State News

State News
Governor Northam announces additional powers to protect Virginia’s clean water
March 16, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam March 16th, announced additional powers to expand the Commonwealth’s ability to protect clean water. SB698 and SB699 establish processes in state law to allow the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue a stop work order on all or part of land-disturbing activities associated with natural gas pipeline construction if DEQ determines those activities have caused, or will imminently cause, a substantial adverse impact to water quality. On Saturday, the General Assembly accepted Governor Northam’s amendment adding an emergency clause to each bill and the measures are currently in effect.

“I want to thank Senator Creigh Deeds and the Department of Environmental Quality for working together to empower the Commonwealth to halt construction on the pipelines if there is a serious threat to water quality,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, and all the rivers and streams in between, our water quality is of paramount importance to our health and our economy and I will protect it as long as I am Governor.”

“If the pipelines go forward, it’s imperative that DEQ have the tools it needs to assure the people of the Commonwealth that water quality will not be compromised,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. “Thanks to DEQ staff for their tireless work to help get these bills through the legislative process, to Governor Northam for his timely amendments and for signing the bills, and to the conservation groups who added their voices to this important conversation.”

“We are pleased the General Assembly agreed to give DEQ the additional authority to protect water quality, and we will use these tools to exercise rigorous enforcement to ensure our water is protected and our natural areas are preserved,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.

State News
Virginia celebrates first women Veterans Week in the Commonwealth
March 16, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Virginia’s inaugural Women Veterans Week will be celebrated March 18-24. Women Veterans Week will be celebrated the third full week of March in succeeding years, as a time to honor the service and sacrifice of the Commonwealth’s female veterans. This commemorative week occurs during Women’s History Month, which serves as an annual declared observance of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

“Throughout the history of our Commonwealth and our nation, women have served with honor and distinction as a vital part of our military,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia is proud to be home to more than 100,000 women veterans, the highest percentage of female veterans of any state in the Nation. As a veteran myself, I have had the opportunity to serve side-by-side with women both in combat zones and on base back home. I commend Senator Jennifer Wexton and Delegate Kathleen Murphy for leading the effort to introduce this Women Veterans Week resolution and their colleagues in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates for their overwhelming support.”

“I join with Governor Northam in celebrating Women Veterans Week in Virginia,” said Carlos Hopkins, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “The women we honor are our wives, daughters, mothers, and grandmothers. They are our sisters, our aunts, our neighbors and co-workers. Many are also military spouses. Not only have they unselfishly served our military, they have returned to the civilian world as leaders in their communities, in the public and private sectors, and as the bedrock of their families. Our Commonwealth values their contributions and we want to do everything we can to provide them with the recognition and benefits they have rightfully earned.”

“Virginia proactively supports its women veteran community, by hosting an annual Virginia Women Veterans Summit,” said Annie Walker, Director of the Veterans Education, Transition, and Employment division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. “The theme of this year’s Summit is Change Makers & Trailblazers: The Power of Being a Woman-The Strength of Being a Veteran. The summit will bring together nationally recognized speakers and include discussions on a variety of issues facing women veterans. We encourage all women veterans to register and attend.”

Complete information about the summit, registration details, and special events commemorating Women Veterans Week may be found at


State News
Governor Northam calls April 11 Special Session for General Assembly to complete work on state budget
March 13, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam on March 13th, signed a proclamation calling the members of the Virginia General Assembly into special session on April 11th to complete their work on the Commonwealth’s budget after they adjourned last week without passing a biennial spending plan for Virginia.

The Governor released the following statement on the forthcoming special session:

“After a legislative session that was marked by bipartisan progress on issues that matter to people’s lives, I remain disappointed that the General Assembly was unable to extend that spirit of cooperation to its work on the budget.

“Virginians sent us to Richmond to work together to make life better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live. We can live up to that responsibility by passing a budget that expands health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it. Expanding coverage will also generate savings that we can invest in education, workforce training, efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and a healthy cash balance to prepare for fiscal downturns.

“Thanks to the political courage of many leaders in both parties and both chambers, we have made significant progress on this issue over the past several months. In the coming weeks, I intend to work with the General Assembly to ensure that we pass a budget that expands coverage as quickly as possible once this special session convenes. I have also directed Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne to work with the members and staff of the General Assembly money committees to ensure that work on the budget continues in the period between the regular session and the special session.

“It is my hope that people from across the Commonwealth will continue to speak to their legislators about the need to bring our tax dollars home to benefit our families, our economy, and our budget. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer for a budget that reflects the priorities of the Virginians who sent us here to serve.”

Below is the proclamation Governor Northam signed calling the General Assembly into special session on April 11:


In accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Section 6, and Article V, Section 5, of the Constitution of Virginia and the powers thereby vested in the Governor to call a Special Session of the General Assembly;

I, Ralph S. Northam, Governor of Virginia, do hereby summon the members of the Senate and the House of Delegates, constituting the General Assembly of Virginia, to meet in Special Session in their respective chambers in the Capitol at Richmond, commencing the eleventh day of April, two thousand eighteen, for the purpose of adopting budgets for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Given under my hand as Governor of Virginia, and under the Lesser Seal of the Commonwealth, at Richmond, this thirteenth day of March, two thousand and eighteen, and in the two hundred and forty-second year of the Commonwealth.

Ralph S. Northam
Governor of Virginia

State News
Governor Northam announces Virginia selected for National Governor’s Association Project to combat opioid crisis
February 26, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the National Governor’s Association (NGA) selected Virginia to participate in a learning lab on state strategies for addressing infectious diseases related to substance use. This learning lab is an opportunity for state officials to receive technical assistance in developing and implementing a strategic action plan for reducing the incidence of infectious diseases related to substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder.

“The opioid epidemic continues to take a devastating toll on Virginia’s communities,” said Governor Northam. “As a physician myself, I know that to combat this public health crisis, we must approach it from every angle, including finding better ways to reduce the harm from infectious diseases. I appreciate the opportunity from the NGA for Virginia to learn collaboratively, and I look forward to hearing what our officials learn from other states and how we can implement those findings in the Commonwealth.”

 Virginia will be one of seven states traveling to Kentucky to learn about how that state is addressing the increased risk of infectious diseases through public health surveillance and community prevention efforts. Following the kick-off meeting in Kentucky, states will receive six months of technical assistance from NGA.

“If Virginia is to be successful in combating the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic, our solutions must target all direct and indirect elements of this crisis, including infectious diseases,” said Dr. Daniel Carey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources. “Public health is a collaborative effort, and I’m looking forward to learning from Kentucky’s success.”

In November 2016, State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP, declared the Virginia opioid addiction crisis a Public Health Emergency. The declaration largely came in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid use. In addition to the alarming trends of overdose deaths, infectious disease consequences such as hepatitis C and HIV are serious health outcomes that also need to be addressed. Injection drug use is the primary risk factor for hepatitis C transmission in the United States. In 2017, more than 10,000 cases of chronic hepatitis C were reported in Virginia.

“As we have found in every emergency, the better prepared and informed we are, the more likely that we will minimize the risk of the emergency and prevent suffering,” said State Health Commissioner Levine. “In the process we build stronger connections with each other, as well as healthier and more resilient communities. This unique opportunity will allow us to learn from other public health officials as we work to protect the health and promote the well-being of all people in Virginia.”

This learning lab will highlight Kentucky, which has undertaken significant efforts to improve SUD and infectious diseases surveillance, as well as community-based prevention services such as syringe exchanges, naloxone distribution, testing and treatment for infectious diseases and provision of or referral to SUD and mental health treatment services.

“The infectious disease consequences of addiction in terms of poor health, death, and costs extend well beyond the more publicized overdoses, fractured lives and social networks,” said Jack Barber, MD, Interim Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. “Without effective prevention and treatment strategies, infectious diseases can make recovery from addiction almost impossible.”

Find more information on opioid addiction in Virginia here.

State News
Governor Northam announces Virginia named Top State in Annual Workforce Development Rankings
February 23, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia rose from second to first in the Atlantic region in a recent analysis of state workforce development activities conducted by Site Selection Magazine. Among the eight states that were ranked, Virginia scored ahead of highly competitive states such as Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware. This year, the magazine based their analysis on the context in which each state’s workforce development programs are applied rather than the specific programs themselves.

“Virginia’s position as a top state for workforce development shows that our efforts to fuel the New Virginia Economy by building a 21st century workforce are working,” said Governor Northam. “Workforce development is a top priority for my administration, which is why I appointed Megan Healy as Virginia’s first Cabinet-level Chief Workforce Advisor, to focus our attention on these issues at the highest level. A strong workforce is a draw for companies looking to either relocate their operations or expand their existing business and I am pleased Virginia is able to offer this.”

“In Virginia, we know our world-class workforce is an unparalleled economic asset,” said Chief Workforce Advisor Megan Healy. “Our improved ranking shows the national business community has noticed too.”

Instead of looking at a state’s specific workforce development programs, Site Selection Magazine examined the context in which these programs are applied in order to gauge the strength of a state’s workforce development environment. Site Selection ranked states regionally and used data from CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business 2017 Workforce and Education sub-rankings, Forbes’ Best States for Business 2017 Labor Supply sub-rankings, US News’ 2017 Best States for Education rankings, ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) rankings, and the average number of workforce development enactments passed in 2015 & 2016 in order to create a comprehensive workforce development profile for each state.

Virginia’s earning in the top regional spot reflects the effort of the Commonwealth’s workforce development and education partners. Virginia ranks 6th in the nation amongst “best educated states” and set a record for most bachelor’s degrees earned in state history in the 2016-2017 year. Virginia’s Workforce Credential Grant Program is also enabling the pursuit of “new collar”, middle-skills training to fill openings in in-demand industries.

The full report complete with other regional rankings can be found here.

State News
Governor Northam Statement on Expanded Health Coverage in House Budget Proposal
February 21, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement today after the House Appropriations Committee released its amendments to the 2018-20 Biennial Budget:

“This budget proposal extends health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it. I want to thank Speaker Cox, Chairman Jones and delegates in both parties for the leadership they have demonstrated on this issue. I also want to thank Leader Toscano, his caucus and advocates in every corner of Virginia for the years of work on this issue that helped make this historic step possible.

“I have long supported a simple and straightforward expansion of Medicaid. However, I respect the priorities of the House majority and I am encouraged by and supportive of our work together to bring about a new “Virginia Way” on Medicaid. We can and should expand coverage and provide significant training resources, counseling, and incentives to connect Virginians with employment opportunities.

“I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finalize this proposal, ensure its passage and pursue an implementation plan that will provide the benefits of expanded coverage to Virginia families.”

State News
Governor Northam announces launch of 2018 Governor’s Fellows Program
February 15, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam announced today the launch of the 2018 Governor’s Fellows Program. The Governor’s Fellows Program offers graduate students, rising college seniors, and graduating college seniors the opportunity to experience firsthand the administration of state government in the Commonwealth. These outstanding and highly motivated students will have the opportunity to learn directly under Cabinet secretaries in the Office of the Governor.

“The Governor’s Fellows program is a phenomenal opportunity for young people to learn about the workings of state government and make a contribution to their Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Bringing young, energetic Virginians into the office during the summer challenges us to develop more intentional, stronger proposals that create a Virginia that works for everyone. Ours Fellows represent the best of Virginia: students willing to give up their summer in the name of public service for their fellow citizens.”

“The Governor’s Fellows Program introduces young Virginians to state government with a desire to serve. Their energy is palpable, and their perspective is needed.” added Chief of Staff Clark Mercer, speaking to the importance of the Fellows Program

Governor Chuck Robb created this prestigious program in 1982. Since then, it has offered college students a hands-on opportunity to learn about state government at the top level. Previous members have gone on to pursue careers in various levels of state and federal government, each using their skills acquired during their Fellows experience.

“Being a Governor’s Fellow is a transformative professional experience,” said Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, a 2004 Governor’s Fellow under the Warner administration and former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia under Governor Terry McAuliffe. “It’s a unique opportunity to see your government at work from the inside out and to learn from the best and brightest public servants in our Commonwealth. The relationships and experience gained from my time as a Governor’s Fellow were invaluable to my professional growth, and the program will continue to prepare the leaders of tomorrow.”

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my start in the Governor’s Fellows Program,” said Anna James, Director of Business Development for Sentara Healthcare. “From the life-long friendships I have built, to the mentors I met, I thank the Fellows Program for giving me the needed skills and relationships to be so successful today.”

Fellows are given the opportunity to cultivate and sharpen leadership skills by taking on various tasks and projects. The Fellows also learn from special guest speakers from the administration and take field trips across the Commonwealth.

Qualified applicants must be:

  • Rising college seniors, graduating college seniors, or enrolled as degree candidates in a graduate/professional school;
  • Enrolled in a Virginia college/university, or a Virginia resident enrolled in an out-of-state institution;
  • Able to demonstrate leadership ability and academic excellence;
  • Involved in extracurricular activities; and
  • Active in community service.

The selection of Fellows will be based solely on merit. The Fellows Program does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status.

The deadline to apply for the Governor’s Fellows Program is March 18, 2018 at 11:59p.m. The program directors will review applications and will conduct interviews from March 26 through April 6, 2018. Decisions will be issued starting in mid-April. The Program runs from June 4, 2018 until August 3, 2018.

Applicants should submit their recommendation letters and transcripts to:

Benjamin Hermerding
Governor’s Fellows Program Director
Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

For more information on the 2018 Governor’s Fellows Program, please visit

State News
Governor Northam announces January 2018 General Fund Revenue Collections Up 5.1% from the previous year and Fiscal-Year-To-Date collections up 5.8%
February 13, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Northam announced today that January General Fund revenues rose 5.1 percent from the previous January – largely due to payroll withholding.

Speaking about the revenue increase Governor Northam said, “This positive revenue growth indicates that Virginia’s economy is strong but we must continue to build and diversify an economy that works for all Virginians. Although we are ahead of the forecast, about 42 percent of the total general fund estimate remains to be collected. This session and going forward, we have the opportunity to build on this growth by creating jobs and strengthening the underpinnings of our economy.”

January is a significant month for revenue collections. Besides the normal monthly payroll withholding and sales tax collections, estimated payments from individuals are due in January. Much of the growth was due to an additional deposit day in payroll withholding this January as compared to a year-ago. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 5.8 percent through January, ahead of the annual forecast of 3.4 percent growth.

Collections of payroll withholding taxes grew 14.0 percent for the month, with one more deposit day than January of last year. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting December sales, rose 0.8 percent in January. The combined December and January receipts, representing the bulk of the holiday shopping season, was 0.4 percent above the same period last year. Also, December and January are significant months for collections of nonwithholding and receipts can be distorted by the timing of payments. Taxpayers had until January 16 to submit their fourth estimated payment for tax year 2017 and some of these payments are received in December. Receipts of nonwithholding for the two-month period rose 40.3 percent from last year.

Year-to-date, withholding collections are 4.7 percent ahead of the same period last year, above the annual estimate of 3.5 percent growth. On a year-to-date basis, sales tax collections have risen 3.2 percent, slightly ahead of the annual estimate of 3.0 percent growth. Nonwithholding collections for the first seven months of the fiscal year rose by 20.2 percent, ahead of the annual estimate of a 4.3 percent increase. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 5.8 percent through January, above the annual forecast of 3.4 percent growth.

State News
Governor Northam statement on progress of legislative session at ‘Crossover’
February 13, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today released a statement at the midpoint of the 2018 legislative session:

“As the General Assembly crosses the midpoint of the 2018 legislative session, I am encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship that has defined my first month in office. So far this session, we have worked together, Democrats and Republicans, to make progress on a number of issues that will make life better for all Virginians. Those priorities include raising the felony larceny threshold for the first time in decades, giving student loan borrowers new tools and resources to manage their debt, and a commitment to smart regulatory reform.

“These are just some of priorities that we have been sent to Richmond to address, but our biggest work is still ahead of us. It will require more of the commitment to bipartisanship and productivity that has distinguished this session from years past.

“Virginians have tasked us with expanding healthcare access to nearly 400,000 people who need it. I am pleased that the dialogue on how we can best accomplish this goal is still ongoing. I am confident we have the capacity to meet this challenge together, in a way that works for all of us.

“Fixing Metro, an integral part of our economy, is critical this year. This is not a regional priority, it is a Virginia priority and I remain hopeful that we will find a solution to its revenue challenges in the weeks to come.

“As we work to repeal the freeze on electric utility rates, I am pleased that the General Assembly continues to work constructively on this important issue. We came away from the negotiating table with a product that made substantial improvements to the original legislation and current law; however, just as I promised on my first day in office, I will weigh final legislation by one standard: whether it is doing the most good for the most Virginians. If we can do better by consumers, we should, and I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly on getting this right.

“We have made great progress on important issues, but we won’t solve every problem this year. As we look back on the legislation that has not made it through crossover, it is clear that Virginians’ voices are not being heard on many key issues, including preventing gun violence, increasing access to the voting booth and protecting all Virginians from discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

“The first half of this legislative session represents the most productive period I have seen since I came to the General Assembly in 2008 and we are just getting started. I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to continue this progress and meet the challenges our fellow Virginians have asked us to solve.”

State News
First Lady Pam Northam announces findings of new report showing historic preservation tax credits boost Virginia’s economy
February 12, 2018

RICHMOND – During an annual legislative reception hosted last week, First Lady Pam Northam highlighted the findings of two just-completed studies that show the sustained and substantial contribution preservation makes to Virginia’s economy through the incentives of state historic rehabilitation tax credits (RTCs) to repurpose and recycle old buildings.

One study, conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, particularly focused on the returns the Commonwealth reaps from its investment in historic preservation through RTCs.

Significantly, the VCU study found that much of the $4.5 billion in private investment would have gone untapped without the incentive of the state’s tax credit being available to property owners, developers, entrepreneurs and others to undertake rehabilitation projects, which must be carried out in strict accordance with the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s ‘Standards of Rehabilitation’.

Over the 20 year period, the state RTC program has spurred the rehabilitation, reuse, and preservation of thousands of historic buildings in rural and urban communities throughout Virginia. Within those communities, RTC projects have anchored and encouraged revitalization and economic sustainability moving forward as new businesses and residential spaces arise in once-vacant and often formerly blighted buildings, and by creating jobs in the construction, retail, service, tourism, and other sectors of the economy.

A separate and complementary study undertaken by Preservation Virginia examined the impact of the federal Historic Tax Credits (HTC) on Virginia’s economy. Taking 2014 as an example, the study found that the program resulted in $467 million in economic output, supported 9,960 jobs and generated $3.50 for every $1 invested through the first three years.

“These studies clearly demonstrate the sustained and substantial contribution that preservation makes to Virginia’s economy,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “The Governor and I applaud the Department of Historic Resources and Preservation Virginia for caring for our rich past and preparing us for an amazing future.”

Conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the VCU study analyzed the overall impact of the state’s RTC program from its inception in 1997 through 2017, its twentieth anniversary. During those two decades, according to VCU’s Wilder School, the RTC program issued $1.2 billion in tax credits and leveraged $4.5 billion in private investment.

“Preserving and restoring historic buildings is critical to revitalizing towns and cities across the Commonwealth,” Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler added. “The investments we make through the state rehabilitation tax credit program create jobs, attract new business, and breathe new life into communities. Continuing to make these investments will guarantee that our cultural heritage is a key part of the new Virginia economy.”

First Lady Northam’s remarks were the focal point of this year’s legislative reception hosted by Preservation Virginia—the first statewide nonprofit preservation organization in the nation. The reception convened under the banner of ‘Celebrating the Economics of Historic Preservation’. Fittingly, the reception was held at the Hilton Richmond Downtown, formerly the city’s landmark 20th-century Miller & Rhoads department store, which was re-purposed using state and federal rehabilitation tax credits.

The recently completed study of Virginia’s rehabilitation tax credits adds to a growing number of studies that confirm the centrality of preservation to the long-term economic health and vitality of Virginia, a state renowned for its history.

In 2017, Preservation Virginia released a study, also conducted by VCU, which revealed how historic preservation undergirds Virginia’s heritage tourism, a significant portion of the Virginia economy. The study projected that the $7.7 billion spent per year by heritage tourists, in addition to the $430 million spent by heritage tourism sites for operational expenditures, ripples throughout the economy, adding about $6.5 billion while generating $1.3 billion in taxes.

Preservation Virginia, founded in 1889, is dedicated to perpetuating and revitalizing Virginia’s cultural, architectural and historic heritage. The organization collaborates with the Department of Historic Resources on numerous initiatives and projects.