Author

Kate Masters

Kate Masters

Kate grew up in Northern Virginia before moving to the Midwest, earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She spent a year covering gun violence and public health for The Trace in Boston before joining The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Md. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md. She was named Virginia's outstanding young journalist for 2021 by the Virginia Press Association.

In the final days of session, funding school construction remains a budget debate

By: - March 6, 2020

Keith Perrigan, superintendent of Bristol Public Schools, can think of a lot of ways to spend $130,000. He said it would pay for three, nearly four new school roofs, or the debt service on a $1 million construction loan. “It could take care of boilers and chillers, or asbestos abatement,” Perrigan said. “We have two […]

Fact-checking a debate over controversial immunization legislation

By: - March 5, 2020

Legislation to update Virginia’s vaccination requirements for schoolchildren is on its way to the governor’s desk after the House voted 54-44 to approve a Senate-amended version of the bill. The final version adds four new vaccines to the state’s immunization schedule, which hasn’t been updated since 2008. Meningitis, hepatitis A, and rotavirus vaccines are now […]

Despite limits on testing capabilities, Northam says Virginia is prepared for coronavirus

By: - 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 […]

Over the objections of religious groups, Virginia is poised to mandate nondiscriminatory care for transgender patients

By: - March 4, 2020

In a year when the General Assembly passed sweeping LGBTQ-friendly legislation, it’s a relatively low-profile health bill that has opponents questioning whether the state is going too far in its protections for transgender Virginians. The Senate Commerce and Labor committee voted 12-2 on Monday to report a bill from Del. Danica Roem, D-Manassas, that would […]

House and Senate lawmakers are deadlocked over expanding authority for pharmacists

By: - March 3, 2020

Two bills in the Virginia General Assembly are aimed at giving pharmacists greater authority to prescribe and administer certain medications But House and Senate lawmakers can't agree on the best version, all but assuring a closed-door fight for compromise.

Virginia taking precautions but urging calm as coronavirus fears spread

By: - February 28, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam is “taking every precaution to ensure the safety of Virginians” amidst a global outbreak of novel coronavirus, press secretary Alena Yarmosky wrote in an email on Friday. In reality, that translates to watching and waiting as experts learn more about the disease, recently named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. The Virginia […]

Correctional officers stand at the entrance to the Greensville Correctional Center on Nov. 10, 2009, near Jarratt, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senate bill would force Virginia to reveal sources of lethal injection drugs

By: - February 27, 2020

A Senate bill aims to re-introduce transparency to Virginia's execution process, declassifying the sources of lethal injection drugs and ensuring that the names of facilities are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

New bill aims to expand due process rights for students accused of sexual misconduct

By: - February 25, 2020

Proposed legislation in the 2020 General Assembly would require universities to craft policies for expunging transcript notations in cases of sexual misconduct.

General Assembly passes bill relaxing sunscreen restrictions in schools

By: - February 24, 2020

Lawmakers have argued on guns, gambling and gerrymandering over the first few weeks of this year’s legislative session. But there’s at least one area where they all agree: sunscreen. Both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to allow any public elementary or secondary schoolers to carry — and apply — their own […]

Will Virginia get a full Medicaid dental benefit? Advocates say it could be life-altering for poor patients.

By: - February 21, 2020

Only the Senate's budget includes an amendment to provide dental services under the state's Medicaid program. As lawmakers negotiate on a final spending plan, oral health advocates argue that the expanded benefits would save Virginia millions in health care costs.

The State Corporation Commission

House lawmakers authorize $40 million start-up loan for state health exchange

By: - February 20, 2020

House legislators finally put a dollar amount on the cost of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange — a cost met with opposition from Republican delegates. In Thursday’s largely party-line vote, lawmakers approved a budget amendment that would authorize up to $40 million in start-up funding for a state-run health exchange. The money would be […]

Virginia inches closer to ‘menstrual equity’ with legislation requiring schools to provide products

By: - February 19, 2020

A bill to provide free pads and tampons to students just passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly. If signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia would become the fifth state to mandate menstrual supplies in schools.