The city of Phoenix will incentivize receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at city-sponsored vaccination clinics by handing out $100 gift cards.
The Phoenix City Council approved the pilot program to increase vaccination rates. The program will be funded by federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Read More
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is now open to walk-in service three days a week, 16 months after first opening for appointment-only service following COVID-19 closures in Spring 2020. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday remain appointment-only, but the DMV now provides walk-in service Tuesday, Thursday, and for half days on Saturdays. Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) has been pushing for the DMV to reopen to walk-in service, but he isn’t satisfied with the DMV’s hybrid approach.
“I saw that they’re reopening for in-person again, three days a week, which, to me, I personally don’t understand that. I mean, we’ve required all our schools to be open five days a week for in-person instruction,” he told The Virginia Star Read More
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) is pushing the House of Representatives to pass his Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, focused on addressing mental health in healthcare professionals. On Wednesday, Kaine held a press conference touting the passage of his bill in the Senate.
“You all have a story about how the time of coronavirus has affected you just as I have a story. But in particular, in particular, the effect of the last year-and-a-half on our front-line health care workers has been incredibly dramatic,” Kaine said. Read More
Tennessee’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group met with state agency heads this week regarding funding requests related to the second half of $3.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act relief.
The group met with 17 departments over two days to hear funding requests for the $1.875 billion in what the committee is calling the Tennessee Resiliency Plan, which will cover local government technical support, health capital projects, public health and economic relief. Read More
Florida State Rep. Jay Trumbull (R-6), House Appropriations Chair, is calling on the Florida Ports industry to lobby for more infrastructure cash while still waiting on federal COVID stimulus money.
Trumbull said he wishes he wishes “we could have done more” for the ports industry, but he is concerned Florida’s ports could lose out on commerce and industry to nearby Alabama and Georgia. Read More
Arizona taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed their state tax return before the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) was enacted on March 11 can receive a new income tax refund.
That’s according to a Thursday announcement from the Arizona Department of Revenue.
Congress passed the ARP to give communities money to address public health and economic recovery issues which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More
Old Dominion University (ODU) is canceling any unpaid balance its students incurred in the spring 2021 semester. Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Donald Stansberry said that an outstanding balance blocks students from receiving diplomas or registering for fall classes.
“Old Dominion is committed to helping our students reach their academic potential,” Stansberry said in a press release. “At a time when many families are facing financial stress because of the pandemic, these CARES Act funds will help eliminate significant roadblocks so students can continue on their academic journeys.” Read More
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) has awarded $861,080 in state funds to 64 Virginia local tourism initiatives through its Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP). The funds combine with local match funds of $2.2 million, helping recipients leverage their marketing budgets.
“The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” Governor Ralph Northam said in the Thursday press release. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – The General Assembly approved eight new judges for the Court of Appeals of Virginia Tuesday. Although tradition kept Republicans from voting against the candidates, votes on individual candidates varied as Republican legislators abstained. That completed the General Assembly’s goals for the special session: allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and filling court vacancies.
“I thought it was an historic session,” Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told The Virginia Star. “What just happened with the Court of Appeals was the largest number of judges to go on the Court of Appeals since 1985, and we gave Virginians the same right to appeal their legal matter that every other American has.” Read More
Senate Democrats have publicly released their $3.5 trillion, filibuster-proof budget reconciliation resolution.
The draft of the legislation released on Monday includes new spending programs that the White House has labeled “human infrastructure,” such as universal pre-K, childcare support and tuition free community college.
The spending total is estimated over a 10-year period. Using budget reconciliation allows the Democrats to pass the measure without votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate. Democrats used the same process in March to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package called the American Rescue Plan Act. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – After hammering out a compromise between the House of Delegates and the Senate, the Virginia General Assembly voted to send its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) budget bill to Governor Ralph Northam. The bill passed the House 78-20 and passed the Senate 23-16.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said that she and other senators fought for the Senate’s amendments in a conference committee with representatives from the House.
“As you look at the conference report you will see that on several items our position was affirmed, and on others we were able to compromise,” she reported to the Senate. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia — The Virginia Senate passed its amended version of the $4.3 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation bill late Wednesday evening, after hours of debate on amendments. Although some Republican amendments, including a key law enforcement bonus proposal, were incorporated into the spending bill, many were not. Rejected amendments included a sweeping election integrity amendment and an anti-Critical Race Theory amendment. The final vote on passing the bill was 22-18. Many Republicans said that while they supported some elements of the bill, they disapproved of the process Democrats used, including a vote Wednesday evening to limit debate on each amendment to just three minutes.
Right before the vote to pass the budget, the Senate GOP caucus went into conference. When the senators returned, Minority Leader Thomas Norment, Jr. (R-James City) hinted that many of his caucus would vote against the bill. He said, “It is not so much about the substantive provisions of the budget that we have amended. Rather I believe that the vote you are about to see is going to be a reflection of the frustration and the indignation of the entire process.” Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates met, passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by a 71-25 vote and adjourned in 30 minutes on Wednesday. Facing 107 pages of proposed amendments, a photo-op, and a series of lengthy recesses, the Senate had not completed its debate by press time Wednesday evening although it convened at 10 a.m. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates voted against several Republican attempts to change proposals to allocate $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on Tuesday afternoon. House Republicans led by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) introduced an alternate bill, but it was defeated 53 to 43. House Democrats also defeated amendments from Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) and attorney general candidate Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach).
“It is a shame that despite our concerns that this process was not opened up to the traditional committee vetting process, that members on this side of the aisle were told, and frankly on your side of the aisle were told, ‘Your input is not welcome.’ I would have hoped that in this process we would have at least been afforded the opportunity to explain our bill, but instead we are left with the inevitable two minutes,” Gilbert said. Read More
RICHMOND, Virginia – The budget bill to allocate $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds passed out of the House of Delegates Committee on Appropriations on Monday, the first step to passing Governor Ralph Northam’s proposals for the money.
But the first day of the second 2022 special session saw legislative gridlock between the Senate and the House of Delegates. The House passed HJ 7003, which establishes the rules and schedule for how the session will operate. When the legislation was sent to the Senate, Senate Democratic leaders introduced three amendments which received broad bipartisan support. Read More
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is warning people to avoid contact with water in a 12-mile stretch of the James River in Richmond. On Tuesday evening, a Goochland County sewer main ruptured, and remained open for several hours. 300,000 gallons of raw undiluted sewage flowed into Tuckahoe Creek, which flows into the James.
“For the safety of people and pets, VDH is advising that recreational water activities, such as swimming, wading, tubing, and whitewater kayaking (where submersion in the water is likely), should be avoided,” the VDH said in a Thursday press release. “Activities on the waterbodies, which are not likely to result in water submersion (boating, fishing, canoeing), may continue with proper caution to avoid contact with the water.” Read More
RICHMOND,Virginia – Glenn Youngkin announced his $5.8 billion plan for spending Virginia’s surplus revenue and federal American Rescue Plan Act [ARPA] funds at a press conference Thursday morning. The list include $1.5 for taxpayer and family relief; $2.6 billion for jobs, small business, and broadband; $1.2 billion for education; and $0.5 billion for public safety and mental health.
“Thanks to the McAuliffe-Northam failures, the murder rate in Virginia is at a 20-year high. Our economy has fallen behind, jobs have come back slower, and our cost of living is way too high. Our schools are underperforming, and as a result, taxpayers, families, seniors, and our children are suffering,” Youngkin said. “The change we need will not come from a failed politician with stale ideas that he failed to deliver when he had his chance as governor.” Read More
As part of his “Investment Week” announcing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation proposals, Governor Ralph Northam announced $862 million for Virginia’s unemployment insurance trust fund, depleted during COVID-19.
“Shoring up the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance trust fund is a smart investment that will prevent Virginia businesses from paying higher taxes and allow our economy to continue surging,” Northam said in a Tuesday announcement. Read More
Virginia ended Fiscal Year 2021 with a $2.6 billion surplus, the largest in Virginia’s history, with a 14.5 percent revenue growth over FY 2020.
“We have effectively managed Virginia’s finances through the pandemic, and now we are seeing the results—record-breaking revenue gains, a recovery that has outpaced the nation, and recognition as the best place to do business,” Governor Ralph Northam said in a press release. Read More
Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Southeastern Legal Foundation Attorney Cece O’Leary to the newsmakers line to provide updates on the White farmer discrimination case as a judge rules it unconstitutional. Read More
Virginia’s economy is recovering, but Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) President Rita McClenny told legislators this week that a major infusion of $50 million is needed to help the struggling tourism sector.
“The $27 billion tourism engine stalled out in 2020 as a result of the global pandemic. Every component sector was negatively impacted: lodging, food service, attractions, business, conventions, events, transportation, entertainment and recreation. The entire sector needs financial recovery support,” McClenny told the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. Read More
The Virginia General Assembly’s second 2021 special session is scheduled for August 2. One of the top priorities for the legislators will be allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Although Virginia has already received the money, it can’t be spent until the legislators allocate it. Read More
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is among 21 state attorneys general calling on the U.S. Department of Treasury to secure states’ rights to implement tax policies under the American Rescue Plan Act.
The attorneys general sent a letter this week to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to confirm that provisions in the act do not attempt to strip states of their sovereign authority. They argue language in the act is too broad and could be interpreted as a blanket policy. Read More