Archive for February, 2020

Virginia Republicans Seek to Unify Around President Trump

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Virginia voters who want to weigh in on the Democratic presidential candidate get their chance next Tuesday.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, Republicans who want to cast a ballot for their preferred GOP nominee are out of luck.

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Northam Hopes to Break Redistricting Deadlock

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Gov. Ralph Northam

Lawmakers are deadlocked on a proposed constitutional amendment to address gerrymandering.

Michael Pope reports.

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Bill Would Dial Up Solar Energy in Virginia

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More than 10,000 homes in Virginia have solar panels, according to the Department of Mines Minerals and Energy.

Proponents of renewable energy say those numbers could be higher and Virginia law is partially to blame.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details on an effort to get more houses, schools and governments connected to the solar grid.

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Legislation Expands Use of Traffic Ticket Cameras

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(Credit: Daud via flickr.com / CC)

Red-light cameras have allowed private businesses to issue tickets to drivers and pocket some of the money.

Now, as Michael Pope reports, lawmakers are considering extending that kind of technology to school zones and work zones.

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Voters Narrow Their Choices as Virginia Primary Approaches

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As Virginia voters ramp up for Tuesday’s primary, Democratic candidates are making the rounds.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, Senator Bernie Sanders was in Richmond Thursday.

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Super Tuesday: 99 Delegates Up For Grabs in VA

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When Virginia votes on Super Tuesday, there will be 99 delegates up for grabs, the fourth largest delegate prize in the bunch.

But even though other Super Tuesday states have more, Virginia could still have a big impact on the outcome.

Robbie Harris reports.

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Senate Advances Gun Bills

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Credit: Stephen Z via Flickr.com / CC

The new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are moving forward with a long list of gun control bills.

And, as Michael Pope reports, the votes are not as party-line as you might imagine.

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Bipartisan Effort to End Financial Exploitation of Seniors Headed to Northam’s Desk

general_assembly_2020Republicans and Democrats are often at each other’s throats at the Capitol. But there is one issue where they are finding agreement: fighting exploitation of seniors. Michael Pope has details.

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State Senate to Weigh In on Milk Definition

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Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr

A bill to prevent companies from marketing soy milk and almond milk as “milk” is headed to the Senate floor. Michael Pope reports.

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To Tackle ‘Critical Need’ Lawmakers Fund More Clerks

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Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

State lawmakers are addressing a shortage of clerks in Virginia’s district courts – after some officials said staffing levels were at a crisis point. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Lawmakers Pave the Way for More Needle Exchanges

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The needle exchange in Wise is run out of the local health department. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ)

Thanks to legislation that’s now on it’s way to the Governor’s desk any Virginia locality will be able to start a needle exchange. The bill also makes it easier to get those new sites up and running. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Reigning in Pipeline Developers is Proving Difficult in Richmond

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Democratic Delegate Chris Hurst of the New River Valley (Credit: Virginia General Assembly)

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would double fines for water-quality violations of companies that build natural gas pipelines. Michael Pope reports other measures to increase oversight have been set aside, though.

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Should Local Government Employees Get Collective Bargaining Rights?

StateSeal00Employees of local governments may be on the verge of engaging in collective bargaining. Michael Pope explains.

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Study Seeks to Document the History of National Park Segregation and its Lasting Effects

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Credit: National Park Service/Katy Cain via flickr.com

Evidence of the legacy of segregation in Virginia’s national park sites is hidden in plain sight.

Now, a study of how parks were segregated is looking at how the park service can highlight that history to campers and hikers.

And as Jahd Khalil reports, it will also try to determine if history has something to do with how different groups are represented in park visitorship.

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The Debate Over Paid Sick Days Continues in Richmond

general_assembly_2020With less than two weeks left in the General Assembly session, lawmakers are still hashing out an agreement on paid sick days. Michael Pope has details.

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Red Flag Law Likely On Its Way to the Governor’s Desk

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Delegate Rip Sullivan of Arlington explains his red-flag law to the Senate Judiciary Committee as gun rights enthusiasts wearing orange stickers pack the committee room.

Lawmakers are moving forward on a bill that will let authorities confiscate guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Michael Pope reports.

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Why Some Black Lawmakers Oppose The Redistricting Amendment

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Republicans in the statehouse are accusing Virginia Democrats of walking back promises to pass redistricting reform.

But, as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, understanding why there’s resistance from some Democrats on the measure requires going back a year.

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Va. News: Virginian Pilot is Moving, Independent Grocer is Closing

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The evolving financial landscape has caught up with a pair of iconic Virginia businesses:  A newspaper which must now share leased office space with another paper and grocery store that has served a neighborhood for generations.

Their stories have been among the most read this week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s Va. News link.

More now from Fred Echols.

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Marijuana Decriminalization May Soon Be a Reality in Virginia

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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.

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Virginia May Soon Add Shield Law Protections for Journalists

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

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

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The General Assembly Sets its Sights on Behavioral Bills

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Virginia Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Regional Minimum Wage Approach

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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VA House Weighs Possible Release for Sick and Disabled Prisoners

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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.

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

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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.

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State Democrats Want Increased Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

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

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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.

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Legislators Tackle Food Deserts

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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.

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

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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.

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General Assembly Debates Definition of “Dead Body”

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

Michael Pope reports.

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As Lawmakers Turn to Budget, Rural Schools Demand More

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  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.

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

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

Week Eight:

The end of the General Assembly session is approaching, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

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.

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Senate, House Advance Plastic Bag Tax, But Questions Remain

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

Michael Pope reports.

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

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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Contest Aims to Find Sea Level Rise Resiliance Projects

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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.

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Protecting Virginia Forests from Wildfires

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  Controlled burns help to prevent disasters like what Australia, California and other western states have experienced.
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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.

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How an Urban Agriculture Council can Help Grow Community

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bill Could Help Revive Virginia’s Underwater Archaeology Program

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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.

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Marijuana Decriminalization Likely to Take Step Forward Monday

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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.

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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.

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Controversial Assault Weapons Bill Moves Forward

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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.

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