Monday, September 14, 2020

Political Headlines from across Virginia

September 14, 2020
Top of the News

A special session triggered by the Virginia state budget has yet to deal with it

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

Almost four weeks into a special session called initially to deal with a $2.7 billion projected hole in the state budget, the Virginia General Assembly is still looking for a road map to an agreement on how to fill the gap. The House of Delegates and Senate haven't agreed on a process for adopting their budgets and reconciling their differences, much less on where to find money to pay for some of the more than $2 billion in spending priorities that Gov. Ralph Northam proposes to cut because of a public health emergency he declared on the same day the assembly adopted the $135 billion budget in March.

Two inmates died Saturday of COVID-19 at Deerfield Correctional Center

By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a state prison that houses many medically impaired and elderly inmates has claimed two more lives, officials said Saturday. Lisa Kinney, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, reported that the two men died Saturday and there are now 407 current cases of the virus — with 22 people hospitalized — at the Deerfield Correctional Center, which has an infirmary and an assisted living unit.

Some Virginia Tech students not surprised by football postponement

By MARK BERMAN, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Some Virginia Tech students were not surprised Saturday when Virginia Tech postponed its season-opening football game because of COVID-19 issues on the football team. "Not at all," Virginia Tech senior Zach Joyner said Saturday afternoon while in downtown Blacksburg. "It's not really like we have been practicing the social distancing mandate that [Virginia Tech President] Tim Sands has put out.

After slow start, Virginia's $50 million program to help renters makes changes

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

When Gov. Ralph Northam announced in June he was setting aside $50 million in federal CARES Act money for people who couldn't afford to pay their rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic, the proposal was welcomed by landlords and advocates, who have repeatedly said suspending evictions wouldn't solve the housing crisis on its own. Now in its third month, advocates say the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program is picking up speed thanks to changes in the guidelines, but it hasn't been a smooth ride.

Opioids for sale on the corner

By HOLLY KOZELSKY, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Maybe you've noticed the signs. They can be seen at intersections as you drive into Martinsville, through town and as you drive out: "Methadone – Suboxone - $1 a Day" or "Methadone – Suboxone – Medicaid accepted." Both signs carry the same phone number, although only the $1-a-day sign features a logo and website address, in small letters on the bottom: ALEF Behavioral.

From space, ODU researchers can see Hampton Roads sinking

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

Hampton Roads is sinking. That's not new to anyone who lives here or studies local flooding. But new research using a satellite orbiting Earth is beginning to tell us just how differently the sinking looks depending on where you are in the region. A team from Old Dominion University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that Norfolk and Virginia Beach are subsiding roughly 3.5 millimeters per year. That's not much different from what was suspected before, but they can now say it with more precision, said Brett Buzzanga, a doctoral candidate at ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography and lead author of a new study.

Albemarle's Confederate soldier statue comes down amid cheers

By ALLISON WRABEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

After nearly two hours of drilling, lifting and adjusting, the "At Ready" Confederate statue in front of the Albemarle County Circuit Courthouse was taken down to the sounds of cheers Saturday morning. More than 100 people gathered to watch the statue removal, including current and former elected officials, local activists and community members. The removal follows the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, and years of the county seeking control of the monument from the state.

The Full Report
45 articles, 19 publications


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our COVID-19 dashboard makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. In-person visits to the DMV still account for half of voter registration activity. But iconic voter drive volunteers armed with clipboards have given way to online apps that steer people to state's Citizen Portal.


Virginia bill to open police investigation records passes House of Delegates

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

A bill that would open past police investigative files to the public sailed through the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday. Sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg and other lawmakers, the legislation to amend the state's open records law passed on a 59-37 vote.


Few ads, appearances by presidential campaigns in Virginia

By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

President Donald Trump proclaimed last year that Virginia would "come back HOME Republican in 2020!" — but less than two months from Election Day, the president's path to re-election doesn't appear to include the Old Dominion. Here, polling suggests a comfortable advantage for former Vice President Joe Biden, nixing the traditional swing state from the list of heavily trafficked battlegrounds in the fight for the White House.


Virginia ABC now says restaurant owners can request reduced annual fees

By COLLEEN CURRAN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Updated: A previous version of this article said restaurants in Virginia had to pay their full ABC renewal bill based on seating. Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority has since amended it statement to say restaurants can request a reduction. Some Richmond restaurant owners are feeling frustrated over their alcohol license bills from the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority. Across the state, restaurants have been operating at reduced — or in some cases, no — seating capacity since March, yet the state's liquor monopoly is still assessing fees at its usual rate, even for fees based on a restaurant's seating capacity.


Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times, Daily Progress see newsroom layoffs

By KATE ANDREWS, Va Business Magazine

At least five newsroom staffers at the Richmond Times-Dispatch were told Friday that they were being laid off by owner Lee Enterprises. Four people laid off were part of the bargaining unit for the Richmond Newspapers Professional Association, the Times-Dispatch's newsroom union, a representative confirmed. They include a business reporter, a photojournalist, a multimedia content producer and a sports producer. The company has also decided to cut 10 copy editing and design jobs at The Roanoke Times, according to reports by that newspaper's union.


Long Bridge rail project barrels forward full speed ahead

By WYATT GORDON, Virginia Mercury

With the state budget in tatters and commuter levels at record lows, now might hardly seem the right moment for Virginia to embark upon a $1.9 billion rail project. However, the recent conclusion of the Long Bridge's environmental impact study has cleared the way for the commonwealth to do just that. The plan to add a second set of tracks to the 116 year-old rail crossing between D.C. and Virginia will allow the state to realize the full potential of the $3.7 billion deal with CSX Governor Ralph Northam struck last December.


Some W&M students face punishment after a group violated school's pandemic safety rules

By JOSH REYES, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)

College of William & Mary students involved in a gathering that broke rules associated with the coronavirus pandemic over the weekend are facing sanctions from the school, according to an email sent to all students. Ginger Ambler, the college's vice president of student affairs, sent the email Saturday evening and said, "a number of students on campus this weekend were found to be in violation of (campus health) guidelines, the Student Code of Conduct, the Residence Life Housing Contract and state law."

COVID-19 knocks out Virginia-Virginia Tech football opener

By BY HANK KURZ JR., Associated Press

The pandemic disrupted college sports again Saturday, with Virginia and Virginia Tech postponing their Sept. 19 football opener because of COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech. The schools said this was a mutual agreement. No makeup date was announced for the game that had been set for Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech also will not hold football practice for four days.

UMW welcomes students back to campus, with safety as their first lesson

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

In addition to clothes and dorm decorations, Sofia Taylor brought eight masks, hand-sewn by her grandmother, to her freshman year of college at the University of Mary Washington. The psychology major hopeful, from Clinton Township, Mich., will be wearing a mask all day long as she attends class, relaxes with friends on Campus Walk, eats meals at the makeshift outdoor dining hall and chats with hall mates in her dorm. The only time she will take the mask off is in her own room.

Health expert: Liberty University needs more testing to find asymptomatic COVID-19 cases

By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

Due to a lack of widespread testing, the official tally of students sick with the novel coronavirus at Liberty University likely is undercounting those who may not know they've contracted the virus, according to a leading health expert. The university on Tuesday reported 84 students had tested positive for COVID-19 in the preceding two weeks. Another 89 students had tested negative, putting the positivity rate at a striking 48.5%.

EMU hopes two-week delay and 'COVID Commitments' will keep classes on campus

By CHASE DOWNEY, Harrisonburg Citizen

Even after a false start of trying to open last month and James Madison University's shift to at least a month of mostly online classes, Eastern Mennonite University has brought students back to classes, and campus leaders hope they can remain in person. EMU began allowing students to move to campus Sept. 3-6 — two weeks after the original move-in date. The private university pushed back its move-in weekend after four student leaders who were supposed to help with the move-in process had tested positive for COVID-19.


Virginia reports 874 new coronavirus cases Sunday

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The Virginia Department of Health reported 874 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the state's tally to 133,814. At least 2,724 Virginians have died from the virus, up two from Saturday.

Dozens of National Airport workers may have been exposed to coronavirus

By LORI ARATANI, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Dozens of workers at Reagan National Airport may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus after attending services at an Alexandria church last month. The possible exposures took place at the Kidane Mehret Church in Alexandria between Aug. 14 and Aug. 17, but it wasn't until a week later, on Aug. 21, that city health officials were notified of a confirmed case of the virus linked to the church.

Loudoun's positive test rate now higher than statewide average

By TREVOR BARATKO, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Loudoun County's percent positivity rate for COVID-19 testing has ticked up higher than the statewide average over the past couple weeks. The local rate is at 8.1 percent compared to 7.6 percent statewide, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Loudoun's 8.1 percent mark is up from 5.7 percent one month earlier. Percent positivity is tracked on a seven-day average, with the most-recent date available being Sept. 9. Local health officials have said they want to see the positive testing rate at around 5 percent.

COVID-19 count continues to escalate in Montgomery County

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

Reported cases of COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly in Montgomery County, pushing its total past Roanoke. The Virginia Department of Health reported Sunday that 54 new cases in the county brought its total to 1,395 since the outbreak of the virus began in March. Roanoke saw its cases go up by 8 in the latest daily tally, to 1,373. In recent days, Montgomery County has led the region in new cases per day as Virginia Tech students return to campus.

Two more outbreaks surface as Pittsylvania-Danville Health District moves into slow growth category

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

Two more COVID-19 outbreaks — one at an assisted living facility — were reported Saturday by the Virginia Department of Health as the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District is now classified as a slow growth area. A new outbreak at Brookdale Danville Piedmont was listed in Saturday morning's update on the Virginia Long-Term Care website. Brookdale reported the latest outbreak Sunday following a previous outbreak in April. In both outbreaks, data is not listed for the number of infections or deaths.


Community members gather to cleanse site where 'At Ready' statue stood

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

A day after the removal of the "At Ready" statue, community members returned to the Albemarle County Circuit Court grounds Sunday afternoon to cleanse the site. "This truly is a glorious moment," said Don Gathers, a deacon and local activist who worked with the Rev. Carolyn Dillard to organize the ceremony. "... So many have worked hard to bring us to this moment." The scene was much different than Saturday, when crews worked for hours in the rain to take the statue and its base apart. Instead, Sunday's attendees gathered in the sunshine to reflect on the vacant site.


Arlington mask ordinance to start in October, will include fines for not wearing them in public


Arlington officials passed legislation that mandates face coverings in certain public indoor and outdoor locations to help combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. The legislation will go into effect on October 1 at 12 a.m. after it was passed during a city council meeting on Saturday. If the ordinance is not followed by those in the city and community, a $100 civil infraction fine can be given out by law enforcement, according to official documents on the ordinance.

Arlington County bans firearms in government buildings, parks


The Arlington County Board in Virginia voted unanimously on Saturday to pass an ordinance that bans guns in county government buildings and parks. The county will post notice at entrances to parks, buildings, recreation and community centers where the ban will take effect. The restrictions will also apply to certain special events that require a county permit.

Fairfax school system says ransomware attack did not disrupt remote learning


The Fairfax County public school system is continuing to troubleshoot a ransomware attack discovered Friday, but doesn't foresee it derailing online instruction. An update sent Saturday afternoon to the school community said the school system is "working diligently to protect the information of our staff, students and their families."

Some Loudoun parents say virtual learning isn't meeting the needs of special ed students


As a fall semester of virtual learning has begun amid the coronavirus pandemic, many students and parents across the D.C. region have faced the same set of challenges. But parents of special education students in Virginia's Loudoun County said distance learning has been especially hard for their children. The Loudoun County School Board held its regular meeting Tuesday night to cap the first day of the new school year

Hacker interrupts Prince George virtual classes with racial expletives


A virtual class in Prince George County was cut short on Thursday after a hacker gained access to the class and made racist comments. The hacker posed as a student and used a voice changer, saying the racial expletives and threatening to kill. In a copy of the video obtained by CBS 6, students can be heard asking the person to stop disrupting their online class.

Federal grant will bring six new deputies to Stafford County

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

The Stafford County Sheriff's Office was recently awarded a three-year, $750,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant, which will help add six new deputies to the force in 2021. The federal grant covers up to 75 percent of the entry-level salaries and benefits for each of the new hires. County funding of about $1.1 million over the next four years will help cover the remaining costs, including training, vehicles, uniforms and associated equipment for each of the new deputies.

Pandemic Could Impact Enrollment, Budgets For Area School Divisions

By MEGAN WILLIAMS, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

A very unusual school year is underway for area students and the COVID-19 pandemic could also impact enrollment. When schools closed in March for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, it was with the hope that come fall, school could open normally. But as COVID-19 cases continued to rise, school divisions and families began considering what a virtual school year might look like. Rockingham County Public Schools welcomed back kindergarten and first-grade students on Thursday and will welcome back pre-kindergarten students Monday. Smaller classrooms, social distancing and masks are the new norm for the few students who are in classrooms, while the majority of students will be learning online.

With eye on equity, Albemarle division moves forward on grading policy changes

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

After several years of surveys, training and planning, the Albemarle County school division is ready to take the next step in its plan to rethink grading practices. That step is enacting a new grading policy that serves essentially as a statement of beliefs and that will guide efforts to craft specific regulations that could include changing the grading scale or eliminating zeros in the gradebook.

Anticipating revenue drop, Lynchburg-area school divisions hold on to CARES Act dollars

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

With state revenue still uncertain for the current fiscal year, some Lynchburg-area school divisions are saving some federal funds to offset any potential upcoming revenue losses. Local school divisions were awarded money through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund — part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law in late March amid the economic downturn.

Amherst schools assess first week of reopening, adjusting to 'new normal' of COVID-19

By JUSTIN FAULCONER, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)

After more than 14,000 hours of training to get Amherst County Public Schools' 706 employees prepared to launch a new school year during the challenging climate of COVID-19, a crucial figure in all the logistical data in the first two days of school came down to zero. Superintendent Rob Arnold told the Amherst County School Board on Thursday the division has zero positive coronavirus cases so far among staff and students during the first few days of school.

CARES Act provides more grant money to Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford

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

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded just under $400,000 to Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford, according to an announcement from Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia. The funding comes in the form of community development block grants rooted to the CARES Act, a federal relief package that was passed earlier this year to help institutions, families and workers offset some of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roanoke developer pulls out of downtown Buena Vista revitalization project

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

A Roanoke developer will auction off his Buena Vista properties next month after failing to find buyers for most of the vacant downtown buildings. Ed Walker purchased 16 properties for more than $1 million in December 2017. Walker is well-known in the Roanoke Valley for revitalizing downtown properties into bustling city centers. So when he turned his eye to struggling Buena Vista, it seemed like a vote of confidence in the city.



Expanding child care will reap benefits

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

We don't have to tell any working parent that America's system of child care — if something so haphazard can be called a "system" — has been pushed to the breaking point by the coronavirus pandemic. Parents are understandably focused on the need for some solution that will let them hold onto their jobs without neglecting their children, including their children's education.

Virginia has made good progress on police reform. It should finish strong.

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

Months of protests following the brutal killings of several Black Americans at the hands of police officers have pushed VNTHS OFirginia's legislature to prioritize police reform during a special session that began in late August. Four weeks in, lawmakers have passed important reform measures and are on track to enact several more.

County statue action strikes right note

Daily Progress Editorial (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

The relocation of Albemarle County's Confederate soldier statue, cannons and cannonballs to a Civil War battlefield is an excellent outcome. The Board of Supervisors voted to give the artifacts to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

The most consequential vote on the November ballot

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

The most consequential vote that Virginians cast this November may not be for president. Whoever we elect as president will see his term expire Jan. 20, 2025. However, the results of the constitutional amendment on whether to set up a bipartisan commission to draw district lines will govern the state for the whole decade — and beyond.

'Net-zero carbon' is 95% nuclear energy

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

Dominion Energy has filed a license renewal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating life of its aging North Anna Power Station for another 20 years. The original 40-year licenses for the North Anna 1 and 2 nuclear reactors were granted back in 1978 and 1980—before President Ronald Reagan began his first term. In March of 2003, the NRC granted Dominion a 20-year extension. Now the utility is asking for another 20-year extension, which if granted would double North Anna's projected lifespan.

Lament for the turmoil in Portsmouth

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

Portsmouth should be a gem of Hampton Roads and the commonwealth. Rich in history, the city boasts a charming downtown area framed by an underutilized waterfront, and a strong economic foundation built on shipping, defense, shipbuilding and medicine, among other industries. But the city also has countless challenges, from the tunnel tolls that choke commerce and tourism, to high rates of unemployment, disproportionately high rates of poverty and problems with violent crime.


Hildebrand: Cutting sports to steal endowments: The myth of football-funded athletics

By D. R. HILDEBRAND, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Colleges and universities have provided no shortage of reasons for cutting their sports teams. Fiscal restraints and Title IX compliance lead the list. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, athletic directors have accelerated the pace of these cuts, using the pandemic as their excuse. The narrative runs as follows: Football finances other sports; the virus has cut football earnings more than we can bear; therefore, other sports are no longer sustainable.

D. R. Hildebrand lives in New York City and is a 2003 graduate of the College of William & Mary, where he was a member of the swim team.

Sullivan: Let competition call the shots in energy markets

By RICHARD C. "RIP" SULLIVAN JR., published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) became law just over two months ago. It marks a historic, transformative shift to a focus on clean energy for the commonwealth. Virginia is poised to become a leader in solar, wind and energy efficiency. But recent action by federal regulators — pushed by gas power plant developers — threatens our ability to forge this path.

Gurley: Proposed Cumberland County landfill perpetuates environmental racism

By ROBERT "J.R." GURLEY, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

It is no secret that Black Americans have gotten the short end of the stick in this country for centuries. Our communities have long dealt with lower access to health care, higher rates of police brutality and lower-than-average incomes. So, it should come as no shock that we also have been dealt an unfair hand when it comes to the environment surrounding our communities.

The Rev. Robert "J.R." Gurley lives in Newport News and is president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation Virginia Chapter.

Bechtel: Justice and healing in equal measure

By LAWRENCE BECHTEL, published in Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

We seem to accept as established fact the idea that all Confederate monuments were erected for the express purpose of intimidating Black Americans. If the origin story of the Robert E. Lee Monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, is any indication, the truth is more subtle and more profound.

Bechtel is a sculptor in Blacksburg

Nixon and Borato: State lawmakers must make policing more transparent

By JASON NIXON AND DEBBIE BORATO, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

As the Virginia legislature takes up policing reform during the special session, transparency should be the starting point. Lawmakers should pass House Bill 5090, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, to stop law enforcement agencies from withholding investigative records under the Freedom of Information Act. Both of us lost family members in the Virginia Beach mass shooting. On May 31, 2019, Kate Nixon and Missy Langer went to work at Building 2 in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center and never came home.

Jason Nixon is the husband of Kate Nixon and Debbie Borato is the sister of Missy Langer, who were killed in the 2019 Virginia Beach mass shooting.

McGovern: Protect historic Fort Wool for future generations

By TERRY MCGOVERN, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginians reading the local press celebrating recent developments at Fort Wool ("Reprieve for local migratory birds," Our Views, Aug. 13) could be forgiven for asking, "Isn't Fort Wool a historic site I used to be able to visit?" The reader would be right: Fort Wool was built following the War of 1812, as an island of granite and a companion fort to Fort Monroe, allowing the two forts' guns together to control access to Hampton Roads.

McGovern is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Representative for the Coast Defense Study Group ( and a founding member of the Coalition for Historic Fort Wool.

Morse: Virginia's political landscape shifting ahead of pivotal election

By GORDON C. MORSE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

We've cleared Labor Day and in Virginia, by tradition, that means we're off to the electoral races, with this year's big day arriving on Nov. 3. Unlike most states, Virginia's election cycle provides annual contests — a gift to journalism. You can endlessly speculate about the meaning of it all. Who's up? Who's down? What is terra firma — meaning, in a political sense, where can you reliably stand without fear of a sudden chasm-opening electoral tremor?

After writing editorials for the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot in the 1980s, Gordon C. Morse wrote speeches for Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, then spent nearly three decades working on behalf of corporate and philanthropic organizations

Levine and Bagby: Vote no: Amendment would enshrine gerrymandering

By MARK LEVINE AND LAMONT BAGBY, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Do you know what's on your ballot this fall? After voting for president and members of Congress, you will see two proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution. For Amendment 1, you will be asked a complicated question that masks an even more convoluted proposal. Have you read the full amendment? Very few Virginians have. But before you make a permanent change to the foundational structure of Virginia law, you should.

Levine, D-Alexandria, represents the 45th District in the House of Delegates. Bagby, D-Henrico, represents the 74th District in the House of Delegates and is chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Cannon: Vote yes: We can end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia

By BRIAN CANNON, published in Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

Every 10 years, all 50 states redraw their electoral district lines based on population data gathered from the U.S. Census. Here in Virginia, our state constitution mandates that the members of the General Assembly draw their own districts. This inevitably has led to politicians picking their voters, when it should be the other way around. It's difficult to believe, but partisan gerrymandering — the practice of manipulating district lines to gain an advantage for one party — is perfectly legal in Virginia.

Cannon is executive director of FairMapsVA, a nonprofit dedicated to the passage of Amendment 1

Luppino-Esposito: Virginia should limit emergency orders with a balance of powers

By JOE LUPPINO-ESPOSITO, published in Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Strong leadership is necessary in times of crisis. Swift and decisive action can save lives and protect the public. But leaders cannot avoid constitutional processes and political accountability just by declaring an emergency, even if most citizens agree an emergency exists. With Virginia legislators back in Richmond for a special session, it is time for the General Assembly to review the process by which the governor can keep the commonwealth under a state of emergency and avoid the lawmaking process.

Luppino-Esposito lives in Virginia and is a lawyer at Pacific Legal Foundation, which litigates nationwide on individual liberty.

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