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As of April 18th Anyone 16+ Eligible for Covid-19 Vaccine

To pre-register, visit http://vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA.

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Starting April 18th, every Virginian 16 and older will be eligible to get a Covid 19 vaccine. To pre-register, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA. Currently, Virginia is in Phases 1a, 1b, and 1c. On April 18th the commonwealth will be moving on to Phase 2. Find out more about the Phases and which category you fall into here.

The COVID-19 vaccine is FREE, regardless of insurance. The federal government pays for the COVID-19 vaccine but some healthcare providers can get paid for administering the vaccines. For those with health insurance, this cost is typically billed to the insurance company.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Government

Richmond health district moves into phase 2, all people 16 and older now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Anyone interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should pre-register at vaccinate.virgininia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA if they have not done so already.

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Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, Chesterfield Health District, and Chickahominy Health District are all moving into Phase 2 of COVID-19 vaccinations. Many pre-registered individuals will receive emails and phone calls today to schedule their appointment for as soon as next week. Additional scheduling outreach will be conducted over the coming weeks until everyone who has preregistered has been contacted for an appointment.

“This is a turning point in our vaccine distribution,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager for Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. “Everyone ages 16 and over is now eligible; people no longer have to wonder if they qualify.”

“We are thrilled to make the move to Phase 2 and vaccinate more of our community members,” said the Chickahominy Health District Director, Dr. Tom Franck. “We will continue to prioritize those in Phase 1 as we move into Phase 2, while continuing to focus on equity and reaching our vulnerable populations with the support of our community partners.”

“We are proud to take this step forward in vaccine distribution alongside partners in our area,” explains Dr. Alexander Samuel, Director of Chesterfield Health District. “This is good news for all of our residents.”

Anyone interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should pre-register at vaccinate.virgininia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA if they have not done so already.

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Marijuana possession and cultivation could be legal by July

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana possession and home cultivation in the state to July as opposed to 2024.

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By Sam Fowler

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana possession and home cultivation in the state to July as opposed to 2024.

“Virginia will become the 16th state to legalize marijuana—and these changes will ensure we do it with a focus on public safety, public health and social justice,” Northam stated in a release.

The governor proposed changes to House Bill 2312 and Senate Bill 1406, which passed earlier this year during the Virginia General Assembly’s special session. The bills legalized marijuana possession and sales by Jan. 1, 2024, but marijuana legalization advocates and Democratic lawmakers lobbied to push up the date for possession.

“This is an historic milestone for racial justice and civil rights, following years of campaigning from advocates and community groups and a strong push by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus,” the group Marijuana Justice stated in a press release.

Marijuana Justice seeks to legalize the use and possession of marijuana. The group advocates for communities most impacted by the criminalization of drugs with their “legalize it right” campaign.

The bills allow adults 21 years of age or older to legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana if they don’t intend to distribute the substance. Virginia decriminalized marijuana last year and reduced possession penalties to a $25 civil penalty and no jail time for amounts up to an ounce. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Individuals can cultivate up to four cannabis plants without legal repercussion, with punishments ranging from misdemeanors to jail time if over the limit. The governor’s amendments would allow households to grow up to four plants beginning July 1. The plants would need to be labeled with identification information, out of sight from public view, and out of range of people under the age of 21.

Legislators will review the governor’s proposals during the General Assembly’s reconvened session on April 7, according to Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, one of more than two dozen legislators who sponsored the House bill.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, said legalizing simple marijuana possession now rather than later is important for racial justice.

“Waiting until 2024 to legalize simple possession and therefore stop the desperate policing is allowing this continued bias enforcement against Black Virginians to continue for three years,” Wise said.

Accelerating the legislative timeline is key, Kory said.

“The figures show that it is much more common for a Black or Brown person to be charged with possession,” Kory said.

A state study released last year found that from 2010 to 2019 the average arrest rate of Black Virginians for marijuana possession was more than three times higher than that of white residents for the same crime—6.3 per 1,000 Black individuals and 1.8 per white people. This is despite the fact that Black Virginians use marijuana at similar rates as white residents. The conviction rate was also higher for Black individuals. Northam stated that people of color were still disproportionately cited for possession even after marijuana was decriminalized.

The original legislation established the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority as the regulatory structure for the manufacture and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products.

The governor’s amendments would allow the authority to revoke a company’s business license if it interfered with union organizing efforts; failed to pay a prevailing wage as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor; or classified more than 10% of employees as independent contractors.

Lawmakers grappled with the dangers of juvenile use of marijuana, Kory said, and the impact of use on developing brains.

Marijuana Justice wants to remove the delinquency charge that designates marijuana possession a crime, not a civil penalty, if committed by someone underage. The penalty is still up to $25.

“Instead of punishment, young people should be evaluated for appropriate services that address the root causes of their usage,” Marijuana Justice stated.

The amendments would fund a public awareness campaign on the health and safety risks of marijuana. The changes also would train law enforcement officers to recognize and prevent drugged driving. Northam stated that his amendments include “explicit language directing ongoing support for public health education.”

The bill established a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board tasked with providing youth mentoring programs to marginalized youth and those in foster care, as well as providing scholarships to children who have been negatively impacted by marijuana in their family or community.

The current expungement of marijuana-related crimes is set for July 1, 2025. Northam’s new amendments call for marijuana-related criminal records to be expunged and sealed “as soon as state agencies are able” and to “simplify the criteria” for when records can be sealed. This will allow individuals convicted with marijuana offenses to be resentenced, according to the new amendment.

The bills originally passed along party lines. No Republicans voted for either bill, and several Democrats in the House did not vote on either measure. Sens. Richard Stuart, R-Montross, and Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, stated that the governor’s amendments helped assuage their original concerns.

The conservative, faith-based organization The Family Foundation told supporters Thursday to contact their representatives and urge them to vote against the accelerated timeline.

The organization stated that violent and nonviolent crime rates have increased in states that have legalized marijuana, citing an opinion piece from a police defense group.

“It’s always been about generating more tax revenue to finance the ever-expanding state bureaucracy, creating massive fortunes for those who would use marijuana (like gambling) to prey on our most vulnerable citizens, and catering to a generation increasingly void of moral standards,” stated Victoria Cobb, the foundation’s president.

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Government

Three resort casino proposals advance to next phase of selection process

The top ranked proposals stood out because the operators provided strong proposals with detailed financial and operational analyses to support their vision for a resort casino in Richmond, according to city officials.

RVAHub Staff

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The City of Richmond today narrowed the field of proposed bidders for a resort casino development to three finalists. The three finalists selected by the City’s Evaluation Panel are:  Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort, Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond, and One Casino + Resort.
Six proposals were originally submitted and reviewed by the Evaluation Panel, which considered, among other factors, each proposal’s site control, feasibility of financial projections, organizational experience, community impact/benefits, location, potential city revenues, and economic development impact.
The top ranked proposals stood out because the operators provided strong proposals with detailed financial and operational analyses to support their vision for a resort casino in Richmond. The Evaluation Panel will enter into the next phase of evaluation and begin negotiations with these operators; while continuing to engage the Richmond community.
Proposals not advancing to the next round of consideration are: Golden Nugget, Wind Creek Hospitality, and Pamunkey Indian Tribe & Reservation. These proposals did not advance due to factors such as lack of site control, concerns about the feasibility of financial projections, lack of organizational experience and/or deficiency of the proposal.
The city is hosting three virtual meetings next week for each of the top three ranked operators to discuss their proposed projects and for citizens to ask questions directly to representatives from the companies. The meetings will be held via MS teams, and the public is encouraged to attend and participate. The meetings can be accessed via the links below, or via telephone at 804-316-9457, phone conference ID: 934 627 185#. The meetings will be recorded and posted on the Resort Casino website.
In addition, each of the three top-ranked operators have provided videos of their proposals, which are now available on the Department of Economic Development’s YouTube channel and will later be available on the city’s Resort Casino webpage.
Proposal videos:
Citizens can watch the proposal videos and provide their thoughts and feedback on each proposed project using the interactive board also found on the Resort Casino webpage. Citizens are encouraged to respond to the following questions:
• What do you think are strengths of this proposal?
• What do you think are weaknesses of this proposal?
• What do you think makes this a good location for a resort casino?
• What do you think makes this a bad location for a resort casino?
• What can be done to make this location favorable for a resort casino?
English version:
Spanish version:
The city is asking community members to provide comments on the shortlisted proposals via the Resort Casino webpage by April 6, 2021. On April 8 and 9, the Evaluation Panel will host meetings to report on the feedback received in the preceding 6 weeks. After those meetings, the Evaluation Panel will continue negotiations with the shortlisted operators with the goal of recommending a preferred operator and site to City Council in mid/late May. If the preferred operator and site is selected by City Council, then the Council will petition the Courts to include a referendum on the November 2, 2021 ballot for all City of Richmond voters, that will read “Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in [name of city and location] as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?”
The virtual community engagement and more information about the Resort Casino RFQ/P process can be found at www.rva.gov/economic-development/resort-casino.
Live! Casino and Hotel Richmond – Tuesday, March 30th at 6:00 pm
Phone: 804-316-9457
Phone Conference ID: 934 627 185#
One Casino + Resort – Wednesday, March 31st, at 6:00 pm
Phone: 804-316-9457
Phone Conference ID: 934 627 185#
Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort – Thursday, April 1st, at 6:00 pm
Phone: 804-316-9457
Phone Conference ID: 934 627 185#

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