Committee will consider restoring felons’ rights


A Senate subcommittee tied 3-3 Tuesday on proposed constitutional amendments to restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who’ve completed their sentences. The vote occurred in the constitutional amendments subcommittee of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee. The tie vote is adequate to send the matter to the full committee for consideration.

The subcommittee considered constitutional amendments proposed by Democratic Sens. Chap Petersen of Fairfax, Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and Donald McEachin of Richmond. The panel combined the measures and then voted on them.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and other officials spoke in favor of automatically restoring the voting rights of nonviolent felons. Currently, felons must petition the governor to get their rights back.

“Thank you to the governor’s policy staff and Attorney General Cuccinelli who both came today to speak in favor of the bill. They were joined by the ACLU and Catholic Conference, so it was a pretty wide spectrum politically,” Petersen said.

The three subcommittee members who voted in favor of the proposal were McEachin, Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County and Republican Sen. Jeffrey McWaters of Virginia Beach.

Voting against the proposal were Republican Sens. Ralph Smith of Roanoke, Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg and Stephen Martin of Chesterfield. Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell, was not present for the vote.

Under Petersen’s proposed amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 266, nonviolent felons would have their rights restored after serving their prison time and completing probation.

Petersen stressed the importance of the proposal as it heads to the full committee for consideration.

“One thing to note: It is important that restoration be automatic and without strings attached for qualifying Virginians,” Petersen said. “That is what the governor requested during the State of the Commonwealth address.”

The Senate subcommittee’s action came a day after a House subcommittee voted down similar measures.
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Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.

Construction begins on JA Finance Park at Libbie Mill


School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.

Assembly poised to OK state budget on Friday


Finishing a day early, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a budget Wednesday that includes employee pay raises and more money for K-12 education and mental health.

The negotiators presented their budget to their fellow lawmakers in time for the required 48-hour review, which could be completed by Friday night with a chance to adjourn their 2017 session before Saturday’s target date.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate praised the spending plan’s conservative fiscal policies. > Read more.

Section of Charles City Road to close beginning Feb. 26


A section of Charles City Road, from Lewis Road to South Airport Drive, will be closed beginning Sunday, Feb. 26 as part of a project to widen and improve the road.

The Henrico County Department of Public Works expects the closure to last for a few weeks.

Westbound traffic on Charles City will be detoured around the work zone by way of South Airport, Seven Hills Boulevard and Laburnum Avenue. > Read more.

ACLU urges McAuliffe to veto anti-immigration bills


Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday to veto Republican-backed legislation banning local governments in Virginia from designating themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. They also said they plan to fight federal and state policies that they believe violate immigrants’ rights.

At a news conference, representatives of the ACLU of Virginia and other civil rights organizations criticized anti-immigrant measures passed by the General Assembly. They also condemned the recent spike in deportation raids on immigrant communities in Virginia by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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Volunteers are needed to help clean East End and Evergreen Cemeteries from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. These cemeteries are the eternal sacred grounds for thousands of African American historical figures. Decades of neglect has obscured their graves and thousands of others beneath tangles of ivy, brush, and illegally dumped trash. Since June 2013, a small group of regular volunteers, along with many students and Richmond-area residents, have been working to reveal them, slowly uncovering not just long-buried headstones but an entire community. Lunch will be served. For details, visit http://www.facebook.com/EastEndCemeteryProject. Full text

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