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Most Read Articles Jan. 19, 2022


Youngkin still won’t say how his school masking opt-out order will be enforced

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin won’t confirm whether his administration plans to withhold state funding from local school divisions that don’t comply with an executive order allowing parents to opt out of universal masking policies. The possibility was first raised by Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears in a Monday afternoon appearance on Fox News. While Youngkin had previously stated he planned to use “every resource within the governor’s authority” to address noncompliant districts, he didn’t outline specific enforcement actions. Sears, though, suggested that state funding could be used as leverage in response to a question from a Fox interviewer.


Partisan debate erupts in Va. Senate over Miyares' firing of 30 in AG's office

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

Partisan debate unfolded Tuesday in the state Senate over Attorney General Jason Miyares’ firing of 30 staffers in the office after a Democratic senator said the short notice was unprofessional and caused confusion. Republicans weren’t having it. “Cry me a river. Mark Herring lost, OK? Get over it,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham. Miyares, a Republican, defeated Democrat Herring in the November election and was sworn in on Saturday.


PolitiFact: Youngkin's school standards claim leaves out important context


In his maiden speech to the General Assembly, Gov. Glenn Youngkin reaffirmed his campaign vow to stiffen academic standards in public schools. “Virginia schools have a lofty reputation but lately we’ve not lived up to that reputation,” Youngkin, a Republican, said in a Jan. 17 address. “In fact, our educational standards for math and reading are now the lowest in the nation.” We fact-checked Youngkin’s last-in-the nation claim during the campaign and think it bears repeating now that he’s in office.


Virginia Doctor Pleads Guilty to Audacious Amazon Return Fraud

By ANDREW BEAUJON, Washingtonian

Farhaad Riyaz spent more than three years ordering expensive items from Amazon, then returning much less valuable items after he complained that they arrived late or didn’t match descriptions on the retailer’s website. Last month, he pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme. . . . Among his gains, they say, was a Sony 4K laser home theater video projector that he bought for $37,097.88. He claimed it arrived too late and returned a different Sony projector that retails for around $2,000. He ordered several deluxe Toto toilets with integrated bidet seats for $17,848.32 and asked for refunds, saying they were defective or didn’t arrive complete.


Senate Democrats push back on GOP proposals to tighten voting laws

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

A handful of Republican bills aimed at tightening voting restrictions died on Tuesday in a meeting of a state Senate committee controlled by Democrats, who hailed the outcome as a show of blue power in a largely red Richmond. “Today, we let Virginia Republicans know that we aren’t backing down in our effort to protect every Virginian’s right to participate in our government, truly representing those who elect us,” said Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), chairman of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.


From VPAP Now Live: Year-End Campaign Finance Disclosures

The Virginia Public Access Project

VPAP has posted the year-end disclosures of more than 2,500 state candidates, local candidates and political committees registered with the Department of Elections. Included are quick links to candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, the House of Delegates and State Senate. For each committee, you can get top-level numbers (total raised/spent) and a sortable list of donors and expenditures for the most recent filing period.


VCU, other colleges rescind vaccine mandates for employees following Youngkin's directive

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

At least four Virginia colleges have rescinded their vaccine mandates for employees, obeying a directive from Gov. Glenn Youngkin, even as some K-12 school districts have defied his orders to remove COVID-related mandates. Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison, Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary announced in the past two days they would no longer require their employees to be vaccinated.


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.


Youngkin administration fires Virginia Employment Commission’s top official


The Virginia Employment Commission will be getting a new top official after the firing of current commissioner Ellen Marie Hess. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration confirmed with 8News on Tuesday that Hess had been let go. Now that Hess has been removed from her position as commissioner, it is still unclear who will be taking her place. The commissioner is the agency’s top official, Youngkin has not announced if any other officials such as the two deputy commissioners will be fired yet.


Prince William Co. school board head seeks ‘masking off ramp,’ asks Youngkin for help


Amid the flurry of activity after new Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to have their children opt-out of a school system’s mask mandate, Prince William County School Board Chairman Babur Lateef is calling for state and local public health and education leaders to work together to develop metrics for a safe, scientifically-based “masking off-ramp.” Lateef is seeking a measured, public-health based compromise, with the eventual goal of reducing — and ultimately eliminating — masking.