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November 30, 2023
Top of the News

Va. Del. Elizabeth Guzman launches bid for Spanberger’s congressional seat

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

Virginia Del. Elizabeth R. Guzman (D-Prince William) plans to announce Thursday she will be seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who is running for governor. Guzman, 50, is a social worker and public administrator who emerged as a fighter for immigrant rights, public education and organized labor following her election to the House of Delegates in 2017. She narrowly lost a state Senate primary in June after new redistricting maps grouped her with another well-known Democrat.

McPike will not run for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District

By CHARLOTTE RENE WOODS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Newly reelected state senator Jeremy McPike has decided against jumping into the growing candidate pool for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. McPike, who represents the 29th district in the state senate, said that various people in the Northern Virginia-rooted congressional district had encouraged him to run for the position.

Richmond mayor Levar Stoney files paperwork to run for Va. governor

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

Mayor Levar Stoney filed paperwork this week to run for Virginia governor in 2025, becoming the second Democrat to join the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Stoney has not formally announced for the office but has indicated that he will do so by the end of the year. Kevin Zeithaml, the mayor’s senior adviser, declined to comment Wednesday when asked about the campaign filing, which was made Monday.

Virginia state senator seeks dismissal of lawsuit over ‘baseless’ residency allegations

By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press

A Virginia state senator asked a court Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges her qualification to hold office over what her attorneys called “baseless” allegations that she did not meet the state’s residency requirements. Democrat Ghazala Hashmi has served in the state Senate since 2020 and handily won reelection in a suburban Richmond district earlier this month. She said in a motion and accompanying affidavit that she moved earlier this year from the family home where her husband resides into an apartment in order to reside in the newly redrawn 15th District where she ran, satisfying the requirement that candidates live in their district.

UVa hosts Youngkin for a quiet summit on free speech

By JASON ARMESTO, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

It was a quiet affair about speech. There was little fanfare Wednesday as the University of Virginia hosted Gov. Glenn Youngkin along with representatives from every public college in the commonwealth, as well as some private institutions, for a "Higher Education Summit on Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity." The governor is so concerned about free speech on campus that his office spent more than a year planning the summit.

Who’s the Boss of Virginia’s Public University Boards?

By JESSICA BLAKE, Inside Higher Ed

A recent opinion submitted by Virginia attorney general Jason Miyares to Governor Glenn Youngkin is raising questions about the future of governing boards at the state’s public institutions. The opinion, issued last month, responds to inquiries from Youngkin, a Republican, about whether the boards of the state’s public universities are required by law to serve the institutions they represent or state lawmakers and the governor. Miyares determined that the governing bodies of the universities, known in Virginia as Boards of Visitors, have a “primary duty” to the commonwealth.

The Full Report
40 articles, 22 publications


VPAP Visual Shifting Sources of Candidate Funding

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP's latest visual shows how the mix of donations to candidates for the General Assembly has shifted over time. See how contributions from various donor groups have changed since 1999, such as Virginia versus out-of-state donors, and toggle to see the differences between Democratic and Republican candidates.


For Republican Governors, Civics Is the Latest Education Battleground

By DANA GOLDSTEIN, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)

Lisa Phillip, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at an Orlando charter school, appreciates many of Florida’s new guidelines for teaching civics. She has enjoyed discussing, as the state requires, the advantages that the U.S. government and economy have over socialism and communism — something that some of her immigrant students feel innately, she said. And she doesn’t mind teaching about “the influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition” on the nation’s founding documents. … This fall, Ms. Phillip is one of thousands of social studies teachers adjusting to a hotly debated overhaul of civics in several conservative states. The revamp is led by Republican governors — Ron DeSantis of Florida, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia — who have also restricted how race and gender are discussed in schools.

Youngkin tells university presidents he’s ‘extremely worried’ about lack of free speech at state schools


Governor Youngkin spoke for half an hour, paying homage to Thomas Jefferson and the First Amendment – warning his audience that free speech was in danger. “I’m extremely worried about the state of our college and university campuses today.” He then cited statistics to explain his concerns. “In 2023 a study found that 63% of students believe that shouting down a speaker is acceptable. Thank you for allowing me to speak today,” he joked before citing additional stats.


Region’s legislators pledge cooperation as General Assembly approaches

By MIKE GANGLOFF, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Three of the Roanoke region's state legislators looked ahead Wednesday to next year's General Assembly session — where power will be split between a Republican governor and Democratic majorities in House and Senate — and said there are plenty of issues where they could reach across the aisle. "We enjoy working together, trying to do things for the valley — even though a few differences of opinion get in the way sometimes," Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, told an audience at the annual pre-session legislative breakfast thrown by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, Roanoke Regional Homebuilders Association, and Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors.

Virginia lawmakers discuss upcoming legislative session, veto power, and bipartisan compromise


Local lawmakers got the chance to share their thoughts on the upcoming legislative session on Wednesday at the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance’s Policy & Pancakes event at Liberty University. They spoke on the new balance of power and what they hoped to get accomplished with the new General Assembly. Senator Mark Peake, Delegate Wendell Walker, and Delegate-elect Eric Zehr and Tim Griffin were all in attendance.

As lawmakers ready for weed debate, report suggests medical market ‘struggling’


Cannabis will be on lawmakers’ agenda in the upcoming legislative session, as they navigate issues ranging from equity and consumer safety to the regulation of adult-use and medical marijuana markets. While a legal and regulated market for medical marijuana already is in place in Virginia, adult-use sales remain illegal.

Del. Sam Rasoul to participate in hunger strike, praying for peace

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

Lawmakers from several states, including Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, said they are fasting for peace in the Middle East this week. Rasoul, Virginia’s only Palestinian-American legislator, said he was contacted by a lawmaker from another state to join a hunger strike, and he agreed with the cause. He said he’s participating Thursday and Friday in the five-day event.


Race for 10th District congressional seat draws a crowd

By JILL PALERMO, Prince William Times

Less than two months after Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) announced she would not seek reelection in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District due to being diagnosed with a severe type of Parkinson’s Disease, 13 candidates have so far lined up to take her place—including five state lawmakers and a former Virginia secretary of education. The Northern Virginia district, which includes all of Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties, the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park and parts Fairfax and Prince William counties, is one of only two Virginia congressional districts deemed “competitive” by the Virginia Public Access Project. The other is the 7th District, where eight candidates have so far thrown their hats in the ring.


27 Charlottesville High teachers called out of work after student violence. Was it a strike?

By NATHANIEL CLINE, Virginia Mercury

On the Friday prior to Thanksgiving, 27 teachers at Charlottesville High School called out of work in response to a series of violent student brawls. While Charlottesville City Schools said the number of absences is “not much higher than it would be for a regular Friday,” the division ultimately closed the school through the Thanksgiving holiday and issued a statement saying staff would “continue planning for a ‘reset’ of school policies, procedures, and culture so that we can return to our core purpose – offering a safe learning environment in which our students will grow and thrive.”

Virginia schools to receive funding for security equipment


The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently provided $12 million in state grant funding to 483 schools in 98 districts across the state — all in an effort to keep students, faculty, and visitors safe. According to VDOE, the 2023-2024 school year grants will pay for measures like security card access systems, visitor ID badging systems, surveillance cameras, interior school bus cameras, two-way radios for buses and other security enhancements.

Virginia launches education campaign as syphilis cases rise 21%


In response to a significant increase in syphilis cases, the Virginia Department of Health has launched a new website to call attention to the issue. Virginia is witnessing a resurgence in syphilis cases after a decline in the early 2000s. Between 2018 and 2022, the Virginia Department of Health saw a 14% increase in total early syphilis cases in the state. Reports for 2023 indicate a concerning 21% rise compared to the same period last year.

High prices of medical cannabis drive Va. patients to other sources, report says

By KATIE KING, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia’s medical cannabis program is significantly underused because of high prices, which are driving patients to purchase cannabis elsewhere, a new report from the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority concluded. “Eighty-four percent of patients reported experiencing at least one barrier to access medical cannabis,” Sara Zimmer, one of the study’s principal investigators, said during the authority’s board meeting Tuesday in Richmond. “The most common barrier was the cost of cannabis products.”


VCU Health to raze building on site of development that failed

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

Virginia Commonwealth University Health has agreed to pay a local construction company $4.8 million to demolish the Public Safety Building in downtown Richmond, fulfilling a commitment the health system made when it backed out of a massive redevelopment project at the site.

Ashland farmer facing federal lawsuit over wetlands damage

By CHARLIE PAULLIN, Virginia Mercury

An Ashland man is facing a civil lawsuit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over damages to 21 acres of wetlands, a natural resource with numerous environmental benefits, adjacent to tributaries of the Chickahominy and Pamunkey rivers. According to the EPA, Gary Layne, 62, and his company Chameleon, LLC “conducted extensive clearing, grubbing, earth-moving, and draining activities in wetlands to prepare the site for development without any permit authorization.”


Virginia Tech panel on Middle East crisis proceeds without protest

By PAYTON WILLIAMS, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A panel discussion that was reported to have sparked controversy at Virginia Tech went off without it on Wednesday. The panel is the first of a series of three scheduled throughout this and next week at the Carol M. Newman Library, dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Virginia Community College System meets with healthcare leaders to discuss staff shortages


Virginia Community College System (VCCS) met with industry leaders to address workforce shortages in healthcare and provide possible solutions. On Wednesday, Nov. 29, VCCS Chancellor Dr. David Doré met with industry and statewide partners to address healthcare staff shortages and seek solutions to help students pursue careers in this field with the hopes to close the gap in the near future.


Chesapeake Bay’s summer dead zone was at record low

By DAVE RESS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Chesapeake Bay‘s usual summer “dead zone” — the oxygen-starved waters that kill fish, crabs and oysters — was the smallest it’s been since scientists started monitoring it 38 years ago. Continued efforts to cut the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, along with this year’s below-average rainfall, helped.

Chesapeake Bay Shows Smallest Dead Zone Ever Recorded


A dead zone may sound like something out of a zombie film, but it’s all too real — an area in the water where there’s not enough oxygen for aquatic creatures to survive. This year the Chesapeake Bay had the smallest dead zone on record, according to newly released data, a sign that long-running efforts to curb pollution are paying off. Dead zones occur each summer in the Chesapeake, and scientists have measured their extent each year since 1985.

Chesapeake Bay dead zone shrinks


An area in the Chesapeake Bay that doesn’t get enough oxygen to support marine ecosystems shrunk this year, according to new data released by Old Dominion University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The dead zone was the smallest recorded since monitoring began in 1985. The problem spots are created by debris and agricultural runoff that sweep nutrients into the Bay, which then feed algae, potentially creating algal blooms that remove dissolved oxygen from the water.

Report: As Northern Virginia prospers, some neighborhood conditions worsen

By MEGHAN MCINTYRE, Virginia Mercury

In between the sprawling lawns of Loudoun County and the riverside lofts of Alexandria lie clusters of struggling, predominantly non-white neighborhoods that are increasingly left out of the success and prosperity experienced by Northern Virginia as a whole, recent research notes. In fact, conditions in some of those neighborhoods — called “islands of disadvantage” — have been in decline for years.

FBI: Man wearing Captain America backpack stole items from senators’ desks during Capitol riot

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

A Virginia man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol while wearing a Captain America backpack and stole items from senators’ desks on the Senate floor during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, court records show. Ryan Joseph Orlando took a pen from the desk of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and a drink coaster from the desk of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

One border city a refuge for abortions as Virginia is the last Southern state without new limits

By SAHARA SRIRAMAN, VCU Capital News Service

The twin Bristol cities share a name and a state line, but abortion accessibility changes just over a 1 mile span. Abortion is illegal in Bristol, Tennessee, but down the road in Virginia, a clinic provides abortions. The Bristol Women’s Health Clinic relocated to Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn an almost 50-year decision that protected a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. The number of abortions administered in Virginia has increased since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, according to analysis of data from the state health department and the Society of Family Planning.


Loudoun Planning Commission Approves Battery Storage Center

By NORMAN K. STYER, Loudoun Now

The county Planning Commission on Tuesday approved an application to construct a 20-megawatt electric battery storage facility along Evergreen Mills Road south of Leesburg. The panel was reviewing the project for its compliance with county planning policies to issue a commission permit required for utilities. However, most of the discussion focused on concerns about the new technology, including the fear of fires, environmental impacts and its proximity to homes and a school. The Evergreen Energy Center by East Point Energy is planned near an existing electric substation and would be used to provide boosts to the power grid during periods of peak demand.

School Board Punts Western Loudoun Attendance Zone Changes


Western Loudoun families who raised objections to proposed attendance zone boundary changes can rest easy now after a vote by the School Board late Tuesday night. The board voted unanimously to approve John Beatty’s (Catoctin) motion to indefinity postpone consideration of the division staff’s proposal involving eight attendance zones mostly north of Rt. 7 and along the Rt. 287 corridor, as well as a couple across from Harmony Middle School near Purcellville.

Leaders move ahead on $100M sports complex for Prince William County


The Prince William Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday allocated funding to advance a proposed multimillion dollar indoor athletics facility. The facility, which could be the largest of its kind in Northern Virginia, would feature an indoor pool, a hydraulic running track and hard-surface courts. It’s projected to cost more than $100 million at a proposed location of 13505 Telegraph Road in Woodbridge along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Fauquier schools to begin ‘high-intensity’ tutoring in January

By ANYA SCZERZENIE, Fauquier Times

Fauquier County schools will begin using about $1.6 million in new state funding in January to provide “high-intensity tutoring” to struggling students and to step up efforts to ensure students are not “chronically absent” due to transportation or mental health issues as part of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “ALL In” initiative to combat post-pandemic learning loss.  The tutoring plan will target elementary and middle school students who failed their state “Standards of Learning” tests or are at risk of failing them.

Henrico court clerk race headed to recount

By SEAN JONES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The race for Henrico’s Clerk of the Circuit Court is set to push further into the year as one of the candidates has requested to double check the results. Henrico’s current clerk, Heidi Barshinger, led challenger Gray Montrose toward the end of election night with 51% of the vote and only three of 91 precincts left to report. The final count narrowed to a divide of just 245 votes with more than 106,500 votes cast. Tuesday, Montrose filed for the recount, which has been scheduled for Dec. 11.

Richmond Public Schools program aims to increase number of teachers of color


Stephanie Brewington has been trying to get her teacher licensure for years — but couldn’t afford it. “It’s very expensive to go and take these classes,” Brewington told VPM News. She’d take a class here and there over the past several years, paying about $1,000 for each. But she didn’t know the exact process for completing her teacher licensure.

Richmond reports 75% drop in youth homicides this year

By EM HOLTER, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The number of youth homicides in Richmond dropped 75% between October 2022 and last month, a trend that city officials credit to an aggressive community initiative to address firearm violence. The data was included in a report issued Wednesday that gauges the impact of the city’s Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention plan. The program has brought together community members, various groups and representatives from city departments, Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Health, among others.

What’s next for Norfolk’s MacArthur Center? Ideas include convention center, mixed-use development

By IAN MUNRO, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk is an ideal spot for a small-to-medium convention center that would anchor the rest of a mixed-use development at the site, according to preliminary review by city consultants. Norfolk is exploring what it wants to do with the MacArthur Center mall and has brought on Gensler, a Washington, D.C.-based architecture consulting firm, to help put together a plan.

First 10 speakers will be students under Virginia Beach School Board’s new public comment rules

By KELSEY KENDALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Beach School Board is changing the order in which people can speak at meetings to ensure all voices are heard. The action came after months of hours-long public comment periods with dozens of students being allowed to go ahead of community members. The change allows the first 10 speakers to be Virginia Beach City Public School students.

How Virginia Beach students, families are navigating new transgender student policies

By KELSEY KENDALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Miles Dillahunt has gone by his chosen name and pronouns in school for about two years. A junior at Kempsville High School, he said all he would have to do is email his teachers at the start of school to let them know that the name in their roster was not what he went by. He rarely ran into any issues. His mother, Kiana Dillahunt, said she had no problem with Miles using his chosen name in school, even if she herself often struggles to remember to use “he/him” pronouns. When she had to provide written permission for him to go by Miles, she did it.

Chesapeake Council mulls changes to address loophole in rural land use

By NATALIE ANDERSON, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

City Council is poised to consider a resolution that would close a land use development loophole in an effort to preserve more of its rural, agricultural land. Over the past few months, the city’s planning staff has been meeting with residents in small rural listening sessions to discuss issues related to development, farming and preserving rural and agricultural land. Planning Director James McNamara shared an overview of key takeaways from those sessions with council members Tuesday, along with a few suggestions that could further aid rural preservation.

Albemarle County makes progress filling bus driver seats

By JASON ARMESTO, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Albemarle County Public Schools says it is close to fixing its bus driver shortage. There are currently no Albemarle County students who are not receiving any bus service, and every route is now at least partially in service. School spokesman Phil Giaramita called the progress “impressive” considering that the district began the year with a dozen bus driver vacancies, resulting in nearly 1,000 students without school bus access.

Lynchburg youth curfew extended for an additional six months


Lynchburg City Council voted to extend the city-wide youth curfew for another six months. During Tuesday afternoon’s Lynchburg City Council work session, the council was briefed on the success of the curfew and how it’s helped lower crime rates in the city. Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema presented the information to the council and asked them to consider extending it.

Officials aim to lure new shopping options to the Roanoke Valley

By MATT BUSSE, Cardinal News

Roanoke-area residents looking for more grocery stores, restaurants and other retail options could get a boost from a new regional collaboration. Roanoke County, on behalf of the economic development authorities of Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem, is advertising to hire a consultant to “provide a retail analysis and to develop and implement a retail recruitment plan” for the three localities.



Protecting Virginians from antisemitism and Islamophobia takes all of us

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

“No person and no community in this country should have to live with the fear of hate-fueled violence.” That was Attorney General Merrick Garland this weekend, speaking after three college students of Palestinian descent were shot in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday. The young men were speaking Arabic and English near the house of a relative and two were wearing kaffiyehs, a traditional Palestinian headdress, when they were attacked.

When kids use guns, reckless parents should pay

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

This might be the future of gun violence accountability in the United States: This month, the mother of a 6-year-old who shot his first-grade teacher in Virginia was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, and a father whose son killed seven people in Illinois accepted a plea deal that will send him to jail for 60 days. Punishing reckless parents could encourage adults to limit their children’s access to firearms.


Schapiro: Va. pols have much for which to be thankful — or not

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, but the season of thanks is fully upon us. And who would know better than members of Virginia's political class? The elective officials, winning and losing candidates, aspirants for higher office, Democratic and Republican activists, and lobbyists for interests big and small have much for which to be thankful this year — or not:

Yancey: Lynchburg City Council censures Misjuns. Now comes the hard part.

By DWAYNE YANCEY, Cardinal News

The Lynchburg City Council has censured one of its members. Now what? We’ll see, although the discussion that preceded Tuesday night’s surprise vote to censure council member Marty Misjuns was not particularly hopeful. Those who favored the censure — which passed 5-2 — focused on Misjuns’ behavior, while Misjuns and ally Jeff Helgeson focused on his politics. In effect, the two sides were talking past each other. For those not familiar with this drama — and drama seems the appropriate word — we must go back to a year ago, when a Republican slate of candidates won the three at-large seats on the Lynchburg City Council.