Northam hits pause on Medicaid work rule; RPV director announces resignation; Virginia’s defamation laws attract ‘bizarre’ batch of lawsuits and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Gov. Ralph Northam announced the state would stop pursuing a work requirement for Medicaid enrollees, citing decisive Democratic victories last month. The provision was a key component of the compromise that led some Republicans to support expansion two years ago. “Virginians made it clear they want more access to health care, not less,” Northam said in a statement.—Associated Press

• The executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, John Findlay, announced he is resigning — a decision he said he made amid historic GOP losses on election night. “It’s an exhausting job, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s a great job. … I just want to do something else.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• There are no state standards governing how teachers are trained to use restraints and seclusion in classrooms.—VPM

• Virginia’s weak laws governing defamation lawsuits have drawn a bizarre array of plaintiffs from around the country to file lawsuits here that critics say are of dubious legal merit and instead intended to intimidate critics.—C-VILLE

• Dominion “has consistently over-forecast electricity demand to justify building new capacity, primarily natural gas plants with dubious economics that will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers.”—S&P Global Market Intelligence

• “Nearly 40,000 Northern Virginia bus riders will face limited to no service on Thursday as workers for the state’s largest transit system decided to go on strike beginning at 3 a.m. They join a group of Metrobus workers who have been on strike since late October.”—The Washington Post

• Prince William County lawmakers are pushing for legislation to open a public defenders’ office in the locality, a move they argue will improve legal representation for poor defendants.—Prince William Times

• A U.S. Postal Service special agent tasked with investigating waste and fraud shot a postal employee at a post office in Loudoun. No further details were released.—WTOP

• At least three more counties — Orange, King George and Culpeper — declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” bringing the total count to above 40.—Orange County ReviewThe Free Lance-StarCulpeper Star-Exponent

• “A con man who told The New York Times and two high-powered attorneys representing victims of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein that he had video of Epstein’s prominent friends having sex with young women first approached The Winchester Star with his bogus claims.”—The Winchester Star

• An Arlington County crew spent an hour and a half helping a teenager recover his iPhone from a storm drain. “Our folks have the skills to get down there and find something.”—The Washington Post