A new illegal firearms initiative announced November 15th, Project Guardian-DMV, is designed to reduce violent crime and further enforce federal firearms laws across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV).
The new initiative builds on the Justice Department’s national effort, Project Guardian, announced by Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday.
“Gun crime remains a pervasive problem in too many communities across America,” said Attorney General Barr. “The Department of Justice is redoubling its commitment to tackling this issue through the launch of Project Guardian. Building on the success of past programs like Triggerlock, Project Guardian will strengthen our efforts to reduce gun violence by allowing the federal government and our state and local partners to better target offenders who use guns in crimes and those who try to buy guns illegally.”
Project Guardian-DMV will localize the effort to the DMV region, and expands upon the current partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia, the ATF, and Metro Police Department, and now also includes the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Maryland and the Western District of Virginia, and the Virginia State Police.
“Through this partnership, we hope to stanch the flow of illegal guns from the Commonwealth of Virginia to Washington, Baltimore, and other cities in the Northeast, where, too often, they are used to commit violent crimes,” said Thomas T. Cullen, U.S Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “We will work closely with our U.S. attorney partners, the ATF, the MPD, and the Virginia State Police to identify individuals and groups in Western Virginia engaged in this deadly enterprise and put them in federal prison.”
“The public is on notice that we are deadly serious about illegal firearms offenses,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Now with leadership of Attorney General Barr, all the tentacles of the Department of Justice, including the ATF and its Crime Gun Intelligence capabilities, and the amazing men and women in blue on the beat, we are doubling down on illegal firearms with Project Guardian.”
Reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearms laws have always been among the Department’s highest priorities. In order to develop a new and robust effort to promote and ensure public safety, the Department reviewed and adapted some of the successes of past strategies to curb gun violence. Project Guardian draws on the Department’s earlier achievements, such as the “Triggerlock” program, and it serves as a complementary effort to the success of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In addition, the initiative emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.
“Working together with our federal and local partners is key to reducing gun violence and violent crime in the region,” said Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “Project Guardian will allow us to identify specific incidents and trends, thereby enabling us to move quickly in investigating and prosecuting violent crime in the most appropriate venue. The correlation between the availability and use of illegal guns and violent crime is undeniable, and we will continue to work closely with our partners in the law enforcement community in the promotion of public safety and the pursuit of justice. “
“We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to get guns off of our streets, in order to reduce violent crime in our neighborhoods,” said Rob K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. “If you use a gun, you could face federal time, where there is no parole—ever. Please, put down the guns and save a life—maybe even your own.”
“Straw purchasers and firearms traffickers do more than commit paperwork violations or illegally sell a firearm – they knowingly put firearms in the hands of people who should not have them, including violent offenders. These traffickers have no regard for the safety of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia communities,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Washington Field Division. “As part of Project Guardian, ATF will continue to work alongside our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners and U.S. Attorney’s Officers to ensure anyone committing these crimes is held accountable. We are putting all gun traffickers on notice that we will find you; you will be held accountable; and you will be punished under the law.”
“Criminals do not concern themselves with state line or jurisdictions, so we have ensured that our efforts to stop the illegal flow of guns into Maryland involves working closely with our neighboring ATF Field Division in Washington, as well as neighboring U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Virginia and D.C.,” said Rob Cekada, Special Agent in Charge of ATF Baltimore Field Division.
“Our focus is on identifying, investigating, and incarcerating anyone who uses firearms to commit violent crime, and those who traffic or straw purchase firearms are supplying these offenders.
Project Guardian serves to further strengthen our multi-state and District partnerships with law enforcements and prosecutors so we can brings these criminals to justice.”
Project Guardian’s national and DMV implementation is based on five principles:
1) Coordinated Prosecution. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement will coordinate with state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors to consider potential federal prosecution for new cases involving a defendant who: a) was arrested in possession of a firearm; b) is believed to have used a firearm in committing a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime prosecutable in federal court; or c) is suspected of actively committing violent crime(s) in the community on behalf of a criminal organization.
2) Enforcing the Background Check System. United States Attorneys, in consultation with the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in their district, will create new, or review existing, guidelines for intake and prosecution of federal cases involving false statements (including lie-and-try, lie-and-buy, and straw purchasers) made during the acquisition or attempted acquisition of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees.
Particular emphasis is placed on individuals convicted of violent felonies or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, individuals subject to protective orders, and individuals who are fugitives where the underlying offense is a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; individuals suspected of involvement in criminal organizations or of providing firearms to criminal organizations; and individuals involved in repeat denials.
3) Improved Information Sharing. On a regular basis, and as often as practicable given current technical limitations, ATF will provide to state law enforcement fusion centers a report listing individuals for whom the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has issued denials, including the basis for the denial, so that state and local law enforcement can take appropriate steps under their laws.
4) Coordinated Response to Mental Health Denials. Each United States Attorney will ensure that whenever there is federal case information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under the mental health prohibition, such information continues to be entered timely and accurately into the United States Attorneys’ Offices’ case-management system for prompt submission to NICS. ATF should engage in additional outreach to state and local law enforcement on how to use this denial information to better assure public safety.
Additionally, United States Attorneys will consult with relevant district stakeholders to assess feasibility of adopting disruption of early engagement programs to address mental-health-prohibited individuals who attempt to acquire a firearm. United States Attorneys should consider, when appropriate, recommending court-ordered mental health treatment for any sentences issued to individuals prohibited based on mental health.
5) Crime Gun Intelligence Coordination. Federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement will work together to ensure effective use of the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGICs), and all related resources, to maximize the use of modern intelligence tools and technology. These tools can greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness in identifying trigger-pullers and finding their guns, but the success depends in large part on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners sharing ballistic evidence and firearm recovery data with the ATF.
Governor Northam announces launch of 2020 Governor’s Fellows Program
~ Deadline to apply is Monday, March 9 ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that applications for the 2020 Governor’s Fellows Program will be accepted through Monday, March 9, and invited students attending Virginia colleges and universities to apply. Since 1982, the Governor’s Fellows Program has offered participants firsthand state government experience at the highest level of Virginia’s executive branch.
Fellows are placed with a member of the Governor’s Cabinet or with a member of his personal staff, providing a unique opportunity to learn about the work and decision-making in the Office of the Governor. Governor’s Fellows also hear from special guest speakers from the Northam Administration and participate in site visits to state government agencies.
“The Governor’s Fellows Program is designed to give young Virginians a front row view of the inner workings of state government, helping them develop a deeper understanding of the issues that are important to our state and the policies that will shape the future of our Commonwealth.”
“The Governor’s Fellows Program was an unforgettable experience, and was instrumental in preparing me for my career in public service,” said Norman Ellis III, Legislative Correspondent for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and 2019 Governor’s Fellow. “I was given a considerable amount of substantive tasks that not only supported the work of the Commerce and Trade secretariat, but also significantly added to my own professional growth and development. Having the opportunity to engage in intimate conversations with elected and appointed officials, to work with a similarly dedicated group of fellows, and to serve the Commonwealth is an experience you simply cannot get anywhere else in Virginia.”
Qualified applicants must be rising college seniors, graduating seniors, or graduate students. All Virginia college and university students are eligible to apply, regardless of state of residence. Virginia residents who attend out-of-state colleges and universities are also eligible. Both public and private college and university students are encouraged to apply.
The selection of Fellows is based solely on merit. The Governor’s Fellows Program does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status.
The deadline to apply for the Governor’s Fellows Program is Monday, March 9, 2020. The program directors will hold interviews between March 16, 2020 and April 3, 2020 and will advise on decisions by April 10, 2020. The program runs from Monday, June 1, 2020 to Friday, July 31, 2020.
To apply, visit the Governor’s Fellows Program website and send the required recommendation letters and transcripts to the address below:
Governor’s Fellows Program
Post Office Box 2454
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richmond Circuit Court upholds Executive Order Forty-Nine
RICHMOND—The Richmond Circuit Court today upheld Governor Ralph Northam’s decision, outlined in Executive Order Forty-Nine, to temporarily ban firearms on Capitol grounds from 5:00 PM on Friday, January 17, 2020 until 5:00 PM on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. The Governor said that law enforcement intelligence analysts had identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend.
Governor Northam issued the following statement:
This is the right decision. I took this action to protect Virginians from credible threats of violence. These threats are real—as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.
I’m grateful to the Circuit Court for recognizing the seriousness of these threats, and for upholding this reasonable, legal action to protect all Virginians, including demonstrators and policymakers. I will continue to do everything in my power to keep Virginians safe.
Governor Northam declares State of Emergency in advance of Capitol Square demonstration
On January 15th, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in advance of expected demonstrations on Capitol Square on Monday, January 20, 2020. According to the Governor, law enforcement intelligence analysts have identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend.
The Governor’s declaration prohibits all weapons, including firearms, from Capitol grounds, and will provide joint law enforcement and public safety agencies the resources they need to keep demonstrators, policymakers, and all Virginians safe.
This emergency declaration is temporary, and extends from Friday, January 17 at 5:00 PM until Tuesday, January 21 at 5:00 PM.
Watch the Governors comments:
Attorney General Herring says he’ll continue to fight to protect student borrowers
~ Herring joins coalition of attorneys general in commending Congressional effort to reject the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 Borrower Defense Rule that would hurt students ~
RICHMOND (January 14, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of states in supporting Congressional efforts to reject a final rule by the U.S. Department of Education that fails to protect students and taxpayers from the misconduct of unscrupulous schools. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues commended efforts to reject the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 Borrower Defense Rule. Previously, Attorney General Herring won a victory in federal court after he challenged the U.S. Department of Education’s plan to abruptly rescind the 2016 Borrower Defense Rule.
“Time and again the Trump Administration has shown that it favors protecting for-profit colleges over protecting student borrowers,” said Attorney General Herring. “This new Borrower Defense Rule will hurt student borrowers and leave them without options to discharge their loans if they have been defrauded by one of these for-profit schools. I will continue to fight to make sure that for-profit colleges are held accountable and student borrowers are afforded the protections they deserve.”
According to the letter, the final rule provides no realistic prospect for borrowers to discharge their loans when they have been defrauded by predatory for-profit schools, and it eliminates financial responsibility requirements for those same institutions.
“If this rule goes into effect, the result will be disastrous for students while providing a windfall to abusive schools,” the letter states.
The U.S. Department of Education’s new rule would rescind and replace its comprehensive 2016 Borrower Defense Rule, which involved a thorough rulemaking process addressing borrower defense and financial responsibility, in which the views of numerous schools, stakeholders, and public commenters were involved. The 2016 Borrower Defense Rule provided defrauded borrowers with a transparent process to seek debt relief and protected taxpayers by holding schools that engage in misconduct accountable.
According to the letter, the Department’s new rule provides an unworkable process for defrauded students to obtain loan relief and will do nothing to deter and hold accountable schools that cheat their students. Instead of ensuring that borrowers are not bearing the costs of institutional misconduct, the Department’s new rule empowers predatory for-profit schools and cuts off relief to victimized students.
In October 2018, Attorney General Herring announced that a federal judge rejected the Trump Administration’s challenge to the Borrower Defense Rule, ordering its immediate implementation for students nationwide. This ruling followed a victory Attorney General Herring won in federal court after he and a coalition of state attorneys general challenged the U.S. Department of Education’s plan to abruptly rescind its Borrower Defense Rule which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. The immediate implementation of the Borrower Defense rule meant that the U.S. Department of Education had to automatically discharge $381 million in loans for students whose schools closed.
Attorney General Herring has taken major actions against for-profit colleges for misleading students. In November 2015, for-profit education company Education Management Corporation announced it would significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgive more than $2.29 million in loans for approximately 2,000 former students in Virginia through an agreement with the Attorney General and a group of state attorneys general. Nationwide, the agreement required the for-profit college company to forgive $102.8 million in outstanding loan debt held by more than 80,000 former students.
In December 2016, the Attorney General announced that more than 5,000 Virginia students formerly enrolled in schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. may be eligible for loan forgiveness. This came after the U.S Department of Education found that Corinthian College and its subsidiaries published misleading job placement rates for many programs between 2010 and 2014. Following this announcement, Attorney General Herring urged Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to follow through on their commitment to cancel student debt for students in Virginia and around the country who were victimized by Corinthian Colleges’ practices.
Attorney General Herring announced in January of 2019 that he and 48 other attorneys general reached a settlement with for-profit education company Career Education Corporation. The terms of the settlement required CED to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally. In Virginia, 3,094 students will receive relief totaling $8,022,178.
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
December 2019 General Fund revenue collections up 7.6% from previous year, fiscal-year-to-date collections up 8.3%
On January 13th, Governor Ralph Northam announced that total general fund revenues rose 7.6 percent in December, driven by solid growth in payroll withholding, sales and use taxes, and recordation tax collections. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 8.3 percent through December, well ahead of the annual forecast of 1.9 percent growth.
“This continued strong revenue performance gives us confidence that we can achieve the forward-looking agenda I have laid out, while also putting money into our cash reserves,” said Governor Northam. “As the General Assembly session gets underway in Richmond, we have a unique opportunity to invest in our shared future, grow and diversify our economic base, and continue building on our progress.”
Collections of payroll withholding taxes rose 9.2 percent in December, with an additional deposit day compared with last year. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting November sales, rose 5.1 percent in December. November represents the beginning of the holiday shopping season and this year had fewer shopping days after Thanksgiving than last year.
“A clearer assessment of the season will be possible after receiving December sales tax payments due in January,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “January non-withholding payments will also give us a better indication of taxpayer behavior for calendar 2019 tax returns.”
Collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts—mainly recordation tax collections—were $40.4 million in December, compared with $32.0 million in December of last year.
December is a significant month for corporate income tax collections as quarterly estimated payments are due for most corporations and refunds from extension returns are processed. With the main refunding season completed and the first two estimated payments received, collections of corporate income taxes grew 19.2 percent on a year-to-date basis, compared with the forecast of 2.2 percent growth.
Fiscal-year-to-date, payroll withholding collections have grown 5.8 percent, well ahead of the annual estimate of 4.7 percent growth. Collections of sales and use taxes have risen 8.1 percent, ahead of the annual estimate of 6.0 percent growth and recordation tax collections are up 29.0 percent, far ahead of the annual forecast of 13.2 percent growth. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 8.3 percent through December, well ahead of the annual forecast of 1.9 percent growth.
Absentee voting for March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary starts this week
Registered voters may now request an absentee ballot for the March 3, 2020, Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary be mailed to them by going online to www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal or find the form to fill out and mail to their local voter registration office at www.elections.virginia.gov/forms.
Virginia Republicans will choose delegates to their national convention at a state convention. Therefore, no Republican candidates will appear on the ballot in the March 3, 2020, Presidential Primary.
A list of the 20 acceptable reasons a voter can give to vote absentee in Virginia is available at www.elections.virginia.gov/absentee.
In-person absentee voting will begin on Thursday January 16, Friday January 17, or Saturday January 18, 2020, depending on office hours and observation of state holidays. If a voter is unsure when in-person absentee voting starts in their locality, they should contact their local voter registration office. They can find information about their local office at www.elections.virginia.gov/vro.
Other important absentee ballot dates to remember if voting in the March 3, 2020, Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary, include:
- The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is at 5pm on Tuesday February 25, 2020.
- The deadline to vote absentee in-person is on Saturday February 29, 2020.
- The deadline for returning your ballot by mail is on Election Day, Tuesday March 3, 2020.
Virginia voters casting an absentee ballot either in-person or on Election Day must show an acceptable photo ID. Voters can get a free Voter Photo ID at their local voter registration office. Voters who do not have an acceptable form of ID may still vote absentee in-person after completing the Virginia Voter Photo Identification Card Application and receiving a Temporary Identification Document from their voter registration office. Find out more about Virginia’s voter ID requirements at www.elections.virginia.gov/voterid.
The last day to register to vote or update voter registration information in order to vote in the March election is Monday February 10, 2020. More information on voter registration can be found online at www.elections.virginia.gov/registration.
For more information on the March 3, 2020, Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary or other election-related inquiries, go to vote.virginia.gov, send an email to email@example.com, or call the Virginia Department of Elections at (800) 552-9745.