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Senate Advances Gun Bills


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


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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Why Some Black Lawmakers Oppose The Redistricting Amendment


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


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


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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Legislators Tackle Food Deserts


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


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”


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

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.

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


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

Week Nine:

The General Assembly session is scheduled to wrap up Saturday and lawmakers are about to head home after a 60 day session.

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


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”

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.

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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.

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Protecting Virginia Forests from Wildfires


  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.

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How an Urban Agriculture Council can Help Grow Community


  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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Bill Could Help Revive Virginia’s Underwater Archaeology Program


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

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.

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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.

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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.

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


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.

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“Right to Work” Repeal Still Divides Democrats


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.

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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.

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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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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As General Assembly Considers Casino Bills, Pamunkey Tribe Jockeys for Position with Two Locations

Pamunkey Resort and Casino - Richmond (zoom out)

An artist’s rendering of the Richmond-area casino-resort. (Credit Pamunkey Indian Tribe)

The General Assembly has until March to decide on a host of bills to allow and regulate casinos.

The Pamunkey Tribe is wasting no time in positioning itself. This month, they signed an agreement with the city of Norfolk to potentially buy property for a commercial casino-resort along the Elizabeth River.  Then they announced plans for another tribal casino-resort in South Richmond near the James River.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Va. News: Mobile Phones track Bank Robbery suspect, Frederick County’s invite from West Virginia


A Virginia bank robbery may have a lasting effect on how police can gather and use location information from mobile phones. And the state’s northernmost county is flirting with the idea of joining West Virginia.

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.

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Legislation Could Create Gender X Driver’s License Option


Driver’s licenses have become a flashpoint for lawmakers in the General Assembly session, which has seen an extended debate about allowing undocumented immigrants to have Virginia driver’s licenses.

But Michael Pope reports there’s another controversy surrounding licenses.

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Legislation Would Bring Equity to School Dress Codes

Carroll Foy

Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (Credit: Virginia General Assembly)

The debate over what students can and cannot wear in school is an ongoing point of contention in Virginia.

This year, Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy has proposed a bill that she says would level the playing field for girls and students of color.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Glowing Oysters may be a New Weapon Against Poaching Around the Chesapeake Bay

glowing oyster

  Rings of fluorescent dye can be seen each time the oyster larvae has been incrementally dipped in the dye to tag them.  (Credit Jason Spires)

Wild oyster sanctuaries are being built all around the Chesapeake Bay. The goal is to give the bivalves a fighting chance since about 99 percent of the population has disappeared over the last century.

To ensure their survival, scientists are devising a very unusual way to track them as Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Va. News: Medical Marijuana could boost Bristol’s Economy, Louisa County awaiting Broadband benefit


A Virginia county would like to say how well it’s done in providing broadband but the supervisors don’t know and can’t find out…and medical marijuana production will soon be underway in Southwest Virginia.

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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Coleman’s Effort to Correct the Narrative Moves to Earlier Time Period


Christy Coleman (Credit: Kim Brundage/Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)

Christy Coleman steps down as CEO of the American Civil War Museum this week, but she’s not closing the book on Virginia’s history.

In Richmond, Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.


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Va. News: Safety Service Patrol taking risks, Virginia Beach’s at-risk properties


Virginia Beach is ready to commit more money t to mitigate the effects of a rising sea level…And the Interstate-81 Safety Patrol is getting some additional resources to help keep traffic moving.

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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Governor Northam Delivers State of the Commonwealth to Democratic Legislature

2020 Northam SOC

Governor Ralph Northam delivers his 2020 State of the Commonwealth address.                    (Credit: Michael Pope)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam gave the annual State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, he spoke of both fiscal responsibility and progressive goals.

Reaction to the governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address fell along party lines.
Michael Pope has that part of the story.

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New General Assembly Session Brings New, Diverse Leadership


Virginia’s General Assembly is gaveling back in Wednesday.

And as Mallory Noe-Payne reports it’s with a diverse slate of new leadership.

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‘I Lost Hope’ A Look Inside the ICE Detention Center in Farmville

ICE Farmville

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

In Farmville, about an hour south of Charlottesville, there’s an immigration detention facility. It holds men who officials allege are in the country illegally.

Earlier this summer Virginia Public Radio requested a tour of the privately-owned facility.

It took months to arrange, but reporter Mallory Noe-Payne was finally granted access and has this report.

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Task Force Plans to Mark Centennial of 19th Amendment

Suffrage Parade

A suffrage parade in New York City in 1912. (Credit: Library of Congress)

2020 marks 100 years since the federal government legalized women’s right to vote.

As plans to observe the anniversary get underway, other historic moments for women are on the horizon in Virginia.

Cat Modlin-Jackson has the story.

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Va. News: Working to preserve UVA’s Library Card system, Roanoke Courthouse cell phone solution


Books in libraries these days are almost always cataloged on computers.  But the traditional card system still has admirers who are working to preserve it.  And there’s at least a partial solution to the problem of what to do with the forbidden mobile phone at the courthouse door.

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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Va. News: Weather’s impact on the White Oak, Record Pedestrian Bridge helps Southwest Virginia


Tourism in Southwest Virginia is about to get a boost… and state officials are monitoring a spike in reported losses of White Oak trees.

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 Attorney General: 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolutions “have no legal effect”

Herring Official

Attorney General Mark Herring

Attorney General Mark Herring says Virginia localities have no legal standing to exempt themselves from gun control legislation.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, he issued an advisory opinion on the question Friday.

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Line in the Sand or Symbolic Statement: 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Movement Grows in Virginia

Amelia Sanctuary

Amelia county resident Troy Carter speaks to the county Board of Supervisors shortly before they vote to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

In the past week, at least five more Virginia localities have voted to become Second Amendment Sanctuaries, a symbolic gesture of support for gun rights.

Mallory Noe-Payne was in Amelia County Wednesday night for one of the most recent votes.

She has this look at the growing trend.

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State Report Sheds Light on Internal Issues at Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries


In December, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, or JLARC, confirmed a host of problems with the operations and management of the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The department regulates hunting and fishing through licensing and its conservation police force.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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Jens Soering Begins New Life in Germany


Soering at the ICE detention center in Farmville. (Credit: Sandy Hausman)

Jens Soering is back in Germany, paroled after more than 33 years behind bars, 29 of them in Virginia.

He was convicted in the brutal murder of his girlfriend’s parents – a crime he insists he did not commit.

Before leaving, Soering gave an exclusive interview to Virginia Public Radio’s Sandy Hausman who has covered his case for nearly a decade.  She set up a microphone at the ICE detention center in Farmville.

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Va. News: School District may change unpaid board policy, Honor System failing on Richmond bus line


The honor system doesn’t seem to be working very well for a new public transit line.  And one of the last localities in Virginia with an unpaid school board has decided to compensate members.

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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Nominating Contests Shape Up in Virginia

virginiaEvery year is an election year in Virginia, but next year’s presidential election is going to be one for the record books.

Michael Pope has this preview of the nominating contest here in Virginia.

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Shortage of Clerks at Crisis Level in Virginia’s District Courts

Clerks Office

If staffing levels aren’t brought up some district courts across the state may have to shorten the hours that customer service desks are open. That would make it more difficult for people to file cases or pay fines.  (Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Roughly three million cases a year run through Virginia’s General District Courts. Everything from traffic tickets to homicides.

But according to state staffing models, more than half of those courts are under-staffed. That includes large counties like Fairfax, Chesapeake and Henrico – but also smaller courts in Smyth, Carroll and Rockingham Counties.

Mallory Noe-Payne visited one of those understaffed courts to learn about the impact.

Earlier this fall the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia stood before lawmakers pleading. He was asking for more money so courts across the state could hire more clerks.

According to his office, more than half of the state’s district courts are under-staffed. And that could impact everything from people’s credit to jail-time.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this look at why Virginia’s courts are short staffed and what lawmakers can do about it.

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Va. News: Struggling former Coalfields in Southwest Virginia, Martinsville may change to Town status


Despite years of effort many places in the Virginia coalfields are still struggling to rebuild their economies. And the city of Martinsville is considering becoming a town which is causing some apprehension in surrounding Henry County.

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.

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“Rumors of War” Unveiling Tuesday in Richmond


One of Kehinde Wiley’s paintings on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Credit: Mallory Noe–Payne)

Rumors of War, a statue mirroring and challenging Confederate monuments, will be installed Tuesday at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Mallory Noe-Payne has this preview.

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Study: Many Wage Complaints Go Uninvestigated


When a worker believes they’ve been cheated out of their pay, they can file a complaint with the state.

But Michael Pope reports a new study finds many of those complaints are never investigated.

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