RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A federal court is extending a deadline for the General Assembly to redraw a congressional district that judges ruled was improperly drawn to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents. The court said Monday that it was pushing back a deadline imposed on lawmakers, from April 1 to Sept. 1, to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in. A panel of federal judges ruled 2-1 last year in favor of two Virginia voters who accused the General Assembly of “racial gerrymandering” by packing African-Americans into state’s 3rd Congressional District. The GOP holds an 8-3 advantage in Virginia’s congressional delegation while all statewide elected offices are held by Democrats.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Senate has narrowly defeated a measure aimed at forcing the state attorney general to defend state laws when they are challenged. The bill sponsored by Del. Brenda Pogge, a Republican from James City County, was prompted by Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision last year not to defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment was ultimately overturned in federal court, and gay couples have been getting married since October. Herring, a Democrat, determined that the Virginia amendment violated the federal Constitution, angering many Republicans Pogge’s bill passed the House 68-32 earlier this month. It was rejected Monday by the Senate when Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, cast a “no” vote to break a 20-20 tie. One Republican, Sen. John Watkins of Powhatan County, also voted “no.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s public institutions of higher education and economic development officials are teaming up to meet the business needs of employers and deliver the jobs graduates seek. The partnership was announced on Monday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He said College and university leaders signed an agreement to carry out the mission of creating a new Virginia economy. The agreement is with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Center for Innovative Technology. The partnership has several elements. They include increased connectivity between higher education and business interests. The governor’s office says the agreement builds on a prior partnership signed in 2012. The new agreement places greater emphasis on working together on economic development issues.
F RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia environmental officials are proposing a $361,000 fine against CSX Transportation for an April 2014 train derailment that dumped nearly 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil into the James River in Lynchburg. The state Department of Environmental Quality announced the proposed consent order with the rail company on Monday. The April 30 derailment saw 17 cars derail, with three going into the river and one catching fire. The DEQ says of the crude oil that escaped the tank car, 98% was consumed in a fire. The department said water quality checks of the James from Lynchburg to Richmond several days after the derailment found no environmental problems. The consent order also calls for CSX to pay more than $18,500 for DEQ’s investigative costs.
Here is an extended interview with DEQ Spokesperson Bill Hayden:
A bill that would change Virginia’s voter photo ID law is now headed to Governor McAuliffe’s desk. Right now, anyone voting in person or applying in person for an absentee ballot must show a photo ID. As WLNI’s Evan Jones reports, the bill would require more people applying to vote absentee by mail to also submit a photocopy of their ID.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia lawmaker charged with forgery and perjury wants authorities to return materials seized from his law office. Del. Joe Morrissey’s motion to have the items returned will be heard Monday in Henrico County Circuit Court. Morrissey says authorities executing a search warrant last month took case files and computers, bringing his law practice to a virtual standstill. The 57-year-old Morrissey is charged with fabricating a document that he presented as evidence in a previous case. In December, Morrissey was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after prosecutors accused him of having sex with a 17-year-old employee of his law office. He was sentenced to six months in jail and is spending nights locked up and attending General Assembly sessions during the day on work release.
BEDFORD, Va. (AP) _ Police affidavits say a sex offender told investigators he left a Maryland shopping mall with two young sisters who disappeared in 1975, and that he later saw his uncle sexually assaulting one of the girls. Authorities have been searching for the remains of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katharine Lyon on a remote mountain in Bedford County, Virginia, some 200 miles from their Montgomery County, Maryland, home, since September. A Bedford grand jury also is investigating. The Washington Post reports that Montgomery County police declined to say how credible they find 58-year-old Lloyd Welch’s recent statements. Police have named Welch and his uncle, 69-year-old Richard Welch, “persons of interest” in the case, but neither has been charged.
The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened yesterday at the Dream Center, on Florida Avenue. When officers arrived on the scene they found a man who had a gunshot wound to the head. He was identified at 22-year-old Dameitry Jaquan Haskins. He was transported to the Lynchburg General Hospital where he received treatment for non-life threatening injuries. Shortly after the report of shots fired, a male showed up at Lynchburg General Hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was identified at 29-year-old Leroy Antonio Fleshman. He also received treatment for non-life threatening injures. At this time, investigators believe the two victims were both in the vicinity of the Dream Center when the shooting happened. The incident is under investigation.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison in a public corruption case that destroyed her husband’s political career. U.S. District Judge James Spencer sentenced McDonnell on eight counts Friday. Prosecutors asked for an 18-month sentence. Defense attorneys requested probation and 4,000 hours of community service. A jury in September found former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife guilty of doing favors for a nutritional supplements executive in exchange for $165,000 in gifts and loans. The former Republican governor, once widely considered a possible Mitt Romney running mate, was sentenced last month to two years in prison. That was far less than the 10 years sought by prosecutors.