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Pandemic workplace safety regulations, first of their kind in U.S., advance in Virginia - Virginia Mercury

Pandemic workplace safety regulations, first of their kind in U.S., advance in Virginia - Virginia Mercury

    They didn’t take any final votes or even discuss the content of the proposed regulations, but a state board weighing what could become the country’s first pandemic workplace safety rules agreed in principal Wednesday to press ahead with the sweeping new mandates.“In this moment, I think we need to take action,” said Milagro Rodriguez, a member of the state’s Safety and Health Codes Board, which has been tasked with vetting and approving emergency regulations that, among other things, would mandate social distancing in all workplaces and require employers to notify employees if a...

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Jun 25
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Virginia sees historic Medicaid enrollment during COVID-19 pandemic - Virginia Mercury

Virginia sees historic Medicaid enrollment during COVID-19 pandemic - Virginia Mercury

    From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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Jun 30
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More than 12,000 eviction cases could head to trial as Virginia rushes to provide rent relief - Virginia Mercury

More than 12,000 eviction cases could head to trial as Virginia rushes to provide rent relief - Virginia Mercury

    Gov. Ralph Northam says a rent and mortgage relief program will be ready to launch Monday, the same day courts around the state can begin hearing a backlog of more than 12,000 eviction cases that were put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.Advocates called it an impossibly tight turnaround, urging Northam Thursday to extend a state-wide moratorium on evictions until after the relief program goes live and tenants can begin receiving aid.“These actions are not enough,” wrote the directors of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Justice Center and New Virginia Majority in a...

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Jun 25
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Senate Democrats release six-point plan for criminal justice reform in Virginia, House Dems plan hearings - Virginia Mercury

Senate Democrats release six-point plan for criminal justice reform in Virginia, House Dems plan hearings - Virginia Mercury

    Democrats in the Senate outlined an expansive criminal justice reform agenda Friday they say their 21-member majority has agreed to pursue during a coming special session of the General Assembly.The proposals range from a ban on no-knock warrants to a plan that would cut state funding to local law enforcement agencies that disproportionately use force against minorities.“Our constituents want change,” said Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “We hear that loud and clear from them. They want policy change. They’re pretty much done with thoughts and...

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Jun 26
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After a string of losses, Virginia Republicans wrestle with hard right’s influence - Virginia Mercury

After a string of losses, Virginia Republicans wrestle with hard right’s influence - Virginia Mercury

 Gillespie lost in 2017 to current Gov. Ralph Northam , a crushing defeat the Gillespie campaign attributed largely to a voter backlash against the Trump White House.Primary voters will also be choosing a congressional nominee to run in the Virginia Beach-anchored 2nd District, where former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor is considered a favorite and would get a rematch against U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, who beat him in 2018.From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and...

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Jun 23
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Virginia’s COVID metrics are trending down. Here's why the state isn't reopening faster. - Virginia Mercury

Virginia’s COVID metrics are trending down. Here's why the state isn't reopening faster. - Virginia Mercury

 If is truly following the science and data, Phase 3 should start on Friday.— VA House GOP (@vahousegop)From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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kamamasters
Jun 22
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Virginia’s proposed workplace safety rules would make social distancing mandatory - Virginia Mercury

Virginia’s proposed workplace safety rules would make social distancing mandatory - Virginia Mercury

 Virginia workplace safety regulators are proposing emergency COVID-19 rules for businesses that would make social distancing mandatory and require employers to notify their employees within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus.The , published Friday and scheduled to go before the state Safety and Health Codes Board on June 24, represent the state’s first step toward implementing across-the-board safety regulations for employers and employees in response to the virus.“With enforceable regulations, workers will feel more empowered to speak out for their safety in the...

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nedoliver
Jun 17
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After a less rainy spring, the Chesapeake Bay may see smaller dead zone than normal - Virginia Mercury

After a less rainy spring, the Chesapeake Bay may see smaller dead zone than normal - Virginia Mercury

 Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have found that the Chesapeake’s dead zone, which appears along its main-stem in the summer, and as much as 5 percent of its volume.From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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Jun 18
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Some influential early Virginians also targeted statues - Virginia Mercury

Some influential early Virginians also targeted statues - Virginia Mercury

 By Meredith Henne BakerLast week, police in Portsmouth two NAACP leaders who called for the removal of a Confederate monument.Afterward, angry protesters pelted the monument with bricks, then attempted to pull it down as a brass band blared celebratory tunes in the background. After community member Chris Green was seriously injured by a toppled statue, police dispersed the crowd and Gov. Ralph Northam urged protesters to let officials safely remove monuments. As the crowd cleared, four statues were decapitated, one lay on the ground, and another found himself disarmed via bolt...

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Jun 17
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On Chesapeake Bay pollution, Virginia should also take a look in the mirror - Virginia Mercury

On Chesapeake Bay pollution, Virginia should also take a look in the mirror - Virginia Mercury

 By Tom Pelton and Mariah LammWith a Chesapeake Bay cleanup deadline bearing down in less than five years, joined his counterparts in Maryland and the District of Columbia in filing a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its failure to enforce a landmark 2010 bay restoration agreement.Virginia is right to take legal action, because the Trump Administration EPA has been derelict in its duty to crack down on pollution from Pennsylvania (the Bay’s biggest polluter) and New York State.  However, Virginia should not only point the finger at others.  The commonwealth...

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May 19
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It's time to electrify Virginia - Virginia Mercury

It's time to electrify Virginia - Virginia Mercury

 By Chris Meyer and John Semmelhack Chris Meyer is executive director of the , a nonprofit with offices in Charlottesville and Fairfax. John Semmelhack is the owner of , a building-science consultancy based in Charlottesville.From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights...

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May 21
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Virginia officials say they’ll need 41,000 bottles of sanitizer, 172,000 masks for safe elections - Virginia Mercury

Virginia officials say they’ll need 41,000 bottles of sanitizer, 172,000 masks for safe elections - Virginia Mercury

 Some registrars aren’t waiting on the state to solve their supply issues.Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter said her office built up its own stockpiles of hand sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol after an exhaustive search for suppliers.“I begged, borrowed, scraped and finally found a vendor,” Showalter said.The Richmond election office has also improvised other solutions for the June primaries, like sneeze guards made from shower curtains and PVC pipe.To follow a CDC recommendation against using senior living centers or nursing homes as polling places, Showalter said she’s made arrangements to...

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May 19
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This $4B road project had a bird problem. Dogs are helping fix it - Virginia Mercury

This $4B road project had a bird problem. Dogs are helping fix it - Virginia Mercury

 The 25,000-bird colony of various avian species has been a part of the island since the 1980s. Because threatened species have legal protections, the springtime return of the gull-billed tern had potential to bring work to a halt on a project meant to ease congestion in one of the state’s most traffic-choked regions.To resolve the issue, Gov. Ralph Northam put allowing the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to to relocate the nests and eggs of threatened birds. But officials were hoping that step won’t be necessary. The language requires VDOT and its contractor to take “all reasonable...

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May 21
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Some Virginia nursing homes are still struggling to source basic supplies - Virginia Mercury

Some Virginia nursing homes are still struggling to source basic supplies - Virginia Mercury

 From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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kamamasters
May 19
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Virginia sees new voter registrations plummet in April - Virginia Mercury

Virginia sees new voter registrations plummet in April - Virginia Mercury

 From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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May 14
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Virginia won’t require people to search for jobs to get unemployment checks in Phase 1 - Virginia Mercury

Virginia won’t require people to search for jobs to get unemployment checks in Phase 1 - Virginia Mercury

 Businesses from shopping malls to barber shops are making plans to reopen Friday under Gov. Ralph Northam’s loosened stay-at-home restrictions.But for now, the more than 300,000 people receiving unemployment benefits through the state won’t have to go out every week looking for jobs to continue receiving weekly checks.Northam’s chief work force adviser, Megan Healy, said the administration had been considering reinstating the program’s job search requirement as part of the first phase of the state’s reopening. Normally, recipients must certify weekly that they applied for at least two jobs...

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nedoliver
May 15
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Northam administration says federal fisheries relief ‘falls woefully short’ - Virginia Mercury

Northam administration says federal fisheries relief ‘falls woefully short’ - Virginia Mercury

 “In a region where the (seafood) industry has an economic impact of $4.6 billion and supports more than 30,000 jobs, the wider ripple effects of an industry collapse will be devastating,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Federal Executive Director Jason Rano in a statement.From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest...

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May 12
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Even after pipeline pollution, DEQ is still resisting water protections and public participation - Virginia Mercury

Even after pipeline pollution, DEQ is still resisting water protections and public participation - Virginia Mercury

 By David SlighDavid Sligh is the conservation director for , an environmental nonprofit. He is an environmental attorney and a former Virginia Department of Environmental Quality engineer.From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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May 11
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Casinos are shuttered across America. But gaming interests say they’re still coming to Virginia - Virginia Mercury

Casinos are shuttered across America. But gaming interests say they’re still coming to Virginia - Virginia Mercury

 The closest thing to casinos in Virginia now — the Rosie’s slots parlors operated by Colonial Downs Group — have been shut down for more than six weeks under Gov. Ralph Northam’s order closing indoor entertainment facilities. Those venues will remain closed under the tentative reopening plan the governor wants to implement Friday.Colonial Downs — which is considering opening new locations in Danville and the town of Dumfries in Prince William County — said it is continuing to pay its employees full salaries and benefits during the shutdown.“We are optimistic as Virginia shifts from...

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May 11
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Reopening Virginia hinges on PPE and testing. But the state won't give details on contract to boost supplies. - Virginia Mercury

Reopening Virginia hinges on PPE and testing. But the state won't give details on contract to boost supplies. - Virginia Mercury

 The Mercury also requested any reports or recommendations that McKinsey had issued through the contract. All of those reports — roughly 120 pages — were withheld. was released, replete with blacked-out passages that make its full scope difficult to understand.Alan Gernhardt, executive director of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council — a state agency tasked with resolving disputes over FOIA issues — seemed puzzled by those particular redactions. “I am not sure how a signature and the name of the state fit” within the exceptions to the code claimed by VDEM, he wrote in an...

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kamamasters
May 8
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Despite Clean Economy Act, Dominion forecasts a strong role for natural gas in Virginia - Virginia Mercury

Despite Clean Economy Act, Dominion forecasts a strong role for natural gas in Virginia - Virginia Mercury

 The Integrated Resource Plan released by Dominion last Friday incorporates many of the commitments fervently sought by clean energy advocates, including a roadmap for adding 16 to 19 gigawatts of new solar, five gigawatts of offshore wind and 2.7 gigawatts of energy storage over the next 15 years, with just under a gigawatt of natural gas energy as a “placeholder” to remedy potential reliability problems.A press release issued by the company along with its IRP filing emphasized that “natural-gas fired generation will continue to play a critical, low emission role in our system for decades...

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May 8
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COVID-19 could force the Virginia House to have elections 3 years in a row. Here's how: - Virginia Mercury

COVID-19 could force the Virginia House to have elections 3 years in a row. Here's how: - Virginia Mercury

 If any Virginia delegates felt they didn’t get to talk about guns and minimum wage enough in the 2020 session, they might get the chance to have it out on the campaign trail in 2021, 2022 and 2023.Under normal circumstances, the 100 seats in the House of Delegates are only up for election every two years. But — as it has with so many other aspects of civic life — the coronavirus pandemic could significantly disrupt Virginia’s legislative election calendar.If expected census delays mean there’s not enough time for the state to conduct its once-a-decade redistricting in 2021 in time for the...

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May 6
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As COVID-19 spreads, most Virginia jails remain overcrowded - Virginia Mercury

As COVID-19 spreads, most Virginia jails remain overcrowded - Virginia Mercury

 Most jails in Virginia remain overcrowded despite efforts to reduce the number of people held in local lockups as COVID-19 spreads, according to state records.And while Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration has touted a 17 percent drop in the jail population since March 1 — a significant decrease in a patchwork system that had been holding 28,000 people — a facility-by-facility review reveals uneven efforts to free-up space.One county, Fauquier, cut its local jail population in half by transferring inmates to a less crowded regional facility, making it one of just 12 facilities to transition...

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nedoliver
Apr 30
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Increase in Virginia testing numbers mostly due to change in counting, health officials say - Virginia Mercury

Increase in Virginia testing numbers mostly due to change in counting, health officials say - Virginia Mercury

 From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in healthcare and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing; fair and tough reporting on the policy and politics that affect all of us as Virginians is more important than ever. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.© Virginia Mercury 2020 All Rights Reserved.wp-image-7399{display:none !important;}

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kamamasters
May 1
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Lawmakers delay minimum wage, maintain election schedule in extraordinary session - Virginia Mercury

Lawmakers delay minimum wage, maintain election schedule in extraordinary session - Virginia Mercury

 Protesters in cars honked endlessly as they circled the Capitol. The Speaker of the House collapsed on the dais as she led a floor session. A lawmaker cast votes from a Plexiglas enclosure.The typically sleepy reconvened session of the Virginia General Assembly on Thursday fully reflected the bizarre world into which we’ve all been thrust by the COVID-19 pandemic.“If anyone in this room is going to die from the virus if they get it, it’s me,” said Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, who worked from the transparent enclosure constructed by Senate staff. He said he was still recovering from open...

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nedoliver
Apr 23
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