Ralph Northam

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he is allowing elective medical procedures and easing some restrictions on outdoor activities that have been in place due to the coronavirus. Hogan said Wednesday that golf, tennis, boating, fishing and camping will be allowed starting at 7 a.m. Thursday. Hogan says Maryland is getting closer to implementing the first stage of Maryland's reopening plan to allow small businesses that have been closed to open.

Virus Update

May 1, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland is reporting more than 37,000 unemployment claims filed for last week. The numbers reported Thursday marked the third straight week the numbers have declined from more than 109,000 the week of April 4. There have been more than 385,000 claims filed in the last six weeks. That's an unprecedented surge in a state where businesses have been shuttered for weeks in response to the coronavirus. The number of cases has bedeviled the state labor department's unemployment website. Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged the “serious problems” with a new website on Wednesday.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia health officials on Saturday reported the state's first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 70s who died of respiratory failure after acquiring the virus through an unknown source.

In a news release, the Virginia Department of Health and the Peninsula Health District reported the death of the man, who had been hospitalized.

U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman says the death occurred in James City County.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Environmental advocates notched one win after another this legislative session as the new Democratic majority passed their top-priority legislation, including measures long opposed by Republicans who used to be in charge.

Legislators sent bills to Gov. Ralph Northam that will remake how Virginia's utilities generate electricity, remove barriers to rooftop solar, ban offshore drilling and fracking in much of the state and mandate more coal ash cleanup.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers have given final approval to a measure that would make the state a full participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate carbon cap-and-trade program.

The House and Senate both held final votes late Wednesday night on two companion measures, sending them to Gov. Ralph Northam, whose administration supports joining the program as a way to reduce carbon emissions from the electric power sector.

The bills largely advanced along party lines. Supporters said joining the program will help address climate change.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Senate has advanced two pieces of Gov. Ralph Northam's proposed gun-control measures after previously rejecting them.

The Senate voted Wednesday to advance legislation that would require gun owners to report to police any lost or stolen firearms and to toughen the penalty for leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm in a reckless manner that endangers a child.

Northam's office agreed to water down both measures in order to to win support of some Democrats who rejected earlier versions.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers have voted to scrap the state’s Lee-Jackson holiday celebrating two Confederate generals and replacing it with one on Election Day.

The House on Monday approved legislation that has already cleared the Senate, advancing the measure to Gov. Ralph Northam.

Lee-Jackson Day, established over 100 years ago, is observed annually on the Friday preceding the third Monday in January.

It honors Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is annoucing new grant money to help preserve farmland around the state.

Northam announced this week that the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund was awarding $350,000 in grants to Albemarle, Clarke, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, and the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

The money is used to provide an incentive for farm and forest owners to put land into a conservation easement.

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There will be no ban on assault weapons coming out of the Virginia legislature this year despite the Democratic victories in the last state election.

The bill died in a state Senate committee that would have banned the assault-style weapons as well as possession of high capacity magazines.

The Washington Post reports that this had been a top priority for Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia Republican state senator says she's running for governor next year as an unabashed conservative on a platform of promoting gun rights.

State Sen. Amanda Chase announced her candidacy Monday to a crowd of about 100 outside the Capitol on Monday, saying voters were unhappy with the state's new liberal direction under a Democratic majority.

Current Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is not able to seek a consecutive term under state law.  

Over The Rainbow Shop

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia General Assembly is moving to ban the discredited practice of conversion therapy for LGBTQ children. Conversion therapy is a practice used to try to change sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Virginia Senate voted Monday to ban licensed therapists and counselors from subjecting minors to the practice.

The bill now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it. The American Psychological Association has said conversion therapy is not based in science and is harmful to mental health.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is announcing new school grants aimed at promoting computer science education.

Northam announced Monday he had approved a total of $1.3 million in grants to a number of public schools and colleges.

Lawmakers authorized the grants last year, which are to be used on professional development for teachers, instructional resources and other areas related to computers science.

Low-performing schools were given a priority for the funding.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia state employees and public school teachers could soon be getting raises and bonuses.

Money committees in both the state House and Senate on Sunday unveiled their proposed versions of a two-year and more than $135 billion state spending plan.

Both contain larger proposed raises than what Gov. Ralph Northam had proposed.

Each chamber will now vote on its version of a state budget before trying to reconcile their differences before the legislative session ends next month.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP)- Virginia is moving toward decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana.

The state House on Monday passed a decriminalization bill with bipartisan support. The state Senate is expected to pass its own version shortly.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signaled his support for the measure. If passed, the legislation would scrap criminal charges for possessing marijuana and replace them with small fines.

Supporters have argued the measure is needed in part because African Americans are disproportionately charged with drug crimes.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers in Virginia are set to try to advance legislation to ban assault weapons despite pushback from members of their own party.

A state House committee is scheduled to take up legislation backed by Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday that would ban the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons, including popular AR-15 style rifles.

But the bill would not require current owners of assault weapons to turn them in or register them with state police, as some earlier proposals required.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers have passed comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that advocates say makes the state the first in the South to enact such protections for LGBTQ people.

The measures advanced on bipartisan votes in both chambers Thursday. Each chamber still must take up the other’s measure in procedural votes before the legislation can be sent to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam for final approval.  

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia House has approved legislation to undo Republican-backed restrictions on abortion.

The new Democratic majority voted Tuesday to undo requirements that including a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, as well a requirement that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and counseling.

The bill, which is part of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's legislative agenda, would also roll back the requirement that an abortion be provided by a physician, allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform them.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he wants a “strict” new ban on holding cellphones while driving, saying tough new laws are needed to cut down on fatal accidents.

The governor also wants to ban any open containers of alcohol in cars and to require all car passengers to wear seat belts.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrats in the Virginia House are advancing a package of gun-control measures less than a week after tens of thousands of pro-gun advocates from around the country rallied at the state Capitol.

But the bills did not include a proposed assault weapon ban, a top priority for Gov. Ralph Northam and one that's drawn fierce resistance from gun-rights advocates.

A Democratic-led House committee voted Friday for several pieces of gun legislation that a Republican majority has blocked for years.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) —Thousands of gun-rights activists from around the country rallied peacefully at the Virginia Capitol to protest plans by the state's Democratic leadership to pass gun-control legislation, a move that has become a key flash point in the national debate over gun violence.

The size of Monday's rally and the expected participation of white supremacists and fringe militia groups raised fears that the state could see a repeat of the violence that exploded in 2017 in Charlottesville.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A gun-rights group has filed an emergency appeal of a judge's ruling upholding a ban on firearms at a rally expected to draw thousands of gun activists to Virginia next week.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking an injunction against the ban, which Gov. Ralph Northam imposed for a planned rally Monday near the Virginia Capitol.

A judge ruled within hours that the governor has the authority to take action related to "safety and welfare" in Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he is declaring a state of emergency over threats from militia groups ahead of a gun-rights rally next week.

Northam's emergency order will ban weapons of all kinds, including firearms, from the Capitol grounds starting Friday because of potential violence during a gun-rights rally scheduled for Monday.

Northam says some of the rhetoric used by groups planning to attend the rally is similar to what was said in the lead-up to a deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam plans to declare a temporary emergency Wednesday banning all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square ahead of a massive rally planned next week over gun rights.

That's according to two state officials who were briefed on the plans but not authorized to speak publicly about them.

One official says the Democratic governor plans to announce the plans at a news conference Wednesday afternoon because of credible threats of potential violence and extremism.

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says that the Confederate Statues in Richmond and that of General Robert E. Lee in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall are offensive.

He adds that he favors a commission to recommend a replacement for the statue of Lee.

The governor said the monuments represent a particular version of history that does not include everyone.

Northam added that that version has been given prominence and authority for far too long.

Local Communities Decide on Monuments

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is promising sweeping changes to the state's criminal justice reforms.

They include decriminalizing marijuana, softening the penalties for people caught stealing smaller-dollar items, and reducing the number of Virginians whose driver's licenses are suspended.

Northam, a Democrat, said at a news conference in Richmond Friday that he's backing an overhaul of the state's criminal justice reform that he said would make it more “equitable" and “compassionate.”

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(AP) Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says the state is going replace nearly 10,000 highway lights with LED lights that use less energy and increase visibility.

Northam on Wednesday announced a new contract with Trane to replace more than 9,600 lights on Virginia roads, rest areas and weigh stations.

He says the upgrade will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and save the state $4.6 million by 2036.

The new lights are expected use reduce energy consumption by 50% and will start being installed in the spring of 2020.

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Accomack County is looking at becoming a “Second Amendment Sanctuary”.

WBOC reports that the County Board of Supervisors says it has gotten a lot of concern about the potential of gun control legislatio now that the Democrats took over the General Assembly.

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has said he would seek gun safety legislation that had been blocked by the previous Republican control legislature.

But county officials said such a resolution would only be a political statement and that local citizens would still have to follow any future laws.

Don Rush

(AP) Virginians may soon be paying higher gas and tobacco taxes but won't have to get their cars inspected each year. Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled a $135 billion, two-year state budget plan Tuesday that includes those ideas.

The plan also proposes hefty new spending to boost early education, clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and reduce health insurance premiums.

The Democratic governor says his budget would also put more money in reserves than the state has ever had, while addressing areas that have been underfunded for decades.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he wants to put more money into at-risk schools and give teachers a 3 percent raise.

Northam on Monday highlighted portions of his forthcoming two-year budget proposal. His plan also calls for increased funding for school counselors and more money to help children whose first language isn't English. 

The governor plans to make his full budget public on Tuesday at a hearing before lawmakers.

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(AP) Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he'll ask for $92 million to reduce evictions and expand affordable housing. Northam said Friday that his two-year budget will include the request to help low-income and homeless Virginians.

News outlets report Northam made the announcement at the New Clay House, an 80-unit complex serving people facing housing crises. Northam said affordable housing improves health and education outcomes for residents.