered at the Robert E. Lee statue, coined Marcus-David Peters' Circle, to celebrate Peters' birthday. As performers danced around the statue's base, volunteers handed out free food and cake.

Spotsylvania coalition continues push for equality

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A simple proclamation at the beginning of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors meeting last week was a big deal to a group of area ministers who have been working for months with area leaders on social justice issues. Board Chairman Gary Skinner read the proclamation, which supports nondiscrimination and the U.S. Constitution's "promise of the equality of all persons regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin."

Monument Fund, other plaintiffs rebuff Charlottesville's statues appeal

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The Monument Fund and other plaintiffs in a yearslong lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville are urging the Supreme Court of Virginia to uphold decisions made by the city circuit court ahead of a week of hearings in November. Judge Richard Moore last year sided largely with the plaintiffs in the suit, issuing a permanent injunction against the city removing its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Market Street Park.

New city park a celebration of racial harmony

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Like most Southern towns in the 1960s, Winchester was racially segregated. But there was one place in the city where skin color didn't matter, where people from all races could hang out together without feeling society's pressure to keep Blacks and whites apart. That place was Ruth's Tea Room at the corner of South Kent and East Cecil streets.


Parents, alumni protest after admissions process changed at Thomas Jefferson High School


Parents and alumni at a top-ranked Virginia high school held a protest Sunday after the board of education changed how students are admitted. The Fairfax County Board of Education eliminated the race-blind admission test for students wishing to go to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology during a meeting on Oct. 6.

Enrollment drops by 2,500 students in Prince William County schools

Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Nearly 2,500 fewer students are enrolled in Prince William County Public Schools than a year ago, according to data from the school division. If the numbers maintain, it would mark the first time in many years that enrollment in the school system has declined. Public school systems are required to report fall enrollment figures to the Virginia Department of Education on Sept. 30 every year.

Virginia Beach to let nonprofits distribute $10 million in pandemic relief

By ALISSA SKELTON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Residents and small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic will likely have another opportunity to get assistance from local nonprofits. On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council is expected to vote to give $10 million to nonprofits to distribute aid.

Hampton OKs business owner to set up indoor shooting range in a trailer

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

For years, Hampton has wanted to relocate a noisy outdoor shooting range near Rip Rap Road in the otherwise sleepy Old Northampton section. It was costly and finding the right location without having the same issue was a challenge. The owner of the "war games" simulation company Threat Tec at 34 Research Drive in the Langley Business Park sought to expand the business by adding an indoor shooting range. It seemed like a match made in the heavens.

Grants give small businesses in Williamsburg, York, Poquoson affected by COVID-19 a 'jump start'

By ALEX PERRY, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted small business owners across the country, including the Pryor family in Yorktown. Jill Pryor and her husband Randy have owned and operated Patriot Tours & Provisions in Riverwalk Landing for about a decade. They offer guided Segway tours and kayak, paddleboard and bicycle rentals, and they sell souvenirs and gifts at their retail store on Water Street.

State program provides PPE to local residents

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A pilot program offered by the state of Virginia made it possible for Winchester to give away thousands of face masks and hand sanitizers. According to a media release from Rouss City Hall, Winchester was one of more than 40 state localities selected in May for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's new Health Equity Pilot Program. The program provided personal protective equipment (PPE), staff training and health information to underserved and vulnerable areas, especially those at high risk of being COVID-19 hotspots.

Frederick County to provide $500,000 in CARES Act funds to local businesses and nonprofits

By STAFF REPORT, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Local businesses and nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic have another chance to receive grant money from Frederick County. Round Two of the county's COVID-19 Business/NonProfit Grant Program will open Friday at 8 a.m. Grants of $5,000, $7,500, or $10,000 will be awarded to Frederick County businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that have 2019 annual gross revenues of at least $30,000 but less than $3 million.

Pittsylvania County, Danville not asking voters for an extra 1-cent sales tax for school construction

By KIM BARTO MEEKS, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Earlier this year, the General Assembly authorized four Southside Virginia localities to let residents vote on raising sales taxes to pay for school construction needs. However, only two of the four — Henry and Patrick counties — have placed the measure on the ballot this fall.

Regional academy awaits outstanding Montgomery County payment

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Montgomery County is past the deadline on the payment it makes every year to the New River Criminal Justice Training Academy, the regional institution tasked with ensuring that local law enforcement and corrections officers obtain the credits needed to work. A top official with the Dublin-based academy said Montgomery County still owes an assessment fee of just over $56,000, an amount that was due on Sept. 30. The invoice, however, was sent out in July.

Coalition of churches pays for billboards against proposed casino

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

Messages written in bold black letters splashed across bright yellow billboards around Bristol shout opposition to the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino resort project. The messages are: "All that glitters is not gold." "When casinos go up, communities go down." "What would Jesus do? He would definitely vote no on the casino referendum."



Southwest Virginia's unique pitch for data centers

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The most fascinating thing we've read lately isn't on the New York Times best sellers list. It's a document that otherwise would cause eyes to glaze over — an economic development report on whether Southwest Virginia would be a good place to locate data centers, the massive warehouses of computer servers that make online traffic go. Spoiler alert: The answer is yes, but the most remarkable part is how the report arrived at that conclusion.

Our laws have to keep pace with virtual learning

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

When Gov. Ralph Northam closed Virginia schools on March 23 for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year due to COVID-19, the decision ushered in a new education era that might outlast the contagion. The novel coronavirus quickly placed school leaders across the commonwealth into novel territory with digital policymaking.

Decision should aid Rassawek

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

There already had been indications that this important shift was in the wind, but now we know for sure: The James River Water Authority said last week it will take a closer look at a potential alternative location for a project now slated to be built at the site of Rassawek, a significant historical site for the Monacan Indian Nation — and, indeed, for all Virginians.

Why are so many data centers in Northern Virginia? (And not here?)

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The rich keep getting richer. You knew that already, of course. Here's some new evidence. It comes in the form of real estate records and construction permits — in Loudoun County. The pandemic has put some people out of work and sent others to work — or study — from home. We are now living in the Age of Zoom. The implications of that ripple all across the economy, but eventually they show up in Northern Virginia.

Amendment 1 deserves voters' support

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution would dramatically change how the commonwealth draws lines to govern representation in Congress and the General Assembly. It is not perfect, as the strong opposition of Black lawmakers attests, but it is also not a piecemeal solution to a problem once thought intractable. It would establish greater independence for those making the maps and greater oversight by the public — and is therefore deserving of voters' support.

Never-ending session wasn't special

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

About the only thing "special" about the General Assembly's special session this year is that it lasted longer and got much less done than the 46-day regular legislative session that ended in March. The legislature had already passed a $135 billion biennium budget, and Gov. Ralph Northam's subsequent freeze on new state spending in April, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Virginia, should have made short work of adjusting budgetary wish lists to the new coronavirus reality.


Smith: Vote for Virginia's gerrymandering solution

By PAUL SMITH, published in Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Virginia has taken a big step toward addressing its historic issues with racial and partisan gerrymandering, but voters need to close the deal this fall for any progress to be realized.

Smith is the vice president of Campaign Legal Center, a nationally recognized election law expert and Supreme Court litigator who resides in Rappahannock County.

Adams and Kiggans: Rethink pay cut for dedicated medical professionals

By DEL. DAWN M. ADAMS AND SEN. JEN A. KIGGANS, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Recently there was little fanfare after an article was published highlighting Virginia's largest insurance company's decision to lower reimbursement rates for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) by 15-20%. Anthem had been reimbursing for medical services based on the service provided, not the service provider, meaning it paid 100% reimbursement for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Adams is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner and a Democrat who represents the 68th District in the House of Delegates. Kiggans is a board-certified adult-geriatric nurse practitioner and a Republican who represents the 7th District in the Senate.

Morse: Sometimes the fight is more important than winning it

By GORDON C. MORSE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Just a little more than two weeks remain until the Nov. 3 election and then what? Uncertainties cloud the path forward, but at least the noise emanating from closer in will dissipate. Some. The ads will stop, finally, but the campaigns may echo for a while. Especially the presidential one. And there will be difficulty for those who lose at all levels. Almost no one ever thinks about that part.

After writing editorials for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles.

Alexander: Toll relief should be part of any tunnel contract deal

By KENNETH ALEXANDER, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Underwritten by public money and financed by millions of dollars in tolls collected from our residents, Elizabeth River Crossing Opco LLC has operated the Downtown and Midtown tunnels since 2014. The two multinational firms that own ERC are set to sell the remaining 50 years of their exclusive contract to operate the tunnels. The contract includes the right to increase tolls at a rate of at least 3.5% annually until 2069, as well as the power to influence the scope and scale of any transportation project that may offer commuters alternative routes and choices that impact current tunnel traffic.

Alexander is the mayor of Norfolk.

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