General Assembly 2020 begins today, another spate of Confederate statue graffiti, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• The General Assembly reconvenes today. Democrats gathered yesterday to outline an agenda for their first year in power in more than two decades, reiterating promises to enact new gun laws, raise the minimum wage, pass the Equal Rights Amendment, ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and ease voting restrictions.—Associated Press

• Lawmakers have filed more than 1,300 bills already, up from around 750 at this time last year.—Daily Press

• Lobbying groups are preparing to descend on Capitol Square.—The Virginian-Pilot

• A helpful primer on how the General Assembly actually works.—Greater Greater Washington

• A VCU Center for Public Policy poll found 53 percent of respondents favor stricter gun laws, 30 percent think they’re about right and 17 percent think they should be less strict.—VPM

• Virginia transportation officials confirmed they paved over the 40-year-old nesting site for 25,000 seabirds last month as part of an expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The Trump administration eliminated regulations that would have required the state to establish an alternative habitat. “There’s no doubt that there will be thousands of birds that will come back this spring,” said a researcher. “It’s really hard to predict what will happen.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• A councilwoman in Virginia Beach, the site of a mass shooting in a municipal building last year, withdrew a proposal to ask the General Assembly to allow localities to ban guns on government property after residents, including a survivor of the attack, argued for the city to instead explicitly allow employees to carry weapons.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Someone spray-painted “This is Racist” on the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.—NBC12

• Farmville makes about $20,000 a month from ICE by contracting with a private company to operate an immigration detention center in the town. “Essentially (Farmville) kind of serves as a broker and then they take a kickback and then it’s the company that reaps the large benefits,” said one immigrant rights advocate.—WVTF

• Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg visited Richmond.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Military bases around the state beefed up security amid escalating hostilities with Iran.—The Free Lance-Star

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