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VPM Daily Newscast 2/17

VPM's daily newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Hosted by Benjamin Dolle, episodes are recorded the night before so you can wake up prepared.

Listeners can subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, and Spotify.

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Wednesday, February 17, 2021:

  • Sen. Mark Warner marked Black History Month on Tuesday with a visit to the historic Lumpkin’s Slave Jail in Shockoe Bottom. The jail operated in the early 1800’s, when Richmond was the second-largest hub for the sale of enslaved people. It’s also the location of a planned museum and memorial park dedicated to the horrors of slavery. Warner said he hoped the Biden administration would stand behind the project. Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed putting $10 million in state funding toward the project.


  • Following his tour, Warner commented on the growing call for a 9/11 Commission-style panel to investigate the January insurrection. Warner says the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chairs, plans to look into rising anti-government extremism. He also stood by his vote to convict President Donald Trump of inciting the insurrections and criticize Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for only speaking out after voting to acquit.


  • Virginia’s Rental Relief Program has received an additional $524 million from the federal government. Since last June, the program has distributed nearly $84 million in rent and mortgage payments, but the new funding will not cover mortgage relief.


  • Gov. Ralph Northam will provide an update of the state’s pandemic response today, where health officials are expected to share more details about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. As of Tuesday, more than 351,000 Virginians have been fully vaccinated, while about 12% of the state has received at least one dose. VPM will live stream the press conference  at 2 p.m.


  • Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly approved the legalization of recreational marijuana on Tuesday, though the Senate’s bill would also put that to voters. Despite a recent poll from Christopher Newport University showing 68% of Virginians support legalization, Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) says a non-binding ballot referendum would allow the public to discuss the nuances of that process. Critics of that plan, however, say the referendum is merely a political ploy to boost Democratic turnout in November. The House version of the bill does not include a referendum. Over the next two weeks, a small group of lawmakers will come to a compromise over the proposals.


  • Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith outlined some of the reforms he is making in the department on Tuesday. One change Smith highlighted is the creation of a committee of community members to act as a conduit between police officers and community members. Officers will also now carry business cards with information on how to file a complaint or compliment. This comes as Mayor Levar Stoney is expected to introduce a new equity agenda at next Monday’s City Council meeting.


  • Ice is back in the forecast for Thursday, nearly a week after Richmond experienced its most significant ice event in roughly two decades. Mayor Stoney urged Richmond residents to prepare for the upcoming winter weather. The Red Cross recommend residents prepare by stocking their pantires with nonperishable food and charging electronic devices, both personal and medical. 
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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