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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

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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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