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VaNews

Saturday October 12, 2019

FROM VPAP


VISUALIZATION: NEW VOTER REGISTRATIONS BY GENDER, AGE

The Virginia Public Access Project

Through the first half of the year, the number of men registering to vote in Virginia slightly outnumbered women. But in the last three months that trend was reversed by a surge of registrations by women, particularly among those 25 or younger and those between 55 and 64.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM ISSUES DROUGHT WATCH ADVISORY FOR VIRGINIA

By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Virginians should prepare for significant drought, the governor said Friday. A large swath of the state has experienced moderate drought in the last several days, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Pockets of severe drought — the third worst category, trailing only “extreme” and “exceptional” — have developed. One pocket of severe drought includes northern Franklin County, extreme southern Roanoke County and much of the southern half of Bedford County.


NORTHAM ANNOUNCES DROUGHT WATCH ADVISORY FOR ALL OF VIRGINIA

By JOHN BOYER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Gov. Ralph Northam is encouraging Virginians to keep an eye on their water usage and prepare for possible conservation measures. On Friday, Northam declared a statewide drought watch advisory, which is aimed at increasing awareness of the lack of rain and how to prepare for a potential drought.


DROUGHT ADVISORY DECLARED FOR VIRGINIA AS DRY CONDITIONS CREEP INTO HAMPTON ROADS

By MATT JONES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

An exceptionally dry fall is bringing drought conditions to wide swaths of the southeastern U.S. and Virginia. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, 71% of the state’s population — about 5.6 million people — was in a drought as of Tuesday. Over 99% of the state’s population is in abnormally dry conditions. Gov. Ralph Northam announced a statewide drought watch in a news release Friday morning.

STATE ELECTIONS


OUT WITH THE MOON BOUNCE, IN WITH THE ATTACK ADS: VA. HOUSE SPEAKER IN FIGHT IN REDRAWN DISTRICT

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox, running for reelection in a district radically altered by a court decision, unleashed a sharply negative ad this week that his opponent says twists her stance on police in schools. The ad quotes a snippet from a two-year-old radio interview to suggest that Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman wants police removed from schools.


THE RACE IN THE 99TH HOUSE OF DELEGATES A REMATCH OF BATTLE TWO YEARS AGO

By ROB HEDELT, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Voters in Virginia’s 99th House District may well have a strong sense of déjà vu when they step into the voting booth Nov. 5. The House of Delegates race is a repeat of the contest two years ago, with retired CEO and Democratic nominee Francis Edwards squaring off against incumbent Republican businesswoman Margaret Ransone to see who represents a district that’s mostly the Northern Neck.

STATE GOVERNMENT


REQUIRING VIRGINIA MARRIAGE LICENSE APPLICANTS TO DISCLOSE RACE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL, JUDGE RULES

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A federal judge ruled Friday that Virginia’s law requiring the disclosure of race on marriage license applications is unconstitutional. “Requiring Plaintiffs to disclose their race in order to receive marriage licenses burdens their fundamental right to marry,” U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. wrote


JUDGE STRIKES DOWN VIRGINIA RACE REQUIREMENT FOR MARRIAGE LICENSE AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

By RACHEL WEINER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A federal judge on Friday struck down as unconstitutional a Virginia law requiring people to state their race when applying for a marriage license. “The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” Judge Rossie D. Alston wrote in his opinion. “But like other institutions, the stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most important institution … The Constitution of the United States of America.”


CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE'S COMMENT HIGHLIGHTS TIGHT VIRGINIA LIMITS ON NEW INNOCENCE CLAIMS

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A Newport News judge this month found that there was credible new evidence supporting an innocence claim in a vicious 1997 assault, but the 11-page ruling highlights what critics have long complained is a severe shortcoming in Virginia law. Newport News Circuit Judge Gary A. Mills, who assessed the credibility of witnesses in the case of Nathaniel Dennis, added at the end of his ruling, “This court ... is left perplexed that this matter was filed as an actual innocence petition rather than a motion for a new trial based on after-discovered evidence.”


VIRGINIA PRISONS HAVE CUT THE NUMBER OF INMATES IN SEGREGATION BY 66%

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A major state effort to cut the number of prison inmates in restrictive housing — segregation, as it’s often called — has resulted in a 66% decline since 2016, the Department of Corrections reported Friday. It’s the result in large part of the department’s Step-Down program, which aims to give high-risk inmates a path, if they choose it, to change behavior and return to general population, department director Harold Clarke said in an interview.


VIRGINIA PRISON 'RESTRICTIVE HOUSING' REPORT SHOWS ITS USE IS IN DECLINE

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A new report by the Virginia Department of Corrections says that out of 30,000 prison inmates, just 43 are being held in what it calls long-term restrictive housing and what critics call solitary confinement. The report, “The Reduction of Restrictive Housing in the Virginia Department of Corrections,” was requested by the General Assembly in the wake of complaints made by a coalition of rights groups, including the ACLU of Virginia, that the department makes far more use of solitary confinement than it admits.

CONGRESS


BOBBY SCOTT VISITS HAMPTON TO EXPLAIN HOW HE WANTS TO MAKE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

There’s something about FAFSA — that particularly nosy form that students and parents fill out in order to get financial aid for college — that can get in the way of young people actually making it to and through college. And Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, says he plans to do something about it.


REP. WEXTON VISITS LOUDOUN ABUSED WOMEN’S SHELTER FOR ROUNDTABLE

By JOHN BATTISTON, Loudoun Times

Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) paid a visit Wednesday to the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter, continuing a series of events commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wexton — who earlier this year in Congress supported the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA — took part in a roundtable discussion focused on supporting survivors, holding abusers accountable, and the ways LAWS and other organizations in Loudoun County work toward those goals.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS


UVA 'LOOKING AT ALL OPTIONS' TO LOWER HEALTHCARE COSTS, WILL NOT HALT ALL SUITS

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The University of Virginia this week said it is working on ways to make healthcare more affordable at its facilities, but stopped short of saying it will stop pursuing medical debt suits against patients. The statement came on the heels of a pledge by VCU Health earlier this week that it would no longer pursue legal action in order to collect medical debts.

VIRGINIA OTHER


APPEALS COURT ORDERS STAY OF MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE PERMIT

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Already slowed by the loss of two permits and a lawsuit that challenges a third one, construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline hit another major roadblock Friday. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a stay to a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pending its review of lawsuit brought by environmental groups headed by the Sierra Club.


MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE TO PAY $2.15 MILLION IN LAWSUIT OVER ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Mountain Valley Pipeline will pay $2.15 million to resolve a lawsuit by Virginia regulators that accused it of repeatedly violating environmental standards in building its natural gas pipeline. The agreement, announced Friday by Attorney General Mark Herring, also requires the company to submit to court-ordered and supervised compliance with regulations meant to curb erosion and sedimentation.


MOUNTAIN VALLEY, VIRGINIA SETTLE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWSUIT

Associated Press

The company building the Mountain Valley Pipeline has agreed to pay over $2 million and submit to enhanced monitoring to settle a lawsuit brought by Virginia officials that alleged repeated environmental violations. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's office announced Friday that a consent decree had been reached with Mountain Valley LLC that will resolve the lawsuit filed in December.

LOCAL


IN FAST-GROWING VA. SUBURB, STATE AND NATIONAL ISSUES ECHO IN LOCAL ELECTION

By ANTONIO OLIVO, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Democrat Phyllis J. Randall’s surprise victory four years ago — in an unusual three-way race — made her the first African American to chair Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors. Now, Randall is working to build on that success and turn the country’s wealthiest county into a more active voice on issues such as gun violence, climate change and women’s rights, drawing on Loudoun’s growing diversity, frustration over recent racist incidents in schools and opposition to President Trump. Randall, 54, faces a tough reelection battle against Republican John C. Whitbeck.


LOUDOUN COUNTY CHAIR CANDIDATES SPAR DURING COLT DEBATE

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times

Challengers John Whitbeck and Robert Ohneiser—standing on opposite sides of the stage—spent 90 minutes Wednesday in Leesburg making their case to become the next chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Standing in the middle of the two, incumbent Phyllis Randall laid out why she believes she should be elected to a second four-year term.


CITY MERCHANTS REPORT HEFTY SALES SLUMPS SINCE START OF CITY CIGARETTE TAX

By JEREMY M. LAZARUS, Richmond Free Press

Predictions that a 50-cent per pack city tax on cigarettes would be a disaster for convenience stores in Richmond appear to be coming true. While it is still early, initial City Hall financial data suggest sales of cigarettes in the city have fallen sharply since the tax went into effect July 1, at the start of the fiscal year.


MISSING-MONEY INVESTIGATION ENDS WITHOUT CHARGES

By LEILIA MAGEE, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 5 free articles a month)

A special prosecutor investigating the misappropriations of property from the Petersburg Bureau of Police evidence room has concluded its search and decided not to press additional charges. The announcement comes from Petersburg’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Cheryl Wilson, who recently requested an update on the Chesterfield prosecutor’s investigation.


THREE-YEAR PROBE OF PETERSBURG POLICE AND FOUR OTHER CITY AGENCIES ENDS WITHOUT FURTHER CHARGES

By MARK BOWES AND SEAN GORMAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A special prosecutor appointed three years ago to investigate more than $10,000 in missing cash from the Petersburg Bureau of Police’s evidence room and allegations of financial improprieties at four other city agencies has ended the probe without filing further criminal charges, Petersburg’s chief prosecutor said Friday.


ALBEMARLE TO MORE CLOSELY SCRUTINIZE OUT-OF-SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

By the end of this school year, Albemarle County school division leaders want to see out-of-school suspensions of black students reduced. To make that happen, schools Superintendent Matt Haas or someone he designates will be personally responsible for approving any out-of-school suspensions of African American students, according to a presentation at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

EDITORIALS


CITY APPEAL OF STATUE RULING TO BE EXPECTED

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Having pursued the matter this far, Charlottesville City Council is justified in appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court a lower court decision that the city’s Confederate statues must stay. That’s not only because the city needs greater closure on the statue controversy but because the issue is so much bigger than Charlottesville: The outcome could affect how other cities address similar controversies.

COLUMNISTS


SCHAPIRO: A PEEK INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC MONEY, MESSAGE MACHINE

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

This past Tuesday afternoon, at 4 o’clock, two dozen high-dollar donors, lobbyists and operatives for Democratic-allied groups dialed into a conference call organized by Gov. Ralph Northam’s political-action committee. For a half-hour, Northam and the PAC’s director and fundraiser walked their ears-only audience through the fast-approaching elections to decide control of the Virginia legislature. This is donor maintenance — a chance to tell check writers, rich in assets and ego, what they might want to hear.


WILLIAMS: THE VIRGINIA NAACP IS FIGHTING A DOMINION ENERGY PIPELINE. IT'S ALSO POCKETING DOMINION ENERGY MONEY.

By MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued “Fossil Fueled Foolery” as a primer on the fuel industry’s top 10 manipulation tactics. Some folks in the Virginia NAACP worry that their organization — in accepting money from Dominion Energy — resembles tactic No. 8: “Pacify or Co-Opt Community Leaders and Organizations and Misrepresent the Interests and Opinions of Communities.”