Virginia General Assembly Passes Compromise ARPA Allocation Bill

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax sp ... inance Chair Senator Janet Howell.

RICHMOND, Virginia – After hammering out a compromise between the House of Delegates and the Senate, the Virginia General Assembly voted to send its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) budget bill to Governor Ralph Northam. The bill passed the House 78-20 and passed the Senate 23-16.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said that she and other senators fought for the Senate’s amendments in a conference committee with representatives from the House.

“As you look at the conference report you will see that on several items our position was affirmed, and on others we were able to compromise,” she reported to the Senate.

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Virginia Senate Passes Amended American Rescue Plan Act Allocation Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia Senate passed its amended version of the $4.3 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation bill late Wednesday evening, after hours of debate on amendments. Although some Republican amendments, including a key law enforcement bonus proposal, were incorporated into the spending bill, many were not. Rejected amendments included a sweeping election integrity amendment and an anti-Critical Race Theory amendment. The final vote on passing the bill was 22-18. Many Republicans said that while they supported some elements of the bill, they disapproved of the process Democrats used, including a vote Wednesday evening to limit debate on each amendment to just three minutes.

Right before the vote to pass the budget, the Senate GOP caucus went into conference. When the senators returned, Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. (R-James City) hinted that many of his caucus would vote against the bill. He said, “It is not so much about the substantive provisions of the budget that we have amended. Rather I believe that the vote you are about to see is going to be a reflection of the frustration and the indignation of the entire process.”

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Northam Signs Letter Asking Congress for $1 Billion for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Infrastructure

Governor Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam and governors of other Chesapeake Bay watershed states are asking Congress for $1 billion to help meet 2025 pollution reduction goals. In a letter sent May 13, the officials say that their Billion for the Bay Initiative would help restore the bay and create jobs.

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Virginia Opens Machicomoco State Park, the State’s 40th Park

Virginia has a brand-new state park — Machicomoco State Park, located along the York River in Gloucester County. On April 16, Governor Ralph Northam and other officials opened the 645-acre park, which features camping, picnic shelters, boat launches, and trails. One goal of the park is to tell the story of Virginia’s native tribes through interpretive areas.

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Virginia Gov. Northam Signs Restaurant Styrofoam Ban, Issues Ban on Single-Use Plastics for Some State Agencies

Governor Ralph Northam signed a ban on executive branch state agencies using single-use plastics. On Tuesday, he announced Executive Order 77 at the Environment Virginia Symposium held at Virginia Military Institute. He also announced the signing of Delegate Betsy Carr’s (D-Richmond) food vendor Styrofoam ban bill.

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Virginia General Assembly Approves Styrofoam Ban

The General Assembly passed a polystyrene (Styrofoam) ban for serving food in restaurants and similar vendors in Virginia. The bill, passed on Wednesday, will first take effect in July 2023 to large vendors with more than 20 locations; in July 2025, it will apply to all vendors, although vendors can apply for temporary exemptions to their localities. Violation can result in a $50 per day fine.

Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) pushed HB 1902 in the Senate as a compromise to allow the House of Delegates to pass a bill adjusting regulation of new recycling technology. Republicans opposed the polystyrene ban, saying it would harm small businesses, but supported Senator Emmet Hanger’s (R-Augusta) advanced recycling regulation bill.

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Virginia Governor Candidate Kirk Cox Reportedly Says Biden Will be Next President

GOP candidate for governor and Virginia State Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) reportedly said Tuesday he does not stand with Republicans in Congress who plan to object to the Electoral College votes and that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. 

Cox’s reported comments were shared by Daniel Grimes, a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC29 in Charlottesville, in a post on Twitter. 

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Some Virginia Newsmakers Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

A New Year, a new General Assembly session, a new state election, a new vaccine — The Virginia Star is looking forward to the stories of 2021. We asked a few newsmakers what their resolutions for 2021 are. Here’s what they said:

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Princess Blanding Announces Third-Party Run for Virginia Governor

Community activist and mental health advocate Princess Blanding, whose brother was fatally shot by Richmond Police in 2018, announced her entrance into the 2021 Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday as a third-party candidate, joining a group of hopefuls featuring former and current state politicians.

Blanding, 38, will be running as an independent candidate under the Liberation Party, whose mission to advance equity by uplifting traditionally underserved and oppressed communities, according to a press release.

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Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger Still Seriously Considering a Bid for Governor

As the 2021 elections inch closer and begin to dominate almost all political talk in the Commonwealth, Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) is still exploring a potential run to become the 74th governor of Virginia.

Hanger, 72, recently discussed the gubernatorial election and the difficulty of securing the GOP nomination in an interview with The Virginia Star. 

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Virginia Legislators Expect to Legalize Marijuana in 2021, but Massive Changes Needed Might Slow the Process

It’s not quite a nonpartisan issue, but Virginia legislators expect an effort to legalize marijuana will receive enough bipartisan support to pass in the 2021 regular session. The biggest hurdle to the plan is the massive legislative changes that are required. Legislators have to choose how the cannabis business will interact with many sectors of business and government including banking, law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Taxation, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

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Terry McAuliffe to Run for Second Term as Virginia Governor

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe officially entered Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election on Wednesday after months of educated speculation that the long-time Democrat would throw his name into the contest and seek another four years in the Executive Mansion.

McAuliffe, 63, made the announcement during a press conference in front of Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School in Richmond’s southside that was streamed live to his Facebook page.

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Upcoming General Assembly Session Will Have Legislation Limits

When the General Assembly starts its 2021 regular session in January, the volume of legislation will be much different from years past because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), both the Senate and the House of Delegates will impose limits on the amount of legislation members can introduce for the session.

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Follow the Money: CARES Act Update

Congress passed the CARES Act last March, sending many taxpayers $1,200, giving $100 billion to health providers, and boosting unemployment benefits by $600 a week, according to Govtrack. The $2 trillion stimulus bill also sent $150 billion to states and localities across the country. Virginia received about $3.1 billion dollars, with a separate $200 million sent directly to Fairfax County.

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Senator Amanda Chase says the Democratic Party of Virginia is Racist

State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), a Republican gubernatorial candidate for 2021, called the Democratic Party of Virginia racist and said that the group hates white people.

On Friday night, Chase posted the statement to her Facebook page in response to an article about Virginia Democrats calling for Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter to either be removed from the position or to resign on her own.

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Senate Passes Majority of Gov. Northam’s Amendments, Concluding Lengthy Special Session

The Virginia Senate on Monday adopted a number of slight changes to legislation and the budget recommended by Governor Ralph Northam, including language for the implementation of the recently-approved redistricting commission.

Overall, including the budget, the Senate passed amendments for ten bills from the House and Senate. Most passage votes were primarily along party lines with a couple amendments garnering unanimous support.

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