Attorney General Mark R. Herring and his team have successfully defended one of Virginia’s most significant climate change mitigation programs—participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—against a legal challenge that sought to terminate the regulations that allow the Commonwealth to operate its CO2 Budget Trading Program.
Participation in RGGI has already generated $80 million to support climate change mitigation projects, including helping coastal communities in Hampton Roads protect themselves from sea-level rise and funding energy efficiency programs for low-income communities.
“Climate change is a real and urgent threat to the safety and health of Virginians, and to our continued economic success,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia’s CO2 Budget Trading Program is a key component in reducing our carbon pollution while also investing in mitigation and resiliency projects that protect communities from the negative effects of climate change, especially sea-level rise. I’m really proud we were able to protect this central piece of our climate strategy, and I appreciate all the work our environmental attorneys did in this complex and important case.”
In October 2020, the Virginia Manufacturers Association filed suit against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) asking the Richmond Circuit Court to invalidate, vacate, and declare null and void the regulations that govern Virginia’s CO2 Budget Trading Program, which allows for participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The lawsuit alleged various violations of the Virginia Administrative Process Act and the Virginia Constitution.
Attorney General Herring and his team successfully refuted each alleged violation, and in a nine-page opinion, Judge Beverly Snukals ruled in favor of the OAG and DEQ, concluding that “DEQ did not violate the VAPA or the Virginia Constitution when it issued the Revised Regulation.”
The case was handled by lawyers in Attorney General Herring’s Environmental Section including lead counsel Assistant Attorney General J. Hess, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Bergin, and Senior Assistant Attorney General/Section Chief David Grandis.
Attorney General Herring has been a consistent champion for protecting the environment and fighting climate change. He wrote an official opinion in 2017 confirming that the Commonwealth had the authority to regulate carbon pollution. He successfully fought back against the Trump Administration’s attempts to gut America’s efforts to combat climate change, including Trump’s efforts to replace the Clean Power Plan and repeal the Clean Car Plan. He filed suit against the EPA to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and has secured the largest environmental damages settlement in Virginia history.
Mail-in ballot requests due Friday, October 22
Voters wishing to cast a mail-in ballot in the November 2, 2021 elections have until 5 p.m. on Friday, October 22 to request a ballot be sent to them.
Voters may apply for a mail-in ballot online at the Department of Elections’ Citizen Portal at vote.elections.virginia.gov or by downloading a paper application at elections.virginia.gov/registration/voter-forms, filling it out, and submitting it to their local Voter Registration Office. Forms are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. Application forms may be submitted to the voter’s local Voter Registration Office by mail, fax, or email.
Contact information for your local voter registration office can be found at elections.virginia.gov/VRO. Voters may choose to receive a mail-in ballot for this November General Election only or receive mail-in ballots automatically for every election in which they are eligible, until they request to be taken off the permanent absentee list.
If the voter is print disabled, they may request to receive an absentee ballot electronically to mark their ballot using an electronic ballot-marking tool. If this option is chosen for voting absentee, the ballot will be delivered by email and can be marked using screen reader assistive technology. More information about this option is available by contacting the local voter registration office or at elections.virginia.gov/accessible.
All are encouraged to mail their ballot requests well in advance of the October 22 deadline to ensure it is received in time. Applications received by the local Voter Registration Office after 5 p.m. on October 22 cannot be accepted.
ELECT encourages voters to return their absentee ballot at their earliest convenience. A voter may return their absentee ballot by:
- Mailing the ballot via USPS or a commercial delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS.) All absentee ballots include pre-paid postage through the USPS (ballot must be postmarked by Election Day);
- Placing the ballot in a drop-off location listed on their county or city’s official website;
- Delivering the ballot to the Office of the General Registrar in the voter’s county or city; or,
- Dropping the ballot off at any polling place within their county or city on Election Day.
More information can be found about absentee and early voting for the November 2 elections online at elections.virginia.gov/absentee.
Governor Northam announces September revenue increased more than 18 percent
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced on October 13, 2021, that September General Fund revenue increased 18.4 percent from the previous year, continuing Virginia’s economic momentum.
“Our economy continues to show signs of a strong recovery,” said Governor Northam. “Our strategic and proactive decisions are paying off. In this strong economy, Virginia will continue making critical investments in our communities, our public schools, and statewide infrastructure to bolster our growing economy. Our fiscal responsibility is paying off for Virginians.”
Collections of payroll withholding taxes grew 9.9 percent in September. Collections in non-withholding grew 25.2 percent since September of last year. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting August sales, grew 20.6 percent in September. Collections of corporate income tax increased by 41.3 percent in September. Collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts—mainly recordation tax collections—were $60.1 million, compared with $56.6 million in September of last year. The first estimated payment of non-withholding and corporate income tax collections for the fiscal year was due in September.
“September completes the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022 and is a significant month for revenue collections,” said Secretary of Finance Joe Flores. “Overall, this quarter’s revenue performance was strong. It is important to remember that we are comparing this quarter’s performance to the heart of the pandemic closures last year when there was still not even a vaccine on the horizon.”
On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes—62 percent of General Fund revenues—grew by 9.7 percent, well above the annual estimate of 1.7 percent increase. Sales tax collections—17 percent of General Fund revenues—increased 16.7 percent through September, far outpacing the annual forecast of a 4.2 percent decline. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 10.6 percent, well ahead of the annual forecast of an 8.0 percent decrease. Through the first quarter of the fiscal year, corporate income tax collections rose 36.5 percent, exceeding expectations of an annual 16.1 percent decrease. The collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts were up 9.0 percent in the first quarter, outperforming the forecasted 31.3 percent decline.
Social Security announces 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000 from $142,800.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2022, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2022 are announced. Final 2022 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
September marks second consecutive month of cargo volume in excess of 300,000 TEUs
Strong import loads at The Port of Virginia® in September have helped the port achieve consecutive months of cargo volume in excess of 300,000 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units).
In September the port processed more than 306,000 TEUs, which is an increase of nearly 50,000 TEUs (+19%) when compared with last September; loaded import volume was more than 152,000 TEUs, or 31,000 units (+26%). In August, the port handled more than 307,000 TEUs. Last September is when the port began seeing a considerable rebound in its volumes from the COVID period.
To see the port’s operational metrics on productivity at the berth, rail ramp and truck gates, click here.
“The growth we’re seeing is not artificial and the movement of loaded and empty containers is up, for both exports and imports,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “Last September is when volumes began coming back and since then we have posted growth each month. The operation is fluid and the Virginia Model of being an operating port, where we own, lease and operate all of the assets, allows us to be agile in meeting the needs of our customers and cargo owners.”
In the last two months, three vessel services, Maersk’s TP20, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM’s Indamex 2 and MSC’s Indus 2 began making Virginia their first-in US East Coast port call. This and the port’s commitment to efficiency is helping to drive growth, Edwards said.
“There is no congestion here and ocean carriers and cargo owners are taking notice of our track record and what we are doing to ensure consistency in our operation,” he said. “We are maintaining our efficiency and service levels because we are monitoring the operation so closely and continuing to add modern assets. The result is that they are choosing Virginia because they see value here.”
With three months left in the calendar year, the port’s TEU volume is 2.58 million TEUs, an increase of 589,136 units (+30%) when compared with the same period last year. Edwards is not anticipating a slowdown in volume before year’s end.
“We may see a dip as the retail season comes to its end, but this is normal and any fall-off in volumes will be small,” Edwards said. “Looking into 2022 we see nothing that leads us to believe that there is going to be a drop in volumes. It is going to take some time before the supply chain returns to normal.”
September Cargo Snapshot (2021 vs. 2020)
- Total TEUs – 306,219 up 19.4%
- Loaded Export TEUs – 80,697 up 6.8%
- Loaded Import TEUs – 152,197, up 25.7%
- Total Containers – 170,998, up 21.6%
- Virginia Inland Port Containers – 2,297, down 31%
- Breakbulk Tonnage – 4,332, up 1.8%
- Total Rail Containers – 53,405 up 16.4%
- Total Truck Containers – 110,452 up 25.2%
- Total Barge Containers – 7,141 up 9.4%
Virginia War Memorial now accepting applications for 2022 Marocchi Memorial Scholarships
The Virginia War Memorial has announced that applications for its 2022 Marocchi Memorial College Scholarships are now being accepted.
One scholarship of $2,500 is available to any student enrolled in the senior class of an accredited public or private school or homeschool program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. New this year, an additional $2,500 scholarship is available for a student currently enrolled in a Virginia public or private college or university and is participating in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Senior high school age applicants must also plan to enroll and participate in an ROTC program at a Virginia public or private college or university that will lead to a career in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. All applicants must possess an unweighted minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.75 and must be U.S. citizens or hold permanent residence status at time of application. Students do not have to participate in an ROTC program at the high school level to apply.
“This year, we are pleased to announce that for the first time, our Marocchi Memorial Scholarships will be available to both a graduating high school student and to a student currently enrolled in a state college or university,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Virginia War Memorial Director. “These scholarships were established and intended to reward Virginia students who participate in ROTC at the college level and wish to pursue a career in military service.”
The Marocchi Memorial Scholarships were established and are funded by friends and family of the late Rear Admiral John Marocchi of Rappahannock County, Va. and are administered by the Virginia War Memorial Foundation.
Admiral Marocchi served in the United States Navy for decades in a career that spanned World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Legion of Merit, the Admiral was one of the few Navy officers to complete Army Airborne training. He also served as a trustee of the Virginia War Memorial for more than fifteen years.
All applications for the 2022 Marocchi Memorial Scholarships must be received by Sunday, April 24, 2022. Complete details, including application forms and a list of required documents, are available online or by contacting Virginia War Memorial Assistant Director of Education Morgan Guyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804.786.2060.
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. Every day is truly Memorial Day at the Virginia War Memorial. 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. For more information, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. VDVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, VDVS 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 two 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.
About The Virginia War Memorial Foundation
Established in 2000, the Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) is the private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that finances all of the educational outreach, patriotic events, and historical programs, exhibits, and documentary films of the Virginia War Memorial. The Foundation depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, military and veterans organizations, civic groups, and grants for its funding. For more information or to make a gift, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
Attorney General Herring defends Indian Child Welfare Act protections before U.S. Supreme Court
RICHMOND (October 8, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed an amicus brief supporting the United States and four federally recognized tribes in their efforts to uphold critical protections guaranteed under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Attorney General Herring and a bipartisan coalition of 26 attorneys general filed the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Haaland v. Brackeen and Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen. The brief highlights the states’ compelling interest in standing up for the wellbeing of all children, including Native American children, in-state child-custody proceedings.
“Since its passage more than 40 years ago, the Indian Child Welfare Act has been a critical tool for protecting Native American tribes and keeping Native American families together, and it has also helped to foster tribal-state collaboration,” said Attorney General Herring. “Every single child deserves to be protected, especially during child-custody proceedings, and it’s crucial that protections like the ICWA remain in place to do just that. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act and maintaining these crucial protections for Native American children and their families.”
Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 in response to a serious and pervasive problem: State and private parties were initiating state child-custody proceedings that removed Native American children from the custody of their parents — often without good cause — and placed them in the custody of non-tribal adoptive and foster homes. That practice harmed children and posed an existential threat to the continuity and vitality of tribal communities. To address this, Congress established minimum federal standards governing the removal of Native American children from their families. ICWA’s provisions safeguard the rights of Native American children, parents, and tribes in state child-custody proceedings, and seek to promote the placement of Native American children with members of their extended families or with other tribal homes. In the four decades since Congress enacted ICWA, the statute has become the foundation of state-tribal relations in the realm of child custody and family services. Collectively, the coalition states are home to approximately 86% of federally recognized tribes in the United States.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that:
• ICWA is a critical tool for protecting Native American families and tribes, and fostering state-tribal collaboration;
• The court of appeals incorrectly concluded that several of ICWA’s provisions violate the anti-commandeering doctrine; and
• ICWA’s preferences for the placement of Native American children with other Native American families and foster homes do not violate equal protection.
Joining Attorney General Herring in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.