July 8 to July 14, 2019

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An attendee at a January committee hearing in the General Assembly wears a holstered gun in his belt. State lawmakers allow only people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into the Capitol. Guns are banned in other state office buildings. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia

Gerrymandering fights aren’t over, as states ready remedies

Allison Stevens
Virginia Mercury – July 7, 2019

Now, state-level efforts to combat partisan gerrymandering are moving forward in what some advocates see as a new era of reform.

“Now that the Supreme Court has walked away from its constitutional responsibility, it’s even more important … to fight this on a state-by-state basis,” said Dan Vicuña, manager of the national redistricting program at Common Cause, a democracy reform group. We’ve seen “incredible momentum” over the last few years and “we fully expect that momentum to continue.”

Gun control special session: Here’s what to expect

Katie O’Connor
Virginia Mercury – July 7, 2919

Gov. Ralph Northam held roundtable discussions. Moms Demand Action held listening events. And the National Rifle Association held members-only town halls with Republican lawmakers where policy conversations focused on mental health reform.

On Tuesday, lawmakers will come back to Richmond to hash out the details of potential new gun laws, though it may be unlikely any will pass.

Republicans introduce bills restricting guns in government buildings

Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – July 9, 2019

Virginia Beach Republican Del. Glenn Davis will carry legislation that would allow municipalities to ban guns in local government buildings, with some caveats.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, went further, introducing a bill that would prohibit guns and other weapons “in any building owned or used by a locality for governmental purposes in the commonwealth,” a summary of the legislation reads. It’s one of several substantive bills on guns introduced for the session by Norment, who expressed some openness to legislation on gun violence in the wake of the Virginia Beach municipal building massacre.

How will GOP’s get-out-of-Dodge move play in November?

Robert Zullo
Virginia Mercury – July 10, 2019

Republicans voted to hightail it out of town despite some glimmers the day before that something of substance might be achieved, even it was thecomparatively low-hanging fruit of regulating guns in local government buildings. The Senate majority leader, Tommy Norment, R-James City, if he is to be believed, took his penchant for spending his time on the public dime playing petty partisan games too far this time.

Students activism should shame officials into action

Roger Chesley
Virginia Mercury – July 9, 2019

Actions by students at two Virginia schools – turning a spotlight on the crumbling conditions of their individual facilities– should shame local and state officials to provide the necessary money to rectify the problems.

You would think school administrators would herald the initiative by the teenagers, who, in the best investigative tradition, researched the shortcomings, filmed the deficiencies, and brought attention to longstanding issues.

Special session on guns: A big crowd, a quick adjournment, a post-election punt and a confusing charade

Mechelle Hankerson
Virginia Mercury – July 9, 2019

Huge crowds of advocates on both sides of the gun debate crammed into the Capitol on Tuesday, one heavily armed with rifles and pistols and the other wearing red T-shirts and ready with a string of chants.

Both left surprised when a special session to take up gun legislation following the mass shooting in Virginia Beach concluded about 90 minutes after it began with no bills considered, heard or otherwise discussed.

Virginia regains No. 1 ranking by CNBC of best states for business

Michael Martz

Virginia has regained its status as the best state in the country to do business in the annual CNBC rankings that placed the state No. 1 for the first time in eight years.

The financial news cable network extolled Virginia’s “world-class workforce, high-performing education system and business-friendly regulations” — the same reasons Amazon chose the state for its coveted second headquarters last year after a transcontinental sweepstakes.

“Amazon had it right,” CNBC said in announcing the America’s Top States for Business rankings on Wednesday in an interview with Gov. Ralph Northam at Shenandoah River State Park near Front Royal.

VA Senate

 

VA House

Rep. Scott on $15 minimum wage bill: ‘I’d love to campaign on it’

Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – July 9, 2019

 Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd) believes the U.S. House will soon pass his legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“I feel confident that the votes are there,” said Scott, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. House leadership has announced that the measure — a top priority for Democrats in the chamber — will receive a floor vote next week.

US Senate

Kaine says it’s ‘completely bogus’ to compare his Virginia Tech panel to GOP’s gun plan

Ned Oliver and Robin Bravender
Virginia Mercury – July 10, 2019

“It’s a completely bogus argument,” said Kaine, now a Democratic U.S. senator, noting the legislature refused to act on one of his panel’s primary recommendations on gun legislation: universal background checks. “So Gov. Northam did not need a panel on this. … I’m not saying an investigation isn’t a good idea, but that’s not the reason they cancelled the session after two hours. They did that because they are unwilling to make the NRA and gun manufacturers mad.”

US House

 

Politics  & Government

 

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