Tagvirginia

Stories about Virginia

All of Virginia now operating under Phase One of reopening plan

On May 29, Northern Virginia, as well as Richmond and Accomack County, moved into Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, leaving no part of the state under a stay-at-home order.

The stay-at-home order ended for parts of the state on May 15, but Gov. Ralph Northam (D) delayed Northern Virginia’s entry into Phase One to give the region more time to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases. Northam also delayed the implementation of Phase One for Richmond and Accomack County after leaders requested more time to prepare for reopening.

Phase One eases restrictions on several types of businesses. Non-essential retail, for example, can reopen at 50% capacity, and restaurants and breweries with outdoor seating permits can allow 50% seating capacity outdoors. Gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Beginning May 29, face coverings are required in public indoor settings for people 10 years and older.

Stay-at-home orders have ended in 31 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 13 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 12 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 11 have Democratic governors.



Virginia Supreme Court to hear environmental law case on oyster fisheries

On May 18, 2020, the Virginia Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case between the City of Suffolk and a group of Virginia oyster fishermen. The original lawsuit was filed in November 2018 by C. Robert Johnson III, Lisa Lawson Johnson, Thomas Hazelwood, Johnson and Sons Seafood, and Hazelwood Oyster Farms, who sued the city and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

The plaintiffs alleged that the city and the sanitation department were polluting the Nansemond River by depositing sewage and allowing unwanted stormwater to enter the waterway. They argued that the government has taken their property by causing the river to become so polluted that they cannot harvest oysters from waterways in which they hold leases.

Circuit Court Justice L. Wayne Farmer took up the case on April 9, 2019. The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2019. The appeal took issue with Justice Farmer’s use of caselaw from 1919 which they argued is not in consonance with modern environmental regulation policy.

Joseph Waldo Lyle, who will be representing the oystermen before the state supreme court, remarked “The law says governments can pollute the waterways… It’s not 100 years ago. It is today, and the issue will always be, how can you put untreated raw sewage into a river that people fish, raise oysters, and swim, and boat in?” He said, “The Supreme Court of Virginia has said this case is important enough to determine whether or not the city’s right and they can discard waste and human sewage into the Nansemond River… It’s a very important, precedent-setting case.”

There are two ways that appeals cases can reach the Virginia Supreme Court. The most common is based on the argument in a dissenting opinion at the level of the court of appeals, and the least common is when a party successfully seeks discretionary review by the supreme court. The plaintiffs’ case sufficiently convinced the justices of the Virginia Supreme Court that the appeal merited discretionary review of the lower court, allowing the case to circumvent hearing in the appellate court.

Virginia is one of only two states in the country that uses legislative selection to appoint state supreme court justices. Virginia has used legislative selection to select its justices since 1776 when the state constitution was written. This year, there are no vacancies on the Virginia Supreme court, nor are there any retention elections for justices currently sitting on the court.

Additional reading:


Voters decide municipal and school board races in Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia

Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia, held nonpartisan general elections for municipal and school board offices on May 19, 2020.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Mayor of Chesapeake
• Incumbent Richard West defeated Lenard Myers, Steffanie Aubuchon, and Palmer Smith.

Chesapeake City Council
• Don Carey III and incumbents S.Z. Ritter and Robert Ike won at-large seats on the nine-member council.

Chesapeake School Board
• Angie Swygert and incumbents Samuel Boone, Victoria Proffitt, and Tom Mercer won at-large seats on the nine-member school board.

Mayor of Norfolk
• Incumbent Kenny Alexander ran unopposed.

Norfolk City Council
• Incumbents Andria McClellan and Angelia Williams Graves won re-election to their city council seats in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively. Both ran unopposed.

Norfolk School Board
• Incumbents Noelle Gabriel and Rodney Jordan won re-election to the school board in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively.

Norfolk and Chesapeake are the second- and third-most populous cities in Virginia and the 80th- and 90th-most populous in the U.S.

Together, the Norfolk and Chesapeake school districts served a total of 71,422 students during the 2017-2018 school year.

Additional reading:



Bitnami