2/28-5/5 VA onAir

2/28-3/18 VA onAir

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Sen. Louise Lucas, president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, has described her chamber as a “brick wall” against some of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s biggest educational priorities, from charter schools to a proposed ban on what he’s described as “divisive concepts.”

But Thursday several Democrats on the Senate’s influential Education and Health committee, which Lucas chairs, voted with Republicans to advance one of Youngkin’s top issues — a bill aimed at undoing recent admissions changes at Virginia’s prestigious governor’s schools.

The original legislation by Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, specifically targeted policies at Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology — consistently ranked as the best public school in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

The school has made national headlines for significantly shifting its admissions process in 2020 amid a nationwide reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

VIRGINIA…ABC puts $77K worth of Russian vodka into storage
Virginia Mercury, GRAHAM MOOMAWFebruary 28, 2022

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority says the $77,000 worth of Russian-sourced vodka it pulled from shelves won’t be thrown out but will be stored at its facilities “until further notice.”

The government-run liquor monopoly announced Sunday it was removing seven vodka brands from its stores in response to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s call for the state to show solidarity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Combined, those brands accounted for just over $1 million in sales in fiscal year 2021, according to ABC spokesperson Dawn Eischen, a small fraction of the $57 million in sales for the American vodka brand Tito’s, Virginia’s top-selling liquor. An estimated $68,000 in Russian-sourced vodka was pulled from store shelves, Eischen said, with another $9,500 idled at ABC’s distribution center that won’t be shipped out to stores.

US…Billions in aid for Ukraine eyed in struggle against Russian invasion
Virginia Mercury, JENNIFER SHUTTFebruary 28, 2022

Congress is working quickly to determine how much military and humanitarian aid it should send to Ukraine as the war in that country continues to claim lives and send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing as refugees.

Lawmakers are working with the Biden administration to provide billions in funding at the same time negotiators continue to work towards bipartisan agreement on more than $1.5 trillion in government funding ahead of a March 11 deadline.

Democrats and Republicans reached a framework earlier this month on that government funding package and have since been drafting the bills behind closed doors. But the five-day-old war in Ukraine and concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s potential ambitions beyond that country have led to calls for a significant uptick in U.S. military and humanitarian aid.

YOUNGKIN… calls for severing of state ties to Russia and more Va. headlines
Virginia Mercury, Staff Report February 28, 2022

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is asking the state government and Virginia universities to sever any financial ties to Russia. He also urged Norfolk and Roanoke to end sister city partnerships with Russian cities.

In a push to end “divisive concepts” in Virginia education, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration is ending virtually all equity initiatives launched by the state’s Department of Education prior to the governor’s inauguration last month.

The policy changes, announced in an interim report from the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, hew closely to directives already issued by Youngkin in his first executive order.

According to Balow, every resource listed on the department’s EdEquityVA website falls under the category of a “divisive concept,” including a 52-page “roadmap to equity” developed by the department under former Gov. Ralph Northam and Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

Last week, Republicans in the House of Delegates passed a bill to exempt any business with 10 or fewer employees from the state’s minimum wage law.

On Monday, Democrats in the Senate voted it down alongside a half dozen other bills aimed at rolling back employee and union-friendly legislation the party passed last year before it lost its House majority.

“So they would be exempt from the current minimum wage? …  Just out of curiosity, where in the state can you live on $14,000 a year?” asked Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax.

Virginia’s minimum wage currently sits at $11 an hour and will rise to $12 an hour next year under legislation Democrats passed in 2020.

The $14,000 figure cited by Saslaw represents about what someone would earn working full-time for the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour, which is what small businesses could start paying their employees again if the bill were to pass.

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