Thursday, August 27, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

August 27, 2020
Top of the News

Senate backs bill allowing reduced sentence for assaulting law officer

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

A bill that would redefine what qualifies as assaulting a police officer and eliminate mandatory jail time for the offense triggered a ferocious political debate over police reforms and public protests that drew comments from almost half of the Virginia Senate before passing on a party-line vote on Wednesday. Republicans decried Senate Bill 5032 as an insult to law enforcement, court officials and emergency first responders, invoking the specter of sometimes violent protests that arose in Richmond and across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota in late May.

House committee votes to expand workers' comp, mandate paid quarantine leave

By KATE MASTERS, Virginia Mercury

Virginia workers scored a preliminary victory on Wednesday when a House committee approved two bills on workers' compensation and paid quarantine leave — both major concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Without paid time off, workers are being asked to choose between their jobs and their family's health," said Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, whose legislation would require employers to provide paid leave to any employee who works at least 20 hours a week.

Arlington to begin enforcing social distancing ordinance

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Arlington County will begin enforcing a new ordinance this weekend that prohibits groups of more than three people from congregating on certain streets and sidewalks. The action comes as officials say some restaurant and bar patrons have responded with "open defiance" to police and security personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Health official: COVID-19 daily numbers may not reflect what is happening today

By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Throughout the spring and much of the summer, COVID-19 case counts ticked up one or two at a time in Floyd County, reaching 33 by Aug. 1. But midway through the month, they began to pile up and over the course of a couple of days and spiked to 109 before slowing to a trickle. Another surge came in reporting data Wednesday when the Virginia Department of Health reported 14 more cases, bringing the county's total to 139. There isn't a way to look at the day's numbers and know whether there are outbreaks in places or clusters in families and friends, or if there is wider transmission occurring in the rural mountainous county. Nor is there a way to know when the infections occurred.

Portsmouth begins taking down Confederate monument

By MARIE ALBIGES AND ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A crew removed parts of the Confederate monument in downtown Portsmouth on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the end of years of intense controversy over a symbol at the heart of this majority Black Southern city. That debate reached a boiling point this summer while demonstrators here and across the country held weeks of protests to denounce police misconduct as part of a movement triggered by the May killing of George Floyd, a Black man who pleaded for help as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes in Minneapolis.

Even with classes online, some students move to campus for a taste of the college experience


Ian Smith hesitated. His senior year at West Springfield High School in Fairfax County was abruptly altered by the coronavirus, a traditional graduation replaced with a drive-thru ceremony where he pulled up in a car to receive his diploma. For months, he looked forward to dorm life at George Mason University and classes that would set him toward a degree in sports management. But as the days of summer dwindled, his worries grew.

Lewd cheerleader videos, sexist rules: Ex-employees decry Washington's NFL team workplace

By WILL HOBSON, BETH REINHARD, LIZ CLARKE AND DALTON BENNETT, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

In "Beauties on the Beach," the official video chronicling the making of the Washington NFL team's 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar, the women frolic in the sand, rave about their custom bikinis and praise a photographer for putting them at ease in settings where sometimes only a strategically placed prop or tightly framed shot shielded otherwise bare breasts. What the cheerleaders didn't know was that another video, intended strictly for private use, would be produced using footage from that same shoot.

The Full Report
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VPAP Visual If Money Were Votes

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From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

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Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.


VA Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Governor's COVID Restrictions


The Supreme Court of Virginia dismissed the joint case of a restaurant owner in Fredericksburg and an event venue owner in Loudon County who sued Gov. Ralph Northam over his COVID-19 restrictions. They asked the court to block the safety measures outlined in his executive orders, which they said severely limit their operations. Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City), who is also an attorney, is representing the business owners in the lawsuit — which argues that the governor's orders are unconstitutional and exceed his executive authority. But Attorney General Mark Herring said the restrictions are legal and have proven effective.


Senate passes bill eliminating mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting police

By AMY FRIEDENBERGER, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The Virginia Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail for people convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer. The bill from Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, passed on a party-line vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate after a lengthy debate, with Democrats arguing that police are improperly using the statute when officers aren't injured and Republicans saying that it's not the time to pass such a proposal when morale is down among police officers.

Virginia Senate passes bill allowing judges to consider lesser charge in assault of police officer

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

The Virginia Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give judges and juries leeway to decide whether someone who shoves a police officer without causing injury deserves the same felony assault charge as someone who punches or stabs. Republicans criticized the party-line vote as undermining law enforcement, but Democrats said it was a step toward delivering the criminal justice overhaul they have promised for the special General Assembly session that kicked off last week.

Virginia Senate approves changes to police assault law

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

The Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer, despite strenuous objections from Republicans who said the bill disrespects police at a time when they have come under attack during nationwide protests. Democrats, who hold a narrow majority in the Senate, said the legislation does not minimize the crime of assaulting a police officer, but instead makes a distinction between serious assaults and minor assaults.

Obenshain's Parole Board Bill Advances

By JESSICA WETZLER, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A bill aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for the Virginia Parole Board is headed to the Senate floor after reporting out of the Senate's Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 5050, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, was heard before the committee Monday and passed, 10-4. Democratic senators who voted in favor of the bill were Barbara Favola, of Fairfax; Jeremy McPike, of Manassas; "Monty" Mason, of Williamsburg; and Jennifer Boysko, of Fairfax.

House Courts panel advances ban of no-knock search warrants by mostly partisan vote

By BILL ATKINSON, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)

A House panel advanced legislation late Wednesday afternoon that would prohibit the use of so-called "no-knock" search warrants except in the extreme case that civilian or police safety could be jeopardized. The final vote out of the House Courts of Justice Committee was 14-7, mostly along party lines.

Virginia Senate Rejects End to Qualified Immunity for Police Officers


The Virginia Senate's Judiciary Committee rejected a bill that would have allowed law enforcement officers to be sued for misconduct. The committee voted unanimously to kill the proposal on Wednesday, instead sending it for further study by a conference of the Virginia Bar Association. Qualified immunity is a legal principle that shields Virginia police officers from civil lawsuits. Sen. Joe Morrissey's (D- Richmond) bill would have done away with that protection - letting people sue police officers for excessive force or other constitutional violations.

'Marcus Alert' legislation hits snag in the Senate as Peters' family decries 'false victory'

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

Protesters in Richmond railing against police brutality held up the case of Marcus-David Peters, a local man killed by police in 2018 during a mental health crisis, as evidence of the immediate need to reform emergency response. Months since protests began here, a proposal named for Peters that is moving through the General Assembly is meeting some resistance from members of both parties, prompting criticism by Peters' family that a needed policy could be diluted and delayed.

Unwilling to tap reserves or cut current state programs, budget leaders look to federal aid in crisis

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

General Assembly budget leaders hope to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to meet the state's most pressing needs in mental health and human services and avoid cutting existing programs or risking Virginia's AAA bond rating by dipping into reserve funds. Faced with a $2.7 billion revenue shortfall in the two-year budget, the leaders of the assembly's money committees are resisting calls by some legislators and liberal advocacy groups to use reserves to pay for new spending initiatives three years after a national bond-rating agency put Virginia on credit watch for drawing down its "rainy day" fund because of a projected revenue shortfall.

Senate Bill Aims to Put Nursing Homes First in COVID-19 Testing


At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of outbreaks in Virginia took place in nursing homes. Now, a bill proposed by Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Russell) calls on the Commissioner of Health to prioritize nursing home residents and staff when testing for COVID-19. "It's the right thing to do for our senior citizens," Chafin said, as he called on the Senate Education and Health Committee to vote in favor of the bill.

Va. Senate committee kills bill to ban police-free 'CHOP' zones

By GRAHAM MOOMAW, Virginia Mercury

A Republican-sponsored bill to ban Seattle-style police-free zones failed Wednesday in a Virginia Senate committee after one Democrat called it "the most useless piece of legislation I've ever seen." Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, the legislation's sponsor, acknowledged the bill had little real-world effect because it included no penalties for local officials who allow police-free areas like Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHOP.


Critics of Virginia Redistricting Amendment Form New PAC


Foes of a proposed Constitutional amendment on redistricting in Virginia have formed a new fundraising arm to fight the measure. Opponents of the amendment will attempt to counteract the organizational muscle of OneVirginia2021, which has pushed for an amendment since 2013 and recently formed a fundraising arm of its own.

Marshall man seeks GOP nomination for lt. governor


A month ago, the affable Marshall man would have made no Virginia political pundit's early list of potential candidates for statewide office in 2021. Air Force veteran Lance R. Allen, who has worked four years for a big defense contractor, lives with his wife and young daughter in a colonial-style home on four acres off Free State Road, northwest of the village. Mr. Allen, 32, on Aug. 4 announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for lieutenant governor next year.


Roanoke College Poll shows Biden leading Trump by 14 points in Virginia

By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A new Roanoke College Poll found that former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 14 percentage points in Virginia ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Biden's lead was 12 points in the college's May poll. His favorable rating is up 15 points since May, while his unfavorable rating declined by 1%.


Cline Joins Democrat On Reform Bills

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

U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, who represents the rural and agricultural western part of Virginia, has introduced three government reform bills with Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents the often-chilly suburbs and exurbs north, west and south of Minneapolis, Minn. "We're from different parties, but we're Americans first," Cline said. "And we want a bright future for our kids and for future generations, not just in our own district, but across the country."

Page Republicans host opening of election HQ with Congressman Cline

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

For three hours on Tuesday afternoon, Congressman Ben Cline spoke with local business owners as part of his ongoing Main Street Tour across the 6th District of Virginia. Accompanied by Grayson Markowitz, the clerk of the Page County Circuit Court, and Commissioner of Revenue Becky Smith, Cline visited the Mimslyn Inn, Marlow Ford, Farm Bureau, Page One, Rancho Viejo and Skyline Paint and Hardware discussing such issues as dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mountain Valley asks FERC for for more time to complete pipeline

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

Held up for nearly a year by lawsuits, suspended permits and a stop-work order, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is bidding for more time. The company building the interstate pipeline asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late Tuesday to extend by two years a key approval that will otherwise expire in six weeks.

Past due electric bills? Dominion offering up to $1,000 to small businesses and nonprofits

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Dominion Energy says, for the first time, eligible small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship can seek relief for past-due electricity bills through its EnergyShare program. Those interested can seek relief of up to $1,000. Applications will be available beginning Sept. 1 and will be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds run out. The Richmond-based utility has set aside $500,000 for the program administered through the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Torc Robotics to create 350 new jobs, establish another facility in Blacksburg

By YANN RANAIVO, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Torc Robotics will invest $8.5 million to expand its local software development operations and is slated to create 350 new jobs, according to an announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam's office Wednesday. Part of the plans for the Blacksburg-based developer of self-driving systems will be the establishment of an additional facility at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, an office and research park near Torc's current headquarters at the Blacksburg Industrial Park.

Rouss City Hall reopening to the public on Sept. 8

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Nearly six months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced Winchester officials to close Rouss City Hall to the public, the building's doors are ready to open again. Interim City Manager Mary Beth Price announced on Tuesday night that all city government buildings — including the Creamery Building on South Kent Street, the Department of Social Services on Baker Street and the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park — are scheduled to reopen on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day.


VCU 'quietly' converts Honors College building into COVID-19 isolation unit


Floors of VCU's Honors College building will be used to house residential students who test positive for COVID-19, according to a university spokesperson. The plan calls for converting the seventh floor of the building immediately, followed by the fifth and sixth floors as needed — creating up to 160 additional spaces for students who need to stay in isolation.


Virginia reports 823 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday

By SALEEN MARTIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 823 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the state's tally to 115,458. At least 2,515 Virginians have died from the virus as of Wednesday morning, an increase of 21 from Tuesday.

33 inmates at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail test positive for coronavirus

By JESSICA NOLTE, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

The Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail said 33 inmates in the same housing unit tested positive for the coronavirus during a recent round of testing. In a news release shared on its Facebook page, the jail said it tested all of its staff and all the inmates living in the housing unit after a person in the unit tested positive on Aug. 13.

Prince William reports workplace outbreak of COVID-19, 45 new cases

Prince William Times

The Prince William Health District reported its 18th "outbreak" of COVID-19 on Wednesday. It involved a workplace where six cases have been reported since Aug. 10, according to health district director Dr. Alison Ansher. Details on the workplace, including the type of business and it's location, were not immediately available Wednesday morning.

School on Quantico military base closes for deep cleaning after COVID-19 case


Two days after the combined middle and high school on the grounds of the Quantico Marine Corps base opened for in-person instruction, a case of COVID-19 is temporarily putting the school year on hold. An update on the website for Quantico Middle/High School said a "member of our Quantico Middle High School family," has tested positive for the coronavirus and the school will be closed from Aug. 26-31 "to allow for a thorough cleaning and disinfecting."

Virus outbreaks hit five Fredericksburg area care facilities

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A string of COVID-19 outbreaks have hit five assisted living facilities in the Fredericksburg area, according to updated statistics. From Friday through Tuesday, multiple positive cases were reported at the five sites. None of the outbreaks are widespread, with each having fewer than five cases, according to Virginia Department of Health's update on Wednesday.


Gloucester School Board violated transgender student's rights, federal appeals court rules

By PETER DUJARDIN, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a lower court's ruling last year that the Gloucester School Board's bathroom policy violated a transgender student's constitutional rights. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to uphold a Norfolk federal judge's 2019 ruling that the school board was wrong to bar Gavin Grimm from using the boys room at Gloucester High School six years ago.

Court rules in favor of transgender student

By EMILY DAVIES, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

A federal appeals court Wednesday handed a victory to a transgender student once prohibited from using the boys' bathroom, signaling the continued changing legal landscape over contentious restroom policies. In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia had practiced sex-based discrimination and violated the 14th Amendment by prohibiting Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, from using the bathroom that aligned with his gender identity.

Court: School transgender bathroom policy unconstitutional


A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a Virginia school board's transgender bathroom ban is unconstitutional and discriminated against a transgender male student who was barred from using the boys bathrooms in his high school. The ruling is a victory for transgender rights advocates and Gavin Grimm, a former student at Gloucester High School who was required to use restrooms that corresponded with his biological sex — female — or private bathrooms.

Federal court in Richmond rules again that restroom policies segregating transgender students are unconstitutional

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that bathroom policies segregating trans students from their peers are unconstitutional — a win for transgender students like Gavin Grimm, who fought a five-year-long battle against a Gloucester County School Board policy that refused him the right to use the boys restroom at Gloucester County High School as a transgender man.

Supreme Court of Virginia tosses injunction in Richmond Confederate statue removal case

By MARK ROBINSON, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Supreme Court of Virginia on Wednesday tossed out an injunction handed down by a Richmond judge that barred the city from removing its lone remaining Confederate monument. Richmond Circuit Judge Bradley Cavedo issued a 60-day injunction in July shortly after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of the city's Confederate monuments, using authority under a local emergency order. Stoney appealed the decision, and the state's highest court ruled in his favor Wednesday.

Caroline supervisors must now decide where to relocate Confederate monument

By TAFT COGHILL JR., Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When Lydell Fortune woke up Wednesday morning, he felt a sense of relief. The grassroots effort that Fortune helped organize to have a Confederate monument removed from the Caroline County courthouse lawn had come to fruition the night before when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to relocate the memorial.

A Virginia Estate Near Trump Winery Looks to Yield $75 Million

By KATHERINE CLARKE, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

The enormous Virginia estate of former wireless telecom entrepreneur Tom Sullivan maintains the scale and amenities of a luxurious historical theme park. There is, among other things, a two-lane go-kart track, a 180-foot waterslide leading to a lake, 26 houses, two lakefront beaches, miles of trails and even antique carriage tours led by former Budweiser Clydesdale horses. The property requires a full-time staff of 20, plus contractors. Now after two decades the entire 4,500-acre operation is going on the market for $75 million.


Arlington adds more early voting satellite sites for November election

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Arlington County will add two new early-voting satellite sites for the November election because of dramatic increases in early voting during presidential election years, concern about delivery of mailed ballots and the desire to avoid crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. "We are expecting a large turnout of voters during a pandemic that is still far from controlled," said County Board chair Libby Garvey (D) in a statement.

New lawsuit seeks Walts' Twitter messages

By EMILY SIDES, Inside NOVA (Metered Paywall)

Former school board Chair Ryan Sawyers is asking the court to order the release of 20,000 private Twitter messages between students and Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Walts. The move follows a separate, $2.35 million defamation lawsuit filed by Sawyers on July 12 after a complaint about Walts' Twitter use led the superintendent to stop using the account, @SuperPWCS, in May. Before closing the account, Walts posted a video message defending himself while making statements that Sawyers claims defamed him. The video has since been removed.

PPE and school supplies; community partners prepare students for unusual school year

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

Volunteers from around Richmond gathered under tents at The Diamond on Wednesday to pack 17,000 personal protective equipment kits with school supplies for students embarking on an unusual school year. Most classes around the region begin Sept. 8, and with tens of thousands of area students beginning the year online, their needs have shifted.

Chesterfield supervisors approve plans for millions in federal relief funds

By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Chesterfield County is delivering $61.5 million across the locality in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security funding. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the county's CARES funding proposal after a public hearing Wednesday night. The supervisors voted on how to spend $51.5 million; $10 million already had been appropriated for business grants and fiscal 2020 expenses.

Chesterfield Schools Could Have Students Back In Classrooms By End of September


Based on recommendations from a health committee, the Chesterfield County School Board has decided to continue with its plan to have students return to school virtually on September 8. But Deputy Superintendent Thomas Taylor, who spoke on behalf of the committee, said if COVID-19 cases continue to trend downward, students could return to in-person learning as early as September 29.

Spotsylvania supervisors divided over schools request to cover laptop costs

By SCOTT SHENK, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

There were motions, substitute motions and friendly motions but little agreement Tuesday night as the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors wrestled over $2.5 million sought by the school system to cover pandemic-related costs for laptops for students and staff, who recently started the virtual school year. Supervisors who wanted to "hold back" the money maintained that the Chromebooks already have been purchased and potential carryover funds from the last fiscal year could cover the costs.

Female leaders in Fredericksburg area help celebrate 19th Amendment's centennial

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

Susan B. Anthony walked into a Rochester, N.Y., barbershop that doubled as a voter registration office on Nov. 1, 1872, and threatened to sue startled officials unless she was allowed to register to vote. The suffragist was arrested and charged with voting illegally after she cast a ballot for Ulysses S. Grant four days later.

Council violates CRB bylaws, ordinance with appointment

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville City Council appointed a city employee to the Police Civilian Review Board in violation of the oversight panel's bylaws and ordinance. The council unanimously appointed LaTita Talbert on Tuesday night after a closed session to interview applicants for the CRB and the Planning Commission and to discuss other legal matters. In Talbert's application, she lists her occupation as a city transit driver and her employer as the city of Charlottesville.

City Council to consider $4.5M bond issue to support redevelopment

By NOLAN STOUT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

Charlottesville is prepared to issue $4.5 million in bonds to support the redevelopment of the city's public housing stock. City Council will hold a public hearing and consider issuing the bonds during its meeting on Sept. 8, according to a public notice published in Tuesday's Daily Progress.

Henry County supervisors approve spending $500 K for first responders

By KIM BARTO MEEKS, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Henry County officials on Tuesday approved using about $500,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay emergency responders a hazard supplement for hours worked since March. In a last-minute addition to the afternoon meeting agenda, the Henry County Board of Supervisors authorized paying up to $3 per hour to county emergency medical services and law enforcement personnel out of the locality's CARES Act funds.

Plan could see county give $2M in CARES money to families for distance learning

By BRAD FAUBER, Northern Virginia Daily

Though no action was taken regarding the allocation of a second wave of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic (CARES) Act funding, a plan presented to the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors during Tuesday's meeting could distribute $2 million in federal aid to county families with school-age children to assist with distance learning.

Business owners in Schoolfield think Danville casino a good bet

By JOHN CRANE, Danville Register & Bee

Family Haircuts owner Cathy Allen is excited about the possibility of Caesars Entertainment bringing a casino to Schoolfield. "I hope it will give Danville a face-lift," said Allen from her Schoolfield business, located across from Hardee's on West Main Street, a few blocks from where the casino would be located.

State Street demonstration celebrates 19th Amendment centennial

By SARAH WADE, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)

An intriguing group of demonstrators took over the sidewalks of State Street at noon in downtown Bristol Wednesday. Most were women, and most wore white: summery white tunics, flowing white skirts, floppy white hats, even white gloves. They sported purple, yellow and white sashes, waved American flags and clanged the hand bells they were all carrying. "Give women the vote!" some of them chanted through yellow and purple face masks.



Why does Virginia have so few women in elected office?

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

Over the past few weeks, we've been looking back at the campaign by which women won the right to vote — culminating with the 19th Amendment being added to the U.S. Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920. Today, we look at what's happened since. The first thing that happened was there was a mad rush to register women before that year's presidential election (eventually won by Republican Warren Harding).

Surviving a powerful hurricane depends on resilience investment now

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

Hampton Roads has in recent years been spared the effects of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes, a trend the region should hope continues in a very active season for storms. We know a big one will come — and the region remains unprepared, with carefully crafted resilience plans still waiting to be put in motion due to a lack of funding and, frankly, a lack of commitment.

Digital disparities no longer can be overlooked

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

For weeks, K-12 school divisions, colleges and universities across Virginia have grappled over a difficult and, at times, divisive question: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is it safe to reopen school buildings this fall? Students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholders have made their voices heard. The bridge between safety and efficacy has been nothing short of a tightrope.


Schapiro: Democrats risk getting crosswise on districting measure

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

You'd think Virginia Democrats would have something better to do. Like protect two congressional seats they won in Trump-carried districts in the Richmond area and South Hampton Roads in 2018 and, perhaps, snatch a third in deep-red rural central and Southside Virginia, where Republicans dumped a Trump-backed incumbent for a guy who used to work at Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University. But no.


Griffin, Kahl and Rea: Courts are understaffed and underpaid

By LAURA GRIFFIN, RICK KAHL AND TERRI REA, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Target Corp. announced this summer that all of its employees would be paid at least $15 per hour. Amazon is hiring warehouse workers for $15+ per hour. Fast-food workers are demanding $15 per hour. Fifteen dollars per hour must be the new standard as far as wages are concerned, but what these workers are demanding is pay equity. "There can be no justice without equality." Is it not ironic then, that the Equal Rights Amendment was finally ratified this year in Virginia, yet entry-level workers employed to administer justice in Virginia are still paid less than $15 per hour?

Griffin is president-election, Kahl is president and Rea is immediate past president of the Association of Clerks of the District Courts of Virginia.

Clemo: Support Growing Climate Solutions Act

By KATHERINE CLEMO, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty was everywhere. Would the virus spread, and where? What did this mean for day-to-day life? Pretty quickly, that uncertainty showed up at the grocery store. I remember seeing partially empty shelves as people panicked and stocked up on food. Today, plenty of uncertainty remains, but our grocery store shelves are full again. America's food supply chain has proven to be strong and resilient.

Clemo is a volunteer with the Roanoke Chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and retired law reference librarian and special education teacher.

Samimy: Students left out of the recovery

By OLIVIA SAMIMY, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Spring 2020 was supposed to be a very exciting semester for my two closest friends and me. Hannah, Haley, and I are all students at Roanoke College, and we decided that for spring semester of our junior year we would all branch out. Hannah and I took internships in D.C., hers with a non-profit law firm and mine with the nonprofit, youth advocacy organization Generation Progress. Haley would be studying abroad in Cork, Ireland.

Samimy is a senior at Roanoke College and a current intern with Generation Progress, a national youth advocacy and education organization housed within the Center for American Progress.

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