Blue Virginia, , July 9, 2020 (Short)
On June 23, Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-HD31; Prince William County, Fauquier County) announced that she is “exploring a run to become the first woman and first Hispanic person to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, with a potential Labor Day launch.” Guzman pointed out that she “came to the United States from Peru as a single mom, looking for a better future for her oldest daughter” and “was elected in 2017 to become the first Hispanic female immigrant to join the 400 year old Virginia General Assembly.” Also note that in January 2018, Guzman delivered the response in Spanish to Trump’s State of the Union address, slamming Trump “for replacing ‘equality’ with ‘intolerance’ and ‘mutual respect’ with ‘racism.’” Yesterday, I had the chance to chat with Del. Guzman for about an hour. It was a wide-ranging, interesting, lively conversation; see below for highlights. Thanks to Del. Guzman for her time, and good luck out on the (virtual/socially distanced) campaign trail!
We started off talking about schools and COVID-19. Guzman talked about the challenge of figuring out how kids can learn online, that kids definitely benefit from interacting with other kids at least once a week, but “I know teachers worry, and I cannot blame them or shame them for worrying about their own safety as well.” Guzman added that teachers “not being included in conversations about reopening is wrong and I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
Whatever is offered, “the teachers should have a voice…parents in the community should have a voice, and so should the [school] administration…If we sit down together, we could come up with a solution, but just having a one-sided decision is wrong….An honest dialogue, that’s what we need…where everybody has a voice.”
vahousegop, July 8, 2020 (47:53)
Virginia Mercury, , July 7, 2020 (Medium)
Courts around Virginia began working their way through a backlog of more than 12,000 eviction cases last week as a statewide moratorium expired, with many judges apparently declining a last-minute request from Gov. Ralph Northam to continue the stay at the local level.
“It’s a total patchwork,” said Christie Marra, the director of housing advocacy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which has asked Northam to use his executive authority to intervene more decisively. She said the current approach of leaving the decision to local courts is “absolutely not working.”
Meanwhile landlord groups said they were pleased that judges had resumed hearing the cases. “I think the worry with any moratorium is you start to cross a point where a moratorium starts to become an unconstitutional taking,” said Patrick McCloud, executive director of the Virginia Apartment Management Association. He said most tenants are continuing to pay rent, which he credited to federal unemployment and stimulus programs. “Rent collections are not terribly far off from where they would be absent a pandemic.”
Virginia Mercury, , July 6, 2020 (Short)
It was Frederick Vars’s own experience with bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts that first got him interested in the idea of letting people ban themselves from buying guns.
To him, the idea of a voluntary do-not-sell list as a preemptive option for people worried about what they might do in darker moments of irrationality seemed like common sense. But would anyone use it?
To answer that question, Vars, a law professor at the University of Alabama, and a team of researchers surveyed 200 psychiatric patients. That 2016 study, published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Association of Suicidology, found that 46 percent of respondents said they would sign up for a do-not-sell list.
“That was a moment where for me it went from kind of an academic idea into realizing that if you could get a lot of people signing up you really have a chance to save a lot of lives,” Vars said in an interview.
In Virginia, it’s not just an idea anymore.
Virginia Mercury, , June 23, 2020 (Medium)
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, the only Republican victor in Virginia’s four competitive congressional races in 2018, was just ousted by conservative constituents upset he officiated a gay wedding. Riggleman claims he was railroaded, suggesting the party’s highly unusual drive-through convention may have been tainted by voting fraud.
State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who has built a substantial social media following and remains the only declared Republican candidate for governor in 2021, recently said the party keeps losing because of “spineless eunuchs” within the GOP ranks. That came after she said Confederate statues represent “white history,” a sentiment her erstwhile colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus condemned as “idiotic, inappropriate and inflammatory.”
If any Virginia Republicans thought 2020 was going to be the year of the center-right rebrand many believe can break their losing streak, it’s off to a shaky start.
Virginia Mercury, April 23, 2020 (Medium)
Lawmakers delay minimum wage, maintain election schedule in extraordinary session
Protesters in cars honked endlessly as they circled the Capitol. The Speaker of the House collapsed on the dais as she led a floor session. A lawmaker cast votes from a Plexiglas enclosure.
The typically sleepy reconvened session of the Virginia General Assembly on Thursday fully reflected the bizarre world into which we’ve all been thrust by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If anyone in this room is going to die from the virus if they get it, it’s me,” said Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, who worked from the transparent enclosure constructed by Senate staff. He said he was still recovering from open heart surgery and a bout of pneumonia.