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VPM Daily Newscast: April 23, 2020

Police officer wearing bike helmet
Police officers on bikes were assigned to the Capitol during today's unusual veto session. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

During the coronavirus outbreak, VPM is running a daily newscast of our reporting, hosted by Benjamin Dolle. Episodes are recorded at 6 p.m. and released for 7 a.m. the next day, Tuesday through Friday.

In this episode:

Laws approved quickly by legislators
Meeting outside during the coronavirus pandemic yesterday, legislators rubber-stamped new laws on everything from marijuana to casinos. Although it was a challenge with protesters honking their car horns - even through the opening prayer - and the Speaker of the House had a dizzy spell, the legislators signed several bills advanced by the new Democratic majority.

Delay for Virginia's minimum wage
Democrats won election in 2019 on a progressive platform that included gun control, minimum wage increases, and more - but they didn't count on a pandemic. The General Assembly narrowly approved delaying a minimum wage increase by four months, citing potential economic hardship to businesses.

What about healthcare expansion?
One of the major legislative priorities of Virginia Democrats has been healthcare expansion. With the projected shortfall in state revenue and budget issues, there are many Virginians who may not gain healthcare.

Protesters want Virginia to take after Sweden
Nearly 100 protesters came to the Capital yesterday, demonstrating against COVID-19 restrictions. Using the language of progressive campaigns like Black Lives Matter and the pro-choice movement, along with the racist image from Gov. Northam's 1984 yearbook, they demanded a re-opening of Virginia. Some even asked for a Swedish response to the coronavirus. The Nordic country usually known for a robust social welfare state has become an outlier in its region, for its lack of COVID-19 restrictions and its high death rate compared to Denmark, Norway, and other neighbors.

Courts staying closed
The Supreme Court of Virginia is extending its judicial emergency order for a third time, to be in effect through May 17. The order has been changed though: If all parties agree, they could meet - in person, on the phone, or by video chat.

Buses might stay free
Greater Richmond Transit Company CEO Julie Timm proposed to keep the bus system free to make riders, drivers safer. Although the system won't receive the revenue from lost fares, it will also save money by not ticketing - the final price tag is budgeted at $7 million.

In Chesterfield, taxpayers can apply for a payment plan
Chesterfield has furloughed hundreds of employees due to projected economic impacts from the coronavirus. To help taxpayers, they're now offering payment plans on property taxes.

The organizer of the first Earth Day on what's next for the movement - 50 years after he started it
Earth Day 2020 was expected to draw one billion people into the streets around the world, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  But founder and organizer Denis Hayes says now it is even more important to take the demonstrations to the ballot box this fall, because the job of saving the planet is not yet accomplished.

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