Archive for February, 2021

Legislators Find Compromise On Old Criminal Records

Lawmakers are ending the General Assembly session with a major compromise on expungement.

Michael Pope reports.

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An Unprecedented General Assembly Session Wraps Up

Credit Va Capitol Police Twitter Page; @VaCapitolPolice

As the General Assembly session winds down, Michael Pope talked to Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Shapiro about what happened and what didn’t happen.

The General Assembly session is scheduled to end on Saturday.

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Budget Bill Includes Raises for State Employees, Teachers and Troopers

On Thursday negotiators from the House and Senate agreed on a budget proposal.

Jahd Khalil tells us how one compromise led to a five percent raise for teachers. 

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Lawmakers Still Need to Balance Virginia’s Budget; Where Will Teacher Raises Fit Into That Work?

Virginia’s legislative session is wrapping up, but one big piece is still missing: funding. Lawmakers are expected to reveal the budget they’ve agreed on today. Reporter Jahd Khalil says eyes are on teacher salaries.

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State Lawmakers Kick Precinct Data Legislation Down the Road

Voters may be about to get better data about elections. But as Michael Pope reports, it won’t be this year.

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The Debate Over Reforming Virginia’s Bail System Likely Won’t End This Session

Lawmakers are taking action to change how the cash bail system works. Michael Pope reports.

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Conference Committee Working on Bill Allowing Mental Health Testimony in Criminal Cases

Credit: NPR

People with developmental disabilities are incarcerated much more often than the rest of the population. But when defending themselves, they’re not allowed to introduce evidence about their mental state at the time of the alleged crime. Jahd Khalil reports on how that practice could end.

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Despite Democratic Majorities, A Ban on Assault-Style Weapons Isn’t Headed to Northam’s Desk

Lawmakers are sending the governor several bills aimed at preventing gun violence. But there’s one bill they’re not sending him. Michael Pope reports.

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Northam: Some COVID-19 Restrictions to Be Relaxed Monday

The number of new COVID-19 infections is trending down, and vaccination numbers are going up. And, Governor Ralph Northam says that’s cause to relax some safety restrictions. Nick Gilmore has details.

You can find more details about the relaxed restrictions here.

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Senate Won’t Close Campaign Cash Loophole

Lawmakers are rejecting an effort to create new rules for how lawmakers are able to spend campaign cash.

Michael Pope explains.

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Virginia Senate Votes to Remove Harry Byrd Statue from Capitol Square

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

The General Assembly is about to remove a prominent symbol of its racist past from Capitol Square. Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Senate Rejects Farm Worker Minimum Wage Bill

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Senate Democrats are rejecting an effort to guarantee a minimum wage to farm workers. Michael Pope has the story.

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Legislation Requiring In-Person Instruction Currently Under Consideration by House of Delegates

On Monday, some students in Henrico County returned to in-person learning. Governor Northam has asked all schools to have an in-person option by March 15th. A bill in the General Assembly would require it by this summer. Jahd Khalil has this report from Richmond.

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Effort to Add Paid Sick Days Has Been Narrowed, More Debate Potentially on the Horizon

Senators may be on the verge of approving paid sick days. But, the bill they’re considering would be a very narrow requirement. Michael Pope reports.

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Study: Virginia is Still a Long Way From Herd Immunity

Credit: CDC

More than half a million Virginians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and many more could have been infected without developing symptoms.  The state also reports vaccinating more than one-million people.

So are we getting close to what’s known as herd immunity? 

Sandy Hausman put that question to one expert at the University of Virginia.

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Va. News: School Names and Schools Online

School districts in southwest Virginia are getting together to plan what they see as the next step for online learning…and a Northern Virginia high school may soon take on the name of a former staff member who was fired for taking a stand against segregation.

Those 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.

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State Democrats Want to Prevent Those Convicted of Domestic Abuse From Having Firearms

Lawmakers are considering a bill designed to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic violence. Michael Pope reports.

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State Lawmakers Working to Remove Byrd Statue, Rename Jefferson Davis Highway

Credit: NPR

Lawmakers are taking action to remove some divisive symbols from public view. Michael Pope has the story.

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Legislation Would Help With Food Insecurity, During and After the Pandemic

More Virginians are having trouble getting access to food because of COVID-19. A bill before the General Assembly is looking to offer food banks assistance. But the bill also has implications after the pandemic. Jahd Khalil has details.

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How Will Opioid Settlement Dollars Be Used?

Virginia won millions of dollars from pharmaceutical consultants for the damage done by the opioid epidemic. It’s probably getting much more from the drug makers themselves.

But will Virginia be able to learn from its past mistakes?

Jahd Khalil reports that public health experts are thinking about the future and another major settlement. 

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Senate Considers Ban on “Ghost Guns”

Members of the General Assembly are considering legislation that would prohibit people from evading gun-control laws by constructing a gun at home.

Michael Pope explains. 

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Senate Committee Kills Cyber Flashing Bill

Virginia lawmakers rejected a bill aimed at cracking down on cyber flashing.

Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Could Soon End Costly Coal Tax Credits

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would scrap tax credits for the coal industry. Michael Pope reports.

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State Call Center for COVID-19 Vaccination Registration and Information Now Live

Credit: CDC

Governor Ralph Northam delivered some good news during an update on Virginia’s continued COVID-19 response Wednesday: case numbers are trending down and vaccinations are up. The state has a few new tools as well. Nick Gilmore reports.

You can reach the call center at 877-VAX-IN-VA. And the online portal is accessible here.

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General Assembly Considers Allowing Sunday Voting

Voters cast ballots in Richmond. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Democrats are taking a number of steps to make voting more accessible.

As Michael Pope reports, that includes a bill to allow voting on Sundays.

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State Democrats Working Out Differences on Gun Control Legislation

Democrats campaigned on a platform of taking action to crack down on gun violence. Now, they’re divided on some of the details. Michael Pope has the story.

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The General Assembly Has Approved Marijuana Legalization, But Details Up in the Air

The House and the Senate have both approved legalizing marijuana, although there are differences between the two approaches that still need to be worked out. Michael Pope reports.

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A Surprising Year for College Applications

Virginia Tech was one of several colleges and universities in the commonwealth to report a big increase in applications. (Credit: Virginia Tech)

The pandemic has played havoc with many things this year including college admissions. 

As Sandy Hausman reports, applications at some schools were up dramatically, while other institutions appear to be falling short. 

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Senate Committee Kills Workers Comp Retaliation Bill

Credit: VA Capitol Police Twitter Page; @VaCapitolPolice

Senators rejected a House bill that would prevent employers from retaliating against their employees.

Michael Pope explains why.

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State Lawmakers Considering Baseline Data Privacy Law

What can a company do with your personal data? That’s what lawmakers are discussing in the General Assembly. California already has its own law. Jahd Khalil reports on a data protection act proposed for Virginia.

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Legislation Moving Forward in Richmond Would Ban Guns at All Virginia Polling Places

Now that Democrats are in control of the General Assembly, firearms are prohibited in a number of places. And, one of those places might soon be a polling place. Michael Pope has the story.

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Va. News: Absentee Ballots and Boosting Minority Owned Businesses

Minority owned businesses in the upper Shenandoah Valley will soon have a new source of capital. And Virginia lawmakers are looking to change the way absentee ballots are counted.

Those 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.

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It’s Open Season for Campaign Fundraising Thanks to Mostly Online Special Session

Credit: NPR

Lawmakers are now in a General Assembly unlike any other, partly because it’s largely virtual. But, the laws around campaign fundraising also work differently. Michael Pope reports.

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Adoption Agency “Conscience Clause” is Target of Legislation

Lawmakers are debating a bill aimed at preventing discrimination by adoption agencies.

But, as Michael Pope reports, the House and the Senate are divided over how to do it.

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A Divide Over Electric School Buses?

Last year’s passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act meant electric utilities needed to come up with more than 3,000 megawatts of energy storage capacity. One place was in the batteries of electric school buses.

But as Jahd Khalil reports, some Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups weren’t on the same. 

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Bill Extending Background Check Processing Time for Gun Purchases Moving Forward

Last year, Democrats took action on a host of new gun control laws. Now, they are coming back around to make some changes. Michael Pope explains.

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Legislation Seeking to Cut Back on Court Fees Now Under Consideration by State Senate

Senators are considering a House bill that would reduce some court fines and fees. Michael Pope reports.

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State Lawmakers Working to Come Together on Virginia’s Budget

Lawmakers in Richmond are trying to balance the books during a pandemic and an economic crisis. Michael Pope reports.

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Legislation Closing Campaign Finance Loophole Moving Forward in Richmond

Virginia lawmakers may be on the verge of closing one of the most notorious campaign finance loopholes in the country. Michael Pope reports.

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DMV Data Legislation Currently Under Consideration by State Senate

Credit: Virginia DMV

Earlier this year, Virginia residents with an undocumented immigration status could apply for a Virginia driver privilege card for the first time. But advocates were concerned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement could use the DMV data without a court order. Jahd Khalil has more.

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Virginia House and Senate at Standoff Over Expungement… Again

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Lawmakers agree they want to make it easier to expunge old criminal records. But, for a year now Democrats who control the General Assembly have not been able to agree about how to make that happen. Michael Pope explains why.

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Virginia Senate Considering Legislation Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

Lawmakers are considering a resolution that makes a declaration about the problem of racism. Michael Pope reports.

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A Look at Some of the Transportation-Related Legislation Moving Forward at the General Assembly

Nearly half of Virginia’s carbon emissions come from transportation. The House of Delegates took on a number of bills hoping to reduce those emissions, and now they’re in the senate’s hands. Jahd Khalil has this report.

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Despite Republican Calls for a Short Session, General Assembly to Continue This Week

The General Assembly session is now at its midpoint. Republicans tried to force Democrats into a shorter session, but that strategy failed. Michael Pope has details.

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Va. News: Virginia Beach Controversy, Civic Engagement Legislation

Credit: Virginia Public Access Project

Virginia is about to enact a law that will make it easier for students to publicly engage in politics thanks to Republicans and Democrats working together. And a reminder in Virginia Beach that Americans have the right to be crude.

Those 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.

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Virginia Senate Follows House’s Lead, Votes to Legalize Marijuana

Lawmakers are moving forward with legalizing marijuana. Michael Pope reports.

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Virginia Senate Advances Bill Seeking to Expand the State’s Court of Appeals

Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that could dramatically change the legal system in Virginia. Michael Pope reports.

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House of Delegates Votes to Abolish Death Penalty

Friday, the House of Delegates voted to abolish the death penalty by a vote of 57 to 41. Virginia’s now poised to be the first state in the south to abolish the death penalty. As Jahd Khalil reports, Friday’s vote in the House of Delegates comes after an emotional debate the day before.

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Northam: Virginia School Divisions Should Offer an In-Person Option by March 15th

After the pandemic caused Governor Ralph Northam to close Virginia’s public schools last spring, he says it’s now time to reopen. Nick Gilmore has details.

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Benefits of Birding in a Pandemic

Scott Karr at his store, Wild Birds Unlimited of Charlottesville

COVID-19 is not a risk to birds. In fact, the pandemic has been very good for our feathered friends. Sandy Hausman spoke with the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Charlottesville.

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