Justin Fairfax Says He is Poised to Help All Virginians as the Next Governor

If elected governor, Justin Fairfax is determined to bring the Commonwealth and its residents out from underneath the current issues plaguing Virginia brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic and a destructive political landscape. 

Last month Lt. Gov. Fairfax officially announced his entrance into the 2021 gubernatorial election, hoping to follow in the footsteps of former state governor L. Douglas Wilder and become the second black man elected to the Executive Mansion. 

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Bill Giving AG Increased Authority to Investigate Patterns of Misconduct by Police Signed into Law

Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law on Wednesday that gives the state attorney general additional powers to investigate unlawful patterns or practices by law enforcement officers and file civil action to stop the misconduct.

Introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), Senate Bill 5024 was one of several bills approved by the governor this week.

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Mask Usage Only Encouraged, Not Required at Polling Locations on Election Day, Officials Say

Voters in the Commonwealth that arrive at polling places on Election Day without a mask or face covering and refuse to wear one or vote outside will not be turned away, according to election officials.

The Virginia Department of Elections (VDOE) has given election workers throughout Virginia guidance on what to do when a voter goes to a polling precinct without a mask and does not wish to put one on.

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Virginia Department of Education Releases New ‘Equity Audit Tool’ as Most Schools Continue Distance Learning

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released a new “equity audit tool” last week. The tool is part of VDOE’s “Navigating EdEquityVA,” which focuses on providing tools and resources to dismantle inequities in education.

Included within the checklist are evaluations of “anti-racism,” various biases such as gender and ethnic bias, support of racial justice groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Black Power, proportional disciplinary action across races, and equal representation throughout groups and classes.

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Staff Report: Governor Northam Signs New Laws to Support COVID-19 Response, Reform Policing

Governor Ralph Northam’s office announced Thursday the signing of eight COVID-19 response bills and three criminal justice reform bills. He also proposed amendments to three other bills related to healthcare, COVID-19 relief and criminal justice reform. Northam’s announcement is below:

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Virginia Senate Gives Governor Power to Oust Police Officers

The Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB) will have the responsibility of decertifying officers engaged in misconduct or criminally charged and implementing statewide conduct standards for law enforcement, if the Senate’s omnibus policing and reform legislation is signed into law.

Last Friday, the president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Delegates both signed the legislation, and on Wednesday the bill was communicated to Governor Ralph Northam for final approval.

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Trial to Decide Fate of Robert E. Lee Statue Underway in Richmond

The trial over a lawsuit aiming to stop Governor Ralph Northam from removing the statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee began Monday morning in Richmond.

After the death of George Floyd, the Lee monument and other Confederate statues throughout the city became a focal point of the summer protests over racial inequality and police brutality in Richmond.

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Juneteenth Is Now a Legal Holiday in the State of Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation this week passed during the General Assembly 2020 special session into law making Juneteenth an officially recognized holiday in the Commonwealth.

Juneteenth will now be a permanent, statewide holiday allowing all state employees to get a paid day off from work.

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Senate Lawmakers Pass Conference Report for Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

During potentially the final day of the lengthy 2020 special session, Senate legislators adopted and passed the conference committee report on a bill that allows judges in certain criminal cases to issue the sentences instead of the jury. 

The conference report that was unanimously agreed upon by the six conferees, two Republicans and two Democrats, passed the Senate by an almost exact party line vote of (Y-22 N-16). 

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Legislation Allowing Localities to Establish Law Enforcement Civilian Review Boards Heads to Governor’s Desk

Compromised legislation that gives localities the authority to establish law enforcement civilian review boards (CRB) successfully passed final votes in the Senate and House of Delegates Wednesday afternoon, and now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval.

Joint conference committee reports for Senate Bill 5035 passed the Senate (21-Y 17-N) and for House Bill 5055 passed the House (53-Y 35-N), mostly along the party lines of both chambers.

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Senate and House Advance Budget Legislation to Conference Committee

Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Delegates advanced their biennial budget to a formal conference committee on Wednesday and assigned conferees to represent the bodies, but much of the work on compromising has already been conducted.

Before the two legislative bodies agreed to send the budget to a joint conference committee, however, the Senate first had to adopt a batch of seven committee amendments to the budget legislation. 

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Severed Fiber Cable Causes IT Issues for Department of Elections on Last Day to Register to Vote

A severed fiber cable in Chesterfield County caused Virginia’s voter registration system and other systems used by state agencies to fail Tuesday. 

The outage came on the final day Virginians can register to vote for the upcoming November election.

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Newly Proposed Law to Reduce Traffic Stops Relating to Marijuana and Other Traffic Offenses, Law Enforcement in Opposition

A bill that aims to reduce unnecessary and targeted traffic stops by limiting what police officers are lawfully allowed to pull drivers over for recently passed the General Assembly and is now awaiting a decision from the governor. 

Nevertheless, law enforcement opposes the legislation on the grounds that it would hurt public safety and lead to more dangers while driving. 

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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State Inspector General Substantiates Multiple Allegations Against the Virginia Parole Board

The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) has released reports substantiating multiple allegations that the Virginia Parole Board (VPB) violated state statutes as well as its own policies and procedures after investigating complaints regarding the parole of specific Department of Corrections offenders.

On Tuesday, the OSIG released copies of the reports, originally sent to Governor Ralph Northam’s administration, to media outlets who requested them that were mostly redacted and did not offer the specific findings of the investigation into the VPB.

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Virginia House and Senate Pass Another Bill to Further Decriminalize Marijuana

Virginia’s House and Senate passed another bill further decriminalizing marijuana. Under the bill, the drug’s scent would no longer be a sufficient cause for searching a vehicle.
The House passed the bill in a 51-45 vote. On Friday, the Senate approved to substitute some of the language of the bill.

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SCC Denies Northam’s Request to Extend Utility Shutoff Moratorium

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Governor Ralph Northam’s Thursday request to again extend a moratorium on utilities shutoffs until December. The moratorium will end October 5. The SCC had previously warned that they would not consider any further extensions.

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Northam to Stand Down on Church Ban: God Wins

After losing in court last week, Governor Ralph Northam agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by four Madison County men who argued that the governor’s restrictions on churches violated the Virginia Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Virginia statute for religious freedom. According to The Roanoke Star, the only COVID-19 restrictions remaining against Virginia churchgoers after the Tuesday decision is the mask mandate.

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President Trump Visits Virginia, Draws Massive Crowd

President Donald J. Trump spoke at a campaign rally Friday night in Virginia drawing a crowd of over ten thousand people. 

The event took place in Newport News, Virginia outside of an airport hanger near the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

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Governor and First Lady Northam Test Positive for COVID-19

Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that he and his wife, First Lady Pamela Northam, have tested positive for COVID-19. The Northams received testing after learning that one of the governor’s staff members tested positive. 
Northam reports that he is asymptomatic; his wife is experiencing “mild symptoms.” The pair plan to isolate for ten days and then undergo another examination, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines.

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Trump Intends to Visit Virginia After Denouncing Gov. Northam and Endorsing Bob Good

President Donald Trump announced his intentions to visit Virginia after denouncing Governor Ralph Northam and endorsing congressional candidate Bob Good.

Trump tweeted his remarks on the first day of Virginia’s early voting and submission of absentee ballots, September 18.

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Gov. Northam Announces Flawed Rebuild VA Grant Fund Eligibility Expanded

The eligibility for the REBUILD! VA Grant Fund for businesses, nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 has been expanded to a wider scope of small businesses, according to a news release. 

The expansion of grant program, administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), now includes small hotels, bed and breakfast facilities and Virginia film companies as well as companies that provide goods or services to eligible businesses. 

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Amid Polarized Opinions, Congressman Beyer Calls For Renaming of the Robert E. Lee Memorial

Congressman Don Beyer (D-Arlington) is calling for the mansion in the middle of Arlington Cemetery to be renamed. Currently called “The Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial,” Beyer wants it to just be “The Arlington House.”

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SCC Extends Moratorium on Utility Shutoffs but Warns Bills Are Piling Up

Responding to a request from Governor Ralph Northam, Virginia’s State Corporation Comission (SCC) has agreed to extend a moratorium on utility shutoffs until October 5. The SCC warns that they will not extend the moratorium again. The moratorium has been in place since March 16, 2020.

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Under Intense Business Pressure, Gov. Northam Finally Caves on Virginia Beach

Citing “significantly improved health metrics,” Governor Ralph Northam relaxed COVID-19 restrictions in Eastern Virginia on Thursday, allowing the Hampton Roads region to go to join the rest of Virginia in Phase Three of its pandemic restrictions.

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Nightmare on Zoom St: Virginia Dems Pass Woke Bills, Freeze Out GOP

The General Assembly has been in Special Session since August 18. Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement said the session was meant to pass a new budget in light of of COVID-19 and consider criminal and social reform laws. In the past three weeks, the Assembly has considered bills ending qualified immunity, eliminating minimum sentences for assaults on police officers, and allowing early release of violent offenders.

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Virginia Supreme Court Rejects Northam’s Eviction Moratorium Extension Request as CDC Implements New Order

The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday said it will not extend Governor Northam’s order barring eviction notices and proceedings as a newly implemented federal eviction moratorium takes effect. 

Northam asked the court for an extension of the temporary eviction order in a letter on Thursday, saying more time is needed to better understand the federal order and for the General Assembly to pass legislation to further protect Virginians. 

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COVID-19 Helps Drive Restaurant Alcohol Sales Down Close to 20 Percent

Alcohol sales at restaurants and similar business decreased 19 percent in the 2020 fiscal year, according to a press release from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC). At the same time, total ABC revenue, including licensee sales, increased by $117 million, driven by an increase in retail sales.

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State Commission Issues Recommendations to Improve African American History Teaching

A state commission examining African American history education has published its report, issuing four broad recommendations for state educational standards, and six broad recommendations for professional development of teachers. The “Final Report of the Virginia Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth” is the result of a year-long effort started by Governor Ralph Northam.

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Governor Northam, Richmond Political and Business Elite Line-up Behind Mayor Levar Stoney

At a campaign kick-off event in Church Hill Tuesday, Governor Northam announced that he is endorsing Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney for re-election.

On Monday, Stoney announced via his Twitter that the Virginia legislative Black Caucus Chair Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico County) endorsed him for re-election.

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Despite Letter from Virginia Beach Mayor, Northam Opts to Keep Eastern Virginia’s Enhanced COVID-19 Restrictions Through Labor Day

Governor Ralph Northam will not relax COVID-19 restrictions in Eastern Virginia before Labor Day. In a Tuesday press conference, Northam said he wants to avoid a post-holiday surge of cases, like those following Memorial Day and the Fourth of July earlier this year.

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Governor Northam Launches a New African American History Course

Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday a new elective course for Virginia high school students on African American history.

The course will be offered in 16 Virginia school divisions during the 2020-2021 academic year, including Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Prince William County, Charlottesville, among others.

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Wednesday Is the COVID-19 Emergency Standard Compliance Deadline for Virginia Businesses

Virginia employers face a deadline today to implement new COVID-19 safety standards.

On July 15, the Safety and Health Codes Board adopted the COVID-19 Emergency Standard. The new mandate includes precautions like requiring employers to classify each job for exposure risk, develop policies for employees who have been exposed to COVID-19, and enforce social distancing.

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Application That Alerts Virginia Users of Possible COVID-19 Exposure Downloaded More Than 300,000 Times

COVIDWISE, an app that alerts users of possible COVID-19 exposure, has been downloaded 356,777 times in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The application was launched by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on August 5.

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State Senator Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant on Limiting the Executive Powers of Virginia Governor Northam and Reopening Schools

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredericks welcomed Virginia State Senator (R) Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant to discuss limiting Governor Northam’s executive powers and re-opening schools.

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Application that Alerts Virginia Users of Possible COVID-19 Exposure Downloaded More Than 300,000 times

COVIDWISE, an app that alerts users of possible COVID-19 exposure, has been downloaded 326,053 times in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

The application was launched by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on August 5.

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