In Early House District 47 Virginia GOP Primary Battle, Del. Williams Attacks Del. March over 2019 Abortion Comments

Freshman Delegate Marie March (R-Floyd) was ranked by both conservative and progressive advocates as one of the most conservative legislators in 2022, but freshman Delegate Wren Williams (R-Patrick) recently called March a “Pro-Choice Liberal” and is highlighting a 2019 Facebook post from March about abortion. Both candidates are fighting for the GOP nomination for House of Delegates District 47, with elections scheduled for 2023.

“When the SCOTUS ruling is passed down, the balance of Life will be in the General Assembly,” Williams said in a May 6 press release a few days after reports that the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of reversing Roe v. Wade
“We can’t trust Pro-Choice Squishes like March.”

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Youngkin Tells State Employees to Return to Onsite Work by July 5

Virginia’s state employees must return to on-site work by July 5 unless they have a new telework agreement approved, according to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s new telework policy.

“After listening to the needs of Virginians, discussing solutions with agency heads across government, and closely monitoring the pandemic, we are excited to welcome our employees in-person this summer. We know that creative, innovative, and effective solutions for all Virginians occur with regular, in-person interaction by our incredible workforce here in the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a press release.

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Virginia’s Office of the Children’s Ombudsman Opens to Oversee Social Services

Virginia’s Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) officially launched Tuesday, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced. The office provides oversight of Virginia’s child welfare system and can receive complaints about the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS).

“I am excited that, after several months of preparation and with the support of the Administration and our partner agencies, information about the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman and the services we provide will finally be made publicly available to Virginians across the Commonwealth. My staff and I are looking forward to helping families navigate the child welfare system and ensuring that child safety and family preservation remain top priorities for our local and state agencies that serve Virginia’s children and families,” OCO Director Eric Reynolds said in an administration press release.

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Youngkin Replaces State Agency Ban Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics with Order Promoting Recycling

Glenn Youngkin wearing a safety vest; at a landfill

Governor Glenn Youngkin has rescinded an executive order from former Governor Ralph Northam that ordered Virginia agencies to phase out single-use plastics and Styrofoam. Youngkin issued a new executive order to promote recycling in state agencies and eliminate food waste.

“Too often in the past, Virginia has been presented with a false choice between saving our environment and growing our economy. The growing market for post-consumer recyclables demonstrates that we can do both,” Youngkin said in a press release. “We need to bridge that disconnect to better conserve our natural resources, reduce waste that goes out to landfills and promote new clean energy jobs here in Virginia. We should be focusing our resources and energy on providing a cleaner supply of recyclable materials.”

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Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board Revokes COVID-19 Regulations for Employers

coffee shop with Edison lights hanging from ceiling

The Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board voted Monday to revoke standards regulating how businesses and employers must respond to COVID-19.

After the vote, recently-appointed Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) Gary Pan said, “At the beginning of this journey here through COVID, there was a lot of uncertainty and we didn’t really know what we were going to be facing, but we now have a lot of experience. And that’s important and we will be working vigilantly to make sure that we continue to protect our employees and employers in the workplace.”

“We are on the path to normalcy here in Virginia and throughout the United States,” Pan said.

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Governor Youngkin Says New Report Shows That Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Is Carbon Tax Passed on to Consumers

Glenn Youngkin

Governor Glenn Youngkin is trying to withdraw Virginia from participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI,) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) published a Youngkin-ordered report on the program, which requires utilities to bid on carbon dioxide allowances.

“Costs are soaring for Virginia families and as governor, I pledged to address over taxation and Virginia’s high cost of living. That’s why I signed Executive Order Nine to direct DEQ to examine the impact of RGGI and start the process of ending Virginia’s participation. This report reveals that RGGI is in reality a carbon tax passed on to families, individuals and businesses throughout the Commonwealth – it’s a bad deal for Virginians,” Youngkin said in a press release Tuesday.

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Virginia General Assembly at Crossover: Republican House, Democratic Senate About to Clash over Budget, Conflicting Policy

Halfway through the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session, the House of Delegates has passed a wave of Republican reforms focusing on taxes, law enforcement, and education, while much of the Senate’s work has involved Democrats killing Republican bills in committee. The legislature has just passed crossover, when each chamber sends its finalized bills to the other chamber. Now, the chambers will clash over conflicting policy as they evaluate each other’s bills and work on the budget.

“[W]e ran on a platform that was informed by what voters told us they wanted the General Assembly to accomplish on their behalf in 2022. They wanted lower taxes and safer communities. They wanted parents involved in their child’s education, not boxed out,” a Tuesday House GOP release said.

“As the House completes its work on our legislative priorities, I’m pleased to report that we’ve accomplished what voters sent us here to do,” Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said in the release.

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Signs School Mask-Optional Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a school mask-optional bill into law from the steps of the capitol on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the House of Delegates approved his amendments adding an emergency clause and a March 1 effective date.

“Today, we are reestablishing, restoring power back from parents. We are also reestablishing our expectations that we will get back to normal, and this is the path, this is the path. So thank you all for coming. And now, we’re going to do a little work,” Youngkin told the crowd before signing the bill.

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State Senate Committee Advances 1.5 Percent Grocery Tax Cut for Virginians, Leaves Local One Percent Intact

The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee (SFAC) advanced a bill that would eliminate the state sales and use tax of 1.5 percent on groceries and personal hygiene products. In its Thursday meeting, the committee combined Senator Jennifer Boysko’s (D-Fairfax) SB 451, focused on the hygiene products, with bills from Senator Stephen Newman (R-Beford), Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), and Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) that included all groceries.

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With Lengthy Friday Session, House Republicans Retaliate After Senate Blocks Youngkin’s Sec. Natural Resources Confirmation

House Republicans took over six hours on Friday to pass several bills confirming low-level appointments made by former Governor Ralph Northam, a reaction to the Senate’s vote earlier this week to block Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources.

Republican leaders in the House and the Senate have been hinting at potential trouble over potential blocked nominees for weeks, but on Thursday, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) told The AP that Youngkin seemed ready to move on from Wheeler’s confirmation.

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Youngkin $300 Tax Refund Bill Advances in House Finance Subcommittee

A House of Delegates Finance subcommittee advanced a bill to provide a $300 income tax refund for individuals and $600 for married persons for the 2021 tax year, a key promise from Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Day One Game Plan.

“Virginia has seen a steady increase in its tax revenues, and it’s far exceeding the forecasted growth, largely due to an increase in non-withholding taxes and a standard deduction below the federal level. Virginians have overpaid on their taxes as evidenced by the state’s surplus, and should have some of their money repaid. The aid given to Virginia from the federal government to facilitate the Commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Virginia ending its 2021 fiscal year with a surplus of over $2.6 billion,” HB 935 sponsor Delegate Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield) said in the Monday subcommittee meeting.

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Virginia Lawmaker Introduces ‘Pain-Capable’ Abortion Ban

Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) has introduced a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks in most circumstances, a threshold based on when the unborn are believed to feel pain.

“We’re actually making sure that it’s understood that this is about the capability to feel pain, it’s not about an arbitrary 20-week schedule,” Freitas told The Virginia Star.

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Youngkin Shifts Northam Diversity Office Focus from Equity to Opportunity

Governor Glenn Youngkin is changing the focus of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, created by former Governor Ralph Northam in the wake of his 2019 blackface scandal. Youngkin issued his tenth executive order Wednesday and announced his desire for the General Assembly to change the office name to Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion Office. He also named former Heritage Foundation official Angela Sailor to head the office, moves that Democrats saw as direct efforts to gut the office of its core purpose.

“The people of Virginia elected the most diverse leadership in the Commonwealth’s history. Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people. Angela Sailor’s experience in government, nonprofits and the private sector will guide us as we ensure that the government is working for all Virginians across our diverse Commonwealth, especially when it comes to economic opportunity for all Virginians,” Youngkin said in a press release.

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Chesapeake School Parents Sue Governor Youngkin Over School Mask Mandate Ban

Thirteen parents from the Chesapeake school district are suing Governor Glenn Youngkin over his Executive Order Two which requires districts to allow parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates, no reason required. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, says Youngkin’s order violates of separation of powers, since it violates SB 1303, which requires schools to comply with CDC mitigation strategies.

“Executive Order Number Two purports to sweep aside masking mandates and other protections with little or no consideration of or respect for CDC guidance, actions taken by the Virginia General Assembly, or the powers vested in school boards,” the lawsuit states, according to a copy obtained by ABC7.

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Gov. Youngkin Tells General Assembly, ‘The State of the Commonwealth Is Not What it Should Be,’ ‘We Have the Ability to Course-Correct’

Governor Glenn Youngkin used his first State of the Commonwealth address to describe a Virginia in need of reform, with underfunded schools whose leaders are out of touch with parents, rising crime rates, rising cost of living, and a stalled economy. The Monday message contrasted with former Governor Ralph Northam’s State of the Commonwealth delivered last Wednesday, where Northam highlighted economic success, education that reckons with Virginia’s past, and progress on equity.

“From the perspective of everyday Virginia families, times are tough and the State of the Commonwealth is not what it should be,” Youngkin said. “The good news is that we have the ability to course-correct before this poor performance becomes permanent.”

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State Sen. Reeves Introduced Youngkin Legislation to Cut Virginia Veterans’ Income Tax, Expand Child Care Subsidy Eligibility

Governor Glenn Youngkin is enacting some of his policies by executive order, but he’ll have to work with legislators to get other initiatives passed. Senator Bryce Reeves has introduced two bills focused on the governor’s goal to make Virginia more veteran friendly.

“The bills, carried by Senator Reeves on behalf of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, signal that Governor-elect Youngkin’s administration values military and veteran families across the commonwealth and recognizes that Virginia must compete to retain its recognition as one of the most military and veteran-friendly states,” a Friday Reeves press release said.

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Governor Ralph Northam Pardons Sen. Morrissey for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that he has issued more than 1,200 pardons during his term in office. That includes a January 13 pardon for Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was sentenced in 2014 of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a relationship with a 17-year-old employee who is now his wife.

“Both Myra and I are extremely pleased and are grateful for the governor’s pardon. And the people who will be most grateful and most appreciative will be my four young children in the ensuing years,” Morrissey told The Virginia Star.

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General Assembly Session Day Two: Filler-Corn Criticizes Speaker Gilbert for Tweet About Northam State of the Commonwealth

Eileen Filler-Corn

In a Wednesday tweet, Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert blasted Governor Ralph Northam’s final State of the Commonwealth address, leading House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn to respond in a floor statement on Thursday.

“Ralph Northam is leaving office as his own lost cause, condescendingly lecturing us all from some assumed moral high ground because he read the book ‘Roots’ and then went on a non-stop reconciliation tour. Saturday can’t come fast enough,” Gilbert wrote.

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In Final State of the Commonwealth, Northam Says His Administration Focused on Helping People

In his final State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Ralph Northam said that his administration had been focused on helping people. He highlighted economic success, investment in skills training, education that reckons with Virginia’s past, clean energy, criminal justice reform, election law changes, and infrastructure investment.

“We are leaving this Commonwealth better than it was when we came into office. We have built a state that does a better job of treating people right. It’s more welcoming, more open, more fair and equitable. We have built a state that helps people who need it—whether they need health care, or cleaner water, or to keep a roof over their head during a global pandemic,” Northam said.

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Youngkin Finishes Cabinet Nominations with Sec. Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Sec. Health and Human Resources

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin completed his cabinet nominee picks on Monday with the announcement of Fauquier County Sheriff Robert Mosier to be Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and recent Magellan of Virginia President John Littel to be Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on Virginians across the Commonwealth, and John will play a pivotal role in overseeing our efforts in protecting Virginians’ lives and livelihoods. Starting on Day One, John’s experience will be an asset as we fix our broken mental and behavioral health system, ensure Virginians have access to affordable, free-market healthcare options, and reform our healthcare safety net to save taxpayer dollars and improve healthcare outcomes,” Youngkin said in the announcement.

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Youngkin Picks Conservative Policy Leader Kay Coles James for Secretary of the Commonwealth

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced that former Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James is his pick for Secretary of the Commonwealth. James has experience in the administrations of both Bushes as well as Reagan. She also served as Former Governor George Allen’s Secretary of Health.

“Secretary James will be a true asset to the administration. Our shared vision combined with her tremendous experience will pave the way for a new day in Virginia. Kay has an extensive public service background; she has always been a leader and innovator in Virginia government. Kay has worked tirelessly as my transition Co-Chair, advising on personnel, policy, and strategic planning,” Youngkin said in a Friday evening press release.

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Virginia Senate Bill 1303 Complicates Roanoke County School Board Effort to Make Masks Optional After Youngkin Takes Office

The Roanoke County School Board voted Tuesday to make masks optional once Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin takes office. On Thursday, they reversed that decision, citing potential legal complications.

“Upon Governor-elect Youngkin’s administration’s canceling of the current VDH public health order, Roanoke County Public Schools will immediately become mask optional and return to pre-COVID medical policies, leaving medical decisions such as testing, quarantining, contact tracing between the doctor and their student patient or the student’s parents and guardians,” Board Member Cheryl Facciani said in her motion.

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Conservative Chesapeake School Board Reverses Decision to Make Masks Optional

The Chesapeake School Board voted five to one on New Year’s Eve to keep masks mandatory for students — a reversal from a December decision to make masks optional after Christmas break. An announcement from the district cited the COVID-19 surge.

“At this meeting, the School Board proposed and approved an amendment to their previous motion from the December 13, 2021 meeting regarding masks for students. Therefore, masks will continue to be required for all
students, staff, and visitors as per the Public Health Order when we return on January 3, 2022. Vaccines and testing for student athletes, however, will remain optional,” Superintendent Jared Cotton wrote.

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Conservative Chesapeake School Board Reverses Decision to Make Masks Optional

The Chesapeake School Board voted five to one on New Year’s Eve to keep masks mandatory for students — a reversal from a December decision to make masks optional after Christmas break. An announcement from the district cited the COVID-19 surge.

“At this meeting, the School Board proposed and approved an amendment to their previous motion from the December 13, 2021 meeting regarding masks for students. Therefore, masks will continue to be required for all
students, staff, and visitors as per the Public Health Order when we return on January 3, 2022. Vaccines and testing for student athletes, however, will remain optional,” Superintendent Jared Cotton wrote.

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State Senator Reeves Supporting Lawsuit over Decision to Melt Charlottesville Lee Statue

Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) is supporting a lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville over the decision to give the Lee statue to a museum that plans to melt it. The lawsuit argues that the city didn’t have a competitive or transparent process to consider offers to take the statue, and additionally argues that melting the statue violates the spirit of state law governing monument removals. According to the lawsuit, the statue has already been delivered to a foundry and broken up, although not yet melted down.

“The City can legally remove, relocate, contextualize or cover the Lee monument, but the General Assembly denied the City authority to alter or destroy it,” the Trevillian Station Battlefield Foundation and the Ratcliffe Foundation state in the lawsuit.

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Richmond City Health Department Contradicts Northam Claim That COVID Tests are ‘Widely Available’

The Richmond City Health Department on Thursday seemingly contradicted a claim made by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that coronavirus tests are widely available throughout the state.

In a statement addressing the statewide rise in positive COVID-19 cases, Northam contended that individuals would be able to easily obtain a PCR test. 

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Virginia in New Wave of COVID-19 with Record-Setting Case Numbers, but Hospitalizations Down from Peak of January 2021 Wave

Sick person talking to CDC employee

Virginia is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 cases. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 13,500 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 12,112 reported on Wednesday, breaking the previous daily record from January 17, 2021 of 9,914 new cases. However, hospitalizations are down from the highs of January 2021. On Thursday, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 2,101 confirmed and test-pending COVID patients, less than a January 13 high of 3,201 hospitalizations.

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Lee Monument and Other Richmond Confederate Statues to be Given to Virginia Museum

The Lee Monument and the other Confederate statues from Richmond’s Monument Avenue will be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which will partner with The Valentine and other Richmond organizations to determine the future of the objects. The Thursday announcement is the latest move from Governor Ralph Northam, who has been working to conclude removal of the controversial Lee Monument and remove state control of the monument and the land.

“Symbols matter and for too long, Virginia’s most prominent symbols celebrated our country’s tragic division and the side that fought to keep alive the institution of slavery by any means possible,” Northam said in a Thursday press release shared by NBC12 reporter Henry Graff.

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Lee Monument Time Capsule Opened, but It Doesn’t Match Historical Descriptions

Conservators at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) opened a time capsule from the Lee Monument pedestal on Wednesday afternoon, but the capsule and its contents don’t match the description of a capsule reportedly placed in the monument in 1887, leading to speculation that there may be an additional capsule somewhere on site. Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam were at the Department of Historic Resources at 12 p.m. for the opening of the box. Opening the box without damaging it took longer than expected, due to corrosion and masonry from the pedestal in the box seams.

“I’ve been asked a number of times if we’re going to use a torch,” Conservator Chelsea Blake said. “That’s not an option.”

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Delegate Jay Jones Announces Surprise Resignation, Triggering Last-Minute Scramble to Find Candidates for Special Election

After winning reelection, Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) announced Thursday that he is resigning to focus on his family at the end of 2021, setting off a last-minute scramble to find candidates and hold a special election in House District 89 on January 11. Jones cited personal changes that have happened since he first announced his candidacy in 2017, including getting married and now expecting a baby in summer 2022.

“As most parents can attest, bringing a child into this world is a massive time commitment and every second with your family and child is worth its weight in gold. I’m 32, a practicing attorney, and have given everything that I have in my soul to serving Norfolk and the Commonwealth since 2017. But my new job-to-be is as a father, and I’m ready to make that the highest priority in my life,” he wrote in a public letter.

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Virginia Governor’s Office Believes Object Found in Lee Monument Pedestal Is the Missing Time Capsule

Crews dismantling the Lee Monument pedestal in Richmond found what they believe to be an 1887 time capsule believed to contain Confederate memorabilia and a possible photograph of Abraham Lincoln, the Governor’s office announced Friday.

“Workers noticed something that looked ‘different’ this morning, so they chiseled down with a hammer and found the top of what appears to be the time capsule–located inside a large block, under one inch of cement. It was located approximately 20 feet in the air, in the tower, not in the pedestal’s base. It was located approximately 8 feet from the outside of the granite and about one foot from the edge of the core. It appears to be largely undamaged,” the announcement states.

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Sec. Finance Flores: Virginia’s Conservative Fiscal Approach That Powered 2021 Revenue Growth Should Continue in Future Years

Virginia had historic revenue growth in 2021 and finished $2.6 billion above forecasts, thanks to a conservative approach, Secretary of Finance Joe Flores told the General Assembly money committees on Thursday. Flores’ presentation said that conservative approach should continue, with forecasts suggesting that Virginia’s income and job growth will continue in coming years, but will lag behind the nation.

“It’s also important to remember, to look back, because a year ago, you guys had just finished a session where you had taken down revenues to the tune of $2.7 billion, basically five percent of our biennial General Fund revenues,” Flores said.

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Youngkin, Senator Dunnavant, and Delegate Willett Stop in Henrico for Small Business Round Table

HENRICO, Virginia – Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin met with the Asian Chamber of Commerce for a round table with Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and Delegate Rodney Willett (D-Henrico). Youngkin told those in attendance that he planned to bring 400,000 new jobs and 10,000 new startups to Virginia.

“So, in order to do that, we in fact recognize that we have to put a lot of the ingredients together, just like we’re cooking a meal,” Youngkin said. “And one of those ingredients is, in fact, the recognition that there are some inhibitions in starting small businesses. So one of the things I want to hear from you are the challenges that you all feel and hear when you start your businesses.”

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In Budget Speech, Virginia Gov. Northam Acknowledges Priorities of Incoming Republican Administration, Warns of Need to Cut Taxes in the Right Way

Governor Ralph Northam presented his 2022-2024 budget proposal to the money committees of the Virginia General Assembly and the incoming administration on Thursday. Several elements of Northam’s proposal, including tax cuts, were inspired by Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s policy. Northam said he’s leaving Virginia in good financial conditions.

“And today I present to you my last budget. I’m biased, but I also think it’s our best one yet,” Northam said according to his prepared remarks. “That’s because Virginia’s economy is doing very well. State revenues are at record investments, while also putting money back into the pockets of the hardest working Virginians. We need to be clear about how this has happened. It is because over these four years, we have consistently taken a prudent, cautious approach to budgeting.”

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Virgina Gov. Northam Proposes Partial Grocery Tax Cut, Other Youngkin-Inspired Tax Policies

Continuing his “Thank You, Virginia” tour, Governor Ralph Northam announced that his upcoming budget proposal will include tax cuts and refunds, including some similar to those Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has called on Northam to include in his budget.

“When Virginia cuts taxes next year, it should be done in a way that benefits working people,” Northam said in a Tuesday press release. “Many professionals made it through the pandemic fine, as their work simply moved online. But workers haven’t been so lucky when their jobs require close contact with other people. Some jobs simply can’t move online—restaurant workers, early childhood educators, home care attendants, and others—and we all depend on the people who do this work. Virginia can help working people by eliminating the state grocery tax, providing one-time rebates, and giving a tax break to people who are working.”

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Northam Announces New Grants That Will Push Virginia to 90 Percent of Universal Broadband Access

Governor Ralph Northam, Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia-07) stopped in central Virginia Monday to announce the allocation of $722 million in grants to localities for Virginia’s universal broadband push. Northam’s announcement states that money, alongside over $1 billion in matching funds from partners, will push Virginia to 90 percent of its goal of universal broadband.

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Virginia General Assembly Hit by Ransomware Attack

The Virginia General Assembly has been hit by a ransomware attack affecting key legislative systems as legislators and staffers prepare for the 2022 session that begins on January 12. Multiple state agency websites were offline Monday afternoon.

The Legislative Information System (LIS), which hosts legislation and the Code of Virginia, warned in an error message, “We’re experiencing a service outage with some of our servers. The Budget Portal, Law Portal, Reports to the General Assembly, and some other data may not be accessible. Our team is currently working to restore the service. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

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Northam Announces Release of Plan Highlighting Virginia Coastal Flooding Risks, Youngkin Says He’ll Formulate Plan to Improve Coastal Resiliency

Governor Ralph Northam announced the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan on Tuesday, which outlines increasing threats to coastal structures and landscapes while also highlighting potential mitigation projects. Northam is set to leave office at the beginning of 2022, but Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has also expressed support for coastal resilience work.

“We must acknowledge that climate change is permanently altering the physical limits of our coastal lands,” Northam said in a press release. “The only way we can adapt and maintain our thriving communities is with thoughtful planning, reliance on science, and a willingness to make tough decisions. This Master Plan will guide decisions by the Commonwealth and our local government partners.”

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Virginia Gov. Northam Continues Legacy Tour, Highlights Proposed Spending on Gun Violence Prevention, HBCUs, Parks, Law Enforcement

Governor Ralph Northam is set to announce his final budget proposal next week, and he has spent this week on his “Thank You, Virginia” tour highlighting key pieces of the proposal — cementing his legacy before he leaves office early next year. On Friday, he announced $27 million to establish a Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention.

“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence each year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number to zero,” Northam said in a press release that also highlighted gun control legislation he signed during his term. “The new research Center will collect important data that can lead to meaningful change. Gun violence is a public safety and a public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. This data will save lives.”

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Northam Announces $2.4 Billion Increase for Education in His Final Budget Proposal; New House Appropriations Chair Knight Previews Upcoming Budget Process

Governor Ralph Northam will include a $2.4 billion increase for education in his budget proposal to the General Assembly next week, with a 5 percent salary increase for teachers in each of the next two fiscal years.

“Paying teachers is the right thing to do, and a wise investment,” Northam said in a Monday press release. “Virginia has invested in teachers in a big way over these past four years, and now it’s time to do much more. Our country has asked teachers to carry a heavy load, especially during the pandemic. They have delivered, and they deserve to be rewarded.”

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Gov. Northam Orders Removal of Lee Monument Pedestal

Crews have begun work to remove the pedestal that used to hold the Lee statue in Richmond. On Sunday, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the pedestal would be removed to storage in a process lasting through December, and that after the pedestal was removed, the land underneath would be given to the City of Richmond. On Monday evening, the pedestal was surrounded by scaffolding.

“This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space,” Northam said in the press release. “The Commonwealth will remove the pedestal and we anticipate a safe removal and a successful conclusion to this project.”

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Lt. Governor-Elect Winsome Sears Tells Virginia GOP Advance: ‘Democrats Get Four Years of Me, It’s Going to Be Fun’

In his speech at the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Advance, Glenn Youngkin got applause and cheers, but Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears also earned laughter with her Saturday keynote address that was part victory speech, part stand-up comedy routine aimed at Virginia’s Democrats and identity politics.

The crowd of RPV insiders at the gala erupted when she took aim at outgoing Governor Ralph Northam.

“So actually, I don’t know. They say that I’m a white supremacist. I’m going to try to figure out if I’m the one in the blackface or I’m the one in the sheet,” Sears said.

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Virginia State Sen. Suetterlein Targets Lengthy Executive Orders with Bill for 2022 General Assembly

  Governor Ralph Northam came under fire from Republicans, including Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares, for his lengthy COVID-19 mandates through emergency powers. Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) has prefiled a bill for the 2022 General Assembly session to limit emergency powers to a duration of 45 days. “The vast majority of…

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State Sen. Suetterlein Re-Introduces Virginia Parole Board Vote Transparency Bill

Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) has introduced a bill to make individual Virginia Parole Board members’ votes public records and open to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

“The parole board has significant authority over individual Virginians’ liberty and the Commonwealth’s public safety,” Suetterlein said. “And the public gets to know, when someone is charged with a crime, who the police officer is that arrested the person. Who the prosecutor who pursued the criminal charges was. Who the judge that oversaw the case was. Who the appellate court judges that upheld the cases were. And then the parole board has the power to reduce that sentence effectively and their action is done in private. Their votes are not recorded, which is most unusual. I was not able to find any other board in Virginia where their actions and their individual votes are not recorded.”

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Governor-Elect Youngkin Dodges on Whether He Will Support the Virginia National Guard if It Resists DOD Vaccine Mandate

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has said he’s opposed to mandates, including COVID-19 vaccine mandates. However, many current vaccine mandates are federally-ordered, including a mandate for all members of the Armed Forces on active duty, or in ready reserve, including the National Guard.

Some Republican governors are testing their power to defy the order. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appointed a new adjutant general of that state’s national guard after the previous adjutant general ignored Stitt’s request to fight the mandate. Last week, the new adjutant general said no Oklahoma Guardsmen who are not federally mobilized would have to take the vaccine.

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Virginia Rep. Wittman Backs Prince William County’s Request for Money to Build a Mental Health Crisis Center

Representative Rob Wittman (R-Virginia-01) is supporting Prince William County’s efforts to build a crisis stabilization center, asking Virginia’s House Finance Committee Chair Luke Torian (D-Prince William) to use federal COVID-19 relief to help fund the project.

“The impacts of mental health have major reverberations throughout our communities. From students experiencing anxiety and intense loneliness due to extended virtual learning, to extreme cases of depression as a result of a veteran’s PTSD, the need for effective and available mental health services to support those suffering from a mental health crisis or occurrence is a critical necessity,” Wittman wrote in an October 27 letter announced in a Friday press release.

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Preparing to Take Power, Newly Elected Virginia Gov. Youngkin Announces His Transition Team

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced his transition steering committee and advisors on Wednesday. The group includes Republican legislators, Republican Party of Virginia officials, and the three previous Republican governors of Virginia. Former Democratic Governor Doug Wilder is also on the list; he aimed several attacks at opponent former Governor Terry McAuliffe during the campaign without ever endorsing Youngkin. The list also includes Sentara Chief of Staff Aubrey Layne, who was a cabinet official to both Governor Ralph Northam and McAuliffe.

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Virginia Ranks Tenth in U.S. For Population COVID-19 Vaccination Percent

Virginia is now tenth among U.S. states for percentage of population fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday.

“We’ve reached the top ten because so many Virginians have worked so hard for so long,” Northam said in a press release. “It’s something we can all be proud of. Vaccines will soon be available for children, and thousands of adults are getting boosters. This is all great news.”

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Virginia Gets the First U.S.-Based Offshore Wind Blade Manufacturing Facility

Offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing is coming to the U.S. and Virginia as part of a partnership between Dominion Energy and Spain-based manufacturer Siemens Gamesa. Dominion Energy has been expanding its offshore wind project with support from Virginia officials, and is already using Siemens Gamesa to manufacture blades in Europe.

“Virginians want renewable energy, our employers want it, and Virginia is delivering it,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a Monday press release. “The Commonwealth is joining these leading companies to create the most important clean-energy partnership in the United States. This is good news for energy customers, the union workers who will bring this project to life, and our business partners. Make no mistake: Virginia is building a new industry in renewable energy, with more new jobs to follow, and that’s good news for our country.”

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Virginia Amtrak Returns to Pre-Pandemic Service Levels in Virginia with New Route Extension into Downtown Richmond

The last of three Amtrak Virginia trains that were suspended due to the pandemic is open again, with a new extension to the Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. Governor Ralph Northam and rail officials announced the reopening and expansion of Northeast Regional Route 51 as part of Northam’s Transforming Rail in Virginia program. Northam held his press conference as the first train departed Main Street Station at 5:35 a.m. Monday.

“If you’ve ever been stuck on I-95, you know we can’t pave our way out of congestion,” Northam said.

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