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Governor Northam continues ‘Thank You, Virginia’ Tour, announces tax reduction for working Virginians

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On December 14, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam continued his ‘Thank You, Virginia’ Tour, announcing that unprecedented economic strength is enabling the Commonwealth to both invest in long-term priorities—by raising salaries for teachers and law enforcement, funding Historically Black Colleges and Universities at record levels, boosting outdoor recreation, and more—while also reducing taxes to help working people.

The Governor noted that many working people have not experienced the booming national economy that has helped many professionals and office-based workers get ahead and build wealth during the pandemic.

“When Virginia cuts taxes next year, it should be done in a way that benefits working people,” said Governor Northam. “Many professionals made it through the pandemic fine, as their work simply moved online. But workers haven’t been so lucky when their jobs require close contact with other people. Some jobs simply can’t move online—restaurant workers, early childhood educators, home care attendants, and others—and we all depend on the people who do this work. Virginia can help working people by eliminating the state grocery tax, providing one-time rebates, and giving a tax break to people who are working.”

Governor Northam is proposing four changes to tax policy:


• Eliminating the state sales tax on groceries. Governor Northam first proposed eliminating this regressive tax on low-income individuals when he ran for Governor in 2017. Virginia’s unprecedented economic strength now makes this possible. The state grocery tax is 1.5%. Most states do not tax groceries. This proposal does not affect local revenues.

• Providing an income tax cut for working families. Governor Northam proposed to make up to 15 percent of the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) refundable for eligible families, which will give a tax break to working families who need it most. The EITC reduces the amount that low- and middle-income working people owe in taxes. Making it “refundable” means people will get a refund from the state if they are working but earning income below a certain level. The amount depends on income level, marital status, and family size. This program was started at the national level by former President Richard Nixon, a Republican. The Governor proposed a similar plan in 2019.

• Offering one-time ‘economic growth rebates.’ The Governor is proposing one-time tax rebates to everyone who files state income taxes in Virginia—$250 for individuals and $500 for married couples—so that everyone benefits from the Commonwealth’s unprecedented economic growth. Low- and middle-income working people will benefit from this the most. Governor Northam and the legislature last offered tax rebates in 2019, providing $110 for individual filers and $220 for married couples.

• Ending ‘accelerated sales tax’ payments for retailers. When you pay sales tax at a store or online, the retailer collects it for the state, and then forwards the money along to the Commonwealth. But when the economy collapsed in 2008, the state began requiring many retailers to pre-pay these tax payments early—before they had even collected the revenue. This placed a burden on retailers, causing them to dip into their own pockets. Governor Northam is proposing to end this system.

Together, these plans are expected to reduce state revenues by a total of $2.1 billion. Most of this amount is a one-time reduction for the state’s General Fund, and $419 million is an ongoing obligation. All ongoing tax cuts will directly benefit working people through changes to the EITC and the elimination of the regressive state grocery tax.

The Governor said his budget proposal also will put $1.7 billion into the Revenue Stabilization Fund, set aside $1 billion for the Virginia Retirement System, and allocate $2.8 billion for capital projects in state government and higher education buildings.

“Virginia is able to take these steps now because our sound fiscal leadership has shaped a booming economy,” said Secretary of Finance Joe Flores. “These steps are tools to make sure that working people share in the prosperity.”

“Virginia has been named the best state for business for three years running and we have a remarkably strong economy, but not everyone is benefitting equally,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. “This tax plan focuses on Virginians who need help and who have largely not benefited from our strong economy. This is the right way to help working people and provide equity in our tax policy.”

The Governor made the announcement at The Market at 25th, a community-driven grocery store in Richmond’s East End.

Virginia’s Finances Are Strong

Under Governor Northam, Virginia’s financial reserves are at record levels.
• Governor Northam leaves office proposing more than $3.8 billion in financial reserves. That’s 16.8% of state revenues–and more than eight times the amount Virginia had in the bank when he took office. In 2018, those same reserves stood at just $440 million, so he set a then-ambitious goal to get to 8% during his four-year term.
• This is unprecedented in Virginia history.

Virginia closed Fiscal Year 2021—the pandemic year—with a record surplus: $2.6 billion.
• Unlike some other states, Virginia managed through the pandemic without cutting services, laying off workers, or borrowing to pay the bills.

Virginia has preserved a AAA bond rating since 1938, longer than any other state.
• Virginia shares this first-place ranking with just 13 other states.
• When rating agency Fitch reaffirmed Virginia’s AAA in July 2021, it said:
• Virginia’s ‘AAA’ bond rating reflects its solid fiscal resources, conservative approach to financial operations and exceptional financial flexibility.
• The commonwealth’s strong fundamental economic profile provides a stable revenue base and solid growth prospects.
• Virginia also maintains a low long-term liability burden relative to economic resources.
• Virginia’s fundamental economic profile remains strong, with a diverse mix of industries and high wealth. Fitch expects the commonwealth’s economy to absorb the negative effects of the pandemic and return to a steady pace of growth over the near term.
• The commonwealth’s long-term economic growth prospects are solid, with above-average population growth and high education levels.

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Virginia governor rallies with Kemp to aid bid for suburban Atlanta votes

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin held a get-out-the-vote rally for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in Alpharetta Tuesday. Youngkin has been campaigning for Republican candidates in battleground states like Georgia. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Atlanta suburbs Tuesday in hopes of firing up conservative voters in an area that has been moving toward Democrats in recent elections.

Kemp took the stage in Alpharetta’s City Center with Youngkin, whose narrow win last year and success in suburban areas made him a rising star in GOP politics. Youngkin has been campaigning for Republican candidates in other battleground states, like Michigan and Nevada, stirring speculation about his own political aspirations.

“Every state in America deserves a Republican governor,” Youngkin told reporters when asked whether the 2024 election speculation has become a distraction for him.


Youngkin advised down-ballot Georgia Republican candidates to follow Kemp’s lead and focus on inflation, education policies, and crime. Both governors promoted their states’ decision to issue a one-time special refund to taxpayers this year.

Kemp and his opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, have both said they would support issuing another refund next year, though they have differing visions for what to do with the rest of the state’s budget surplus.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin stumped for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in Alpharetta, a northern Atlanta suburb. (Jill Nolin / Georgia Recorder)

“Elections are about the future, and we’ve got to be standing for something,” Kemp said to the crowd Tuesday. “We’ve got to give people a reason to vote for us, and we’re gonna do that. Because when we get back in January after we win this election, we’re gonna send another billion dollars back to the taxpayer because we have excess revenue to do that.”

Kemp has been leading Abrams slightly in the polls, but the last day of voting is still six weeks away. When asked Tuesday if the Democrats’ ground game was still a concern of his, Kemp quickly responded “damn right it is.”

“I will tell all those people out there, don’t believe any of these polls. You cannot underestimate their ground game,” he said. “We cannot get overconfident. We have to work like we’ve never worked before, and we have to have a ground game quite honestly that can compete with theirs. And I believe this year we’re going to do that. We’re never going out to outspend them, but I do believe we’re going to outwork them.”

Kemp pushed for and signed into law several controversial education bills earlier this year, including one measure setting the stage for the Georgia High School Association to require transgender athletes to play on the team aligned with the gender identified on their birth certificate. And he was cheered Tuesday after saying, “we’re going to make sure that we have fairness in girls’ sports,” when rattling off a list of education-related policies.

On the same day Youngkin stumped for Kemp in Georgia, students from more than 90 Virginia schools participated in a planned walkout to protest Youngkin’s proposed rollback of transgender-inclusive K-12 policies.

“Glenn Youngkin is just the latest out-of-touch wannabe 2024 contender headed to Georgia who — just like Brian Kemp — cares more about protecting his political career than fighting for hardworking families,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Abrams campaign.

Keeping Trump at arm’s length

Youngkin’s narrow win last fall over Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor, was seen as an encouraging sign for Republicans just one year after President Joe Biden won the swing state.

Kemp was among those watching the Virginia governor’s race closely from afar. Abrams was more directly involved: She traveled to Virginia to campaign for McAuliffe.

Youngkin’s win was also notable at the time because he received Trump’s endorsement but still managed to maintain distance from the polarizing figure.

Like Youngkin, Kemp is trying to appeal to the state’s pro-Trump base while targeting more moderate suburban Republicans who may have been turned off by the former president. But unlike his Virginian counterpart, Kemp has been a favorite target of Trump’s ire ever since he refused to help overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

“Kemp essentially is hoping to replicate what Youngkin was able to achieve in Virginia, and that is hold on to the bulk of the Trump vote but then also bring into the fold those anti-Trump Republicans who voted for Joe Biden or voted for Raphael Warnock,” said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

“The other part is that Youngkin, like Kemp, never trashed Trump, but on the other hand, he always kept Trump well at arm’s length. Now, Brian doesn’t have to worry about keeping Trump at arm’s length. Trump is at least that far away and maybe further. But Kemp would like to be able to run again without Trump having an influence.”

With limited effect, Trump backed a slate of GOP candidates in the state’s primaries. Kemp easily defeated Trump’s pick for governor, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, but two of the former president’s other favored candidates, Herschel Walker and Burt Jones, will appear on the ballot this November.

Trump is said to be considering a Georgia rally next month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported. That’s not good news for Kemp, Bullock said. Even if Trump doesn’t directly attack Kemp, any continued talk about a stolen election in Georgia could stir up the anti-Trump vote and hurt Republicans on the ballot, he said.

This story first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, a sister publication of the Virginia Mercury within the States Newsroom network. 

by Jill Nolin, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia has issued 5,600 nonbinary driver’s licenses and IDs since 2020

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Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 5,600 driver’s licenses and other forms of ID with a nonbinary gender designation since a 2020 law that allowed people to choose that option rather than male or female.

The number includes “driver’s licenses, identification cards, driver privilege cards, and identification privilege cards,” said Jessica Cowardin, a spokesperson for the DMV.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, said he was surprised to hear so many people had taken advantage of the option since the law went into effect July 1, 2020, but said the number indicated “how important it is to so many people.”

“There’s thousands of Virginians that have a very strong and sincere belief that they ought to be able to express their gender identity that way in government records,” he said. “There’s probably other government records we ought to be thinking about as well.”


Virginia isn’t alone in offering a nonbinary designation on driver’s licenses. According to the nonprofit Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide, 22 states and Washington, D.C. now allow residents to list themselves as “X,” or nonbinary, on the identification. The U.S. Department of State also began allowing people to use X as a gender marker on U.S. passports in April.

Surovell said it was “important that the government meet people where they are and recognize who they are.”

“For decades, the government put lots of people in boxes in lots of ways,” he said. “And going forward, I don’t think a lot of young people see themselves that way.”

by Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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More than 90 school walkouts against transgender policies and more Va. headlines

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The state Capitol. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

 

• It remains unclear how the Virginia High School League, which currently allows transgender students to play on sports teams that match their gender identity under certain conditions, will react to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to overturn that rule.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Students at more than 90 Virginia schools walked out in protest of Youngkin’s proposed policies on transgender teens.—Washington Post, Associated Press

• Body camera footage shows a Wytheville police officer muttering “this is teenage stuff” after interviewing two Republican lawmakers about an alleged shove that happened at a GOP fundraiser. The footage also reveals Del. Wren Williams was initially uncooperative when police asked him about Del. Marie March’s claim he had pushed her.—Cardinal News


• Youngkin is hosting a two-day “red vest retreat” with big GOP donors at a luxury resort near Charlottesville. The event will feature a speech by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called the governor “a national star with a great future.”—Washington Post

• Newly revealed video shows the two suspects who vandalized a Richmond mural dedicated to Black tennis legend Arthur Ashe with white supremacist graffiti.—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• A new project from VPM explores how Richmond is trying to handle a wave of gun violence that’s been particularly harmful to young people.—VPM

• Hurricane Ian could bring heavy rain to parts of Virginia this weekend.—13News Now

• Prosecutors decided not to charge Joshua Yabut, the former National Guard soldier who famously commandeered an armored vehicle in 2018 and drove it to Richmond, after he was accused of interfering with first responders in an unrelated incident earlier this year.—WTVR

by Staff Report, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Federal proposal requiring Mountain Valley Pipeline completion halted

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WASHINGTON — A permitting reform proposal by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that would have required completion of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline was halted Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer removed the measure from a catchall spending package late in the afternoon after Manchin released a statement calling on him to do so.

The U.S. Senate then voted 72-23 to advance the spending bill, which would provide billions to aid Ukraine’s war effort, help communities throughout the country recover from natural disasters and keep the federal government funded through mid-December.

The Manchin plan had drawn a widespread rebuke from most Republicans, a few Senate Democrats, including Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, and a large group of progressive U.S. House members, all of which could have put passage of the government funding package at risk before the current law expires on Friday at midnight.


Federal climate deal could force completion of Mountain Valley Pipeline

Schumer said in his floor speech that he’d work with Manchin and others “to have conversations about the best way to ensure responsible permitting reform is passed before the end of the year.” West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said language could be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual policy bill for the Pentagon.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement removing Manchin’s permitting reform bill from the government spending package was the “right move” and urged leaders to keep it off “any future ‘must-pass’ legislation.”

“Many would agree that our permitting system could be improved,” Merkley said. “If the Senate is going to take up these questions in the future, it must be with a deliberative committee process and a robust, stand-alone floor debate that gives the American people, and especially those most impacted by this legislation, a full opportunity to weigh in.”

Kaine issued a statement shortly after the vote saying that “like so many Virginians, I’m relieved we defeated the attempt to greenlight the Mountain Valley Pipeline without normal administrative and judicial review. Now we can move on and fulfill our responsibility to fund the government.”

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement that the U.S. “still need(s) to take sensible steps to reduce European dependence on Russian energy while maintaining an affordable and resilient supply here at home” and said he intends to continue work on reforms “that protect our national and economic security, but also respect concerns voiced by those communities most impacted by these projects.”

Kaine pipeline objections

Many lawmakers had urged the removal of Manchin’s permitting reform bill from the must-pass government funding package for weeks. Earlier this month, more than 70 progressive Democrats signed onto a letter that asked party leaders to keep Manchin’s bill out of the funding package that must become law before Oct. 1.

Kaine has repeatedly rebuked the bill, saying its requirement of approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline “could open the door to serious abuse and even corruption.”

The 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is intended to carry natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields of West Virginia to southern Virginia, has been a major point of contention in Virginia for years. Facing numerous court challenges from opponents, Mountain Valley has repeatedly lost federal approvals and remains unfinished, with most of the incomplete portions of the line lying in Virginia’s Giles, Craig and Montgomery counties.

“The pipeline runs through Virginia for 100 miles and takes property from landowners, but I was not consulted as a deal was struck to approve it and thus not given an opportunity to share my constituents’ deep concerns,” Kaine said in a statement earlier in the day announcing he’d vote against the package.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine speaks on the U.S. Senate floor about legislation from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that would force completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

 

Kaine then urged Senate leaders to pass a funding package “free of the unprecedented and dangerous MVP deal.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also rejected the permitting reform part of the package, saying from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon before Schumer removed the bill that it was a “poison pill.”

“What our Democratic colleagues have produced is a phony fig leaf that would actually set back the cause of real permitting reform,” McConnell said.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and 17 other Republican attorneys general including Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders Tuesday opposing Manchin’s energy permitting bill on the grounds that it “would effectively create a backdoor Clean Power Plan,” overrule “states’ traditional authority to set their own resource and utility policies, and upset the careful balance of state and federal authority that has been a cornerstone of the Federal Power Act for nearly a century.”

Government funding

The overall spending package, if approved by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House this week, would fund the government through Dec. 16. The measure must become law before Friday at midnight, when current federal spending authority expires, to avoid a funding lapse or a partial government shutdown.

That is a scenario Democratic leaders wanted to avoid, especially with just weeks to go before the November midterm elections.

The spending package, released just before midnight Monday night, would provide billions in funding to ease home heating and cooling costs for low-income households, pay for community block disaster grants, and continue recovery efforts related to the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire that damaged much of New Mexico this spring.

It includes $12 billion in Ukraine aid, the third installment this year, bringing the total U.S. investment in the country’s war effort to about $66 billion.

Congress approved a $13.6 billion relief package in March, just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, and another $40 billion package in May with broad bipartisan support.

The Biden administration requested this tranche of Ukraine assistance, funding a total of $11.7 billion.

U.S. lawmakers also opted to include $35 million “to respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine, assist Ukrainian partners with the security of nuclear and radiological materials, and prevent the illicit smuggling of nuclear and radiological material.”

The package does not include $22.4 billion in COVID-19 funding or $4.5 billion for the monkeypox outbreak, both of which were requested by the White House and broadly rejected by Republicans.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said Tuesday he believes leaving out that public health funding is “shortsighted.”

Leahy said he would “revisit” the issue in December, when Congress is supposed to agree on a full-year funding package.

 

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 26, 2022 (Photo by Marisa Demarco / Source New Mexico)

 

Avoiding a shutdown

The short-term spending bill, sometimes referred to as a continuing resolution, or CR is needed to prevent a government shutdown when the current spending law expires at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The stopgap is intended to give lawmakers and the Biden administration more time to agree on how much the federal government should spend during the fiscal year 2023, which begins on October 1, and where any increases in funding should be directed.

Bipartisan agreement on total discretionary spending levels, $1.512 trillion for the current fiscal year, would allow the 12 panels in charge of an annual government spending bill to begin drafting legislation to fund dozens of departments and agencies.

President Joe Biden’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year asked Congress to approve $795 billion for defense programs and $915 billion for nondefense programs, which includes spending on the Homeland Security, Justice, and Veterans Affairs departments.

Current law provides for $782 billion for defense spending and $730 billion for nondefense funding.

If Congress and the White House cannot agree on the bills before their new December deadline, they can pass another short-term spending bill extending into 2023.

However, that type of funding strategy poses problems for many federal departments, including the Pentagon. Since the short-term stopgap spending bills continue current spending levels and policies into the new fiscal year, federal departments typically can’t start new programs or boost spending in areas they targeted for additional funding in the budget request.

by Jennifer Shutt, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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IperionX selects Virginia for first U.S. 100% recycled titanium metal powder facility

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On September 27, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that IperionX Limited (“IperionX”) (NASDAQ: IPX), a U.S. critical minerals company, plans to make a capital investment totaling $82.1 million to establish Virginia’s first titanium demonstration facility in Halifax County. The company’s project will develop over two phases, with phase one consisting of a $12.5 million investment in building construction and production-related machinery and tools and a further $69.6 million investment anticipated under a Phase 2 expansion within three years of the initial development.

The company will initially occupy the 50,000-square-foot Halifax Shell Building in the Southern Virginia Technology Park and plans to expand the facility to 100,000 square feet in the coming years. IperionX intends to source 100% renewable energy to produce 100% recycled titanium to supply advanced industries, including automotive, defense, aerospace, electric vehicles, and 3D printing. IperionX plans to develop the titanium demonstration facility as a showcase for the intersection of titanium powder production with additive manufacturing and other powder metallurgy applications. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia for the project, creating 108 new jobs over the three-year Phase 1 and Phase 2 development period.

“We are thrilled to welcome IperionX to the Commonwealth. The new Halifax County operation will represent the first titanium metal powder facility in the U.S. using 100% recycled titanium scrap as feedstock, putting Virginia on the map for providing a critical material essential for our advanced industries,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We look forward to supporting this forward-thinking company that will develop a new supply chain of titanium right here in the Commonwealth while creating high-quality jobs.”

“IperionX selecting Virginia for this multi-phase investment beginning with its inaugural titanium demonstration facility is a huge win for the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “We are proud to welcome this visionary and innovative company to Virginia’s corporate roster.”


Anastasios Arima, Founder, and CEO of IperionX, said, “We are delighted to have chosen South Boston and Halifax County as the site for our inaugural titanium demonstration facility, which is a critical step in advancing IperionX’s ambition to re-shore an all-American source of titanium metal. We highly appreciate the support and welcome from our partners and stakeholders in Virginia and look forward to establishing IperionX as a leader in advanced manufacturing in our new home.”

Rick Harrell, Chair of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, stated, “I am thrilled to welcome IperionX to Halifax County. Their decision to locate in Halifax County will have a lasting impact on our community and region.”

“This is an impressive project for Halifax County,” said Rick Short, Chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. “Their decision to locate here and create 108 new jobs is a testament to the community’s legacy in manufacturing. IperionX will make a wonderful addition to our industrial base, and we welcome them.”

“IperionX Limited provides innovative solutions to the critical materials supply chain of our nation, and we applaud their selection of Halifax County as the location to match their technology with the strong skill sets of the existing workforce,” said Linda Green, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. “Their work in diverse emerging industry sectors promises opportunity for Halifax workers for generations to come.”

Tobacco Commission member Senator Frank Ruff said, “IperionX is an exciting addition to the Southern Virginia Technology Park, and it is great to see them locate in and expand the shell building that the Commission also supported several years ago. We are fortunate to have a company that provides more than 100 high-paying jobs and contributes over $80 million to the county’s tax base come region. I wish them great success in Halifax County.”

“Dominion Energy welcomes IperionX to Virginia. We are excited for the opportunity to meet their energy needs while also helping to support its sustainability goals,” said Felicia Howard, Vice President of Economic Development Strategy, Dominion Energy.

“I am proud that Virginia will be home to a state-of-the-art titanium demonstration facility that will shore up domestic supply chains for emerging technology in a forward-thinking, sustainable way while creating jobs and opportunities in Halifax County,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

“IperionX Limited’s expansion in Halifax County will create over 100 new jobs and help boost economic development in Southside,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. “My office was glad to be involved with interfacing with the Department of Defense to identify opportunities to expand this business in Virginia. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this move in the future.”

“I am grateful to IperionX Limited for investing in Southside Virginia by locating their new facility in Halifax County,” said Congressman Bob Good. “Virginians will benefit from this partnership with over 100 new jobs and a greater manufacturing base for the Commonwealth. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Youngkin on ways we can help bring more jobs and prosperity to communities across the 5th District.”

“I want to personally thank IperionX Limited for taking a chance on Halifax County for this exciting project,” said Delegate James Edmunds. “Their commitment to this area will not only help young people stay in the area but also bring some who may have left to work elsewhere back home!”

IperionX was founded in 2020 with plans to be the leading developer of a low-carbon, sustainable, critical material supply chain. The company’s titanium technologies have demonstrated the potential to produce sustainable titanium products, 100% recyclable, low-carbon, and product qualities that exceed current industry standards. IperionX can produce its titanium from recycled scrap and mineral feedstock. The company is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and began publicly trading on Nasdaq in June 2022. The company counts major international institutions as shareholders, including Fidelity Management and Research, Fidelity International, and B. Riley Principal Investments, and has submitted three key defense-related funding requests to the federal government as part of the FY 2023 appropriations process.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Halifax County, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Department of Energy to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Youngkin approved a $300,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Halifax County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved a grant for the project for $573,000 from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund. The company is also eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities.

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Miyares joins AGs in letter criticizing credit card tracking of gun purchases

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Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares joined a group of attorneys general in criticizing a handful of financial institutions for a new policy that would track and monitor firearm purchases.

At the center of the coalition’s ire is recent action taken by the International Organization for Standardization —  a worldwide federation of national standards bodies — that would create a merchant category code for gun stores to use when processing credit and debit card transactions.

The attorneys general outlined their concerns about the new policy in a letter dated Sept. 20 addressed to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. The letter was authored by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and signed by 22 other attorneys general, including Miyares.

“When Virginians lawfully purchase firearms with credit cards, it should be no one’s business but their own,” said Miyares in a statement. “Big government and big business already collect and track enough of our private data. This new policy will do little more than put Virginians’ privacy at risk and discourage law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional right to purchase a firearm.”


While it’s unclear if any financial institutions have started using the new categorization, the attorneys generally say it goes against the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and public safety.

“The new code will not protect public safety. Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike,” the letter reads.

Among the criticisms raised by the letter are concerned about “vague and misleading information” and possible misuse of the data collected.

“Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions are considering using that information to take further, harmful action — like infringing upon consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted ‘disfavored’ merchants,” the letter reads.

Miyares and the other attorneys general also characterized the new policy as corporate overreach and a way to further the companies’ social values.

“The new code for gun stores is the result of transnational collusion between large corporations leveraging their market power to further their owners’ desired social outcomes,” the letter states. “Social policy should be debated and determined within our political institutions. Americans are tired of seeing corporate leverage used to advance political goals that cannot muster basic democratic support.”

The letter  threatens the companies with legal action if they decide to implement the new categorization, saying the attorneys general “will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights.”

This story was first published by the Daily Montanan, a sister publication of the Virginia Mercury within the States Newsroom network. Mercury editor Sarah Vogelsong contributed reporting. 

by Keith Schubert, Virginia Mercury


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
66°
Partly Cloudy
7:06 am7:00 pm EDT
Feels like: 66°F
Wind: 8mph N
Humidity: 49%
Pressure: 30.19"Hg
UV index: 2
ThuFriSat
68/45°F
63/50°F
57/52°F

Upcoming Events

Sep
28
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Sep 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Sep
30
Fri
4:30 pm Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Sep 30 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Friday, Sept 30th, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm, and Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Sep 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
 
Oct
1
Sat
8:00 am Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Oct 1 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry and accessories, Silent Auction, holiday decorations, and apple dumplings[...]
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
5:00 pm WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
Oct 1 @ 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser – An Evening of Caring & Sharing Come out to support WATTS homeless shelter (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) and help us fundraise for our upcoming overnight shelter season! A fun[...]
Oct
2
Sun
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]