States stiffen penalties for fentanyl, despite public health concerns

BY: - July 21, 2023

As they struggle to reduce drug overdose deaths, policymakers across the United States are embroiled in a heated debate over creating and increasing criminal penalties related to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Legislators pushing the new wave of criminal penalties say the laws will deter drug […]

Five years of commentary at the Virginia Mercury

BY: - July 17, 2023

Since its start, the Mercury has strived to share informed opinions from a wide swath of communities across the commonwealth. Publishing guest columns – by subject matter experts, community leaders and Virginians of all stripes – and weekly pieces by our cache of columnists allows us to listen, learn and circulate diverse viewpoints about what […]

Looking back on five years of the Mercury

BY: - July 17, 2023

Just over five years ago, an email landed in my inbox.  “Hi Sarah,” it read. “Not sure if you’ve seen the news about us, but I’d like to talk to you about a few freelance assignments I have available for our launch, which is scheduled for later this month. I came across your portfolio and […]

Making the Mercury

BY: - July 17, 2023

In February of 2018 I was staring down 38, with one child about to turn three, another about to be born and a mortgage on a small place in the Maymont neighborhood of Richmond. My employer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, had just laid off a bunch of people in another round of cuts. I’d seen buyouts, […]

Mercury alums look back on their favorite stories

BY: - July 17, 2023

During its five years (and counting!) of operation, the Virginia Mercury has been blessed with a wealth of talented and dedicated reporters, whether on staff or as freelancers. Many of these journalists have since moved on to other roles — Ned Oliver went on to help launch Axios’s Richmond outpost, Mechelle Hankerson is now news […]

On a record day in D.C. for smoke pollution, U.S. Senate panel debates wildfire strategy

BY: - June 9, 2023

As smoke from Canadian wildfires caused the most hazardous air conditions on record in the Washington, D.C., area on Thursday, members of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said that Congress should lift federal firefighter pay and encourage logging to reduce the risk of future blazes. “Smoke from the wildfires burning right now […]

Portsmouth weighing return of city properties and more Va. headlines

BY: - December 23, 2022

• Nine consultants used by the Youngkin administration to review controversial draft history and social sciences standards represent a range of conservative perspectives such as dissatisfaction with the 1619 Project and concerns about “minimiz(ing) the experiences and contributions of white men during the Revolutionary War.”—VPM • After Portsmouth took control of almost all of the predominantly Black […]

Kaine takes up the fight to resurrect Northern Neck Ginger Ale

BY: - December 13, 2022

Sen. Tim Kaine is wading into the battle to resurrect Northern Neck Ginger Ale, a soft drink produced in Montross for almost 75 years that has maintained a cult following in Virginia despite being discontinued in 2020.  In a letter to Coca-Cola, which produced the beverage and owns its recipe, Kaine urged the company “to […]

Virginia to hold public input sessions on new history standards in October

BY: - September 15, 2022

The Virginia Board of Education plans to finalize new history and social science standards in January after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration raised concerns with what they said were a number of errors and content issues in a draft. Education officials also proposed at Wednesday’s work session to begin holding public input sessions on the standards […]

U.S. Supreme Court expands gun rights in striking down New York concealed carry law

BY: - June 23, 2022

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that made it illegal to carry a firearm in public without showing a special need for protection. The court ruled that the state’s concealed carry law violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution — a major decision that expands the Second […]

Youngkin ceremonially signs Virginia budget while calling for more tax relief

BY: - June 21, 2022

Throughout a ceremonial bill signing with the pomp of a campaign event, Gov. Glenn Youngkin touted Virginia’s latest budget as a win for his administration, even as he criticized Senate Democrats for blocking key priorities including a gas tax suspension. “We’ve taken the important steps to eliminate the state’s portion of the grocery tax, increase […]

Invasive fire ants continue their march across Virginia

BY: - May 31, 2022

As a young boy in Connecticut, Alvin Cajigas played with harmless ants. When he was 11 and living in Puerto Rico, he came across a mound of dirt a few inches tall. He knocked the top off with a finger. “Hundreds of ants, or thousands of ants, came swarming out,” recalled Cajigas, now in his […]