An ERA roadblock, record temperatures, a gun rally at the Capitol and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• “A new era in Virginia politics began Wednesday, as Democrats took full control of the state house for the first time in a generation and promised to reshape many of the state’s laws.”—Associated Press

• Gov. Ralph Northam promised sweeping change in his annual State of the Commonwealth address. “It’s a proud moment to look out and see a General Assembly that reflects, more than ever, the Virginia we see every day. This is truly an historic night,” he said. House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, predicted the state “will begin to get buyer’s remorse about what they’ve done here.”—The Washington Post

• “The Justice Department has thrown a roadblock into efforts to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, finding that an expired pair of deadlines imposed by Congress on ratification of the measure means it’s too late for additional states to ratify it now.”—Associated Press

• The organizer of a major pro-gun rally planned for Richmond later this month says there’s “nothing menacing” about the plans and that media reports calling it an “armed protest” are inaccurate. He said he’s leaving it to participants to decide what guns, if any, to bring.—WTOP

• Democrats in the state Senate gave Republicans just six of 16 seats on the chamber’s powerful Finance Committee, mirroring the balance Republicans established under their rule. When the GOP complained about the disproportionality, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said they were just following precedent. “We thought that’s what you wanted.”—Daily Press

• Virginia Beach is considering expanding a program to buy or elevate flood-prone properties around the city. Relying on federal funds, they’ve already elevated 24 homes subject to repeated flooding. The new plan would dedicate $500,000 a year in local tax dollars to the program.—The Virginian-Pilot

• “Online lenders who hit Virginians with triple digit interest rates would be barred for doing business in the state under proposed legislation that would also slash charges levied for payday, car title and other short-term loans.”—Daily Press

• Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, submitted legislation that would dedicate a portion of state sales tax receipts in a downtown district to help fund the construction of a new coliseum.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Several busloads of Charlottesville residents rallied on Capitol Square to call for the General Assembly to pass legislation giving local governments the power to remove Confederate statues on public property.—VPM

• The city of Richmond says its recently launched eviction diversion program helped 76 residents avoid losing their housing since October.—VPM

• “Five of the 10 hottest years on record in Virginia occurred during the 2010s, results consistent with the unambiguous warming trend observed around the world.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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