Mask Usage Only Encouraged, Not Required at Polling Locations on Election Day, Officials Say

Voters in the Commonwealth that arrive at polling places on Election Day without a mask or face covering and refuse to wear one or vote outside will not be turned away, according to election officials.

The Virginia Department of Elections (VDOE) has given election workers throughout Virginia guidance on what to do when a voter goes to a polling precinct without a mask and does not wish to put one on.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 23

Welcome to the Friday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 11 days until the election on November 3 – and eight days until early voting in Virginia closes. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia is TODAY.

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Democratic Party of Virginia Invests Heavily in Virginia Beach Mayor’s Race

Virginia Beach mayoral candidate Jody Wagner out-raised incumbent Bob Dyer in September; Wagner received $321,799, while Dyer received $72,240, according to The Virginia Public Access Project. Furthermore, $167,349 of Wagner’s receipts were in-kind donations from the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA).

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Richmond City Council Committee Advances Ordinance to Rename Confederate Avenue

Richmond City Council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee voted on Tuesday to advance an ordinance that would rename Confederate Avenue, located in the city’s northside, to Laburnum Park Boulevard.

The ordinance was co-sponsored by councilwoman and committee vice chair Kim Gray, 2nd district, and councilman Chris Hilbert, 3rd district.

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Hospital Network Blocked Clergy from Administering Rites Three Separate Times

On three occasions officials at MedStar Health System (MSHS) hospitals denied entrance to clergy to perform rites including infant baptism and end-of-life last rites, according to a Wednesday press release from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Complaints from a patient and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington led the OCR to push Washington D.C.-area MSHS hospital operator to allow clergy into its hospitals despite COVID-19 regulations.

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Democrats Considering Bill Forcing Taxpayer-Funded Abortions for 2021 Session

Virginia delegates are evaluating a potential bill for the 2021 regular session that would increase funding for abortions under Medicaid and require individual businesses to include abortions in their insurance plans. A House subcommittee met on Tuesday to discuss House Bill (HB) 1445 and hear public comment on the bill. Planned Parenthood and NARAL representatives offered comment, as well as the Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Turner.

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Lieutenant Governor’s Race Crowded with Hopefuls for Future Governor

Ten candidates have officially announced runs for the 2021 Virginia Lieutenant Governor (LG) primaries, and more are reported to be eyeing the seat. According to the Virginia Constitution, the LG’s primary role is the president of the Senate; however, he has no vote unless the Senate is tied.

Candidate and former Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Paul Goldman told The Virginia Star, “People are going to say, ‘If I get to be lieutenant governor, I’ll be the next governor in four years. That’s what they’re thinking. That’s what they’ve always thought.'”

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COVID Lockdowns a Boon for Virginia Lottery

The Virginia Lottery recorded $2.15 billion in sales during 2020, slightly lower than the 2019 figure, despite facing statewide shut downs in the spring and the growing economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, gave a presentation Tuesday to members of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, providing updates on the current trend and forecast as well as the implementation of expanded gaming options coming to the state.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 22

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 12 days until the election on November 3 – and nine days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate TONIGHT. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia is Friday.

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Staff Report: Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support COVID-19 Response, Reform Policing

Governor Ralph Northam’s office announced Thursday the signing of eight COVID-19 response bills and three criminal justice reform bills. He also proposed amendments to three other bills related to healthcare, COVID-19 relief and criminal justice reform. Northam’s announcement is below:

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Virginia Senate Gives Governor Power to Oust Police Officers

The Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB) will have the responsibility of decertifying officers engaged in misconduct or criminally charged and implementing statewide conduct standards for law enforcement, if the Senate’s omnibus policing and reform legislation is signed into law.

Last Friday, the president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates both signed the legislation, and on Wednesday the bill was communicated to Governor Ralph Northam for final approval.

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William & Mary Reinstates Three Women’s Sports Teams After Threat of Title IX Lawsuit

William and Mary (W&M) announced Monday it is reinstating the women’s swimming, gymnastics and volleyball sports programs after a group of lawyers representing student-athletes on those teams threatened to sue the university in violation of Title IX compliance.

This all stems from the decision last month by former W&M athletics director Samantha Huge to cut seven sports teams at the end of the current academic year because of large budget deficits as a result of COVID-19.

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Spanberger and Freitas Square Off in Debate on COVID, Health Care and National Security

Incumbent Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Republican challenger state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) took part in their first debate Tuesday night, discussing a wide array of ongoing issues on the national and state levels.

The forum was moderated by Washington Week Managing Editor and a national political reporter for The Washington Post, Robert Costa, lasting a little less than an hour.

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Congressional Debate: Candidates Scott Taylor and Incumbent Elaine Luria Spar Over Stimulus Packages and Gun Control

Republican challenger Scott Taylor and incumbent Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia Beach) faced off Tuesday night in their first televised debate. The 2nd Congressional District race is currently a toss-up.
Political reporter Joe St. George served as the moderator. Questions featured were presented in three segments: from the moderator first, then viewers, and lastly from Taylor and Luria.

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Virginia Tech Cancels Spring Break

Virginia Tech announced that the Spring 2021 semester will continue with a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes. According to the Monday announcement, the school’s traditional week-long spring break will be replaced with five individual days off spread over several weeks to discourage students from traveling.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 21

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 13 days until the election on November 3 – and 10 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate TOMORROW NIGHT. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia is Friday, October 23.

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Sen. Louise Lucas Does the Expungement Two-Step

Senator Louise Lucas is a patron for a bill that would expunge records of her current felony charges if passed.
Senate Bill 5043 originally was designed to expunge criminal records relating to marijuana possession and open container violations. The latest version of the bill is much more expanded. It covers 76 crimes – many of them felonies. 

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Follow the Richmond Money: Mayor’s Race Wide Open

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney blew away challengers Alexsis Rodgers and Kim Gray with September campaign fundraising. Data from The Virginia Public Access Project shows Stoney’s campaign reported $224,602, Rodgers reported $98,283, and Gray reported $83,455.

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Lawsuit Accuses Delegate Michael Mullin of Violating Separation of Powers

Delegate Michael Mullin (D-Newport News) is accused of violating the separation of powers by serving as an attorney in cases with justices he appoints. The lawsuit asks the court to “disqualify any judge(s) subject to review or reappointment” by Mullin, and to remove Mullin from prosecution of the case.

The suit contends that Mullin’s positions as both a Delegate in the House and an assistant attorney violates Articles III and IV of the Constitution of Virginia.

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Virginia Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing Jury Trials With Judge Sentencing

Virginia lawmakers passed legislation Friday that allows those accused of a crime to receive a jury trial and a judge’s sentence, which proponents believe will reduce sentence lengths.

Under current law, a defendant must opt for a jury sentence if he or she requests a jury trial, which can often result in longer sentences than guidance normally would suggest. The law allows a judge to reduce the sentence, but this happens in only about 8.1% of cases.

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Coalition of Churches Opposes Bristol Casino

Eight churches in Bristol, Virginia are fighting against a proposed $400 million Hard Rock casino; residents will vote on the referendum this November. The coalition cites studies claiming that casinos prey on gambling addicts and questions whether a casino would draw high numbers of tourists as claimed by supporters of the referendum. Proponents say the casino would bring Bristol $15-$20 million a year in taxes and over 2,000 jobs averaging salaries of $46,500.

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Virginia Vote Counters: No Winners on Election Night

As November 3rd draws closer, general registrars and their staff in central Virginia are working extremely hard to get as many ballots counted as possible on election night, even though the results will not be official until Friday of that week.

On Monday, The Virginia Star spoke with registrars from Henrico, Hanover, New Kent and Goochland counties, and discussed the timing of ballot counts.

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Dr. Christine Hoffman of Job Creators Network Discusses Healthcareforyou.com, Voting Safety, and the Irrational Fear of COVID

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Dr. Christine Hoffman, M.D. to the show to discuss HealthCareForYou.com, voting safety, and to explain the irrational fear of contracting COVID.

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Faith, Family, and Freedom: Republican Candidate for Florida’s Tenth Congressional District, Vennia Francois Pushes the Conservative Message to Oust Val Demings

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed the 10th congressional district of Florida candidate (R) Vennia Francois to the show to discuss her ground game against Democratic incumbent Val Demings.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 20

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 14 days until the election on November 3 – and 11 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate THIS THURSDAY. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia is Friday, October 23.

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Richmond Catholic Diocese Pays $6.3 Million to Sex Abuse Survivors

The Richmond Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is paying $6.3 million to 51 survivors of sexual abuse as minors. The announcement made last Thursday is the result of an Independent Reconciliation Program (IRP) called for by Bishop Barry C. Knestout after the diocese identified dozens of clergy linked to the diocese who face allegations of abuse.

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Trial to Decide Fate of Robert E. Lee Statue Underway in Richmond

The trial over a lawsuit aiming to stop Governor Ralph Northam from removing the statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee began Monday morning in Richmond.

After the death of George Floyd, the Lee monument and other Confederate statues throughout the city became a focal point of the summer protests over racial inequality and police brutality in Richmond.

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Progressive Activist Running For RVA Mayor Wants Equity

Alexsis Rodgers is running for mayor to bring equity to Richmond’s impoverished and minority communities, but she said that doesn’t leave behind other parts of the city.

“We all thrive and we all succeed when more of us are able to have access to economic opportunity, when more of us are able to be healthy, and lead healthy lives,” Rodgers told The Virginia Star.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest From the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 19

Welcome to the Saturday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 15 days until the election on November 3 – and 12 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate THIS THURSDAY. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia is Friday, October 23.

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Virginia Board of Education Adds ‘African American History’ on 1619 and Lynchings to Curriculum

The Virginia Board of Education announced the implementation of new curriculum pertaining to African American studies.
The board’s decision reportedly follows recommendations from the Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth. Governor Ralph Northam created this commission last fall. 

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Progressive Activist Running For RVA Mayor Wants Equity

Alexsis Rodgers is running for mayor to bring equity to Richmond’s impoverished and minority communities, but she said that doesn’t leave behind other parts of the city.

“We all thrive and we all succeed when more of us are able to have access to economic opportunity, when more of us are able to be healthy, and lead healthy lives,” Rodgers told The Virginia Star.

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VCU To Students: Zoom Time – No In Person Classes

As the fall semester begins to enter its final weeks, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) announced Thursday that the spring 2021 term will look very similar with most classes online and schoolwide health and safety protocols still enforced.

VCU president Michael Rao published an online message to students Thursday providing an update for the upcoming semester and highlighting some of the changes being made.

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Juneteenth Is Now a Legal Holiday in the State of Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation this week passed during the General Assembly 2020 special session into law making Juneteenth an officially recognized holiday in the Commonwealth.

Juneteenth will now be a permanent, statewide holiday allowing all state employees to get a paid day off from work.

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Ohio State Prof Says Clarence Thomas Not ‘Authentically Black’

At a symposium hosted by Texas A&M University at Commerce, titled, “What the Truth Sounds Like,” Professor Donna Ford argued that one of the significant problems in education is White females. She also noted that diversity of “skin color” is not enough, considering that she wouldn’t want “Clarence Thomas teaching my damn kids.”

“There is a monopoly on education, where White females being about 85 percent of the teaching force, and then you know pretty much the same thing with white administrators. So White females I’m speaking to you, and I’m saying you’ve got to get your sh- stuff together,” said Ford during her lecture.

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Virtual Learning Workload Overwhelms Loudoun County Students

Citing overwhelming virtual education workloads, over 13,000 people have signed a change.org petition asking Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to reduce the amount of work the students have to do. Unlike school districts in other parts of the states, LCPS is still using a fully virtual model, driving some parents to private schools.

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Senate Lawmakers Pass Conference Report for Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

During potentially the final day of the lengthy 2020 special session, Senate legislators adopted and passed the conference committee report on a bill that allows judges in certain criminal cases to issue the sentences instead of the jury. 

The conference report that was unanimously agreed upon by the six conferees, two Republicans and two Democrats, passed the Senate by an almost exact party line vote of (Y-22 N-16). 

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Alleged MS-13 Members Charged in Random 2019 North Virginia Murders

The Prince William County Police Department (PWPCD) has charged 12 people for the 2019 murders of four men. The murders were linked to MS-13 drug trafficking operations bringing cocaine from New York to local vendors in northern Virginia. According to a press release, 11 of the 12 suspects are in custody.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 17

Welcome to the Saturday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 17 days until the election on November 3 – and 14 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate five days from today.

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Legislation Allowing Localities to Establish Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Heads to Governor’s Desk

Compromised legislation that gives localities the authority to establish law enforcement civilian review boards (CRB) successfully passed final votes in the Senate and House of Delegates Wednesday afternoon, and now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Joint conference committee reports for Senate Bill 5035 passed the Senate (21-Y 17-N) and for House Bill 5055 passed the House (53-Y 35-N), mostly along the party lines of both chambers.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 16

Welcome to the Friday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 18 days until the election on November 3 – and 15 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate six days from today.

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Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Delays Students’ Return to Classrooms

The Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) superintendent George Parker announced Tuesday that he was postponing the plan that would have brought students back to the classroom for the first time since March.

The delay comes after the Newport News School Board voted 5-2 during its meeting last week to allow for a phased return to in-person instruction for K-12 students.

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Richmond Police Investigate Potential Burglary at Mayor Stoney’s Campaign Office

Officers responded to a break-in at Mayor Levar Stoney’s campaign office on Tuesday morning after they found a broken door, according to The Associated Press. A TV was missing and documents were displaced, but no campaign paperwork was taken.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 15

Welcome to the Thursday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 19 days until the election on November 3 – and 16 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate one week from today.

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Senate and House Advance Budget Legislation to Conference Committee

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Delegates advanced their biennial budget to a formal conference committee on Wednesday and assigned conferees to represent the bodies, but much of the work on compromising has already been conducted.

Before the two legislative bodies agreed to send the budget to a joint conference committee, however, the Senate first had to adopt a batch of seven committee amendments to the budget legislation. 

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Activist Faces Misdemeanor Charges After Protest at Acting ICE Director Pham’s Home

The Henrico County police have charged a protestor with misdemeanors related to the September 8 protest at acting ICE Director Tony Pham’s home. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nancy Nguyen, executive director of VietLead, was arrested and released on her own recognizance last week in Philadelphia.

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Judge Extends Virginia’s Voter Registration Deadline Until Midnight Thursday

A federal Judge extended Virginia’s voter registration deadline Wednesday morning after the system experienced statewide outages from a severed fiber cable on Tuesday.

The deadline for Virginians to register to vote is now Thursday at 11:59 p.m. 

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Richmond City Council: No Ban on Police Non-Lethal Weapons

The Richmond City Council voted 7-2  Monday against a ban on police non-lethal weapons including rubber bullets, tear gas, and flashbangs. Council members Stephanie Lynch and Michael Jones proposed the ban in June after protests where Lynch and Jones had to run from teargas, according to reporting by ABC8 News.

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Gade and Warner Debate ACA, Social Security

Senator Mark Warner (D) and challenger Daniel Gade debated health care and social security at a Tuesday debate hosted by the AARP and WTKR News 3. Warner stressed his record including support of the American Care Act (ACA) and criticized the Republican Party for trying to dismantle it. Gade described some potential compromises to the ACA and repeatedly called Warner a career politician.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for October 14

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

It’s officially 20 days until the election on November 3 – and 17 days until early voting in Virginia closes. President Trump meets Joe Biden in the final presidential debate in eight days.

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Severed Fiber Cable Causes IT Issues for Department of Elections on Last Day to Register to Vote

A severed fiber cable in Chesterfield County caused Virginia’s voter registration system and other systems used by state agencies to fail Tuesday. 

The outage came on the final day Virginians can register to vote for the upcoming November election.

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