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VPM Daily Newscast: January 12, 2022

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.           

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Here’s a recap of the top stories on the morning of Wednesday, January 12, 2022: 

  • Virginia lawmakers return to Richmond today to start working on new laws and the next two-year state budget. It also marks the final days in office for Governor Ralph Northam. He will be giving his last State of the Commonwealth address tonight. While Northam told VPM’s State Politics Reporter Ben Paviour that he doesn’t “really talk about legacies,” he highlighted how one of his accomplishments was attracting companies like Amazon to the commonwealth, while also pursuing progressive policies. The State of the Commonwealth Address begins at 7 tonight. You can listen on VPM News or watch the televised broadcast on VPM PBS. 

  • Education is one of the top issues Virginians want lawmakers to focus on during the 2022 legislative session. That’s according to a new poll released by the L. Douglas Wilder School at Virginia Commonwealth University. Out of 800 adults surveyed, about 80 percent felt that attending school remotely results in K through 12 students falling behind. A major topic on the campaign trail last year was public school curriculum and critical race theory. More than 70 percent of those polled thought curriculums should be created collaboratively with parents, teachers and school boards. Another key legislative issue the poll highlighted was the economy. About a quarter of respondents said they felt Americans are reassessing their lives and priorities in terms of work and family. 

  • Virginia’s legislative session kicks off today, and education issues remain a top priority for many lawmakers. VPM’s Education Reporter Megan Pauly has been investigating the effects of direct-to-school debt for over a year. She spoke with several state lawmakers recently about what they think needs to be done to address it. 

  • Dominion Energy is asking permission to withdraw a proposed rate hike to customers that would cover enrollment in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, also known as RGGI. The move comes after Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin pledged to pull Virginia out of the program,  according the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Youngkin recently said he’d use executive action to withdraw from it. But an official opinion released yesterday by out-going Attorney General Mark Herring says that won’t be possible. The opinion says the governor doesn’t have the power to undo legislation passed by the General Assembly. In a statement, Herring’s office touted the benefit RGGI has provided for climate change programs in Virginia. 

  • Members of the Richmond City Council are objecting to lease enforcements resuming for public housing residents. Meg Schiffres has been following these developments for weeks and has an update. The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority did not respond to requests for a comment on this story. 

  • Dr. Danny Avula recently stepped down from his role as Virginia’s vaccination coordinator. But his work isn’t over. He still heads the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. Hospitalizations for COVID-19, he says, are the highest they’ve ever seen. Speaking with reporters at Richmond City Hall yesterday, Avula said the best protection is still vaccination. Overwhelmingly, the unvaccinated are being hospitalized for serious illness. But he says it’s time to get back to the basics of masking and testing to cut down on rampant community spread. Statewide, more than 3,800 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, according to data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.