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VPM Daily Newscast February 18, 2021

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 Thursday, February 18, 2021:

  • Virginia is set to remove a section of its constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. This section of the constitution was approved in 2006, and Virginia lawmakers say it’s time to align the state with federal law. The amendment would make marriage a fundamental right, regardless of sex or gender. Advocates fear the conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States could overturn the 2015 nationwide marriage equality ruling. Many legal scholars say that’s unlikely, citing the drastic shift in public opinion. The amendmentmust pass the General Assembly twice before being put to voters in a statewide referendum.


  • Virginia endured a winter storm last weekend that’s left thousands without power and Hopewell residents without water service. Another storm is expected today that could bring another inch of snow to Central Virginia, while Northern Virginia could reach one foot, in the worst case scenario. Gov. Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency over the weekend, which lasts for 30 days. The governor added he’s reached out to FEMA for support.


  • The state Department of Emergency Management is urging residents to take extra precautions when using portable generators. Over the past few days, state officials say there have been a number of house fires and carbon monoxide-related illnesses caused by heaters and generators. VDEM says generators should be used in well-ventilated, outside areas at least 2-feet from doors, windows and vent openings. People should also turn off generators and let them cool down while refueling.


  • Northam announced the state is opening a call center for people who want to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. This is in addition to a statewide registration website Virginia rolled out Tuesday. Residents can reach the call center at (877) VAX-IN-VA. Those who have already pre-registered will not need to do so again.


  • The Virginia Senate approved a new bicycle safety law Wednesday. The measure would force drivers to move into the other lane when passing a cyclist and allow cyclists to ride side-by-side. The original proposal also would have allowed cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. Advocates say that would help prevent accidents, a claim that’s backed up by studies from Delaware, where  a similar measure was implemented. Lawmakers, however, were hesitant and removed the provision, choosing instead to study the issue.


  • The state Senate also approved a measure to give cities and towns more power to plant trees after certain developments. The final version of the bill creates a work group of representatives from environmental groups, developers and localities tasked with refining and studying the process. Lawmakers will have to pass a new version of the legislation  next year. The House of Delegates approved an identical bill earlier this week. It now goes to the governor for approval.
VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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