State News

Legislative Update State News
Latest update from Richmond from Delegate Chris Collins
January 16, 2018
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The 2018 General Assembly session is officially underway. This year will be a long session (60 days) where we will tackle important issues such as healthcare, the opioid crisis, and the teacher shortage across Virginia.

On Saturday, January 13 Governor-Elect Ralph Northam was sworn into office. He is a product of the Senate and someone who has worked well with governors and members of both parties. House Republicans are eager to work with Governor Northam on areas where there is bipartisan support.

House Speaker Kirk Cox
The 2018 House session was gaveled in on Wednesday, January 10th at 12 noon. It started with Republican Delegate Kirk Cox being unanimously elected to be the 55th Speaker of the House. Speaker Cox set a clear tone for the 2018 Session, pledging to focus on governing, work across the aisle, and lead with character and integrity.

Committee Assignments

Committee assignments were announced last week. I am honored to serve on the House Courts of Justice, Transportation and Education committees. I have served on Courts of Justice since the start of my first term in 2016 and was assigned to the Transportation committee during the 2017 session. I am a new member on the House Education committee and look forward to finding solutions to our public school teacher shortage.

2018 Legislation
During the 2018 legislative session, I will be carrying over 20 bills on topics ranging from distracted and improper driving to legislation related to the storage and preservation of adoption records. I am also carrying several bills for local municipalities and constituents in Virginia’s 29th District. I encourage you to view the full list of legislation by clicking on the link below.

Track Legislation

In summary, I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at [email protected] or call my office in Richmond at (804) 698-1029.
Delegate Chris Collins
117 West Boscawen Street  Suite 1
WinchesterVA 22601

 

State News
Governor Ralph Northam delivers Inaugural Address
January 13, 2018
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Mr. Speaker, Lt. Governor Fairfax, Attorney General Herring, Members of the General Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Court, Judge Tyler, honored guests, Pam, Aubrey, and Wes, my fellow Virginians.

I am truly humbled that you have taken the time to be with us on such a special day for our Commonwealth.

Today we carry out the peaceful transition of power.

Americans invented this ritual. It dates to our earliest days as a country.

It makes us American. And at this hour, more than 1.3 million Americans protect this right.

They serve in our armed forces overseas and right here at home. They put their lives on the line to protect our way of life and we should always be grateful for their sacrifice. Please join me in thanking them for their service.

If you ask the men and women who serve why they stepped forward, the answer is often the same:

I volunteered. Because it was my duty. Virginians understand that. Because our Commonwealth was founded on public service. But the way ahead hasn’t always been smooth.

In a church on a hill 15 blocks from here, Virginia’s first elected Governor helped launch the American Revolution when he cried, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

But at the bottom of that same hill, one of the country’s largest slave-trading markets was coming to life. A place where Virginians would sell men, women, and children for profit. Our history is complex in Virginia. It includes good things, and bad. But no other place on earth can claim it.

This unique heritage endows us with a responsibility to shape the future—to leave this place better than we found it. That’s the Virginia way. It’s a model that Governor Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy have followed these past four years. Virginia is better off today because of them, and Pam and I are proud to have been their partners.

Two hundred thousand new jobs. $20 billion in capital investment. Voting rights restored for 173,000 Virginians. 10 million more school breakfasts served to children who need them. First state in the nation to functionally end homelessness among veterans. That’s a record to be proud of, and I am ready to build upon it!

The McAuliffe administration has been about putting the needs of the people you serve first. Those values defined my upbringing from the earliest days I can remember. My mother taught children who were learning English as their second language how to read. She worked in health care, nursing sick people back to health on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She volunteered with the hospice, comforting people in their final hours. he taught me that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all equal in the beginning – and in the end.

My father, who grew up on a farm on the Eastern Shore, served in the Navy during World War II, a member of America’s greatest generation. He became a Commonwealth’s Attorney and a judge just as his father had before him.

Before my brother joined the Navy and I joined the Army, my father always encouraged us to play sports. I think he knew we would learn the importance of teamwork and the fundamental truth that success isn’t about one person’s individual contributions, it’s about the team.

Watching the things my parents did, for our family and for our community, taught me a lot growing up. But the greatest lesson I learned came from watching how they did those things. Their humble and steady service to the people around them taught me what strength looks like. It taught me that you don’t have to be loud to lead.

I was blessed to grow up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and to call it my home. As a kid I spent hours behind our house, crabbing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. To this day that is where I find peace. When I was just old enough to take to the water myself, my dad helped me build a rowboat and launch it, with strict instructions: stay close to home. As I grew and became more comfortable, I began to take longer trips away from the shore, until I was ready to head out into the open water. I remember standing with my father as I prepared to embark, and like all good Dads, he knew I was nervous even before I did.

He said, Ralph, remember—when you get out there, you can always trust your compass. If things get dark or foggy, if you can’t find your way—keep your eye on the compass. It’ll always bring you home safely. He was right about that compass.

As I got older and took various jobs on the water, working on a deep sea fishing boat and as the captain of a ferry to Tangier Island, I came to trust that compass to guide me when the way ahead was not clear. My dad’s advice stayed with me when I reached the Virginia Military Institute and was given a different kind of compass, in the simple words of the VMI honor code:

“A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Those words have stuck with me all these years because they’re so clear. They have become a kind of moral compass for me. They always call me back home safely.

Virginia and this country need that more than ever these days. It can be hard to find our way in a time when there’s so much shouting, when nasty, shallow tweets take the place of honest debate, and when scoring political points gets in the way of dealing with real problems.

If you’ve felt that way, I want you to listen to me right now:

We are bigger than this. We all have a moral compass deep in our hearts. And it’s time to summon it again, because we have a lot of work to do. We’re going in the wrong direction on healthcare in Virginia and America. More people need coverage, not less.

It is past time for us to step forward together and expand Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginians who need access to care. We should also resolve together today to refrain from any effort to curtail a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her health. If we are going to build a healthier Virginia for everyone, we must address the public health crisis of gun violence.

Gunshots kill more people in Virginia every year than car accidents, but if you walk into the right gun show, it’s easier to get a firearm than it is to rent a car. I am ready to work with you to make Virginia safer by passing smart reforms that keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.

We have to acknowledge that the incredible economic progress we have made in Virginia has been uneven. As technology companies and sky scrapers rise in many regions, other parts of Virginia are watching blue collar jobs move out while the opioid crisis moves in. And those challenges are not limited to rural areas.

In far too many places in Virginia, your zip code determines not just how well you will do, but how long you will live. Here in our capital city, a child born two miles that way can expect to live to about age 63. But a child born five miles in that direction can expect to live 20 years longer.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that something’s wrong. The solutions to these problems are not easy. But we do know what they are. he way ahead starts with access to quality health care and public education for every Virginian, no matter whom they are or where they live.

It depends on smart interventions in the case of addiction or mental health challenges and a focused economic development strategy that connects the right people with the right skills and the right jobs.

As Governor, I will approach these challenges with the same skills I learned as a doctor.

Over the years I have taken care of thousands of children. Never once have they or their families asked me if I am a Democrat or a Republican, nor have I asked them. Each patient is a person in front of you, who’s sick. A child who needs your help, and who deserves every opportunity to thrive.

Doctors are taught that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to make them better. A good doctor trusts science and brings no pre-conceived notions to the examining table.

A good doctor listens first, to what a patient is saying and not saying. A good doctor understands that a symptom may have a hidden cause. The pain in a child’s belly could be an ulcer, for example. Or it could be from hunger because the pantry at home is bare and the last time she ate was lunch at school yesterday.

We learn quickly that the problems patients are having are usually more complex than the symptoms we can see on the surface. And getting them back to health means devoting the time and resources it takes to alleviate those root causes.

As Governor, I will draw on these lessons. I will remember that Virginians didn’t send us here to be Democrats or Republicans – they sent us here to solve problems. I will remember that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.

The path to progress is marked by honest give and take among people who truly want to make life better for those around them. I will remember that treating symptoms of problems may be easy in the short-run, but getting to the root of the problem and solving it from the bottom up is always more effective in the long-run.

When we make decisions, we’ll apply this test.
• Does this action do the most good for the most Virginians?
• Have we been transparent with the public about what we are doing and why we are doing it?
• And finally, is there a better way forward that we haven’t yet considered?

The guiding principle of this administration will be simple: we will work together to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they’re from. We cannot rest until every family and every community has the same access to opportunity that others do.

Here are my personal commitments to you.
• I will always tell the truth.
• I will strive every day to maintain the trust you placed in me on Election Day.
• I will always put Virginia’s interests first.
• I will work with anyone whose policies help Virginia. And when they do not, I will oppose them.
• I will visit every city and county while I’m Governor, and every public college and university.
• I will continue to personally care for patients at RAM, Virginia’s Remote Area Medical clinic—and keep pushing to cover more and more Virginians.
• I will be there personally to welcome Virginia National Guardsmen and women when they return home from overseas.
• And my door will always be open to you.

Here’s the last commitment I make to you. And it’s the most important. It comes from an experience that has shaped the way I practice medicine and public service.

Shortly after I left the Army and began practicing as a child neurologist, I met a young couple whose son was living with severe autism. I examined the little boy, and his case was tough. So I explained to his mother that nothing I could do would alter her son’s condition or improve his quality of life.

More than a decade later, a woman approached me in the grocery store. She reminded me that I had seen her son years ago, and that she and her family chose not to return for a follow-up. She asked me if I knew why they had not returned, and I confessed to her that I did not, and that I hadn’t really thought much about it. She looked me in the eye and said, “Dr. Northam, when you said you couldn’t help us, you took away our hope.”

I can still hear her words to this day.

When I told her that I was unable to help her son, I diagnosed the problem correctly. But I missed the opportunity to provide the one thing her family still needed the most:

And that was hope.

From that moment on, I have recognized the incredible power of hope and my responsibility to preserve it in the people I serve. Hope is not just a source of comfort for the afflicted – it is a wellspring of energy to fight for a better tomorrow, no matter the odds.

I am committed as your Governor to fight every day for the hope that tomorrow will be better – for all of us, not just some of us. Because it can be. If we work together, tomorrow can be better for the nearly 400,000 Virginians who are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy because they have no insurance.

Tomorrow can be better for the families in rural communities who are praying for new jobs so their children don’t have to move away to build happy lives. Tomorrow can be better for the children who are sitting in crowded and crumbling schools across this state, tired and distracted from too little food and too much violence in their communities. Tomorrow can be better for the men and women who depend on clean air and water for their livelihood and for the children who will inherit the environment we pass on to them. Tomorrow can be better for people who too often face discrimination, harassment or violence because of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

If we work together today, tomorrow will be better for all of the Virginians who have placed their trust in us to fight for them every day.

This country is once again looking to Virginia to lead the way. Let us lead with humility and optimism, telling the truth, learning from history and removing every obstacle to progress for all Virginians. I ask you to join me.

Let’s get to work.

Thank you.

State News
Governor-Elect Ralph Northam requests Virginia exemption from Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan
January 11, 2018
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RICHMOND — In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Governor-elect Ralph Northam on Thursday requested that Virginia be excluded from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters. The request follows Secretary Zinke’s announcement that Florida will be exempted from the plan.

“I grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and can tell you firsthand that the Chesapeake Bay and the Commonwealth’s ocean and coastal resources are every bit as ecologically and economically valuable as those of Florida, a state that was recently exempted from the leasing plan,” Governor-elect Northam writes. “I am encouraged by the decision to exempt Florida from the plan, and respectfully ask that the same exemption be made for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The governor-elect also calls on the agency to allow Virginians to participate in a series of hearings that will include the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore before the public comment period ending on March 9. Currently, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has proposed a single public meeting to take place in Richmond, nearly 100 miles from the coastal communities that will feel the impacts of the plan most.

Governor-elect Northam released a statement condemning the Trump administration’s plan earlier this month. In it, he noted the threats offshore drilling pose to Virginia’s major economic drivers including tourism, fishing, aquaculture, and our military installations.

State News
Governor Terry McAuliffe delivers final State of the Commonwealth Address
January 10, 2018
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Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his final State of the Commonwealth Address on Wednesday evening from Richmond. / File photo.

The following is the transcript of the Jan. 10, 2018 Governor’s Address to the General Assembly:

Ladies and gentlemen – my fellow Virginians – good evening.

Speaker Cox, Senator Newman, Justices of the Supreme Court, ladies and gentlemen of the Virginia General Assembly, I appreciate the opportunity to address you one final time.

Before I begin, I would like to thank Speaker Bill Howell for his many years of service to this Commonwealth and to tell him and his family that we are all praying for his speedy recovery.

I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election to this historic office.

I am so proud to be joined this evening by so many people who have worked tirelessly to help this administration and this Commonwealth succeed.

We have with us my incredible wife and my better half: First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.

Her leadership on childhood nutrition has resulted in more than 12 million more meals served to our students this year than in my first year in office.

And her work on behalf of our military students and their families has ensured that Virginia will remain the #1 place in the world for our service-members and their loved ones to call home.

Thank you, Dorothy, for your leadership, your dedication and the real positive impact you have made on Virginia families and our economy.

I also want to recognize and thank our five children, four of whom are here with us tonight.

Dori, Jack, Mary, Sally, and Peter – Thank you for the support you have given to this family and this governorship over the past four years.

Our lieutenant governor, and Governor-elect, Dr. Ralph Northam and our next First Lady Pam are with us tonight as well.

Ralph, I have been so fortunate to have you as my Lieutenant Governor, and my friend. I know you will make a GREAT 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia with Pam by your side!

To our Attorney General Mark Herring, thank you for your unwavering dedication to upholding the law and protecting the rights of all Virginians.

I have loved every minute working with Ralph and Mark, and I know they will continue that great work alongside Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax over the next four years.

And to my entire cabinet and team, you have all been spectacular – especially my Chief of Staff Paul Reagan and Deputy Chief Suzette Denslow – I thank you for never being afraid to think big and try new things.

But, there’s one cabinet secretary in particular who I think has helped all of us in this chamber sleep a little better at night.

Finance Secretary Ric Brown will soon retire after 47 years of dedicated service to our Commonwealth.

Ric, you have made an historic contribution to the people of Virginia and we are all grateful for your leadership.

The men and women of my cabinet have done tremendous work over the past four years, but our accomplishments would not be possible without the most talented and dedicated state employee workforce anywhere on the globe.

I am proud that we have been able to work together to get them two well-deserved pay raises and I hope you will accept my proposal for another one.

Please join me in recognizing the 110,000 Virginia state employees for all of their hard work.

We are also fortunate to have the greatest first-responders, law enforcement, National Guard, active-duty military, and veterans in the nation right here in Virginia.

We should never forget that these men and women put their lives on the line every day so that we can gather here safely tonight.

It is hard to believe that it’s been four years since I first stood at this desk and spoke to you about what I hoped to achieve as governor. In that speech, I promised to work with you to build a new Virginia economy, one that works better for everyone.

That was a tall order at the time. The economic model that served Virginia well for decades had begun to crumble as our overreliance on federal spending left us exposed to shutdowns, sequestration and significant defense cuts.

Many of the underpinnings of our economy like our transportation, education and workforce development systems were in dire need of reform and investment.

Scandal had shaken the faith Virginians place in the integrity of their public officials, and years of partisan warfare on divisive social issues had damaged our reputation with employers all over the world.

The agenda that I presented to you in this chamber four years ago, and every year after that, was designed to solve those problems and open a new chapter of growth and opportunity in every corner of our great Commonwealth.

Four years later, we can all look back with pride on the record of accomplishment we have built by working together to build a new Virginia economy.

We reformed how we make transportation decisions to prioritize their benefit to Virginians and our economy over the desires of politicians.

If you recall, when I took office Virginia had just wasted $300 million on the Route 460 project, a road that was never going to be built.

In contrast, thanks to our reforms, we are transforming the Interstate 66 corridor, using no state dollars and saving taxpayers a net $2.4 billion.

And just this morning, I announced a deal to extend the I-95 HOT Lanes 10 miles South to Fredericksburg without asking taxpayers for a single dollar for construction.

In fact, this project will require the builder to cut Virginians a check for more than $277 million by the time the project opens.

We took the Port of Virginia off the market and invested $670 million, turning it around after five straight years of losses.

Today, it’s profitable for the third straight year and attracting some of the biggest container ships in the world.

We took executive action to make Virginia a leader in reducing carbon and combating climate change, and we built a new clean energy economy from the ground up.

In addition to being one of the first states in the nation to announce an offshore utility wind project, I am particularly proud of the progress we have made on solar energy.

When we took office, Virginia was home to 17 megawatts of installed capacity. Today, we have more than 2,600 installed or under development.

Even in times of fiscal difficulty, we protected K-12 education from budget cuts, and worked together to make the largest investment in education in the history of Virginia.

We reformed the Standards of Learning and eliminated five tests, transformed our workforce training programs, and redesigned our high school curriculum to better align it with the needs of a 21st Century economy.

When draconian regulations threatened to shutter nearly all of Virginia’s women’s health clinics, we stood as a brick wall to protect women’s access to care.

We reformed our ethics laws to restore the people of Virginia’s trust that we are here working for them, not for ourselves.

We passed the first meaningful gun safety laws in more than two decades.

We expanded access to critical health services for the people who need them most.

We were the first state in the nation to bring a functional end to veteran homelessness and we connected more than 31,000 veterans with good jobs right here in Virginia.

We modernized and secured our elections system.

We transformed our criminal justice system, which has posted the lowest recidivism rate in the United States of America for the second year in a row!

Like any relationship, we have had our rough patches.

I, for one, did not come into this job expecting the Republican leadership of the General Assembly to sue me for contempt over restoration of rights.

But I think the fact that I was the first Governor to receive such an honor only underscores what a TRULY historic four years this has been for Virginia.

But despite a few bumps in the road, our work together has been defined far more by serious policy accomplishments than by partisan warfare, and the people of Virginia are better for it.

Every step we took tied back to our mission of building a New Virginia Economy. And job creators are taking notice.

As a testament to that, tonight I am proud to announce that Service Center Metals will invest $45.2 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Prince George County.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Virginia successfully competed against Indiana for the project, which will create 58 new jobs for Virginia workers.

This announcement is important because of the opportunity it will create for Virginia families, but it also has a larger significance.

With this project, and the over 1,100 others we have announced, Virginia has now attracted more than $20 billion in new capital investment since I took office.

That record exceeds any previous governor by more than $6.5 billion dollars.

Service Center Metals’ Co-founder Chip Dollins and the Chairman of the Prince George County Board of Supervisors, Alan Carmichael are with us this evening — thank you for your confidence and continued investment in Virginia.

The investments, policy decisions and economic development successes of the past four years have contributed to a new chapter of economic growth in our Commonwealth.

After 35 domestic and international trade missions across five continents, we have seen Virginia’s agriculture exports skyrocket 30% from $70 billion in 2014 to $91 billion in 2017.

Tourism revenues have grown by $2.2 billion since we took office.

Personal income is up 12.3 percent.

Our initial unemployment claims are at a 43-year low.

There are more than 200,000 more jobs today than in 2014.

In 2017 alone Virginia created 33,700 net new jobs, compared with the 1,500 that were created the year before I took office.

We’ve driven unemployment down to 3.7 percent from 5.4 percent. In fact, every single city and county in Virginia has seen a drop in unemployment.

These are not just numbers. They are a reflection of the remarkable turnaround we’ve seen in the Virginia economy over the past four years.

They translate to real jobs and real opportunities for thousands of families.

As the most traveled governor in the nation, I can also tell you firsthand that they translate to even more economic activity as we have told this amazing story to job creators across the nation and the world.

Virginia is a different place than it was four years ago, and for that we should all be proud. But there is still more work to do.

I may not be here to continue the battle – but the budget proposal I am leaving behind reflects the enormous progress we have made and the need to keep moving forward.

In my first year in office, we were forced to work together to deal with an inherited $2.4 billion shortfall.

Since then, our bipartisan cooperation and Virginia’s strong economic growth have improved our financial picture significantly.

In fact, I know you will be happy to hear that, the first six months of the current fiscal year, revenue collections are up 5.9 percent over last year, well ahead of our estimate of 3.4 percent, which we have already revised upward.

That means we are running nearly half a billion dollars ahead of our revised forecast heading into the final six months of the fiscal year.

Virginia’s strong revenue picture is a clear sign of a growing economy – and the budget I have presented to you builds on that momentum.

It invests in the essentials of a modern economy like public education and workforce training.

It strengthens our Commonwealth’s response to our ongoing mental health and opioid crises.

It advances the work we have done to diversify our economy so that we no longer rely on one industry for our future economic growth.

That is so important today because Virginia is no longer JUST a defense-industry state.

We’re a cyber state, an advanced manufacturing state, a data analytics state.

We’re a bioscience state, a renewable energy state and an unmanned systems state.

By making the right decisions and investments, we have built a new Virginia economy – and the budget I leave you will keep that momentum going.

In addition to the budget, this year presents a unique opportunity to move Virginia forward on a number of issues that are important to the health, safety and prosperity of the families we serve.

Yesterday, Governor-elect Northam and I stood together and outlined several pieces of legislation that we hope the new General Assembly will pass this year.

They include:

Reducing obstacles to voting by doing away with barriers to absentee voting.

Keeping families safe from gun violence by requiring background checks for every firearm purchase.

Building on the executive actions my administration is pursuing to cut carbon and create clean energy jobs by becoming the first Southern State to formally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Closing a loophole in our ethics laws by prohibiting the personal use of campaign funds.

Finally raising the threshold for felony larceny from $200 to $1000 so that one mistake does not ruin a person’s entire life.

Giving Virginians the tools to manage student debt and hold predatory lenders accountable by passing a Borrower’s Bill of Rights and creating a state ombudsman for student debt.

None of these items are inherently political. They are proposed solutions to real policy problems. It could well be the case that there are better ideas to solve these problems and make life better for Virginians. Those are the questions we were all elected to consider.

We were not, however, elected to ignore problems like these or allow real solutions to become bogged down in the mud of partisan politics and special interests.

As I look across this room, I see many new faces. The people of Virginia, in their wisdom, have made significant changes to the composition of this General Assembly with a simple message in mind: work together to get things done.

That is the opportunity they have given you – to do things differently than they have been done in the past, and to finally break the gridlock on issues where we haven’t made as much progress as we should.

The chief issue that demands your attention is making a clear statement that, in a new Virginia economy, health care is not a privilege for the few – it is a right for all.

You can make progress on that goal by bringing our tax dollars home to provide health care for nearly 400,000 Virginians who need it.

The plan I have submitted would create 30,000 jobs and free up $422 million in our budget to invest in priorities like a state employee pay increase and a $427 million contribution to our reserve fund, all without putting a single Virginia tax dollar on the table.

As some of you may recall, expanding Medicaid to cover working Virginians who lack access to health care is an issue I am deeply passionate about.

I am passionate because I know, as many of you do, the benefit it would bring to our economy and to our budget.

I am passionate because I have met hospital administrators in rural communities who say they need it to survive.

Above all, I am passionate because I have looked mothers and fathers, sons and daughters in the eye and heard how they cannot work, they cannot care for their families, they cannot live the lives that they deserve because they cannot get the health care they need.

You can end the waiting, the hurt, the worry for those Virginians and put them on a path to greater opportunity and productivity.

You can shore up rural hospitals that are struggling to stay open because they still care for these Virginians but they are not being reimbursed for their expenses.

And you can do all of that while creating 30,000 jobs and realizing more than $400 million in savings in the next budget alone.

Listen to the clear message the people of Virginia sent on Election Day.

Put the politics aside. It’s time to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As you prepare to write the next chapter of our Commonwealth’s history, I hope you will remember several principles that have guided our work over the past four years.

While other states have grappled with discriminatory and socially divisive legislation and the damage it does to their economies, Virginia has capitalized on their misfortune.

As you know, I absolutely hated having to veto a record 120 bills – but those bills took Virginia in the wrong direction.

They attacked women’s rights, equality for LGBT people, and access to the voting booth. They hurt the environment and they made Virginia less safe. I honestly wish they’d never made it to my desk.

I vetoed those bills because, in a new Virginia economy, we are about the business of bringing people together and lifting everyone up, not tearing them apart or dragging them down.

In the coming years, I hope you will build on that foundation by using your voices and your votes to make Virginia more equal, more just, and more prosperous for all people, no matter whom they are, where they live or whom they love.

Another guiding principle that has served this administration well is the incredible importance of second chances.

No one lives a perfect life. We all do things we regret. We all make mistakes. Personally, the next time someone offers me a ride on a horse in Africa, I’ll take a seat at the bar instead.

For most of us, what defines our lives is how we learn from those mistakes and move forward.

I believe that should apply to everyone, even men and women who commit a crime.

Over the past four years, we have worked, often hand-in-hand with the General Assembly, to reshape our criminal justice system to reflect the principle that no person is beyond redemption or unworthy of a second chance.

That approach guided the transformation of our Commonwealth’s juvenile justice system as we reduced the population by nearly two-thirds and began to close our two huge adult-style youth prisons.

This session, I hope you will authorize the construction of the first of two facilities to replace them and advance the reforms that will prepare these young people to lead more productive lives, while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

The power of second chances also defined my proudest moment as governor. Many of you have heard me tell the story of standing on the steps of this building and ending more than 100 years of disenfranchisement and racial discrimination.

Since then, my team has worked with all three branches of government to finalize a process that we have used to restore the rights of more than 173,000 Virginians, more than any governor in the history of the United States of America!

Over the years, I have met hundreds of men and women whose rights were restored during my term. I’ve even introduced you to some from this desk.

Every one of those Virginians represents the same story of hope for a better life that we saw play out just this past election day, as these men and women went to the polls, many of them for the first time in their lives.

If you want to see the power of second chances, watch the videos that were posted on social media as grown men and women broke down in tears of joy after doing something that most people take for granted – voting in an election.

That is what citizenship looks like at its very best – and we should work together to encourage more of it, not less.

So as you begin your work together this session, I hope you will continue to reshape Virginia into a Commonwealth of second chances, where people who make mistakes can live among us again as redeemed human beings, not lifelong outcasts.

My final request I would like to leave you with this evening is to please do everything you can to make Virginia a beacon of hope, even in times of fear and hatred.

If restoring Virginians’ civil rights was my proudest moment as Governor, witnessing the bigotry and violence we saw last August in Charlottesville was the lowest.

That day was full of hatred, cowardice, and unspeakable loss.

But even in that dark moment, the character that makes this Commonwealth great shined through.

We saw it in the three Virginians who were taken from us on that terrible day.

Heather Heyer was a passionate 32 year old who was on the Downtown Mall on August 12th fighting for the values that make our Commonwealth and our country great.

She died fighting for what she believed in, and against hatred and bigotry.

When Neo-Nazis and white supremacists invaded her community, she stood up and met their hatred with love.

Trooper-Pilots Jay Cullen and Berke Bates were standing watch from above, protecting the people who participated in the day’s events – all of them.

They made the ultimate sacrifice doing what so many of their brothers and sisters in law enforcement continue to do every day – upholding the belief that every person should be protected by the law, no matter whom they are.

Nothing will bring these brave Virginians back.

But as we continue to mourn their loss, I hope we will honor their legacy by finding the good in each other and in our Commonwealth, even in times of great challenge.

Tonight we are joined several people who loved these fine Virginians and miss them every day, as we all do.

Won’t you please join me in welcoming Heather Heyer’s mother Susan, her stepfather Kim, Berke Bates’ wife Amanda and Jay Cullen’s wife Karen and son Ryan.

Before I move on, I do want to say a brief word about Jay, Berke and many men and women like them. Until you become governor, it can be difficult to fathom how many people work day and night to facilitate your daily movements and keep you safe.

From the moment I took office, countless public officials have gone above and beyond to ensure that my family and I can perform our duties and live our lives in safety and comfort.

They include the Capitol Police, the pilots at the Virginia State Police and the Department of Aviation, and the staffs at the Executive Mansion and on Capitol Square.

This evening, we are joined by one man who has given more than 32 years faithful years to the service of this Commonwealth.

Martin “Tutti” Townes, the Head Butler at the Virginia Executive Mansion, has served nine governors.

Despite those decades of service, he told me this is his first time attending a State of the Commonwealth Address – which I think is fitting since I have no doubt who his favorite governor is.

Tutti, I want to thank you, your family, and your entire team for the amazing work you have done for our family, our guests and all of the people of this great Commonwealth.

There is one group of public servants who draw a particularly difficult assignment – the men and women of the Executive Protection Unit of the Virginia State Police.

These brave souls are assigned to spend all of their waking hours with the Governor, the First Lady and our family, protecting us and helping us get from place to place. Before Berke Bates became a Trooper Pilot, he spent nearly three years as a member of my EPU detail.

He and his colleagues worked around the clock (and I really do mean around the clock) to keep us safe during our official activities, and in the process, also joined us for our family dinners and holidays, and countless sporting and school events. They became a part of our family, often at the expense of time spent with their own.

I can still remember the day, on one of our many car rides together some months in to our administration, when Berke Bates told me that, while he had not voted for me, he had finally decided that he was glad I won.

Dorothy and I, our children and my entire team cannot say thank you enough to the men and women of the Virginia State Police Executive Protection Unit for all they do for us and for our Commonwealth.

As this chapter in my life and the history of our Commonwealth comes to a close, I want to say how truly grateful I am to the people of Virginia for the honor of serving as your governor.

I often make a joke about how unlikely it is that I would serve as a successor to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

The joke is funny because it’s true – not many middle-class kids from Syracuse, New York find themselves speaking from this particular desk.

But at the heart of that joke is a statement about the singular privilege it is to be the chief executive of a Commonwealth with the people, the resources, the history, and the potential that ours has.

As you all know, I have loved every second that I have spent in this job – because it’s one of the few on Earth where you get to get up every morning and make an immediate positive impact on the people you serve.

That wouldn’t be possible without the men and women who serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

We run separate branches of government, but we serve the same cause – the good of the people of this Commonwealth.

We have had our disagreements, but even at difficult moments, I have never lost sight of the tremendous honor it is to work with you and the incredible dedication and professionalism that you bring to the task of representing your constituents.

So I want to thank you as well, for your leadership, your dedication and the many ways that you helped make this administration a success.

Four years ago, at my inauguration, I promised you that when this day came, the next Governor would inherit a Virginia that has created more economic opportunity and grown our 21st century industries.

I promised to transform pre-K and K-12, workforce development, and higher education to prepare students for a new economy.

I promised to maintain our reputation for strong fiscal management.

I promised to make Virginia the greatest place in the world for our veterans and military service-members and their families to call home.

I promised to make Virginia a leader in the clean energy economy and do our part to fight climate change.

I promised to be a brick wall to protect the rights of women and LGBT Virginians from discrimination.

Four years later, we have kept those promises. And we are a Commonwealth of greater equality, justice and opportunity for all people as a result.

That is a legacy we can all be proud of.

Thank you. God bless you and this great Commonwealth of Virginia.

State News
Governor McAuliffe and Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Propose Joint Legislative Priorities
January 9, 2018
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RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe and Governor-elect Ralph Northam today proposed their joint legislative agenda for the 2018 General Assembly session. The legislative package includes proposals to expand Medicaid, implement universal background checks in order to purchase a gun, reform the absentee voting process, formally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), prevent the personal use of campaign contributions, raise the felony larceny threshold, institute a Borrower’s Bill of Rights creating an ombudsman who can help borrowers understand their payments, and support for the Whole Women’s Health Act.

“I am proud to be here today with Governor-Elect Northam as we propose policy steps that will build on the progress we have made over the past four years and create real opportunity for the families we serve,” said Governor McAuliffe. “During my time in office, we have taken steps to build a Virginia where everyone can live, work and lead successful a successful life. I am hopeful that each of these proposals can start a positive conversation and finally move solutions forward on these issues ensuring Virginia remains the open and welcoming place it has become. Together with my budget proposal, these policy ideas build on the vision we share for a prosperous Commonwealth.”

Governor Northam continued, “I want to thank Governor McAuliffe for his outstanding leadership and for working with my team and me on this legislative agenda. This session is our opportunity to do the job voters sent us to do by making their lives better for everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from. I look forward to advocating for this agenda and working with both parties in the General Assembly to pass legislation that makes Virginia safer, healthier and more prosperous for every family.”

The details of the proposed joint legislative agenda are below:

Expanding Medicaid:

The Governor and Governor-Elect offered their support for language in the proposed budget that would expand access to healthcare for nearly 400,000 low-income Virginians, create 30,000 new jobs and save Virginia taxpayers more than $400 million over the next two years. This expanded access would help working Virginians who make too much to qualify for the Commonwealth’s current Medicaid program but too little to afford coverage on their own.

Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases:

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation which would keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them by implementing universal background checks for all gun purchases in the Commonwealth. Currently, only federally licensed firearms dealers are required to obtain the results of a background check when selling or transferring a firearm. In 2017, the Virginia State Police reported a total of 3,584 denied firearms purchases through federally licensed firearms dealers.

No-excuse Absentee Voting:

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation which would simplify the absentee voting process in the Commonwealth. Under the proposed legislation, any registered voter would be allowed to cast an absentee ballot in-person within 21 days of Election Day. The bill would also keep current requirements for absentee voting by mail or absentee voting more than 21 days before Election Day. These reforms will not only expand voting opportunities for every registered voter but will also decrease lines at the polls on Election Day for those who choose to vote in person.

Formally Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI):

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation to make Virginia the first Southern State to cap carbon and formally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Earlier this year, Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Directive 11, which directed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to draft regulations enabling Virginia to develop a carbon reduction program for power plants under DEQ’s existing authority. That program will link to the broader carbon market established through RGGI, but Virginia cannot formally join RGGI or spend the revenues the new regulations generate without the approval of the General Assembly.

This legislation would enable the Commonwealth to directly auction the allowances, and invest the revenues in programs that benefit the public. Virginia will move forward with a carbon reduction program that links to the broader RGGI market regardless of what occurs this session. But, this legislation would give the General Assembly an opportunity to weigh in on how the revenue is allocated. Participation in a broader market will allow Virginia to reduce costs and drive more investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while also decreasing our carbon emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Personal Use of Campaign Funds:

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation that would ensure that campaign contributions cannot be used by political candidates and elected officials for personal use. When Governor McAuliffe took office he issued Executive Order 2 which strengthened the ethics rules for himself and his administration. Additionally, he created the Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government and charged them with producing a series of substantive recommendations to reform Virginia’s ethics system. The reforms passed – including a cap on gifts that can be accepted from lobbyists – have contributed to a new culture of accountability in Richmond. The proposed bill would ensure that campaign contributions cannot be used by political candidates and elected officials for personal use. This was one of several reforms recommended by the bipartisan Integrity Commission.

Raising the Felony Threshold in Virginia:

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation that would raise the threshold for felony larceny from $200 to $1,000. The $200 figure has not been changed since 1980 and currently, Virginia and New Jersey are tied for having the lowest rate in the country. Fifteen other states have thresholds of $500 to $950 and thirty more states have thresholds of at least $1,000. Raising the felony larceny threshold will ensure that fewer people will be ensnared in this life-long punishment for making a small mistake.

Borrower’s Bill of Rights:

The Governor and Governor-Elect proposed legislation implementing a Borrower’s Bill of Rights and creating a state ombudsman for student debt. Today, over one million Virginians owe over $30 billion in student loan, which threatens families’ financial security, and holds back our economy because people delay their decisions to buy homes and cars, save for retirement, and start their own businesses. The Borrower’s Bill of Rights will require student loan servicers in Virginia to follow commonsense rules and obtain a license from the Bureau of Financial Institutions. Additionally, the establishment of an ombudsman within the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) would help borrowers understand their payment options and keep them on track, protecting their financial futures.

State News
Governor McAuliffe Unveils New Unified Workforce Brand – Virginia Career Works
January 8, 2018
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RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe joined Governor-Elect Ralph Northam today to unveil a new brand to unify Virginia’s workforce development system. The system, which includes a network of state and local partners and 62 One Stop Career Centers, will carry the name Virginia Career Works once the brand is fully activated later this year.

“We have tremendous resources to help connect employers and job-seekers in the Commonwealth, but our research shows that many Virginians are not aware of these important programs,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the announcement event. “We’ve made great strides to enhance our workforce development assets by building a demand-driven workforce system, engaging and building a skilled workforce, and activating our network. Now, it is time to put Virginia to work. With today’s announcement, we are stepping up our game and delivering these resources to market under a consistent and exciting new brand.”

The McAuliffe administration has transformed Virginia’s workforce development system by making it more responsive to the needs of business, creating new capacity to train in critical high-demand areas, and aligning the system’s programs and resources towards a set of shared goals. The Governor established a first-in-the-nation performance-based grant program to create and sustain a supply of credentialed workers who meet the needs of high-demand jobs. The New Virginia Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program covers 166 different programs in Virginia geared toward providing credentials at one-third of their former cost. Since the program’s inception, the grant has supported the attainment of 4,000 industry-recognized credentials, licenses, and certifications needed for high-demand careers. The program has nearly tripled the number of people who earned credentials at Virginia’s community colleges and higher education centers.

“Today’s announcement is an important step forward as we move to activate fully our network of workforce development resources across the Commonwealth,” said Governor-Elect Northam. “This new brand and the services it represents is a commitment to building stronger communities, growing economies, and more competitive industries in Virginia. I thank Governor McAuliffe and his team for everything they have done over the last four years and look forward to utilizing this new brand in the years to come.”

Workforce, education, and economic development leaders from across the state have been fully engaged in the six-month branding process and participated in multiple work sessions to clarify the system’s strength and opportunity, as well as identify the brand’s key characteristics. The process was predominantly guided by market research, polling a cross-section of hiring managers representing a range of business sizes and industries, along with a geographically diverse group of residents, to establish a benchmark of awareness and knowledge. Roughly 50 percent of employers surveyed were able to recall with accuracy a local or state workforce organization; 25 percent of job-seekers were able to do the same.

Later in the branding process, employers and job-seekers were polled again to test potential names and brand marks or logos. Based on the market research, Virginia Career Works was selected due to its strong appeal with both customer groups.

“Having a unified brand for Virginia’s workforce development system is a critical, but positive, step in our efforts to have trained and ready-to-hire human talent pool in Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Right now, employers are looking to fill more than 150,000 high-quality jobs across the Commonwealth, and we’ll need to fill an approximate 1.5 million over the next ten years. To leverage fully that growth, our workforce system must engage and develop talent with the skills to fill those jobs. And now, thanks to the successes achieved under Governor McAuliffe, working in collaboratively with the General Assembly, the private sector, and other state government partners, we’re going to do that together, as Virginia Career Works.”

“As we learned during the development of our Blueprint Virginia 2025, the ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce is the number one issue facing Virginia businesses,” added Barry DuVal, President of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This unified branding initiative demonstrates another significant step towards a more cohesive, strategic approach to workforce development in the Commonwealth as we work to advance the system in a way that benefits both businesses and job seekers.”

Over the next nine months, local workforce boards will update their websites, social media channels, and business materials – including business cards and forms – and facilities will have new signage to activate the new brand. A comprehensive activation plan is in development to guide partners through the implementation process, and Governor McAuliffe has committed federal funds to assist local partners with the costs associated with the transition.

State News
Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency in Response to Impending Winter Storm
January 3, 2018
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RICHMOND
 – Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency at 2:20 p.m. today authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the significant winter storm that is expected to impact the Commonwealth over the next 24-48 hours.

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.

Governor McAuliffe also authorized a limited exemption to hours of service for trucks hauling gasoline and heating oil throughout Virginia. These exceptions activate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Section 390.23 Relief of Regulations, including hours of service, and are granted for the period beginning 5 p.m. December 29, 2017, until 5 p.m. January 13, 2018, or whenever the crisis has abated, whichever is sooner.

To read the content of these executive orders, visit http://governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/executive-orders/

Governor McAuliffe urges Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm, which could dump up to a foot of snow in portions of eastern Virginia.

“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities.” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”

“VDOT has already taken measures to pre-treat roads and preposition equipment, crews and materials to treat roads in advance of the storm and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.“Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.” 


“Localities in the path of this storm have already begun requesting assistance,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) State Coordinator. “VDEM will continue coordinate with VDOT, State Police, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia National Guard, and localities throughout Virginia to ensure all necessary preparedness efforts are in place, and any local needs for assistance are addressed before, during and after the storm.”

State Agencies are Preparing for the Impacts of the Storm:

  • Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have begun 24-hour operations and are pretreating roads where temperatures permit. Motorists are strongly encouraged to stay off the roads during the storm. For information about road and traffic conditions, check www.511virginia.org or call 511 before traveling.
  • VDOT has more than 1,500 crew members and more than 1,400 pieces of equipment prepared to respond to the upcoming storm on each 12-hour shift.
  • VDOT’s Fredericksburg, Culpeper and Northern Virginia Districts have pretreated roads in advance of the storm. Richmond and Hampton Roads Districts are pretreating roads today.
  • The latest road conditions are available at www.511virginia.org, through the free mobile app or by phone. You can track the location of most snow plows at VDOT’s Snow Plow Tracker. The tracker is activated once snow reaches two inches or more.
  • VDOT’s first priority is safety, and crews will work around the clock until roads are passable. “Passable” means it is drivable with extreme caution, but may be snow-packed and may not be cleared curb-to-curb or to bare pavement. Crews may sand hills, curves and intersections to help with traction.
  • Overnight and through Thursday, the Virginia State Police Chesapeake and Richmond Divisions will have all available personnel ready to respond to emergency calls for service related to hazardous road conditions throughout the Eastern Shore, Hampton Roads, Middle Peninsula, Southside Virginia and the Metro-Richmond regions. Residents in those areas should delay travel Thursday morning as the winter storm arrives in Virginia. If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
  • The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 150 additional personnel on state active duty and 30 vehicles for possible assistance with the state’s severe winter weather response operations. The guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers in key locations across the Commonwealth in order to be ready to rapidly respond if needed. Potential missions for the guard include transportation through heavy snow, downed tree removal, debris reduction and distribution of food, water and other supplies.

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this weather event unless travel is absolutely necessary. In addition to slick roads, blowing snow could reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile at times in some areas. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp. Or dial 5-1-1 from any phone for the latest travel conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts for winter weather or to find out how to keep your family safe, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

State News
Governor McAuliffe Announces Cathay Pacific Airlines to Launch Nonstop Service to Washington Dulles International Airport
December 21, 2017
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RICHMOND
 – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Cathay Pacific Airlines will launch nonstop service between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia. The newly announced air route, which will offer four nonstop, roundtrip flights per week, is estimated to bring nearly $30 million in direct and $52 million total economic impact annually to Virginia. The service, the longest non-stop air route to Hong Kong, will begin September 16, 2018.

“Today we celebrate a new bridge between Asia and Virginia, and we look forward to welcoming all of the international travelers this new air service will bring to the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Virginia has made a significant commitment to growing our relationship with Asia in recent years and we are proud to be a new United States market with nonstop service from Hong Kong. With its convenient schedule, this new Cathay Pacific air service provides direct connections to destinations around the globe and will help us continue to grow the new Virginia economy.”

The new route is the most recent of many bridges established under Governor McAuliffe’s administration. In July, Air India launched a new nonstop flight to IAD from New Delhi increasing air connectivity between Asia and Virginia. In July 2014, Governor McAuliffe welcomed Air China’s inaugural nonstop flight to IAD connecting the Commonwealth to one of the top emerging business and tourism markets.

Governor McAuliffe was instrumental in recruiting Cathay Pacific to Dulles, the result of one of 35 trade and marketing missions. The Governor has led numerous missions to Asia, and across the globe, during his administration, to showcase Virginia’s economic strengths, its agriculture, food and beverage assets, and great quality of life to prospective corporate investors and travelers.

“Cathay Pacific’s decision is another victory from our strategic efforts to establish more direct, nonstop international flight options to and from Dulles,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Hong Kong plays an important role in global commerce as the world’s largest host and investor of foreign direct investment stock, after the United States. Cathay Pacific’s flights between Hong Kong and Dulles provide Virginia an opportunity to recruit new foreign direct investment opportunities for the new Virginia economy and increase tourist visits from Asia overall.”

International travelers are an important component of Virginia’s economic strategy. In 2016, one million international travelers visited Virginia and spent $1.7 billion in the Commonwealth. Of that, 145,000 were from the Asia Pacific region spending $450 million. China, India, South Korea, Australia and Japan are all top ten markets for Virginia visitation. The Asia Pacific region’s share of international spending in Virginia is expected to grow to 30 percent in 2020, up from 27 percent in 2016.

About Virginia Tourism
Tourism is an instant revenue generator in the Commonwealth. For every dollar invested in tourism marketing, Virginia Tourism returns $7 in state tax revenue. In 2015, visitors spent $23 billion, which supported 223,100 jobs and contributed $1.6 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about Virginia Tourism Corporation, please visit www.virginia.org.

 About Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific Airways offers over 100 flights per week to Hong Kong and beyond, including over 22 destinations in Mainland China, from six cities in the USA and two in Canada: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto. For more information, including current fares and availability, visit www.cathaypacific.com/us. For North American reservations, dial toll-free: 1-888-233-ASIA.

About Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road and also manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system through Fairfax County and into Loudoun County, Virginia. More than 45 million passengers a year pass through the two airports. The Airports Authority generates more than 387,000 jobs in the National Capital Region.

State News
$6.8 million proposed increase for Workforce Credential Grant Program, career exploration in cyber security, technical training for rural Virginia
December 18, 2017
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CHARLOTTESVILLE – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that he has included an additional $6.8 million in his 2019-2020 biennial budget to support workforce development initiatives across the Commonwealth. These strategic investments bring the total funding for the Workforce Credential Grant Program to $19.2 million, as well as $2.6 million in additional funding to support cybersecurity and rural workforce initiatives. The Governor made the announcement during an event at Piedmont Virginia Community College highlighting the importance of expanding the proven Workforce Credential Grant Program, Virginia’s future cyber workforce, and rural access to technical training.

“Today, we are making an important investment in our workforce, and in the future of the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the event. “Having a highly skilled workforce is key to attracting long-term business investments in Virginia. Because of the strategic investments we’re making in workforce development, I am confident that we will have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of the 21st century.”

Governor McAuliffe has successfully advanced workforce development within the Commonwealth, which is reflected in Virginia’s steadily decreasing state unemployment rate and record-high labor force expansion. Governor McAuliffe has made improving the workforce service delivery system in the Commonwealth a top priority, and it is a cornerstone of the state’s comprehensive workforce development plan.

Established in 2016, the first-of-its-kind New Virginia Economy Workforce Credential Grant program has supported the attainment of 7,256 industry-recognized credentials, licenses, and certifications needed for high-demand fields, with a job placement rate of 90 percent or greater in some fields. In the program’s inaugural year, the number of credentials earned nearly tripled throughout the Commonwealth. Given this success, Governor McAuliffe has proposed a $4.2 million additional investment in this program, bringing the total to $19.2 million over the biennium. As part of this strategic reinvestment, Governor McAuliffe included $200,000 in funding to explore an innovative new model – called the 3G Workforce Initiative. Once established, this program will allow Virginians to obtain a workforce credential in targeted fields at no cost to the student, with a commitment to one year of public service upon completion.

Governor McAuliffe has made expanding Virginia’s future cyber workforce a top priority for his administration. To continue these efforts, the Governor’s proposed budget also includes $1 million in funding for cybersecurity camps in Virginia.  These two-week programs will expose high school students to careers in cybersecurity and provide the foundational skills needed to be successful in this rapidly changing industry.

Expanding rural access to technical training is another vital component to building the new Virginia economy.  To further these efforts, the Governor’s budget includes $1 million in funding to expand training at the Career Tech Academy at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. This funding will provide high school students in south central Virginia with access to precision machining. In addition, Governor McAuliffe included an additional $600,000 in his budget for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research which will match enrollment growth for its Integrated Machining and Technology (IMT) Program. This funding will support growth in the region’s high schools and community college programs, which are feeder programs to the advanced training occurring at the Institute.

State News
Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women Announce the 7th Annual STEM Essay Contest
December 15, 2017
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Members of the Virginia Council on Women after the 2017 meeting.

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women today announced the 7th Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for high school junior and senior women. The Council will award at least five $5,000 scholarships to young women, in their junior and senior years in high school, who will be pursuing a STEM career at an institution of higher education. One scholarship will be awarded in each of five geographic regions across the state. Additional scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the Council.

“Growing the new Virginia economy depends on our ability to prepare young people to succeed in the workforce of the 21st century,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This essay contest is a great way to encourage our female students to pursue careers in the science, math, engineering and technology fields that will set the course for the global economy in the years to come. I want to thank the Virginia Council on Women for hosting this STEM essay contest and encourage Virginia’s young women to put their best ideas forward this year.”

“I am honored to be a part of the this year’s Virginia Council on Women STEM essay contest,” said Governor-Elect Northam. “Encouraging young women to pursue careers in high demand fields like science, technology, engineering and math is critical to making sure Virginia’s economy is strong and 21st century ready. I want to thank the Virginia Council on Women for their dedication to helping young women explore their passions and pursue careers in STEM fields.”

The STEM Essay Contest was launched in 2012 with 170 young women from across the Commonwealth submitting essays focusing on their vision for a future STEM education or career. In its first year, the Council raised $10,000 and made three scholarship awards. Now, in its 7th year, the Council has awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships. The Council partners with the Math Science Innovation Center, which, since its establishment in 1966, has served as a regional math and science center, to administer the contest.

Last year, the Council received more than 500 essay submissions and, thanks to the generosity of sponsors, awarded $35,000 in scholarships to high school women.

Amy Eckert, Co-Chair of the Essay Contest commented, “this contest is personal to me. I recognize the importance of financial aid. Scholarships, such as those awarded from the STEM Essay Contest, afforded me the opportunity to attend college.”

“We are excited to be kicking off our scholarship essay contest,” added Carol Rick Gibbons, Co-Chair of the Essay Contest. “It is always inspiring to see how many talented young women in Virginia are passionate about pursuing STEM careers. Working with our generous donors to help our winners achieve their education goals is extremely rewarding.”

To be eligible, one must be a female or identify as a female, reside in Virginia, be a junior or senior in high school and hold at least a 2.5 GPA. Applications and guidelines are available online.

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on February 8, 2018. Essays will be judged by a panel of Council members and individuals who represent STEM fields. Winners will be notified by March 23, 2018. The scholarship awards will be presented at a reception at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia, in April 2018.

About the Virginia Council on Women

The purpose of the Virginia Council on Women is to help women reach their potential and maximize their contributions to society and the Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens. The Council has initiated several projects to meet this goal. Find more information on the Council or on available sponsorship opportunities here.