Virginia Gov. Youngkin Seeks to Ready Virginia for AI Adoption

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has issued an Executive Directive requiring the state’s Office of Regulatory Management to develop protocol and guidance for the use of artificial intelligence in the commonwealth, both by the state government and educational institutions.

While lawmakers nationwide are eager to understand AI and respond with appropriate legislation governing its use, Youngkin wants Virginia to move faster.

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Parents File Lawsuit After Virginia School Board Shoots Down State’s Model Transgender Policies

Two parents filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board this week for voting down proposed policies that pertain to keeping parents informed about their child’s identity.

The state’s Department of Education released the model policies in July and claimed that this step would “safeguard parent’s rights.” The school board opted out of adopting the policies in August, resulting in the  parents, represented by the Cooper and Kirk law firm, suing to try and force the district to adopt them, according to court documents.

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Most Voters Say Virginia Democrat Who Live Streamed Sex Acts for Tips Should Drop Out of Race: Poll

Most likely voters say that Susanna Gibson, the Virginia Democrat who live-streamed sex acts with her husband online while asking for tips, should drop out of the House of Delegates race in a highly competitive suburban Richmond district, according to a new survey. 

While 56% likely general election voters say Gibson, a nurse practitioner and mother of two young children, should drop out of the race, just 30% say she should continue and 14% say they are unsure, according to a survey released Wednesday by the political research groups Founders Insight and co/efficient.

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Virginia Tech DEI Director May Have Violated School Policy in Forwarding Email Slamming School Board Candidates over Youngkin Policies

A diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at a leading university in southeastern Virginia may have violated her school’s policy by using work email to forward a message slamming conservative school board candidates as “hateful” and urging readers to canvass for the candidates’ opponents shortly before early voting begins.

One school board member targeted in the forwarded email told The Daily Signal that she is considering a lawsuit.

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Report: Virginia Ranks ‘Best State for Teachers’

Virginia is 2023’s best state for teachers, according to a study conducted by personal finance website WalletHub.

WalletHub ranked states by 24 weighted metrics in two major categories: Opportunity and competition and academic and work environment. Virginia placed first for the former and eleventh for the latter, but opportunity and competition was weighted more than twice as heavily as academic and work environment because “competitive salaries and job security are integral to a well-balanced personal and professional life,” according to the study.

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Retreat: Youngkin Moves Confederate Memorial Statue from Arlington to VMI

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin executed an orderly retreat in his battle to preserve Arlington National Cemetery’s Confederate Memorial, dedicated by President T. Woodrow Wilson in 1914, and the final resting place of nearly 500 Confederate veterans and their loved ones.

The Washington Post reported that the governor found a home for the bronze statue:

The Board of Visitors at VMI unanimously approved a motion Wednesday to accept the statue for placement at the Virginia Museum of the Civil War at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park — owned and operated by the college — north of VMI’s campus in Lexington. The battlefield is a focal point of the school’s history — it was there in 1864 that its cadets joined Confederate forces to successfully push back Union troops. An enormous mural mounted inside the college’s chapel depicts the VMI corps of cadets’ charge across the New Market battlefield.

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Virginia U.S. Rep. Wexton Won’t Seek Reelection Due to Health Battle

Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) said Monday she will not be seeking reelection, citing health concerns. The third-term Democrat previously announced she was battling Parkinson’s Disease and receiving treatments. After further testing amid unresponsive treatment, Wexton disclosed she had been diagnosed with Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy, type-p. The congresswoman said the disease is characterized as “’Parkinson’s on steroids.’”

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Rep. Bob Good Warns If McCarthy Uses House Democrats Again His Speakership ‘Unsustainable’

The Memorial Day Weekend debt deal Speaker Kevin O. McCarthy negotiated with President Joseph R. Biden Jr. may turn out to be his political Katrina, as House Freedom Caucus member and Virginia Republican congressman told radio host John Fredericks McCarthy had driven House conservatives to begin preparations for forcing a vote on the California Republican’s job security.

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Signs Recently Amended Budget

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the overdue state budget passed in the General Assembly special session on Sept. 6. 

After much back and forth over fiscal priorities, budget negotiators landed on a bipartisan agreement with elements for both parties to like and dislike.

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Commentary: Virginia Is for Lover and Voyeurs

Ophelia has given herself to Hamlet. Yet having placed her trust totally in men — her father, her brother, her lover — she is told by her beloved to remove herself to a nunnery. Or in the context of the Elizabethan age? A brothel — thus exchanging the ideas of nobility and love for pure utility and momentary pleasure.

Realizing the world for what it is — or at least, the world of Hamlet, Laertes, and Polonius — drives Ophelia insane. Having relied upon a branch made of willow, she drowns in a shallow pool, able yet unwilling to save herself and face such a world.

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X-Rated Cam-Girl Running for Assembly a Religious Studies Major

The Virginia Democratic General Assembly candidate, who starred as a cam-girl with her husband, performing sex acts and soliciting viewers to send her money, was a religious studies major at the University of Virginia.

Susanna Gibson, who uses her maiden name professionally, is described here as a member of Glen Allen’s Virginia Weight & Wellness:

Susanna Payne grew up in Charlottesville, VA, and attended the University of Virginia, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies. She then went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Columbia University in New York, before receiving her Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Virginia.

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Virginia Improper Payments for Unemployment Highest in the Country

Virginia has given out $817.3 million in improper unemployment benefits over a three-year period.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 43.8% of the unemployment benefits paid out by the state from July 2019 through June 2022 were improper. Department of Labor reported a 21.52% national improper payment rate over the three-year period. Improper payments are payments that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount.

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Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Project to Enter New Phase in Virginia

The LENOWISCO Planning Commission is deep into the research phase investigating the possibility of Southwest Virginia becoming the home of one – or several – small modular nuclear reactors, a venture catalyzed by the governor’s energy plan.

Former Gov. Ralph Northam is known for some sweeping reforms he initiated in office, and his energy policies were no exception. Northam’s administration established policies that, like California, outlaw the sale of gas-powered cars in the commonwealth starting in 2035 and demand 100% zero-carbon, renewable energy generation by 2050—five years after California.

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Virginia State Senator Chase Quits Write-In Campaign Despite Tying Primary Loss to 346 Illegal Votes

The Republican state senator, who calls herself “Trump in heels” and lost the June 20 primary for Virginia’s 12th Senate District, told The Virginia Star her reasons for not launching a write-in campaign in the general election.

“Many of you have asked if I’m organizing a write-in campaign this year in Senate District 12. I’m currently not organizing a write-in campaign,” said State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield County), whose district changed since her reelection in 2019. Chase lost to former State Senator Glen Sturtevant.

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Rogue Write-in Campaign Risks Youngkin’s Agenda, Ambitions

A one-time ally of Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, and unsuccessful state senate hopeful, told The Virginia Star he is still seething from dirty tricks during the primary campaign, and he is running a write-in campaign against the GOP nominee that threatens to block the governor and GOP’s chance to with control of Old Dominion’s Senate.

“Governor Youngkin can do a lot of things today via his executive authority like Democrats do when they’re in the executive office, but he doesn’t, and he doesn’t because he does not want to rock the boat,” said Republican Matt Strickland, who served as an Army combat medic with multiple kinetic tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Gov. Youngkin Pardons Virginia Dad Who Protested after Daughter’s Sexual Assault by Transgender Student

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Sunday pardoned Scott Smith, a father who was convicted for protesting the Loudoun County School Board after his daughter was brutally sexually assaulted at school by a boy with a skirt in the girl’s bathroom.

“Scott Smith is a dedicated parent who’s faced unwarranted charges in his pursuit to protect his daughter,” Youngkin said when issuing his absolute pardon to Smith. “Scott’s commitment to his child despite the immense obstacles is emblematic of the parental empowerment movement that started in Virginia.”

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Amazon Web Services Plans to Build Two Data Centers in Virginia

After announcing in January that it was going to invest $35 billion over the next 17 years in bringing more data centers to Virginia, Amazon Web Services, the cloud services arm of Amazon, has chosen to invest about one-third of those funds in Louisa County to build two data centers by 2040. 

Northern Virginia – and Loudoun County in particular – is the data center capital of the world, with nearly 300 centers in the region and roughly 70% of the world’s internet traffic routing through Loudoun, according to news source Governing. Data centers house servers, data storage drives, network equipment and other IT infrastructure to store companies’ digital data. They play a vital role in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, necessitating increased storage capacity.

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Virginia Governor Announces New Education Initiative After Pandemic Learning Loss

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced his ALL IN VA plan, intended to help Virginia students recover from COVID-19 learning loss and return to higher academic standards, on the heels of the announcement of the Virginia Assessment Results for the 2022-23 school year.

The plan is the latest in a long string of interventions and reforms the governor has made in education during his tenure. 

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Virginia Legislators Pass Budget in Special Session

The Virginia General Assembly met Wednesday in Richmond and voted to finalize the overdue budget deal recently reached by the House and Senate finance committees – but not without a few impassioned speeches from the floor, many over the unique resolution lawmakers were asked to pass.

The assembly passes amendments to the state’s two-year budget every odd year, but this year, the House and Senate continued debating the budget past the July 1 deadline, the start of the fiscal year. Finally, the committees reached a deal, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin called a special session for legislators to codify it. 

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Commentary: Since When Did the RTD Become TMZ?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch was given a clip of David Owen — Republican candidate for House of Delegates — where he tells an audience of like-minded souls that he is, indeed, pro-life. Charlotte Rene Woods over at the RTD decides to do the work of Democratic campaign operatives in what could only be viewed as an in-kind donation.

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Revised Virginia Math Standards to Take Effect Next School Year

The State Board of Education completed its review of state standards of learning for math and has approved new 2023 standards to go into effect during the 2024-25 school year. 

In 2000, the General Assembly voted to make it a law that the board must review the state’s standards of learning for core subjects every seven years. The last review was in 2016.

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Virginia Democrats Lead with Abortion in 2023 Election Season

As the 2023 general election nears, Virginia Democrats hope to draw voters to the polls by featuring abortion and reproductive rights prominently in their campaign messaging. 

“Democrats have been over performing since the Dobbs ruling was handed down,” J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics told The Center Square.

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Calls Special Session to Finalize Budget

Just days after the House and Senate budget committees reached a deal, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called a General Assembly Special Session for Wednesday, Sept. 6, to pass amendments to the state’s biennial budget. 

Budget negotiations have been fraught with difficulty this year, with the Republican-led House and the Democrat-led Senate unable to compromise on the governor’s proposed tax cuts and other big-ticket items like K-12 education. 

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Virginia County to Add 5,000 Households to Voucher Waitlist

Through a special application and lottery process in September, Arlington, Virginia, is opening up the waitlist for its Housing Choice Voucher Program for the first time in more than 10 years.

The process will add 5,000 people to the housing voucher waitlist, likely keeping the list full for years to come, according to the local agency that manages the Arlington Housing Choice Voucher Program.

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USDA Dispersing Funds for Rural Infrastructure Improvements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday over $800 million in federal funds to improve electric infrastructure and water systems in rural communities, of which Virginia is set to receive nearly $6 million in loans and over $3.8 million in grants.

The Wise County Public Service Authority will receive the lion’s share of Virginia’s USDA dollars in this round of funding. A loan of $1.2 million and a grant of more than $3.5 million will be used to replace more than 29,000 linear feet of water line, install 12 gate valves, and assemble 10 fire hydrants, among other things, to address a current health hazard.

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Virginia Natural Gas Pipeline Continues Construction Through Opposition

After a ruling in its favor from the Supreme Court at the end of July, it appeared that construction on the 303-mile natural gas Mountain Valley Pipeline could continue unhindered in Virginia. Not so.

The Supreme Court decision settled objections to a provision congressional Republicans had slipped into the debt ceiling bill passed in June. The provision directed government agencies to grant the needed permits for the pipeline’s completion. It moved jurisdiction over the pipeline from the Fourth Circuit Court – which had ruled against it in several cases – to the D.C. federal court.

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Virginia AG Issues Opinion Backing Model Policies

Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares issued an opinion this week, arguing that the governor’s model policies comply with federal and state nondiscrimination laws and that “local school boards are required to adopt policies that are consistent with them.”

The opinion comes at the request of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has been advocating since the release of the latest version of the Virginia Department of Education’s “Model Policies on Ensuring Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools” for their adoption — to strong resistance from some districts in the commonwealth.

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Group Fights ‘Race-Neutral Proxy’ Admissions in Virginia, Maryland Schools

The Libertarian law group, the Pacific Legal Foundation, is deep into two court cases involving a Virginia high school and several Maryland middle schools and what it calls “race neutral proxies” in their admissions policies. 

In an effort to have more students of all backgrounds, the schools have developed policies that put Asian American students at a disadvantage, the foundation claims. 

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Environmental Groups Fight Virginia’s Repeal of Regional Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program

Environmental groups are suing the Youngkin administration over its attempts to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a commitment by several states to reduce their carbon emissions. 

The filing is the latest in an ongoing policy tug-of-war between the commonwealth’s legislative and executive branches, environmental groups and businesses that started with former Gov. Ralph Northam’s efforts for Virginia to join the RGGI.

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November Virginia General Assembly Results Difficult to Predict

Elections don’t get much juicier than those for Virginia’s 2023 General Assembly this November.

The big question in this election season: Will Republicans maintain control of the House of Delegates and flip the Senate, leading to a Republican trifecta for the commonwealth?

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America First Legal Demands Answers After Biden DOJ Intervenes in Virginia School District’s Adoption of Youngkin Trans Policies

America First Legal is demanding answers after the Justice Department under President Joe Biden intervened in a Virginia school district’s adoption of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s policies that center parental rights in transgender issues.

“The Department of Justice seems to suggest that protecting the constitutional rights of parents and students will lead to ‘hate crimes,’” Ian Prior, senior adviser at America First Legal, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Monday. “Once again, we are witnessing the top law enforcement organization in the land come unglued from reality and unmoored from its core functions, all in the name of opposing anyone that doesn’t approve of its state-approved message.”

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Fairfax County Becomes Third Virginia Locality to Pilot Guaranteed Income Program

Beginning in 2024, Fairfax County will be the third locality in Virginia to offer a pilot guaranteed income program after Richmond and Alexandria.

Pilot guaranteed income programs are — in this case, localities — attempt to provide a guaranteed, consistent direct cash benefit every month to a limited number of families in their city or county who meet specific qualifications. As they are experimental, they have a prescribed end date.

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Summit Reveals Complications with Broadband Deployment Funds in Virginia

Virginia’s Director of the Office of Broadband, Tamarah Holmes, spoke this week at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ annual legislative summit about the benefits and challenges of the federal government’s Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program.

The BEAD Program apportions $42.5 billion to the states to develop programs to deliver high-speed internet access to areas without an internet connection or where the internet functions more slowly.

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Virginia Gas Prices in Lower Tier Nationally

Today’s gas prices in Virginia are higher than a month ago but lower than a year ago and lower than the national average.

Unleaded regular is going for an average of $3.67 per gallon in the commonwealth; diesel for $4.19. The price is almost 30 cents higher than a month ago when gas was $3.41 per gallon, but it’s 20 cents less than today’s national average of $3.87.

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Largest Virginia School District Defies Gov. Youngkin’s Guidance on Bathrooms, Pronouns

Virginia’s largest school district announced Tuesday that it will be defying guidance from Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration that requires students to use bathrooms on the basis of biological sex, rather than gender identity, according to a press release.

The Virginia Department of Education released a final version of its model policies for the state’s public schools in July that requires teachers to use a student’s biological name and pronouns unless given written permission by a parent to use something else. Fairfax County Public Schools said it does not plan to adopt the state guidance after determining that the district policies are in line with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, according to a press release.

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Express Lanes to Open Along Virginia I-95 Corridor

A ribbon cutting this week will commemorate something that Stafford County residents and D.C.-area commuters have long awaited – sometimes impatiently, while cursing out their car windows: The opening of approximately 10 miles of express lanes along the infamously congested I-95 corridor.

The District of Columbia was ranked the eighth-worst American city for traffic in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 rankings and has ranked second-worst in the past. And the southbound stretch of I-95 is chief among D.C. roads notorious for gridlocks and traffic delays, according to the National Capital Region Transportation Board.

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Governor Youngkin Kicks Off ‘Parents Matter’ Town Halls Across Virginia

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is leading a ‘Parents Matter’ town hall tour across the commonwealth to engage Virginia parents on crucial issues impacting youth.

The tour began over a month ago in Salem, and since then, the governor has spoken at Bristow, Richmond and Fredericksburg – areas that lean heavily Democratic.

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Major Drug Trafficker in Virginia Sentenced

A man convicted of trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine from Mexico into Virginia was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison yesterday, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced today.

“Cantu-Cantu was the major source of supply for a drug conspiracy that distributed more than 33 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and six kilograms of cocaine into Southwest and Central Virginia through a multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organization,” according to a press release from Miyares’ office.

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Proposed Virginia Toll Hikes May Have Been Avoidable

The application by Toll Road Investors Partnership II L.P. to raise tolls on Virginia’s Dulles Greenway is now open to public comment, and a date has been set for the hearing of January 24, 2024.

If the State Corporation Commission approves TRIP II’s application, the new “maximum tolls for most drivers” will be $6.40 during off-peak hours and $8.10 going eastbound during the peak hours of 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m and driving westbound between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The current rates are $5.25 and $5.80, respectively.

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Federal Prosecutors Securing Convictions in COVID-Related Fraud Cases

So far this year, the Eastern District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia has secured convictions in 14 cases of COVID fraud, where defendants were responsible for more than $11.3 million in calculated loss, Karoline Foote, a spokesperson for the office, told The Center Square.

In March, a Georgia woman by the name of Nikki Mitchum was sentenced to 51 months in prison for conspiring with others in Hampton to obtain millions of dollars in COVID-relief Economic Injury Disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to a press release from the office.

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Virginia Paid for Medicaid Services for over 12,000 Deceased Enrollees

The U.S. Office of Inspector General audited Virginia’s Medicaid program from 2019-21 and estimated the commonwealth paid managed care organizations at least $20.8 million in capitation payments for more than 12,000 deceased Medicare enrollees during those years.

As Medicaid is a government-provided benefit, whereas individuals or their employers typically pay a monthly health insurance premium for coverage, Virginia pays that amount on behalf of the enrollee to managed care organizations and is reimbursed a percentage by the federal government.

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University of Virginia Adds Racial Identity Question to Admissions Essay

The University of Virginia (UVA) announced a new essay question for the 2023 to 2024 admissions cycle that circumvents the Supreme Court’s ruling that universities can no longer consider race in college admissions.

Applicants are now required, in 300 words, to answer: “What about your background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you and those around you at UVA?”

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Virginia Gas Prices up 15 Cents in the Last Week, 30 Cents in a Month

Virginia’s price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline has risen nearly 30 cents in a month, half of that in just the last week.

The American Automobile Association’s daily tracking put the state average at $3.59 on Monday, up from $3.42 a week ago and $3.30 a month ago.

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Stimulus Package Rural Health Care Grants Awarded in Virginia

Three health care entities in western Virginia will receive a total of nearly $11 million in federal funding from a program established by the American Rescue Plan Act. 

The 2021 stimulus package included the creation of a temporary grant program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture called the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program. The bill allotted up to $500 million for the expansion of health care services to eligible public bodies, community-based nonprofits and federally-recognized tribes – some specific to COVID-19 – like testing and vaccines, and also for projects dedicated to “the long-term sustainability of rural health care.”

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Virginia High School Sports League Rejects GOP Gov. Youngkin’s Transgender Athlete Policy

The Virginia High School League, which oversees most of the state’s high school sports, says it has no immediate plans to change policies governing transgender athletes, despite Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new guidelines that call for competition to be among those of the same biological sex. 

Youngkin’s model policies state student-athletes be grouped as such, as opposed to by gender identity, with “reasonable modifications” granted only to the extent required by law.

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Virginia School Safety Forum Brings Educators, Law Enforcement Together

More than 1,100 people registered to attend the 2023 Virginia School Safety Training Forum, which will address roughly 20 topics pertaining to school safety and student well-being.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and its Center for School and Campus Safety partner with several other organizations, including the attorney general’s office and the Virginia Department of Education, to put on the forum, now in its 22nd year.

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Virginia Senator Reintroduces Legislation to Increase Funding for Teacher Recruitment and Training

Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine joined Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in reintroducing legislation that would increase funding opportunities for teacher and school administrator recruitment and training, as well as minority-serving colleges and universities.

The Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals Act, or PREP Act, was initially introduced in the Senate a couple of years ago as the PREP Act of 2021. Though touted as bipartisan, Collins is the only Republican cosponsor alongside seven Democrats.

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