Statue removal bill backfires, Richmond tent city, little relief for crumbling schools, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• It’s been a year since a racist photo was discovered in Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook, “setting off a chain of events that nearly brought down the entire Democratic leadership in Virginia and handed unified control of state government to Republicans.”—The Virginian-Pilot

• In an effort to troll Democrats who support removing Confederate statues, a freshman GOP delegate from Lynchburg proposed legislation to remove a statue of a notoriously racist Democrat, Harry Byrd Sr., from Capitol Square. But the effort appeared to backfire last week when the patron tried to withdraw the bill, saying he didn’t actually want to remove the statue, and Democrats refused to let him, saying they support the proposal.—The Roanoke Times

• Bills to provide state funding to local school districts to repair crumbling school buildings aren’t making it very far even as lawmakers from both parties acknowledge the problem is growing dire.—The Roanoke Times

• “Gov. Ralph Northam’s push to reinstate some forms of parole in Virginia is stirring anger among crime victims and prompting dire warnings from Republicans about the danger of letting criminals go free.”—The Washington Post

• With the General Assembly rapidly approaching its halfway point, lawmakers are still weighing more than 20 gambling-related proposals.—Bristol Herald Courier

• In the absence of state-level legal guidance, three mini casinos have opened in storefronts outside Danville, packed with so-called skill games that operators insist are legal.—The Danville Register & Bee

• The House of Delegates voted 61-37 for a bill that would prevent students from being arrested for disorderly conduct at school.—WTOP

• House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn’s office blames an administrative error on the revival of a bill that would devote sales tax dollars to a disputed Richmond development proposal, which Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, had proposed but subsequently asked to be withdrawn.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Legislation to equip more state hospitals with forensic nurses equipped to examine sexual assault survivors is advancing. Currently only 16 of 122 hospitals in the state can perform necessary exams, forcing some victims to travel hundreds of miles to multiple hospitals.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Dulles International Airport is one of 11 airports where all flights and passengers from China will be routed and potentially quarantined as part of a plan to protect the country against coronavirus.—The Washington Post

• Volunteers are operating an organized tent city for the homeless in Richmond outside the city-operated hypothermia shelter. It’s housing about 80 people. “We have people here who are working, but they don’t make enough to pay rent. And there are others who are disabled and can’t work,” said one organizer. “There are a lot of reasons people end up here.”—Richmond Free Press

• Archaeologists digging in the median of Interstate 64 in York County discovered a Civil War-era witch bottle. “Unfortunately, the term ‘witch bottle’ is a bit sensationalist,” said one researcher. “But they’re nothing more than good luck charms, like where one would put a horseshoe over the door or carry a four-leaf clover. Their use goes back to antiquity.”—Daily Press

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