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Community Lenten Services

Luncheon will be served after each Wednesday Noon Service for a small donation.

March 27 - 12 Noon First Presbyterian Church Rev. Dr. Rick Hurst

April 3 12 - Noon Calvary Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Doretha Allen

April 10 - 12 Noon St. Richard’s Catholic Church Rev. Tom Durrance

April 18 - 7 pm Elnora Jarrell Worship Center Rev. Harry Zeiders

April 19 - 11 am Calvary Baptist Church (Radio Baptist) Various Pastors and Leaders Hour of Prayer

The offering: we have given two $500 scholarships to seniors in the past. We will contact these two students and if they are still at their schools with passing grades, we will give them another $500 each and any money above $1000.00 we be given to Thomas Family Boots On the Ground Outreach.

For Third year, governor vetoes ‘Tebow bill’

By Amy Lee, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed the so-called Tebow bill that would have allowed home-schooled students to participate in high school sports.

“Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements,” McAuliffe wrote in vetoing HB 1578, sponsored by Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville. “Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria codifies academic inequality in interscholastic competition.”

This is the third consecutive year that Bell has shepherded such legislation through the General Assembly only to be stopped at the governor’s office.

The bill was nicknamed after former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who played football for a Florida high school while being home-schooled. The bill would have allowed high schools to join only interscholastic programs that welcomed home-schooled student athletes. If the bill had been enacted, the Virginia High School League would have had to implement policy changes to include home-schoolers alongside their public-school counterparts.

HB 1578 had passed the House 60-38 and the Senate 22-18. Earlier in the session, McAuliffe had announced his intention to veto the legislation. The governor has consistently joined opponents of the bill in saying that home-schooled students are not be held to the same academic expectations set for public school student athletes.

Bell’s latest bill had sought to address that concern. It said home-schoolers would have to pass standardized tests and demonstrate “evidence of progress” in their academic curriculum for two years before qualifying to play in a local high school’s sports team. They would also be expected to meet the same immunization standards set by public schools.

In addition, under HB 1578, each school district would have had the right to decide whether home-school students would be welcome in its high school sports programs. This measure was meant to accommodate schools critical of the change. But opponents like Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, said it would only complicate the system even more.

“The bottom line is, once Virginia High School League changes its policy, every school division is going to have to match up with it, because nobody is going to want to compete with half a loaf,” Petersen said. “I’ve got some coaches in the audience that are here for state-winning championship teams, and I know what they would say, not on the merits of the bill, but simply that everyone has to play by the same set of rules.”

As a result of McAuliffe’s veto, the bill heads back to the General Assembly. It will require a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate to override the veto.

Bell has pushed similar legislation since 2005 and says his efforts are to make sure children who thrive in home-schooling environments are not punished for it.

“If you are a parent and your kid doesn’t fit into the public-school curriculum right now, you can go private or you can go home-schooling, except many places, including a county I represent, have very limited private school options,” Bell said. “Yet we’re forcing parents to say, ‘You can have football, or you can have the education that you want.’”

McAuliffe vetoes 2 concealed weapons bills

By Megan Corsano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed two bills Monday relating to concealed weapons – one involving handgun permits and the other pertaining to switchblade knives.

The first bill, HB 1582, would have allowed members of the military over the age of 18 to apply for concealed handgun permits if they are on active duty or had an honorable discharge and had received basic training.

The current law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer.

The governor said in his veto message that the bill “reflects an incomplete understanding of weapons qualification practices within our military and is an unwarranted expansion in the number of people allowed to carry handguns in the Commonwealth.”

“It would do nothing to protect the safety of our citizens,” McAuliffe said.

HB 1582 ended up on the governor’s desk after a 78-19 vote in the House of Delegates and a 24-15 vote in the Virginia Senate.

The governor defended the veto by saying that under the bill, “An individual who has completed basic training but who subsequently was disqualified (for medical or other reasons) from having access to weapons could nevertheless apply for a concealed handgun permit.”

McAuliffe said the decision to veto the bill was made after consulting military leadership and isn’t a reflection of his respect and support for the members of the armed forces.

The second bill the governor vetoed, HB 1432, would have legalized the carrying of a concealed switchblade knife “when it is carried for the purpose of engaging in a lawful profession or lawful recreational activity the performance of which is aided by the knife.”

According to the governor’s veto message, “lawful profession” and “recreational activity” are not defined by Virginia law. As a result, McAuliffe said, enforcing the law would be a challenge.

The bill would have also removed switchblades from the list of weapons that are illegal to sell or trade in the commonwealth.

“Legalizing the concealed carry of switchblade knives would needlessly endanger the lives of Virginians,” McAuliffe said.

The bill had passed the House in a 57-39 vote and the Senate with a 23-16 vote.

McAuliffe seeks funding for mental health screenings in jails

By Tyler Hammel, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe urged Virginia legislators on Friday to include in the state budget funding to conduct mental health screenings in jails and to hire investigators to examine suspicious jail deaths.

In a meeting with reporters, McAuliffe addressed a topic that many law enforcement and mental health experts say is critical: About 16 percent of Virginia’s jail inmates were “known or suspected to be mentally ill,” according to a study last June.

“We need someone in those jails who can determine if someone has an issue with mental health,” McAuliffe said at a news briefing. In a letter to legislative leaders, he called on the General Assembly to approve his budget request for $4.2 million “to provide for training of jail staff in mental health screening and to provide grants to jails for mental health assessments.”

McAuliffe also asked for $200,000 for the Virginia Department of Corrections to hire two investigators “to review deaths and other major situations in local and regional jails.”

The request for the investigators was spurred by the death of Jamycheal Mitchell in 2015. Mitchell, who suffered from schizophrenia, was placed in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth after stealing about $5 of snacks from a 7-Eleven. Although a judge ordered that Mitchell, 24, be sent to a psychiatric hospital, he ended up staying in the jail for four months, losing 40 pounds, until he was found dead in his cell.

McAuliffe had asked for money for jail death investigators and mental health services in jails in the proposed budget that he submitted to the General Assembly in December. Both the House and Senate eliminated the money for mental health screenings. The House eliminated both investigator positions; the Senate kept one.

To fund the requests, McAuliffe proposed cutting funding for an upcoming commemoration of historical events at Jamestown. In 2019, the state will mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, as well as the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies.

The budgets being prepared by the House and Senate would provide $10 million for promoting and hosting the commemorative activities. McAuliffe suggested cutting that amount in half, to $5 million.

McAuliffe generally praised House and Senate leaders on the budgets they have crafted. Lawmakers still must work out differences in a conference committee and have both chambers approval a final budget before the legislative session ends Feb. 25.

Legislators must revise the second year of the $105 billion budget that the General Assembly adopted in 2016. That’s because tax revenues fell short of projections, causing a shortfall of more than $1 billion.

Both legislative bodies and McAuliffe agree that state employees and teachers deserve more compensation; however, they have proposed different ways to achieve this.

McAuliffe suggested a one-time, 1.5 percent bonus for state employees. The House and Senate proposed a 3 percent pay raise for state employees, with a targeted increase for state police, Capitol police and sheriff’s deputies.

The Senate budget sets aside about $83 million to give K-12 teachers a 2 percent raise. In contrast, the House proposed taking $62 million from the state lottery and giving to local school boards to use for teacher pensions or salaries.

“While each chamber has chosen its own method for addressing teacher compensation, I applaud both for keeping our teachers in the mix for discussion during conference,” McAuliffe wrote in his letter.

He said education was another area of agreement.

I am especially pleased to see that we agree on the need to protect public education from any programmatic reductions in funding,” McAuliffe’s letter said. “Public education is the backbone of a growing economy and our collective actions have demonstrated its priority and our shared commitment to protect public education from the effects of slow revenue growth.”

In his session with reporters, McAuliffe said Virginia’s budget situation is complicated by uncertainties in Washington over federal funding for Medicaid, the health care program for low-income Americans.

The federal Affordable Care Act encouraged states to expand Medicaid. But President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the ACA. This might involve replacing Medicaid with block grants to the states.

Virginia did not expand Medicaid under the ACA. The non-expansion states might receive smaller block grants than the states that expanded Medicaid, McAuliffe said.

“If they block-grant Medicaid, that is very problematic for the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Gov. McAuliffe vows to veto anti-LGBT legislation

By Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe vowed to veto any bill that discriminates against LGBTQ people at a reception hosted Tuesday night by Equality Virginia. McAuliffe has vetoed 71 bills during his two years as governor, none of which have been overturned.

“It’s not about doing the most vetoes of any governor in Virginia history,” McAuliffe said. “We’re stopping people from doing things that discriminate against people’s basic rights.”

The governor said he had slated another 35 bills for veto this session.

“They’ve slipped a few bills through, but they’re not going to slip through the governor’s office. I’m going to veto them,” said McAuliffe, a Democrat in the final year of his term.

Democrats criticized Republicans for approving SB 1324, which passed the Senate on a 21-19 party-line vote Tuesday.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Grayson. Supporters describe it as a religious freedom bill, saying it would protect people and organizations that oppose same-sex marriages. However, Democrats say the measure would give people and organizations the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.

“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity has absolutely no place in the commonwealth, and I am disappointed that a Republican-majority in the Senate approved SB 1324 today,” said Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor this year.

“I recently took a seven-city tour across the commonwealth that ended in Salem, where I was proud to welcome the NCAA soccer tournament. That championship was relocated from North Carolina, as was the NBA All-Star game and major businesses. To be economically competitive, we have to be open and welcoming to all. I will continue to advocate for equality for all.”

Clay Xix attended the Equality Virginia reception as a representative of Access AIDS Care and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads. Earlier during Equality Virginia’s annual Day of Action, Xix tried to persuade legislators to oppose SB 1324 and a companion bill, HB 2025, sponsored by Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper.

“It’s our people who have been constantly discriminated against time and again – barred access to jobs, one wrong hand motion in an interview and you’re out, one ‘hey, girl, hey’ in the office and you’re fired. I mean, this is what we live with,” Xix said.

Twenty-seven members of the Virginia General Assembly attended the reception, including Del. Mark Levine, D-Fairfax, whose bill prohibiting LGBT discrimination in public employment, public accommodations and housing (HB 2129) was recently defeated in the House. This was the second year in a row Levine has proposed the legislation, and he says it won’t be the last.

“I think it’s really important for the people I represent to know I’m out there fighting even when it’s not going to succeed, because if you give up before you try, you never succeed,” Levine said.

As one of two openly gay men in the Virginia House of Delegates, Levine said such bills are important even when they fail because they can change the way LGBT people are thought of and treated.

“It’s not just about the rare lawsuit,” Levine said. “It’s about having people be confident enough that if they do choose to come out, they’re not going to be kicked out in the street, they’re not going to lose their employment, they’re not going to lose their job.”

Del. Mark Sickles, D-Alexandria, the other openly gay Virginia delegate, also proposed pro-LGBT legislation this session that was defeated in committee. HB 1395would have repealed the statutory prohibitions on same-sex marriages and civil unions in the Code of Virginia, and given the public the opportunity to vote on same-sex marriage in 2018.

Even though the laws Sickles is trying to repeal are no longer valid after the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, his bill was defeated by the House Courts of Justice Committee.

“The only way we’re going to get fair treatment, gay and lesbian people, is to let the people speak out. And it’s not going to be through this gerrymandering system that we have here. The system is rigged – it truly is,” Sickles said.

Gov. McAuliffe addresses Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day

By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Members of Jewish communities from across the state gathered in Richmond on Wednesday to talk to their elected representatives about issues such as religious freedom, anti-Semitism and support for Israel.

It was the 15th year that the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond has hosted Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day. As part of the event, Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave an afternoon speech to the group at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“Our legislators thank us each year for voting and for caring about our system of governance in Virginia,” said Frances Goldman, co-chair of the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee.

“We are proud to continue this tradition with the current administration in Virginia, which has been very supportive of the matters of concern to the metropolitan Richmond Jewish community.”

McAuliffe used the opportunity to boast of his successes as a governor, such as reducing the state’s unemployment rate from 5.4 percent to 3.7 percent. He said the commonwealth would remain welcome and opening.

“I will not tolerate any discrimination against any individual based on religion, sexual orientation – nothing will be tolerated,” McAuliffe said. The governor said his position was not just about acceptance but also about the economy.

“I say this because as a key job creator for the commonwealth, you can’t bring jobs in if you discriminate,” McAuliffe said. “I just got back from the West Coast. I met with Apple, I met with Google, I met with Facebook. I’m going to be clear, folks: They are not bringing a facility to a state that discriminates.”

McAuliffe probably wanted to mention his work against discrimination because it falls within the four primary issues of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. Those issues are:

  • Promoting religious freedom and the separation of church and state
  • Supporting a democratic, strong and peaceful Israel as the homeland and nation-state of the Jewish people
  • Eradicating all forms of racism and anti-Semitism
  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of Jewish agencies, organizations and individuals in the Richmond community and environs

McAuliffe is a supporter of the American Jewish Committee’s Governors United Against BDS campaign. (BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions – economic pressures that some critics of the Israeli government advocating applying on Israel.) In 2016, the governor made a trip to Israel to promote business relations between the commonwealth and the nation-state.

In his speech, McAuliffe criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“It’s not good for Virginia, and it’s clearly not good for Israel,” McAuliffe said. “Discrimination breeds hatred. You can color it any way you want, but when you do that, ISIS is now using this as a recruiting tool.”

However, the day wasn’t all speeches and one-sided listening. Jewish Advocacy Day is about members of the Jewish community meeting one on one with their governmental representatives.

“Overwhelmingly, the day is focused around discussion and cooperation – making sure we have a voice and a relationship that’s a two-way street,” said Doni Fogel, director of Jewish Community Relations and Israel and Overseas Programming for the JCFR.

Jewish Advocacy Day was organized by four groups: the JCFR, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, the Virginia Office of the Jewish Relations Council of Greater Washington and the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula. The event was co-hosted by JCFR and the local Richmond chapter of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

“I’d like to stress the cooperation that exists between the different communities across Virginia,” Fogel said. “There’s a certain impact that 50 people make when they attend meetings, but there’s a different impact when 200 people come together to support advocacy in a united way.”

Advocates applaud governor’s vow to veto anti-’sanctuary’ bills

 

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Advocates for undocumented immigrants are praising Gov. Terry McAuliffe after his promise to veto Republican-backed legislation prohibiting local governments from becoming “sanctuary cities.”

Progress Virginia and New Virginia Majority, which advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants, criticized bills passed by the House and Senate on party-line votes this week. The bills state that localities must not restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws and must cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The governor’s spokesman, Brian Coy, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that McAuliffe would veto any measure forcing localities to enforce federal immigration laws. Coy said the governor views the bills as “attempts to divide and demonize people.”

Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority, praised that statement.

“In the face of attempts from D.C. to divide our communities, it’s more important than ever that we celebrate diversity and remain open and welcoming to immigrants,” Nguyen said.

“People come to America from around the world to seek a better life and flee war, persecution, poverty and so much more. Thank you to Gov. McAuliffe for standing up for every Virginian and pledging to veto these outrageous attacks.”

McAuliffe vowed to veto two immigration-related bills:

  • HB 2000, sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin County, would prohibit any city in the state from declaring itself as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary cities like New York City, Chicago and San Francisco have promised not to cooperate with ICE in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants. The House passed the bill, 66-33, on Tuesday.
  • SB 1262, sponsored by Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, would make a sanctuary city liable for “tortious injury to persons or property caused by an illegal alien within such locality.” The Senate approved the measure, 21-19, on Monday.

In defense of his bill, Black said that he believes sanctuary policies serve as a “shield” for undocumented criminals.

“Under this bill, if you have a jurisdiction that’s deliberately gone out to harbor whatever murderers, robbers, drunk drivers – people who are subject to deportation by federal immigration law, and they set up a shield for them to avoid federal law – then the victims who suffer from that policy will have the opportunity to be reimbursed by that locality,” Black said.

Democratic Sen. Richard Saslaw of Fairfax County disputed Black’s statement.

“The reference that all these counties are harboring all these murderers and armed robbers and rapists and the variety – implying that basically that’s what undocumented people are – to put it mildly is sheer nonsense,” Saslaw said.

Black said the intent of his bill is to make sure federal laws are being enforced.

“What it does is, it prevents the situation that is becoming increasingly common throughout the country, where you have localities that say, ‘We don’t care what the federal law says, we don’t like federal immigration law, and we invite people to come here and we’re going to shield you from legal process,’” Black said.

The governor’s statement to veto such legislation comes days after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, former secretary of the commonwealth under McAuliffe, signed a directive affirming that the Richmond Police Department will not consent to participate with ICE and will not ask suspects and detainees about their immigration status.

“In our interactions as representatives of our city, all employees will focus on the needs and safety of our residents, not on their legal status, and will advocate and promote their wellbeing,” Stoney said in his mayoral directive.

Anna Scholl, executive director for Progress Virginia, said McAuliffe’s promise to veto the anti-sanctuary legislation shows that Virginia will not follow in the footsteps of anti-immigrant policies being put in place by the Trump administration.

“While politicians in D.C. try to slam the door shut on immigrants and refugees, Gov. McAuliffe is clearly standing up to say, ‘You are welcome here,’” Scholl said. “We applaud the governor for rejecting divisive proposals born out of fear that would close our doors to friends and neighbors.”

First veteran hired for Military Medics Program

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe celebrated Monday the announcement of Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen Program’s first hire, Jeffery Filler.

The Virginia MMAC program is the first of its kind in the nation. The program employs veterans, giving them the opportunity to utilize their medical training acquired during active duty service.

“This is important, this is the next step when we talk about what we need to do to make Virginia the most veteran friendly state in American,” McAuliffe said.

This is not a partisan issue, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam said. The bill creating Virginia MMAC was introduced by Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, and passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate during the 2016 General Assembly session.

This is part of a larger effort to make Virginia a veteran- and military-friendly state.

Northam cited previous efforts including the Virginia Values Veterans Program, which aims to train employers on how to recruit, hire and retain veterans.

Virginia’s full-time veteran employment rate is 87.2 percent – the highest in the nation, state officials said. Virginia is also first in veteran labor growth rate, according to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This is a new, innovative pathway, and this is just the beginning,” McAuliffe said.

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare is the first health care system to hire a veteran through the program.

“We understand the value veterans bring to the health care field, and we’re very proud to be a part of that,” said Dr. Alton Stocks, former interim CEO of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare and a former U.S. Navy Medical Corps officer.

Stocks said that when he heard about the program, he knew Chesapeake Regional Healthcare was the perfect place to launch it. The medical center’s staff is about 9 percent veterans, Stocks said.

Filler’s chosen path will be in anesthesia. He will work as an anesthesia technician while earning his civilian certification. Filler served in the United States Navy with distinction. He was honorably discharged in April 2016 just after the governor signed the bill.

“Politicians – a lot of times you see them roll out, they’re at military events, they’re with veterans. A lot of them love to be able to use the flag, our veterans and our active duty at different events. But here in Virginia, we love and honor and respect those who’ve served,” McAuliffe said.

The governor said the program holds special importance to him. He is the father of a Marine and the son of a World War II veteran.

Northam attended Virginia Military Institute and served eight years active-duty in the U.S. Army.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Construction of Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm

~New 100MW solar facility to be built in Southampton County~

RICHMONDToday Governor McAuliffe announced a new utility-scale solar facility to be built in Southampton County. The 100MW project, under development by Community Energy Solar, will avoid the release of 134,377 tons of carbon dioxide, 631 tons of sulfur dioxide, 315 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 12 tons of particulate matter annually.

“Once complete, the new Southampton facility will be the largest solar farm ever constructed in Virginia,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “The pace of solar deployment has increased exponentially in recent years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With projects like this, we’re building both the new Virginia economy and a better future for our children.”

Since 1999, Pennsylvania-based Community Energy Solar has developed more than 1,500MW of solar and wind power. The developer’s past projects include, what was until this point, Virginia’s largest solar installation, the 80MW Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East in Accomack County. Amazon Web Services, a leader in the growing field of cloud computing, will purchase power from both facilities as part of their global effort to achieve carbon neutrality.

Community Energy Solar builds long-term relationships by delivering energy options that work for customers, investors and utilities. Their projects build on community trust and utility expertise to bring reliable, high-quality solar energy projects to market. Community Energy has a ten-year plus track record of renewable energy development, resulting in $1.5 billion of new energy investment.

"Amazon Web Services’ leadership and continued commitment to large scale solar energy is a key catalyst for this exciting new industry in Virginia.” said Brent Beerley, Executive VP of Community Energy Solar. “Community Energy Solar is thrilled to join forces again with partners AWS and Dominion for this second project, following the path created with Virginia’s first large scale solar farm - the Amazon Solar Farm US East in Accomack County.”

McAuliffe boasts Virginia employment records

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – After giving a report at a meeting of the National Governors Association this week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he is proud of how well Virginia is doing economically.

“I just gave the State of the State, and I almost feel bad for those other 49 governors. I don’t know what they do every day because we live in the greatest state in the greatest nation on Earth,” McAuliffe said at the Virginia Municipal League Day at the Capitol.

Virginia has reached its highest level of employment in history, with more than 4.2 million workers in the commonwealth, McAuliffe said.

The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in December, and in 2016, it hit a 40-year low.

“I’m most proud that when I took office, our unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, and we got it all the way down to 3.7,” McAuliffe said. (The unemployment rate was 3.7 percent from May to July in 2016.)

But not every locality has benefited from job growth. While the statewide unemployment rate has been low, areas like Dickenson and Buchanan counties still face jobless rates above 9 percent. Northern Virginia accounts for 37 percent of all employment in Virginia.

A report issued by Old Dominion University in December found that while Virginia’s economy is improving, it has not kept pace with national growth.

McAuliffe said he maintains his commitment to bringing jobs to the state, and there are even jobs that are not being filled. There were 149,000 technology jobs open last year, and currently 36,000 cybersecurity jobs are available.

The governor told parents to guide their children toward the open technology jobs, which have a starting salary of $88,000.

“Next week I have a major announcement, out of a major California corporation that is deserting California and moving their corporate headquarters here,” McAuliffe said in Wednesday’s speech.

He did not reveal the name of the company because of a non-disclosure agreement, but insists it’s a name everyone will know.

Republicans don’t think the governor has done such a good job with the economy. They note that Virginia has fallen on the list of the best states for business. GOP lawmakers have called for legislation that they say would help restore the commonwealth’s No. 1 ranking.

McAuliffe says the key to bringing jobs to Virginia is to ensure that Virginia remains an open and welcoming state.

“I hope we have a good General Assembly session here. I’m going to veto some bills. Obviously I’m going to veto any bill that discriminates anybody. You know there’s an abortion bill – I’m going to veto that,” McAuliffe said.

This is not the first time McAuliffe has vowed to veto discriminatory or divisive bills. He previously stated his commitment to vetoing the HB 1473, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. The bill is pending before a House committee.

McAuliffe boasts a 71-0 record on vetoes. He said this will not be the year the General Assembly starts overriding his vetoes.

“I will be very clear, folks, you have zero chance of getting a business to come to your state if you put walls up around your state. Leave people alone. Be open and welcoming to everybody,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe Vows to Veto Anti-Abortion Bills

By Jessica Nolte and Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke Thursday in support of legislation proposed by members of the Women’s Health Care Caucus and vowed to veto bills he believes would endanger women’s reproductive rights.

McAuliffe said legislators should learn from controversies in North Carolina following the passage of what he called “socially divisive bills.” McAuliffe said he told the General Assembly not to send him these types of bills because they have no chance of becoming law.

“I have sent a strong message already. They have an abortion bill, a 20-week abortion bill, that was signed on by, I think, eight members of the General Assembly. I have made it very clear I will veto it. That bill has zero chance of becoming law in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe also criticized the “Day of Tears” resolution, passed by the House on Wednesday, to make the anniversary of Roe v. Wade a day of mourning in Virginia.

The governor said the resolution signals that Virginia is not open or welcoming. He said it alienates women and sends a message around the United States that Virginia does not treat women with respect. The Day of Tears resolution is not a law so it cannot be vetoed by the governor.

Members of the Women’s Health Care Caucus thanked the governor and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a fellow Democrat, for their continued support of women’s health care rights.

Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, recalled when Republican legislators proposed a bill requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound exam before having an abortion. Favola said it was Northam, a physician, who gave senators a health lesson and helped show that the bill met the state’s definition of rape.

“It sure is terrific to have a wall in the governor’s mansion, but we can’t be sure that’s going to continue so we have to do everything we can now,” said Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax.

The Virginia General Assembly has proposed more than 75 restrictions on women’s reproductive health care since 2010, said Democratic Del. Jennifer Boysko, who represents Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

“Laws that restrict a woman’s access to abortion harm the very women they claim to help,” Boysko said.

Safe and legal abortions are vital to comprehensive reproductive health care for women and must be protected, Boysko said.

“Virginia laws restricting access to abortion create sharp disparities in access to care that are troubling, reminiscent of the time before Roe v. Wade,” Boysko said. “A time when access depended on a woman’s economic status, her race, where she lives or her ability to travel to another state.”

The caucus has proposed several bills to protect women’s reproductive health, including:

  • HB 1563, which would remove classifications that require facilities that perform at least five first-trimester abortions a month to comply with minimum standards for hospitals.
  • HB 2186, which would ensure that women have a fundamental right to a lawful abortion and that no statute or regulation would prohibit an abortion prior to the fetus’ viability or to protect the health or life of the woman.
  • HB 2267, which would require health benefit plans to cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives to be dispensed at one time.

Republicans are pursuing measures reflecting their pro-life stance. The House is considering a bill (HB 1473) that generally would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks. The 20-week cutoff was chosen because that’s approximately when a fetus begins to feel pain, said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock.

“I know that there’s always an attempt to frame this as purely a women’s health issue, but for those of us who are adamantly pro-life, this is also a baby’s health issue,” Gilbert said.

The bill provides exceptions only for a medical condition that could cause death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment, not including psychological or emotional conditions.

When asked about the bills supported by the Women’s Health Care Caucus, Jeff Ryer, spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus, said that he could not comment without knowing the specifics of the legislation.

“All that being said, generally speaking the 21 members of the Senate Republican Caucus are pro-life and vote accordingly,” Ryer said.

Gov. McAuliffe to Join March on Washington

By Jessica Nolte and Megan Schiffres, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, when thousands of people are expected to protest Donald Trump’s presidency.

McAuliffe said that he will not attend Trump’s inauguration on Friday but that he has written a letter to the incoming U.S. president and looks forward to working with him on issues that matter to Virginia.

“I will be here working all day doing what the taxpayers are paying me to do, and on Saturday I do have a little free time in the morning, so I will use that time to go up to Washington to do the march,” McAuliffe said Thursday.

McAuliffe said he hopes his presence at the march will send a strong signal to everyone that Virginia is open to everyone. He hopes it will encourage people to move their businesses and their families to the commonwealth.

“Women’s rights have been something that have been fundamental to the core of my being,” McAuliffe said.

His announcement came during a press conference for the Women’s Health Care Caucus. At the event, the governor vowed to veto any bill that he believes would undermine the reproductive rights of Virginia women. McAuliffe criticized Republican proposals that would restrict abortion rights and a resolution passed by the House to declare a day of mourning in Virginia on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

McAuliffe said he will be marching in Washington alongside his wife Dorothy, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington say they hope to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”The permit application for the march estimated that the event would draw about 200,000 participants.

Ricky Gray Scheduled for Execution Wednesday

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe has denied the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia’s clemency request on behalf of death row inmate Ricky Javon Gray.

Gray’s execution by lethal injection is scheduled for Wednesday.

“Mr. Gray was convicted in a fair and impartial trial, and a jury sentenced him to death in accordance with Virginia law,” McAuliffe said.

The Virginia Department of Corrections will carry out the execution as planned unless a court intervenes.

The ACLU-VA sent a letter to McAuliffe on behalf of Gray on Friday. The letter requested Gray’s sentence be changed to life without parole.

“The ACLU of Virginia is saddened and disappointed that Gov. McAuliffe has chosen to allow the Department of Corrections to execute a human being,” Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU-VA, said in a statement Tuesdsay. “Execution is a cruel and, increasingly unusual, punishment and is never the correct response to any crime, no matter how abhorrent.”

Gray’s attorneys have filed an emergency stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court after 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied their request.

Governor McAuliffe Pushes for Easier Voting

By Julie Rothey, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Currently, to vote absentee in Virginia, you must cite a specific excuse, such as attending college or having a disability.

But if Gov. Terry McAuliffe has his way, the state would expand the list of excuses to include people caring for children or for an ill or disabled individual and anyone without reliable transportation. Better yet, McAuliffe says, Virginians should be able to vote absentee without having to give an excuse.

McAuliffe is urging the General Assembly to approve those proposals during the legislative session that began Wednesday.

The Democratic governor, in the final year of his term, discussed the proposals at a news conference Tuesday. “These reforms will make it easier for Virginians to have a say in their democracy and boost their confidence that politicians are working for the public good, not their own,” he said.

Right now, to vote absentee in person, a voter must meet one of “13 arbitrary rules” that also apply to mail-in absentee voting, McAuliffe said. For example, caregivers must be related to the individual they care for to vote absentee under current law.

Besides expanding the list of excuses to vote absentee, McAuliffe urged lawmakers to approve “no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.” He called for “legislation that permits any registered voter of the commonwealth to vote absentee in-person beginning 21 days before an election until 5 p.m. on the Saturday before the election,” with the same check-in procedures as on Election Day.

McAuliffe also said he wants to repeal Virginia’s photo identification requirements for voters.

Those who passed this law “hung on the charade of voter fraud,” McAuliffe said. But he added, “Here in the commonwealth of Virginia, there is not a shred of voter fraud evidence.”

Republicans have strongly supported requiring voters to show a photo ID. Ed Gillespie, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in this year’s election, criticized McAuliffe’s proposal to eliminate the photo ID mandate.

McAuliffe’s recommendation “is out-of-step with the people of the commonwealth,” Gillespie said in a news release Tuesday.

The photo identification requirement “secures the integrity of our elections and guarantees fair and equitable ballot access for all voters, despite the alarmist and false rhetoric of some,” Gillespie said. He promised to protect the existing law if he were elected governor.

Several Democratic lawmakers have submitted legislation to carry out McAuliffe’s proposals to make voting easier:

●     Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Arlington is sponsoring House Bill 1603, which would entitle “a person to vote absentee if the person is unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because he is primarily and personally responsible for the care of an ill or disabled individual who is confined at home.”

●     Del. Betsy Carr of Richmond is sponsoring HB 1935, to establish no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.

●     Sen. Janet Howell of Reston has filed Senate Bill 845, to expand absentee voting for caregivers, and SB 844, to provide for no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.

●     Del. Steve Heretick of Portsmouth has submitted a bill (HB 1904) to repeal the requirement that voters show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, thanked the governor for pushing to end the voter identification requirement. But she asked for a greater reduction in absentee voting restrictions.

“If Virginia law limits no-excuse absentee voting to in-person only, qualified voters may be excluded from participating based upon a lack of readily accessible transportation, geography, income status, physical disabilities, and the constraints of modern-day individuals and families," she said in a letter to McAuliffe.

First lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam also spoke at the news conference. Northam, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, stressed his desire for a bipartisan effort to make it easier to vote.

However, this cooperation seems unlikely as two Republican lawmakers are seeking to expand the photo identification requirement to Virginians who want to vote absentee by mail.

HB 1428 by Del. Buddy Fowler of Ashland and SB 872 by Sen. Amanda Chase of Midlothian would require “any voter submitting an application for an absentee ballot by mail or by electronic or telephonic transmission to a facsimile device to submit with his application a copy of one of the forms of identification acceptable under current law.”

“The bill also requires any voter to submit a copy of such identification with his voted absentee ballot. The bill exempts military and overseas voters and persons with a disability from these requirements,” according to the Legislative Information Service.

Governor McAuliffe Urges Virginians to Prepare for Major Winter Storm

RICHMOND –Governor Terry McAuliffe today urged Virginians to prepare for a major winter storm, which could result in up to one foot of snow in southeast Virginia, with snowfall totals in other areas of the state ranging from one to ten inches. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph and freezing temperatures are expected and heavy snow could result in power outages on Saturday as well.

“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are unable to leave their homes, as well as family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.”

“Our public safety agencies are taking actions now to respond to this winter storm,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Virginia Emergency Support Team, coordinated by VDEM, is working with our local government partners to preposition resources and additional capabilities to ensure the safety of residents across Virginia.”

“VDOT has been pre-treating roads in advance of the storm.  We are prepared with crews, equipment and materials and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles. Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking and when you expect to arrive so that if something happens while traveling, someone knows where to send assistance.
  • Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • If you have power-dependent medical equipment, make sure all batteries and extra batteries are fully charged. Know where to go if you lose power during or after the storm. If you aren’t sure where to go, dial 2-1-1 for a list of shelters or charging stations that may be open in your area.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 7-1-1 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • Download the free Ready Virginia mobile app at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/additional-resources/mobileapp.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 mobile app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

- See more at: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18799#sthash.7KVS6Ius.dpuf

 

Governor McAuliffe Urges Virginians to Prepare for Major Winter Storm

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today urged Virginians to prepare for a major winter storm, which could result in up to one foot of snow in southeast Virginia, with snowfall totals in other areas of the state ranging from one to ten inches. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph and freezing temperatures are expected and heavy snow could result in power outages on Saturday as well.

“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are unable to leave their homes, as well as family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.”

“Our public safety agencies are taking actions now to respond to this winter storm,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Virginia Emergency Support Team, coordinated by VDEM, is working with our local government partners to preposition resources and additional capabilities to ensure the safety of residents across Virginia.”

“VDOT has been pre-treating roads in advance of the storm.  We are prepared with crews, equipment and materials and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles. Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking and when you expect to arrive so that if something happens while traveling, someone knows where to send assistance.
  • Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • If you have power-dependent medical equipment, make sure all batteries and extra batteries are fully charged. Know where to go if you lose power during or after the storm. If you aren’t sure where to go, dial 2-1-1 for a list of shelters or charging stations that may be open in your area.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 7-1-1 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • Download the free Ready Virginia mobile app at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/additional-resources/mobileapp.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 mobile app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

- See more at: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18799#sthash.7KVS6Ius.dpuf

Governor McAuliffe Urges Virginians to Prepare for Major Winter Storm

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today urged Virginians to prepare for a major winter storm, which could result in up to one foot of snow in southeast Virginia, with snowfall totals in other areas of the state ranging from one to ten inches. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph and freezing temperatures are expected and heavy snow could result in power outages on Saturday as well.

“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are unable to leave their homes, as well as family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.”

“Our public safety agencies are taking actions now to respond to this winter storm,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Virginia Emergency Support Team, coordinated by VDEM, is working with our local government partners to preposition resources and additional capabilities to ensure the safety of residents across Virginia.”

“VDOT has been pre-treating roads in advance of the storm.  We are prepared with crews, equipment and materials and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles. Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking and when you expect to arrive so that if something happens while traveling, someone knows where to send assistance.
  • Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • If you have power-dependent medical equipment, make sure all batteries and extra batteries are fully charged. Know where to go if you lose power during or after the storm. If you aren’t sure where to go, dial 2-1-1 for a list of shelters or charging stations that may be open in your area.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 7-1-1 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • Download the free Ready Virginia mobile app at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/additional-resources/mobileapp.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 mobile app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

- See more at: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18799#sthash.7KVS6Ius.dpuf

Governor McAuliffe Urges Virginians to Prepare for Major Winter Storm

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today urged Virginians to prepare for a major winter storm, which could result in up to one foot of snow in southeast Virginia, with snowfall totals in other areas of the state ranging from one to ten inches. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph and freezing temperatures are expected and heavy snow could result in power outages on Saturday as well.

“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are unable to leave their homes, as well as family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.”

“Our public safety agencies are taking actions now to respond to this winter storm,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Virginia Emergency Support Team, coordinated by VDEM, is working with our local government partners to preposition resources and additional capabilities to ensure the safety of residents across Virginia.”

“VDOT has been pre-treating roads in advance of the storm.  We are prepared with crews, equipment and materials and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles. Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking and when you expect to arrive so that if something happens while traveling, someone knows where to send assistance.
  • Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • If you have power-dependent medical equipment, make sure all batteries and extra batteries are fully charged. Know where to go if you lose power during or after the storm. If you aren’t sure where to go, dial 2-1-1 for a list of shelters or charging stations that may be open in your area.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 7-1-1 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • Download the free Ready Virginia mobile app at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/additional-resources/mobileapp.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 mobile app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

- See more at: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18799#sthash.7KVS6Ius.dpuf

Governor McAuliffe Urges Virginians to Prepare for Major Winter Storm

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today urged Virginians to prepare for a major winter storm, which could result in up to one foot of snow in southeast Virginia, with snowfall totals in other areas of the state ranging from one to ten inches. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph and freezing temperatures are expected and heavy snow could result in power outages on Saturday as well.

“With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please check on neighbors, especially the elderly and those who are unable to leave their homes, as well as family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.”

“Our public safety agencies are taking actions now to respond to this winter storm,” stated Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Virginia Emergency Support Team, coordinated by VDEM, is working with our local government partners to preposition resources and additional capabilities to ensure the safety of residents across Virginia.”

“VDOT has been pre-treating roads in advance of the storm.  We are prepared with crews, equipment and materials and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles. Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking and when you expect to arrive so that if something happens while traveling, someone knows where to send assistance.
  • Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • If you have power-dependent medical equipment, make sure all batteries and extra batteries are fully charged. Know where to go if you lose power during or after the storm. If you aren’t sure where to go, dial 2-1-1 for a list of shelters or charging stations that may be open in your area.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 7-1-1 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • Download the free Ready Virginia mobile app at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/additional-resources/mobileapp.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 mobile app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

- See more at: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18799#sthash.7KVS6Ius.dpuf

New Laws Will Help Rape Victims, Officials Say

DSC_7778

 

By Rachel Beatrice, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday formally signed four bills that supporters say will increase protections for victims of sexual assaults.

In a crowded room hosted by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, McAuliffe signed:

  • Senate Bill 291 and House Bill 1160, which seek to ensure that rape evidence kits are tested promptly.
  • SB 248, which will allow minors to consent to an evidence recovery examination over the objections of a parent or guardian – a critical option when the adult may be the perpetrator
  • HB 1102, which aims to improve support and treatment for sexual assault survivors on college campuses

“The bills Gov. McAuliffe is signing today are truly game changers in the way Virginia treats survivors of sexual violence and the way we help them pursue justice,” Attorney General Mark Herring told the audience. “It is a long overdue overhaul of the way we conduct investigations and handle evidence.”

Last year, an audit by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science discovered that more than 2,300 rape kits remained untested – some dating to 1988, Herring said.

Sen. Richard Black, R-Leesburg, attended the signing ceremony. He sponsored SB 291.

“Suppression of violent crimes and especially of rape has been central to my career,” Black said. “And as the former head of the Pentagon’s Criminal Law Division, I will tell you that I am quite confident that SB 291 will save lives, and it will protect many, many women from sexual assault.”

The Virginia Department of Forensic Science currently processes more than 700 cases annually. McAuliffe said the new legislation would double the number of tests performed each year.

In addition, “the new state budget will include $900,000 annually to hire six new DNA examiners,” the governor said.

Herring said the goal is to address the current problem and prevent it from recurring. “Once we get the backlog cleared out, this new bill should ensure that Virginia never finds itself in that situation again.”

The new laws, which take effect July 1, also address situations in which the sexual assault survivor choses not to report the offense to law enforcement. In those circumstances, McAuliffe said, “The evidence will be stored for two years. For cases that are reported to law enforcement, the legislation requires that the evidence be sent for analysis within 60 days.”

Allowing rape kits to remain untested not only denies swift justice for the rape survivor but this also fails to protect other women.

Governor McAuliffe sets September as National Preparedness Month in Virginia

Join America’s PrepareAthon! by taking action to prepare for emergencies

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe has recognized September as National Preparedness Month in Virginia, calling on families, business owners and communities to take specific steps to be ready for emergencies.

“Most Virginians know they should be prepared for emergencies, but they haven’t completed an emergency plan or participated in an exercise or drill to test their plan,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “It’s never too late to get ready, so I encourage all our people to take at least one action during September to make sure our families, businesses and communities are prepared for the next emergency.”

Among the most important actions people can take toward disaster preparedness are:

  • Sign up for text alerts/weather warnings that may be offered by your locality.Download the free Ready Virginia app for iPhone® and Android™.  Features:Weather warnings issued for your location by the National Weather ServiceA customizable emergency plan that can be easily shared with family and friendsA checklist for gathering emergency suppliesCreate a family emergency communications plan. Decide how and where everyone will meet up with each other if separatedChoose an out-of-town emergency contact for your family and give that person’s phone number to each family memberMake a sheet of emergency contacts and post it in visible places in your home and workplace.  Don’t rely on your smart phone or online contact lists.Get a free emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.ListoVirginia.gov or use the new Ready Virginia app.Talk to an insurance agent about flood insurance.Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding; renters and business owners also can get flood insurance.Just one inch of water in a mid-size home or office can mean $20,000 in repairs.Go to www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for more information.www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit/disabilities

This year, National Preparedness Month features a day set aside specifically for taking actions to get prepared for emergencies. September 30 has been designated America’s PrepareAthon! Day.  To sign up for America’s PrepareAthon! go towww.ready.gov/prepare and register how you will take action to prepare in September.

Virginia Inaguration Shrouded in History and Tradition

We all know that an event like Inauguration Day is a pretty big deal; weather it is for the President or a Governor, everything changes on that day.  While the White House staff spends a January morning every four (or eight) years moving President out of the house and another President into the house during the course of a few speeches and a parade, things are a little different here in Virginia. 

Inauguration Day in Virginia is full of Pomp and Circumstance, Military Bands and official functions.  Men wear Morning Dress (as prescribed by the Constitution of Virginia), and women wear fancy hats.  There is a Prayer Breakfast at St. John's, a motorcade from the Jefferson, a lot of build up for the swearing in of the Commonwealth's top three officials and a speech.  All of this is followed by a Parade for the new Governor.

What most of us don't know is that Virginia Governors have a sense of humor, too, and traditionally leave little pranks for the new Governor.  Mark Warner left a cardborad cutout of himself in the shower to surprise Tim Kaine (it is mentioned in many articles about Gubernatorial Pranks that the cardboard cutout was clothed, like we would suspect otherwise).  Tim Kaine left cell phones hidden in the Executive Mansion to perturb Bob McDonnell.  What Bob McDonnell left for Terry McAuliffe, though, takes the cake.  Not only was there an alarm clock hidden in a drawer, set to make all kinds of noise at four in the morning, but the new Governor was greeted by a full size stuffed bear when he opened the bathroom door.

 

 

The Bear, from a display in the Patrick Henry Building has been returned home safely.  Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office.

Local Citizens Attend Inauguration Ceremony and Richmond Inaugural Ball

On Saturday, January 11, despite the rain and wind, several citizens from Emporia, Brunswick,  Sussex and Southampton attended the swearing in of the Commonwealth of Virginia's 72nd Governor, Terrence R. McAuliffe.  Also sworn in were the new Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.  The short ceremony, which is actually a Joint Session of the General Assembly, was followed by a Native American blessing, performed by seven of Virginia's Tribes and a Parade. 

Everyone gathered again that evening for the Richmond Inaugural Ball at VCU's Siegal Center.  Those in attendance were George Morrison, Chair of the Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee; Delegate Roslyn Tyler;  Rufus Tyler; Yvonne Rose, Chair of the Southampton County Democratic Committee (and former LA for Delegate Tyler); and Cyliene Montgomery, Member of Brunswick County Democratic Committee.

McAuliffe Inauguration Renews Campaign Promises

By James Galloway, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Tight security and steady rain Saturday did not dampen the spirit or the campaign promises of Democrat Terry McAuliffe as he became Virginia’s 72nd governor.

McAuliffe, who has never held elected office, won this past November’s nationally watched election against conservative, Tea Party-endorsed Republican candidate Ken CuccinelliMcAuliffe succeeds Republican Bob McDonnell as governor.

McAuliffe’s national supporters include President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, for whom McAuliffe raised funds.  Clinton was in prominent attendance at the inauguration, as were his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

McAuliffe took the oath of office in a formal morning suit from Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser.  The entire event took place in front of the historic Capitol building designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1785 to resemble a Roman temple.

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell, R-Fredericksburg, opened the ceremony by reminding the audience of about 1,500 people they were not supposed to be using umbrellas.  Members of the audience were searched by security -- men in trench coats and flat-brimmed hats -- sometimes more than once at the same checkpoint.

“Members and guests are reminded that you’re not supposed to be using your umbrellas,” Howell said, as it rained, heavily at times. “But if you don’t think you’re blocking anybody else’s view, it’s OK with me.”

McAuliffe’s inaugural address echoed themes from his campaign, including expansion of Medicaid, women’s rights and gay rights.  “The Virginia way” is the national model for fiscal discipline,” McAuliffe said. “We are one of the best states to do business because we have worked together to minimize regulations and to keep taxes low.”  He also called the commonwealth’s business model “a tradition we should be so proud of.”

McAuliffe thanked former Gov. McDonnell for his leadership, noting a smooth transition into his first day as governor.  Near the end of the speech, McAuliffe reminded the public that he was about to issue an executive order putting a $100 limit on gifts to himself and other politicians.  After the ceremony, McAuliffe signed Executive Order No. 1, prohibiting workplace discrimination, with new protections for transgender people.

McAuliffe previously had told a room of reporters in December that he “would be inclined” to issue an additional executive order allowing fee waivers for Freedom of Information Act requests that fall under the “public good.” Such provisions exist in federal law but not in Virginia law.  Such an executive order would protect the public from prohibitive costs associated with filing a FOIA request, which can have a chilling effect on disclosure.

The new governor is facing a 20-20 Republican-Democrat split in the Virginia Senate.  He noted the value of bipartisan consensus, and again congratulated McDonnell on a job well done, referencing a major transportation bill passed with bipartisan support the previous year.

A 19-gun salute by the Virginia Army National Guard, airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard and members of the Virginia Defense Force preceded a series of appearances by religious leaders, who blessed the inauguration with ceremonial dance and speeches.

Representatives from Virginia’s 11 American Indian tribes performed a blessing march and stopped to play drums in front of the governor. Rabbi Jack Moline of the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria gave McAuliffe his blessing in a speech.

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