Northam’s free community college plan would cost $145M; The state of recycling programs in Virginia and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

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• Gov. Ralph Northam proposed spending $145 million to offer “free tuition and other financial support to low- and moderate-income community college students who are willing to give back in terms of work, public service or community service.” The plan was one of his signature campaign promises.—Daily Press

• In Virginia, 22 percent of eviction judgments over unpaid rent were for less than $600. “Such relatively small sums suggest that, for all of the intractable problems of poverty and affordable housing driving the nation’s eviction crisis, a little intervention could help many people. And politicians in Washington increasingly have such ideas in mind: court translators, more legal aid, mediation — even emergency rent assistance.”—The New York Times

• “A handful of persistent Virginians, burned by triple-digit interest rates on their online loans, won a groundbreaking national settlement that aims to close a loophole that let loan firms pretend to be Native Americans to skirt state loan-sharking laws. The settlement, approved Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck, wipes out some $380 million of debts owed by more than one million people across the country.”—Daily Press

• Bipartisan legislation announced Thursday would allow state regulators to once again review utility electric rates, set profit levels and order customer refunds.—The Washington Post

• A state report on recycling programs found “curbside recycling programs are being cut, contracts with waste management providers are being renegotiated, and some recycling programs are being shuttered entirely.”—The Roanoke Times

• Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline agreed to pay $2.15 million to settle a lawsuit over environmental damage caused by construction.—The Roanoke Times

• After taking a month-long no-car challenge, a Richmond City Councilman is proposing a package of pedestrian safety measures, including banning drivers from making right turns on red in parts of the city.—Capital News Service

• The 90-year-old mother of former state Del. Tom Gear is charged with embezzling $180,000 from the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary in Hampton, where she serves as treasurer. The family says the money went to feed Gear’s gambling addiction, which was discovered after he committed suicide last year.—The Virginian-Pilot

• James Fields filed notice he’s appealing his state conviction for the Charlottesville car attack in which he killed one and injured dozens.—The Daily Progress

• Former football star Michael Vick owes the city of Hampton $70,800 in unpaid local taxes on a fleet of luxury cars that includes two Land Rovers, two Cadillacs and a Mercedes.—Daily Press

• “Post Malone, Chance the Rapper, Tyler, the Creator, Migos, A$AP Rocky, Pharrell and Friends, and Playboi Carti are headed to Pharrell William’s Something in the Water music festival in April, organizers announced.”—The Virginian-Pilot

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