Cell phone driving ban, state immunity from disability discrimination suits, a new area code for the 757, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• “Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain’s populist Brexit Party, lent his support to the nascent Vexit movement at Liberty University on Wednesday, saying Virginia localities upset with the direction of the state government should have the right to break away and join West Virginia.”—The News & Advance

• The House and the Senate have both passed legislation that would ban motorists from using handheld mobile devices while driving.—The Washington Post

• “A bill that would abolish the death penalty in Virginia was put off for a year on Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A Senate panel narrowly advanced legislation requiring gun owners to file a report if their weapons are lost or stolen.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• House of Delegates committees advanced legislation to clean up coal ash ponds in Southwestern Virginia and establish a state-level Green New Deal, which includes a moratorium on new fossil fuel power plants and requires all electric generation to come from clean sources by 2036.—The Roanoke Times

• Legislation to give counties the same authority as cities to tax cigarettes is advancing, but lawmakers want to cap the levy at 40 cents a pack.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A state police special agent diagnosed with PTSD after years on a child pornography task force says he was denied repeated requests to transfer and eventually demoted. That’s when he learned the state is immune from lawsuits over disability discrimination. “The dirty little secret is you can complain all you want, but if they don’t choose to give you any relief, you’re out of luck,” said his lawyer. “That’s nothing short of outrageous.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• “A wife’s adultery didn’t cause a Virginia couple’s divorce, but it can be used to determine whether she should get spousal support, according to an opinion issued by the commonwealth’s court of appeals.”—WTOP

• It would cost Danville $2.4 million a year to pay full salaries and benefits for employees to do work currently performed by jail inmates, who are paid $2 a day.—The Danville Register & Bee

• “Metro board member Christian Dorsey, who promised three months ago to repay a $10,000 campaign donation that violated the board’s ethics policy, has not yet refunded the money and is likely to be replaced as Virginia’s representative on the regional board.”—The Washington Post

• “Monday is the deadline to register to vote in Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary next month.”—The Roanoke Times

• Tribune Publishing announced it shrank The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press by another 20 people in a second consecutive year of buyouts.—The Virginian-Pilot

• The North American Numbering Plan Administrator announced Hampton Roads’ second area code will be 948 and could be introduced as early as the end of next year, when the region’s current 757 code is expected to run out of numbers.—The Virginian-Pilot

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