State and National Government
The Roanoke Valley’s Morning News spoke with Delegate Jason Miyares this morning – also the Republican candidate for Attorney General in November. Jason Miyares joined Roanoke Valley’s Morning News Host Joey Self and Anchor/Reporter Gene Marrano to discuss several amendments he hopes to propose during the current General Assembly special session.
The highly-contested decision to allow casinos and online lottery games in Virginia while outlawing skill games – often found in convenience stores and bars – is hurting small businesses. That’s according to the Republican nominee for Attorney General, as WFIR’s Ian Price reports:
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A federal freeze on most evictions enacted last year is scheduled to expire Saturday [today], after President Joe Biden’s administration extended the original date by a month. The moratorium, put in place by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September, was the only tool keeping millions of tenants in their homes. Many of them lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and had fallen months behind on their rent.
Landlords successfully challenged the order in court, arguing they also had bills to pay. They pointed out that tenants could access nearly $47 billion in federal money set aside to help pay rents and related expenses.
Advocates for tenants said the distribution of the money had been slow and that more time was needed to distribute it and repay landlords. Without an extension, they feared a spike in evictions and lawsuits seeking to boot out tenants who were behind on their rents.
Virginia’s Rent Relief Program helps tenants suffering financial hardship from the pandemic. Fairfax and Chesterfield Counties administer their own programs. As of July 14, more than $308 million had been paid out statewide to support more than 48,000 households, according to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia and its local governments will ultimately have access to about $1 billion in funds to help renters. The state has launched an awareness campaign, while legal aid attorneys and others are offering to help tenants navigate the application process.
The state is also requiring courts to grant a 60-day continuance for an eviction proceeding when a tenant can demonstrate that their failure to pay was due to the effects of COVID-19. That protection expires at the end of September.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the pretrial detention of a former police officer from Virginia who is accused of ordering guns after he was charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper agreed Wednesday to keep Thomas Robertson jailed, ruling the former Rocky Mount police officer violated terms of his pretrial release by possessing firearms.
The judge rejected Robertson’s suggestion that 34 guns he ordered before June 29, when FBI agents searched his home, are simply World War II collectables. A government inventory of the guns shows that many of them are recent vintage military-style assault weapons, including three M4 shotguns, Cooper said.
A gun dealer in Roanoke, Virginia, told the FBI that Robertson had 34 guns waiting for him to pick up and that he had recently visited the store to handle them. “Here, a reasonable person could draw the inference that Robertson acted with consciousness of guilt in ordering firearms and ammunition for delivery to the gun dealer. It appears that Robertson may have attached the label ‘Wedding Photos’ to a Venmo transaction that was actually for ammunition, suggesting an effort to avoid detection,” the judge wrote.
The town of Rocky Mount fired Robertson and a second officer, Jacob Fracker, accused of storming the Capitol. Robertson has pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstructing an official proceeding. Robertson was freed after his initial arrest but arrested again July 7 after prosecutors urged the judge to revoke his pretrial release.
The judge noted that Robertson is not accused of engaging in any violence on Jan. 6 but said the “strong weight of the evidence” shows he participated in the Capitol riot. “Since that incident, both before and after his indictment, Robertson has expressed pride in his role and enthusiasm for the prospect of future political violence,” Cooper wrote.
(note: Robertson and Fracker have been offered an undisclosed plea deal they have until Aug. 11 to accept)
Republican leaders in the General Assembly say they are being entirely excluded from the process of determining how Virginia should allocate more than $4 billion in federal COVID relief money coming to Virginia.. State lawmakers will decide where that money should go in a special session that begins Monday. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:
Over the past decade the number of veteran-owned businesses has dropped by more than 20 percent. So said 6th District Republican Congressman Ben Cline live in studio this morning. Last week he introduced the “Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2021,” which would allow qualified military veterans with solid business plans to access GI Bill grants for their start-up companies. Hear much more from Congressman Ben Cline on this and other topics, on the link below; watch it on our Facebook.
99 days — that is now the time remaining before Virginia selects its next governor, and it is already clear that the campaign funding and results have a national following. The money raised so far by the major party campaigns already tells part of the story, more than $40 million through June, way ahead of any previous campaign for Virginia governor — and a lot of it from out of state. Virginia Tech professor and WFIR Political Analyst Bob Denton says that’s because the parties will look the election results here for possible clues to next year’s nationwide congressional races. He spoke with WFIR’s Evan Jones:
State transportation officials are considering a new passenger rail route that would link Roanoke and the New River Valley with Richmond and Hampton Roads. This is separate and apart from plans to expand Roanoke Amtrak service to two round-trip trains a day, trains connecting the region with Washington and the Northeast Corridor. For starters, the Department of Rail and Transportation has set up an on-line survey. Click here to answer the survey.