PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Virginia made national headlines this week when state lawmakers passed a surprise redistricting plan on Inauguration Day, arguably wanting the move to go unnoticed by the general public.
The proposed plan would give Republicans the advantage in six districts that are now held by Democrats and would create a new district where a majority of the voters are minorities; a textbook definition of gerrymandering.
The Senate is evenly split down party lines. Democrats said Republicans waited until Democratic Senator and civil rights leader Henry Marsh left Richmond to go to the inauguration on Monday. They then put their plan to vote, and it passed 20-19.
Republicans said this would better comply with the Voting Rights Act, but political blogger Vivian Paige argues against that.
"The way the lines have been drawn, to be perfectly honest... there has been a 'packing of the black,'" Paige said.
Paige said although redistricting would give minorities an overwhelming voice in one district, it wouldn't be much on a state level.
Republican caucus spokesman Jeff Ryer told WAVY.com the new lines better reflect the 'one man, one vote' principle.
Ryer said redrawing the lines will in most cases make the districts more compact.
Suffolk, which now has four senators would be reduced to two. They would lose John Miller (D), who represents Harbor View and Senator Tommy Norment (R) who represents Driver and Ebenezer.
Under the new plan, Senator Louise Lucas (D) would take on Harbor View and Senator Harry Blevins would represent Ebenezer. Driver would be split between the two.
The plan still has to pass the House, the governor and the Department of Justice.
A Virginia Beach man will serve 15 years in prison for charges related to two armed bank robberies in 2011.
A local convicted robber will serve 15 years behind bars for his part in a robbery at the Oceanfront two years ago.
Charges have been made in a domestic abuse investigation involving a 74-year-old woman in Elizabeth City.
Witnesses tell WAVY.com the attack of a shopper was the cause of a heavy police presence at the Ross department store at Military Circle in Norfolk Wednesday night.
State officials say construction on a new Bonner Bridge has been delayed for years because of a legal battle with an environmental group.
Michelle Price with Newport News Public Schools told WAVY.com at least three city school buses ran substantially late Wednesday afternoon, delivering children home several hours after dismissal.
Plans to enhance a popular park in Smithfield are on hold. Some people say City Council is trying to commercialize a natural and historic treasure, and leave them out of the loop.