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VPM Daily Newscast April 8, 2021

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.

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Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Thursday, April 8, 2021.

  • Virginia lawmakers passed legislation yesterday to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana beginning on July 1. While that deadline is locked in, the state still needs to work out several details before a legal marijuana industry can take shape.
     
  • The General Assembly weighed Gov. Ralph Northam’s request for money to investigate the state’s government watchdog agency. This stems from the agency’s report on how the state parole board handled the release of Vincent Martin, a man convicted of killing a police officer.  
     
  • Among the bills being considered yesterday, a specific funding allocation for a Southwest Virginia university. That proposal didn’t go over well as lawmakers worried it restricted their future flexibility.
     
  • Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) gave a tearful goodbye on the House floor Wednesday. Ayala says she will not run for reelection if her bid for the lieutenant governorship is unsuccessful. The two-term representative was one of the first Hispanic women to serve in the Virginia House. Ayala was first elected in 2017 and will end her current term this year. She’s already endorsed Briana Sewell to replace her. 
     
  • The five Democratic candidates for governor gathered at Virginia State University this week for their first debate — hosted by CBS6. Terry McAuliffe’s record took center stage, as most candidates took swipes at the former governor.
     
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UK variant of the coronavirus is now the dominant strain in the country. Amy Popovitch, a leading health official in Central Virginia, says the commonwealth now has about 350 cases. Medical experts say this version of the coronavirus is more contagious and more deadly, but the COVID-19 vaccine seems to be effective at protecting against it. During a press conference, Popovitch said Richmond and Henrico are expected to meet the governor’s April 18 deadline to make vaccinations available to everyone 16 and older.
     
  • A Walgreens in Hampton says it improperly stored some of the vaccines it administered. Hannah Schuster with our partner station WHRV has the story.
  • Starting next week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be accepting applications to help cover funeral costs for Virginians who died from COVID-19. The aim of the program, state officials say, is to ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. Assistance is limited to $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application. Virginians can apply through a dedicated call center, Monday through Friday beginning April 12 at (844)-684-6333. 
     
  • The Henrico NAACP is calling on the chair of the county’s school board, Micky Ogburn, to step down. Ogburn was criticized last month for sharing a Facebook post expressing support for children’s author Dr. Seuss, after some of his books were discontinued for depicting racist caricatures. In a statement, the group said the board chair’s racially insensitive actions conflict with the needs of Black students. According to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, Ogburn also faces calls for her resignation from a fellow board member. In March, she told reporters she will not step down.