Here is the latest news from our Virginia political newsletter. Subscribe below to receive these updates in your inbox each day.
It’s a busy week ahead for Virginia politicians. The Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates will be coming together for a televised debate Tuesday night in Petersburg. The General Assembly will be convening the veto session on Wednesday. There shouldn’t be any surprises during the veto session, but the bill to watch will be marijuana legalization legislation. Governor Northam sent back the legalization bill with changes, the biggest being changing the date to allow simple possession from 2024 to July 1 of this year.
Also, check out the story from the Washinton Post’s Laura Vozzella below. She breaks down the insider moves that Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Snyder has been making in recent months to try and secure the Republican nomination to run for governor. This is interesting because one of the main platform’s that Snyder is running on is being an ‘outsider’ in Virginia politics. However, the moves and campaign hires that he has made show that he is actually not an ‘outsider.’
United States Senator Roy Blunt R-Missouri emphasized how involved Snyder has been in Virginia politics at a fundraiser he headlined for the gubernatorial candidate in Northern Virginia last week, noting that Snyder “has been working hard in Virginia politics for a long time.”
It is worth noting that Snyder did nothing wrong here, this is exactly how party-insider-nomination processes work. It just simply squashes the notion that Snyder is an outsider.
Check it all out below.
Unorthodox Republican contest for Virginia governor breeds confusion, suspicion – Washington Post
by Laura Vozzella
On Jan. 15, the day before the committee was scheduled to take a second vote, the Snyder campaign hired one young committee member who had voted for a primary in the first round, rushing him a contract to sign electronically that Friday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential employment matter.
The next morning, a Snyder staffer texted the new hire to say the job created a conflict of interest, so he would have to recuse himself from committee votes. The new employee recused himself that day but then called Snyder and quit, telling others that he’d felt the campaign — though not Snyder personally — had only hired him to keep him from voting, the two people close to the situation said.
Clean Virginia backs Carroll Foy for governor with $500K donation – Virginia Mercury
by Graham Moomaw
The advocacy group Clean Virginia is endorsing Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy for governor, support that comes with an eye-popping $500,000 PAC donation to the former state delegate’s campaign.
Founded and financed by wealthy Charlottesville investor Michael Bills, Clean Virginia had already given $100,000 to both Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, signaling initial approval of both candidates without going all in behind one challenger to former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the early frontrunner to win the nomination.
GERRYMANDERING THREAT INDEX SHOWS 35 STATES IN DANGER OF RIGGED MAPS FOR NEXT DECADE (Virginia is not one of those states)
Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth, one-of-a-kind report released by the nonpartisan, anti-corruption organization RepresentUs. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states – and the results show the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the For the People Act, that would end partisan gerrymandering at the congressional level.
“This report makes it clear that gerrymandering is a national crisis that needs an urgent and bold solution. Politicians are already preparing to pick their voters during this year’s redistricting. But with the For the People Act, Congress has a chance to stop them before they get started,” said Josh Silver, CEO, and Cofounder of RepresentUs. “If this critical bill doesn’t pass, 188 million Americans will be stuck with corrupt and unaccountable representatives for the next ten years.”
Highlights from the Gerrymandering Threat Index:
- 35 states—70%—have a high or extreme risk of gerrymandering. They are red states and blue states, large states and small states, from Illinois to Georgia, Wyoming to Massachusetts to Texas.
- Unless these systems change in the next few months, more than 188 million people will live with unfair maps for the next 10 years.
- The For the People Act, moving through Congress right now, would all but end partisan gerrymandering and move 325 districts – 75% of the House – into a low-risk rating, where the other 25% of seats already sit.
The fight over rigged maps will be especially sharp in the battleground states of Florida (high risk), Georgia (extreme risk), North Carolina (extreme risk), Pennsylvania (moderate risk), Texas (extreme risk), and Wisconsin (extreme risk). The report goes in depth on the rigging risk in those states.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence endorses Mark Herring for Attorney General
This morning, Attorney General Mark Herring’s re-election campaign announced that The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, progressive gun violence prevention group, has endorsed Attorney General Herring for re-election.
“Mark Herring has always been an advocate in the fight to stop gun violence in Virginia,” said CSGV Senior Director of Law & Policy Kelly Roskam. “He introduced the Lethality Assessment Program, a multi-pronged domestic violence intervention program, and continues to provide training for law enforcement agencies across the state. With Herring’s steady, thoughtful leadership in the Attorney General seat, there is no limit on what the gun violence prevention movement can accomplish. For gun violence prevention and for the safety of the people of Virginia, the choice is clear.”
Virginia lawmakers establish more LGBTQ protections
By Cierra Parks
Capital News Service
RICHMOND, Va — The Democratic-controlled Virginia General Assembly worked in its second year to establish more protections for LGBTQ people.
Lawmakers tackled LGBTQ inequity in criminal justice and health care, reforming laws that advocates said were rooted in discrimination and could block access to needed services. An advisory board will be established to continue Virginia’s work with the LGBTQ community.
Though some key legislation failed, advocates said the state is moving forward.
“Virginia continues to be a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ people and their families,” said Vee Lamneck, executive director of Equality Virginia, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ people. “This is the second year in a row that we have seen significant life-changing legislation passed.”
Aging LGBTQ community
House Bill 1805 was introduced by Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, to help ensure “that LGBT older people and people who are older living with HIV don’t fall through the cracks.”
The bill expands on the federal Older Americans Act and calls on the state’s Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to prioritize older persons with significant social and economic needs.
The bill defines economic needs as being at or below the poverty line. Social needs are caused by non-economic factors such as physical disability, including HIV, or mental disability, the bill states. Social needs can arise from isolation, including isolation related to a history of discrimination. Such factors include language barriers, race, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation which affect an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks or threaten their capacity to live independently.
“Sometimes having faced lifelong stigma and discrimination, sometimes at the hands of government and other providers, means that these populations have trouble accessing the assistance they need as they grow older,” Adams said.
University of Richmond faculty criticize rector, call for a vote of no confidence- Richmond Times-Dispatch
The fissure between the University of Richmond’s board of trustees and its school community grew wider Friday when the faculty senate issued a letter censuring the school’s rector for his comments during a meeting to discuss the building name controversy embroiling the school.
The senate has called for a no-confidence vote by the entire faculty to be held Friday.
Virginia to pilot COVID-19 testing program in public schools – Virginia Mercury
by Kate Masters
Virginia is one of a growing number of states exploring testing as a way to combat COVID-19 in K-12 schools.
Dr. Laurie Forlano, a deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Health, said the agency is launching a pilot program to provide rapid antigen tests to schools across the state. VDH is rolling out the program with Abbott BinaxNOW tests — portable kits, roughly the size of a credit card, that provide results in around 15 minutes.
Bipartisan Cline Bill Signed Into Law – Daily News-Record
by Ian Munro
A bipartisan bill introduced by Virginia 6th District Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt, and New York 10th District Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York City, was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 27, according to the U.S. federal legislative information system.
The bill, the COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, builds on both the CARES Act of 2020 and a previous bipartisan Cline bill.
AG Herring urges companies to prevent selling of fake vaccination cards – Wavy
By Emma North
Attorney General Mark Herring wants businesses like Twitter, eBay and Shopify to put a stop to the sales of fake CDC vaccination cards. Herring is one of 45 attorney generals nationally calling on these companies to prevent the spread of fraudulent cards.
“It’s important that these companies and platforms crack down on the sale of these fake vaccination cards to make sure our communities are safe, and we remain on the right track [in] combating the COVID pandemic,” Herring said.
- Former valley Delegate A.R. “Pete” Giesen, Jr. passes away at 88
- Petersburg advocate reacts to governor signing HIV bill into law
- Appalachian Power appeals rate case to Supreme Court of Virginia
- Judge: No prosecutor means charges must be dismissed
- General Assembly to consider Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals to alter bills, budget
- N.C. woman visits Richmond bus station 5 years after she was shot there and Trooper Dermyer killed
- Commentary: Done right, legal pot could bring social equity and opportunity to Virginia
Virginia Scope is an independent news publication that is funded largely by donations and subscribers. As local newsrooms are losing writers each day, we are trying to fill the void to ensure that the public is informed and that leaders are held accountable for their actions. If you can chip in a monthly subscription of whatever you can afford, even $1, it will go a long way to helping us. Subscribe here. You can also make a one-time donation below: