Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a deal aimed at cracking down on fraudulent unemployment claims, a move that garnered support from members of the business community.
The governor and Attorney General Jason Miyares signed an agreement with the Virginia Employment Commission, which allows the attorney general to represent the VEC in the prosecution of criminal unemployment compensation fraud cases.
“The VEC has asked that I take on this responsibility, and I enthusiastically agreed to the VEC’s request,” Miyares said in a statement. “Protecting the Commonwealth from crime is one of my top priorities as Attorney General. Fraudulent claims must be prosecuted and fraud on the unemployment fund diverts resources from those who need them most.”
Lawmakers are set to discuss legislation next week to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania through a constitutional amendment.
State Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny, introduced House Bill 2272 on Friday to privatize Pennsylvania’s state run liquor stores through a constitutional amendment that cannot be vetoed.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 2016 to privatize the sale of wine and spirits, but the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania is one of only two states with a government monopoly on liquor sales, and the only state in the nation to shut down sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mihalek wrote in a legislative memo accompanying the bill.
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, Virginia awarded $10.5 million worth of grants to 19 local school districts to replace diesel-fueled school buses with clean energy alternatives.
The state funds will replace 83 diesel buses throughout the commonwealth with either propane or electric buses. The money is provided by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. Money for the fund was provided to Virginia and other states after a settlement with Volkswagen after they were accused of violating the Clean Air Act by selling 500,000 vehicles that the federal government said caused more pollution than was permissible.
The Pennsylvania state senator who led a hearing on election fraud in Gettysburg, PA, last November, has initiated a “full forensic investigation” into 2020 election results in several counties.
Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano said in a statement that as chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, that he has issued letters to several counties representing “different geographical regions of Pennsylvania and differing political makeups,” requesting “information and materials needed to conduct a forensic investigation of the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary.”
Voters from around the commonwealth cast their ballots Tuesday to determine which candidate will represent the Democratic Party in Virginia’s 2021 race for governor, but the turnout dropped by about 11% compared to the 2017 primary.
In total, more than 488,100 people voted in the party’s five-candidate primary, compared to 542,858 in 2017’s two-candidate primary. This shows an 11% drop and more than 50,000 fewer votes cast in 2021.
About 8% of Democratic voters turned out for the primary, which is lower than 2017 when about 10% turned out to cast a vote. However, despite the numbers being low compared to the previous election, they are still higher than average when compared to the other most recent gubernatorial primaries.
Virginia will distribute $270,000 in farmland preservation grants to five localities, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced this week.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been reminded how important Virginia’s farms are to getting food into our stores and onto our tables,” Northam said in a statement. “In addition to being a vital part of our history, agriculture is central to our growing economy and maintaining the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in our Commonwealth. Partnering with local governments to preserve critical working landscapes and protect our abundant natural resources is key to maximizing the conservation impact of state funds.”
The commonwealth will use the Purchase of Development Rights programs to match local government funding to permanently preserve farmland. The program gives incentives to landowners who protect their working lands and it lets localities limit development on priority farm and forest land.
Pennsylvania, one of the top battlegrounds of the 2020 election, has agreed to remove the names of about 21,000 dead people from voter registration rolls before the general elections this year.
The agreement was reached last week, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election-integrity watchdog group that first identified the names of 21,000 dead people who were still registered to vote a month before the 2020 election.
The organization provided Pennsylvania state officials with the names of 21,000 dead registrants who were not removed from the voting rolls after their deaths.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is directing $20.1 million in grants for 11 projects in the commonwealth to strengthen broadband infrastructure, his office announced Thursday.
The projects are designed to increase broadband connectivity throughout 17 localities. The projects will connect more than 13,400 establishments, which will include households, businesses and anchor institutions and is leveraging $18.8 million in private and local investments.
“Quality broadband service is key to growing our economy, and learning, competing, and succeeding in today’s digital world,” Northam said in a statement. “This funding will have an enormous impact on thousands on unserved Virginians and bring us closer to our goal of every community in our Commonwealth having access to high-speed internet.”
The Virginia Board of Education announced the implementation of new curriculum pertaining to African American studies.
The board’s decision reportedly follows recommendations from the Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth. Governor Ralph Northam created this commission last fall.