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Care at Federal Prisons in Virginia Suffers During and After COVID-19 Outbreak

One of buildings at the federal prison in Petersburg. (U. S. Bureau of Prisons photo)

A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers is demanding answers from the Bureau of Prisons about what they call “troubling conditions” at the two federal prisons in Virginia.

That includes one in Petersburg, where about 200 inmates have tested positive for the virus over the course of the pandemic.

According to the BOP, about 150 of the men have recovered.

Reporter Mallory Noe-Payne has been speaking to family members about conditions there and has this report. 

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Two Issues for Voters on Virginia Ballot

Voting is underway here in Virginia for the presidency, U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. 

But there are also two issues on the ballot– proposed amendments to the state constitution. 

Sandy Hausman reports on what they would do.

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Pandemic Teacher Shortage? Hard Data is Hard to Find

Credit: CDC

In Virginia Beach, 70 teachers have resigned since August.

One educator told local officials that teachers are at a tipping point.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, it’s difficult to pin down the situation statewide. 

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Senate Committee Says No to COVID-19 Workers Comp for Teachers, Firefighters & Police

Credit: CDC

A Senate panel has rejected efforts to allow public sector employees from getting workers compensation if they contradict COVID-19 while on the job.

Michael Pope reports.

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National Trust Names Rassawek to List of Most Endangered Historic Sites

(Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named its annual list of the most endangered historic sites in the country.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the list includes a place in central Virginia — the historic capital of the Monacan Indian Nation. 

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Warner, Gade Spar in First Debate

Health care is poised to be one of the key issues in the presidential race this year.  

And, as Michael Pope reports, it’s also a flashpoint in the race for U.S. Senate. 

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Support from Law Enforcement Groups Could Move Senate Reform Bills Forward

For now, Democrats in the House and Senate are deadlocked over policing reform.

Michael Pope reports on what might break the stalemate.

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House Justice Committee Moves Sentencing Reform Forward

Lawmakers may be on the verge of approving legislation that could transform the criminal justice system in Virginia.

But, as Michael Pope reports, that’s only if lawmakers decide they can afford it.

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Does an Election Equal Civilian Review for Sheriff’s Offices?

House and Senate Democrats are united about civilian oversight of police departments.

But as Michael Pope reports, they’re divided over whether sheriff’s offices should be subjected to new review boards that can subpoena documents and fire deputies engaged in wrongdoing. 

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Va. News: Drops in School Enrollment & Low Cost Opioid Treatments

Signs offering low cost medications for treating opioid addictions raised some questions in Martinsville. And at least one county started the school year with almost a thousand fewer students than expected.

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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As Schools Face Outbreaks on Campus, Va’s Community Colleges Will be Virtual All Spring

As residential college campuses become COVID-19 hot spots, Virginia’s community colleges announced Friday they’ll remain mostly online all the way through Spring semester.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Work Share Legislation Aims to give Employment Commission Another Tool to Save Jobs

Friday members of a House committee advanced a bill that would make the state eligible for federal funds to help establish a work-share program.

Experts say the initiative could ultimately help save jobs in Virginia.

Cat Modlin-Jackson explains how.

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With Early Voting Underway, Election 2020 Brings More Planning and More Cost

Virginians can now vote in the 2020 General Election.

Absentee ballots are being sent out and voters can vote in person at their electoral office. Jahd Khalil reports early voting is getting much more attention this cycle due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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CDC says Farmville Immigration Center Still at Risk of COVID Outbreak

An empty dorm at the ICE Farmville Detention Center
(Credit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Immigrants detained at a facility in Farmville where there was an outbreak of COVID-19 this summer are still at risk.

That’s according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control.

Mallory Noe-Payne has more. 

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Family of COVID-19 Doctor Calls for Change in Medical Culture

Dr. Lorna Breen ran the emergency department at New York – Presbyterian Allen Hospital during the height of the COVID crisis.
(Credit New York – Presbyterian Allen Hospital)

The family of a Charlottesville woman is speaking out today about a tragic death and the need to change how we view our doctors and nurses.

They may be heroes, but they are also human. 

Sandy Hausman reports on how the suicide of Doctor Lorna Breen could help other healthcare providers.

Click here for the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation

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In 2019, Virginia Led the Nation in Expanding Health Insurance Coverage

New numbers out today from the Census show that in one year Virginia made greater gains in getting people enrolled in health insurance than any other state.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports. 

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Cost Could Derail Sentencing Reform Effort

Lawmakers are debating a bill that could radically transform the criminal justice system in Virginia.

But Democrats in the House and Senate are divided over how and when to pay for it.

Michael Pope reports.

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COVIDWISE App Hits 500,000 Downloads in Virginia

In the five weeks since Virginia became the first state to launch a COVID-19 exposure app, more than a half-million people have downloaded it.

Those are the latest numbers from the Department of Health.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports. 

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Va. News: Venomous Caterpillars and School Buses

A Virginia woman has gotten a painful introduction to one of the state’s few venomous caterpillars…and school buses are back on the road in one county even though they’re not carrying any students.

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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Senate Committee Stops Qualified Immunity Bill

A Senate panel has rejected a bill ending qualified immunity for law-enforcement officials.  The legal precedent shields police officers from being sued for wrongdoing.

Michael Pope reports.

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The Shifting Burden of Flood Insurance

Adair Wallerstein’s house in the process of being raised.
(Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

This summer, tornados and intense rains have devastated some of Virginia’s tiny communities from the Atlantic Coast to mountain valleys.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA will be increasing flood insurance premiums next year.

Homeowners are facing emotional decisions, some with hefty price tags, to adapt to the changing climate.

One option is to go high. In this three-part series, Pamela D’Angelo looks at federally-funded solutions.

Virginia’s changing climate has created a flooding problem, and not just on the coast.

In August, homeowners and small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley were hit with not one but two floods. In smaller communities, federal aid is not easy to get.

Throughout Virginia, communities are facing down climate change.

A common symptom – more frequent flooding of their homes. A common fix – state and federal funding.

But it’s not easy to get and the National Flood Insurance Program is shifting the burden to those willing to take the risk of living close to the water.

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Va. News: Change for Change and Bristol vs Its Utility Provider

People in downtown Lynchburg are again being asked to drop coins into meters but this time it’s not for parking… And a complex set of lawsuits in Bristol could be very expensive for either the city or its utilities provider.

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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Senate Committee Sidelines School Nurse Legislation

General Assembly 2020

Lawmakers are in Richmond trying to figure out how to navigate their way through the pandemic.

And, as Michael Pope reports, one proposal to put a nurse in every school is now sidelined.

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Northam Urges Vigilance Ahead of Labor Day Weekend

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Gov. Ralph Northam speaks at Tuesday’s COVID-19 response briefing. (Credit: Governor’s Office Livestream)

At his first press conference on COVID-19 in weeks, Governor Ralph Northam says he won’t be loosening any restrictions ahead of the holiday weekend.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Record Expungement Divides Some Democrats

General Assembly 2020

Lawmakers in Richmond are debating how much power they want to put in the hands of prosecutors and judges.

And as Michael Pope reports, even Democrats are divided on a few issues.

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Va. News: Keep Off the Grass & School Furloughs

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Complaints about parking are forcing the city of Hampton to try to figure out the difference between driveways and lawns…and the prevalence of online education is putting some school jobs in jeopardy.

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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Bills Requiring Disclosure of Some COVID-19 Outbreaks Advance

VDH Square

It took months for state officials to begin publishing the names of nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Now, an effort to establish mandatory reporting requirements has passed both houses of the General Assembly.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Minimizing the Damage from Pandemic-related Evictions

Joshua Cole

Del. Joshua Cole (Credit: House of Delegates)

With thousands of eviction cases sitting in Virginia’s courts and many more likely on the way, lawmakers are attempting to enact a suite of legislation that would prevent evictions or minimize the damage brought on in their wake.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this report.

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Money for Education, Policing Get Attention in Budget Committee

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Between the coronavirus pandemic and increased attention on police brutality, Virginia lawmakers are trying to figure out how to distribute the state’s available money.

Thursday, a number of Delegates went before a budget committee to make their case for how to spend and save.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has more.

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What Happens When the Utility Shutoff Moratorium Ends?

General Assembly 2020

Lawmakers are in Richmond trying to figure out a way to help people caught up in the economic crisis.

Michael Pope reports on a plan to help with utility bills.

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Pot Plank Sparks Protest from some Progressives

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Rep. Bobby Scott

Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott helped Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden craft a stance on marijuana.  And it isn’t sitting well with the progressive wing of the party.

Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

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Crime Commission to Weigh In on Expungement

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Lawmakers are in Richmond considering a host of criminal justice reform efforts.

As Michael Pope reports, one issue that’s about to be under consideration is allowing people to get old convictions off their records.

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Protesters in Richmond Demand Prison Reform

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Posing across the street from Virginia’s capitol, demonstrators vowed to keep coming back until state prisons are improved, parole restored and good time expanded. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

About 40 people rallied in Richmond this weekend as part of a national protest against prisons.

Sandy Hausman was there and filed this report.

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Sentence Credits Debated in Special Session

General Assembly 2020

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow some prisoners to be released early if they can demonstrate good behavior.

Michael Pope reports.

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Judge Rules No Witness Signature Needed for Absentee Ballots

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Normally Virginia voters need to cast an absentee ballot in the presence of a witness.

But a partial settlement will allow Virginians to vote absentee without a witness signature in the upcoming November election due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Jahd Khalil has more.

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Va. News: Henry Clay Park and Who’s a Front-line Worker

VPAPnew

There’s a movement underway to strike the name of a slaveholder from another public place in Virginia.  But this time the man in question was not a Virginian.

And the issue of which workers deserve bonus pay during the pandemic has gone public in Virginia Beach.

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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Civilian Review Board Legislation Advances in Senate

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Police departments across Virginia may be on the verge of getting new oversight.

Michael Pope reports.

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Senate Kills Paid Sick Days Bill But House Version Still Alive

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Sen. Barbara Favola (Credit: Virginia Senate Livestream)

Lawmakers are back in Richmond considering how they should handle the pandemic.

And as Michael Pope reports, one thing they’re not doing is requiring businesses to offer paid sick days, at least not yet.

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A New Funding Stream for Historic African American Cemeteries

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The graves of Joshua and Nannie Forbes in Richmond’s Evergreen Cemetery. (Credit: Cat Modlin-Jackson)

While many are focused on removing relics of the Confederacy, people across Virginia have been working for years to memorialize volumes of history hidden under sacred ground.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this look at what increased funds for historic African American cemeteries means to descendants.

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Senate Begins Work on Criminal Justice and Policing Legislation

General Assembly 2020

With coronavirus spreading a concern in prisons across the country, lawmakers in Virginia are considering a plan that would allow for early release of geriatric prisoners.

Michael Pope reports.

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Special Session Starts with Fight Over Virtual Meetings

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center set up to host the House of Delegates. (Credit: Cat Modlin-Jackson)

In a year of historic firsts, members of the state legislature gathered in Richmond Tuesday, with senators meeting in a science museum and delegates conducting business in a basketball arena.

Months into a global epidemic and national unrest, the General Assembly’s special session kicked off with a rocky start in the House…or rather, in the arena.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has this report.

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Northam Outlines Budget Revisions to deal with Shortfall

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Gov. Ralph Northam

As workers, parents and students are dealing with a world of uncertainty, the costs of the coronavirus pandemic are becoming clearer in Virginia.

Tuesday, Governor Northam met virtually with leaders of the General Assembly’s money committees to discuss how to revise the budget in the face of an estimated $2.7 billion  revenue shortfall.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Pretext Stops to get Scrutiny in Special Session

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Under current law, a parking pass hanging on your rear view mirror could be enough to get pulled over. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Do you have rosary beads dangling from your rear view mirror? Maybe a parking pass?

Police officers can use that as a pretext to stop you and ask to search your vehicle.

Michael Pope reports lawmakers may be about to change that.

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COVID, Couples and Kids: A Psychologist’s Advice

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Psychology Professor Bob Emery offers advice to couples on surviving and thriving during a pandemic. (Credit UVA)

The pandemic poses unique challenges to each of us – whether we’re single, part of a couple or family.

At the University of Virginia’s Center for Children, Families and the Law, psychologist Bob Emery is taking notes and offering advice.

Sandy Hausman spoke with him and filed this report.

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Should Defendants be Sentenced by Judges or Juries?

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Lawmakers are headed to Richmond to consider a long list of proposed criminal justice reforms.

As Michael Pope reports, one of those proposals would change how defendants are sentenced.

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Va. News: Renting Space in Schools and Limiting College Gatherings

VPAPnew

As some Virginia school districts prepare to re-open without students in the classroom at least one county is looking at renting out unused school buildings. And the city of Radford will limit gatherings as college students return for the fall semester.

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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Police Chief: Limiting Warrants Will Help Criminals

Herndon Police Badge

(Credit: Herndon Police Dept.)

Lawmakers are about to consider a proposal that would limit when police officers can serve warrants.

Michael Pope reports.

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Promoting Productivity with Workers at Home

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As a professor at UVA’s Darden School of Business, Roshni Raveendhran has studied productivity and working at home. (Credit: UVA)

With many of us now working from home, managers face a challenge – how to promote productivity when people aren’t in the office.

Some are turning to sophisticated software to track workers’ every move online.  But a business professor at the University of Virginia says that’s the wrong way to go.

Sandy Hausman spoke with her and filed this report.

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Virginia First State to Try Pandemic App from Apple, Google

COVIDWISE

Virginia is rolling out a coronavirus exposure app, the first of its kind in the country.

David Seidel explains how it works.

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Judge Starts New Injunction Barring Lee Statue Removal

Lee Monument Protest

Protesters gather around the Lee Monument earlier this summer. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A judge in Richmond has given state officials a victory and a blow in two court cases over the Lee statue on Monument Avenue.

The judge dismissed an earlier lawsuit Monday, while at the same time extended an injunction on a second suit.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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