New driving laws go into effect Jan. 1, Fairfax’s top prosecutor formally renounces cash bail, Democrats don’t plan to revive assault weapon ban, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• “A new report from Old Dominion University says that it will likely take years for the state of Virginia to achieve a complete economic recovery from the devastating coronavirus pandemic.”—Associated Press

• New state laws go into effect Jan. 1 banning holding a phone while driving, granting driver privilege cards to some undocumented immigrants and requiring in-person training to obtain a concealed handgun permit.—Roanoke Times

• VMI’s student-run justice system expels Black students at a disproportionately higher rate than White students. In one high-profile case, a White student who admitted he threatened to lynch a Black cadet was suspended. That same Black cadet was later expelled over cheating allegations professors and students called flimsy.—Washington Post

• The Virginia Lottery expects to approve more than a dozen online sports betting licenses next month.—Associated Press

• “The Virginia Department of Corrections said the number of inmates and staff with active COVID-19 cases is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• The Fairfax County’s commonwealth’s attorney announced his office would no longer seek cash bail, joining a small but growing group of prosecutors who have taken a similar stance. “It creates a two-tiered system of justice — one for the rich and one for everybody else,” said Steve Descano, who took office in January.—Washington Post

• A Chesterfield man whose young son shot himself in the hand is one of the first people in the state to be prosecuted under a Virginia law that increased the penalty for recklessly leaving guns near children.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• “Virginia Beach’s police chief on Monday offered a public apology to a Black man who was wrongly detained and handcuffed at Lynnhaven Mall this weekend, while also vowing to determine if any of the department’s policies and procedures were violated.”—Virginian-Pilot

• Democratic lawmakers say they don’t expect to revive legislation that would ban assault weapons, which was one of the most controversial gun control measures debated in the General Assembly earlier this year.—WRIC

• Virginia Rep.-elect Bob Good recently called the coronavirus pandemic “phony.” PolitiFact, citing the dictionary definition of “pandemic” and consulting with 10 top science and health authorities around the world, rated the claim “Pants on Fire!”—VPM 

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