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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Even with new support from key GOP leaders, Medicaid expansion in Virginia still faces serious roadblocks. That includes a fierce intraparty squabble among Republicans and strong disagreement among expansion supporters on how to pay for it.

Those divisions were on display Thursday as both chambers of the GOP-controlled General Assembly debated whether Medicaid expansion should be included in the state budget. The House favors Medicaid expansion and the new hospital tax, which the Senate opposes.

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CROZET, Va. (AP) - Republican members of Congress with medical experience put their skills to work after a train carrying dozens of them crashed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one person in the truck and injuring others.

The congressmen were on their way to a strategy retreat in the countryside when the collision occurred around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday in Crozet, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Washington.

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - Fewer people are buying guns in Virginia.

The Daily Press reports gun sellers have conducted 10 percent fewer background checks so far in 2017 compared to the same time period last year.

Experts say the decline follows a Republican being elected to the White House opposed to a Democrat. Johns Hopkins public health professor Cassandra Crifasi said fears have fallen over whether gun regulations will increase.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Republican Party of Virginia has decided to pick its candidate for the U.S. Senate next year in a primary contest rather than at a convention.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that party leaders voted 45 to 35 Saturday for a primary.

Conventions are generally favored by the party's more activist wing, while more establishment Republicans typically prefer primaries.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia GOP House caucus has named its leadership team in an important election year.

The Republicans officially named House Majority Leader Kirk Cox as speaker designee, the de facto replacement for retiring Speaker William J. Howell. Cox would be named speaker in January if Republicans hold on to a majority.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Republicans looking to be the state's next governor are gearing up for their first debate.

Gubernatorial candidates and other statewide candidates are scheduled to appear Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville at the Paramount Theater.

The hotly contested gubernatorial contest has four candidates. They include former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart, a one-time Virginia campaign chairman of President Donald Trump.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Republicans are trying to block Gov. Terry McAuliffe's latest effort to restore voting rights to thousands of felons who've completed their sentences.

Top Republican lawmakers say in a contempt motion filed Wednesday that McAuliffe is violating the Virginia Supreme Court's order that he restore the rights on a case-by-case basis.

The court in July invalidated McAuliffe's sweeping executive order to restore the rights of more than 200,000 felons who completed their sentences.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam now has the official backing of the Democratic Party's top state officials for his 2017 gubernatorial bid.

Northam's campaign said Saturday that Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Attorney General Mark Herring have all endorsed the lieutenant governor.

Herring announced last year he would run for re-election and not pursue the Executive Mansion.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A unanimous Supreme Court has dismissed a Republican appeal over congressional districts in Virginia.
 
The justices on Monday left in place a decision by a lower court that said Virginia illegally packed black voters into one district to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents.
 
Republican members of Congress wanted the court to reinstate the districting map. But the justices ruled that the elected officials did not have the right to challenge the court ruling.
 

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel says she's running to become Virginia's next lieutenant governor.

Vogel told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that running for the office in 2017 is "awesome opportunity." She says the Republican party needs to get its "mojo back" and that she would bring a fresh perspective as a working mother.

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