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The Virginia State Capitol. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia lawmakers on Monday gave their final approval to legislation that will abolish capital punishment in the state.

Why it matters: The measure now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who has said he will sign it into law. Once signed, Virginia will become the first southern state and the 23rd state nationwide to end capital punishment.

  • Democrats, who control of the state's legislature, pushed for the repeal.

The big picture: Virginia has executed a higher percentage of its death row prisoners than any other state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

  • Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, only Texas has executed more people.
  • Just two men remain on Virginia's death row, per AP.

What they're saying: “It is vital that our criminal justice system operates fairly and punishes people equitably. We all know the death penalty doesn’t do that. It is inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane," Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a joint statement Monday.

  • “Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person," they added.
  • "It’s time we stop this machinery of death."
  • “This is an important step forward in ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable to all.”

Go deeper

Previewing GOP's Biden-era villains

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a first taste of Republicans' Biden-era villains, the Virginia GOP is rolling out some of Donald Trump's favorites — China and Hillary Clinton — for the state's 2021 election.

Why it matters: Virginia’s off-year elections are an early battleground in defining the Republicans’ post-Trump identity. A spate of attacks against GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin appears to be drawing from the same playbook, hyping familiar Trump-era GOP villains.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 7 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.