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Commonwealth Transportation Board makes $11 million in additional operating assistance available to Virginia Public Transportation agencies

Locally, just over $1 million in funding will be distributed.

RVAHub Staff

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On Tuesday, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) authorized an additional $11 million in statewide public transportation operating funding to be made available to all Virginia public transportation agencies suffering major ridership losses and additional operating expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s related public health response. Locally, just over $1 million in funding will be distributed.

“The onset and continued spread of COVID-19 has had extraordinary and disproportionate impacts on Virginia’s public transit industry and the communities they serve,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “As more social distancing is implemented, we recognize that reduced service and significant ridership losses lead to diminished revenue and more challenges ahead.”

The $11 million is equivalent to one-month of statewide operating revenues currently allocated to the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund. The funding, allocated to local public transit agencies by formula, will be available by early April.

Specific information regarding amounts made to each agency is available on DRPT’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Mitigation website.

Additionally, the emergency funding was identified from prior years savings due to DRPT’s Making Efficient + Responsible Investments in Transit (MERIT) management program, creating no negative impact to current allocations.

“Transit agencies had to take immediate steps to minimize the risk to their employees, customers, and communities, far beyond anything envisioned in their operating budgets,” said DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell. “Today’s action enables DRPT to respond quickly and equitably to help their agency needs.”

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Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pam Northam both test positive for COVID-19

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam have both tested positive for coronavirus after coming in close contact with a staffer who was showing symptoms. The First Lady is experiencing mild symptoms, according to a release, while the Governor remains asymptomatic.

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam have both tested positive for coronavirus after coming in close contact with a staffer who was showing symptoms. The First Lady is experiencing mild symptoms, according to a release, while the Governor remains asymptomatic.

From the Governor’s Office:

On Wednesday evening, Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam were notified that a member of the Governor’s official residence staff, who works closely within the couple’s living quarters, had developed symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Both the Governor and First Lady received PCR nasal swab tests yesterday afternoon, and both tested positive. Governor Northam is experiencing no symptoms. First Lady Pamela Northam is currently experiencing mild symptoms. Both remain in good spirits.

Consistent with guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Governor and First Lady will isolate for the next 10 days and evaluate their symptoms. The Governor is in constant contact with his cabinet and staff and will fulfill his duties from the Executive Mansion.

“As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious,” said Governor Northam. “The safety and health of our staff and close contacts is of utmost importance to Pam and me, and we are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us—and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians—is to take this seriously.”

The Governor and First Lady are working closely with VDH and the Richmond Heath Department to trace their close contacts. The Executive Mansion and Patrick Henry office building will be closed for deep cleaning this morning. The work of the Governor’s office continues remotely and uninterrupted.

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GRTC offering new shuttle to City Office of the General Registrar leading up to election

Beginning Wednesday, September 23, GRTC is offering riders a safe and accessible shuttle service to reach the new City of Richmond’s Office of the General Registrar, which was recently relocated to a larger facility with more room to observe social distancing for in-person absentee voting.

RVAHub Staff

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Beginning Wednesday, September 23, GRTC is offering riders a safe and accessible shuttle service to reach the new City of Richmond’s Office of the General Registrar, which was recently relocated to a larger facility with more room to observe social distancing for in-person absentee voting. Pre-election day services are available through October 31 at the new building at 2134 West Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227.

Smaller, nimbler shuttle vans pick up passengers Monday – Saturday from two popular connection points in the GRTC bus network: 9th and Marshall on the North side of City Hall, and Broad and Robinson on the North side of the street by the Science Museum of Virginia. GRTC remains zero-fare, and shuttles are free to ride, as well, with funding support provided by the City of Richmond.

The service operates hourly. Weekday trips start at City Hall at 7:45 AM and run once an hour, with the last trip leaving the registrar’s location at 5:15 PM. Additional early voting service operates once an hour on both Saturday October 24 and 31 from 8:45 AM until the last trip at 5:15 PM.

CARE customers can continue to use CARE van service for free and may schedule trips to the new registrar’s office.

The Office of the General Registrar is open as a pre-election day voting location starting September 18 through October 31 from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday, except holidays, and 9 AM to 5 PM the two Saturdays before every election. Additional pre-election day voting locations open October 24 through October 31 at City Hall (900 East Broad Street) and Hickory Hill Community Center (3000 East Belt Boulevard) on weekdays 8 AM to 5 PM and on Saturdays from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The last date to vote early in-person is October 31. For a complete list of Election Day (November 3) polling locations, most of which have a bus stop nearby, click here.

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Virginia female lawyers, lawmakers remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is being mourned by the country, and in Virginia, lawyers and legislators are reflecting on her legacy. Some called her a role model, others called her a trailblazer, but they all admired the impact she left. 

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By Noah Fleischman

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is being mourned by the country, and in Virginia, female lawyers and legislators are reflecting on her legacy. Some called her a role model, others called her a trailblazer, but they all admired the impact she left.

Ginsburg died Friday at age 87 from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Alison McKee, president of the Virginia Bar Association, said Ginsburg was one of the most empowering women in the law profession. The VBA is a membership organization of state attorneys who promote legislative changes.

“She was an extraordinary force in attempts to overcome gender inequality,” McKee said. “Overall, to borrow a phrase from Sheryl Sandberg, she leaned in for all women in our profession and helped to close the gap on gender inequality.”

Ginsburg’s fight for gender equality changed a Virginia college’s admissions process in the 1990s. She wrote the majority opinion in the 1996 case that allowed women to attend the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. VMI was the last male-only college in the United States until the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion that since a 1971 ruling, the Court “has repeatedly recognized” laws incompatible with the equal protection principle and that denied women access “simply because they are women, full citizenship stature-equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.”

Ginsburg was also a longtime advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that seeks to guarantee equal rights for all regardless of sex. The ERA first passed Congress in 1972 but could not collect the three-fourths state support needed to ratify it. In January, Virginia became the final state needed to ratify the amendment, though the 1982 deadline has passed. A congressional bill to eliminate the ratification deadline passed the House in February and is sitting in a Senate committee. Over the years Ginsburg has still vocalized support for the ERA, though in February she said she would like “it to start over.”

Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, was a co-patron of the ERA in Virginia.

“I think we’re carrying on her work, carrying on her legacy to make life, liberty, and justice for all include all and include women equally,” McClellan said. “We carried on her work with that, very much an inspiration there too.”

Del. Hala Ayala, D-Woodbridge, who was a co-patron on the ERA in the House of Delegates, called Ginsburg “our firewall to protect civil rights, voting rights and everything that we fight for” in a statement Friday night. 

“My life’s work for women’s equal justice, including championing the Equal Rights Amendment in the Virginia House of Delegates, was inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s work,” Ayala wrote. “Her determined spirit gave me the motivation to fight every day for what is right, knowing that we would make our Commonwealth and our country a better place.”

Ginsburg was a pioneer for women in the law profession, becoming the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 after Sandra Day O’Connor.

Margaret Hardy, president of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, said seeing someone that looked like her in the law profession is “critically important,” and that’s why diversity is important—so everyone has a role model.

“I think that just seeing a woman because in her case, in many instances, she was the woman, not just one of many,” Hardy said. “I think just for anyone seeing someone in a profession that you’re entering who looks just like you is an inspiration.”

Lucia Anna “Pia” Trigiani, former president of the Virginia Bar Association, called Ginsburg a role model for all lawyers, not just women.

“For her to do what she did, she also showed not only women that it could be done, but men,” Trigiani said. “She showed everyone that it could be done.”

McClellan equated Ginsburg to civil rights lawyer and former Justice Thurgood Marshall.

“I think she for women’s rights was what Thurgood Marshall was for civil rights,” McClellan said. “I as a woman lawyer, as a woman lawmaker, stand on her shoulders.”

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