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Northam highlights budget, key proposals in State of Commonwealth Address

Gov. Ralph Northam delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address to the General Assembly Wednesday evening. Northam outlined key parts of his proposed budget and announced legislative priorities on what he called a “historic night.” 

Capital News Service

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By Jimmy O’Keefe

Gov. Ralph Northam delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address to the General Assembly Wednesday evening. The governor outlined key parts of his proposed budget and announced legislative priorities on what he called a “historic night.”

Throughout the address, Northam highlighted the changes Virginia underwent in the last decade.

“Virginia is changing. These are simply facts,” Northam said. “In politics over these past 10 years, if you understood these facts and you embraced change, then you advanced. If not, you fell behind.”

Northam cited the state’s growth in population by more than half a million people in the last decade, its low unemployment rate, 2.6% in November, and a booming stock market as signs of change. He also noted the obstacles Virginia faces amid change such as stagnating wages, funding transportation infrastructure and rising sea levels in places like Tangier Island and Hampton Roads.

Northam said that the state’s transformation is reflected in the General Assembly. Wednesday marked the first time in more than two decades that Democrats controlled the legislative and executive branches of state government. A record 41 women now hold seats in the statehouse and there is more diversity among legislators. On Wednesday, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, became the first woman elected to serve as speaker of the House, while Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, became both the first woman and the first African American to serve as House majority leader.

“It’s a proud moment to look out and see a General Assembly that reflects, more than ever, the Virginia we see every day,” Northam said.

Northam detailed key parts of his proposed budget. He announced that 38% of new spending in his proposed budget would go to education.

“This is far and away the largest new investment we have proposed,” Northam said.

Investment in K-12 public schools would go toward teacher salary increases and more guidance counselors in schools, Northam said. He also announced the “G-3” proposal, which stands for “Get Skilled, Get a Job, and Give Back.” The proposal seeks to offer free community college tuition for low and middle-income students seeking to go into high demand fields like health care and information technology. The plan would cover tuition, fees and book costs for people who need help paying for school.

Noting last year’s Medicaid expansion in Virginia, Northam outlined his proposed healthcare budget, which includes funding for more health care workers in communities with high needs, a state-run health care marketplace and funding for new mothers to get more home visits from health care workers.

“We all want it to be more affordable and easier to understand,” Northam said of health care.

Northam reaffirmed his plans to have 30% of Virginia’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and for Virginia’s energy to be 100% carbon-free by 2050. The governor announced his plan to create an Office of Offshore Wind to promote the use of clean energy.

“This means thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs for Hampton Roads,” Northam said. “This will create an entire new clean-energy industry here in Virginia.”

Northam also called for gun control reform.

“Gun violence takes the lives of more than 1,000 Virginians every year, three people every day. At that rate, everyone on the floor of this chamber would be gone by March,” Northam said.

Northam called for universal background checks in order to buy a gun, noting that it wouldn’t be in violation of the Second Amendment to do so.

Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, and Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, delivered the Republican response to Northam’s address.

While we Republicans are disappointed to see our two decades in the majority come to an end, we’re proud of the commonwealth we leave to our Democratic successors,” Robinson said.

“Some of the proposals being advanced by Governor Northam and the Democrat legislative majority will have a profoundly negative effect on Virginia’s working families,” Suetterlein stated in the released statement. “If implemented, the Democrats’ agenda will place a substantial burden on working Virginians.”

Suetterlein said that Democratic proposals will lead to higher electric bills, higher fuel prices, and higher taxes.

The governor’s full speech can be read here. 

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Crime

Mayor Stoney names members of “Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety”

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this group’s diversity of expertise and lived experiences is a key asset on our path forward,” said the mayor. “I am thrilled to have this team help our city heal.”

RVAHub Staff

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Today Mayor Levar Stoney announced the members of the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety and outlined his primary requests of the diverse group of professionals. The majority of task force members stood with the mayor for the announcement.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this group’s diversity of expertise and lived experiences is a key asset on our path forward,” said the mayor. “I am thrilled to have this team help our city heal.”

The members of the task force bring an array of perspectives from activist, legal, academic, law enforcement, emergency services, artistic, healthcare, and other fields. At the close of a 45-day period, the task force will bring the mayor a set of actionable steps forward to build a safer city for all.

“After additional conversations and review of actions taken in other cities, I do not believe we can wait to begin acting on reform recommendations,” said Mayor Stoney. “I have asked this task force to report back with initial recommendations within 45 days of their first meeting.”

The mayor established three foundational requests of the task force: reviewing the police department’s use of force policies, exploring an approach to public safety that uses a human services lens, and prioritizing community healing and engagement.

“We need a new process for noncriminal and nonviolent calls for service, and that will be a top priority for this task force,” noted the mayor. “We must center compassion instead of consequences.”

Regarding community healing and engagement, the mayor said that the task force will allow the city to explore methods of engagement that will enable meaningful change, using his support for the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus’ legislative package as an example.

“Last month I expressed my support for the VBLC’s package for the summer session,” said Mayor Stoney. “This task force can determine where the city can explore complementary legislation and where we need to focus community advocacy to make statewide change a reality.”

Members of the Task Force

Carol Adams, Richmond Police Department
Ram Bhagat,
 Manager of School Culture and Climate Strategy for RPS

Glenwood Burley, retired RPD officer

Keisha Cummings, community engagement specialist, founder of 2LOVE LLC, member of the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project and the Richmond Peace Team

Torey Edmonds, Community Outreach Coordinator at VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development

Professor Daryl Fraser, VCU School of Social Work professor and licensed clinical social worker

Triston Harris, Black Lives Matters organizer and organizer of the 5,000 Man March Against Racism

Birdie Hairston Jamison, former district court judge for the 13th Judicial District in Virginia

Councilman Mike Jones

Shanel Lewis, Youth Violence Prevention Specialist at the Richmond City Health District

Brandon Lovee, Richmond artist and advocate, member of the Richmond Peace Team

Colette McEachin, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney

Reverend Dontae McCutchen, Love Cathedral Community Church

Dr. Lisa Moon, Associate Provost at VCU and former Director of the Center for the Study of the Urban Child

Sergeant Brad Nixon, RPD

Tracy Paner, Public Defender for the City of Richmond

Bill Pantele, Richmond attorney and former City Council Member

Professor William Pelfrey, VCU professor with expertise in emergency preparedness and policing

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson

Rodney Robinson, National Teacher of the Year and teacher at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center

Patrice Shelton, Community Health Worker in Hillside Court and director of the Hillside Court Partnership

Lashawnda Singleton, President of the Richmond Association of Black Social Workers

Sheba Williams, Executive Director of NoLef Turns

Courtney Winston, Richmond trial attorney

The Mayor’s Office is specifically working with the Office of Community Wealth Building’s Community Ambassadors to identify additional community members, including youth, to be part of the task force’s important work and to assist with community engagement.

The task force is committed to a transparent process and will make meeting minutes available to the public.

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Community

Richmond Then and Now: 114 E. Broad Street

A then and now snapshot of Richmond.

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Original Image from Souvenir views: Negro enterprises & residences, Richmond, Va.
Created / Published[Richmond, D. A. Ferguson, 1907]

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Downtown

Library of Virginia reopens to researchers by advance appointment beginning today

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm.

RVAHub Staff

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The Library of Virginia has announced that its reading rooms will reopen to researchers by advance appointment beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

During the initial reopening phase, researchers will be able to use the collections by appointment Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm. To make an appointment, please call 804.692.3800.

COVID-19, which prompted the Library’s closing to the public in mid-March, continues to pose a serious public health risk. The Library’s reopening plan includes new health and safety protocols based on the latest guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What to expect when returning to the Library:

  • Appointments required to use the reading rooms in order to ensure space availability on a researcher’s preferred date
  • Signage describing coronavirus symptoms – Please do not enter the building if you feel unwell or have a fever
  • Face coverings required in the building at all times
  • Physical distancing of six feet required in all public spaces
  • Face masks and hand sanitizer available for the public
  • Frequent cleaning of restrooms and surfaces in public areas throughout the day
  • Returned books quarantined for three days before being available for use again
  • The Exhibition Gallery, the Virginia Shop, our conference rooms, and the reading room at the State Records Center will remain closed

For additional information about what to expect on your visit, take a look at the COVID-19 Update: Guidelines for Researchers, page, which will be updated regularly.

For more on how to use the collections, click here.

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