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Local and State News

Sunday voting scrapped by Loudoun Electoral Board 
By Evan Goodenow, Loudoun Times
In the two years that Loudoun County had early voting on Sunday, 1,080 voters cast ballots, according to election statistics, but voters won’t have the opportunity in November. At its January 12 meeting, the county Electoral Board voted down Sunday voting, which occurred on the last Sunday of October.

Mass fury at Newport News school board meeting 
By Laura Meckler and Jim Morrison, Washington Post

Opinion: Virginians want shared solar: Lawmakers should give it to them

Virginia Senate panel nixes Republican bills restricting abortion
Senate Democrats killed three bills that would have restricted abortion, including a 15-week abortion ban that was one of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s key legislative priorities for this year.

Rep. Morgan Griffith discusses debt ceiling and gun regulation 
By Taylor Hankins, WVVA-TV
US congressman Morgan Griffith, District 9, discusses debt ceiling. ”In all reality we are going to have to raise the debt ceiling. We don’t want to raise the debt ceiling without some steps being made to reign in Federal government spending,” said Griffith.

Va. lawmakers gingerly take up issue of 6-year-old with a gun 
By Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella, Washington Post
Debate about the shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News flared on the floor of the House of Delegates on Thursday after lawmakers appeared reluctant to raise the difficult topic. With a 6-year-old having shot and wounded his teacher, Republicans in the House are calling for legislation on school discipline, while Democrats are seeking to restrict access to guns.

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.)

Democrats on Virginia Senate committee reject Clean Car standards repeal 
By Charlie Paullin, Virginia Mercury
Along party lines, a Virginia Senate committee on Tuesday voted to kill a slate of Republican proposals to repeal the state’s adoption of California’s Clean Car standards, which set stricter vehicle emissions limits than the federal government imposes and mandate that all new vehicles sold be zero-emission starting in 2035. The Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee voted 8-7 to pass by indefinitely the repeal bill from Sen. Steve Newman, R-Bedford. Newman’s bill had four other similar Rep   In Virginia, carbon emissions drop as data centers boom

Virginia Senate panel nixes Republican bills restricting abortion 
By Markus Schmidt, Cardinal News
A Senate panel on Friday rejected three Republican proposals seeking to limit access to abortion in Virginia, one of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s legislative priorities for this year after the U.S. Supreme Court in a historic decision last June returned the authority over women’s reproductive rights back to the states. Senate Bill 1385 was Youngkin’s signature legislation, which a Democratic-controlled Senate Education and Health subcommittee defeated by a 6-4 vote.

Republican senator breaks with GOP to oppose 15-week abortion bill in Virginia
By Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury
Despite backers characterizing Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to largely ban abortions after 15 weeks in Virginia as “a consensus” position, a Senate panel Friday rejected it, with one Republican joining unanimous Democratic opposition. “I wish I could vote for this bill,” said Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a practicing OB-GYN who proposed an amendment to the administration bill that would have allowed exceptions up to 24 weeks for fetuses with severe abnormalities. “But without that exception, I’m going to have to vote” against it.

Roanoke woman charged in U.S. Capitol riots 
By Laurence Hammack, Roanoke Times

Retrial begins: Capitol riot suspect from Virginia facing weapons charges 
By Matthew Barakat, Associated Press

Lawmakers seek to bar insurrectionists from holding office 
By Maysoon Khan, Associated Press
Democratic lawmakers in a handful of states are trying to send a message two years after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol: those who engage in an attempted overthrow of the government shouldn’t be allowed to run it. New York, Connecticut and Virginia are among states where proposed legislation would prohibit anyone convicted of participating in an insurrection from holding public office or a position of public trust, such as becoming a police officer.

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.

School choice’ proposals face an inconvenient obstacle 
Virginian-Pilot Editorial
There may be no better evidence of Virginia’s need to upgrade its history education than the debate over “school choice” now playing out in Richmond. The Virginia Constitution specifies in Article VIII, Section 10, that “No appropriation of public funds shall be made to any school or institution of learning not owned or exclusively controlled by the State or some political subdivision thereof …” There are some caveats to those provisions, of course, but the intent of the language is pretty straightforward: Taxpayer money for education must be used for state-run, nonsectarian schools.

Yancey: Del. March wants to abolish the Board of Education 
By Dwayne Yancey, Cardinal News
Del. Marie March, R-Floyd County, wants to abolish the Virginia Board of Education. Her bill, HJR 474, would transfer the board’s responsibilities to the superintendent of public instruction, who is appointed by the governor. This would give the governor unfettered authority over state education policy.

$100M donor gift to launch U.Va. biotech institute
The University of Virginia will build a biotechnology institute funded with a $100 million donation from a Charlottesville investor, the university announced Friday. Along with the Mannings’ gift, U.Va. will contribute $150 million, and the state has allocated $50 million in initial investments for the institute in its 2022-24 budget, according to the announcement.

Franklin County Schools demand more SROs in schools
By Paige Meyer, WSET-TV
Franklin County School Board and the Sheriff’s Office are teaming up with one goal in mind — to keep all students safe. Monday night’s school board meeting unveiled their plan of action. These community leaders want to have armed, trained law enforcement officers in each school to support school safety and security.

Congressman calls for abortion ban in Virginia: ‘Republicans should not be negotiating’
Anti-abortion supporters rallied at the Virginia State Capitol Saturday afternoon to call on state lawmakers to limit access to abortion in the Commonwealth. More than 100 people turned out for the rally organized by Virginia’s 5th District Congressman Bob Good in a push for a complete ban on abortions in Virginia. Additionally, Good and supporters criticized Republicans looking to compromise on the issue as it is now up to states to decide after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

GOP looks for ways to curb abortions even without a ban
By Mel Leonor, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to ban women from obtaining legal abortions in Virginia after 15 weeks of pregnancy isn’t likely to get past Democrats in control of the Senate. But Republicans are seeking ways to advance their agenda on abortions outside of outright bans. Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, for example, is urging Youngkin to consider conditioning some funding for state-funded universities like Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia on those institutions halting the procedure at their medical facilities.

Youngkin Gets Grade of ‘F’ in First Conservation Ranking
The new Virginia League of Conservation Voters scorecard doesn’t just grade the legislators (and overwhelmingly, Dems get superb scores while Republicans get abysmal ones when it comes to caring about our environment), it also scores Gov. Glenn Youngkin. And the results are NOT pretty, to put it mildly. In his first few months on the job, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) has done little to advance environmental protection, focusing instead on rolling back important environmental safeguards, while appointing individuals with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry to his administration and to important regulatory posts. Furthermore, Gov. Youngkin has shown little interest in working with the legislature to find common ground; instead he’s proven to be incredibly uncollaborative, even with members of his own party, and used the bully pulpit of his office to pick political fights, killing bipartisan legislation as retribution to the bills’ patrons, while ignoring the actual policy considerations.

Diversification of Virginia, 1990-2020
In 1990, three out of four Virginia residents identified as white. Three decades later, the number was down to less than 60 percent. This interactive map and chart show the dramatic changes in population.

Sens. Warner, Kaine announce largest-ever federal investment in Virginia’s bridges
By Gary Boyer, WFXR-TV

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.