As the country emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, small businesses are doing better, according to a March report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). However, uncertainty about the next few months for business owners is still high, and businesses are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill positions.
“Virginia’s small businesses are working hard on their recovery but are struggling to find the right workers to fill open positions,” NFIB Virginia State Director Nicole Riley said in a Wednesday press release Read More
Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) agrees that schools need to be reopened immediately. But he says that’s not enough — policymakers need to address learning losses. Districts like Fairfax County have reported spikes in failing grades. Parents and medical studies have expressed concern over the long-term harms caused by a year of virtual learning. Cox is calling for tutoring programs to help students recover academically, and he says he is willing to be one of those tutors. Read More
New polling data shows former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the lead with 42 percent, while his closest opponents, Jennifer Carroll Foy and Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) both had 8 percent support, while 29 percent of voters remain undecided. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manasses) came in with seven percent and four percent respectively, placing all the candidates except McAuliffe within range of each other, given the 4.3 percent margin of error. Public Policy Polling conducted the interviews of 526 likely Democratic primary voters on April 12 and 13. Read More
The Virginia Department of Education announced a new set of guidelines for school reopening, the result of a workgroup created in February. The guidelines include recommendations for remediating learning loss, note that virtual learning doesn’t work for every students, calls for special attention for vulnerable populations, and say that more staff may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios low. Read More
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has followed through on plans to grant Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj a smaller funding increase than requested. On April 6, the supervisors finalized the budget that only approves adding four positions for the office. Biberaj had asked for up to 12 new positions, but supervisors worried about high turnover within the office and said their constituents were complaining about Biberaj not taking enough domestic violence cases to trial, leaving women victim’s in danger. Read More
Stand Up Virginia held a rally outside the Fairfax County Government Center on Tuesday evening announcing the launch of an effort to recall Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano. About 75 people attended the event, according to Stand Up Virginia President Brenda Tillett, who said she had also heard from supporters who couldn’t attend due to government jobs. Read More
The Virginia State Police (VSP) are investigating the December traffic stop of Army officer Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who was pepper sprayed by officers from the Town of Windsor, according to press releases from Town Manager William Saunders. In a Sunday evening press release, Saunders announced that Officer Joe Gutierrez, one of the officers from the stop, had been fired. The incident has become a subject of statements by candidates for public office. It has also drawn the attention of Governor Ralph Northam, who said he was ordering a VSP investigation, and Attorney General Mark Herring. Read More
Progressive non-profit Clean Virginia announced its endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carrol Foy, backed by a pledge of $500,000 from the group’s PAC. Clean Virginia, known for its anti-utility advocacy, features a pledge for politicians to declare they will not accept campaign money from or own stock in Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power. Read More
Every year, the U.S. Congress holds an art competition for high school students sponsored by the Congressional Institute; winners are selected from each congressional district and their art is displayed in the Capitol for the next year.
“The Artistic Discovery Contest is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the nation, as well as in our congressional district,” states an announcement from Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-03). Read More
Governor Ralph Northam endorsed his predecessor to be his successor. Gubernatorial candidate and former Governor Terry McAuliffe received Northam’s endorsement in a week with several key gubernatorial endorsements. On Thursday, the governor appeared with the former governor in Norfolk.
“We need a leader that can continue this progress. We need a leader that will bring us out of COVID-19, a leader that will help small businesses. A leader that will promote equity in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Terry McAuliffe will do that,” Northam said. Read More
Former Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene is suing the City of Portsmouth and Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), along with several other civic leaders and current and former city officials. Former City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton placed Greene on leave in the wake of a June protest at the Portsmouth monument that led to Greene’s department filing felony charges, later dropped, against Lucas. Greene was finally terminated in November. Her lawsuit bundles multiple complaints against multiple figures. Read More
Gubernatorial candidate Pete Snyder appeared on a Fox Business segment with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday, where he discussed reopening schools, reopening the economy, and criticized legislators for legalizing marijuana. Read More
Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is firing more claims of corruption at her gubernatorial opponent Pete Snyder and Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) officials, based on Snyder’s campaign hiring staffers with roles in the RPV. Snyder’s campaign and some RPV officials say the claims are baseless. Read More
Democrats approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal for an investigation into a 2020 investigation of the Virginia Parole Board. In Wednesday’s veto session, legislators passed a Northam budget amendment funding a $250,000 investigation into the 2020 Vincent Martin parole investigation. Although both Republicans and Democrats have been calling for a new investigation, Republicans said the proposal was too narrow and criticized the decision to allow the Attorney General any oversight. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia Simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be legal in Virginia, effective July 1. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly approved Governor Ralph Northam’s proposal to expedite legalization from 2024 to later this year. But legislators warned that doesn’t mean there will be a marijuana free-for-all. Read More
The five Democratic candidates for governor met for the first televised debate on Tuesday evening where they discussed issues including the economic crisis, gun violence, marijuana legalization, the Virginia Parole Board, and vaccine hesitancy. For the most part, the candidates stuck to discussing their own policies, but occasionally turned to attack perceived front-runner McAuliffe. Read More
The Roanoke City Council is considering a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags, like grocery store or convenience store bags. On Monday, the Council agreed to schedule a public hearing on April 19.
The tax was legalized by the 2020 General Assembly. HB 534, introduced by Delegate Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), and SB 11, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), authorize localities to enact five-cent taxes on disposable plastic bags and require the localities to use revenue from the tax for environmental cleanup and to provide re-usable bags. Read More
After the State Corporation Commission (SCC) denied Appalachian Power Company (APC) a rate increase, the company is appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court, according to a notice of appeal filed with the SCC Monday. The company requested a rate change last year, but the SCC has reiterated its denial of the request on March 26. Read More
While the General Assembly passed some landmark progressive legislation in the 2021 session, including a death penalty repeal, one expected criminal justice reform died at the last minute. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) renewed calls for ending mandatory minimum sentences, except for murder of law enforcement officers, at a Monday press conference. Read More
A federal court heard a motion to dismiss Senator Amanda Chase’s (R-Chesterfield) lawsuit over censure on Thursday. The arguments took hours, and the judge said he would take some time to consider the motion before issuing a ruling on whether the suit can go forward, according to an update from Chase and her lawyer Tim Anderson.
The motion to dismiss argues that censure is a political question outside the jurisdiction of the court, and that the defendants — the Senate and Senate Clerk Susan Schaar — have sovereign immunity. However, Anderson argued that Chase was censured for things she had said, making the censure a violation of her First Amendment rights. Read More
The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that Charlottesville can remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and a statue of Stonewall Jackson from its parks. In February 2017, the city chose to remove the Lee statue, triggering a lawsuit. Then, in the wake of the violent Unite the Right rally, the city reaffirmed its decision to remove the Lee statue and to remove the Jackson statue as well, according to court documents. Read More
Governor Ralph Northam announced the signing of 14 bills on Wednesday, March 31, which was a deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly sessions. According to his announcement, took action on 552 bills with no vetoes, although he sent some back to the General Assembly with amendments. Read More
Redistricting for Virginia’s legislative districts will not be complete in time for the 2021 House of Delegates elections, according to a draft timeline presented at a Virginia Redistricting Commission (VRC) meeting Tuesday. Census data is not expected until mid-August, which starts a 45-day timeline for the commission to send completed House and Senate maps to the General Assembly. As a result, Virginia may have House of Delegates races three years in a row: 2021, 2022 based on new districts, and the regularly scheduled 2023 election. Read More
Senator Amanda Chase, candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, says she will run as an independent if Pete Snyder is nominated. Chase appeared on The Jeff Katz Show on Tuesday, where she said that the convention process selected by the Republican Party of Virginia is rigged.
“After all the conventions that I participated in for over a decade, I can tell you, that these conventions are rigged. It’s voter suppression,” Chase said. Read More
The investigation into the Virginia Parole Board will be investigated, if legislators approve a proposal from Governor Ralph Northam. On Wednesday, Northam finalized his amendments to a budget passed by the Virginia General Assembly, including money for an investigation. Read More
Marijuana legalization is back on track for July, after Governor Ralph Northam announced amendments to legalization legislation. In February, legislators surprised marijuana policy watchers by delaying the effective date of legalization until 2024, leading the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to blast the bills as worse than nothing. Since then, legalization advocates have lobbied Northam to amend the legislation to go into effect in July, when most other recently-passed bills take effect. Read More
The Family Foundation is suing the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) over its Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. The model policies took effect March 6, 2021, and school boards must adopt policies consistent with the model by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. However, the Family Foundation says there are legal problems with the policies and that the VDOE did not properly address comments made during a legally required public comment phase. Read More
New U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Congressman Don Beyer (D-Virginia-08) joined Governor Ralph Northam at Alexandria’s Amtrak station Tuesday. Northam announced a partnership with Amtrak, CSX and the Virginia Rail Express (VRE). The partnership includes a $3.7 billion investment into expanding infrastructure, funded by Amtrak, state, and regional partners. Read More
President Biden signed Congressman Ben Cline’s (R-Virginia-06) HR 1651, the COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act on Saturday, which extends a $7.5 million debt cap on bankruptcies taking advantage of a more cost-effective bankruptcy option provided by Cline’s 2019 Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA). Read More
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has decided to give Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj a smaller budget increase than requested amid concerns over high turnover in Biberaj’s office and her handling of domestic violence cases. In recent budget work sessions, supervisors cited a statistic that out of 735 cases, Biberaj’s office dismissed 491 cases. As an elected official, Biberaj herself is not under the authority of the board, but the county contributes a significant portion of her office’s budget. Read More
The University of Richmond (UR) has decided it will not remove from campus buildings the names of founding President Robert Ryland, who enslaved people, and former University of Richmond Rector Douglas Southall Freeman, who promoted segregation and supported eugenics. Read More
Seven gubernatorial candidates successfully filed for the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) nomination convention to be held May 8, the RPV announced Friday. Six candidates filed to run for lieutenant governor, and four candidates filed for the attorney general race. Read More
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has endorsed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Pete Snyder. On Thursday, the Snyder campaign posted a video call between Snyder and Sanders on YouTube.
In the video, Sanders said Snyder was a strong Trump supporter who would fight for schools and businesses to be open. Read More
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia-07) reintroduced the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act on Tuesday. The bill, HR 2171, allows tax-advantaged 529 education savings accounts to be used to pay for tuition, exam, and supplies for technical education. Spanberger was joined by cosponsors including Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Virginia-01), Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan-06) and Congressman Dean Philips (D-Minnesota-03.) Read More
Four Democratic candidates for governor blasted their GOP counterparts in a joint statement Thursday.
“Last week, the entire Republican field took their complete embrace of Donald Trump a step beyond the far right extremism that has become the norm in the Virginia GOP,” wrote candidates Jennifer Carroll Foy, Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas), Terry McAuliffe, and Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond.) Read More
Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker drew attention this week with a graphic poem on social media comparing her city to a rapist. Read More
GoFundMe has taken down Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT) Founder Scott Mineo’s page, meant to help fund his efforts to fight critical race theory implementation in Loudoun County Public Schools. He said that GoFundMe didn’t say why it were removed his posts, but he has a guess.
“Because I’m anti-[critical race theory], that’s it,” he said. Read More
Virginia became the first state in the south to abolish the death penalty when Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he signed twin death-penalty repeal bills introduced by Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) and Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). Virginia joins 22 other states that have also repealed the death penalty. Read More
Governor Ralph Northam signed a ban on executive branch state agencies using single-use plastics. On Tuesday, he announced Executive Order 77 at the Environment Virginia Symposium held at Virginia Military Institute. He also announced the signing of Delegate Betsy Carr’s (D-Richmond) food vendor Styrofoam ban bill. Read More
Outdoor wedding venue Belle Garden Estate (BGE) appeared in court Wednesday in a lawsuit against Governor Ralph Northam. BGE’s lawyer Tim Anderson argued that Northam’s executive orders violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, since religious weddings have no capacity limits, but secular weddings are capped by executive order. Northam’s lawyer argued that the right to have a wedding is not infringed, just the capacity allowed at a wedding. BGE sought an injunction blocking enforcement of executive orders that limit wedding venues differently from other businesses. Read More
Republican Travis Hackworth won the 38th Senate District seat in a special election held Tuesday. Hackworth will fill a seat left vacant when Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell) died of COVID-19 early in 2021.
“We were hoping for a 70-30 victory and to hit 75 percent, it’s just amazing. It just shows how the people in the 38th District are still conservative Republicans that want to elect a senator like Senator Chafin, who will go up there and fight Richmond and just be conservative,” Hackworth told The Virginia Star. Read More
The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) fired senior investigator Jennifer Moschetti on Monday. Moschetti had investigated and helped write a report detailing violations committed by the Virginia Parole Board. Moschetti had sought formal recognition as a whistleblower from the General Assembly, but when she was placed on leave from her OSIG job, she sued to keep herself from being fired. Read More
Former Democratic Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Byrd, Sr., is finally leaving Virginia’s Capitol Square. On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam signed Delegate Jay Jones’ (D-Norfolk) HB 2208, which directs the Department of General Services to place the statue in storage until the General Assembly decides what to do with it. Byrd is known for his decades of political power, which he used to boost Virginia economically, build roads, and fight desegregating schools. Read More
Virginia now has consumer data protection laws after Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 2307. Out of 139 legislators in the General Assembly, only 15 voted against the Consumer Data Protection Act. According to legal site JDSupra, that makes Virginia the second state (after California) to pass such a law.
Key provisions of the bill allow consumers to opt out of data collection, require entities to post conspicuous notices when collecting data to be sold to third parties, and require them to post privacy notices describing how to opt out. However, the bill also allows those entities to deny the opt-out request under certain circumstances, authorizing the consumer to file a complaint through the attorney general. Read More
Gourmeltz 90’s Music Bar & Drafthouse will stay open for now, after a judge denied a request for an emergency injunction to force the restaurant to close.
Even after being contacted by the health department officials, Gourmeltz owner Matt Strickland has refused to comply with some provisions of Governor Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 Executive Orders.As a result, Strickland’s health certification allowing him to operate legally was rescinded, but Gourmeltz remained open. The Attorney General’s office is now bringing a case against Strickland, but they asked the court for an emergency injunction to close the restaurant while the case proceeds. Read More
Former Radford City Councilwoman Laurie Buchwald (D) and Tazewell County Supervisor Travis Hackworth (R) are battling for election to represent Virginia’s 38th Senate district; although early voting started in February, the final day to vote is Tuesday, March 23. The special election will fill a seat left vacant at the beginning of January when Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell) became the first member of the General Assembly to die of COVID-19. Read More
With a special election coming on Tuesday for Senate District 38, gubernatorial candidates on both side of the aisle made appearances this week campaigning for Laurie Buchwald (D) and Travis Hackworth (R). But the governor’s race this week also featured hot dog reviews, a Democratic debate, and attacks between candidates. Read More
Governor Ralph Northam announced newly-signed legislation Friday that will require approximately eight percent of model year 2025 vehicles sold in Virginia to be zero-emissions vehicles. HB 1965, introduced by Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), adds Virginia to the list of states following California’s vehicle emissions standards, which are stricter than the federal standards Virginia currently follows. Read More
Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign is facing criticism after a canvasser for a political consultant firm claimed to represent the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) while canvassing door-to-door. The canvasser was caught when she visited RPV State Central Committee (SCC) Member Heather Stefl’s house, who pushed back until the canvasser admitted she actually worked for Vanguard Field Strategies, a company working for Youngkin’s campaign. Read More
Schools will be able to hold in-person graduations this year, according to a draft of preliminary guidance announced by Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday. Outdoor graduations can have the lesser of 5,000 people or 30 percent capacity, while indoor graduations can have the lesser of 500 people or 30 percent capacity. Read More