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VaNews
August 4, 2021
Top of the News

Virginia House Republicans pitch alternate plan for federal relief money with an eye toward elections

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER AND LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Two minutes. That's what House Minority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) figured the GOP had on Tuesday to try to score some political points over the spending plan that Virginia Democrats have engineered for $4.3 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. . . . Prevented by Democrats from the usual process of offering amendments in committees, Gilbert and other Republicans cobbled together an entirely new spending plan based on GOP priorities.


Lawmakers ask SCC to analyze Dominion rates with an eye on refunds for customers

By SARAH VOGELSONG, Virginia Mercury

Eighteen Virginia legislators are asking state regulators to analyze what refunds Dominion Energy customers might receive and what electric rates would be if regulators weren’t bound by provisions in state law that are favorable to the large electric utility’s bottom line. . . . The letter asks the State Corporation Commission to conduct a “prospective analysis” as part of its ongoing review of Dominion’s earnings and rates, the first since 2015.


As covid cases rise — again — doctors in D.C. area are ‘holding their breath’

By RACHEL CHASON AND TEO ARMUS, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A month ago, covid-19 wards at hospitals across the D.C. region were empty and doctors said they were finally able to take a breath, some hopeful that increased vaccinations meant the worst of the pandemic was behind them. Now, the anxiety for many is creeping back. Physicians in the area say they are closely watching an uptick in recent weeks of the region’s caseload and positivity rate, and bracing for another potential surge of covid-19 patients.


Hungry? Bring your vax card - some Richmond eateries asking patrons to show proof

By HOLLY PRESTIDGE, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Facing a surging COVID-19 variant, some Richmond-area restaurants are asking patrons for proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 test results — or requiring people who don’t have either to wear masks when not seated at the table. With COVID-19 cases rising again around Virginia and nationally, beleaguered restaurants everywhere are bracing for another round of fallout.


Miyares, Sears don't plan to attend 'election integrity' rally at Liberty University

By PATRICK WILSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The statewide GOP ticket is listed as featured guests Saturday at an "election integrity" rally at Liberty University, but two of the candidates say they aren't attending. Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, the GOP nominee for attorney general, and former Del. Winsome Sears of Winchester, the nominee for lieutenant governor, won't be attending, their campaigns confirmed Tuesday.


Va. Beach delegate candidate Tim Anderson campaigned against COVID relief funds, but received nearly $750K for his businesses

By KATHERINE HAFNER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

During his campaign to be a state delegate, Virginia Beach attorney Tim Anderson recently said federal COVID-19 relief funding given to Virginia is unnecessary and should be returned. “We should give it back,” Anderson wrote on his campaign Facebook page on July 4. . . . Since April 2020, however, his businesses have taken in over $742,000 in federal COVID relief money, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Alexandria Will Start Sending $500 Every Month To Low-Income Families

By ALLY SCHWEITZER, WAMU-FM

The city of Alexandria, Virginia, is joining a growing number of cities across the U.S. that are sending money to poor residents, no strings attached. Bolstered by nearly $60 million in federal pandemic relief money, the independent jurisdiction in Northern Virginia plans to begin sending $500 debit cards to 150 families each month for two years, starting sometime this fall. The initiative was inspired partly by feedback city leaders solicited from residents about how the cash infusion should be used, says Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

The Full Report
35 articles, 19 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual How Do You Spend $4.3 Billion?

The Virginia Public Access Project

The General Assembly convened beginning August 2, 2021 to allocate more than $4.3B in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan. While the Governor is proposing to keep some in reserves for future COVID-19 relief, VPAP's visual shows how he plans to spend $3.1B of the funding in FY22.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard features VDH vaccination data, including what percentage of the state's population has received at least one shot and the number of vaccinations per 100,000 residents in each city and county. Our dashboard also makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's also a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

State budget, politics collide as House rejects amendments, Senate set to act on 142

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The House of Delegates and Senate are set to adopt separate plans Wednesday for spending about $3.5 billion in federal aid, but in the end their budgets may look the same. Any differences depend on the Senate, which is set to act on 142 amendments lawmakers proposed to the budget bill that Gov. Ralph Northam introduced after working closely with Democratic legislative leaders on how to spend $4.3 billion that Virginia received under the American Rescue Plan Act.


The Va. House GOP came up with a spending plan. It lasted 2 minutes.

By NED OLIVER AND GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates offered their own proposal Tuesday for how to spend billions in federal rescue funds, floating a plan they said would ban door-to-door vaccination campaigns, give $5,000 bonuses to every police officer in the state and limit how students are taught about race and discrimination. After a two-minute floor speech by House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, the measure was promptly voted down by the Democratic majority.


Southwest Virginia legislators divided on how COVID-19 relief money should be spent

By ANNIE SCHROEDER, WSLS-TV

Efforts to divvy up billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief continued Tuesday at the state capitol, but Southwest Virginia lawmakers stand split on how much money should be spent and where it should go. Day 2 of what is expected to be at least a weeklong special session in Richmond hosted several proposed changes to how federal COVID-19 relief gets divided among Virginia.


Fort Monroe hopeful for $6 million boost for African Landing memorial project

By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Fort Monroe Authority is in the mix for a $6 million infusion to construct the African Landing Memorial, which will commemorate first Africans who arrived in the Virginia colonies in 1619. The funding is among several items in a $3.1 billion budget bill Democratic state leaders introduced ahead of the General Assembly’s special session that started Monday. Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to determine how to use $4.3 billion disbursement in federal pandemic relief.


Virginia wedding vendors want 'a seat at the table' and funding, as they struggle to recover from COVID-19

By CAROLINE COLEBURN, WTVR-TV

As lawmakers meet for a special session to try to figure out how to spend billions of dollars in COVID relief money, Virginia wedding industry vendors are hoping they'll be among those getting assistance. Kim Moody, director of events at the Estate at River Run and Nina Whittleton, co-owner of Classic Party Rentals of Virginia, told CBS 6 the majority of their industry lost 75% of their income in 2020. . . . Moody and Whittleton have joined forced to form VOWS, Virginia’s Organization of Wedding Standards, which has applied for 501(c)(6) status to try to have more power and funding to hire lobbyists to represent the wedding industry in the General Assembly.

STATE ELECTIONS

Inside Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s long career at Carlyle

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The first thing most Virginians know about Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin is that he is rich. Very rich. Youngkin has so much money that when he retired last year as co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, he could afford to turn his back on more than $100 million in unvested stock options. With a fortune that already topped $300 million, he’s using those resources to help bankroll his run for governor, blanketing the airwaves with early and frequent advertising.


McAuliffe tours SVEC complex

By IAN MUNRO, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe visited the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative complex just south of Harrisonburg for a tour on Monday and to discuss broadband and rural issues. He said better schools and increased broadband can yield significant economic development for rural areas and improve quality of life. Large tech firms such as Amazon would be interested in hiring rural residents because of the lower cost of living in rural areas compared to urban areas, according to McAuliffe.


Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding begins door-to-door campaign after landing on the ballot

By EM HOLTER, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

As a longtime educator, Middlesex resident Princess Blanding said she never imagined she would follow a path into politics. She had worked her way up to an administrative position at the Essex County public school division and there, she planned to stay. But, her path veered in 2018, when her brother, Marcus David-Peters was fatally shot by the Richmond City Police Department. He was suffering from a mental health crisis and was unarmed.


Libertarian vs. Liberation creates third-party conundrum on Virginia ballots

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Most Virginia voters go for candidates with a “D” or “R” next to their name, but who should have dibs on the “L?” This year, election officials preparing November’s ballots were faced with the dilemma of how to differentiate the Libertarian Party from the Liberation Party, the newly formed initiative from gubernatorial candidate and social justice activist Princess Blanding.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Fiber-optic line cited by DEQ for environmental violations

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Environmental regulators have cited the developer of a fiber-optic line for violating erosion control regulations in eight jurisdictions that include Floyd, Franklin and Giles counties. Middle Mile Infrastructure was ordered to pay a $46,000 fine to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.


Five historical markers highlighting Asian American contributions to Virginia to be installed around state

By DAVID TRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Five new state historical highway markers highlighting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community will be installed throughout Virginia. The historical markers recognize and chronicle the stories, accomplishments and contributions Asian American and Pacific Islander Virginians have made throughout the commonwealth.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

Jay Carney expects Amazon to flex its public policy muscles on more issues going forward

By ALEX KOMA, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Despite Amazon.com Inc.'s status as one of the world's biggest, most powerful corporations, Jay Carney believes the tech giant has kept its advocacy work fairly narrowly focused. Slowly but perhaps inevitably, that’s starting to change. Carney, the company’s policy chief and former White House press secretary under the Obama administration, believes Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is ready to start flexing its sizable muscles in a more expansive way.


Here's a first look at plans for Alexandria's Potomac River power plant redevelopment

By ALEX KOMA, Washington Business Journal (Subscription required for some articles)

Alexandria’s shuttered coal-fired power plant could someday see 2,000 new homes, a hotel and a mix of office and retail, as a developer advances plans to transform the massive site on the banks of the Potomac River. Illinois-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners submitted plans with the city on Friday with the first details about how it hopes to overhaul the 18.8-acre site since it purchased the property in November.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Lynchburg-area colleges welcome students back to campuses, plan for more normal operations

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

New Hornets began moving into the hive at the University of Lynchburg this week, buzzing with excitement for the new school year in the Hill City. First-year student Meghan Mayo said move-in day Tuesday proved emotional. ... In the coming weeks, other colleges and universities in the Lynchburg area are set to open their doors to welcome students back to campus for what officials hope will be a more normal school year.

CORONAVIRUS

Almost 1 in 5 new virus cases in Fredericksburg district are among vaccinated

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Nearly one of every 5 Fredericksburg-area residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1 have been fully vaccinated, according to the Rappahannock Area Health District. On Tuesday, the health district’s data team reported that 17 percent of the 939 new cases since July 1 were “breakthrough cases,” people who became infected with the virus after being fully vaccinated and waiting two weeks for full immunity. That’s 160 people in Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford.


Roanoke-area rise in COVID-19 is accompanied by increase in breakthrough cases

By NEIL HARVEY, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Reported breakthrough cases of COVID-19 have taken an alarming leap within the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, officials said Tuesday. Health director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said that of the past week’s increase of 371 new cases, and 31 patients hospitalized, 19% of those two groups are cases in which people believed to be vaccinated became sick from the virus.

VIRGINIA OTHER

CDC bans evictions until Oct. 3. What that means for Hampton Roads.

By SIERRA JENKINS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Responding to political pressure, federal health officials announced a new eviction moratorium Tuesday to include protections for renters and tenants in areas where the coronavirus is spreading at higher rates. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention replaced a moratorium, which expired Saturday and protects renters in jeopardy of being evicted because they were unable to pay rent in full. The new federal document could cover around 90% of the nation’s population under its requirements, according to the Associated Press.


Mother of would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley, who lived with him near Williamsburg, dies at 95

By BEN FINLEY AND JESSICA GRESKO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Jo Ann Hinckley, a constant companion to her son John Hinckley Jr. as the would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan was gradually allowed to live outside a psychiatric hospital in Washington, has died. Jo Ann Hinckley, 95, had been her son’s primary companion as he made the transition in recent years from living at a Washington psychiatric hospital to being allowed to live with her full time in the gated Kingsmill community near Williamsburg.


Va. couple arrested after bringing loaded guns near U.S. Capitol

By DANA HEDGPETH, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A Richmond couple was arrested and charged Monday after they allegedly brought two loaded guns near the U.S. Capitol. U.S. Capitol Police officials said in a statement that the incident unfolded around 12:50 p.m. when a man came up and asked two Capitol Police officers for directions near First and East Capitol streets SE.

LOCAL

Former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe going to trial on corruption charges

By BRIAN REESE, WAVY-TV

Former Norfolk Sherriff Bob McCabe’s public corruption trial begins Tuesday. It’s been nearly two years since a federal grand jury indicted him on multiple charges, including fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He pleaded not guilty. McCabe, who retired in 2017 after serving as sheriff for 22 years, is accused of rigging bids to provide medical services to Norfolk inmates.


Caroline will require masks for K-5 students, optional for grades 6-12

By ADELE UPHAUS-CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Masks will be required for elementary students and staff in Caroline County and will be optional for students and staff in grades 6–12 when school begins this month. The School Board approved this option—one of three presented by division staff—by a 3–2 vote at a special called meeting Monday. The other two options were to require masks for all or to make masks optional for all.


With rise of delta variant, city meetings likely to remain virtual

By GINNY BIXBY, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, Charlottesville government offices are unlikely to be back to normal anytime soon. Staffers are recommending that the City Council extend the city’s Continuity of Governance ordinance because of the spread the delta variant of COVID-19, City Manager Chip Boyles said during Monday’s council meeting. The current ordinance expires Oct. 19.


City students must wear masks in school

By RANDI B. HAGI, The Citizen

Harrisonburg students can expect to start their first day of school on Aug. 17 with their noses and mouths covered once again, as Superintendent Michael Richards announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Responding to the rise nationally of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance for K-12 teachers, staff and students to wear masks in school buildings, regardless of their vaccination status.


A major regional step to fight addiction? Coalition seeks funds

By JEFF STURGEON, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A community coalition operated by volunteer leadership is seeking money from local governments to mount a sustained battle against addiction and overdoses in the Roanoke region. Representatives of the Roanoke Valley Collective Response, which briefed the Roanoke City Council on Monday and will visit other localities, said they need $600,000 over three years to hire the group’s first executive director and to provide an adequate budget to begin to pursue their plan.


Split Roanoke County School Board votes against K-5 mask mandate

By LUKE WEIR, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Despite recommendations from national, state and local health officials, as well as suggestions from its own administration, the Roanoke County School Board voted 3-2 on Tuesday not to require masks for kindergarten through fifth grade students. As it stands, the school board has decided not to mandate masks at any grade level, with the first day of school scheduled for Aug. 12. Masks are still required on public transportation, including on school buses, by federal requirement, according to the discussion at the board meeting.


Lynchburg City Schools to require masks indoors as school year begins

By JAMEY CROSS, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Lynchburg City Schools will begin the 2021-22 school year next week requiring masks be worn inside school facilities. At the Lynchburg City School Board meeting Tuesday, the board voted 7-2 in favor of requiring all students, staff and visitors, regardless of age or vaccination status, wear masks while in LCS facilities at the start of the upcoming school year. The first day of school is Aug. 11.


Tennessee, Virginia housing assistance programs can secure some help on rent payments

By DAVID MCGEE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

In the face of a looming eviction crisis, which the CDC tried to stave off by issuing a new moratorium order Tuesday, housing assistance programs are reminding area residents that they can secure some help on rent payments, depending on where they live. The legality of a new eviction moratorium issued by the CDC was uncertain Tuesday. On Sunday the Biden administration allowed the CDC’s national moratorium on evictions to expire, saying that a recent Supreme Court ruling prevented renewing it.

 

EDITORIALS

COVID-19 demands a united front

Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

There was a moment early in the pandemic when it seemed that coronavirus would give the country a common purpose — an enemy to fight, a battle to be joined. We’re all in this together, people told one another, and we’ll get through it as one nation. How naïve that looks today, when some Virginians refuse the safe and effective vaccines that can end this public health catastrophe.


Youngkin's economic plan is pretty disappointing

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Glenn Youngkin, the blankest of blank slates ever to run for Virginia governor, has finally started to fill in some of those blanks on policy. The result is pretty disappointing, and something of a gut punch for the rural areas that are the base of his own Republican Party. Last week, with some fanfare, Youngkin announced his grandly titled “plan to invest in all Virginians.”


We’ve raised awareness of the need for a living wage. What about a living rent?

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam and state lawmakers were realizing they had dual crises on their hands. The coronavirus was not just a public health emergency. It was an economic one, too. In April 2020, more than 450,000 Virginians were counted as unemployed and the commonwealth lost more than 383,400 jobs, per Virginia Employment Commission data released that May.


Youngkin’s economic plan would run Virginia ‘into a ditch’

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

As Virginia Democrats have run the table in every statewide election since 2009, Republican gubernatorial aspirants have reverted to the same failed three-step playbook: Declare the state’s economy is in a tailspin. Promise to jump-start it by drastically slashing taxes, while insisting no harm would result to critical state services. Pledge to shrink public spending by eliminating unidentified waste, fraud and abuse. Now comes Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s current Republican gubernatorial nominee — a slicker, wealthier version of past GOP hopefuls who poses as a new kind of candidate while peddling much the same nonsense.

COLUMNISTS

PolitiFact: McAuliffe's High Education Spending Didn't Break Record

By WARREN FISKE, WCVE-FM

Once and possibly future Gov. Terry McAuliffe is urging voters to look at his record for funding schools. In a recent TV ad, the Democrat says he worked with “reasonable Republicans to get things done” when he led Virgina from 2014 to 2018. Among those accomplishments, McAuliffe notes that school funding increased by $1 billion during his term. . . . McAuliffe has been saying he set the record for K-12 funding since midway through his governorship and we’ve previously rated his claim Mostly False.

OP-ED

Boxler: Recent Va. appeals court ruling guts privacy protections

By BRANDON L. BOXLER, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

In July, the Virginia Court of Appeals gutted the privacy rights Virginians have in their cell phones. The decision is misguided as a constitutional matter — and concerning as a practical matter. In Futrell v. Commonwealth, the court held that police do not need a warrant to search the digital contents of an “abandoned” cell phone. Police found a phone at a restaurant while investigating a shooting. Instead of getting a warrant to search it, police turned it on, went to its settings and looked for information.

Boxler is an attorney in Richmond who specializes in appellate litigation and constitutional law.