Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new pilot program to help prevent suicide and close gaps in access to care for service members, veterans, and their families.
The Virginia Identify, Screen, and Refer Pilot will enhance the Commonwealth’s efforts to recognize these individuals (identified as SMVF), screen for suicide risk, and connect them to services. The pilot is part of the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide, which Virginia joined along with Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, and Texas. The pilot program will run through September 2020.
“As an Army veteran, I know firsthand the challenges that our service members may face while on active duty, in their transition to civilian life, and beyond,” said Governor Northam. “That’s why I’ve made it a priority to ensure Virginia is equipped to provide quality behavioral health and supports, and that our veterans have access to them. This pilot program will help save lives, and it will help service providers better understand the needs of service members, veterans, and their families.”
The program will address the following issues, among others:
• Cultural Competency: Enhancing cultural awareness and communication between military-related and civilian healthcare providers. Only 8 percent of behavioral health providers who are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or TRICARE medical systems report having high military cultural competency, according to a RAND report.
• Education: Increasing awareness among community providers about the number of SMVF they are serving and the resources available to them.
• Efficiency: Reducing duplicative efforts and gaps in community programs and services resulting from a lack of collaboration.
“Stigma around behavioral health keeps many service members and veterans from seeking care in federal treatment systems,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. “State and community agencies are critical to prevent and end suicide among members of the military and veterans.”
The Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide team is working with a diverse group of agencies, who are voluntarily stepping up without additional resources. These partners are have committed to identify SMVF more accurately and reliably, train staff in military culture and suicide prevention best practices, and connect individuals to military- and veteran-specific community resources such as the VA.
“It is essential for local agencies to be a part of this mission,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “Approximately 70 percent of veterans who die by suicide were not connected to VA care at the time of their deaths. This program will help build infrastructure to serve our military and veteran citizens and gather data on what resources we will need to sustain these essential services.”
VISR Pilot participants include:
• Augusta Health
• Ballad Health Clearview
• Ballad Health Ridgeview
• Carilion Clinic
• John Randolph
• Lewis Gale
• Mary Washington/Snowden at Fredericksburg
• Novant Health
• Poplar Springs
• Sentara Norfolk
• Sentara Virginia Beach
• University of Virginia
• Virginia Beach Psychiatric
• Williamsburg Place (The Pavilion and Farley Center)
Community Services Boards:
• Alleghany Highlands Community Services
• Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare
• Eastern Shore Community Services Board
• Goochland Powhatan Community Services Board
• Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services
• Middle Peninsula–Northern Neck Community Services Board
• Mount Rogers Community Services Board
• New River Valley Community Services
• Piedmont Community Services
• Rappahannock Area Community Services Board
• Richmond Behavioral Health Authority
• Valley Community Services Board
• Western Tidewater Community Services Board
Virginia Department of Social Services and social services departments in the following localities:
• Chesterfield-Colonial Heights
• New Kent
Virginia Department of Health and the following local health districts:
• Cumberland Plateau
• Lord Fairfax
• New River
• Virginia Department of Veterans Services (Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program; Benefits Services)
• Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The Up Center
Since the inception of Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among SMVF earlier this year, Virginia’s interagency team has trained more than 500 community services providers in military cultural competency and suicide prevention, hosting six statewide Military Culture and Suicide Prevention Summits. The team also hosted two regional planning sessions focused on closing access to behavioral healthcare gaps for SMVF.
In January 2019, Governor Northam announced that Virginia was selected as one of seven states to participate in the inaugural Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among SMVF. The Virginia Governor’s Challenge team is co-chaired by Secretaries Hopkins and Carey. The team consists of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense; along with the Virginia Departments of Veterans Services, Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Health, Social Services, Medical Assistance Services, and Education; the Virginia National Guard, and the Virginia State Police. Other health partners include the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and NAMI-Virginia.
Military service members, veterans, and family members who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide—and those who know someone in crisis—can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans and caregivers, press 1) for confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Governor Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signs legislation investing in school facilities across the Commonwealth
On August 5, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin participated in the official grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Mecklenburg County Middle School and High School, a best-in-class joint school made possible by the community. The Governor also ceremonially signed HB 563, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington, and SB 473 and SB 471, sponsored by Senator Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond.
“These schools demonstrate how a community can come together not only to build a state-of-the-art facility but to invest in their children and transform their workforce,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “And through the bipartisan coalition that unanimously advanced these bills, we are delivering on our commitment to support vibrant, 21st Century educational environments across the Commonwealth. This is what happens when we put our students first; we’re getting it done together.”
HB 563 and SB 473, the School Construction Fund and Program will support $400 million in grants distributed based on student enrollment and local needs. It will also support $450 million in competitive grants for high-need school’s new construction, expansion, and modernization projects in partnership with local school boards. SB 471 will provide $400 million in school construction loans and make additional improvements to the administration of the Literary Fund Construction Loan Program.
“This year the Commonwealth was in a position to assist localities with the construction and modernization of their schools,” said House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. “We were able to leverage $1 billion, which was set aside to make a school construction and modernization fund of $3 billion. This marks a significant investment in the education and future of Virginia’s children, and I believe it is a good deal that we can all get behind.”
“I am thankful to have Governor Youngkin sign my HB 563 today, and I appreciate everyone who helped to get this bill across the finish line,” said Deputy Majority Leader Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington. “This shift in Virginia’s approach to school construction is a big deal for school divisions all across the Commonwealth, but particularly in Southwest Virginia. Having new schools built across the state ultimately means that the real winners are students.”
“The new School Construction Fund and enhanced Literary Fund loans will lay the groundwork to fix Virginia’s crumbling school infrastructure,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond. “I’m honored to have worked with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to make bipartisan progress on public school construction. I look forward to working with them in the years to come to continue to make crucial investments in the future. Our children cannot learn in crumbling schools, and Virginia’s investments in school modernization cannot wait.”
“We are thrilled to host these bill signings as we celebrate our new school and the world-class career pathways students will access here,” said Mecklenburg Superintendent Paul Nichols. “Mecklenburg students will benefit greatly from the historic budget investments in school facilities and lab schools developed in partnership with K-12, postsecondary, and employers.”
Governor Glenn Youngkin and Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera Participate in a Roundtable Discussion at Southside Virginia Community College on Friday, August 5, 2022. Official Photo by Christian Martinez, Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Governor Youngkin also participated in a roundtable discussion at Southside Virginia Community College to discuss lab school efforts in Southside and the needs of the region’s students and economy.
“Southside Virginia Community College is thrilled to build upon its strong partnership with Mecklenburg County Public Schools through our plan to launch the first lab school in the Commonwealth’s community college system under Governor Youngkin’s leadership,” said Southside Virginia Community College President Dr. Quentin R. Johnson. “By allowing community colleges and higher education centers to lead lab schools, the Governor and General Assembly ensured that students across the Commonwealth can benefit from these innovative options.”
In addition, participants shared plans to launch a lab school at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center that will expand upon its Career Tech Academy through employability skills. Participants also discussed plans to expand the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s GO TEC middle school career connections and exploration program.
“This roundtable was a great opportunity to come together with postsecondary partners, superintendents, teachers, students, and leaders in the General Assembly to discuss what’s working—and not working—in education in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Youngkin. “We must continue to work together to empower parents and students, support teachers, and foster innovation.”
“Yesterday’s tour and roundtable demonstrated that when our public schools partner with higher education and the private sector, an innovative academic model is developed, providing our students with multiple pathways to obtain industry certifications in high-demand fields,” said House Education Chairman Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach. “It is clear that Virginia’s lab school initiative will provide the flexibility and funding necessary to foster this type of learning environment and provide students across the Commonwealth with an opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for a 21st Century career right out of high school.”
Sales Tax Holiday August 5-7, could be last one for Virginia
Virginia residents will be able to shop for school supplies, clothing, hurricane/emergency preparedness items and more during a three-day Sales Tax Holiday that kicks off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7.
During the Sales Tax Holiday, qualifying items can be purchased without sales tax in stores and by online shopping. Sales tax in Virginia ranges between 5.3 percent and 7 percent; that includes the state’s 4.3 percent state sales tax, the 1 percent local option tax, and other applicable regional taxes. In Warren County, the rate is 5.3 percent. In the surrounding counties of Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, and Shenandoah the rate is also 5.3 percent. Clarke and Fauquier have rates of 5.3 percent, but some localities or governments within those counties collect an additional tax, making sales tax the state maximum of 7 percent.
The Sales Tax Holiday has fallen on the first Friday of August through the following Sunday since 2016. Prior to that, Sales Tax Holidays occurred in May, August and October. Since the General Assembly last extended the Sales Tax Holiday through July 1, 2023, it could disappear altogether after this weekend. Legislative action would be required to hold the tax holiday weekend next year and beyond.
What can I buy?
Qualifying items include school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness products, Energy Star products and WaterSense products.
Eligible school supplies are $20 or less per item and include things such as backpacks, filler paper, notebooks, textbooks, pencils, pens, hand sanitizer, lunch boxes and tissues. Items such as briefcases, handbags, wallets, jewelry, makeup, and umbrellas boxes, are not exempt from sales tax. Similarly, protective equipment such as hard hats, helmets, breathing masks and life preservers are also not exempt from sales tax.
Hurricane and emergency preparedness items qualifying for the Sales Tax Holiday include portable generators and generator power cords, inverters and cables, (priced at $1,000 or less each), gas-powered chainsaws ($350 or less each,) and other specified items $60 and less each, such as chain saw oil and lubricants, carrying cases, safety apparel and repair parts.
For those looking to stock up for emergencies or general household use, items such as First-Aid kits, two-way radios, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, bottled water, cell phone chargers will all be sales tax-free.
Energy Star or WaterSense products qualifying for sales tax exemption must be $2,500 or less per item and be for noncommercial, personal use.
The Virginia Department of Taxation has a full list of items that qualify for the tax-free holiday.
West Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday is slated to begin at midnight on Friday, August 5, and will continue through Monday, August 8 at 11:59 p.m.
Hilton solidifies Virginia footprint, xxpanding global headquarters in Fairfax County
On August 4, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that Hilton (NYSE: HLT), the leading global hospitality company, will retain its headquarters in Fairfax County, including significant upgrades to its facility at 7930 Jones Branch Drive in McLean. Hilton will re-imagine its space to create an even more vibrant place to convene and collaborate, fully integrating technology into the office experience to meet the needs of today’s workforce.
Hilton located its global headquarters in Virginia in 2009 and plans to create 350 net new headquarters jobs over the next five years.
“Virginia is America’s hometown for corporate headquarters, and we are proud that Hilton will continue to call Fairfax County home,” said Governor Youngkin. “For more than a decade, this global company has benefited from the Commonwealth’s combination of strategic location, diverse, world-class talent, and stable business climate, and we look forward to a continued partnership as Hilton recommits to Virginia and reinvents its headquarters for the future.”
“The companies that choose to locate and grow in our Commonwealth are a strong endorsement of the advantages a Virginia location offers. Retaining Hilton’s global headquarters reinforces our commitment to ensuring the best business climate for our valued corporate partners,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Northern Virginia is one of the most educated and diverse regions in the United States, and we are confident that Hilton’s next phase of growth will be bolstered by the top-tier talent pipeline Fairfax County provides.”
“Northern Virginia has been Hilton’s home for more than a decade, and the region has played an instrumental role in helping us create the best, most inclusive home for our Team Members while also managing the demands of a global business,” said Chris Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton. “We appreciate the continued support of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County, and the Tysons Partnership in ensuring we continue to attract strong, diverse talent to our vibrant, growing region.”
“I am thrilled that Hilton, a valued corporate citizen, is maintaining its headquarters and expanding its workforce here. This is a validation of the strong economy we enjoy here in Fairfax County,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay. “We have demonstrated time and again that business-friendly policies go hand-in-hand with the high quality of life here, maintaining Fairfax County’s status as the premiere destination for starting, moving, or expanding your company.”
“I am pleased to hear about Hilton’s decision to grow their corporate headquarters in Fairfax County,” said Senator Janet Howell. “Hilton has a long history of calling McLean their home, and I know that they will continue to add considerable value to the bustling Northern Virginia business climate.”
“Hilton is an iconic name in the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries, and I am grateful that this global business leader will continue to make Tysons its home,” said Delegate Mark Keam. “I also want to thank the leadership of the company for expanding its workforce in my district.”
Founded in 1919, Hilton is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising 7,000 properties and 1.1 million rooms in 122 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, and been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for five consecutive years. Hilton has introduced several industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades, and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the nearly 139 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy. Hilton currently employs approximately 800 Team Members at its headquarters location in McLean.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Youngkin approved $5 million in funds from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant. The Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant was established as a self-funded program of performance-based incentives that the Commonwealth awards to exceptional economic development projects with large numbers of employees and very high wages relative to average wages for that particular area. The Governor also approved a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Fairfax County with the project. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities.
Attorney General Miyares announces the formation of a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force
On August 2, 2022, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that Virginia is joining a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force of 50 attorneys general to investigate and take legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for bringing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States. This bipartisan nationwide Task Force has one goal: to cut down on illegal robocalls.
“Everyone has experienced the nuisance of robocalls. These scams are constantly trying to steal Virginians’ personal information, targeting not only online consumers but senior citizens as well. Virginia is joining the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force because enough is enough – it’s time to crack down on these annoying and illegal calls and proactively protect Virginians,” said Attorney General Miyares.
The Task Force has issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities allegedly responsible for most foreign robocall traffic. Gateway providers that bring foreign traffic into the U.S. telephone network have a responsibility to ensure the traffic is legal, but these providers are not taking sufficient action to stop robocall traffic. In many cases, they appear to be intentionally turning a blind eye in return for steady revenue. The Task Force will focus on the bad actors throughout the telecommunications industry to help reduce the number of robocalls and benefit the companies that are following the rules.
Attorney General Miyares is committed to stopping illegal and unwanted calls. According to the National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center, over 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day. These scam calls include Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers, and many other scams targeting all consumers, including some of our most vulnerable citizens. An estimated $29.8 billion dollars was stolen through scam calls in 2021. Most of this scam robocall traffic originates overseas. The Task Force is focused on shutting down the providers that profit from this illegal scam traffic and refuse to take steps to mitigate these scam calls otherwise.
Attorney General Miyares offers the following tips to avoid scams and unwanted calls:
- Be wary of callers who specifically ask you to pay by gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept iTunes gift cards.
- Look out for prerecorded calls from imposters posing as government agencies. Typically, the Social Security Administration does not make phone calls to individuals.
- If you suspect fraudulent activity, immediately hang up and do not provide any personal information.
Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Miyares’ Consumer Protection Section:
- By phone: (800) 552-9963
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Online Complaint Form
- Online Contact Form
Governor Glenn Youngkin declares State of Emergency in response to flooding in Southwest Virginia
Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency today to assist with response and recovery efforts due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flooding in Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Emergency Support Team has been monitoring heavy rainfall and severe flash flooding events that began moving through the southwestern region of the commonwealth on July 27. This event presents significant resource and operational challenges as the region has experienced several days of rainfall and storms, with additional rainfall forecasted in the days ahead. The effects of this weather system has already caused flash flooding and significant impacts on roadways and utilities in several localities.
The Commonwealth assists with the ongoing response and recovery operations, including providing assets and supplies to our local partners. The VEST will continue to support this incident.
“Southwest Virginia continues to be impacted by flooding after heavy rainfall in the area yesterday,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “With more rainfall forecasted over the next few days, we want to lean forward in providing as many resources possible to assist those affected. Our team will continue to monitor the situation and provide assistance as needed.”
A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts. The declaration also allows officials from Virginia to coordinate the provision of resources with our state and local partners. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.
AG Miyares sues Biden Administration for threatening to withdraw school nutrition assistance for political agenda
RICHMOND, VA – Attorney General Jason Miyares joined 22 attorneys general in a lawsuit filed on July 27, 2022, against the Biden Administration’s new regulatory guidance on sex discrimination for schools and programs that receive federal nutritional assistance.
On May 5, 2022, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services issued guidance to Virginia and other States announcing that discrimination on the basis of sex in Title IX and the Food and Nutrition Act includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. By doing so, they are forcing unlawful regulatory measures onto schools and holding hostage funding for school lunches.
The National School Lunch Program serves nearly 30 million school children daily, many of whom rely on it for breakfast, lunch, or both. Approximately 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential childcare institutions receive federal funding to subsidize free or reduced-price meals for qualifying children.
In the lawsuit, the attorneys general argue the USDA’s Guidance is unlawful because:
- This USDA guidance was issued without providing the State and other stakeholders the opportunity for input as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
- The USDA premised its guidance on an obvious misreading and misapplication of the Supreme Court’s holding in Bostock v. Clayton County.
- The guidance imposes new and unlawful regulatory measures on state agencies and operators receiving federal financial assistance from the USDA. This guidance will inevitably result in regulatory chaos threatening essential nutritional services to some of the most vulnerable citizens.
On June 14th, 26 state attorneys general coalition called on President Biden to withdraw the USDA’s guidance.