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Retaliation a Real Possibility in Wage Disputes

Ernesto Martinez

Ernesto Martinez walks to his car parked in the far end of a parking lot at an outlet mall in Leesburg. He says his previous employer did not pay him all the money he was owed, and he considered filing a complaint with the state. But if he had done so, Virginia law would have offered him no protection against getting fired specifically for launching an investigation into wage theft. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Workers who feel they haven’t gotten all the pay that’s coming to them can file a complaint with the state.

But, as Michael Pope reports, they can also get fired specifically for filing the complaint.

It’s been a long day at work for Ernesto Martinez, and he’s walking to the far end of a parking lot in an outlet mall in Leesburg. He’s exhausted from all the hours that he put into his job here. But he’s also thankful that he has an employer willing to pay him what he owes. The last job he had did not. Through an interpreter he explains some of the problems with his old job in landscaping.

“They made us pay for uniforms and hardhats and gloves — all the safety equipment that the company is in charge of giving us that kind of equipment.”

And, he says, his employer didn’t pay him for all the hours he put in on the job. So he started talking to the other workers. They considered filing a complaint with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, which receives about fifteen hundred complaints a year. But …

“Most of these workers were scared. They were afraid to take these issues to the government. So it gets me mad and angry because they were already accepting the situation.”

They accepted the situation and decided against filing a complaint with the state. As it turns out, they had every right to be afraid. Wendy Inge (In-juh), who oversees these kinds of investigations for state says they have no protection against getting fired for filing complaints.

“Generally when the public calls in needs to file a complaint they’re advised, if they’re still working, they are advised that we don’t have any protection for their job and that that employer may retaliate.”

Pope: When you tell them, how do people react?

“Well they’re not very happy because they think that the law should protect them.”

But the law doesn’t protect them, at least not yet. One change lawmakers could make would be to forbid employers from firing employees who file complaints. But that would place an increased burden on the staff here. A decade ago, this department had 20 full time employees to investigate wage theft. Now there are only three.

“Right now we are limited in some areas that we just don’t have the resources to conduct those investigations right now.”

Pope: “And so what’s the consequence of that?”

“Well, one for example, is if you’re paid over $15,000 — if your claim is more than $15,000 — we don’t currently accept your claim.”

Pope: “So what happens then? You have to get a lawyer?

“Yes, you have to get a lawyer.”

Advocates for workers rights say lawmakers should make it illegal for employers to fire workers just because they file a complaint with the state. That’s a law that would come with a cost, though, because it would mean Virginia would need more than three people to investigate thousands of complaints. Delegate Paul Krizek is a Democrat from Fairfax County.

“Right now workers have the option of filing a complaint with the department with the Department of Labor or filing a private action. Neither option is working. Either you take your issue to court where lawyers are not incentivized to take the case due to the low payouts or you report to the government where there are only three employees handling thousands of cases.”

Ernesto Martinez never ended up filling a complaint. But he did get a new job, one that he’s happy with. And he has this message for lawmakers:

“We’re just asking for the lawmakers to put those laws in place to protect those workers and make sure that the companies are doing the right thing for the workers. And that’s my message to the lawmakers.”

In the upcoming session of the General Assembly, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle plan on pressing the issue — making it illegal to fire workers who file complaints. They’d also like to see more investigators on the job.

I’m Michael Pope.

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Should Virginia Employers Have to Provide Paystubs?

Tracey Holloway

Tracey Holloway returns to the convenience store where she used to work. She quit after she suspected her paycheck didn’t have all the money it should have, although she couldn’t prove it because her employer didn’t give her a paystub showing how her salary was calculated. (Credit: Michael Pope)

Some workers in Virginia have no idea how their salary is calculated. They don’t know if Social Security has been dedicated, and they don’t know if they are being paid what they are supposed to be paid.

As Michael Pope reports, that’s because employers are not required to give employees paystubs.

It’s almost lunchtime in suburban Richmond, and Tracey Holloway is on her way to the 7 Eleven where she used to work. She remembers being thrilled to get a raise and then deflated when she didn’t seem to be getting the money she was owed.

“Things just started not to make sense to me. The hours that I’m working is not showing up on my paychecks, and my husband is looking at me like you’re going to work and this is what you’re bringing home? Something ain’t right.”

As it turns out, something wasn’t right. She wasn’t getting the money she was owed. So she quit.

“I haven’t been back since I walked out. Nope.”

Pope: “So what’s going through your mind right now?”

“I just want my paperwork.”

The paperwork she wants is her paystubs — the paper trail of how much she was being paid from week to week and how much was being taken out for taxes and Social Security. She called legal services to help her out, and they introduced her to lawyer Paul Falabella with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

“And so I met with Tracey regarding her situation, which really all centers around her not getting paystubs not explaining her pay while she worked here.”

Like many employees in low-wage jobs, Tracey Holloway didn’t get paid with actual paychecks. She was given a debit card, and the money was electronically deposited on the card.

“I think the intent was probably to help folks who don’t have bank accounts avoid payday lenders. But Virginia law does not require any written statement of your wages when due, and that to me is a big problem.”

That’s not the only problem. Under existing law, employers are actually required to provide paystubs to employees. But only if they are requested in writing.

“That’s what the law says. But, of course, no normal employee knows that. A normal employee just knows I got my pay whether by debit card or check and there’s nothing that came with it.”

The fix for that is requiring all employers to provide paystubs without a written request, or electronic access to information that would be in paystubs —  information that was not available to Tracey Holloway. Former Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb tried unsuccessfully to do that before retiring from the General Assembly.

“It’s normally an issue with lower-dollar workers. It’s oftentimes an issue with manual labor workers and it oftentimes goes hand in hand with employees who may be paid cash on the job, and it makes accounting very difficult. And it also makes proving a lost wages claim very difficult.”

So, for now, people like Tracey Holloway will have to hope that somehow — someday — they get access to how their salary was calculated.

“So I don’t know if I’ve been paid all my money or not. And I guarantee you I probably haven’t.”

After the lawyer got involved with the case, the manager at the convenience store acknowledged the mistake. And she got the money she was owed. But she still wants the paystubs from that time. And now she has a new job down the street at the Dollar General, a job that also pays her with a debit card.

Pope: “You have to take it upon yourself to go into the computer system and print out your paystubs, and you do this regularly?”

“Yeah, I just started. I only got two paychecks. But I did that. I got both of them. I’ve got sense now, you know, to keep up with my own stuff. I can’t depend on nobody else.”

Her lawyer, Paul Falabella, says this problem has an easy fix, one that wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything.

“If she had been given her pay stub every pay period, she would have realized she didn’t get the raise. And presumably the issue could have been straightened out then and there and not led to a situation where she no longer works here.”

In the upcoming General Assembly session, a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats plans to come back at this issue again, and force employers to provide employees with the details about how much money they’re making and whether they are receiving all of it.

I’m Michael Pope.

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Crisis of Wage Theft or A Bonanza for Lawyers?

George Pinn

George Pinn, left, and his attorney Matthew Sutter meet at the spot where the carousel was once located. Pinn’s former employer still owes him $1,500. (Credit: Michael Pope)

What happens if your employer never gives you your last paycheck. It happens frequently, and sometimes employees get the money they are owed. But often times they don’t.

And, as Michael Pope reports, one reason for that is how Virginia law works.

It’s late afternoon on a weekday, and George Pinn is returning to the Springfield Mall for the first time in two years.

“It kinda sucks, you know what I’m saying. I put in a lot of work for these people. And I feel like I brought these people a lot of money.”

He’s talking about that job he used to have here as a cashier for a carousel ride, a job he had until one day the carousel disappeared.

“The next thing you know I come to find out they just left — like the Colts did to Baltimore, that’s what they did. They pulled their truck up and rolled out.”

Rolled out of town and ghosted the man who worked twelve hour shifts for weeks at a time.

“Even to this day I still have not heard anything from these people.”

Like thousands of workers in Virginia, George Pinn is a victim of wage theft. His employer owed him about fifteen hundred dollars, and he needed a lawyer to help him collect. He eventually found one, Matthew Sutter. But there was a problem: how to pay the lawyer?

“My hourly fee, as set by the court, is $425 an hour. So in order to take a case like this and make it cost efficient it’s virtually impossible.”

Pope: “So you’re essentially doing this job either for free or at a loss to yourself, is that right?”

“Well somebody’s gotta do it. And nobody else is doing it. So I do it.”

In Maryland, victims of wage theft don’t have a hard time finding lawyers because people who have been cheated can get triple damages. And In D.C. they can get quadruple damages. And attorneys fees. But in Virginia, they can only get the amount of money that’s owed to them and no more. That makes it difficult, if not impossible to find a lawyer.

“A lot of these folks are undocumented. A lot of the folks don’t speak English. And a lot of the folks are frankly scared to collect their wages.”

Allowing victims of wage theft to receive triple damages or layers fees would create a system where they could hire lawyers. But Jodi Roth at Virginia Retail Federation says there may be downside.

“This would open the floodgates to necessary litigation where people might falsely accuse an employer of this because this would now be in place.”

Pope: “But it would also open up the floodgates to people getting money that they are owed, right?”

“Sure, absolutely. People should be able to get money that they are owed. And I would think that the law covers that.”

Most other states allow double damages or triple damages or lawyers fees or some way for low-income people to hire lawyers to take their cases. Virginia does not. So changing any part of the law may, in fact, open up the floodgates.

“It may produce many lawsuits because we have a crisis of wage theft in Virginia.”

That’s Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

“And so to have a new avenue for workers to recover those unpaid wages and for us as a society to stop and deter wage theft would be a terrific thing for Virginia.”

For now, though, low-income workers like George Pinn have to rely on luck to find lawyers like Matthew Sutter, lawyers willing to take on the cases for free. Even then they still might not end up with the money they’re owed.

“Well the resolution is that we have a lien on a piece of property that appears to be underwater, and we’re waiting to get paid.”

Pope: “And how long has this been going on?”

“The lien was recorded about two years ago, and in Virginia it’ll be good for 20 years. So maybe in 20 years at the rate of six percent interest, George and I can sit together and have an iced tea or take our medicine together at the nursing home and somehow split that fifteen hundred dollars.”

This year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Richmond will be working to create a new system to help victims of wage theft, people at the bottom end of the economic scale who could never afford to hire a lawyer. And lobbyists for business groups are already lining up to oppose the idea as a bonanza for lawyers, and an invitation to what they view as unnecessary lawsuits.

I’m Michael Pope.

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The Needle Exchange in Wise is Working, so Why Aren’t There More?

Wise HD

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

More than a year ago Virginia lawmakers gave nonprofits and local health departments in more than 50 localities the green light to set up needle exchanges. Permission was targeted to places where the opioid crisis is worst and Hepatitis C rates are high.

Since then, only three localities have decided to set up needle exchanges. In a two-part series Virginia Public Radio explores how the first one is going, and why there haven’t been more.

Part 1: ‘We Know the Possibility is Coming’ Why One Community Got on Board

Part 2: ‘A Free Pass’ vs. Keeping People Safe

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Goodlatte Reflects on 26 Years in Congress

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Rep. Bob Goodlatte

In January Virginia will lose Congressman Bob Goodlatte – who as Judiciary Committee Chair has been the most powerful member of the Commonwealth’s delegation in Washington.

Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from the Capitol that the Republican will be missed by many.

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Poll Shows Support for I-81 Improvements, According to Industry Group

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(Credit: Jeff Bossert)

The Virginia Department of Transportation has a draft plan for improvements to Interstate 81, the vital highway that runs along the western side of the state.

Now a construction industry group says it’s time for legislators to hit the gas.

David Seidel explains.

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Va. News: Studying Ferry Service out of Prince William County, Digitizing Public Records in Suffolk

VPAPnew

One of the last cities in Virginia to fully digitize public records is finally taking the plunge. And people in Virginia’s I-95 corridor north of Fredericksburg may soon have a faster way to get into DC.

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 Representatives Leery of Possible Government Shutdown

capitol_dome__washington_dc

(Credit Rog Cogswell via flickr.com / CC)

Virginia lawmakers are monitoring the potential of a partial government shutdown.

They know from past shutdowns that the Commonwealth’s economy gets hit by them, as Matt Laslo reports.

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Down on the Farm in Petersburg

young_farmers

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

The city of Petersburg was once a prosperous place where railroads crossed and tobacco money changed hands. Today it’s economically depressed.

But a program pioneered by Virginia State University could help to revive the city in a surprising way.

David Seidel has that story.

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From Springsteen to Smashing Pumpkins and Beyond: Richmond Underground Music Spot is Closing

Strange Matter

Local sludge metal band Windhand performs at one of Strange Matter’s final shows.  (Credit: Brad Kutner)

For nearly 50 years alternative touring and local musicians have found an audience at Richmond’s 929 West Grace Street, just a stone’s throw from VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

Now, the latest iteration of the space, Strange Matter, is closing its doors after nearly a decade.

Brad Kutner has more from Richmond.

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Jury Recommends Life Sentence for Charlottesville Car Attack

Cville Courthouse Monday

Barricades line the sidewalk outside the Charlottesville courthouse on the first day of James Fields’ trial. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A jury says James Fields should spend the rest of his life in prison for the car attack that killed a woman and injured dozens in Charlottesville.

David Seidel has reaction to the sentence.

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Va. News: Small Town Strips Mayor of Powers, Outsourcing School Custodial Duties

VPAPnew

A small Virginia town may soon be involved in a court fight over its state-issued charter. And one school division’s plan to save money has brought mixed results.

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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Caviar Comeback: Sturgeon in the James

Sturgeon

  Giant sturgeon have returned to the James River, but will their offspring survive?
(Credit VCU Rice Rivers Center)

Since colonial times, American fishermen have treasured the Atlantic sturgeon – a source of meat, oil and caviar they could export to Europe.

Many of these fish would leave the ocean each spring or fall to spawn in the James, Delaware and Hudson Rivers, but as demand for their salt-cured eggs grew, the population of sturgeon fell until – in 1974 – Virginia became the first state to ban catching them.

Now, Sandy Hausman reports, this source of caviar is making a comeback and scientists are hoping to help.

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Herring Hears Tales of Hate Crimes, Proposes Legislative Action

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Attorney General Mark Herring (Credit: Edward Kimmel via flickr.com / CC)

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is currently on a listening tour across Virginia, hearing stories about hate crimes and white supremacy.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Va. News: Hemp Processed into Products – and Jobs, Drug Testing in Page County Schools

VPAPnew

Virginia’s first hemp processing plant is on track to open in 2019…and Page County is about to start random drug testing for high school athletes and drivers.

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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Photographer, Victims Describe Terrifying Scene of Charlottesville Car Attack

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flickr.com / CC

Three victims of the deadly crash following a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville testified Friday, along with an award-winning photographer who took pictures of the event.

Sandy Hausman is covering the trial of the man accused of deliberately driving his car into a crowd.

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New Virginia Reps Get Crash Course in Congress

capitol_dome__washington_dc

(Credit Rog Cogswell via flickr.com / CC)

Virginia just sent five new lawmakers to Washington who have spent the past few weeks going through freshmen orientation.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has this snapshot of their time at the Capitol.

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Witnesses in Fields Trial Recount Deadly Crash

Cville Courthouse Monday

Barricades line the sidewalk outside the Charlottesville City courthouse. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

A young man hit by a car after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville gave dramatic testimony Thursday, and the defense hinted at its strategy in opening arguments.

Sandy Hausman was in court and filed this report.

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Melania Trump to Liberty University Students: Remove the Stigma of Opioid Addiction

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First Lady Melania Trump as seen on a video screen in Liberty University’s Vines Center
(Credit: David Seidel)

First Lady Melania Trump Wednesday stressed the need to remove the stigma from opioid addiction.

David Seidel reports she also opened up about what she tells her own son about the danger.

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Turning Pig Poop into Natural Gas

Align RNG

Align Renewable Natural Gas

Hog farmers in Virginia could soon be making money on an overlooked by-product  — methane gas.

Mallory Noe-Payne has details on a new venture between Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods.

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Man Charged in White Nationalist Rally to Argue Self-defense

Cville Courthouse Monday

Barricades line the sidewalk outside the Charlottesville City courthouse Monday. (Credit: Mallory Noe-Payne)

Jury selection began in Charlottesville Monday for the trial of James Fields, Junior.

He’s accused of murdering Heather Heyer, and injuring several others, when he drove a car into a crowd during the Unite the Right Rally.

Mallory Noe-Payne has been in court and has this report.

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Va. News: Rappahannock Oral History Vindicated, Pardoned Turkeys at Virginia Tech

VPAPnew

New research is vindicating oral histories passed down by Virginia’s Rappahanock Tribe. And a pair of turkeys recently pardoned at the White House will enjoy their retirement  at Virginia Tech.

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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Fighting Ice with Ice: VT Engineers Invent Environmentally Friendly Frost Preventing Technology

deicing

Deicing airplanes using antifreeze chemicals is a common practice during winter months. Virginia Tech’s new anti-frosting technology has the potential for use in aerospace applications, including airplane wing manufacturing

We’ve all heard the saying “fight fire with fire.” 

Well, scientists at Virginia Tech have a new twist on that idea.  They’ve come up with a way to “fight ice with ice.”

As Robbie Harris reports, it could revolutionize the way we de-ice everything from airplanes to windshields without harming the environment.

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On Immigration Where Congress Fails, States Step In

Bipartisan Policy Center

As gridlock in Congress prevents meaningful action on immigration, state lawmakers have begun to fill in the gap.

As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, Virginia’s legislature is one of the busiest — taking a lead in state-based immigration legislation.

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“It’ll Be 40 to 60 Years” A History of the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia

ERA YEs

Virginia is on the verge of history. The commonwealth could be the 38th, and final state, to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The amendment to the U.S. constitution guarantees rights based on gender.

Momentum around the cause has surged, giving activists hope this could be the year.

But as Mallory Noe-Payne reports, the fight began decades ago.

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VCU to Study Opioid Withdrawal Treatment

V_Gold lettering - 4C

Doctors at Virginia Commonwealth University are beginning a study that could save lives by changing the way people with opioid addiction are treated.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

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New Virginia Democrats Deciding on House Speaker

 

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Credit: Julio Obscua via flickr.com/CC)

The Commonwealth’s newly elected Democrats who voters just sent to Washington will now be pivotal in writing Nancy Pelosi’s future.

Correspondent Matt Laslo has the story from Washington.

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With New Research Ship, VIMS Steps Up the Science

Trent and Ship

Three-year-old Trent digs into the sand at Yorktown waterfront. Behind him visitors tour VIMS new research vessel Virginia. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is stepping up the science behind managing state fisheries, as well as research on how the planet is changing with a newly built 93-foot, state-of-the-art research vessel, the R/V Virginia.

Pamela D’Angelo went aboard to take a look.

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Va. News: Eastern Shore economy benefits from launches, Driverless Shuttles in Albermarle County

VPAPnew

Going to the beach is generally seen as a summer tradition but hotels and restaurants on Virginia’s Chincoteague Island are doing excellent year-round business thanks to rocket science. And a new shuttle service is coming to Albemarle County but you won’t have to tip the driver.

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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Can Tangier Island Survive?

tangier_14

(Credit: Sandy Hausman)

As hurricane season draws to a close, Virginians who live on the coast may be feeling relief, but for residents of Tangier Island the threat of being overwhelmed by wind and waves remains.

They could become the first climate change refugees in this country.

This fall, the state promised to spend 3-million-dollars on a sea wall to protect Tangier’s harbor, but locals want a wall to surround their shrinking island as Sandy Hausman reports.

Note: There are three parts to this report below.

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Could Releasing More Prisoners Help Lower Costs?

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Virginia is spending a growing amount on healthcare for inmates. That’s according to a report presented to lawmakers Tuesday.

To help lower those costs, Virginia’s legislative watchdog agency recommends the state make it easier to release sick and elderly inmates.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Equal Rights Amendment Bus Tour Kicks Off

ERA YEs

Activists are pushing for Virginia’s lawmakers to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment this year, potentially changing the United States Constitution.

To help raise awareness, a group is driving around the state. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

 

 

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Va. News: Cell Phone Snooping, Protests at the UDC

VPAPnew

Charlottesville police have a new tool. And the United Daughters of the Confederacy canceled a planned ceremony in Richmond when protesters gathered.

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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How Tuesday’s Senate Election Could Determine Next November’s Battlegrounds

virginia

The 2018 election is now in the books.

But get ready for the next election cycle because the primary is only about seven months away.

Michael Pope has this preview.

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Spanberger Wins a Nail-biter

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In Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Democrat Abigail Spanberger has declared victory.

After hours of nail-biting vote counting, the Associated Press called the race just past midnight.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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“We’re not going back,” says Kaine on election night

220px-Tim_Kaine,_official_113th_Congress_photo_portrait

Sen. Tim Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine cruised to victory on election night, scoring one of the first victories of the evening.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Turnout Reported as Heavy Across Virginia

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Turnout is up all over Virginia, in some places it’s on track with presidential election years.

Michael Pope reports from a voting precinct in Alexandria.

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At the Intersection of Civic Duty and Public Transportation

Archie Jones

  Archie Jones voted for the first time ever Tuesday.
(Credit Mallory Noe-Payne)

Turnout across Virginia is reported to be heavier than an average mid-term election.

In Richmond and other cities, to help get people to the polls bus rides are free.

Mallory Noe-Payne hopped on board and filed this report.

 

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Va. News: Fairfax County Floodplain Development, Funeral Directors Seeking Office

VPAPnew

Another Virginia community is confronting the question of whether to allow development in a flood plain…  And funeral directors seem to be emerging as the newest political class in Hampton Roads.

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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Northam Signs Climate Change Executive Order

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Gov. Ralph Northam signs the executive order. (Credit: Pamela D’Angelo)

During the past 20 years, Virginia has experienced a 250 percent increase in federally declared disasters.

Citing those statistics and damage across the state from recent hurricanes, Governor Ralph Northam on Friday, signed an executive order to protect state-owned assets and the economy by reducing the impacts of climate change such as tidal and storm surge flooding in coastal Virginia.

Pamela D’Angelo reports.

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U. S. Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Virginia’s Uranium Mining Ban

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(Credit: dbking via flick.com / CC)

The owners of a huge deposit of uranium in Pittsylvania County want to mine it. But a long-standing Virginia ban on the process is stopping them.

On November 5th, they’ll ask the United States Supreme Court to decide if that ban is constitutional.

Michael Pope has a preview.

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Virginia Has One Congresswoman, That Could Change Come Tuesday

Barbara_Comstock_official_photo,_114th_Congress

Rep. Barbara Comstock

Of Virginia’s 11 Congressional representatives, only one is female — Republican Barbara Comstock of Northern Virginia. But this Election Day, that could change.

After a wave of women were elected to the statehouse last year, there’s been a push this year to do the same in Congress.

Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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Constitutional Amendment Would Aid Disabled Vets and the Families of Those Killed in Combat

disabled_vet

  Under a proposed constitutional amendment, Virginia’s disabled veterans and spouses of those killed in combat could retain their property tax break after moving to new homes.
(Credit U.S. Department of Defense)

In addition to choosing a U.S. Senator and a member of Congress on November 6, Virginia voters will decide on two proposed constitutional amendments.

One of those seems like a no-brainer, but as Sandy Hausman reports, it’s complicated.

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Help Adapting to Sea Level Rise or Tax Break for the Wealthy?

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When voters head to the polls November 6, they’ll be confronted with a constitutional amendment that would authorize tax breaks to people who own waterfront property.

Michael Pope has the story.

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Constituent Communication or Incumbent Protection Device?

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(Credit: Rog Cogswell/CC via flickr.com)

Government watchdog groups say some lawmakers are using taxpayer dollars to boost their own reelection campaigns.

But, as Matt Laslo reports from the Capitol, many Virginia lawmakers say they’re merely communicating with their constituents back home.

 

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Va. News: Patrick County hurting after startup fails, zoning changes in Arlington County

VPAPnew

Money borrowed and spent for an industry that never came has put Patrick County in a deep financial hole.

And a zoning change in Arlington County may accomplish the rare feat of making some housing  more affordable.

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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A New Way to Track Birds in Migration

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American oystercatchers thrive on a barrier island off Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
(Credit: The Nature Conservancy)

The fall migration for many birds is well underway, and scientists are excited about a new method for tracking them – a technology that provides detailed information without disturbing our feathered friends.

Sandy Hausman has that story.

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Virginia Does Not Fare Well in SWAMP Index

SWAMPIndex

Credit: Coalition for Integrity

A new assessment of the potential for corruption in state government is out.  And only eight states rank lower than Virginia.

Michael Pope explains the SWAMP Index.

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Early Voter Turnout is Surging Across Virginia

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Election Day is still a few weeks away, but more than 95,000 voters have already cast their ballots.

Michael Pope has this look at early voting.

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Va. News: Portrait Prompts Change of Venue Request, Convicted City Council candidate

VPAPnew

Virginia law seems to have no clear answers about how to handle the case of a Portsmouth city councilman. And lawyers for a man accused of murder want his trial moved out of a courtroom where a portrait of Robert E. Lee is prominently displayed.

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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