RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ More than a dozen Virginia distilleries are asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe to nix a plan to raise prices at state-owned liquor stores. As part of a move to close a $2.4 billion budget gap, McAuliffe directed the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to increase liquor prices. The agency has not yet decided how or when it will raise prices. In a letter sent Thursday to McAuliffe, the state’s distillers said producers already face an uphill battle and prices at the 350 state-run stores are already exorbitant because sales are controlled by the state. The move to increase prices comes as Virginia saw record alcohol sales of $801 million in the latest fiscal year. McAuliffe’s office says raising prices helps avoid further cuts to core services like education and public safety.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Supreme Court says the state’s compulsory school attendance law doesn’t require parents to get their kids to class on time. In a 5-2 ruling Friday, the court reversed the convictions of a divorced mom in Loudoun County who whose three children were repeatedly tardy. The court’s majority concluded that the compulsory attendance law only requires that children be enrolled. The justices said other provisions of the code deal with truancy. Maureen Anne Blake has custody of her children on Wednesday nights and is responsible for getting them to school on Thursday mornings. They were up to 20 minutes late 10 times over four months. Blake told school officials she and one of the children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and that’s why they were often tardy.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Saturday is the final day to vote absentee in person in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Elections had received about 95,000 absentee votes as of Friday morning. Department spokeswoman Rose Mansfield said the department mailed out about 113,000 absentee ballots to voters who requested them. The deadline for voters to mail in their absentee ballots was Oct. 28. Virginia allows voters to cast ballots absentee only if they meet at least one of the 19 different qualifying reasons, such as traveling for business on Election Day or being incarcerated while awaiting trial. Voters wishing to vote absentee can do so at their local general registrar’s office, whose hours vary.
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ An attorney for the man accused of kidnapping University of Virginia student Hannah Graham is asking that his client undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Attorney James Camblos made the request Friday at an arraignment for Jesse Matthew in Fairfax County Circuit Court, where Matthew’s charged in an unrelated sexual assault from nearly a decade ago. The 32-year-old Matthew was indicted earlier this month on charges including attempted capital murder in connection with a September 2005 sexual assault on a 26-year-old woman who was walking home from the supermarket in Fairfax. Authorities have said the assault was linked by DNA to the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. Fairfax authorities charged Matthew shortly after authorities linked the Harrington case to Graham’s abduction. The 18-year-old Graham’s remains were found in mid-October.
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginians heading to the polls on Election Day will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would exempt the surviving spouses of U.S. military members killed in action from paying real estate taxes. Loudon Republican Del. David Ramadan sponsored the amendment and said it’s the least the state can do for the spouses of those who died serving their country. Virginia already offers a real estate tax exemption to veterans who became completely disabled as a result of their military service. The General Assembly has unanimously passed Ramadan’s legislation twice, with an election in between votes, allowing the voters to have a voice on changing the Virginia Constitution. The exemption would apply only to the spouse’s principal place of residence.
LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ A former Roanoke woman has pleaded guilty in a Smith Mountain Lake mortgage fraud scheme. Susanne Helbig, who now lives in Georgia, was charged in a 15-count indictment in May. She pleaded guilty to one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy and one count of tax fraud Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. Media outlets report that the other 13 counts were dismissed. The indictment claimed that in 2006 and 2007, Helbig and others submitted false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and settlement statements in the name of straw purchasers. The losses were calculated at about $11 million. The 50-year-old Helbig will be sentenced Jan. 20.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Five Native Americans are asking a Virginia judge to dismiss a lawsuit the Washington Redskins filed after the group successfully challenged the team’s name, arguing it is offensive. Lawyers for both sides are expected in federal court in Alexandria on Friday, where a judge is scheduled to hear arguments on whether the lawsuit should be thrown out. The five won a victory earlier this year when a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office board ruled that six trademark registrations on the team’s name should be canceled because they were “disparaging to Native Americans” when registered. After the board’s action, the team in August sued the five Native Americans, asking a federal court to stop the cancellation from happening.