Marijuana Decriminalization May Soon Be a Reality in Virginia

750px-Marijuana

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Virginia is on the verge of decriminalizing marijuana, and bills to make that happen have already passed the House and Senate. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Virginia May Soon Add Shield Law Protections for Journalists

449px-2017.07.26_Protest_Trans_Military_Ban,_White_House,_Washington_DC_USA_7684_(36056856301)_(cropped)

Delegate Danica Roem (Credit: Ted Eytan / Creative Commons)

Journalists in Virginia may soon be getting new protections against disclosing confidential sources. Michael Pope reports.

, , ,

Leave a comment

The General Assembly Sets its Sights on Behavioral Bills

va_state_flag

Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Making laws isn’t always about balancing the budget and drawing political boundaries. Sometimes, it’s also about some of the most human of human behaviors. Michael Pope explains.

,

Leave a comment

Bipartisan Push to Provide More Oversight of Utility Bills

general_assembly_2020A bipartisan push to take back authority over Virginia’s utilities – including Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power – is making its way through the legislature. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

, ,

Leave a comment

Gun Transfers Have Become a Sticking Point for Universal Background Checks

StateSeal00A sweeping package of new restrictions on guns has been moving through the General Assembly. But, Democrats are divided about how universal background checks should be. Michael Pope reports.

, ,

Leave a comment

Virginia Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Regional Minimum Wage Approach

thumbnail_IMG_7236

Religious leaders from across Virginia gather for a prayer vigil outside the Capitol. They’re calling for a $15 minimum wage across Virginia instead of the regional approach favored by the Senate. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Faith leaders from across Virginia are pressing Senate Democrats to abandon their regional approach to raising the minimum wage. Michael Pope reports.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Budget Plans Improve ELL Teacher Ratios, But is it Enough?

74907741_c2d59deb64_z

Credit: dcJohn via flickr.com / CC

Democratic lawmakers agree that it’s necessary to spend more on teachers for English language learners, but they have different takes on how to address the shortage.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

Leave a comment

Should Virginia Establish a “Preclearance” Standard?

general_assembly_2020Virginia has a long history of using election rules to disenfranchise black voters, and lawmakers in Richmond are considering a check to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Michael Pope has details.

,

Leave a comment

A Look at the Faith-Based Arguments at the General Assembly

2684043689_9d9e028f77_z1

Credit: Steven Coutts / Flickr

Lawmakers in Richmond hear lots of arguments about money and statistics. But they also hear arguments based in faith. Michael Pope reports.

, ,

Leave a comment

VA House Weighs Possible Release for Sick and Disabled Prisoners

daniels_grad

Andre Daniels graduated from high school in Norfolk but found himself jobless and homeless at 21. (Credit: Johnay Hardy)

In most states prisoners with a terminal illness can be freed early, but Virginia only considers inmates with less than three months to live. Now, the legislature may change that, making several thousand prisoners eligible for compassionate release. Sandy Hausman reports.

, ,

Leave a comment

There’s Bipartisan Support for Criminal Justice Reform in Richmond This Year

va_state_flag

Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Criminal justice reform is one of the leading issues this year in the Virginia General Assembly, and it’s an issue that has advocates on both sides of the aisle. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

State Democrats Want Increased Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

StateSeal00Undocumented immigrants in Virginia may be on the verge of getting new protections. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Some Senate Democrats Block Assault Weapons Ban

general_assembly_2020A controversial proposal to ban assault style weapons looks like it will not pass the legislature this year. The bill was a key part of Governor Ralph Northam’s gun control agenda. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

, ,

Leave a comment

Legislators Tackle Food Deserts

10009196164_6f7c1e53d6_k

Access to fresh produce is a challenge for communities across the state.

Legislators moved to address the issue by passing bills that advocates say would improve food systems in underserved areas.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

Leave a comment

With Broad Democratic Primary Field, General Assembly Support is Scattered Across the Field

DPVA_facebook

Super Tuesday is a few weeks away.

Michael Pope reports Democrats in the General Assembly are divided about which candidate they’ll be supporting this year.

Leave a comment

General Assembly Debates Definition of “Dead Body”

virginia_flag_map_0

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would change the definition of dead body.

Michael Pope reports.

Leave a comment

As Lawmakers Turn to Budget, Rural Schools Demand More

St Charles

  Students at St. Charles Elementary in Lee County Virginia go to school in a building constructed in the 1930’s. (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Lawmakers have about a month left in Richmond and the biggest item on the legislative to-do list is now finalizing the state budget.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports a bipartisan coalition is pushing to make sure public schools in rural Virginia get their fair share.

Leave a comment

Pope, Church & State: A weekly look at the General Assembly’s 2020 Session

general_assembly_2020

A weekly conversation about what’s happened at the General Assembly with Michael Pope and Luke Church.

Week Seven:

Democratic state senators have been derailing a few of their own party’s agenda items.

Week Six:

A flurry of activity before the crossover deadline.

Week Five:

Legislators are closing in on the halfway point of the General Assembly session.

Week Four:

The Equal Rights Amendment, abortion restrictions and guns were among the headlines from the state capitol this week.

Week Three:

Virginia’s General Assembly session often seems like a weeks-long sprint. And some believe this year’s action is moving even faster.

Week Two:

Much of the drama at the General Assembly this week has been about what might go on outside the capitol building.

Week One:

Lawmakers are wrapping up the first few history-making days at the General Assembly.

Leave a comment

Senate, House Advance Plastic Bag Tax, But Questions Remain

general_assembly_2020

Grocery stores across Virginia may soon have to pay a tax for plastic bags.

Michael Pope reports.

Leave a comment

With Dems Ready to Roll Back Abortion Restrictions, March for Life a “Somber Occasion”

March for Life

  Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation, speaks to a crowd of anti abortion rights activists at the March for Life rally at the capitol. (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

A couple thousand abortion rights opponents came to Richmond Thursday for the March for Life.

They were there to voice their disapproval at the turn Virginia politics has taken this session.

And as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the mood at the rally was subdued.

Leave a comment

Democrats Want to Raise the Minimum Wage, But Are Split Over the Details

general_assembly_2020Democrats are united in their desire to raise the minimum wage. But, they’re divided on how to make it happen. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

State Republicans: Democratic Agenda is Too Expensive

virginia_flag_map_0Democrats are plowing through a massive agenda, everything from raising the minimum wage to addressing climate change. But, Republicans are worried about the cost of all that. Michael Pope reports.

Leave a comment

Contest Aims to Find Sea Level Rise Resiliance Projects

Guinea house raised

A raised house in the town of Guinea. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

Money is key to making the Hampton Roads area resilient as land there sinks and sea-level rises, threatening a key part of the state’s economy.

Cost estimates run into the billions of dollars. Pamela D’Angelo reports small businesses are stepping up with solutions.

Leave a comment

Protecting Virginia Forests from Wildfires

controlled_burn_too

  Controlled burns help to prevent disasters like what Australia, California and other western states have experienced.
(Credit National Park Service)

More than 15 million acres in Virginia is covered with trees.  That’s about 63% of our land, so forest managers are understandably nervous when they see pictures of wildfires in Australia or California.

Sandy Hausman spoke with several of them at a conference focused on protecting wooded lands in the Commonwealth.

Leave a comment

How an Urban Agriculture Council can Help Grow Community

young_farmers

  Young urban farmers Saajida Chohan and Paul Meyer with their Virginia State University professor Leonard Githinji. (Credit Sandy Hausman)

Members of the House of Delegates voted this week to create an urban agriculture advisory council. But would the initiative make a difference for city growers?

Cat Modlin-Jackson put the question to two state specialists.

Leave a comment

At the Halfway Point, What Has the New Democratic Majority Focused on in Richmond?

general_assembly_2020Lawmakers are zooming through the busiest day of the General Assembly session, the final deadline for moving bills from one chamber to the other.

Michael Pope reports.

Among the legislation advancing before Tuesday’s crossover deadline: Authorizing local governments to move or remove Confederate monuments and war memorials.

Another bill advancing out of the House of Delegates would change the way Virginia’s Electoral College votes are allocated.

,

Leave a comment

With Key Vote Looming on Predatory Lending Restrictions, Some Are Worried About New Loopholes

general_assembly_2020Lawmakers in Richmond are trying to crack down on high-interest loans. But, advocates against predatory lending are concerned about new loopholes that might be created in the process. Michael Pope has details.

,

Leave a comment

An Effort to Repeal Virginia’s “Right to Work” Law Has Been Shelved

StateSeal00The effort to repeal Virginia’s right to work law has failed, at least for now. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Bill Could Help Revive Virginia’s Underwater Archaeology Program

virginia_flag_map_0

Battlefields and monuments are visible relics of the past, but much of the Commonwealth’s history remains below the surface.

In an effort to preserve Virginia’s maritime heritage, one delegate has proposed a state-sponsored underwater archaeology program.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

Leave a comment

Marijuana Decriminalization Likely to Take Step Forward Monday

Herring Marijuana

Del. Charniele Herring speaks on the floor of the House of Delegates Friday. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Members of the House of Delegates are poised to cast a vote Monday on decriminalizing marijuana.

Michael Pope reports.

Leave a comment

When Should Polls Close on Election Day?

voting_rights_3002112985_80b5a719b1Democrats are taking up a number of initiatives to make voting easier, and one of those may be extending polling hours. Michael Pope reports.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Controversial Assault Weapons Bill Moves Forward

Assault Weapons Hearing

The hearing room was full for Friday’s hearing. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A key House committee passed an assault weapons ban this morning.

It’s a big step for a controversial piece of legislation… the most sweeping in Governor Ralph Northam’s gun control package.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at the contentious meeting and has more.

Leave a comment

Honoring Civil Rights Lawyers Hill & Robinson

Northam Markers

Gov. Ralph Northam unveils the markers in Richmond. (Credit: Governor’s Office)

Virginia’s Governor honored two powerhouse African-American lawyers… men whose work laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement.

Mallory Noe-Payne was at a ceremony in their honor, and has this story.

Leave a comment

Gun Control is Passing, so What About the Assault Weapons Ban?

addington

Travis Addington drove seven hours from Lee County to be part of the January Lobby Day rally in Richmond. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Universal background checks. A red flag law. One handgun purchase a month.

These gun control measures, and more, are well on their way to becoming law in Virginia.

But there’s one element of the Governor’s gun control package that’s stalled in the statehouse– A ban on assault-style guns.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

Leave a comment

“Right to Work” Repeal Still Divides Democrats

general_assembly_2020

A repeal of Virginia’s “right to work” law has cleared several hurdles in the House of Delegates.

But Michael Pope reports Democrats are still not united on the issue.

Leave a comment

New Local Government Exchange Program Pairs Communities Across the State

thumbnail_IMG_7066

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, left, chats with Norton Mayor Joseph Fawbush at the Executive Mansion. The two cities have been paired as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s Local Government Exchange Program. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Governor Ralph Northam is launching an effort aimed at forging new lines of communication across local governments in Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

One State Lawmaker Wants to Establish an Office of New Americans

general_assembly_2020Lawmakers are considering an effort aimed at helping immigrants who move to Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Should Virginia Consider a Regional Minimum Wage?

StateSeal00Lawmakers in Richmond are moving forward with increasing the minimum wage. But, some are pressing for regional variation. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Accessory Dwelling Units can Help with a Shortage of Affordable Housing But Local Hurdles Remain

ADUs front view

Sonny Fleming, Natalie Snider and Ellen Fleming (Credit: Cat Modlin-Jackson)

With housing costs on the rise and incomes lagging behind, Virginians are getting creative in their search for affordable housing.

As property owners and renters look to get the most bang for their buck, some are finding more economical ways of living and working.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

Leave a comment

House of Delegates Poised for Key Vote on Non-Discrimination Policies

general_assembly_2020Lawmakers are about to vote Wednesday on a bill that would create new protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

The Push for SLAPP Lawsuit Protections in Virginia

va_state_flag

Credit: MBandman / Creative Commons

Lawmakers are considering bills aimed at preventing frivolous lawsuits designed to silence political opponents. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Governor, Labor Groups Find Compromise on Paid Sick Leave

general_assembly_2020Governor Ralph Northam and advocates for paid sick days have struck a compromise.

Michael Pope reports might determine how many businesses are affected.

Leave a comment

Legislative Panel Backs Local Control Over Monuments

IMG_0412

A group of Charlottesville residents advocate for local control of war memorials, including Confederate monuments, during a Virginia Senate committee meeting. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ)

Localities in Virginia are one step closer to having control over Confederate monuments in their region. A bill ceding that power passed out of a key committee for the first time time Monday. Mallory Noe-Payne has details.

, ,

Leave a comment

Shopping Carts Are a Problem in Northern Virginia, and One Lawmaker Wants to Fix That

16323941339_45ef31ba84_c

Credit: Travis Wise / Flickr

Lawmakers are taking action aimed at removing abandoned shopping carts from creeks in Northern Virginia. Although, it could end up allowing a local government near you to take action. Michael Pope reports.

, ,

Leave a comment

Va. News: Montgomery County passes Roanoke in Population, Mr. Peanut may be surviving in Suffolk

VPAPnew

It’s been a week of despair tempered by hope in Mr. Peanut’s hometown of Suffolk…and in a part of the state that’s having trouble holding onto its residents one locality is bucking the trend.

These have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

Leave a comment

‘I Survived’ — How Doulas Can Help Save Black Womens’ Lives

Doulas

For some women in Virginia accessing a doula can mean the different between life and death. From left to right: Fantasy Lozada-Smith, Kenda Sutton-El, and Vallin Bingley.
(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Doulas are not medical professionals. They’re more like birth coaches. In addition to helping women through labor, they also provide support long before, and even after, a baby is born.

For some Virginians, getting help from a doula may mean the difference between life and death.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, that’s why lawmakers are pushing for their services to be covered by Medicaid.

Leave a comment

Virginia Monuments Prove to Be a Topic of Debate for Lawmakers in Richmond

screen_shot_2016-03-17_at_2.49.31_pm

A statue of segregationist Harry Byrd stands at Virginia’s capitol.

Statues of Robert E. Lee and Harry Byrd have become flashpoints for lawmakers this year. Michael Pope reports.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Should Localities Be Able to Tax Plastic Bags?

general_assembly_2020Local governments across Virginia may be getting the ability to impose taxes on plastic bags. Michael Pope reports.

,

Leave a comment

Both Sides of the Aisle Back Efforts to Give Inmates More Credit for Good Behavior

prison

Credit Dave Nakayama / Creative Commons

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have proposed to increase the amount of time inmates can earn for good behavior.

Thursday night a group of citizens sweated their way through a House subcommittee meeting to speak in favor of the legislation.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

Leave a comment

An Effort to Bring Ranked Choice Voting to Virginia Elections is Gaining Traction

voting_rights_3002112985_80b5a719b1Lawmakers are considering a number of bills aimed at making Virginia elections more efficient and effective. Michael Pope reports that one of those efforts, ranked choice voting, is moving forward.

, ,

Leave a comment