RICHMOND (November 23, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in urging the Supreme Court not to restrict the resentencing relief that individuals serving harsh sentences can seek under the First Step Act, landmark criminal justice reform legislation passed by Congress in 2018.
Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed an amicus brief in Concepcion v. United States, a case concerning what information a court may consider when deciding whether to reduce a harsh sentence for a prior crack cocaine offense under the First Step Act. Specifically, the coalition argues that courts should be able to consider intervening changes to the law since the original sentence was imposed, and intervening changes in a defendant’s factual circumstances, such as good behavior in prison or evidence of rehabilitation. The coalition points to a universal consensus that the former federal sentencing regime, which disproportionately punished crack cocaine offenders over powder cocaine offenders, was unjust and had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. The brief also explains how state-level sentencing reforms analogous to the First Step Act have improved public safety and saved billions of dollars and contends that limiting the scope of the First Step Act would deprive both states and the federal government of similar benefits.
“The passage of the First Step Act helped to create a more fair, just, and equal criminal justice system in this country, and we must ensure that those reforms remain in place,” said Attorney General Herring. “When resentencing eligible Americans under the Act, it’s so important for courts to be able to consider intervening changes in the law or in the individual’s factual circumstances to make the most accurate and fair decision. My top priority will always be to ensure justice, equality, and opportunity in Commonwealth and around the country.”
In the 1980s, states and the federal government responded to the prevalence of crack cocaine and public panic about its supposedly unique dangers with aggressive penalties and targeted criminalization. Federal sentencing laws treated crack cocaine much more harshly than powder cocaine, with 100 times as much powder cocaine as crack cocaine needed to trigger the same penalties.
Harsh penalties for crack cocaine exacerbated racial inequality in the justice system. Historically approximately 60 percent of crack users in a given year have been white, but the majority of people sentenced for crack cocaine offenses have been Black or Hispanic. For example, in 2006, around 80% of those convicted of crack offenses were Black. In part because of dramatically harsher treatment of crack cocaine offenses, the average prison time for Black people convicted of drug offenses increased by more than 77% from 1994 to 2003, compared to an increase of less than 33% for white people convicted of drug offenses.
In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the disparity between sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine. The First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill passed in 2018, included a provision that made the Fair Sentencing Act’s reforms retroactive, allowing those serving harsh sentences imposed under the former federal law to seek relief.
In their amicus brief filed in Concepcion v. United States, the attorneys general urge the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision dramatically limiting what courts may consider when resentencing otherwise eligible individuals under the First Step Act. Relying on their historical experience addressing the crack cocaine crisis and their unique authority as the primary enforcers of criminal law, the states argue that during First Step Act resentencing, courts should be allowed to consider intervening changes in the law and facts because:
There is consensus that applying dramatically harsher sentences for crack cocaine offenses over powder cocaine offenses was unnecessary and unjust: When Congress was drafting the First Step Act, states had uniformly concluded that the extreme differential between sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine was both unwarranted and unwise. Assumptions about crack cocaine’s unique danger and addictiveness—which informed the original decisions to impose harsher sentences—have been discredited, and there is now widespread consensus that crack cocaine and powder cocaine have similar effects.
Sentencing reform has been shown to improve public safety and save tax dollars: States have experimented with sentencing reforms and reduced sentences for drug-related offenses for decades and have seen these reforms improve public safety, strengthen communities, and decrease recidivism. These reforms have also saved states billions of dollars. Congress passed the First Step Act to realize these benefits at the federal level, and the Act should be interpreted in a manner consistent with that aim.
The First Step Act was intended to right historic wrongs: Congress passed the First Step Act in part to correct fundamental injustices in federal cocaine sentencing laws and address the severe racial disparities created by the prior sentencing regime. Sentencing reform is a powerful tool to help correct the extreme over-incarceration of racial minorities for drug-related crimes and promote racial justice. So far, 96% of those granted sentence reductions under the First Step Act have been Black or Hispanic. It would make little sense to require courts to limit the factors they consider in resentencing and apply old rules no longer on the books—including rules rejected by Congress, the courts, and the Sentencing Commission—when Congress passed the First Step Act specifically to correct the unjust and racially disparate sentences brought on by the old regime.
Joining Attorney General Herring in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general from Colorado, Colorado, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Virginia Department of Veterans Services to host Memorial Day ceremonies across the Commonwealth on May 30
The Virginia War Memorial will host the 2022 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 11 a.m. EDT. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
The ceremony will be held outdoors in the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater on the Memorial grounds, weather permitting. This is the 66th consecutive year that the Virginia War Memorial has conducted this ceremony, which is the annual tribute to all American service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in our Armed Forces.
The keynote speaker for the 2022 Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony will be Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears. Virginia War Memorial Director Dr. Clay Mountcastle will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
Music will be provided by the US Navy Fleet Forces Command Band and there will be a special tribute to members of Gold Star Families. The ceremony will also be broadcast and livestreamed and feature both live and pre-recorded content including the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day message from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Veteran service organizations and other groups are invited to participate in the laying of memorial wreaths in the Memorial’s Shrine of Memory – 20th Century.
The Virginia War Memorial will be open extended hours on Memorial Day from 9 a.m. to sunset. The Richmond Cadet Alumni Band and Friends will present a free concert of patriotic music on the Memorial grounds at 2:30 p.m. There is no admission charge for any of these events. Parking is also free but will be limited onsite. Members of the public are advised to arrive no later than 10:45 a.m. to be seated for the ceremony. For more information, please go to www.vawarmemorial.org or www.dvs.virginia.gov.
Those not attending the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony in person may tune into the live broadcast, which will air on WTVR-TV CBS6.1 and 6.3 or to the livestream available on facebook.com/VirginiaVeteransServices, .facebook.com/VirginiaWarMemorial, and other social media channels to be announced.
Memorial Day Ceremonies will also be held at Virginia’s three state veterans cemeteries:
- Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin. Ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Keynote speaker will be Major General Randal D. Fullhart, (US Air Force, Ret.).
- Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia. Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The keynote speaker is State Senator Amanda Chase.
- Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk. Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. EDT. The keynote speaker is Command Sergeant Major Scott A. Beeson, US Army.
Prior to each ceremony, volunteers will place American flags on all gravesites. For information on these ceremonies, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
About the Virginia War Memorial
The mission of the Virginia War Memorial is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism. The Virginia War Memorial is and will always be the Commonwealth’s tribute to those who served and most especially, to those who died defending our freedoms.
The Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military. It is located at 621 South Belvidere Street, Richmond, Virginia 23220 and is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free, except for select events. For more information, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
About Virginia’s State Veterans Cemeteries
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) operates state veterans cemeteries in Amelia, Dublin, and Suffolk, which provide a final resting place for Veterans, Guardsmen, Reservists, Military Service members who died while serving on active duty, and their eligible dependents. The Virginia Veterans Cemetery is located in Amelia, the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, and the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin. All cemeteries accommodate in-ground burial of casketed remains, in-ground inurnment of cremated remains, and above-ground inurnment of cremated remains in a columbarium. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov/cemeteries.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia “Shell-Abrates” World Turtle Day
Every May, the Center releases a number of Woodland Box Turtles that have been recovering over winter back into the wild. This release happens to coincide with World Turtle Day on May 23. To celebrate the occasion, Center educators will host a live-streaming virtual discussion with Certified Master Herpetologist Ana Sparks. Event watchers will learn about the natural history of Virginia’s native turtles, the challenges they are facing in wild, and the conservation measures taken to protect them. Wilson, one of the Center’s non-releasable Woodland Box Turtles, will also make an appearance during the program. The stream will take place on the Wildlife Center’s Facebook page on May 23 at 2:00 pm.
Wildlife enthusiasts can learn more about Virginia’s turtles in other ways, too. S1:E3 of Untamed: Life is Wild, an award-winning television series co-produced by the Wildlife Center of Virginia and VPM, features discussions on the causes of admission for turtles, including vehicle collisions, and swallowing fish hooks, pesticides, and more. The Center’s hospital director describes how these injuries are treated, and host Ed Clark reviews how humans can change their behavior to help turtles. Each episode of Untamed is available to watch online for free via wildlifecenter.org/untamed.
However you celebrate World Turtle Day, remember these tips to help turtles year-round:
- Assist turtles crossing the road by carrying them across in the direction they’re headed. Many turtles crossing roads are egg-laden females looking for appropriate nesting sites.
- Do NOT relocate a turtle to a “better place.” Turtles have small home territories and should be left where they are found. Their survivability depends on it!
- Don’t ever keep a wild turtle as a pet. If you truly desire a pet reptile and can make all of the commitments necessary to keeping a healthy, happy herp, please look into adopting. Captive-bred reptiles or rescued turtles are available for adoption in the state of Virginia through several different organizations, such as Blue Ridge Reptile Rescue.
- Watch out for turtles and other wildlife when mowing lawns and doing other yard work.
- If you find an injured turtle, put it in a box and contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Make sure to record details of the rescue location so that the turtle can be returned there once it has healed.
Governor Glenn Youngkin announces the restoration of rights for thousands of Virginians
Governor Glenn Youngkin announced on May 20, 2022, that civil rights have been restored to 3,496 Virginians. The consideration for restoration of rights is coordinated by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the Department of Corrections, with thorough consideration by the Department of Elections, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and the Compensation Board.
“I am encouraged that over 3,400 Virginians will take this critical first step towards vibrant futures as citizens with full civil rights,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Individuals with their rights restored come from every walk of life and are eager to provide for themselves and their families and put the past behind them for a better tomorrow.”
“The restoration of rights process provides a fresh step forward for individuals who have made mistakes but have done their duty to our community and wish to be full and productive citizens of our Commonwealth,” said Secretary Kay Coles James. “I look forward to their successful futures.”
The administration will be restoring rights on an ongoing basis. Individuals looking to have rights restored and meet the criteria should visit www.restore.virginia.gov. Applicants waiting for rights to be restored may check the status of an application online.
Governor Glenn Youngkin announces the Commonwealth’s April unemployment rate unchanged from March at three percent
RICHMOND, VA – On May 20, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Virginia’s unemployment rate held steady at 3 percent in April, while total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 13,600 jobs. The Commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3 percent is 1.3 percentage points below the rate from a year ago. The labor force increased by 18,281 to 4,329,907, as the number of unemployed residents decreased by 1,324 to 129,771. The number of employed residents rose by 19,605 to 4,200,136.
According to BLS household survey data, Virginia’s labor force expanded to over 4.3 million workers in April 2022. Since February of this year, the labor force grew by over 52,000. The average monthly growth in the size of the labor force from February through April of 2022 was 17,352, while the 2021 average was -1,653. Labor force growth March’s labor force growth was the second-largest monthly increase while April’s was the third-largest going back to 1976.
The Commonwealth’s labor force participation rate rose by 0.2 of a percentage point to 63.5 percent in April. The labor force participation rate measures the proportion of the civilian population age 16 and older that is employed or actively looking for work.
“We have more than 60,000 Virginians working today than when I took office,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Our state continues to add jobs month after month as we expand opportunities for businesses and families in every corner of the Commonwealth. There’s more work to be done, Virginia is still thousands of jobs short of pre-pandemic levels. Our mission remains clear, continue making Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family.”
“The number of employed residents has risen a total of nearly 62,000 and by an average of 20,500 during February, March, and April in 2022, compared to averaging under 5,000 a month in 2021,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Also, the labor force participation rate rose to 63.5 percent — nearly a full percentage point higher than at the end of 2021. This is an indication that many Virginians are getting off the sidelines and back into the game.”
“The unemployment rate has not risen in two years and is a third lower than a year ago,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “While the unemployment rate can sometimes go down even when jobs are lost, VEC data for April showed total employment went up while unemployment went down. These trends indicate that Virginia’s recovery from the most recent recession is moving forward.”
Virginia payroll employment increased by 13,600 to 4,037,800 in April. From April 2021 to April 2022, the VEC estimates that establishments in Virginia gained 124,500 jobs, an increase of 3.2 percent. In April, the private sector recorded an over-the-year gain of 115,700 jobs, while employment in the public sector gained 8,800 jobs.
Compared to a year ago, on a seasonally adjusted basis, nine of eleven major industry divisions experienced employment increases while two saw employment decreases. The largest over-the-year job gain occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 62,400 jobs (+18.4%). The second-largest over-the-year job gain occurred in professional and business services, with up to 18,600 jobs (+2.4%). The next largest over-the-year job gain occurred in education and health services, with up to 18,000 jobs (+3.4%). Other job gains occurred in trade and transportation (+11,200 jobs), government (+8,800 jobs), miscellaneous (+6,400 jobs), information (+2,300 jobs), construction (+300 jobs), and mining (+200 jobs). Within government, local (+2,500 jobs) and state government (+700 jobs) both gained jobs over the year while the federal government saw a decrease in employment (-700 jobs). The largest job loss during April occurred in finance (-2,700 jobs) to 207,500. The second-largest decrease occurred in manufacturing with a decrease of 1,000 jobs to 235,900.
For more details, visit the Virginia Employment Commission’s website at vec.virginia.gov.
Port of Virginia secures all necessary federal investment for making Virginia the US east coast’s deepest port
The Port of Virginia® and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today, May 20, 2022, signed the agreement committing the federal government to begin its financial investment in the construction effort to widen and deepen the commercial shipping channels and Norfolk Harbor. Close collaboration with Army Corps has the project on schedule for completion in 2024.
With a group of federal and state officials in attendance, Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards and Col. Brian P. Hallberg, the US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District commander, signed the Project Partnership Agreement. The document formally commits the port and the Army Corps to collaborate to deliver the Norfolk Harbor widening and deepening project. Further, it allows the Army Corps to use federal funding to award its first construction contract on the project.
“The importance of this moment in the evolution of The Port of Virginia cannot be overstated,” Edwards said. “This is a modern, 21st-century port, and when you couple our land-based assets and capabilities with the deepest and widest channels — and safest harbor — on the entire U.S. East Coast, you have a recipe for success here for decades to come.
“We absolutely would not be here today if it weren’t for the perseverance of our elected leaders at the federal and state levels, the US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District office, and the Virginia Maritime Association. Everyone played a critical role in this project, and it is important to thank them for their support and effort. The Virginia Legislature funded the entire project cost up-front with the understanding that the federal government would share half the cost. Today, we welcome the federal government representatives who are here to finalize that commitment,” Edwards added.
The signing ceremony was attended by US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Shalanda D. Young, director of the US Office of Management and Budget, US Reps Elaine Luria (D-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jamie A. Pinkham, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Virginia Transportation Secretary W. Shepphard “Shep” Miller III, Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas, and Virginia Del. Robert Bloxom Jr.
The commercial shipping channels from the Atlantic Ocean and into the harbor are being deepened to at least 55-feet and made wide enough to safely accommodate two-way traffic of ultra-large container ships. These features put the port ahead of its East Coast peers and in a unique position to attract more cargo and increase efficiency at its terminals. Edwards said the biggest ships afloat will be able safely sail to-and-from the port fully laden with containers. And, he said, the wider channels and two-way ship traffic means greater use of the port’s vessel berths.
“The benefits of this project are unparalleled anywhere on the US East Coast,” Edwards said.
The final installment of the federal investment, $72 million, included the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The federal government and the port agreed to a 50-50 cost share of the project at its outset in 2015 when the Army Corps began evaluating the economic value of a deeper and wider Norfolk Harbor and commercial shipping channel. The dredging work began in December 2019, nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for Hampton Roads, Luria said. “I was proud to join my colleagues in securing an additional investment of more than $69 million in the port to expand economic opportunities for Coastal Virginia, the Commonwealth, and the country. This agreement today will strengthen the public-private partnership that supports the Port of Virginia and ensures that the Port remains a vital economic engine.”
“This historic investment through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow more goods to move faster through the port, drive significant new economic opportunities to Norfolk, and help bring down costs for families across Virginia and the country,” said OMB Director Young. “This [investment] is in addition to the $150 million the Biden-Harris Administration is providing to protect families and businesses in Norfolk and across the region from the impacts of climate change by building floodwalls, storm surge barriers, levees, and other flood-control measures. I want to thank Senator Warner, Representative Scott, and Representative Luria for their partnership in securing these federal investments to keep this community safe.”
While the project will help drive the port’s cargo volumes, the dredge work contains an important and useful byproduct: dredge material that will benefit regional beaches.
“Over the course of the project, we’ll dredge a large volume of sands – millions of cubic yards,” said Keith Lockwood, Norfolk District Water Resources Division chief. “The US Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Port Authority are collaborating with the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach to maximize the beneficial use of this dredged sand by placing it along beaches for additional coastal protection.”
(The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and, through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal, and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create about 437,000 jobs and generated nearly $100 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.)
Governor Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signs legislation to support Virginia’s military, veteran community and proclamation honoring Armed Forces Day
RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signed 23 bills highlighting the priorities of Virginia’s military and veteran community. After delivering remarks, Governor Youngkin also signed a proclamation to honor Armed Forces Day, which will be recognized on May 21, 2022.
“Making Virginia the best place for military service members and their families to live and the number one state for service members to retire has been a priority of mine since day one. Our military makes sacrifices daily, and the Commonwealth owes them great gratitude and support to them and their families, ” said Governor Youngkin. “ I am proud of the significant bipartisan effort around the 23 bills we are here to celebrate today, but this is just the beginning. When the time comes for service members to retire…to turn the page on the next chapter of their life…we want them to make Virginia their permanent home. To help make that possible, we are working diligently to eliminate taxes on the first $40,000 in military retirement pay. Our message is simple: when you come back to the safety of our shores and eventually retire, we want you to retire here, in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“As a Marine veteran, it is heartwarming to see the many pieces of legislation that passed to encourage veterans to call Virginia home – for work reciprocity for spouses, and for their children to have educational choices. Promises made, promises kept,” said Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears.
“Freedom is not free. Virginia’s veteran and military community have dedicated their lives to preserving America’s freedom,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares. “Growing up and living in a military community, I have the utmost respect and admiration for the brave men and women who have served and those currently serving in the armed forces. There is no braver or more selfless group than the United States military, and Virginia is dedicated to supporting them.”
“I am pleased with this package of bills and the services it provides to our National Guardsmen, Veterans, and their families and look forward to furthering this work in the sessions to come,” said Secretary Craig Crenshaw, Secretary of Veteran and Defense Affairs.
Additionally, reflecting on Armed Forces Day, Governor Youngkin added: “This is a great opportunity to pay tribute to these brave men and women who keep our nation safe every day. It is because of them we get the privilege of calling our Commonwealth and nation safe and free. As Governor, it is my honor to recognize our heroes by signing this Armed Forces Day Proclamation.”
Governor Youngkin Ceremonially Signed Four Day One Game Plan Bills, including:
HB 358, patroned by Delegate John McGuire, R-Goochland, and SB 572, patroned by Senator Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, which Directs the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in conjunction with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, to examine the waiving of fees associated with permits necessary to establish a small business for veteran-owned small businesses.
HB 994, patroned by Delegate Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, and SB 529, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, which directs the Board of Education to determine the feasibility of amending its regulations to permit all active-duty members of the Armed Forces of the United States who serve as caregivers to dependents to apply for the Child Care Subsidy Program.
Governor Youngkin Ceremonially Signed 19 Additional Bills, including:
HB 17, patroned by Delegate Buddy Fowler, R-Hanover, and SB 618, patroned by Senator Richard Stewart, R-King George, exempts members of a lawfully recognized military color guard, honor guard, or similar organization and members of a veterans service organization that is congressionally chartered or officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, when such member is participating in a training or educational exercise, funeral, or public ceremony on behalf of such military color guard, honor guard, or similar organization or veterans service organization, from the crime of unlawful paramilitary activity unless such member engages in such activity with malicious intent.
HB 40, patroned by Delegate Phillip Scott, R-Spotsylvania, authorizes a disabled veteran’s special license plate issued to a disabled veteran to be transferred, upon his death, to his un-remarried surviving spouse.
HB 120, patroned by Delegate Scott Wyatt, R-Hanover, authorizes resident veterans who have a service-connected disability of at least 30 percent to receive from the Department of Wildlife Resources, at no cost or a reduced cost depending on the veteran’s disability rating, a lifetime license to hunt and freshwater fish.
HB 210, patroned by Delegate Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, and SB 256, patroned by Senator John Bell, D-Loudon, which authorizes the Department of Military Affairs to utilize grant funding to recruit qualified applicants for service in the Virginia National Guard.
HB 230, patroned by Delegate Carrie Coyner, R-Chesterfield, and SB 154, patroned by Senator Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, requires the Board of Education’s licensure regulations to provide for licensure by reciprocity for any spouse of active-duty or reserve member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a member of the Virginia National Guard who has obtained a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, that is in force at the time the application for a Virginia license is received by the Department of Education.
HB 231, patroned by Delegate Bobby Orrock, R-Caroline, increases, from 15 to 21 days, the number of days a member of the armed services, reserves, National Guard, Virginia Defense Force, or National Defense Executive Reserve shall be entitled to paid leave for military duties.
HB 354, patroned by Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata, R-Virginia Beach, and SB 315, patroned by Senator Lionell Spruill, D-Northern Chesapeake, which establishes the Virginia Military Community Infrastructure Grant Fund to support military communities in the Commonwealth by awarding grants to aid the planning and design, construction, or completion of infrastructure projects that enhance military readiness, installation resiliency, or quality of life for military communities.
HB 642, patroned by Delegate Betsy Carr, D-Richmond City, and SB 719, patroned by Senator John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, provides that the Department of Military Affairs shall have the power to pay the employer portion of health care premiums for any member of the Virginia National Guard or Virginia Defense Force when certain circumstances are met.
HB 857, patroned by Delegate David Reid, D-Loudon, and SB 71, patroned by Senator Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg, adds parameters around grants distributed by the Department of Military Affairs to members of the Virginia National Guard who are enrolled in any course or program at any public institution of higher education or accredited nonprofit private institution of higher education.
HB 957, patroned by Delegate Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax County, provides that beginning with the taxable year 2022, any locality may declare real property owned by a surviving spouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who died in the line of duty with a line of duty determination from the U.S. Department of Defense, where such death was not the result of criminal conduct, and where the spouse occupies the real property as his principal place of residence and does not remarry, a separate class of property for local taxation of real property that may be taxed at a different rate than that imposed on the general class of real property, provided that the rate of tax is greater than zero and does not exceed the rate of tax on the general class of real property.
HB 1203, patroned by Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata, R-Virginia Beach, establishes the position of Suicide Prevention Coordinator in the Department of Veterans Services to support and closely coordinate effective mental health care services for military service members and veterans and their families.
SB 212, patroned by Senator Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, authorizes the issuance of revenue-sharing special license plates with a design that incorporates the emblem of the United States Navy to active members and certain veterans of the United States Navy.
SB 768, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, amends the definition of “qualified survivors and dependents” under the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program to include that a child who is a stepchild of a deceased military service member shall receive all program benefits if the military service member claimed the stepchild on his tax return or on his Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System while serving on active duty.