The Virginia House of Delegates approved a budget Tuesday that includes funding for a host of criminal justice and police reforms amid national unrest over racial injustice and police brutality. The House spending plan allocates $28.4 million to pay for the package of reforms, which includes legislation to make it easier to decertify officers who commit misconduct and gives the state attorney general the authority to investigate law enforcement agencies for patterns of unconstitutional practices, including the use of excessive force.
By MARIE ALBIGES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
A handful of criminal justice reform measures currently making their way through the General Assembly have the backing of most Virginians, according to a new Christopher Newport University poll. The survey, published Tuesday morning from CNU's Wason Center for Public Policy, shows strong levels of support — above 90% — for law enforcement de-escalation training, mandatory body camera use, and a requirement that police officers intervene when they see colleagues using unlawful force.
By ERIC KOLENICH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The number of students enrolled in colleges throughout Virginia has declined 1.3% this year, which amounts to a large sigh of relief for university and state leaders, who feared a drop of as much as 20% because of the coronavirus pandemic. Low-income students account for a large cross section of enrollment losses. There are 6,658 fewer students at Virginia's public and private institutions of higher education this fall, according to colleges' estimated figures that the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia released Tuesday.
By CLAIRE MITZEL, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
On Friday afternoon, William Byrd High School history teacher Cristy Spencer spent the first few minutes of class talking honestly with the seven students seated in front of her. "This is hard," she told them. . . . Across every school division in Virginia, learning looks different this year. Approximately 52% of the state's 132 divisions are fully remote, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education. Another 8% are offering at least four days of in-person instruction to all students. The rest offer some combination of in-person and remote instruction.
By JESS NOCERA, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Nearly 17,000 Chesterfield County Public School prekindergarten through third-graders will return to classrooms in two weeks. While their presence marks progress in the district's return-to-school plan, the change will lay bare a multitude of challenges. Among them: staff shortages and a lack of bus drivers. The return also will end bus meal service to over 50 locations.
By LISA VERNON SPARKS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
NASA's Mars mission and effort to send the first woman to the moon is on the horizon, but officials already are touting the economic benefits to Virginia. The "Moon to Mars" mission has generated nearly $300 million in direct economic benefit for the state during the 2019 fiscal year ― a gain expressed in thousands of jobs and government contract opportunities for goods and services, according to a report by the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Construction workers at Virginia Commonwealth University say they're being exploited by middle men who operate without oversight from the university. Although VCU has promised changes that would benefit registered contractors, they are not taking actions to prevent exploitation of the undocumented immigrants who make up much of the labor force. Workers alleged wage theft and other labor violations, including misclassification as contractors instead of employees, exempting them from benefits.
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.
By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Subscription required for some articles)
Criminal justice reforms being hammered out – and sometimes beaten down – at the midyear General Assembly session have the potential to affect criminal law practice across the state. Even proposals that meet defeat in the ongoing special session could re-emerge in the regular session in January. Legislators are talking about changing who sentences a defendant after a guilty trial verdict, when judges can use a deferred-disposition outcome and whether prosecutors can unilaterally decriminalize marijuana possession.
By ANDREW CAIN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Virginia voters broadly support police reform, but split along partisan lines on some of the particulars, according to a new poll from Christopher Newport University. In the CNU survey released Tuesday, 96% supported requiring training on de-escalation, 95% backed requiring body cameras and 94% supported requiring officers to intervene when a colleague uses unlawful force.
By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
A wedding photographer and a group of Christian ministries have filed separate lawsuits against a new Virginia law that bans discrimination against lesbian, gay and transgender people — and, the plaintiffs say, forces them to violate their "core convictions." Early this year in a newly blue state Capitol, Virginia became the first Southern state to pass sweeping LGBT rights legislation that bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the Virginia Values Act into law, and it took effect July 1.
For the first time in Norfolk State University's 85-year history, the institution will host a live U.S. Senatorial Debate on campus, between Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and his Republican challenger, Daniel Gade, Ph.D., at the L. Douglas Wilder Performing Arts Center. The Saturday, Oct. 3, debate will focus on racial disparities and inequities in education, healthcare, economic mobility, and the criminal justice system.
Two years after a state report labeled Virginia's critical election system "not sufficiently functional or reliable," local officials are still concerned parts of the essential voting network could slow or fail on November 3, 2020. Elements of the Virginia Election and Registration Information System, or VERIS, have already slowed, shown errors, or given election officials cause for concern during the initial days of 2020 early voting in Virginia.
By BILL WYATT, Martinsville Bulletin (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
You no doubt have heard that in order to vote in this year's election in Virginia you will need to present an ID. Actually, that is not exactly the case. Although the Virginia Board of Elections states that you need a "qualifying ID," some voters have learned the definition of the term includes being able to vote with no ID at all -- as long as you have voted previously in Virginia.
By ALISON GRAHAM, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
All Salem residents choosing to vote on Election Day will cast their ballots at the Salem Civic Center instead of at their normal precincts. The city has consolidated its voting locations to enforce social distancing guidelines and safety procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
What happens in polls doesn't always happen at the polls and that's why a University of Virginia politics prognosticator has teamed up with an international research firm ahead of the November presidential election. Ipsos, a French firm that provides information and research gleaned from the internet and social media to corporations, governments and in public polls, is combining efforts with the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Sabato's Crystal Ball to give political junkies insight into the increasingly fractured U.S. electorate.
By PETER VIETH, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (Subscription required for some articles)
With elaborate preparations, Virginia courts are holding jury trials again, even in the midst of the pandemic. Henrico County was first, holding jury selection in a two-day drug case on Sept. 15. But Stafford County and the U.S. District Court in Abingdon both empaneled juries the next day. At mid-September, Norfolk Circuit Court was preparing for its first jury trial as other courts waited for approval of their infection control plans.
The offshore wind industry could create up to 5,200 jobs in Virginia (with a majority in Hampton Roads) and an estimated $740 million in total economic activity during the next several years, according to an economic impact analysis conducted by Henrico County-based Mangum Economics and released Tuesday by the Hampton Roads Alliance.
Fisheries managers are close to being able to roll out relief for Virginia's hard-hit fishing industries, although a small federal allocation to the commonwealth means payments aren't likely to be large, Virginia Marine Resources Commission officials said Tuesday morning. "Because there was so little funding and such great economic damage, the idea of sort of trying to make sure you make up the loss for people was not an option on the table," VMRC Deputy Commissioner Ellen Bolen said during a presentation to the commission. "We just did not have enough money."
By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Launched in late July, a program aimed at encouraging unemployed Virginians to pursue new careers has already awarded 20 participants $1,000 each for earning job training credentials. Of those, 17 people have found new jobs, all with Newport News Shipbuilding. VA Ready, the nonprofit program offering the grants, was started this year as the pandemic's effects took hold.
A cybersecurity incident at a major hospital chain has disrupted care at multiple facilities across the U.S., including in the District and Virginia, by shutting down computer systems and forcing doctors and nurses to depend on paper backup systems for patients. The cybersecurity incident at Universal Health Services has affected all 250 of its hospitals and other clinical facilities in the U.S., said company spokeswoman Jane Crawford. She said the company doesn't know who is responsible for the incident, which hasn't been confirmed as a ransomware attack.
By AARON MCFARLING, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Pulaski baseball fans can exhale. After a year of nervousness and uncertainty in the face of significant Minor League Baseball restructuring, the city knows it will have baseball at Calfee Park next summer — albeit under a new format with different players.
What was once merely speculation in December, and later a near-certainty in April, became official this week: The Danville Braves are leaving. Major League Baseball and USA Baseball released the details on Tuesday of a new format for the Appalachian League.
By JOANNE KIMBERLIN, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
Construction of a new tube at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is now two years behind, due in part to the latest headache: The granite boulders armoring the manmade islands are proving exceptionally difficult to deal with. The boulders, some so big only two could fit on a rail car when they were hauled in 60 years ago, provide form and protection for the four artificial islands anchoring the portals of the facility's two original tubes.
Early estimates indicate that fall enrollment at Virginia's community colleges is down nearly 10% compared to fall 2019, and down by 6.6% at private four-year universities, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia in a study released Tuesday. However, public four-year universities are holding steady, with enrollment down by only 0.2%.
By KATHLEEN SHAW, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Twinkling lights and tapestries, sparkling wine and a lifetime's worth of memories. Formal is just one of several events canceled this year for university Greek life members, but for graduating seniors, the party is an unforgettable mirage of laughter, dancing and joy, lost forever by the pandemic. Two weeks ago, new members were recruited to James Madison University fraternities and sororities, so formal would be on the tips of everyone's tongues as the first chapter in many new Greek lives kicked off. Under health regulations from city government and the university, most organizations have placed strict sanctions on gatherings and are opting for virtual festivities.
By HENRI GENDREAU, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
Mackenzie Roach lost her job at Virginia Tech's gym when the coronavirus pandemic forced the university to shutter in the spring. "I'm kind of living off-campus, balancing bills with not having my job anymore, and still trying to kind of survive," said Roach, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student. When Roach reached out to the Dean of Students Office for an emergency grant, the university offered an extra lifeline: Would she be interested in being part of a pilot meal-kit program along the lines of Blue Apron and HelloFresh?
By RICHARD CHUMNEY, News & Advance (Metered Paywall - 18 articles a month)
Liberty University on Tuesday paid former President Jerry Falwell Jr. the severance owed under his employment agreement, according to a statement from the university. The university said Falwell is entitled to two years of his base salary and accrued retirement benefits, which likely totals more than $2 million, according to tax records and past statements by Falwell.
Liberty University said it paid its recently resigned president, Jerry Falwell Jr., the two years' base salary owed under his employment contract Tuesday. The Lynchburg, Virginia-based Christian university issued a brief statement about the compensation that did not provide an exact figure but said previous "media reports regarding the size and terms" of Falwell's severance were incorrect. Falwell stepped down in August from his post at the school founded by his late evangelical father after a series of scandals.
By STAFF REPORT, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The Virginia Department of Health reported Tuesday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 147,516 — an increase of 923 from the 146,593 reported Monday. The 147,516 cases consist of 139,961 confirmed cases and 7,555 probable cases. There are 3,187 COVID-19 deaths in Virginia — 2,976 confirmed and 211 probable. That's an increase of 15 from the 3,172 reported Monday.
By MEL LEONOR, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Virginia officials this week formally committed $16 million for the purchase of rapid COVID-19 tests, with the first order for 200,000 tests going out to a vendor this week. In a letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, which is managing a compact of states interested in purchasing tests, state Health and Human Resources Secretary Dan Carey committed the funds for the purchase of up to 500,000 antigen tests by the end of the year.
By FRANK GREEN, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)
Thirty-one Virginia prison inmates with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic, more than half of them at a Southside prison for older offenders. As of Monday, the toll was highest at the Deerfield Correctional Center – home to many geriatric prisoners and prisoners with chronic health problems – where 17 have died, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Corrections.
By LUANNE RIFE, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The steady pace of COVID-19 cases in the Roanoke Valley continues unabated with six more deaths in the last week, an uptick in people in hospitals and outbreaks in 10 businesses. Meanwhile, the disease in the New River Valley is slowing. A significant surge coinciding with students returning to Radford University and Virginia Tech has now settled, and it appears that the college students kept the virus to themselves.
By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Two of seven staff members at Kids' Station, a Fredericksburg day care facility visited last week by Virginia first lady Pamela Northam have tested positive for COVID-19. The workers were tested after Northam and her husband, Gov. Ralph Northam, announced on Friday they had confirmed cases of the virus.
Virginia's new pandemic metrics dashboard, meant as a resource to help local school administrators determine whether it is safe for in-person learning to resume, was operating smoothly by mid-morning Tuesday after initial technical problems. The Virginia Department of Health's specialized dashboard will assist communities in monitoring case trends, disease transmission and the availability of hospital beds — but for hours after its debut Monday, many of the site's features were not accessible.
By IAN MUNRO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a plethora of problems created delays for health care providers trying to obtain personal protective equipment such as medical gowns, masks and gloves. However, after months of the pandemic, many problems in the PPE supply chain have diminished, according to state health care groups.
By DAVE RESS, Daily Press (Metered Paywall - 1 article a month)
Virginians by and large think their communities are headed in the right direction, and split evenly when asked about the state — but overwhelmingly think the country is headed the wrong way. Some 70% say the country is going in a bad direction, a new Hampton University-Associated Press/NORC poll shows.
By MATTHEW BARAKAT AND BEN FINLEY, Associated Press
In a state where Confederate monuments have stood for more than a century and have recently become a flashpoint in the national debate over racial injustice, Virginians remain about evenly divided on whether the statues should stay or go, according to a new poll. The poll conducted this month by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 46% support removal of Confederate statues and 42% oppose removal.
By KIRK JOHNSON, New York Times (Metered Paywall - 1 to 2 articles a month)
Maggie L. Walker, one of the first Black American women to run a bank, is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond, Va. So is John Mitchell Jr., editor of The Richmond Planet, a crusading newspaper founded by former slaves. Benjamin Franklin Randolph, a South Carolina state senator gunned down amid the white backlash against Reconstruction in 1868, lies in the Black cemetery named for him in Columbia. In the late 19th century, as statues, monuments and government buildings were being dedicated to Robert E. Lee and other leaders of the Confederacy, a powerful and countervailing force of memory was unfolding, in many cases right across town: Black communities were building cemeteries to honor a first wave of soldiers, politicians and business leaders after the end of slavery.
By NATHANIEL CLINE, Loudoun Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)
The NAACP Loudoun Branch is pressing for a resolution from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General in its racial discrimination investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools. The Division of Human Rights of the attorney general's office opened the investigation into LCPS nearly one year ago.
By C. SUAREZ ROJAS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
A Richmond City Council subcommittee on Tuesday voted against a proposed ban on riot control equipment that police have deployed against protesters in recent months. Council members Michael Jones and Stephanie Lynch sponsored the resolution, which asks Mayor Levar Stoney's administration to bar police from using "nonlethal" weapons and munitions such as bean bag rounds, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and tear gas.
By ABBY CHURCH, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
The Hanover County School Board has come up with its own names for renaming two schools that originally had Confederate monikers, after rejecting a committee's recommendations that followed a process that included three community polls. In a news release from Hanover County Public Schools on Tuesday, the board said it had reached consensus for the former Lee-Davis High School to become Mechanicsville, and it came up with Bell Creek as the name for the former Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
By MARK BOWES, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
When Kenneth A. Miller took the reins as Petersburg's police chief more than three years ago, one of his top priorities was to assist the department in achieving something it had never before attained in its 210-year history: state accreditation by complying with professional law enforcement standards. On Tuesday, Miller met that goal and accepted an award that recognized the department's three-year effort to bring the agency into compliance with 190 standards set by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
By LEILIA MAGEE, Progress Index (Metered paywall - 10 articles a month)
Petersburg Police held a press conference on Sept. 29 to announce the department's first-ever accreditation by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, but other news took the forefront during the celebration. Police Chief Kenneth Miller announced his retirement after serving in his position for three years, two months, and 19 days, effective Nov. 1.
By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The cafeterias aren't as deafening, the hallways not as packed, but a second round of students returned to public school classrooms in Virginia Beach on Tuesday. They brought with them the sounds of normalcy, absent for many since Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all schools to close last spring. Shoes squeaked in the hallways. Students chomped away in the cafeteria. Teachers conducted roll calls.
By GORDON RAGO, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
More students are set to return to brick-and-mortar schools in Chesapeake, though they won't be learning in person five days a week like some of the younger students. That's according to a plan laid out by Superintendent Jared Cotton during Monday night's School Board meeting.
The full audits from King William County's financial probes into the Commissioner of the Revenue's Office and Treasurer's Office found improper tax collection and shoddy bookkeeping within the departments. The county initiated a performance review of the revenue office in mid-June when Commissioner of the Revenue Sally Pearson refused to participate in the property reassessment process, a key function of her office, and several residents came forward expressing concerns regarding their assessments.
By ADELE UPHAUS–CONNER, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)
Caroline County public school students will continue to learn from home through December, while early elementary students in King George will return to school part-time next month. The two school boards voted on continuing education plans at meetings Monday evening.
By STAFF REPORT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)
Charlottesville is moving forward with a pilot program to partially close streets to make social distancing easier for cyclists and pedestrians as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The pilot program will start Wednesday on the Belmont Bridge, which has a sidewalk on only one side of the road. Pedestrians will essentially share the bike lane to facilitate social distancing.
Small businesses in Pittsylvania County may soon have access to funds to help them survive a COVID-19 pandemic-related drop in financial security. The county's Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday to approve a $330,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for a small business recovery assistance program.
Public housing tenants in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County could have more incentive to gain or improve their employment, perhaps as soon as the middle of 2021, under a new program being planned by the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The HRHA is one of 33 public housing authorities around the country selected this month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create a plan for implementing its Moving to Work demonstration program. If ultimately selected to be a MTW agency, HRHA would gain some flexibility to create and test innovative, locally-designed strategies to use federal dollars more efficiently.
By JOE TENNIS, Bristol Herald Courier (Metered Paywall - 15 articles a month)
Schools are now slated to open two weeks earlier than what was decided by the Washington County School Board last week. In the wake of parent and student protest and concern, the board has now decided to implement its hybrid plan Oct. 12. The plan is a combination of in-person and remote learning.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)
Entering the 2020 census count, there were plenty of worries about how complete and accurate the decennial survey would be. Was the decision to allow forms to be completed online a good one? Would the digital data collection be free from threats? Would homes dependent on door knocks from census takers still be reached?
Virginian-Pilot Editorial (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
The report issued in August by the Virginia Commission on African American History Education offers worthwhile suggestions for helping Virginia's schools teach history in a more accurate and inclusive way. Reforms are needed, because, despite recent progress, the history presented to today's students leaves out much of what really happened and why.
By J. BRYAN PLUMLEE, published in Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)
For years the leadership of Virginia Beach has failed to implement common sense measures to protect us from recurrent flooding and sea level rise, and we face a 300% increase in yearly flood-related losses over the next two decades. Homeowners in flood-prone areas should not have to watch their biggest asset deteriorate while flood premiums and flood waters rise. We sustain flood losses of $26 million each year, and that number is expected to triple in approximately 20 years.
J. Bryan Plumlee is an attorney with the law firm of Poole Brooke Plumlee PC. He is a volunteer on Virginia Beach mayoral candidate Jody Wagner's Task Force on Flooding.
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