Government & Politics

An in-depth look at the issues and policies of our government from the local, state and national levels.

State legislators meet in a special session Monday to discuss how they will redraw congressional boundaries after two courts ruled the current map is unconstitutional, but lawmakers are likely to divide along partisan lines.

Under a federal court order, Virginia’s legislature has until September first to come up with a new map that eliminates racial gerrymandering – drawing strangely shaped districts that minimize the influence African Americans can have in electing candidates to Congress. Dale Eisman is with the watchdog group Common Cause.

Advocates say proposed changes to Virginia’s voter registration form will help prevent voter disenfranchisement and simplify the process.  But they’re not getting a warm reception from a number of state lawmakers and especially registrars.  With less than a month away before the State Board of Elections meets again, some are asking that the Board scrap the revisions and start anew.

New Life for Tobacco Commission

Jul 23, 2015

In its 16 years, the Tobacco Commission has had a lengthy history of, well, slaps on the wrist. Created to distribute the state’s share of a national tobacco settlement in Southside and Southwest Virginia, members have been accused of playing a number of political and financial games under the guise of the commission’s intent. However, a few recent changes might have put the commission back on track.

File Photo

For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. 

State Water Commission Chair and Delegate Thomas Wright says he's in favor of offshore drilling and whatever the state can do to produce more energy—but he also advocates environmental stewardship.

Those who say Virginia—and Richmond—are still fighting the Civil War need only look at current state policy changes and debates over the Confederate flag and monuments to back up their claims. 

And now while the home of the Confederacy and former slave-trading hub will soon be home to one of the most watched sporting events in the world, some say that as the country discusses racial diversity and equality, the event's organizers will be promoting and embracing the ugliest chapter in American history.