Right-to-work, flooding in Southwest Va., a roadblock in jail death inquiry, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Hampton Roads Regional Jail, where the 2015 death of a mentally ill man prompted the state to begin investigating all jail deaths around the state, is refusing to fully participate in those inquiries, according to the State Board of Corrections, whose members called the jail’s response to recent records requests “wholly inadequate” and a “blatant attempt to frustrate” investigations.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Lawmakers in the House are scheduled to debate legislation to ban assault weapons this morning.—Associated Press

• A proposal to repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law cleared the House’s Labor and Commerce Committee on a party-line vote. It will now be heard by the House Appropriations Committee, where lawmakers will weigh estimates from the state’s economic development authority that the state would lose thousands of new manufacturing jobs as a result of companies locating elsewhere.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• The House of Delegates passed legislation to end a ban on collective bargaining by public employees.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to ban open containers of alcohol in vehicles is facing opposition from lawmakers who wondered how they’d get a half-empty bottle of wine home from a restaurant. “I’m not going to put a bottle of wine in the trunk so it can roll around. I’m going to put it in the pocket behind the seat,” said Sen. Bill DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• The Port of Virginia says the coronavirus outbreak in China, a top trading partner, could mean fewer ships coming in and out of Hampton Roads.—The Virginian-Pilot

• A local government exchange initiative aims to bridge the state’s urban-rural divide by sending employees from Northern Virginia localities to Southwest and vice versa. “Let’s visit each other and look at other people’s cultures and what they need and then come back to Richmond to make policy and do good things,” Northam said.—The Roanoke Times

• The House joined the Senate in passing legislation eliminating Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday. The bills would instead make Election Day a holiday.—WAMU

• “The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to begin a formal discussion about changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia.”—WTOP

• A historical plaque marking the site of a slave auction in Charlottesville was removed, but police say “they aren’t sure if the plaque was stolen or ‘taken for protection.’”—The Daily Progress

• Flooding in Southwest Virginia “left dozens of people stranded in their homes and vehicles Thursday, requiring a number of rescue missions and some evacuations.”—Bristol Herald Courier

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