Ralph Northam

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is pushing for tuition-free community college for low- and middle-income students who pursue degrees in high-demand fields.

Northam announced Thursday that his budget proposal for the upcoming legislative session includes $145 million for the initiative.

Northam calls the program his “G3” initiative.

It stands for: “Get Skilled. Get a Job. Give Back.” He campaigned heavily on the idea when he ran for governor in 2017.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing nearly $100 million in new funding to help at-risk preschoolers.

Northam announced Tuesday that his budget proposal for the upcoming legislative session includes a proposed $94.8 million in new funding for early education efforts.

Passing a two-year state spending plan will be a top priority for the General Assembly during the 2020 session. During last month's legislative elections, voters gave Democrats full control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing about $22 million for efforts to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies and reduce the racial disparity in the state's maternal mortality rate.

Northam announced Monday that his budget proposal for the upcoming legislative session includes funding to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms and increase home visits from care providers.

Funding is also included to study the possibility of Medicaid reimbursement for doula services and to increase access to long-acting contraception.

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DILLWYN, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he's suspended a policy that allowed prison officials to strip-search an 8-year-old girl who was visiting her father.

Northam told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in a statement Friday that he was "deeply disturbed" by reports of the incident.

He said the state's secretary of public safety and homeland security would suspend the policy and immediately conduct an investigation.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A commission assigned to research racist laws from Virginia's past recommended Thursday that dozens of them be repealed, including measures that resisted desegregation, prevented black voters from casting ballots and prohibited interracial marriage.

While most of the measures are outdated and “have no legal effect,” they are still enshrined in law, the nine-member commission of attorneys, judges, scholars and community leaders wrote in an interim report.

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Virginia is taking steps toward dropping requirements that new Medicaid enrollees have a job and pay part of their premiums.

Those provisions were key parts of a bi-partisan compromise nearly two years ago that allowed Virginia to expand Medicaid to low-income, able-bodied adults.      

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that he's pausing the state's pursuit of federal approval for those provisions.

He said Virginia is unlikely to implement those provisions after Democrats won control of the General Assembly last month.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A new report by the Virginia State Board of Education says there remains a persistent achievement gap for certain student groups and the state faces a growing shortage of high-quality teachers.

The report was officially presented to lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday, and it calls for elected officials to rethink how schools are funded.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's governor is urging the Trump administration to stop a company that makes fish-oil supplements from fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

Gov. Ralph Northam has asked U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to place a moratorium on the catching of menhaden in the bay.

Northam's letter, dated Wednesday, says the moratorium will protect a fish that's vital to the bay's food chain and serves as food for striped bass, dolphins and birds.

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ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - Local officials in a handful of Virginia counties have voted to honor and defend gun rights by declaring their counties to be "Second Amendment Sanctuaries."

The movement has spread in Virginia since the Nov. 5 election, when Democrats gained majority control of both the state Senate and House of Delegates.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said his party's leaders will push for gun control measures.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Republican-led legislative commission in Virginia tasked with offering solutions for curbing gun violence says it has no recommendations to make.

The Virginia Crime Commission issued a short report Tuesday saying that staff found "inconclusive evidence" was available to develop recommendations.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is actively campaigning for Democratic legislative candidates ahead of Election Day.

It's a sign of how far he's come since a blackface scandal almost forced him from office in February.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles has died at age 79. The Democrat was known as the "transportation governor" and for his work to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and increase foreign trade.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement from Baliles' family saying the state's former chief executive died Tuesday. He had been battling cancer.

Baliles, who served from 1986 to 1990, pushed through a 10-year, $10 billion transportation initiative during the first year of his administration that required increases in the gas and sales taxes.

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Wicomico County has extended its ban on outdoor burning.

County officials exemption from the emergency measure include gas charcoal grills and the staging of fireworks displays.

WBOC reports that recreation campfires on private property and public campgrounds are okay.

But those camp fires cannot be more than 2 feet wide and 3 feet high.

Campfires at Roaring Point and Sandy Hill will be permitted but monitored.

Any violation of the ban could result in a $500 fine for each incident.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Worsening dry conditions affecting Virginia have prompted Gov. Ralph Northam to place the state under a drought watch.

The watch issued Friday advises residents, local governments and businesses to use less water. It is meant to get people ready in the event of "a significant drought event."

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report shows nearly 56 million residents are now living in drought conditions in parts of 16 Southern states, including Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A new monument honoring the contributions of influential Virginia women is set to be officially unveiled on the state Capitol grounds.

The Virginia Women's Monument will be dedicated Monday morning at a ceremony featuring musical performances and remarks by state officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam. Hundreds are expected to attend.

Organizers in the effort to build the monument say it's the first in the nation on a state capitol's grounds to showcase a wide range of achievements and contributions by women.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he has restored voting and other civil rights to more than 22,000 felons who have completed their sentences since taking office last year.

Northam announced the milestone Wednesday. The restored rights include the right to vote, serve on a jury and run for public office.

The Democratic governor previously announced in February that he'd restored rights to more than 10,000 felons.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia has kicked off its 22nd annual campaign for state employee workforce giving.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the start of the "Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign" on Wednesday.

Over the years, donations from state workers have helped children, adults and veterans, including those in need of permanent housing and food security. Money raised through the campaign has also been given to programs that help animals and protect the environment.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Ralph Northam has issued an executive order setting a goal for Virginia to produce 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050.

The order announced Tuesday says the goal will help address climate change, a challenge that "poses potentially devastating risk to Virginia."

The order sets an intermediate goal of reaching 30% renewable energy by 2030. It also says the Commonwealth's agencies and executive branch institutions will aim to procure at least 30 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2022.

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A law firm's investigation into whether Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in a racist yearbook photo cost nearly $368,000.

The Virginian-Pilot reports invoices obtained through a freedom of information request show Eastern Virginia Medical School received the final bill on Aug. 16.

McGuireWoods LLP said in May that it couldn't determine whether Northam is in the picture published in 1984 of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia governor embroiled in a blackface scandal earlier this year is appointing a new top aide whose job will be to make government more inclusive.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that he's appointing Janice Underwood to a newly created senior position whose duties will include formulating a strategic plan to "address systemic inequities" in state government.

Underwood is the former director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University.

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