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Local and State News

News from the Democratic Party of Vrginia (DPVA)
Over the last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has made headlines for his cozy relationships with billionaires and GOP eccentrics, including Harlan Crow, whose large collection of Third Reich memorabilia and Nazi ephemera has made him an especially troubling relationship of Justice Thomas. But, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, Justice Thomas isn’t the only person Harlan Crow has been lavishing with his vast wealth. In the past few years, Governor Glenn Youngkin has accepted at least $40,000 in donations from the GOP mega-donor and Nazi curio collector, while Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears has accepted $10,000.

A grand experiment is underway to direct clean energy companies to coal country 
By Dwayne Yancey, Cardinal News
A grand experiment is under way, so big it’s hard to picture, and parts of Southwest Virginia are smack dab in the middle of it. That experiment is about whether coal country can be turned into clean energy country. What economic development officials in Southwest Virginia have to say You may recall last summer much political drama in Washington over the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (a title that Democrats loved and Republicans hated), also sometimes called “the climate bill.”

Pipeline opponents, company react to appeals court ruling in Roanoke
Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say they are encouraged by a new appeals court ruling. The company says it’s disappointed, but remains committed to completing the project. This week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a key permit required for water crossings in West Virginia. MVP needs the permit to restart construction. David Sligh is Conservation Director with the group Wild Virginia. “This again bolsters the whole assertion that we’ve made all along that this thing can’t live up to our bedrock environmental laws,” Sligh told WDBJ7 in an interview. “And we’re always gratified when we’re able to prove that to the courts.”

Sabato believes Virginia elections will be political barometer for the country 
By Madison McNamee, WVIR-TV
A political expert at the University of Virginia believes abortion issues will likely have a big impact on the upcoming elections in the commonwealth. Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato says Virginia is in a unique position since all 140 seats are up for grabs this year. He thinks it will give the Democratic candidates a boost for the state legislature. “Most states have no major elections plan between now and the presidential race in 2024, so we will be a barometer for the reaction, and the reaction so far has been very pro Democratic,” Sabato said.

If county won’t remove Confederate statue, Glenna Moore wants another statue to honor US Colored Troops 
by Molly Hunter, Roanoke Times
Over the last two and a half years, Glenna Moore has spoken at all but one of Franklin County Board of Supervisors meetings. She often shares stories of local Black history, but always with one goal in mind: to see the Confederate statue in front of the Franklin County Courthouse relocated. She spoke again Tuesday with a modified proposal. “It’s obvious that you will not move the Confederate statue. That leaves one option … and that is to build a monument to the United States Colored Troops born in Franklin County who fought to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States,” Moore said.

Franklin County planning panel opposes solar farm 
By Jason Dunovant, Roanoke Times
A proposal for a new sola farm in Wirtz was resoundingly rejected Tuesday night by the Franklin County Planning Commission. Members voted 7-0 to recommend denial of a request by Mountain Brook Solar, suggesting it would be a detriment to the community. Residents packed into the meeting room of the Franklin County Government Center in Rocky Mount, with a majority there to speak out against the solar farm. The crowd exceeded the number of seats available for much of the evening.

An activist group is spreading misinformation to stop solar projects in rural America
Roger Houser’s ranching business was getting squeezed. The calves he raises in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley were selling for about the same price they had a few years earlier, while costs for essentials like fuel and fertilizer kept going up. But Houser found another use for his 500 acres. An energy company offered to lease Houser’s property in rural Page County to build a solar plant that could power about 25,000 homes. It was a good offer, Houser says. More money than he could make growing hay and selling cattle. “The idea of being able to keep the land as one parcel and not have it split up was very attractive,” Houser says. “To have some passive income for retirement was good. And then the main thing was the electricity it would generate and the good it would do made it feel good all the way around.” But soon after he got the offer, organized opposition began a four-year battle against solar development in the county.

Virginia Legislature Passes Bill To Remove Witness Requirements for Mail-in Voting

Video: In Superb Speech, Del. Candi Mundon King Tells Her Republican Colleagues, “What the women of Virginia need most is for politicians to keep their hands off our bodies!”

NAACP ‘outraged’ by Gov. Youngkin’s order of AP African American Studies course review 
by Nour Habib, Virginian-Pilot
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has ordered a review of the College Board’s new AP African American Studies course, which has been in the spotlight since early this year when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would ban it in his state. A spokesperson for Youngkin told The Pilot on Friday, “After numerous reports about draft course content, the governor asked the Education Secretariat to review the College Board’s proposed AP African American Studies course as it pertains to Executive Order 1.”

Liebrecht: Political theater in the 9th Congressional District
by Nancy Liebrecht, published in Roanoke Times
Politics is often more about performance these days than doing the hard work of passing bills that might make life better for ordinary Americans. Donald Trump was great at ballyhoo about “infrastructure week,” but it took Joe Biden to get an infrastructure bill through Congress and to start building things. Unfortunately for us in the Ninth, Morgan Griffith is, like Trump, great at posturing, but lousy at getting anything done. Liebrecht is a retired landscape architect and environmental scientist.

Gun Violence Archive
The US is experiencing more than one mass shooting per day in the first three weeks of the new year. Although definitions of “mass shootings” vary, one widely used metric is an incident in which “four or more people, excluding the shooter, are killed or wounded. On almost every measure, mass shootings in the US are becoming more frequent and deadlier. See generally, Mass shootings: America’s challenge for gun control explained in seven charts – BBC News

Area lawmakers cite session priorities
By David McGee, Bristol Herald Courier
New programs that are part of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed biennial budget and social issues like abortion and marijuana are expected to garner much attention during the new General Assembly session, but local lawmakers say there is also much work to do on issues that will directly impact Southwest Virginia.

Bid to reduce early voting advances in the House
By Dave Ress, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Virginia’s early voting law, with one of the nation’s longest periods for voters to cast ballots, would be cut sharply (from 45 to 14 days) under a bill that moved from a House of Delegates subcommittee Tuesday. (The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, led by Democrats, on Tuesday defeated two bills to curtail absentee voting, as well as bills to ban drop boxes and require photo ID at the polls.)

Kaine launches Senate reelection bid, giving Dems a 2024 boost 
By Marianne Levine, Politico
Sen. Tim Kaine announced Friday that he will seek a third Senate term next year, a boost for Democrats who face a tough map in 2024.

House Republicans tout infrastructure funding they voted against
By Benjamin Siegel, ABC News

Voters Rest Easy Knowing Senate Democrats Stood Up Once Again to Protect Our Progress, Reject Voter Suppression Bills

Youngkin urges parents to report ‘divisive’ teaching methods
By Katie King, Virginian-Pilot
Visit our Armchair Activist page to see how you can take action to make a positive difference on this topic. 

Take Action: Be an Armchair Activist

If stories in the news get your blood boiling or inspire you, visit our Armchair Activist page to see different ways you might want to make your voice heard. Current topics:

  • Turn the Governor’s Teacher Tip Line into something positive.
  • Tell our legislators to protect our environmental progress.
  • Let your county school boards know how you feel about book banning, lesson plans, “learning loss” caused by the pandemic and more.

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SML Democrats includes members from communities around Smith Mountain Lake: Bedford, Glade Hill, Goodview, Hardy, Huddleston, Moneta, Penhook, Redwood, Union Hall, Westlake and Wirtz.

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