Sept. 9 to Sept.15, 2019

September 9 thru 15, 2019
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Governor Ralph Northam, right, introduces Dr. Janice Underwood, left, as the new director of diversity, equality and inclusion Monday morning in the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond September 9, 2019. (Jonathon Gruenke / The Virginian-Pilot)

Summary

Federal: 3 couples are suing Virginia after being denied marriage licenses because they refused to disclose their race

Executive: Northam names ODU’s Janice Underwood as Virginia’s first diversity officer

General Assembly:
Will the anti-Trump wave that powered two years of Democratic wins flow into Virginia’s unusual off-off-year elections?

Issues: As cleanup deadline looms, Virginia mulls pushing Chesapeake Bay Act’s reach westward

Federal

3 couples are suing Virginia after being denied marriage licenses because they refused to disclose their race

By Hollie Silverman

CNN-September 10, 2019

Three couples are suing the state of Virginia to overturn a law that requires marriage applicants to disclose their race in order to get a marriage license.

“The requirement to identify by ‘race’ uses terms grounded in ignorance and bigotry, not in science,” the couples’ lawsuit says, and it reflects “Virginia’s historical repression of non-white persons.”

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court on Thursday, says Virginia’s requirement is unconstitutional.

State Executive

Northam names ODU’s Janice Underwood as Virginia’s first diversity officer

By Marie Albiges

The Virginian-Pilot- September 9, 2019

In his latest move aimed at addressing racial disparities, Virginia’s governor has selected an Old Dominion University administrator as the state’s first diversity officer.

Janice Underwood, currently the director for diversity initiatives in the institutional equity and diversity office at ODU, starts next week. She said she took the job partly because she respected how much Gov. Ralph Northam has tried to rebuild trust and make amends following the blackface scandal that nearly cost him his job in February.

State Legislature

Will the anti-Trump wave that powered two years of Democratic wins flow into Virginia’s unusual off-off-year elections?
By: Ned Oliver
Virginia Mercury – September 9, 2019

How low will it go? Democrats are banking on anti-Trump fervor to continue to put wind in their sails as they attempt to take control of the General Assembly this fall. But with no statewide races at the top of the ticket, turnout usually plummets in Virginia’s off-off-year elections.

Issues

Environment

As cleanup deadline looms, Virginia mulls pushing Chesapeake Bay Act’s reach westward

By Sarah Vogelsong

Virginia Mercury- September 9, 2019

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, the saying goes.

But when it comes to persuading Virginia’s western localities to join Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, it’s far less clear whether promises of water quality improvements will be enough to win over local officials wary of interfering with development and agriculture.

“Anyone who’s not going to be impacted financially is going to say, ‘Sure, this is a great idea,’” said Ann Mallek, a member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. But for small farmers like herself, who would face heightened reporting requirements and increased land-use restrictions if they were brought under the purview of state regulations governing the bay cleanup, “it’s a risky business,” she noted.

Gun Control

Va. Rep. Cline joins GOP lawmakers in opposing gun control bills

By Robin Bravender

Virginia Mercury- September 11, 2019

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee committee advanced three gun safety bills on Tuesday over unified Republican opposition.

The committee voted along partisan lines to approve “red flag” legislation that seeks to limit access to firearms for those deemed a risk to themselves or others. The committee also voted to advance legislation that would ban high-capacity magazines and another measure to prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing firearms.

Republican Rep. Ben Cline of Botetourt County, the lone Virginia lawmaker on the committee, voted against all three bills.

Health Care

Virginia hospitals oppose plan to stop some surprise medical bills

By Ned Oliver

Virginia Mercury-September 13, 2019

At this point, most people have either gotten stuck with a surprise medical bill they thought would be covered by their health insurance or know someone who has.

And during a two-and-a-half-hour hearing on the issue before the State Corporation Commission on Thursday, Judge Mark Christie made clear he falls firmly within the latter category.

Christie — one of three commissioners who will decide whether the state will adopt new regulations requiring hospitals to notify patients in advance if they’re likely to be treated by an out-of-network provider — repeatedly returned to the experience of a man he knows whose wife needed surgery.

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