Treasury Launches New Website for Virginians to Find Their Unclaimed Property

The Virginia Department of the Treasury has launched a new program and web-based search for Virginians to claim unclaimed money owed them by businesses.

“One in four Virginians has unclaimed property so we encourage all Virginians to search our free website for their unclaimed property,” Virginia Treasurer David Richardson said in a press release.

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Virginia on Track to Meet 2025 Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Goal

Virginia is on track to meet 2025 pollution-reduction goals in the Chesapeake Bay thanks to progress addressing wastewater in the Commonwealth, even though it’s failing to reduce other sources of pollution like runoff from urban areas and agriculture, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).

“Long term, this is not sustainable, especially when pollution from stormwater continues to grow. To meet its 2025 commitments, Virginia must rapidly accelerate pollution reductions from these sources. Recent increased investments are a promising step, but these funding levels must be maintained and targeted to the most beneficial pollution-reduction practices, such as planting streamside forest buffers,” the Foundation said in a summary of its 2022 State of the Blueprint report.

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Youngkin Approves Grant to Study Meat Processing Facility at Fauquier Livestock Exchange

Governor Glenn Youngkin has approved a $20,000 grant to investigate a potential meat processing facility at the Fauquier Livestock Exchange.

“As I travel across the Commonwealth, I listen to our farmers about what they need to be successful and additional meat processing capacity is always at the top of the list,” Youngkin said in a Wednesday release. “I am pleased to partner with Fauquier County and its cattlemen with this AFID [Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development] grant to explore ways to increase the resiliency of Virginia’s agricultural economy and provide farmers new opportunities to be successful.”

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Over 10,000 More Virginia State Employees Teleworking than in 2019

Virginia has 15,338 state employees teleworking at least one day a week, according to a September 30 report from the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM). That’s up from pre-pandemic 5,664 employees in 2019; Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration said the increase is good.

“As of September 7, 2022, 42 percent of classified executive branch employees were eligible for telework. Of those, 66 percent have approved telework agreements in place. This is significantly higher than employees eligible (26 percent) and approved for telework (37 percent) in 2019,” the report states.

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Rep. Cline Criticizes Priorities for Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Funds

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Representative Ben Cline (R-VA-06) said guidelines for funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill will “hamstring funding for traditional infrastructure such as roads and highways” by favoring public transit, renewable energy, climate resilience, electric vehicle infrastructure, and other projects.

“During a time of 40-year high inflation, a crippling supply chain, and higher prices of goods and services, the Biden administration is prioritizing infrastructure funds for Green New Deal projects over highway expansion,” Cline said in a Tuesday press release. “Americans need transparency from this administration to ensure their tax dollars are being properly used.”

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Youngkin Announces Launch of Lab to Test New Energy Technology in Southwest Virginia

The Energy DELTA Lab will launch its first site in Wise County, with the goal of testing new energy technology for commercial implementation while boosting economic growth in Southwest Virginia.

“Since announcing the Virginia 2022 Energy Plan, I am pleased to announce this Energy DELTA Lab project which delivers on our vision to define Virginia as a force in energy innovation,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a press release the day after calling for a new nuclear reactor in southwest Virginia.

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Conservative Think Tanks Exploring Litigation Against Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project

A group of conservative organizations and think tanks announced that they’re exploring litigation related to Virginia’s Offshore Wind Project over concerns that the project could harm endangered North Atlantic right whales.

“Unless BOEM [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] requires extensive, effective, unprecedented protection measures for the North Atlantic right whale immediately, this species is almost certainly headed toward extinction,” American Coalition for Ocean Protection [ACOP] President David Stevenson said in a press release from the Heartland Institute. “With only a little more than 300 individual right whales alive today, this endangered species is in dire need of protection, and the Virginia Wind Project lies directly in their annual migration path. The project will require extensive daily maintenance by multiple service ships, and the potential for whale fatalities due to ship strikes is indisputable.”

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Youngkin Calls for New Nuclear Generator in Southwest Virginia as Part of Energy Plan

Governor Glenn Youngkin wants to add more nuclear power generation in Virginia, calling for the construction of a reactor in Southwest Virginia as part of the 2022 energy plan. Energy plans are issued by each governor as a statement of the administration’s priorities and recommendations.

“I want to plant a flag right now. I want to call our moonshot. Virginia will launch a commercial small modular reactor [SMR] that will be serving customers with baseload power demand in southwest Virginia within the next 10 years,” Youngkin said at the Monday presentation.

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Virginia Congressional Delegation Splits on Party Lines over Continuing Resolution

All four of Virginia’s Republican congressmen voted against a continuing resolution to continue funding the government through December 16, 2022; the bill passed Friday with just 10 votes from Republicans nationally, sending the bill to President Joe Biden who signed the legislation the same day. In press releases, three of the Virginia Republicans criticized the bill for continuing Democratic spending. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Elaine Luria (D-VA-02), both in competitive elections in swing districts, criticized Congress’ use of continuing resolutions but said the bill is necessary to keep government open.

Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) cited similar good-governance concerns as his reason for voting against the bill.

He said Friday, “Today’s passage of a Continuing Resolution – an irresponsible stop-gap measure – is an unfortunate reminder of Washington’s ‘budget by crisis’ mentality.

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Virginia Congressional Delegation Splits on Party Lines over Continuing Resolution

All four of Virginia’s Republican congressmen voted against a continuing resolution to continue funding the government through December 16, 2022; the bill passed Friday with just 10 votes from Republicans nationally, sending the bill to President Joe Biden who signed the legislation the same day. In press releases, three of the Virginia Republicans criticized the bill for continuing Democratic spending. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Elaine Luria (D-VA-02), both in competitive elections in swing districts, criticized Congress’ use of continuing resolutions but said the bill is necessary to keep government open.

Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) cited similar good-governance concerns as his reason for voting against the bill.

He said Friday, “Today’s passage of a Continuing Resolution – an irresponsible stop-gap measure – is an unfortunate reminder of Washington’s ‘budget by crisis’ mentality.

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Virginia Department of Education Selects English-As-Second Language Educator for Teacher of the Year

Spotsylvania middle school English-as-second language [ESL] teacher Fabiana Parker is the 2023 Virginia Teacher of the Year, making her Virginia’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

“Teachers play a critical role in the success of every learner and child in Virginia and Fabiana is the best of the best,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Virginia Department of Education press release. “Growing up as an ESL student, Fabiana knows firsthand the challenges her students face. She began her career as an educator as a girl teaching her grandmother to read. She has helped hundreds of students find a path to success by equipping them with the English skills necessary to prosper academically and in life.”

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Spanberger Blasts House Democratic Leadership for Intentionally Killing Congressional Trading Reform, Vega Says It’s a Stale Pre-Election Routine

Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and House Democratic leadership for moves that killed bipartisan congressional stock trading reform legislation, but her opponent in the election Yesli Vega said in a press release that the congresswoman “isn’t fooling anyone.”

“This moment marks a failure of House leadership. This moment is yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill — as I have long made known,” Spanberger said in a Friday press release.

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Youngkin Wins on Public Higher Ed Tuition Freeze After Holdout GMU Votes to Refund Increase

George Mason University’s (GMU) Board of Visitors voted Thursday to refund a three percent tuition increase charged to undergraduates for the 2022-2023 academic year. GMU was the last holdout among Virginia’s public colleges and universities resisting Governor Glenn Youngkin’s call for a tuition freeze.

“Today, George Mason University joined the 14 other public college and university boards, which serve more than a quarter-million undergraduate college students in Virginia, by pledging to keep tuition flat for in-state students,” Youngkin said in a Thursday press release.

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Spanberger Blasts House Democratic Leadership for Intentionally Killing Congressional Trading Reform, Vega Says It’s a Stale Pre-Election Routine

Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) criticized Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) and House Democratic leadership for moves that killed bipartisan congressional stock trading reform legislation, but her opponent in the election Yesli Vega said in a press release that the congresswoman “isn’t fooling anyone.”

“This moment marks a failure of House leadership. This moment is yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill — as I have long made known,” Spanberger said in a Friday press release.

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Plaintiffs Get Partial Win in Lawsuit over Winchester Gun Ban Ordinance

A circuit court has granted a temporary injunction blocking City of Winchester’s ban on guns in parks and public permitted events, but leaves intact a ban on guns in city buildings. That’s a partial win for the plaintiffs well over a year after the lawsuit was first filed.

“Boy, do the wheels of justice turn slowly in this country, wow,” Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) President Philip Van Cleave told The Virginia Star. “You know, it’s an injunction. We were hoping to get something like that fairly quickly.”

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Rep. Bob Good Uses Clash with Spanberger to Highlight Her ‘Radical’ Stance

Representative Bob Good (R-VA-05) is highlighting how “radical” Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) by citing the recent incident where Spanberger cursed at him at the Virginia congressional delegation meeting with Governor Glenn Youngkin last week.

Good said on The John Fredericks Show that while the congressmen were presenting feedback to Youngkin, “two members of the delegation decided to take that time to attack the governor for his common-sense, parents first, children first policies.”

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Youngkin Issues State of Emergency, Activating Price-Gouging Act Ahead of Remnants of Hurricane Ian

Governor Glenn Youngkin has issued a state of emergency, triggering Virginia’s price-gouging laws ahead of heavy rain and gusty winds, remnants of Hurricane Ian, expected to hit Virginia beginning on Friday.

“In addition to making smart decisions and keeping up with news developments during a statewide emergency declaration, Virginians must also support each other during this potentially hazardous time,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a Thursday press release. “Any violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act or exploitation of Virginians’ wallets will be thoroughly prosecuted through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by my office. Bad actors will be held accountable.”

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Del. Williams Says Video Proves He Didn’t Assault Del. March Despite Eyewitnesses’ Contrary Reports

Delegate Wren Williams (R-Patrick) says surveillance video shows that Delegate Marie March’s (R-Pulaski) allegations of assault are baseless, but March reiterated her claims in a Wednesday interview on The John Fredericks Show.

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Richmond Mayor Stoney Asks U.S. Health Secretary to Investigate Loopholes in Low-Income Drug Pricing for Hospitals

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is calling on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to investigate low-income drug pricing practices after The New York Times published a report on practices at Richmond Community Hospital owned by Bon Secours.

“Bon Secours Mercy Health, a major nonprofit health system, used the poverty of Richmond Community Hospital’s patients to tap into a lucrative federal drug program,” The Times said in a Saturday article.

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Youngkin Administration’s New School Transgender Model Policies Draw 20,000 Public Comments, Student Walkouts, and White House Response

The Virginia Department of Education’s new draft transgender policies received over 20,000 comments on Monday and Tuesday, the first two days of the 30-day public comment period.

Comments on the Model Policies on the Privacy Dignity and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools include both support and opposition, and often show strong feeling about the policies.

“We support this policy! God bless Governor Youngkin,” commenter Heather West wrote. “As a parent of six school aged children, I am grateful that Gov Youngkin has chosen to go to bat for us. It is brave to stand up against the tyranny of the rainbow crowd. Onward with more policies that promote REAL education and not social indoctrination. God bless us all as we work to restore truth to our educational institutions.”

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Heated Primary Battle Allegedly Turns Physical: Del. March Files Misdemeanor Assault Charge Against Del. Williams

Delegate Marie March (R-Floyd) has filed a criminal complaint for misdemeanor assault against Delegate Wren Williams (R-Patrick) after an incident at a GOP fundraiser Saturday. The incident is an escalation in the already-heated primary battle between the two Republicans paired in a deep-red district.

“While attending the 9th District GOP dinner in Wytheville, Delegate Williams approached me in the lobby of the meeting room and struck me with his body,” March wrote in a press release, alleging that Williams also “verbally assaulted” a Carroll County supervisor.

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Youngkin Donates Third-Quarter Salary to Nonprofit Providing Mentorship and Education in Stafford Schools

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that he will donate his third-quarter salary to G3 Community services, a non-profit which provides coaching and mentoring in Stafford County public schools. The organization’s site says its mission is to “restore, inspire, and empower the family unit”.

“I love the mission,” Youngkin said at a Monday ceremony. “This mission about restoring and inspiring and empowering the family unit to improve lives and strengthen communities, a vision to inspire change through people — through people, this is how we in fact see great transformation, is when we work through people in our communities focusing on the mission rather than self.”

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At Texas Festival, Youngkin Counts Trump’s Wins, Explains Virginia’s ‘Ground Zero’ Role in Parents’ Rights Issues

In an interview before a live audience at the Texas Tribune Festival Friday, Governor Glenn Youngkin answered questions about a potential 2024 presidential run, Donald Trump, campaigning for Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, pro-life policy, and education policy. Most of Youngkin’s answers sounded similar to other speeches he’s made in Virginia, although there was more criticism of the U.S.’ border policy and of President Joe Biden’s leadership.

As part of a series of questions sounding Youngkin out about national political ambitions, Washington Examiner Senior Correspondent David Drucker asked Youngkin what Trump did right, and what he did wrong. Youngkin said that the former president successfully addressed kitchen-table economic concerns, supported law enforcement, and focuses on parents and high expectations in education.

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Unmanned Aircraft Manufacturer to Build Plant in Manassas

RapidFlight, a new unmanned aircraft manufacturer backed by venture capital, will establish a base in Manassas, according to a Friday announcement.

RapidFlight’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jay Gundlach praised Virginia in the announcement: “Thanks to its central location on the East Coast, we can readily work face-to-face with our government customers while also leveraging Virginia’s Unmanned Systems’ infrastructure to conduct operations and test our systems, rapidly delivering new capabilities to our nation.”

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Virginia Partners with National Child ID Program

Virginia is partnering with the National Child ID program to provide ID kits for families to keep on hand if a child goes missing.

“As Attorney General, my biggest priority is keeping our children safe. That’s why I’m thrilled to join Virginia Tech legend Frank Beamer and launch the Virginia Child ID Program. The National Child ID Program is a free, easy, and effective tool to help Virginia parents prepare for the unimaginable,” Miyares said in the Thursday announcement.

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89 Percent of Virginia Schools Meet Accreditation Standards but Administration Says That Doesn’t Reflect Reality

The Virginia Department of Education released the first accreditation data for schools since COVID-19 began, and 89 percent of Virginia’s districts are fully accredited for the 2022 through 2023 year, three percent less than 92 percent in the 2019 through 2020 period. But Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration isn’t celebrating the relatively small decrease; instead officials say that shows that accreditation standards don’t capture the reality of COVID-19 learning losses.

“These ratings call into question the effectiveness of our accreditation standards in identifying schools where students are struggling to achieve grade-level proficiency,” Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow said in a press release announcing the accreditation rate.

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Some Virginia School Districts Concerned About New Transgender Model Policies Draft

Some school districts are already signaling resistance to new draft model policies from the Virginia Department of Education that will repeal current model policies controlling school district transgender policy.

“We want to assure you that Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will continue its commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students. As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” Alexandria City Public Schools said in a letter to students, staff and families.

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Rep. Spanberger Cursed at Rep. Good After He Defended Youngkin Transgender Policy and Criticized ‘Grooming’

The monthly Virginia congressional delegation lunch with Governor Glenn Youngkin became contentious on Monday when conversation turned to the Virginia Department of Education’s new model policies to replace current transgender policies, eventually leading to Representative Bob Good (R-VA-05) defending the policies. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) cursed at Good, according to reports.

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Youngkin to Stump for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Kansas GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Derek Schmidt

Governor Glenn Youngkin will attend a meet and greet in Kansas Thursday with gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Derek Schmidt, stop in Texas Friday for an appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival, and then headline an event for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on September 27. Republican governors campaigning for other Republicans are a normal feature of an election year with a number of high-profile races, but Youngkin’s national appearances have also raised questions about Youngkin’s aspirations for higher office, which Youngkin himself has largely brushed off.

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Youngkin Announces 2022 GO Virginia Grants

Four projects focused on business development and jobs growth won the 2022 Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grant awards totaling $1.2 million.

“GO Virginia allows us to invest in key projects that will enhance our economic growth by fostering workforce development and stimulating new business opportunities,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Tuesday announcement. “These projects exemplify the innovative partnerships that GO Virginia grants were designed to promote, driving regional advancement and strengthening our Commonwealth.”

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Schools Across Virginia Targeted by Fake Reports of Active Shooters on Monday and Tuesday

Over a dozen school districts across Virginia were targeted by hoax reports of active shootings or other violence on Monday and Tuesday. That’s part of a broader wave of similar hoax calls targeting schools across the U.S.

“On Monday, Virginia State Police personnel responded to assist numerous local police and sheriff’s offices with reports of active shooters on school campuses,” Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Geller told The Virginia Star. “None of the threats were deemed valid, and the state police, through collaboration with the Virginia Fusion Center, is now working with those same local law enforcement agencies to investigate the source of the threats and to determine if there is any evidence to connect them.”

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Miyares, 50 Other Attorneys General Ask FCC to Expand Caller ID Authentication Requirement

Attorney General Jason Miyares signed a letter along with 50 other attorneys general requesting the Federal Commissions Communications to do more to address illegal robocalls. The attorneys general say robocalls often come from foreign actors who spoof Caller ID to show U.S.- based numbers, and ask the FCC to expand which call network providers are required to authenticate Caller ID.

“Robocalls aren’t just annoying – they are illegal tools used to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our communities. We have to do more to protect Virginians from these scammers, which is why I’m encouraging the FCC to require more robocall protection technology,” Miyares said in a release.

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Richmond Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Alleging That Virginia Violates Constitution by Permitting Fossil Fuel Production

A Richmond City Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia from an environmental activism legal organization on Friday. In a lawsuit on behalf of 13 Virginia youth, Our Children’s Trust (OCT) argued that Virginia’s policies permitting fossil fuel production and use harmed the plaintiffs’ rights, but the judge agreed with the Office of the Attorney General’s argument that Virginia can’t be sued due to sovereign immunity doctrine, according to the AP.

“For decades, Defendants have implemented a policy and practice of approving permits for fossil fuel infrastructure in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including permits for the production, transport, and burning of fossil fuels. Defendants’ historic and ongoing permitting of fossil fuel infrastructure has, and continues to, cause dangerous levels of greenhouse gas pollution, including carbon dioxide,” the lawsuit complaint filed in February states.

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Regulator Approves Rate Increase for Dominion Energy Consumers to Compensate for Increased Fuel Costs

The State Corporation Commission approved a Dominion Energy request to increase the fuel factor charged to consumers, leading to $14.93 increase on an average monthly bill. In May, the utility requested the increase citing increased fuel costs.

In its order, the SCC said, “[T]he Commission notes its awareness of the ongoing rise in gas prices, inflation, and other economic pressures that are impacting all utility customers. We are sensitive to the effects of rate increases, especially in times such as these. The Commission, however, must follow the laws applicable to this case, as well as the findings of fact supported by the evidence in the record. This is what we have done herein.”

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Lutron to Expand Presence in Virginia

Industrial and residential lighting controls manufacturer Lutron Electronics will invest $28.3 million to expand its presence in Hanover County, according to a Thursday announcement of a plan to build a 145,000 square foot manufacturing facility.

“Lutron has been a fixture here in Hanover County, Virginia for many years. It is exciting to see them invest in a manufacturing facility in our industrial park along Lakeridge Parkway and to have quality jobs created for the citizens of Hanover County and the Greater Richmond Region,” Hanover County Supervisor Faye Prichard said in a press release from the governor’s office.

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Virginia Department of Education Publishes New Draft of Model Policies to Replace Transgender Model Policies

The Virginia Department of Education posted a new draft of model policies to replace the Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students. The draft policies published Friday include an emphasis on parental rights as a major shift away from a current emphasis on protecting students’ gender identity from people, including family, who may not be understanding.

The first point under the Guiding Principles section of the draft states, “Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children: Policies shall be drafted to safeguard parents’ rights with respect to their child, and to facilitate the exercise of those rights.”

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Virginia Board of Education Certifies Spotsylvania Superintendent Candidate

The Virginia Board of Education (BOE) voted six to two to certify Mark Taylor, allowing him to be appointed by the Spotsylvania School Board as superintendent.

Taylor’s opponents criticized his close ties to new board Chair Kirk Twigg, racial Facebook posts allegedly made by Taylor, and his application for licensure which didn’t include relevant experience as an educator, instead seeking to qualify under an option for candidates with a master’s degree, three years of experience in a senior leadership position, and a recommendation from a school board.

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Indoor Vertical Farm Company to Build Campus in Chesterfield

Plenty Unlimited, Inc., announced plans to invest $300 million to construct the world’s largest indoor vertical farming campus, which will be located in Chesterfield and is expected to have a strawberry farm completed in late 2023 or early 2024.

“At Plenty, we’re on a mission to sustainably grow fresh food for everyone, everywhere,” Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai said in a press release from the governor’s office. “This campus will raise the bar on what indoor vertical farming can deliver. The scale and sophistication of what we’re building here in Virginia will make it possible to economically grow a variety of produce with superior quality and flavor. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with the government of Virginia as we endeavor to rewrite the rules of agriculture.”

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Secretary of Finance: Virginia’s August Tax Revenues Up 5.4 Percent, Economic Indicators Mixed

August General Fund tax revenues rose about 5.4 percent compared to August 2021 when adjusted for an extra deposit day this year. That’s a good sign but Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings told legislators September’s data will be more significant for analysts and legislators who are trying to figure out what fiscal year 2023’s finances will look like.

“August collections exceeded projections, driven by employment and wage growth year-over-year,” Cummings said in a press release from the governor’s office.

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Youngkin, Wittman, Luria Attend Reagan Institute Roundtable on Domestic Manufacturing Competitiveness

The Ronald Reagan Institute held a round table hosted by Governor Glenn Youngkin and Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), and attended by others including Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA-02). The Monday event held at Mount Vernon is part of the organization’s national effort to dialogue with business leaders and elected officials about a report from its Task Force on Manufacturing Competitiveness.

On Monday evening Youngkin said in a statement, “The Commonwealth of Virginia holds a vital role in bolstering U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and it’s a key priority of my administration. I want to thank the officials and legislators who worked on the Reagan Task Force report and convened today to address our workforce shortages, industrial capacity, supply chain resilience, address any deficiencies and brainstorm solutions for the betterment of the Commonwealth. Virginia is home to important defense contractors and more have moved their headquarters to the Commonwealth in the last year. Together, we can grow the Commonwealth’s defense economy and enhance Virginia’s defense manufacturing capabilities.”

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Court Recuses Commonwealth’s Attorney Biberaj in Criminal Case Against Parent Arrested at 2021 Loudoun School Board Meeting

Commonwealth Attorney Buta Biberaj

Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman recused Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from prosecuting a criminal case against Scott Smith, a parent who faces a disorderly conduct charge after being arrested at a June 2021 Loudoun County School Board meeting. While Plowman disagreed with Smith’s defense’s argument that there was…

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First Lady Youngkin Presents Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream

First Lady Suzanne Youngkin presented the Spirit of Virginia Award to An Achievable Dream, an organization that partners with the Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Henrico school districts to operate six schools serving 2,000 students in total.

“Education is a critical component of opportunity for all and An Achievable Dream’s approach to caring for the whole student, supporting families, and setting high standards is unparalleled,” Youngkin said in a Wednesday press release. “When we honor Virginians who are changing lives for the better, we need look no further than the administrators and teachers in these schools.”

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Virginia Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster Gets $52.9 Million in Grants from Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Virginia’s advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing (APM) cluster will receive $52.9 million in grants as one of 21 winners in the federal Build Back Regional Challenge, according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

“After meeting with the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership and pushing the Department of Commerce to support this project, I am thrilled to see the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster Growth Hub named one of the American Rescue Plan Build Back Better Regional Challenge winners,” Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said in a September 2 press release. “This support will continue to strengthen the foundation and accelerate the growth of pharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States. As a proud supporter of the American Rescue plan, I am glad to see that Virginia continues to reap the benefits through job creation and economic growth.”

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Youngkin Highlights New State Tax Deduction on Military Retirement Benefits

Governor Glenn Youngkin held a ceremonial signing highlighting legislation from State Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) and Delegate John McGuire (R-Goochland) that creates a state tax deduction on military retirement income.

“As part of my Day One Game Plan, I’ve pledged to fight for a reduction in military veteran retirement pay taxation, and today, we are delivering on that promise. This is a great step toward making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country. As we near the anniversary of 9/11, I feel honored to support our service members in this way. I want to thank the legislators for their incredible work as we continue to advocate for our military-connected communities, veterans, and their families,” Youngkin said in a press release Friday.

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Attorney General Miyares Creates Election Integrity Unit

Attorney General Jason Miyares has created a 20-member Election Integrity Unit within the Office of the Attorney General [OAG]; the unit will investigate and prosecute violations of election law, provide legal guidance, and work with law enforcement to protect election purity.

“I pledged during the 2021 campaign to work to increase transparency and strengthen confidence in our state elections. It should be easy to vote, and hard to cheat. The Election Integrity Unit will work to help to restore confidence in our democratic process in the Commonwealth,” Miyares said in a press release.

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Election Integrity Watchdog John Mills and Del. Tim Anderson React to Indictment of Former Prince William County Registrar

 Attorney General Jason Miyares announced Wednesday that a grand jury has chosen to bring two felony and one misdemeanor charge for incidents occurring around the time of the 2020 election against former Prince William County Registrar Michele White. 

“First of all, proper investigations, we shouldn’t know what’s going on exactly, you know, as opposed to when some certain folks do investigations there’s a leak every thirty seconds,” said John Mills, director and founder of the National Election Integrity Association.

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Virginia Gets $16.61 Million in Agreement with JUUL After Investigation into Marketing Targeted at Youth

Virginia will get $16.61 million over six to ten years as part of a $438.5 million agreement in principle with JUUL after an investigation into whether the e-cigarette manufacturer marketed its products to underage users.

“Youth vaping is an epidemic, and from the get-go JUUL has been a leader in the e-cigarette industry. But JUUL targeted young people with deceptive social media advertising campaigns and misled the public about the product’s dangers. My office will continue to go after and hold accountable companies that market addictive products like e-cigarettes to minors, with no concern for their health or well-being,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a press release announcing the agreement.

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Special Election to Replace Del. Keam Set for January 10

Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) called a special election in House District 35; the winner of the election will finish out former Delegate Mark Keam’s (D-Fairfax) term after he took a job with the Biden administration. In a Wednesday press release, Gilbert said he had signed the Writ of Election for January 10, which is the day before the 2023 General Assembly session convenes.

“This date not only gives the voters of the district an adequate opportunity to examine the candidates, but also ensures that the 35th District will have a voice in the 2023 Regular Session,” he said.

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General Assembly Leaves Vacancy on State Corporation Commission, Senate Republicans Object to Judge with Ties to Loudoun Prosecutor

RICHMOND, Virginia — The General Assembly reconvened for one day on Wednesday to elect four judges to circuit, district, and juvenile courts, but didn’t fill a vacancy on the three-member State Corporation Commission. Senate Republicans abstained on one vote to appoint current District Court Judge Matthew Parke Snow to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court. Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) criticized Snow’s links to Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj.

Snow and Biberaj used to practice criminal defense and civil law together in Leesburg. Biberaj has come under fire from Republicans for embracing a progressive prosecutorial philosophy.

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Delegate Keam Resigns to Join Biden Administration

Delegate Mark Keam (D-Fairfax) resigned to take an unspecified role in the Biden administration, and two Democrats have already announced their candidacies for an expected special election to complete his term in the Democrat-favoring district.

“Today, Delegate Mark Keam announced that he has resigned from the General Assembly. We thank Mark for more than a decade of public service in the House of Delegates and honor the history he made as the first Asian-born immigrant and the first Korean American elected to any state-level office in Virginia,” Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Bryan Graham said in a Tuesday press release.

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