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VPM Daily Newscast: December 8, 2021

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

Listeners can subscribe through NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Megaphone, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.     

Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Wednesday, December 8, 2021: 

  • State and local law enforcement can look forward to a pay increase under Governor Ralph Northam’s outgoing two-year budget proposal. He says it will help departments struggling with recruiting and keeping officers on the force. Whittney Evans reports

  • Richmond City Public Schools became the first district in Virginia to award its teachers and staff collective bargaining rights on Monday. The approved proposal gives employees the right to negotiate their wages, hours and benefits. For 44 years, state law banned collective bargaining for public sector workers, like teachers. But a law passed last year reinstated their right to negotiate with school administration. Stephanie Rizzi was among the eight school board members to vote in favor of the proposal. School employees must now present a statement to the board certifying that at least thirty percent of them want to be represented by a union. Once representatives are chosen, negotiations will begin within 60 days. 

  • The Virginia Department of Health says it lacks the quote “clear statutory authority” to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees. The decision comes after a petition circulated to require the shots for school staff and eligible students, according to the  Virginia Mercury. Apart from federal action, this failed petition likely means the end to efforts to mandate the vaccine in Virginia schools. Under state law, VDH can add new vaccination requirements for students. But the state agency pointed out that federal health officials have yet to add the COVID-19 vaccine to its childhood immunization list.   

  • NASA just selected their first new group of astronauts in four years. As Jonah Grinkewitz from our partner station WHRO reports, one of them is a graduate of Western Branch High School in Chesapeake. 

  • An architect has been selected for a major state project in downtown Richmond. According to  Richmond BizSense, the Baskervill firm will design the new home of the Supreme Court of Virginia and Virginia Court of Appeals. The state plans to demolish part of the Pocahontas building to make way for this project. The Pocahontas building currently houses the offices for state lawmakers. Designs for the new courthouse will likely be released in the spring or summer. The project is estimated to cost around $155 million dollars.