Ralph Northam

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia is now a key election battleground in the long-running fight over gun laws.

Interest groups and activists on both sides are gearing up for a major clash after Republicans on Tuesday adjourned a special legislative session.

Virginia is the only state where control of the Legislature is up for grabs this year. The GOP currently holds a narrow majority.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are set to debate and vote on whether new gun laws are needed after a gunman killed a dozen people a little more than a month ago.

Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered lawmakers to return to the Capitol Tuesday and called on them to pass a wide range of gun-control measures. The governor, a Democrat, called for "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" after a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed his coworkers at a municipal building on May 31

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are set to assemble Tuesday for what will likely be a contentious legislative session on gun laws.

Gov. Ralph Northam called the special session last month shortly after a Virginia Beach city employee opened fire on his coworkers at a municipal building on May 31 and killed twelve people.

Northam is a Democrat faced with a gun-friendly, Republican-controlled General Assembly. He is urging action on a several gun-control measures. He said lawmakers owe the victims of gun violence "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers."

NRA Website

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - The National Rifle Association will hold a town hall meeting in Virginia Beach about a month after it experienced 2019's deadliest mass shooting.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the town hall is scheduled for Monday. Another is scheduled for Tuesday on the state's Eastern Shore.

The lobbying arm of the NRA will focus on proposals that are likely to come up at the July 9 special legislative session that Gov. Ralph Northam convened in the tragedy's wake.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Richmond's mayor has called for a local ordinance that would ban guns in city-owned buildings, parks and community facilities.

Mayor Levar Stoney said he is proposing the local law now so the city will be prepared if state lawmakers pass legislation to broaden the ability of local governments to prohibit guns in city buildings when they meet in a special session next month.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democrats in Virginia are trying to make the public case for greater gun restrictions ahead of a special legislative session on guns next month following a deadly mass shooting.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and others stressed the need for greater gun control laws at a roundtable discussion at a Richmond church on Monday.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - More than 50 localities in Virginia have been awarded over $3.47 million in grants to pay for new school resource and security officers.

Earlier this year, Gov. Ralph Northam approved the General Assembly's amendment to add an additional $3 million for a grant program to increase the number of Virginia schools with school resource and school security officers.

The grants will place school resource officers and school security officer positions at 45 elementary schools, 17 middle schools and 31 high schools.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is announcing a series of public talks his administration will host in the run up to a July 9 special session on gun laws.

Northam's office said Thursday that Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey are hosting the roundtable discussions around the state. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine will join some of the events.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's tourism industry generated $26 billion in visitor spending across all communities in 2018, a 4.4% increase over 2017.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that the tourism industry also provided $1.8 billion in state and local revenue in 2018. That's an increase of 2.9% compared to the previous year.

The slogan "Virginia is for Lovers" was developed in 1969 by Richmond-based advertising firm Martin & Woltz, now the Martin Agency. It is the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a bill striking Jim Crow-era exceptions from Virginia's minimum-wage law, and he formed a commission to find other discriminatory language in state laws and regulations.

The bill the Democrat signed Tuesday eliminates an exemption in state law that said certain jobs traditionally held by African Americans, including ushers and doormen, didn't have to pay minimum wage.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has formed a new commission tasked with finding discriminatory language in state laws and regulations.

Northam signed an executive order Tuesday establishing the commission and tasking it issue findings by November.

The order came same day as the governor held a ceremonial bill signing ceremony that struck Jim Crow-era exceptions from the state's minimum wage law. Previously, state law said certain jobs traditionally held by African Americans, including ushers and doormen, were exempt from paying minimum wage.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia residents with suspended driver's licenses because of unpaid court debt are getting letters telling them how to restore their driving privileges.

Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine tells the Roanoke Times that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is sending 500,000 letters to Virginia residents with suspended licenses. The letters advise residents about what's required before they can drive.

Northam campaign website

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is reiterating his denial that he's in a racist photo that appeared on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Northam made the comments Wednesday after an investigation commissioned by Eastern Virginia Medical School failed to determine whether Northam is in the yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The findings of an investigation into how a racist photo appeared on a yearbook page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam are set to be released.

Eastern Virginia Medical School plans to make the results of the investigation public at a news conference on Wednesday.

The independent investigation was conducted by the law firm McGuireWoods on behalf of the medical school in Norfolk.

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - A state panel has unanimously approved a request from a northern Virginia county to rename a highway that currently honors Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted unanimously Wednesday to change the name of U.S. Route 1 in Arlington County from Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway.

Arlington County requested the change last month, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam supported the change. The road is already called Richmond Highway in Fairfax County and Alexandria.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has proclaimed May "Second Chance Month" in a bid to focus attention on criminal justice reform and inmate reentry programs.

Northam said in a statement Wednesday that redemption is a "fundamental American value" and that his administration is committed to making sure that former inmates have the support they need to succeed.

The governor's proclamation comes a few months after he asked Virginians for a second chance following a blackface scandal that almost forced him from office.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed off on a new state budget without vetoing a section that blocks the state from participating in a carbon cap-and-trade program.

The Democratic governor signed the budget Thursday. He said he was disappointed the GOP-led General Assembly put in language effectively prohibiting Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he will no longer sign any legislation that imposes new mandatory minimum sentence requirements.

Northam said in a news release Wednesday and in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that Virginia has "more than enough" mandatory minimum sentences in law already. He said judges need more discretion to decide punishments on a case-by-case basis.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has vetoed legislation that would allow officials to temporarily block convicted sex offenders from using emergency shelters.

Northam said Tuesday it is "unconscionable" that people could be turned away from shelters during hurricanes, flash floods or other emergencies.

The legislation would have allowed shelter officials to deny entrance for convicted sex offenders for however long was "necessary to ensure the safety of other individuals" admitted to the shelter.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has vetoed legislation aimed at overhauling the state's election board.

The Democratic governor said Monday he opposed legislation that would have added new members to the board and limited the governor's ability to pick a commissioner of elections.

Northam said it was imperative that Virginia's electoral system have steady leadership because elections are so frequent in Virginia. He said the proposed legislation could lead to the top election job going unfilled.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced a new public information campaign aimed at explaining recent changes in public education policy.

Northam launched a "Virginia is for Learners" website Monday to highlight the state's effort at modernizing curriculum and helping students developing "real-world skills."

Policy changes Virginia has enacted in recent years include fewer standardized tests, known as Standards of Learnings exams, and new high school graduation requirements that require work-based learning experiences.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia winery plans to double its yearly production thanks in part to a state grant.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that New Kent Winery plans to buy an extra 120 tons of Virginia grapes during the next three years to increase their output. The winery plans to spend $715,000 and create seven new jobs as part of the expansion.

Northam said the winery will receive a $15,000 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development facility grant, the first such grant he's awarded since taking office. New Kent County will match that grant with local funds.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is blasting his own political party for not letting him sponsor a table at major fundraising event.

The Democratic Party of Virginia recently rejected Fairfax's bid to donate $2,500 to pay for a table at the party's annual Blue Commonwealth dinner.

DPV spokesman Jake Rubenstein said the party does not feel "comfortable" accepting money from Fairfax after two women came forward accusing him of sexual assault.

Northam campaign website

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Ralph Northam is taking a victory lap after Virginia landed significantly more new planned jobs and capital investment in his first 16 months in office than his last four predecessors.

Northam said at a Capitol news conference Wednesday there have been 305 new projects that are expected to produce nearly $16 billion in new investments and create 50,000 jobs.

Those figures include Amazon's new headquarters and a $3 billion planned investment by Micron, one of the world's largest semiconductor companies, in northern Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia regulators have passed a rule requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants in the next decade.

The Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board approved the new rule Friday.

The Department of Environmental Resources says Virginia is the 12th state in the country to adopt such a regulation and the first in the South.

Environmentalists praised the new rule and urged Gov. Ralph Northam to veto language in the state budget that would effectively bar the state from joining a carbon cap-and-trade program.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Ralph Northam is calling for the removal of an arch honoring the former president of the Confederacy at Fort Monroe, where the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia 400 years ago.

The Daily Press reports that Northam's office presented a letter to the Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees Thursday supporting removal of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Arch, a wrought-iron structure built in 1956 by the Army with $10,000 from the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has withdrawn from plans to be a commencement speaker at his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, and won't participate in any other graduation ceremonies amid the persisting scandal over a blackface photo.

News outlets report the Democrat is abstaining from graduations throughout Virginia this season. Northam's spokeswoman Ofirah Yheskel said Monday that he deiced weeks ago to skip ceremonies over concern he would divert focus from graduates.

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BURKE, Va. (AP) - Virginia's governor pulled out of an event where he would have faced protesters for wearing blackface in the 1980s.

The Washington Post reported that Gov. Ralph Northam cited safety concerns for cancelling his appearance at a Sunday fundraiser for a Democratic state senator in northern Virginia.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A new spinoff from the hit zombie TV show "The Walking Dead" is set to film in Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that production of the unnamed show will begin in central Virginia this summer.

The governor's office said the show will feature two young female protagonists and focus on the first generation to grow up "in the franchise's apocalyptic realm."

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A law firm may soon finish its probe into how a racist photo appeared on a yearbook page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

Richard Cullen told The Associated Press in an email Monday that the firm hopes to finish up by the end of April. Cullen is an attorney with the firm McGuireWoods and is leading the investigation on behalf of Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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