The Virginia Redistricting Commission is scrambling to find more time to finalize General Assembly draft maps ahead of a series of public hearings on October 4-7. On Monday, the commission saw separate sets of draft maps proposed by the two partisan map-drawing teams. On Thursday, they saw a consensus of four Senate district maps from southwest Virginia where both teams’ proposed districts had more than 90 percent of the population in common. But Thursday’s meeting was largely occupied by debates over when to provide political data to map drawers, and about creating additional instructions about creating districts where minorities can control the vote.
As a result, with just three meetings currently scheduled before public hearings, the commission has only considered how to blend the two partisan proposals in the four easiest districts from the Senate, and has not considered how to handle the partisan House proposals.
“We need more time,” Co-chair Mackenzie Babichenko (R) said. “I think we’re going to want more time if we’re going to go through and look at all these decisions.” Read More
Based on population shifts reflected in 2020 Census Data, southwestern Virginia is likely to lose a House of Delegates district, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. On top of that, HB 1255, a 2020 bill passed by the General Assembly now requires incarcerated people to be counted at the address where they were living prior to their incarceration. That’s a problem for some districts with a significant number of prisons, including Senate District 38, where Senator Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell) was recently elected. Hackworth is part of a group of Southwestern Virginians suing the Virginia Redistricting Commission, the State Board of Elections, and the Virginia Department of Elections to block the change in where incarcerated people are counted.
“Virginia prisons are typically located in rural districts with greater Republican voting strength, particularly in the Southside and Southwest regions of the Commonwealth in which Petitioners are voting permanent residents (and, in Petitioner Hackworth’s case, an elected state senator,)” court documents state, noting that incarcerated people do use local infrastructure. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates met, passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by a 71-25 vote and adjourned in 30 minutes on Wednesday. Facing 107 pages of proposed amendments, a photo-op, and a series of lengthy recesses, the Senate had not completed its debate by press time Wednesday evening although it convened at 10 a.m. Read More
After an alleged coach-led pre-game prayer by the Graham High School “G-Men” Boys Soccer Team at the state championship game, an out-of-state atheist organization threatened to file a lawsuit against the school system. The local news reported that the prayer was led by the coaches of the team, but one of the coaches denies this accusation.
The Tazewell County School System “has been cautioned” by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based anti-religion group. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that “coaching staff for the Graham High School soccer team led students in prayer before a game on June 10, the FFRF alleges, saying it was reported by a concerned area resident.” Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia Simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal in Virginia, effective July 1. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to expedite legalization from 2024 to later this year. But legislators warned that doesn’t mean there will be a marijuana free-for-all. Read More
State Senator Travis Hackworth (R-Richlands) was sworn in on Friday. Hackworth, who prior to being sworn in was the Chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors. The Tazewell businessman shocked the Southwest Virginia political establishment by shellacking his competition in the January party canvass held shortly after Senator Chafin’s passing Read More
Republican Travis Hackworth won the 38th Senate District seat in a special election held Tuesday. Hackworth will fill a seat left vacant when Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell) died of COVID-19 early in 2021.
“We were hoping for a 70-30 victory and to hit 75 percent, it’s just amazing. It just shows how the people in the 38th District are still conservative Republicans that want to elect a senator like Senator Chafin, who will go up there and fight Richmond and just be conservative,” Hackworth told The Virginia Star. Read More
Former Radford City Councilwoman Laurie Buchwald (D) and Tazewell County Supervisor Travis Hackworth (R) are battling for election to represent Virginia’s 38th Senate district; although early voting started in February, the final day to vote is Tuesday, March 23. The special election will fill a seat left vacant at the beginning of January when Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell) became the first member of the General Assembly to die of COVID-19. Read More
With a special election coming on Tuesday for Senate District 38, gubernatorial candidates on both side of the aisle made appearances this week campaigning for Laurie Buchwald (D) and Travis Hackworth (R). But the governor’s race this week also featured hot dog reviews, a Democratic debate, and attacks between candidates. Read More
Residents of six rural Virginia counties voted to keep local Confederate monuments in place on Tuesday. The referenda are non-binding, but demonstrate voter preference to the local boards of supervisors. In four of the counties, over 70 percent of voters chose to keep the monuments, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). Two counties were closer; Charles City County voted against removing its monument by 55.11 percent, while Halifax County voted against relocating its monument by 59.69 percent. Read More