A storm passes over the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Sept. 11, 2018)

Sex trafficking legislation calls for ‘John schools’ and making ‘happy endings’ illegal, among other policy changes

BY: - December 4, 2018

Members of the Virginia State Crime Commission endorsed a package of anti-sex-trafficking legislation Monday that would open victim-restitution funds to former prostitutes, create “John schools” for people caught buying sex and make it illegal to charge for “masturbatory services,” as one local sheriff recently described them. The commission, made up of lawmakers and gubernatorial appointees, […]

Fields trial enters second week; Bookstore owners to fight Amazon deal; Spanberger votes no on Pelosi; Pipeline money goes to Albemarle park and more headlines

BY: - December 3, 2018

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere. — Small bookstore owners are definitely not excited about the Amazon deal and plan to lobby against it during the coming General Assembly session. “I actually voted for people who are using my tax dollars to put me out of business. In no […]

‘You have no control:’ As admissions rise, overcrowding at state psychiatric hospitals threatens care and safety

BY: - December 3, 2018

In her Ashland home, which is overflowing with knickknacks and pictures of horses and dogs, Traci Jones stretches her fingers out before her and shrugs. She doesn’t know exactly how many temporary-detention orders she’s received, she says. But she knows it’s more than she can count on both hands. For a little more than 10 […]

Federal permits issued for Atlantic seismic testing, including along Virginia coast

BY: - November 30, 2018

Federal permits to allow Atlantic seismic testing, a preparatory step for future offshore drilling possibly off the coast of Virginia, were issued Friday despite widespread opposition from environmental groups, localities and other states along the east coast. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approved incidental harassment authorizations for […]

Governor won’t ‘seat’ new air board members, but still plans to swear them in, precluding participation of former members

BY: - November 30, 2018

Under fire from environmentalists, Gov. Ralph Northam said earlier this week he wouldn’t seat two new appointees to the State Air Pollution Control Board until after a critical vote next month on a pipeline compressor station. So what exactly does “seat” mean? The semantics, it turns out, could be important, because some environmental groups argue […]

Neo-Nazi murder trial in Charlottesville underway; climate change and its impact on Virginia; a Confederate defender visits African American history museum and other news

BY: - November 30, 2018

NEWS TO KNOW Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere. —The murder trial of James A. Fields Jr., a neo-Nazi who drove a car into a crowd of protesters at last year’s Unite the Right rally, injuring 35 people and killing Heather Heyer, is underway this week. So far prosecutors have attempted to […]

Could the timing be right for a redistricting constitutional amendment?

BY: - November 30, 2018

A redistricting reform advocacy group has again drafted a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission that would take responsibility for drawing the boundaries of Virginia’s legislative districts out of the hands of the General Assembly. Some observers think the latest campaign is coming at an opportune moment: Republicans are facing the potential loss […]

Virginia hasn’t seen much improvement in its rate of uninsured children. Could Medicaid expansion help?

BY: - November 30, 2018

For the first time in a decade, the number of children without health insurance rose nationally in 2017, a new report shows. And while Virginia’s slight increase isn’t statistically significant, its rate is still larger than most states that have already expanded Medicaid, suggesting Virginia could see an improvement in 2019 after expansion. Between 2016 […]

Woodbridge physician pleads guilty to operating opioid pill mill

BY: - November 29, 2018

After his nurse practitioner and co-conspirator pleaded guilty in September, a former physician in Woodbridge pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating a pill mill that illegally distributed more than 600,000 oxycodone pills. Shriharsh Laxman Pole, 65, voluntarily surrendered his medical license twice — in 2009 and 2013 — then turned around and founded Excel Medical Clinic, […]

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

BY: - November 29, 2018

NEWS TO KNOW 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 […]

Rep for Va. Supreme Court chief calls proposed eviction-diversion program ‘incredibly expensive window dressing’

BY: - November 29, 2018

A proposed eviction-diversion program is facing strong opposition from the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, whose representative called it “incredibly expensive window dressing.” The remarks came Wednesday during a meeting of a sub-committee of the Virginia Housing Commission, which has spent the last six months reviewing potential legislation to address the highest-in-the-nation […]

Equal Rights Amendment campaign sets sights on General Assembly session

BY: - November 29, 2018

Organizers pushing for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment are shifting from a statewide bus tour to building buzz and gathering more patrons for legislation coming in the next General Assembly session. “We are now on the journey to January,” said Del. Jennifer Foy, D-Woodbridge. “Now we are trying to canvas and poll and […]