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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (The Virginian-Pilot) — An upcoming ad campaign for Virginia Beach will feature a new song by hometown star Pharrell Williams.

A city official tells the Virginian-Pilot that Williams contacted the city last year asking how he could help after the mass shooting at a municipal building in May.

That led to a a multi-year plan involving the singer in tourism and economic development initiatives.

As part of that, the singer will narrate two 60-second commercials with his soon-to-be-released song, “Virginia."

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State lawmakers are poised to take a major step toward making Virginia the critical 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Democrat-controlled Virginia House and Senate are expected to advance the gender equality measure in floor votes Wednesday.

A House committee on Tuesday approved a resolution to ratify the gender equality measure.

The vote was along party lines 13 to 9 with all Democrats voting for passage and all of the Republicans voting against.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — For the first time in a generation, Democrats in Virginia will be in full control of the statehouse when the General Assembly convenes this week.

The legislature gets down to business on Wednesday, the start of what could be one of the most sweeping sessions in decades.

Quick action is expected on a number of high-profile issues, including prohibiting discrimination against members of LGBTQ community, expanding voting rights and making Virginia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

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STERLING, Va. (AP) - Joe Biden is working on a national campaign of his own, but he made time for a trip to Virginia to rally party activists two days before a pivotal state election.

On Sunday, the Democratic presidential hopeful and former vice president joined former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, local Democratic officeholders and party leaders on an outdoor stage in an office park in Sterling.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The battle for control of Virginia's legislature is leading to record-breaking political fundraising as special interest groups spend big in the final weeks of the contest.

Virginia is the only state where Democrats have a chance to flip control of the state legislature this year.

New campaign finance reports show General Assembly candidates have raised about $53 million so far, up about 67% from the last time all 140 seats were up for grabs in 2015.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Worsening dry conditions affecting Virginia have prompted Gov. Ralph Northam to place the state under a drought watch.

The watch issued Friday advises residents, local governments and businesses to use less water. It is meant to get people ready in the event of "a significant drought event."

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report shows nearly 56 million residents are now living in drought conditions in parts of 16 Southern states, including Virginia.

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CENTREVILLE, Va. (AP) - A coalition of activists is pushing for Virginia to issue driver's licenses to residents regardless of their immigration status.

The Drive Virginia Forward campaign will launch its effort Tuesday with a press conference in Centreville.

The Legal Aid Justice Center and the immigrant-advocacy group CASA are among the groups sponsoring the campaign.

The awareness campaign will include a seven-day march from Virginia Beach to Richmond beginning Saturday.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Democrats are outraising Republicans in the lead up to a closely watched legislative election.

New campaign finance reports show House Democratic candidates have $1 million more cash on hand than House Republicans candidates. That's according to analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project of candidate fundraising for July and August.

House Republicans previously held a narrow cash advantage at the end of June.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - One key question hovers over this year's closely watched Virginia legislative elections: Has the Trump effect that helped Democrats two years ago worn off?

Voters unhappy with the Republican president, particularly in suburban areas, powered historic Democratic gains in 2017.

Republicans are cautiously optimistic the president will have less of an impact on voters this year. But Democrats say Trump remains deeply unpopular, and there are clear signs they have the advantage going into Election Day.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer says he will put $1 million toward registering at least 12,000 millennial voters in Virginia, in hope of flipping the Republican-led General Assembly to the Democrats.

The Washington Post reports that the liberal advocacy group Steyer founded, NextGen America, announced Monday that it will reach out to voters aged 18 to 35 in some of Virginia's Republican-held districts, and focus on the key issues of gun safety, reproductive rights and climate change.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A lawyer defending Virginia in a lawsuit challenging four state abortion laws has told a judge the benefits provided by the regulations clearly outweigh any inconveniences they may impose.

During closing arguments Thursday, attorney Emily Scott said the regulations have made abortion clinics safer and have not put an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's 2017 elections were an early warning signal that an anti-Trump blue wave was headed for the 2018 U.S. midterms. This year's legislative elections could offer strong clues about national trends in 2020.

Primary elections are a few days away and both Republicans and Democrats are in the midst of ugly battles over their respective parties' identities and values.

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) - A study by Virginia Tech has found that state parks in Virginia contributed about $267 million to the economy in 2018.

The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg reported Sunday that Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business had focused on the economic impact of visitors to the state's 38 parks.

The study found the economic activity supported nearly 4,000 jobs in Virginia. It was also responsible for about $133.2 million in wages and salary income in 2018.

The report looked at money spent on things such as hotels, campgrounds and restaurants

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Researchers are trying to learn more about the first Africans who arrived in North America as slaves almost 400 years ago.

Historians have focused on a group of 20-some Africans they say were critical to the survival of Jamestown, England's first successful settlement in North America.

Many are known today only by their first names: Antony and Isabella, Angelo, Frances and Peter. They were kidnapped from what is now Angola and forcibly sailed across the ocean aboard three slave ships before being sold into bondage in Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from Virginia Republicans to block a federal court from approving new legislative district boundaries.

The order was issued Tuesday, two days ahead of a scheduled lower court hearing in Richmond on proposed new state legislative maps.

A federal judicial panel has ordered a new map after ruling that lawmakers racially gerrymandered 11 state House districts by packing black voters into them.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the case some time this year.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Thousands of uninsured, low-income Virginians will have new health care coverage starting in the new year.

Virginia is joining more than 30 states that have expanded Medicaid, a key part of former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The state's Medicaid office has been working with hospitals, advocates for the poor, insurance companies and others to help enroll the newly eligible into Medicaid.

Coverage starts Jan. 1 and the state said in mid-December that more than 180,000 people have been enrolled.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - About 400,000 newly eligible low-income Virginia adults can start enrolling in Medicaid, a major achievement for the state's Democratic governor.

Medicaid expansion enrollment started Thursday in Virginia for coverage that will start at the beginning of 2019.

Expanding Medicaid was among the biggest legislative priorities for Gov. Ralph Northam.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal judges have appointed a special expert to help redraw Virginia's state legislative districts.

A three-judge panel appointed Bernard Grofman, an economics and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine, on Thursday. Judges also said indicated they want a new map to be in place by March 28, 2019.

A federal court ruled this summer that lawmakers illegally packed black voters into 11 districts and ordered lawmakers to draw a new map by the end of this month.

Virginia Board of Elections

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginians have only a few days left to register to vote.

Monday is the deadline to register online, by mail or in person.

Voters will decide the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and Republican challenger Corey Stewart next month.

There are also several competitive congressional districts throughout the state, as Democrats hope to pick up seats as part of a broader effort to take control of the U.S. House.

Virginians can register to vote online at vote.elections.virginia.gov.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are set to meet in Richmond for a special session so they can comply with a court order to redraw the state's legislative map.

Members of the Virginia House and Senate will convene at noon Thursday. The special session comes after a federal court in June found that 11 House of Delegates districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The court ordered lawmakers to redraw the state map by Oct. 30.

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(AP) The son of a powerful Republican congressman has lambasted his father on Twitter for "ruining" the career of a recently fired FBI agent.

Bobby Goodlatte targeted his father, Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, on Twitter after Monday's news that the FBI fired Peter Strzok. The agent had sent anti-Trump text messages during the Russia investigation.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia primary voters are set to narrow the field of candidates in a variety of federal and local races.

Among the contests on the ballot Tuesday is that for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Three candidates are facing off for the chance to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who does not have a primary opponent.

There are also primaries in nine congressional races, some in both parties. The most crowded is the Democratic race for the 10th District in northern Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers finished up the 2018 session Saturday without doing their most important job: passing a state budget.

They hit a stalemate because Republicans legislators can't agree on whether to expand Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income adults.

The GOP-controlled House backs it, while the Republican-led Senate opposes it. Lawmakers will go home while negotiations continue. The state government will shut down July 1 if no budget is passed.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The recent federal tax overhaul probably means Virginia will collect more state tax revenue - but from whom and how much are still unknown.

Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne told lawmakers Wednesday that the impact of the federal tax changes is so complicated that the state needs an outside consultant and a couple more months to figure it all out.

The changes affect taxes incurred this year but possibly paid next year.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Senate has passed a bill granting federal recognition to six American Indian tribes in Virginia, a move that makes the tribes eligible for federal money for education, housing and health care.

The bill will now be sent to the president's desk. It gives the Rappahannock, Monacan, Nansemond, Upper Mattaponi, Chickahominy and Eastern Chickahominy tribes a status they have sought for two decades. Many of the members of the tribes are descendants of Pocahontas' Virginia Powhatan tribe.

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - The Democrat has conceded to the Republican in the race for Virginia's 94th District House seat.

Shelly Simonds used Twitter to announce her concession to Del. David Yancey on Wednesday.

Her concession came more than two months after November's hotly contested election. Her decision followed a recount that she appeared to win by one vote, a court's decision to declare a tie and the drawing of names from a bowl that she lost.

Simonds said she didn't "see any legal pathways forward and I want representation for the 94th district today."

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia General Assembly is set to kick off its 2018 session.

Lawmakers will officially convene at noon Wednesday, and a host of new faces will fill the House of Delegates, where Democrats picked up 15 seats in the November elections.

Later in the day, outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe will give his final State of the Commonwealth address.

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Democratic voters are making their case for a new election in a tight race that could force a 50-50 split in Virginia's House of Delegates.

They say their disenfranchisement was far from a garden-variety election error.

Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by 73 votes, but elections officials say 147 voters received the wrong ballots.

On Friday, a judge in Alexandria rejected the request for a new election, saying the ballot errors amount to "garden-variety irregularities."

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - More people are moving out of Virginia than they are moving to the Old Dominion.

The Daily Progress reports that Virginia has seen higher numbers of people leaving the state than moving in since 2013, according to University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The state's population isn't shrinking thanks to new births. But the trend of more people leaving than moving in is a reversal of demographic patterns dating back to the Great Depression, said research specialist Hamilton Lombard.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Democratic tidal wave in Virginia on Election Day three weeks ago has left chaos in its wake, with control of the House of Delegates still far from being decided.

The Republicans went from a commanding majority to an apparent 51-49 lead, with GOP candidates clinging to razor-thin leads in three districts. In one of those races, where the Republican is ahead by just 82 votes, an apparent error by a recently deceased registrar led to 147 voters casting their ballots in the wrong district.

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