IT’S BEEN A LONG WEEK. And not to be dramatic, but emphasizing that first sentence was particularly important today. The usual hustle and bustle of the holidays Session prep had some added (and very unwelcome) excitement the past several days, as the state’s Division of Legislative Automated Systems (DLAS) was hit with a ransomware attack. Bill drafting and referral for 2022 is still mostly inaccessible, and parts of the state budget portal remain unavailable.
Certainly no pressure there, with just under four weeks until Session convenes.
An unexpected resignation in the House was also announced, meaning that one district will start the legislative session without a Delegate. Outgoing Gov. Northam will soon be setting a date for the special election, to fill the seat. And for the freshman delegates already planning to come to Richmond: Speaker-designee Gilbert has been gradually announcing committee chairs — providing all members, new or returning, with the opportunity to set their expectations accordingly.
Look for a “Weekly Brief” newsletter early/mid next week, before we take a few days off for the holidays to relax…and to finish reading through the $158 billion budget that was introduced yesterday.
‘We are fighting a biological war’
As he prepares to leave office, Gov. Ralph Northam voiced his frustration with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in rural Virginia, especially in the Southwest.
Southwest Virginia COVID death rate climbs to highest level in a month
RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Southwest Virginia Tuesday, and data from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) show the region’s rolling seven-day average of new COVID deaths is at its highest point in almost a month.
Wide disparities, high recidivism afflict Virginia’s juvenile justice system, report says
A state watchdog agency found that wide disparities remain in Virginia’s juvenile justice system, even as the number of children involved has declined dramatically in the last few years.
Medical experts and veterans pitch decriminalizing psychedelics
Entheogenic plants and fungi, commonly known as psychedelics, are federally classified among the most dangerous illicit substances, along with heroin and ecstasy. But some advocates and physicians say that categorization is long outdated.
Virginia needs at least 200,000 more affordable rental units, report finds
A new report found that Virginia is short at least 200,000 affordable rental units as many residents struggle to afford the cost of housing.
Proposed Virginia maps scale back majority Black districts
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Proposed redistricting maps under consideration by the Virginia Supreme Court would constitute a significant reduction in the number of majority Black districts in the General Assembly.
Virginia General Assembly panel votes to recommend speeding up retail marijuana sales to 2023
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The General Assembly’s Cannabis Oversight Commission has agreed to recommend that Virginia speed up the timeline for retail sales of recreational marijuana to 2023.
Attorney General files brief to throw out election repeat lawsuit
The office of Attorney General Mark Herring filed a brief last week seeking to throw out a lawsuit arguing the Commonwealth should conduct elections for the House of Delegates again, since the districts vary greatly in population.
VA colleges, businesses, trade groups launch Infrastructure Academy to train thousands of workers
irginia businesses and trade groups are in dire need of skilled, credentialed experts of all sorts as they strive to meet the state’s infrastructure needs and fill thousands of job openings.
Northam proposes $150M for site readiness
Since 2016, Virginia has lost out on 42,000 direct jobs and over $75 billion in capital investment, due to the lack of ready sites or available buildings, said Jason El Koubi, executive vice president at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Port of Virginia posts record November
The Port of Virginia had another record month, processing more cargo volume in November than in any previous November in its history.
Transportation-focused projects in running for up to $100 million
A suite of projects intended to bolster the region’s stake in the autonomous and electric vehicle sectors is in the running for up to $100 million in federal funding, Virginia Tech said Thursday.
Spanberger unplugs U.S. relief fund: $163M for Virginia health-care providers, senior homes
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released $163 million in CARES Act emergency aid to help Virginia’s health-care workers and patients as they combat COVID-19, Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced Wednesday.