THE BULLETIN — News to know

Quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

Kaine grills Trump’s pick for labor secretary on UVA article questioning gay rights

WASHINGTON -- When Eugene Scalia was a fourth-year English major at the University of Virginia in 1985, he penned an article for the student paper about gay rights. In it, he referred to a lesbian couple that had visited the university, “the proud parents of a daughter fathered by a homosexual acquaintance.”He went on, “Now I do not suggest that we all conform to a particular lifestyle, but this arrangement, for one, is in conflict with the fundamental organization of our society: I do not think that we should treat it as equally acceptable or desirable as the traditional family...
Virginia Mercury

Chesapeake will spend $40,000 to remind voters of May elections; Virginia Tech asks clothing company not to sell hoodie with bullet holes and more headlines

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.• Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney fired his chief administrator after a scathing report found the city hired five of her relatives. In one case, her niece didn’t even have to apply before receiving a job offer for a position paying $70,000. – Richmond Times Dispatch• “Lynchburg prosecutors are weighing criminal charges against three Blue Ridge Regional Jail officers accused of beating a patient at a local hospital.” – The News & Advance• Chesapeake City Council decided not to move its local elections from May to November but has agreed to spend $40,000 to try to...

Population expected to shrink in rural Virginia

By Emma North “More and more people are relocating to Highland County, Virginia, everyday!” the county’s website says. Online, local officials offer resources and encouragement for people to relocate to Highland County, the most sparsely populated in Virginia. A brochure urges readers to consider Highland’s “elevated lifestyle.” But Highland County faces an uphill battle in attracting new residents. Demographers at the University of Virginia predict that the county’s population, now about 2,260, will drop 17% over the next two decades. Of the state’s 133 cities and counties, U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service projects that 53 will lose population by 2040. Most of those shrinking localities are...

Firms that staff hospitals around Virginia behind mysterious push to defend surprise medical bills

For months, a mysterious group called “Doctor Patient Unity” has targeted U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, in a steady barrage of social media ads encouraging him to oppose bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical bills.At the end of last week, The New York Times reported that two private equity-backed doctor staffing companies that work in hospitals around the country, including Virginia, are behind the $28 million ad campaign aimed at influencing the constituents of Cline and about 50 other members of Congress.The companies, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, told The Times they oppose the legislation because it would lead to...
Virginia Mercury

Police will share findings from criminal investigation of Virginia Beach shooting next week; House Democratic candidates report $1M cash advantage over Republicans and more headlines

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.• Virginia Beach police say they’ll share findings next week from their criminal investigation into the shooting deaths of six people in a city office building almost four months ago, including an account of the days events and details about the shooter and his work history.” – The Virginian-Pilot• Democratic candidates for the House of Delegate reported a $1 million cash advantage over their Republican opponents in campaign finance reports due this week. Republicans in the senate held onto a small cash advantage. – Associated Press• Del. Nick Fretas, R-Culpeper, picked up a $500,000...

Voter registration up in Democratic strongholds

By Kelly Booth Over the past four years, voter registration has grown more in Virginia localities that tend to vote Democratic than in localities that usually go Republican. That could spell trouble for the GOP heading into November’s elections. Between August 2015 and August 2019, voter registration increased 9% in the state’s Democratic strongholds but only 6% in Republican strongholds, according to an analysis of data from the Virginia Department of Elections. Democratic Party officials say they are pleased about the trend in a year when Virginians are electing state legislators but not a governor or U.S. senator. “We always say slower turnout...

Elections officials say overseas voters should send ballots back early in case the U.S. leaves an international mail agreement

State elections officials have asked deployed service members and other overseas voters to submit their absentee ballots three weeks before Election Day in case the United States leaves an international postal agreement.“It may be that mail won’t get delivered from these locations,” said Chris Piper, elections commissioner. “That obviously affects our uniformed and overseas citizens.”Overseas absentee voters have until Oct. 29, a week before the election, to request a ballot for the Nov. 5 election. If the U.S. decides to leave the Universal Postal Union, the country may stop receiving and delivering international mail Oct. 17.Piper told the Board...

Northam calls for carbon-free electric grid by 2050

In a surprise executive order Tuesday morning, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a sweeping directive committing Virginia to making its electric grid 100 percent carbon free by 2050.“Virginia’s policy structures have historically focused on the traditional power sector model of large, centralized power stations and conventional transmission and distribution infrastructure,” the text of the order proclaims. “In the coming years, renewable energy technologies and distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, smart meters, and battery storage are likely to make up an ever increasing share of our energy system.”The announcement, delivered at the beginning of the state's inaugural Clean Energy...
Virginia Mercury

Republican House candidate in competitive Richmond suburbs breaks from party on gun reform; Culpeper considering strict solar farm rules and more headlines

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.• DeAndre Harris, speaking at length for the first time since he was beaten by white supremacists in a Charlottesville parking garage, says his attackers deserved stiffer sentences. “In the next six years, all these guys will be right back at it. I thought they’d be going to jail for a longer time. If it had been a white guy who was attacked, and it was all my friends beating him up, we would never have seen the light of day again.” – The Washington Post• The Office of the State Inspector...

Va. lottery says it’s on track to lose $140 million this year to unregulated ‘skill games’

Virginia lawmakers appeared to take serious notice of the proliferation of gray market “skill games” for the first time Monday after the Virginia Lottery reported they could lose as much as $140 million this year to competition from the new devices.The games look and function like slot machines, advertising jackpots and spitting out cash vouchers, but purport to incorporate an element of skill that manufacturers argue means they don’t run afoul of the state’s prohibition on gambling. In many cases, that skill is limited to pressing an additional button to complete a simple pattern.A game from an unidentified manufacturer...