Debate over police reform grows heated, Va. health officials develop plan for COVID vaccine distribution, the world’s tallest tomatillo plant, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Debate over police reform grew heated in the House of Delegates as GOP members criticized Democrats’ agenda as rushed and Democrats defended them as long overdue.—Associated Press

• Virginia health officials say they’re developing plans to distribute millions of vaccines for COVID-19 once one is approved. “There is huge distrust around this issue because of politicization. That’ll present a huge challenge to us,” said State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver.—Roanoke Times

• Leaders at Virginia Tech said they’re confident COVID-19 cases will taper off after an initial surge.—Roanoke Times

• The House of Delegates passed a bill requiring all local governments to create civilian review boards for their police departments. Similar legislation is still advancing in the Senate that allows but does not require the panels.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A scaled-back version of legislation requiring employers to provide two weeks of paid quarantine leave is heading to the House floor. The legislation now exempts most businesses by limiting the requirement to employers with 50 or more workers.—VPM

• “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants Dominion Energy to cover unpaid residential electric bills with $320 million that regulators say the company previously overcharged.”—Associated Press

• Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales is asking a judge to squash a subpoena filed by the city’s police department calling her as a witness in the felony cases against Sen. Louise Lucas and other city residents following the destruction of a downtown Confederate monument.—Virginian-Pilot

• Lexington City Council finalized a vote to strip Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s name from the city cemetery where he’s buried, renaming the property Oak Grove Cemetery. “Its effect on tourism should be negligible,” said one councilman. “Visitors interested in Jackson don’t come for the sign, they come for the man.”—Roanoke Times

• A judge in Louisa is expected to rule soon on a request to remove a prominent portrait of Robert E. Lee from a circuit courtroom. Lawyers for a Black man facing capital murder charges argue the painting is “a symbol which has been found to be offensive and objectionable by so many Virginians.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• “A blog post attributed to a history professor at George Washington University stated that she had assumed a Black identity for much of her career, despite being White.”—The Washington Post

• A Petersburg man made the Guinness Book of World Records for growing a nearly 10-foot-tall tomatillo plant.—NBC12

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