Latest Virginia news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EST


With Virginia's final ratification, ERA fight advances

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia has officially become the critical 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. State lawmakers made history earlier this month when each chamber of the General Assembly separately approved ratification resolutions. On Monday, the House and Senate took the final procedural step of signing off on each other's measures. That action took place with women presiding over both chambers. Virginia's ratification opens a new chapter in the nearly century-long push to get the amendment added to the Constitution. Many legal scholars expect courts to settle the issue. One reason why is that a ratification deadline set by Congress expired decades ago.


Northam wants 'strict' ban on holding phones while driving

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he wants a “strict” new ban on holding cellphones while driving, saying tough new laws are needed to cut down on fatal accidents. The governor also wants to ban any open containers of alcohol in cars and to require all car passengers to wear seat belts. He made the comments Monday while touting a list of transportation-related items he wants state lawmakers to pass this year, including creating a new Virginia Passenger Rail Authority to boost train travel and raising the state gas tax to fix roads that are crumbling from years of neglect.


Racist graffiti on college campus; group wants investigation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Muslim advocacy group is asking for an investigation into racist graffiti discovered at a Virginia university. The Council on American Islamic Relations asked the University of Richmond to look into an incident in which racist graffiti was written on the door of an African American student. The school said one student's door was defaced last week. The campus police chief said there had been three separate incidents. The university president condemned the vandalism, calling it “disgusting.” The school has not revealed what the graffiti said.


Virginia teachers rally, push for more education funding

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Hundreds of Virginia teachers are rallying at the state Capitol for increased public education spending and the repeal of a prohibition on collective bargaining by public employees. Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed more than $1 billion in new K-12 education spending. Northam's budget plan includes a 3% raise for teachers and more money for struggling schools. But education advocates said Monday that the governor's proposals fall short of what's needed because lawmakers have neglected education funding for years. They are asking for more education money than Northam has proposed, including 5% teacher raises.


Virginia crews search for missing canoers after vessel tips

YORKTOWN, Va. (AP) — Multiple agencies in Virginia are searching for two men who went missing after their canoe flipped near Yorktown overnight. York Fire Chief Stephen Kopczynski told news outlets the canoers launched around 11:30 p.m. Sunday and first responders were notified of their disappearance just before 4:30 a.m. Monday. Kopcynski said three men initially left Boathouse Cove in York County. News outlets report only one of the men was able to make it back to shore to get help after the boat capsized. Search teams found the canoe near Bennett’s Creek aroun 8 a.m. A Coast Guard helicopter, York County Fire & Life Safety, the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police joined the effort.


Northeast governors slow to embrace regional climate pact

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A growing number of governors in the Northeast are raising doubts about a regional pact that would tackle transportation emissions. The reluctance to support the Transportation and Climate Initiative over concerns it could increase gas prices raises doubts about how effective it will be in capping pollution from cars, trucks and other transport sources. So far, New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said the state won't join the pact due to concerns about higher gas prices. Vermont's Republican Gov. Phil Scott has said he wouldn't support the pact if it amounted to a carbon tax. Maine's Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has also raised concerns about the impact on the state's drivers.


Virginia woman gets life in WVa man's decapitation death

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — A Virginia woman has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole in the death of a West Virginia man who was decapitated. News outlets report Roena Cheryl Mills of Rural Retreat, Virginia, was sentenced Monday for her December conviction on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Bo White of Lenore. White's body was found at his home in April 2018 while his head was found in nearby woods. A neighbor called police after seeing Mills covered in blood. According to a criminal complaint, she was wearing one glove, and a second glove matching the one she was wearing was found in the bedroom of White's home.


Secretary of State to address Liberty University graduates

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University in May. University president Jerry Falwell made the announcement on Monday. Commencement exercises are scheduled for May 9.