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VaNews
January 18, 2022
Top of the News

Youngkin addresses General Assembly, sets priorities for session as partisan clouds gather

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

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) addressed the General Assembly on Monday afternoon to lay out his priorities for this year’s legislative session. The speech comes two days after he was inaugurated, promising to work for all Virginians and seek unity during a time of division. But Youngkin also made clear he believes he has a conservative mandate to reverse course on the liberal agenda Democrats enacted over the past two years, when that party held majorities in the legislature and the Executive Mansion.


Youngkin backs off plan to use executive power to remove Virginia from RGGI

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

Gov. Glenn Youngkin backed off his pledge to try to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative through “executive action,” saying in his executive order Saturday that he wants a state regulatory board to do it. Even that would be illegal, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. The General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 to join the program, in which energy producers in a number of states trade emission reductions for credits, or buy credits to emit carbon dioxide past a cap.


Republican anger, progressive concern combine in push to ban political spending by utilities

By SARAH VOGELSONG AND GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

Legislative proposals to curb Virginia utilities’ political contributions may be gaining new traction in Richmond as old resentments over a 2015 utility rate freeze law combine with progressive Democrats’ skepticism of utility influence and Republican anger over Dominion Energy’s contributions to a shadowy PAC attacking Gov. Glenn Youngkin during the 2021 elections. Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, said proposals by him, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, have “a very good chance” at clearing the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. Petersen said he expects the support of “a portion” of Democrats in the Senate they narrowly control.


Senate panel shoots down minimum wage freeze

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

A Democratic-led Senate panel on Monday essentially killed a proposal by state Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, that would have frozen Virginia’s minimum wage at its current rate at $11. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee voted down Peake’s bill along party lines by 12-3.


Fredericksburg schools will continue mask mandate; others adjust to meet Youngkin's opt-out order

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

Fredericksburg City Public Schools will continue to require that staff, students and visitors wear masks while inside schools, the division announced Monday morning. “Layered prevention strategies have been successful in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools which has allowed us to provide in-person learning that is required by Virginia law,” the division noted in a press release.


Supply chain shortages are putting a strain on Virginia school lunch rooms

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Between rising case counts and staffing shortages, Virginia’s public schools were already facing plenty of challenges at the start of the fall semester. Then came supply chain problems. “I think I was in the middle of a meeting when we found out there was no bread to be had from our distributor,” said Randy Herman, the director of nutrition services for Louisa County Public Schools. “I just wasn’t getting anything on the truck.” In Chesapeake, the same thing happened with chicken patties. Harrisonburg and Bristol have faced shortages of frozen pizza. Across Virginia, almost no school district has escaped the current unpredictability of the food supply chain.


Northam leaves behind blue vest, Trump cutout for Youngkin at mansion

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

There’s an unwritten rule in this tradition-bound state that the outgoing governor plays a few pranks on his successor and, a day or two later, the new governor lets the world in on the jokes. Democrat Ralph Northam held up his end of the deal over the weekend, when he handed a practical joke-riddled Executive Mansion over to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

The Full Report
43 articles, 26 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Committee Pecking Order

The Virginia Public Access Project

The organization of the 2022 House of Delegates created an opportunity for more senior legislators to upgrade to powerful committees that set the rules, write the state budget and preside over business-related legislation. This interactive visual shows how freshmen had to settle for other committees.


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.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Youngkin tells lawmakers to 'turn the page' and better serve Virginia's people

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

Gov. Glenn Youngkin addressed the Virginia General Assembly for the first time on Monday, pitching his legislative priorities as solutions to “kitchen-table” issues Virginians face. Youngkin said he was elected to “turn the page” on the COVID-19 pandemic and rising cost of living, as well as to address the state’s “fractured” politics. He took aim at public schools, which he says are teaching “divisive concepts” related to race.


Youngkin calls on lawmakers to enact ‘vision of change’

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked the divided Virginia General Assembly on Monday to work with him to enact his “sweeping vision of change” for the state by rolling back taxes, expanding school choice and boosting funding for law enforcement. In his first joint address to the Democrat-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House, the governor reiterated many of his campaign pledges while offering some new specifics and avoiding certain issues altogether, including firearms and abortion policy.


As COVID-19 cases soar, Youngkin again vows to end mask and vaccine mandates

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

As Virginia reported a total of almost 1.4 million total cases of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Glenn Youngkin in his first address to a Joint Assembly in the House chamber of Richmond’s state Capitol Monday once again vowed to keep all schools open and end all mask and vaccine mandates, including those affecting healthcare workers.


Old finance secretary to help advise new one in Youngkin administration

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The new finance secretary under Gov. Glenn Youngkin will continue to get advice from his predecessor as the new administration prepares to push an aggressive plan of tax cuts as part of the governor’s “day one agenda.” Secretary of Finance Steve Cummings, sworn into office on Saturday but still subject to legislative confirmation, told the House Finance Committee on Monday that former Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne will serve as an unpaid special adviser “for a period of time.”


Virginia’s 1st female lt. gov. takes her place in the Senate

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

History-making Republican Winsome Earle-Sears began her tenure presiding over the Virginia Senate on Monday as the state’s first woman to serve as lieutenant governor and the first Black woman to hold statewide office. “This indeed is an historic moment,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, who gave a speech welcoming the presiding officer who will be referred to as madam president. A standing ovation followed from members of both parties and guests in the gallery.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Sen. Petersen: We need Youngkin to join effort to end Dominion campaign donations

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

A state senator who’s tried for years to scale down Dominion Energy’s influence in the state Capitol called on Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Monday to join the effort, saying lawmakers need the new governor’s support if they’re going to pass the legislation. “We need the new governor to speak out on this issue,” said Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. “I can get a portion of my caucus. I can’t get them all. I certainly can’t get the ones that are more senior in leadership. ... The commonwealth needs the new governor to take a firm stand on this issue.”


Senate Democrats block GOP efforts to cap Virginia's minimum wage increase

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Virginia’s gradual increase of the state’s minimum wage — which Democrats set in motion in 2020 — will move ahead despite GOP efforts to thwart it. Democrats in a key Senate panel on Monday roundly rejected legislation introduced by two GOP senators that would have frozen increases at the current minimum wage of $11 an hour. The panel voted down the bill 12-3, along party lines.


Bill that would cap mandatory minimum sentences clears Senate panel

By MARKUS SCHMIDT, Cardinal News

A total of 224 criminal offenses currently carry mandatory minimum sentences under Virginia law, including 162 felonies and 62 misdemeanors. But a Senate panel on Monday approved legislation that would repeal these mandatory minimums, with the exception of one – the murder of a law enforcement officer, which is punishable by life in prison. The bill also directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to establish a work group to evaluate the feasibility of resentencing of persons previously convicted of a felony offense.


New GOP House majority looks to roll back COVID protocols in Virginia

By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The new Republican majority in the House of Delegates is looking to roll back much of what Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration did to control the pandemic in Virginia. They’re also pushing to limit governors’ emergency powers. But while they’ll have an ally with Gov. Glenn Youngkin, those bills would still have to get though a state Senate, where Democrats have a one-vote majority and have generally supported Northam’s measures.


A Republican bill would bar Va. Governor's Schools from using race in admissions

By KENYA HUNTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

A Republican bill targeting diversity efforts at Virginia’s governor’s schools would ban them from using race and other factors in admissions. But school leaders say students aren’t selected based on race, and the leader of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond says the bill is written in a way that doesn’t address its admissions process. House Bill 127, introduced by Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, would prevent governor’s schools from collecting data on race, sex, nationality or ethnicity during an application process unless required by federal law.


Family of late VCU pledge Adam Oakes pushes for legislation to prevent hazing

By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The father of Adam Oakes sat down at a conference table inside the Pocahontas government building, faced three state senators and described his life following the death of his only son. It’s a “painfully desolate” existence, Eric Oakes said. Adam Oakes, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University, died in February following an inebriated fraternity initiation party. His blood alcohol content was five times the legal driving limit, and 11 members of the fraternity have been charged with hazing.


Delegate continues fight against seasonal clock changes

By RYAN MCKINNON, Virginia Mercury

No more falling back or springing forward, if Del. Nick Freitas, R- Culpeper, has his way. The lawmaker has filed legislation to put an end to daylight saving time in Virginia. The change would eliminate the annual practice of setting clocks forward one hour on the second Sunday of March, and then moving clocks back one hour on the first Sunday in November. Instead, Virginia would stay on Eastern Standard Time, which is the clock we are currently on.


Local human trafficking advocates fight to expand victims’ rights

By KAYLA GASKINS, WAVY-TV

With the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session underway, human trafficking advocates are vying for lawmakers’ attention to expand the rights of trafficking victims in the commonwealth. Officials with the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking say they have two main goals this session. First, they’re pushing for the non-criminalization of juveniles through HB 413 with patron Del. Karrie Delaney. Second, they want to expand upon last year’s successful expungement and vacatur laws with HB 578 with patron Del. Kelly Convis-Fowler.


Measure would mandate seat belts on Va. school buses

Sun Gazette

It’s a battle that is fought out nearly every session in the General Assembly – should school buses have seat belts? In general, school systems have said no; they contend that buses are intrinsically safe and there is a larger danger if students find themselves trapped in their seat belts and harnesses during an incident. But Del. Paul Krizek (D-Alexandria) is among those who disagree. He is proposing that the state government require localities to only purchase buses with seat belts and shoulder straps.


'Gun Lobby Day' in Richmond begins without massive crowds

By BRENDAN KING, WTVR-TV

Metal fencing and police barricades wrapped Capitol Square on a chilly Monday morning. The city appeared much quieter than just two years ago when thousands of gun enthusiasts and supporters packed the streets in 2020. “I remember speaking at it and looking over at the massive crowds,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL).


Pro-gun activists rally at capital, some armed

By CHIP LAUTERBACH, Cardinal News

The Virginia Citizens Defense League held its annual Lobby Day pro-gun rally outside of the legislative offices of the General Assembly on Monday, while inside the VCDL arranged meet-and-greets between lawmakers and pro-Second Amendment Virginians. The VCDL organized buses to bring in Second Amendment advocates from all over the state to visit legislative offices and to speak directly with lawmakers, voicing their opposition to any proposed gun control bills and to lend support to any bills that would expand on gun rights in the current General Assembly session.

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Gina Ciarcia joins Republican congressional field for new 7th District

By MICHAEL MARTZ, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Gina Ciarcia has joined the crowded field of Republican candidates jockeying for the party nomination to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, in the dramatically reconfigured 7th Congressional District. Ciarcia, a resident of Dumfries in Prince William County who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates last fall, is seeking to represent a district previously rooted in the Richmond suburbs but now anchored in eastern Prince William and the Fredericksburg area.

CONGRESS

Spanberger’s legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stock gains traction

By MEAGAN FLYNN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

More than a year since Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) first put forth legislation that would ban members of Congress from trading stock, a flurry of action in the Senate in recent days has injected some momentum into the proposal. While it’s traditionally tough to get Congress to police itself, Spanberger and her co-lead on the legislation, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) — an odd couple, no doubt — have built a bipartisan coalition around the issue spanning the ideological spectrum after several stock-trading controversies during the pandemic raised eyebrows.

HIGHER EDUCATION

JMU removes vaccine requirements for employees

The Breeze

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed an executive directive Saturday rescinding a previous executive directive signed by former Gov. Ralph Northam (D), which required state employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The new directive states that no state employees are required to be vaccinated or disclose their vaccination status “as a condition of their employment.” According to an email sent to faculty and staff in response to the governor’s Jan. 15 executive order, there’s no longer a requirement for employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, report their vaccination status or undergo weekly screening testing.

CORONAVIRUS

Virginia may be nearing peak in omicron wave

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

Virginia may be nearing the record peak of the pandemic this week, but cases remain extremely elevated in the Dan River Region. Danville and Pittsylvania County combined are averaging about 234 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to the Virginia Department of Health. On Monday alone 195 new infections appeared in the department's daily dashboard update. The case explosion has spilled into the school systems that are now reporting record numbers of infections.


As state/region reach peak, Page County cases keep rising with positivity above 42%

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

While COVID-19 data across the state and the region appears to be plateauing, new cases of the virus and the positivity rate continue rise in Page County. Virginia saw a slight increase in cases over the past week, but mild in comparison to the rapid surge of the Omicron variant over the previous three weeks. The Lord Fairfax District actually reported fewer new cases than the previous week, but positivity rates still range from 32 to 42 percent across the region. However, Page County set new records over the last seven days in both new cases and positivity.


Southwest Virginia new COVID cases continue rapid rise as statewide numbers flatten

By JEFF KEELING AND MACKENZIE MOORE, WJHL-TV

Southwest Virginia’s seven-day new COVID-19 case rate jumped 27% the past three days and is up 60% the past week — even as the statewide rate dropped over the weekend and is unchanged over the past week. The numbers from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) make clear the different stage of the Omicron variant wave the rural, nine-county region is in compared to other parts of the state.

VIRGINIA OTHER

Pharrell makes the case for economic equity during Martin Luther King event

By TREVOR METCALFE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Beach singer, producer and philanthropist Pharrell Williams challenged corporate America to “do more and channel their energy in the right direction” by supporting entrepreneurs of color and adopting equity measures during a speech Monday. In remarks during the Urban League of Hampton Roads’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. awards program, Williams said big businesses need to invest in people of color and noted that some of them already are.


Bill for Afghan refugees at Quantico: $188 million

By PAUL LARA, Inside NOVA

The now-completed effort to house Afghan evacuees on Marine Corps Base Quantico cost the government more than $188.4 million, according to a report from the Inspector General’s office. Richard Vasquez, assistant inspector general for audit readiness and global operations, said costs included $182.7 million for a base operations and support services contract, $4.6 million for travel expenses, and $1.1 million for supplies.

LOCAL

Northern Virginia Schools Immediately Vow To Defy Youngkin’s Order Ending Mask Mandates

By MARGARET BARTHEL, RACHEL SADON AND DEBBIE TRUONG, DCist

Within hours of taking office on Saturday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin ended the state’s mask requirement in schools – part of a flurry of executive orders signaling a new era in Virginia politics and continuing the emphasis on education issues that appears to have ushered the first-time candidate into office. Youngkin’s executive order stipulates that “parents, not the government” would determine whether students would wear a mask in schools. But the move drew immediate defiance from Northern Virginia school districts, several of which say they plan to continue requiring masks despite the order from Richmond.


Despite Youngkin's order, Northern Virginia school districts maintaining mask requirements

By JARED FORETEK, Inside NOVA

Masks are staying on at most Northern Virginia public schools, at least for now. Officials from Prince William County Schools and Manassas City Public Schools announced Monday that their universal masking policies remain in place despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Saturday executive order. Prince William schools said in a note to the school community that they are sticking with the previous mask policy requiring them for all students and staff inside school buildings and rejecting Youngkin’s new order promising parental choice in the matter. Manassas schools did the same.


Loudoun reaffirms shool mask requirement amid governor’s order

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Loudoun County Public Schools announced on Monday will it continue requiring face masks be worn when schools reopen Tuesday and through the rest of the week following an executive order by the newly-sworn in governor that would give parents control over whether their children wear masks in school. On Saturday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed an executive order allowing parents to decide whether their children wear face masks in school, despite the transmission rate remaining high locally, around the commonwealth and nationwide.


Loudoun County schools will weigh in on school mask requirement this week, superintendent says

By DONNA ST. GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Loudoun County schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler said Monday that the district will review Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order giving parents a choice about whether children wear masks at school, then provide more information to families Wednesday. Other Northern Virginia school systems — in Arlington County, Fairfax County and Alexandria, as well as Richmond Public Schools — have said they will continue to require masks, although some also said they were reviewing the order from Youngkin (R).


Loudoun Supervisor to Introduce School Mask Mandate Resolution

By RENSS GREENE, Loudoun Now

The day after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order seeking to prohibit public school mask mandates, Loudoun Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) announced he will introduce a resolution reaffirming the authority of the Loudoun County School Board to impose or lift mask mandates. The resolution will also express Board of Supervisors support for actions taken by the superintendent or School Board to retain mask mandates in Loudoun County Public Schools.


Prince William superintendent reiterates that schools' mask policy won't change

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Prince William County schools’ policy requiring students and staff to wear face masks with limited exceptions will remain in place despite the executive order Virginia’s new governor issued Saturday, Superintendent LaTanya McDade reiterated in a new statement Monday. In a letter to school division staff and families emailed at noon Monday, Jan. 17, McDade said schools' "layered mitigation strategies" would remain in effect when schools reopen Tuesday.


Prince William County criticized for hosting data center 'listening sessions' during COVID surge

By NOLAN STOUT, Inside NOVA

Prince William County officials are being criticized for planning two in-person listening sessions on data center proposals as coronavirus cases surge in the region. Prince William County officials are being criticized for planning two in-person listening sessions on data center proposals as coronavirus cases surge in the region. . . . Opponents of the proposals say the county is plowing forward with in-person events despite the surge in COVID-19 cases and is forcing residents to risk their health to have their voices heard.


Norfolk keeping students masked despite Youngkin’s order; Chesapeake waiting for guidance

By TREVOR METCALFE, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Norfolk students and staff members will still be required to wear masks despite an order from the new governor, while Chesapeake is still deciding whether to lift a mask mandate, school leaders said in messages to parents Monday. Norfolk and Chesapeake are the latest school districts to respond to new Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order ending a statewide mask mandate in K-12 schools. Richmond, Alexandria, Fairfax County and Arlington County school district officials have also said they will continue to enforce masking, according to reporting from The Associated Press.


Despite new governor’s new order, SPS to continue masking in schools

By JIMMY LAROUE, Suffolk News Herald

In the wake of new Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to choose whether their children wear masks to school, Suffolk Public Schools plans to maintain the status quo of requiring masks on school buses and on school property. A number of other school divisions around the state, since the governor’s announcement, have also issued statements keeping their masking policies in place.


Newport News Councilman David Jenkins announces plan to run for mayor

By SARAH FEARING, WAVY-TV

Newport News City Councilman David Jenkins says he plans to run for mayor this fall. In a news release Monday night, Jenkins, who was elected to Newport News City Council in May 2018 and is a former U.S. Army officer, said he planned to formally announce his candidacy during an event Jan. 22.


In another closed session, Spotsylvania Co. School Board votes for acting superintendent

By GLYNIS KAZANJIAN, WJLA

During an emergency closed session Friday night, the Spotsylvania County School Board formally voted in Carol Flenard as the school system’s acting superintendent. Flenard had been serving as the deputy superintendent and chief academic officer for Spotsylvania County schools since 2019. The Friday night vote followed the abrupt dismissal of Scott Baker on January 11, during another closed school board session.


Local school districts to continue requiring masks in spite of Youngkin order

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Public schools in Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle and Nelson will continue to require students and staff to wear masks in the wake of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order seeking to remove the requirement. Both school districts issued news releases Monday, clarifying that the decision to continue to require masks is based on Virginia state law as well as federal government orders requiring masks on buses. Both school districts cited safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reasoning for opposing the executive order, which is expected to go into effect on Jan. 24.


Local gun permit applications plummeted in 2021

By EVAN GOODENOW, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

After a fusillade in 2020, applications for concealed carry permits in Winchester and Clarke and Frederick counties shot down last year. Last year's numbers were similar to the annual average between 2015-19. Applications include renewals, which must be done every five years, but the majority involve new applications. In Clarke County, there were 294 applications last year, according to Clarke Circuit Court Clerk April F. Wilkerson. That's a 43% drop from the 519 applications in 2020. Last year's amount was about 8% less than the annual average between 2015-19.


Locals Schools To Weigh Gov. Youngkin's No-Mask Requirement Executive Order

By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Local school district leaders have a lot to talk about as the effective date of an executive order from new Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin meant to repeal school mask requirements inches closer. On Saturday, shortly after Youngkin took office as Virginia’s 74th governor, he issued nine executive orders, one of which ends the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate in K-12 schools beginning Monday. The Rockingham County School Board’s next meeting is on the same day and Superintendent Oskar Scheikl said “making masks optional when [COVID-19 case] counts are this high — that’s a tough conversation.”

 

EDITORIALS

Time to shred this FOIA reform

Free Lance-Star Editorial (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

Sometimes, it almost seems as if our elected officials want to keep us in the dark. First, there were the latest shenanigans involving the Spotsylvania County School Board on Monday, Jan. 10, in which the board fired Superintendent Scott Baker in a closed session that seemingly violated Virginia’s open meeting requirements. The good news: No books were burned. Then the General Assembly came to Richmond. This can be an uneasy time for anyone who doesn’t believe our legislators always have our best interests at heart. This year is proving to be no exception.

COLUMNISTS

Yancey: Did Youngkin just throw an interception on football stadium?

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

Now for the details. Well, some of them anyway. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s inaugural address on Saturday was devoid of specifics, but that’s usually the way with inaugural addresses. They are supposed to set the tone – in his case, sunny and conservative, which is a distinct and welcome contrast to how conservatism gets presented by a lot of conservatives on the national scene.


Dvorak: Youngkin invokes King in ominous 1st act in office

By PETULA DVORAK, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) gave his voters what they asked for as his first act in office, invoking the moral authority of Martin Luther King Jr. — on the actual birthday of the civil rights icon — to justify an attack on anti-racist teaching. He used King’s own words in an executive order forbidding “inherently divisive concepts” in education, rendering Virginia the seventh state to ban outright the teaching of “critical race theory,” a graduate-level framework for understanding how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism, something that is not taught in K-12 settings.