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Michael Lee Pope

Stories by Michael Lee

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Body of Law

The history of abortion in Virginia has many twists and turns.

The United States Supreme Court's decision to dismantle the right to abortion has upended the discussion over reproductive freedom.

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Candidates are Set for Fall Election

Don Beyer secures nomination as Republicans select candidates for fall election season.

Voters in Northern Virginia overwhelmingly supported four-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8)...

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Ban Battle Botched

Inside the failed effort to ban assault weapons in Virginia.

Banning assault weapons was a major priority for gun-violence prevention advocates in early 2020...

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Fauci Flip Flop

Republican candidate tries to walk back 'Fauci should be jailed' comment.

Republican congressional candidate Karina Lipsman is trying to walk back her comment that President Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci "should be jailed," a position she took during a time when she was battling four competitors to get the nomination to run in the Eighth Congressional District. Now that she has secured the nomination in a GOP convention, she is flip flopping on Fauci.

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'Fauci Should Be Jailed'

Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th calls for incarceration of medical advisor.

The Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th Congressional District is calling for President Biden's chief medical advisor to be "jailed," a comment she made during a candidates forum hosted by the Alexandria Republican City Committee earlier this month.

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Taking on Beyer

Five Republican candidates seek nomination in convention to challenge incumbent congressman.

Usually Republicans have to recruit candidates to run against four-term U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8). Not this year. Five Republicans are seeking the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in a convention later this month.

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Deep Blue Primary

Incumbent congressman to face first-time candidate.

The Eighth Congressional District is the bluest of the blue strongholds, giving President Biden 78 percent of the vote in 2020...

Fossil Fuel Fiesta in Alexandria

Governor proposes gas-tax holiday, but will Virginians benefit?

gas tax

Election Mirage Evaporates in Alexandria

Governor signs bill to improve election returns at the precinct level.

Election

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Beloved Cancel Culture in Fairfax County

Toni Morrison novel prompts legislation that has critics worried about book bans.

Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-prize winning book "Beloved" prompted such outrage in one Fairfax County parent in 2013 that she tried to have the book banned from her son's AP English class. Laura Murphy said the book gave her teenage son nightmares, and she urged school officials to do something about it. She took the fight all the way to the Fairfax County School Board, which voted six to two to keep the book in the AP English curriculum.

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Privacy Advocates Urge Veto

Opponents of facial recognition technology call on governor to reject social-media dragnet.

Police departments across Virginia may soon have the ability to use billions of images scraped from social-media sites like Facebook and Instagram to track down suspects, a development that is concerning to critics who say the technology is invasive and a violation of privacy. The governor is now considering the bill, and critics are urging him to veto it or amend it to require a warrant.

A Government Divided

Lawmakers end session with little to show and no budget.

Budget talks

Up in Smoke

Black market to remain underground for now as lawmakers reject licensing scheme.

Cannabis

Ditch Warfare

House Republicans push for tax cuts; Senate Democrats push back.

Taxes

Oops! They Did it Again

Lawmakers accidentally gave overtime protection to farmworkers and domestic workers, now they're taking it back.

They didn't mean it. Seriously. And now they're about to undo what they did last year. Lawmakers say the vote last year to create a cause of action for farmworkers and domestic workers to seek overtime pay was a mistake. Senators say they were misled, snookered by the blitzkrieg pace of the General Assembly. Now they're taking action to rectify the situation, stripping farmworkers and domestic workers of the ability to sue for overtime.

Commemorating Hidden History in Arlington and Alexandria

Local 'Green Book' locations may soon be designated historic sites.

Green Book

Green Rollback May Hit Blue Wall

Republican efforts to undo environmental laws to face opposition in Democratic-led Senate.

Environmental laws

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Reconsidering Marijuana

Pot is still legal, but the plan to regulate its sale is in jeopardy.

Marijuana

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Red Flags, Confiscated Guns

Police across Virginia use new law to disarm people courts determine to be dangerous.

Since Virginia's new red-flag law was signed by the Gov. Ralph Northam last year, according to data from the Virginia State Police, law enforcement officials across Virginia have issued 170 emergency substantial risk orders to temporarily confiscate firearms from people courts have determined could be dangerous. That includes 32 in Fairfax County, six in Arlington and five in Alexandria. Police officers and sheriffs deputies have also used the law in so-called "Second Amendment sanctuaries," including 13 risk orders in Virginia Beach and seven in Hanover County.

Texas Official Appointed to Lead Alexandria

City Council hires James Parajon as city manager.

New City Manager

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Republican Sweep

Democrats lose statewide for the first time since 2009.

Virginia has a long tradition of offering a counterpoint to presidential elections starting after the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter for president in 1976.

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Virginia at a Crossroads

Voters to determine direction of state government.

Two years ago, Democrats seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation. Now Republicans are hoping this is their moment to "Take Back Virginia," the name of a recent rally in support of the GOP statewide ticket that featured a call-in appearance from former President Donald Trump, who used the opportunity to repeat baseless claims about widespread election fraud.

Voters to Determine Direction of City

Republican Annetta Catchings challenges incumbent Democrat Justin Wilson for mayor.

The race for mayor comes down to a simple question: Are Alexandria voters happy with the direction of the city or not?

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House Seat Shuffle

Former CIA branch chief J.D. Maddox to face Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

In Richmond, the 45th House District is known as a cursed seat because of its dizzying turnover. After the retirement of longtime Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45) in 2006, the district has blazed through three delegates in rapid succession. Now the seat is open once again after the incumbent, former radio talk show host Mark Levine, lost the primary when his name appeared on the ballot twice because he was trying to simultaneously win reelection to the House while also snagging the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

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Contaminated Legacy

From slave plantation to industrial pollution, a hidden history of North Old Town.

The shuttered power plant dominating the landscape in North Old Town has layers of industrial pollution, a hidden history buried under the contaminated soil of the Potomac River Generating Station. Even before the coal-fired power plant was constructed in 1949, the property was home to the American Chlorophyll Company and Potomac River Clay Works. That means the long and complicated task known as "remediating" the property could mean removing everything from coal ash and mercury to industrial fertilizer and hazardous metals.

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Bag It?—Not Any More

Arlington to consider a new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Bag Tax

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Transforming Potomac Yard

Virginia Tech breaks ground for Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

Potomac Yard Groundbreaking

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Reform Is in the Bag

City Council to consider new five-cent tax for each plastic bag.

Alexandria started pressing for a plastic bag tax when George W. Bush was in the White House and Virginia was a red state. Now the years of advocacy have finally paid off, and state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) has been able to pass a bill giving City Hall authority to impose a five-cent tax on each and every plastic bag that's used in grocery stores and convenience stores.

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Facing Eviction

Virginia has new protections for renters, but temporary measures expire next year.

The clock is ticking for renters across Virginia who are in danger of being evicted. People of color and low-income Virginians are most at risk.

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Connecting the Unconnected

Less than 3 percent of broadband spending to help low-income people gain internet access

About 15 percent of Alexandria students did not have access to the internet when the pandemic began last year, a statistic that reveals how many households in Alexandria are locked out of the modern economy.

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Whistle Stop

McAuliffe launches DNC bus tour at Port City, dodges question about labor

The Build Back Better Bus caused quite a stir last week at Port City Brewing, and not just because of the alliteration.

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Big Money for Big Biz, Not as Much for Poor

Lawmakers go on a spending spree with billions of dollars from Uncle Sam.

Big business cleaned up this week, taking home the biggest prizes in the special session to spend $3 billion in stimulus cash. Meanwhile, low-income Virginians didn't fare quite as well.

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Spending Spree

General Assembly returns to Richmond to appropriate federal stimulus cash

In the 1985 hit movie "Brewster's Millions," Richard Pryor is given the task of spending $30 million in 30 days.

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Drawing the Line

How much should cities and counties be divided among lawmakers?

For Mason Cook of the Middleridge neighborhood in Fairfax County, the problem of gerrymandering can be understood in an afternoon commute. During a public hearing of the Virginia Redistricting Commission this week, he explained that if he were to drive from his house to his grocery store and then drop off a package at his post office, he would have gone through three different House of Delegates districts. "We hear a lot of talk about voter suppression. These kinds of congressional districts are all about voter suppression, and they make the congressional elections totally meaningless." — Bill Millhouser of Fairfax County

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The New New Deal

Uncle Sam is about to make it rain.

Not since the days of the New Deal in the 1930s has the federal government showered so much stimulus cash on Virginia, and Alexandria is about to receive millions of dollars for everything from guaranteed basic income and flash flooding improvements to staffing at the Freedom House and planters to make the King Street pedestrian plaza look more inviting.

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Rebuilding Hospitality

Restaurants, hotels and performing arts venues struggle with recovery

Now that the pandemic is fading into a bad memory, Alexandria's hospitality industry is at a crossroads.

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Baby Bust

Declining birth rates lead to shrinking Kindergarten enrollments.

Declining birth rates and the pandemic have conspired to send Alexandria's Kindergarten enrollment down 17 percent since 2018, a trend that school officials say will have a long-term influence on how the division operates and plans for the future. Some of the decline is driven by the pandemic as parents opted for private schools or kept their children in daycare rather than enroll them. But the long-term forecast for schools will be shaped one birth at a time.

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Marijuana Is Now Legal

The long strange trip from a failed war on drugs to social equity licenses

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em because pot is now legal in the commonwealth of Virginia.

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Democrats Choose Northern Virginia Ticket

Primary voters select candidates with gender and racial diversity but lacking in regional balance.

As election returns started rolling in from the Democratic primary Tuesday, Republicans started boasting about having the most diverse statewide ticket in Virginia history.

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Opposition Candidates Falter

Voters reject candidates who said City Hall lacks integrity.

Democratic primaries are usually about biography and personalities, focusing on professional resumes and personal connections.

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Democrats Decide

Voters to determine direction of party in June 8 primary

The June 8 primary will determine the direction of the Democratic Party in Virginia at a critical time, when the commonwealth is emerging from the pandemic and trying to recast itself as something other than a party in opposition to former President Donald Trump.

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Following the Money

City Council candidates raise money from friends and supporters.

Running a campaign for the Alexandria City Council isn't cheap. Former Mayor Bill Euille says he often advises potential candidates they'll need to raise $20,000 to $30,000 just to get through the primary and then twice that for the general election.

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Convention Done, Primary Ahead

Republicans get a head start in the general election; Democrats still fighting each other

The way Democrats talk about Donald Trump, you'd think he was on the ballot in 2021. And in many ways, he is. The former president may be out of the White House and kicked off of social media, but he's still eager to see himself as a kingmaker.

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Gutter Politics

City Council candidates campaign on fixing Alexandria's flooding problem.

None of the candidates for Alexandria City Council are for flooding, which has swamped the city's aging infrastructure in recent years as a series of major storm events have repeatedly submerged parts of Alexandria.

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Seven Republicans Running for Governor

May 8 convention to determine direction of party heading into November.

Republicans haven’t won a statewide race since 2009, when Attorney General Bob McDonnell received 59 percent of the vote against Democrat Creigh Deeds. Since then, Republicans have been shut out of the Executive Mansion. Ken Cuccinelli lost to Terry McAuliffe in 2013, and Ed Gillespie lost to Ralph Northam in 2017. Now Republicans are about to determine their statewide candidates in a May 8 convention, which will take place at 37 locations.

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Two-Front Primary

Self-styled 'aggressive progressive' wages statewide campaign while defending House seat

Northern Virginia has one of the most competitive Democratic primaries for the House of Delegates this year, a race that's complicated by an incumbent who's seeking reelection while also seeking a statewide office. Del. Mark Levine (D-45) will be appearing twice on the ballot, once toward the top of the ticket for lieutenant governor and then again for reelection to the House seat that he's held since his first election in 2015.

Running for Second in Command

Thirteen candidates are running for lieutenant governor in Virginia.

Seven Democrats and six Republicans are trying to secure their parties' nomination to be the candidate for lieutenant governor on the November ballot.

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Lucky Thirteen

June 8 primary will feature more than a dozen Democrats running for six seats

Recent years have seen a dramatic shift in city politics. Three years ago, the incumbent mayor was unseated in an election where two incumbent City Council members were turned out of office. Now three of the six seats on the council are open, and 13 candidates are running for six seats.

Green Summer

Alexandria delegation works with the governor to legalize marijuana on July 1.

Alexandria is about to become the capital of marijuana in Virginia. The city's legislative delegation is at the center of an effort poised to legalize weed this summer, years ahead of an agreement that was struck behind closed doors at the end of the General Assembly session in February.

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Ethicist on the Bench

Prosecutor of bad lawyers to take a seat on the Alexandria Circuit Court

Prosecuting unethical lawyers is not a great way to win friends and influence people. Yet somehow Kathleen Uston has been able to figure out a way to trade her job as assistant bar counsel at the Virginia State Bar for a seat on the Alexandria Circuit Court. She'll be installed on the court next week, the culmination of a career that has given Uston an inside look at some of the worst lawyering in Virginia while also giving her a special insight into the role ethics plays in the law. — Yvonne Weight Callahan

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