Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/30 to 4/5

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia’s getting a fraction of the protective equipment needed from the federal government, documents show”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“COVID-19 threatens census count. At stake: money, political power.”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“How strictly are Virginia’s social distancing orders being enforced? Court records show just a few citations.”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Despite EPA decision, Virginia says polluters must ‘make every effort’ to comply with environmental regulations”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/23 to 3/29

Clockwise (from top left):

“‘We’re talking semantics here’: Northam defends not issuing stay-at-home order for Virginians”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“As groceries fly off shelves, farmers worry about next season’s crop”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Virginia made big commitments to renewables. What does the economic slump mean for them?”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Some Virginia cities are pushing to clear jails of nonviolent offenders. Others? Not so much.”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

VA onAir News Digest for 3/16 to 3/22

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia officials say all voters can cast ballots by mail for May municipal elections”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Congress clears 2nd major coronavirus package; 3rd in the works”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“Governor faces calls for special session, ‘bolder and swifter action’ on COVID-19”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Unemployment Claims in Virginia spiked 1,500% this week”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

 

Virginia onAir from 3/16 to 3/22

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with delegates Jason Miyares, Vivian Watts, Karrie Delaney, and Mark Levine

View all Senate committee and regular sessions from 2020

View all House committee and regular sessions from 2020

Virginia onAir from 3/9/20 to 3/15/20

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with Delegates Alex Askew, Buddy Fowler, Rodney Willett, and Jeremy McPike

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA House Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

Virginia News Digest 3/9/20 to 3/15/20

Clockwise (from upper left-hand corner):

“Top health officials warn of coronavirus: ‘It’s going to get worse’ “– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Virus hangs over final day of legislative session as Northam declares state of emergency”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After standoff, House and Senate to seal deal to stem college tuition costs”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“Schools, welfare and a tunnel: How new Democratic majorities put their mark on their first budget”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

Virginia News Digest 3/1/20 to 3/7/20

Clockwise (from top left):

“Liberal Supreme Court justices challenge abortion restrictions in high-stakes case”– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Despite limits on testing capabilities, Northam says Virginia is prepared for coronavirus”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“‘A momentous moment for Virginians’ after General Assembly unanimously passes legislation to end surprise medical bills”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After intense Dominion lobbying, Senate panel kills bipartisan Fair Energy Bills Act”– Sarah Vogelsong

Virginia onAir from 3/1/20 to 3/7/20

Clockwise (from top left)

Interviews with delegates Kirk Cox, Ken Plum, Dan Helmer, Dave Marsden

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 2 thru Friday March 6

VA House Sessions: Monday March 2 hru Friday March 6

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

VA News Digest 2/3/2020 to 2/9/2020

Clockwise from Upper Left:

“Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

“With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus” – Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

VA News Digest 1/27 to 2/2/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“Speaker Eileen Filler-corn addresses 2020 House of Delegates” –  WAVY TV  on Jan.8, 2020

“Absent timely federal vaping regulation, Virginia and other states cobble together a regulatory patchwork” – Bob Lewis, Virginia Mercury

“Setting a deadline for farm conservation practices would be a major step for Virginia water quality” -Matt Kowalski

“Va. has 5 U.S. House rookies. Here’s how they spent their first year.” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries and Speaker Filler-Corn video inside this post.

VA News Digest 1/20 to 1/26/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“One day after the big gun rally, House Democrats wipe out GOP firearm bills” –  Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Senate passes red flag gun law after tightening due process protections” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Va. Senate votes to prohibit conversion therapy, create transgender school policy, repeal gay marriage ban” – Ned Oliver,Virginia Mercury

“My students will not be silenced on climate change — or anything else” – Christine Hirsh-Putnam

Article summaries inside this post.

Weekly Digest – 1/13 to 1/19/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist” – Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout” – Steven Mulroy, Law professor

Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”- Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries inside this post.

Repealing mandatory abortion regulations

Title: “Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.

Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.

“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.

Redistricting reform options

Title: “Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 15, 2020;

Virginia’s new Democratic majorities will have at least three different redistricting reform proposals to choose from in the 2020 session. But only one would take away the General Assembly’s constitutional power to redraw the state’s political maps next year.

For years, Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission that would reduce or eliminate politicians’ ability to draw safe districts for themselves or their party. After taking power just before the 2021 redistricting process, they’re under a time crunch to figure out how to do it.

 

Australia boosts voter turnout

Title: “What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
AuthorSteven Mulroy
Source: The Conversation
Date: Jan. 14, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

Militias organize, promise to resist

Title: “As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist
Author: Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw
Source: Virginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 13, 2020

Opponents of new gun laws in Virginia are organizing militias in the state, but promise they’re not planning to use the new paramilitary organizations to launch a violent insurrection against the government.

“We’re just a group of like-minded individuals trying to protect our rights,” said a man standing in the gravel parking lot of an auto repair shop in rural King William County Sunday, where a “call to muster” had asked anyone interested in forming a local militia to meet for preliminary discussions. “We’re not trying to overthrow anyone.”

Weekly Digest – 1/6 to 1/12/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“No, Virginia. The governor’s budget doesn’t fund an 18-officer gun confiscation squad.” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Culpeper rally rouses hundreds for gun rights” – Clint Schemmer, Culpeper Star-Exponent

“‘Madam Speaker’: After 400 years, Filler-Corn becomes first woman to lead Virginia House” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

ERA begins its journey to near certain ratification in Virginia” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

More articles from past week inside post …

Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/30 to 4/5Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/30 to 4/5

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia’s getting a fraction of the protective equipment needed from the federal government, documents show”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“COVID-19 threatens census count. At stake: money, political power.”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“How strictly are Virginia’s social distancing orders being enforced? Court records show just a few citations.”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Despite EPA decision, Virginia says polluters must ‘make every effort’ to comply with environmental regulations”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia’s getting a fraction of the protective equipment needed from the federal government, documents show”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“COVID-19 threatens census count. At stake: money, political power.”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“How strictly are Virginia’s social distancing orders being enforced? Court records show just a few citations.”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Despite EPA decision, Virginia says polluters must ‘make every effort’ to comply with environmental regulations”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Federal

Virginia’s getting a fraction of the protective equipment needed from the federal government, documents show
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – April 2, 2020

New documents released Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform show that Virginia is receiving a fraction of the personal protective equipment it has ordered from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At the same time, more than a dozen Virginia hospitals are close to exhausting their own supplies. According to data being tracked by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, 13 hospitals said they would have difficulty obtaining or replenishing enough personal protective equipment to meet demand within the next three days without assistance.

COVID-19 threatens census count. At stake: money, political power.
By: Allison Stevens
Virginia Mercury – April 1, 2020

Organizations across the country are marking the occasion with webinars, virtual rallies, Twitter chats and other  digital events throughout the week. April 1 is the date by which all people in U.S. households are to be counted.

But the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to make the count even more difficult than usual, which could exacerbate the inequitable distribution of resources in Virginia and other states.

Issues

Health and Safety

How strictly are Virginia’s social distancing orders being enforced? Court records show just a few citations.
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – April 2, 2020

For more than a week, it’s technically been unlawful for Virginians to gather in groups of 10 or more people.

But since Gov. Ralph Northam issued his main executive order on March 23 to stop the spread of COVID-19, state court records show just two cases of people being formally charged for violating social distancing rules, though those records may not reflect all citations.

Environment

Despite EPA decision, Virginia says polluters must ‘make every effort’ to comply with environmental regulations
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – April 1, 2020

Virginia will not relax its enforcement of environmental regulations despite an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week that it won’t impose civil penalties on polluting facilities that don’t comply with routine monitoring and reporting obligations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“All regulated entities are expected to make every effort to comply with environmental compliance obligations, adhere to permit limits and maintain the safe and environmentally protective operation of their facilities,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor in a news release Tuesday.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Kerrie Thompson. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to kerrie.thompson@onair.cccccc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

X
Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/23 to 3/29Virginia onAir News Digest for 3/23 to 3/29

Clockwise (from top left):

“‘We’re talking semantics here’: Northam defends not issuing stay-at-home order for Virginians”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“As groceries fly off shelves, farmers worry about next season’s crop”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Virginia made big commitments to renewables. What does the economic slump mean for them?”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Some Virginia cities are pushing to clear jails of nonviolent offenders. Others? Not so much.”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

“‘We’re talking semantics here’: Northam defends not issuing stay-at-home order for Virginians”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“As groceries fly off shelves, farmers worry about next season’s crop”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Virginia made big commitments to renewables. What does the economic slump mean for them?”-Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

“Some Virginia cities are pushing to clear jails of nonviolent offenders. Others? Not so much.”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

State Executive

‘We’re talking semantics here’: Northam defends not issuing stay-at-home order for Virginians
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – March 27, 2020

Asked whether he would implement a shelter-in-place order to reduce further spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam contended that the mandate was just another description for what he had already done.

“We’re talking semantics here,” Northam said at a news briefing on Friday. “We’re talking about how to enforce this. I think if you go back and listen to my comments, not only from today but from previous days, I have said repeatedly, ‘Stay at home unless it’s essential that you go out.’

Issues

Agriculture

As groceries fly off shelves, farmers worry about next season’s crop
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – March 25, 2020

In Pittsylvania County, in the heart of Southside tobacco country, farmer Robert Mills’ greenhouse is full of seedlings ready to be transplanted.

Mills, however, is uncertain about whether he should put them into the ground.

“We have to make a commitment as to whether we’re going to plant any of these crops,” he said. But “we have not gotten any confirmation for sure that we’re going to be able to get our migrant workers. That puts us in a real tough situation.”

Energy

Virginia made big commitments to renewables. What does the economic slump mean for them?
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – March 27, 2020

Three weeks ago, Virginia’s Democrat-led General Assembly passed the most ambitious plan for transitioning off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy sources to come out of the South yet.

It was a banner moment for environmentalists. Among the promises they secured were state commitments to build out 24 gigawatts of solar, wind and energy storage by 2035 — almost 40 percent more than the existing capacity of the fossil fuel units owned by the state’s largest utility, Dominion Energy — and annual targets that would bind the utilities to progressively including more and more renewables in their energy portfolios.

Criminal Justice

Some Virginia cities are pushing to clear jails of nonviolent offenders. Others? Not so much.
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – March 26, 2020

The judge was conflicted.

The woman appearing before him seeking bond on a felony larceny charge had a long history of petty crimes and a terrible record of following court orders: six failure to appears, four probation violations and two contempt of court citations.

But she also suffers from a disease that compromised her immune system, according to her lawyers, who set up the hearing in Richmond General District Court last week in hopes of getting her out of jail, where experts worry the spread of COVID-19 will be especially difficult to contain.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Kerrie Thompson. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to kerrie.thompson@onair.cccccc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

X
Virginia onAir from 3/16 to 3/22Virginia onAir from 3/16 to 3/22

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with delegates Jason Miyares, Vivian Watts, Karrie Delaney, and Mark Levine

View all Senate committee and regular sessions from 2020

View all House committee and regular sessions from 2020

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with delegates Jason Miyares, Vivian Watts, Karrie Delaney, and Mark Levine

View all Senate committee and regular sessions from 2020

View all House committee and regular sessions from 2020

Interviews

Source: Va onAir on Vimeo

Jason Miyares

Vivian Watts

Karrie Delaney

Mark Levine

X
VA onAir News Digest for 3/16 to 3/22VA onAir News Digest for 3/16 to 3/22

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia officials say all voters can cast ballots by mail for May municipal elections”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Congress clears 2nd major coronavirus package; 3rd in the works”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“Governor faces calls for special session, ‘bolder and swifter action’ on COVID-19”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Unemployment Claims in Virginia spiked 1,500% this week”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

 

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

“Virginia officials say all voters can cast ballots by mail for May municipal elections”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Congress clears 2nd major coronavirus package; 3rd in the works”-Allison Stevens, Virginia Mercury

“Governor faces calls for special session, ‘bolder and swifter action’ on COVID-19”-Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“Unemployment Claims in Virginia spiked 1,500% this week”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

 

Federal

Virginia officials say all voters can cast ballots by mail for May municipal elections
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – March 17, 2020

The Virginia Department of Elections says voters will be allowed and encouraged to cast ballots by mail in May’s municipal elections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State law requires voters to have a excuse in order to cast an absentee ballot, but officials have determined that the coronavirus outbreak qualifies as a valid reason for everyone. The elections department says voters are “strongly encouraged” to request an absentee ballot under the disability or illness exemption.

Congress clears 2nd major coronavirus package; 3rd in the works
By: Allison Stevens
Virginia Mercury – March 19, 2020

A second major coronavirus package cleared the U.S. Senate Wednesday and was signed by President Donald Trump.

The bill passed 90-8, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The multi-billion dollar measure aims to slow the spread of a new coronavirus and stimulate the economy as a major recession looms.

State Executive

Governor faces calls for special session, ‘bolder and swifter action’ on COVID-19
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – March 20, 2020

After adjourning a historic legislative session last week, a few Democratic lawmakers crossed Capitol Square to stand with Gov. Ralph Northam at a news conference about the state’s response to COVID-19. Then they left town and went home to their districts.

Then the world changed.

With almost 100 confirmed coronavirus cases in Virginia and many aspects of the state economy slowing to a halt, policymakers will have to decide how much relief they can offer to Virginia residents and businesses struggling to navigate the pandemic.

Issues

Economy

Unemployment claims in Virginia spiked 1,500% this week
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – March 20, 2020

Unemployment claims in Virginia surged this week as efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 prompted mass business closures and cutbacks.

The state fielded more than 30,000 applications for cash assistance since Monday. That’s a 1,500 percent increase over last week, when the state received 1,973 claims, according to Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration. And, as VPM notes, it’s the highest number of weekly claims recorded in Virginia since at least 1987, the first year the Department of Labor began releasing the number of claims by state.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Kerrie Thompson. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to kerrie.thompson@onair.cc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

X
Virginia onAir from 3/9/20 to 3/15/20Virginia onAir from 3/9/20 to 3/15/20

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with Delegates Alex Askew, Buddy Fowler, Rodney Willett, and Jeremy McPike

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA House Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

Interviews with Delegates Alex Askew, Buddy Fowler, Rodney Willett, and Jeremy McPike

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA House Sessions: Monday March 9 thru Friday March 13

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

Interviews

Alex Askew

https://vimeo.com/387865009

Buddy Fowler

Rodney Willett

Jeremy McPike

Sessions

Senate

March 9

March 10

March 11

March 12

 

House

March 9

March 10

March 11

March 12

 

X
Virginia onAir March 8th to March 15th, 2020Virginia News Digest 3/9/20 to 3/15/20

Clockwise (from upper left-hand corner):

“Top health officials warn of coronavirus: ‘It’s going to get worse’ “– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Virus hangs over final day of legislative session as Northam declares state of emergency”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After standoff, House and Senate to seal deal to stem college tuition costs”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“Schools, welfare and a tunnel: How new Democratic majorities put their mark on their first budget”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

Summary

Clockwise (from upper left-hand corner):

“Top health officials warn of coronavirus: ‘It’s going to get worse’ “– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Virus hangs over final day of legislative session as Northam declares state of emergency”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After standoff, House and Senate to seal deal to stem college tuition costs”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“Schools, welfare and a tunnel: How new Democratic majorities put their mark on their first budget”-Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

 

Federal

Top health officials warn of coronavirus: ‘It’s going to get worse’
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – March 11, 2020

Trump administration officials painted a dire picture of the novel coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, warning members of Congress that the public health crisis is far from over.

“Is the worst yet to come?” House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

“Yes,” Fauci told her. “It’s going to get worse.”

State Executive

Virus hangs over final day of legislative session as Northam declares state of emergency
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – March 12, 2020

State officials bumped elbows instead of shaking hands. Two senators asked to delay a crucial budget vote. And Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-Fairfax, delivered an impassioned plea for an extended session — a request that earned him groans on the floor of the House of Delegates.

It was a dramatic end to an already dramatic Virginia General Assembly session, its final hours overshadowed by growing concerns over the statewide spread of COVID-19, the disease spread by a new strain of coronavirus. Legislators gathered for a final vote on the state’s two-year budget amid a plummeting global market and reports that cargo volumes were down 9 percent at the Port of Virginia compared to a year before.

State Legislature

After standoff, House and Senate to seal deal to stem college tuition costs
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – March 12, 2020

For the last few days of the 2020 General Assembly session, college tuition freezes were a sticking point for House and Senate budget negotiators. Such a sticking point, in fact, that legislators extended their deadline for reaching a deal.

But a last-minute compromise appeared to offer the best of both worlds for legislators from both chambers. The Senate added roughly $60 million over the next two years for need-based financial aid at Virginia’s publicly funded colleges and universities. And the House added roughly $79.7 million for in-state tuition freezes, something its Higher Education Subcommittee — paraphrasing a quote from Winston Churchill — described as a “tremendous whack” at the problem of college affordability.

Schools, welfare and a tunnel: How new Democratic majorities put their mark on their first budget
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – March 12, 2020

Virginia lawmakers closed out their legislative session for the year Thursday with votes to send a $142 billion budget to Gov. Ralph Northam.

Here’s what’s in the two-year spending plan and a few of the ways new Democratic majorities put their stamp on Northam’s initial proposal.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Kerrie Thompson. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to kerrie.thompson@onair.cc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

X
Virginia News Digest for 3/1/20 to 3/7/20Virginia News Digest 3/1/20 to 3/7/20

Clockwise (from top left):

“Liberal Supreme Court justices challenge abortion restrictions in high-stakes case”– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Despite limits on testing capabilities, Northam says Virginia is prepared for coronavirus”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“‘A momentous moment for Virginians’ after General Assembly unanimously passes legislation to end surprise medical bills”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After intense Dominion lobbying, Senate panel kills bipartisan Fair Energy Bills Act”– Sarah Vogelsong

Summary

Clockwise (from top left):

“Liberal Supreme Court justices challenge abortion restrictions in high-stakes case”– Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“Despite limits on testing capabilities, Northam says Virginia is prepared for coronavirus”-Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“‘A momentous moment for Virginians’ after General Assembly unanimously passes legislation to end surprise medical bills”– Kate Masters, Virginia Mercury

“After intense Dominion lobbying, Senate panel kills bipartisan Fair Energy Bills Act”– Sarah Vogelsong

Federal

Liberal Supreme Court justices challenge abortion restrictions in high-stakes case
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – March 6, 2020

The liberal wing of the U.S. Supreme Court appeared highly skeptical of a Louisiana law that restricts abortion access as the justices heard oral arguments Wednesday in a high-stakes case that could open the door for additional abortion limitations around the country.

But the court’s conservative majority — which is likely to determine the outcome of the case — was less clear during oral arguments about how they’re likely to rule when the court issues its opinion later this year.

The case, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, is over a Louisiana law that requires any physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which critics say would severely limit access to those services.

State Executive

Despite limits on testing capabilities, Northam says Virginia is prepared for coronavirus
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – March 4, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam and state health officials repeatedly reiterated a reassuring message throughout their first news conference on COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that’s spread to 16 states and at least 129 patients since cases of the virus first emerged in the United States in January.

“Virginia is not an area where the virus is spreading in the community right now, so the risk is low,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake, citing the 17 tests Virginia has conducted.

“Right now, you have more risk of getting the flu in Virginia than novel coronavirus,” she added later.

State Legislature

‘A momentous moment for Virginians’ after General Assembly unanimously passes legislation to end surprise medical bills
By: Kate Masters
Virginia Mercury – March 6, 2020

It took weeks of negotiations to settle on an end to balance billing, a much-loathed feature of Virginia’s medical system that’s been locked in a legislative deadlock for years.

Lawmakers were jubilant on Thursday as both the House and Senate unanimously passed identical legislation to remove the risk of surprise hospital bills for some Virginians. The often-expensive fees often come when patients seek emergency care at an out-of-network hospital, or receive treatment from out-of-network doctors at a facility that’s otherwise covered by their insurance.

Issues

Energy

After intense Dominion lobbying, Senate panel kills bipartisan Fair Energy Bills Act
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – March 2, 2020

A Democrat-led Senate panel Monday night killed a bipartisan bill that aimed to restore a system of electric utility rate review that could have returned hundreds of millions in overearnings to customers of Dominion Energy, vividly illustrating the power that the state’s largest electric monopoly still wields in the Capitol.

The Fair Energy Bills Act, which was sponsored by Democratic Del. Jay Jones of Norfolk and Republican Del. Lee Ware of Powhatan, previously cleared the House on a 77-23 vote. The legislation faced stiff headwinds in the more utility-friendly Senate, however, where Majority Leader Dick Saslaw of Fairfax, who chairs the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, failed to docket it last week, leading to concerns that it would die without a hearing.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Kerrie Thompson. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to kerrie.thompson@onair.cc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

X
Virginia onAir from 3/1/20 to 3/7/20Virginia onAir from 3/1/20 to 3/7/20

Clockwise (from top left)

Interviews with delegates Kirk Cox, Ken Plum, Dan Helmer, Dave Marsden

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 2 thru Friday March 6

VA House Sessions: Monday March 2 hru Friday March 6

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

Summary

Clockwise (from top left)

Interviews with delegates Kirk Cox, Ken Plum, Dan Helmer, Dave Marsden

VA Senate Sessions: Monday March 2 thru Friday March 6

VA House Sessions: Monday March 2 hru Friday March 6

VA Senate Committees: See this post later this week for all Senate 2020 committee hearings

VA House Committees: See this post later this week for all House 2020 committee hearings

Watch video interviews inside post. Not yet enabled on phones.

Interviews

Kirk Cox

Ken Plum

Dan Helmer

Dave Marsden

Sessions

Senate

March 2nd

March 3rd

March 4th

March 5th

March 6th

House

March 2nd

March 3rd

March 4th

March 5th

March 6th

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VA News Digest 2/3/2020 to 2/9/2020VA News Digest 2/3/2020 to 2/9/2020

Clockwise from Upper Left:

“Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

“With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus” – Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Summary

Clockwise from Upper Left:

“Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

“General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021” – Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

“With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

“After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus” – Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Federal

Trump acquitted, with just one GOP senator joining with Democrats on removal
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – February 5, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has survived impeachment, but he didn’t emerge unscathed.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday acquitted Trump on charges that he abused his power by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. presidential election and then obstructed a congressional investigation into his actions.

The vote was almost entirely partisan, but Democrats scored a major political coup by winning the support of Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. And Democrats will continue to use Trump’s behavior and his status as an impeached president against him heading into the 2020 election.

Issues

Criminal Justice

General Assembly closes the door to marijuana legalization until 2021
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – February 5, 2020

The General Assembly shut down proposals to legalize marijuana for the year, but lawmakers said this week they would study the issue and potentially move forward when they reconvene in 2021.

Both the House and the Senate are instead advancing decriminalization bills that would punish possession of a half-ounce or less of the plant — presently a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail — with a civil fine. The House is proposing a $25 penalty and the Senate is proposing $50.

Redistricting

With a big decision coming on redistricting reform, House Democrats fine-tune their options
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – February 6, 2020

Virginia Democrats haven’t decided whether they’ll put an anti-gerrymandering amendment in the state Constitution, but the possible paths forward on redistricting reform got a little clearer Thursday morning.

A House of Delegates subcommittee narrowed three options to two, keeping alive one bill tied to a constitutional amendment and an alternative bill meant to stand on its own for the 2021 redistricting process.

Environment

After long delay, Democrats unveil Clean Economy Act energy omnibus
By: Sarah Vogelsong
Virginia Mercury – February 6, 2020

After weeks of behind-the-scenes talks, Democratic lawmakers on Thursday night finally unveiled the details of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a 75-page plan to get Virginia to zero carbon by 2050.

The legislation was hailed by its sponsor, Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Fairfax, as a “historic” step on energy policy.

“This is an achievable roadmap,” he told the House Labor and Commerce Committee. “It’s an achievable directive from this General Assembly.”

Democrats agreed, passing the bill along for further consideration on a 13-9 party-line vote that frustrated some backers’ hopes for bipartisan support.

Feedback

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VA News Digest 1/27 to 2/2/20VA News Digest 1/27 to 2/2/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“Speaker Eileen Filler-corn addresses 2020 House of Delegates” –  WAVY TV  on Jan.8, 2020

“Absent timely federal vaping regulation, Virginia and other states cobble together a regulatory patchwork” – Bob Lewis, Virginia Mercury

“Setting a deadline for farm conservation practices would be a major step for Virginia water quality” -Matt Kowalski

“Va. has 5 U.S. House rookies. Here’s how they spent their first year.” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries and Speaker Filler-Corn video inside this post.

Summary

Clockwise from upper left:
“Speaker Eileen Filler-corn addresses 2020 House of Delegates” –  WAVY TV  on Jan.8, 2020

“Absent timely federal vaping regulation, Virginia and other states cobble together a regulatory patchwork” – Bob Lewis, Virginia Mercury

“Setting a deadline for farm conservation practices would be a major step for Virginia water quality” -Matt Kowalski

“Va. has 5 U.S. House rookies. Here’s how they spent their first year.” – Robin Bravender, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries and Speaker Filler-Corn video inside this post.

Federal

Va. has 5 U.S. House rookies. Here’s how they spent their first year.
By: Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – January 27, 2020

WASHINGTON — Nearly half of Virginia’s U.S. House members are freshmen, hoping this year won’t be their last in Congress.

Five of the state’s 11 representatives in the U.S. House are serving their first term, and four of them are expected to face competitive reelection races in November. They’ve all spent their first year in office attempting to advance their pet issues, build up their campaign coffers and get face time with voters back in their districts.

The closest race this fall could be for the seat now held by Rep. Elaine Luria, who might face off against the same GOP lawmaker she unseated in 2018. But freshmen Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton could also have close races, as could Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman.

State Legislature

Speaker Eileen Filler-corn addresses 2020 House of Delegates
WAVY TV – January 8, 2020

Issues

Farm Conservation

Setting a deadline for farm conservation practices would be a major step for Virginia water quality
By: Matt Kowalski
January 29, 2020

As a restoration scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, I’m often out in the field with Virginia farmers putting projects on the ground that benefit both stream health and farm operations. I also follow state policy in Richmond that could lead to more conservation practices on farms.

Legislation proposed in the General Assembly would be a big step forward for this work. Lawmakers are considering setting a 2026 deadline for farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to fence cattle out of all permanent streams and develop nutrient management plans to avoid overapplying fertilizer. Agricultural practices like these are some of the most cost-effective ways to restore local and downstream waters.

Health

Virginia lawmakers vote to repeal mandatory ultrasound, waiting period for abortion
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – January 29, 2020

New Democratic majorities in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate voted this week to roll back abortion restrictions the GOP put in place in 2012 mandating an ultra-sound and 24-hour waiting period.

“These restrictions were not designed to protect women, but rather to suppress their ability to make their own choices regarding their bodies,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who carried the legislation in the House. “This bill concerns an incredibly important decision that should be left up to a woman and her healthcare provider.”

Absent timely federal vaping regulation, Virginia and other states cobble together a regulatory patchwork
By: Bob Lewis
Virginia Mercury – January 27, 2020

As the summer of 2019 gave way to autumn, a health crisis that had festered for years became frightful front-page news: children were falling gravely ill and even dying as a result of vaping, a smoke-free option once marketed as a lifesaving choice for smokers.

But it quickly became the rage among teens, practiced by one high schooler in four. It seemed harmless enough – water vapor without the tar and known carcinogens yielded by incinerating tobacco. And the industry embraced its youthful users, enticing them with such yummy flavorings as butterscotch, mango and cinnamon roll to deliver sometimes massive jolts of highly addictive nicotine.

X
Weekly Digest – 1/13 to 1/19/20 1VA News Digest 1/20 to 1/26/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“One day after the big gun rally, House Democrats wipe out GOP firearm bills” –  Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Senate passes red flag gun law after tightening due process protections” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Va. Senate votes to prohibit conversion therapy, create transgender school policy, repeal gay marriage ban” – Ned Oliver,Virginia Mercury

“My students will not be silenced on climate change — or anything else” – Christine Hirsh-Putnam

Article summaries inside this post.

Summary

Clockwise from upper left:
“One day after the big gun rally, House Democrats wipe out GOP firearm bills” –  Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Senate passes red flag gun law after tightening due process protections” – Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Va. Senate votes to prohibit conversion therapy, create transgender school policy, repeal gay marriage ban” – Ned Oliver,Virginia Mercury

“My students will not be silenced on climate change — or anything else” – Christine Hirsh-Putnam

Article summaries inside this post.

Issues

Gun laws

One day after the big gun rally, House Democrats wipe out GOP firearm bills
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – January 21, 2020

The pro-gun masses had their day at the Virginia Capitol Monday. But mathematical reality quickly set in Tuesday morning as a Democratic-led House of Delegates panel easily dispatched nearly a dozen Republican-sponsored gun bills.

The proposals would have made it easier to carry guns in places of worship, allowed concealed carry without a permit, limited gun-free zones and strengthened mandatory sentencing rules for gun crimes. They hit a legislative buzzsaw in a public safety subcommittee, just as Democratic-sponsored gun-control bills did when Republicans controlled the General Assembly.

Virginia Senate passes red flag gun law after tightening due process protections
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – January 22, 2020

As a Virginia Senate committee debated how to craft a policy allowing police to take guns away from people deemed dangerous, one Republican made an ominous warning about what could happen if the state starts sending officers up “Ruby Ridge Drive” to bang on the door.

“When they don’t answer the door,” said Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell,  “… is this committee asking that that door be knocked down to find out what’s on the other side?”

It’s not clear how many of Chafin’s colleagues share his concern about the bill’s potential to create more armed standoffs between homeowners and police. But Democratic lawmakers spent a significant amount of time over the last week fine-tuning the process of how police will interact with people who are subject to court orders temporarily stripping their gun rights.

LGBQ

Va. Senate votes to prohibit conversion therapy, create transgender school policy, repeal gay marriage ban
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – January 21, 2020

A suite of LGBT-friendly legislation cleared the Virginia Senate on Tuesday.

Lawmakers voted to:

  • ban health professionals like counselors and psychologists from performing conversion therapy on anyone under age 18,
  • create uniform policies for transgender students attending public schools,
  • make it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates and
  • remove language from the state code banning gay marriage.

The gay marriage ban has already been invalidated by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling and advocates said the state code should reflect that.

Climate Change

My students will not be silenced on climate change — or anything else
By: Christine Hirsh-Putnam
January 24, 2020

Young people usually don’t have a say in the laws we all must obey. They are deemed too young and/or naïve to make sound political choices. Yet they are passionate about major political issues because they will be affected by these issues throughout their entire lives.

Recently, young people have answered the call to act on climate change, energizing the climate movement. If our country remains stagnant and refuses to address this issue, their generation will be left with serious problems long after today’s lawmakers are gone.

I see the potential in students to effectively participate in the political process. Each year my 7th grade students from Tandem Friends School near Charlottesville travel to Washington to meet with their representatives about climate solutions. It is an eye-opening experience meeting with a member of Congress that most citizens will never experience. If we teach our children how to engage in the democratic process during these formidable years, the lesson will stick with them for years to come.

Feedback

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Weekly Digest – 1/13 to 1/19/20Weekly Digest – 1/13 to 1/19/20

Clockwise from upper left:
“As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist” – Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout” – Steven Mulroy, Law professor

Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”- Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries inside this post.

Summary

Clockwise from upper left:
“As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist” – Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout” – Steven Mulroy, Law professor

Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”- Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions” -Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Article summaries inside this post.

Issues

Gun Rights

As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist
By: Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – January 13, 2020

Opponents of new gun laws in Virginia are organizing militias in the state, but promise they’re not planning to use the new paramilitary organizations to launch a violent insurrection against the government.

“We’re just a group of like-minded individuals trying to protect our rights,” said a man standing in the gravel parking lot of an auto repair shop in rural King William County Sunday, where a “call to muster” had asked anyone interested in forming a local militia to meet for preliminary discussions. “We’re not trying to overthrow anyone.”

Voter turnout

What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
By: Steven Mulroy
January 20, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

Redistricting reform options

Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – January 15, 2020

Virginia’s new Democratic majorities will have at least three different redistricting reform proposals to choose from in the 2020 session. But only one would take away the General Assembly’s constitutional power to redraw the state’s political maps next year.

For years, Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission that would reduce or eliminate politicians’ ability to draw safe districts for themselves or their party. After taking power just before the 2021 redistricting process, they’re under a time crunch to figure out how to do it.

Abortion

Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions
By: Graham Moomaw
Virginia Mercury – January 17, 2020

Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.

Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.

“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.

2/ 10

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Current Abortion LegislationRepealing mandatory abortion regulations

Title: “Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.

Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.

“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.

Summary

Title: “Democrats seek repeal of mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.

Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.

“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.

Feedback

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10/24- US House Gerrymandering 1Redistricting reform options

Title: “Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 15, 2020;

Virginia’s new Democratic majorities will have at least three different redistricting reform proposals to choose from in the 2020 session. But only one would take away the General Assembly’s constitutional power to redraw the state’s political maps next year.

For years, Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission that would reduce or eliminate politicians’ ability to draw safe districts for themselves or their party. After taking power just before the 2021 redistricting process, they’re under a time crunch to figure out how to do it.

 

Summary

Title: “Va. Democrats face a growing menu of redistricting reform options. Only one binds them for 2021”
Author: Graham Moomaw
SourceVirginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 15, 2020;

Virginia’s new Democratic majorities will have at least three different redistricting reform proposals to choose from in the 2020 session. But only one would take away the General Assembly’s constitutional power to redraw the state’s political maps next year.

For years, Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission that would reduce or eliminate politicians’ ability to draw safe districts for themselves or their party. After taking power just before the 2021 redistricting process, they’re under a time crunch to figure out how to do it.

 

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Australia boosts voter turnoutAustralia boosts voter turnout

Title: “What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
AuthorSteven Mulroy
Source: The Conversation
Date: Jan. 14, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

Summary

Title: “What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
AuthorSteven Mulroy
Source: The Conversation
Date: Jan. 14, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Virginia onAir. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to virginia@onair.cc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

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Militias organize, promise to resist 1Militias organize, promise to resist

Title: “As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist
Author: Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw
Source: Virginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 13, 2020

Opponents of new gun laws in Virginia are organizing militias in the state, but promise they’re not planning to use the new paramilitary organizations to launch a violent insurrection against the government.

“We’re just a group of like-minded individuals trying to protect our rights,” said a man standing in the gravel parking lot of an auto repair shop in rural King William County Sunday, where a “call to muster” had asked anyone interested in forming a local militia to meet for preliminary discussions. “We’re not trying to overthrow anyone.”

Summary

Title: “As Virginia Democrats advance new gun restrictions, militias organize, promising to resist
Author: Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw
Source: Virginia Mercury
Date: Jan. 13, 2020

Opponents of new gun laws in Virginia are organizing militias in the state, but promise they’re not planning to use the new paramilitary organizations to launch a violent insurrection against the government.

“We’re just a group of like-minded individuals trying to protect our rights,” said a man standing in the gravel parking lot of an auto repair shop in rural King William County Sunday, where a “call to muster” had asked anyone interested in forming a local militia to meet for preliminary discussions. “We’re not trying to overthrow anyone.”

Feedback

The lead Curator for this post is Virginia onAir. If you have any content you would like to add to this post, submit it to virginia@onair.cc.  See Terms of Service to learn about the guidelines curators use to evaluate submissions and forum comments.

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