VPM Daily Newscast February 23, 2021
VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Hosted by Benjamin Dolle, episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.
Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Tuesday, February 23, 2021:
- The General Assembly approved a ban on the death penalty Monday, making the Virginia the first state in the South to do so. Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure, which Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign in the coming days.
- Home health care workers could receive one week of paid sick leave if the Senate advances a proposal this week. The bill received approval from two Senate committees on Monday, but not before they removed language that would have provided the benefit to all essential workers.
- A bill that would have required farm employees to be paid the same minimum wage as other workers was voted down by a Senate panel Monday. Currently, farm workers are exempt from Virginia’s minimum wage, which will rise to $15 per hour by 2026. Del. Jeion Ward (D-Hampton), who proposed the legislation, compared the exemption to those from the Jim Crow era for jobs predominantly held by Black people. Industry groups, like the Virginia Farm Bureau, argued the bill would have been economically devastating to farmers.
- School districts across the nation are struggling with teacher shortages, including those in the Richmond region. VPM reporter Ian Stewart dug into what’s behind those shortages and found the issues predate the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Yesterday, the Chesterfield Board of Supervisor announced they’re setting aside $10 million to close the pay gap between the county’s teachers and the national average. The plan would give an average raise of 5% to the 4,700 Chesterfield educators. It mirrors a similar plan to better pay police and firefighters that was approved in November. The Chesterfield School Board will vote on its budget later this week before sending it to the supervisors for approval.
- Attorney General Mark Herring joined a federal lawsuit Monday against the immigration bail bond company Libre by Nexus. The attorneys general from Massachusetts and New York are also a part of the suit, along with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The accuse Libre of charging excessive upfront payments to get undocumented immigrants out of detentions. Herring says the company required immigrants to wear ankle monitors and pay hefty fees that were not applied to the actual bond. Libre has denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit.
- A new initiative launched in Petersburg at the start of this year, delivering about 100 bags of local food each week to older people in the city. The “Feed the Need (Support the Farmers) Seniors Program” will run through April. Residents say the program has helped, but it’s also faced challenges.
- Virginia is receiving nearly $180 million in federal funding from FEMA to assist in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine made the announcement yesterday, saying the money will be used to support efforts to store, transport and administer doses. The Virginian Department of Emergency Management will oversee and distribute the funding.