Republicans ask to push back primary season for redistricting; First Lady visits Liberty University; new school times for Virginia Beach students and more headlines

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

— Virginia House Republicans asked a federal court to push back next year’s primary season as they sort out a redistricting legal battle. The Party’s appeal isn’t scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court until February, and with every seat in the General Assembly up for election, working under two different maps would cause “unnecessary chaos” Speaker of the House Kirk Cox said. – Richmond Times-Dispatch

— Newly elected Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger joined the Blue Dog Caucus, the group announced Wednesday. The Caucus is made up of 24 fiscally conservative Democrats. – Richmond Times-Dispatch

— First Lady Melania Trump visited Liberty University Wednesday to discuss the opioid epidemic, part of her “Be Best” youth initiative. She told the college students to think about the choices they make now. “I am here to remind you some of those decisions, though they may seem minor at the time, could negatively impact you for the rest of your lives,” she said. – The Roanoke Times

— Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who served under former governors Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell, told students at Averett University in Danville that government is broken because ideological extremism and a lack of compromise. – Danville Register & Bee

— A man from Sterling pleaded guilty to raping and killing 17-year-old Muslim teenager Nabra Hassanen of Reston last year while she was walking to Ramadan services. The plea allows Darwin Martinez-Torres to avoid the death penalty in the brutal murder that got national attention. – Associated Press

— Students in Virginia Beach will start school at a different time starting in the 2020 school year. The school board unanimously approved changing the start times and will weigh specific options over the next several months. – The Virginian-Pilot

— The Stafford County Board of Supervisors approved tax rebates for a Maryland company to build a 485,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution near the county airport. Leaders called it a “game-changing project” and construction will begin next year. – Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star

— Arlington’s only hospital got permission to add 101 more beds. Virginia Hospital Center wants to build a seven-story outpatient building and six-story parking garage on land that had to be rezoned by the county board. – The Washington Post

— Advance Auto Parts will move its headquarters to Raleigh, which moves the company closer to tech-savvy workers, CEO Tom Greco said. The company will retain 600 jobs in Roanoke. – Associated Press

— A golden retriever named Addie from Fieldale is one of the stars in a community theater production of “Annie.” But it’s hard to be a puppy and a star: “At first she did really well” in rehearsals, owner Daniel Locklear said. “Now it’s more of a struggle, when they put in the music.” Addie stays focused with the help of pepperoni treats. – Martinsville Bulletin

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.