Virginia residents, mark your calendars! The state's next round of elections is just around the corner, with the primary elections scheduled for June 20th and the general elections for November 7th, 2023.
This year, voters will cast their ballots for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, all 40 seats in the Virginia Senate, and various local offices. Additionally, redistricting will play a significant part in the upcoming elections, resulting in new maps for the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Senate, and the US House of Representatives.
In other news, Governor Glenn Youngkin and his administration have implemented changes to Virginia's rights restoration system, while public colleges and universities in the state are increasing tuition for the upcoming academic year. The Virginia Board of Education has approved new history and social science standards for K-12 students, set to take effect in 2024-2025. Virginia has also recently enacted new laws and updates in various areas, including child abduction, maternal health care, problem gambling treatment, landlord and tenant rights, and student-athlete endorsements. Amazon has also requested $153 million in state incentive payments for its Virginia HQ2 project.
Get ready, Virginia! The next round of elections is just around the corner.
Mark your calendars for June 20th for the primary elections, and November 7th, 2023 for the General elections. Don't forget, all registered voters are eligible for absentee voting either in-person or by mail for 45 days before the election.
What's on the ballot? Voters will cast their ballots for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and all 40 seats in the Virginia Senate. Additionally, there will be elections for various local offices, such as city council members and school board members. The candidates for these positions will be on the ballot in each of Virginia's 133 counties and independent cities.
It's important to note that redistricting will also play a part in the upcoming elections. Virginia underwent a redistricting process in 2021 following the 2020 Census, which resulted in new maps for the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Senate, and the US House of Representatives. This is the first Senate and House election since redistricting, which means that some districts may see completely new candidates. Keep this in mind as you head to the polls.
Restoration of Voting Rights
Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and his administration confirmed that they have made changes to the state's rights restoration system used by previous governors. The previous system included an at least partly automatic process for restoring civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, and carry a firearm, to those who had been convicted of a felony. However, Youngkin's administration has shifted away from this system.
In Virginia, a felony conviction automatically results in the loss of civil rights, except for firearm rights, which must be restored by a court. The governor has the sole discretion to restore those rights, but the new policy implemented by Youngkin's administration has significantly reduced the number of restorations. The policy has been criticized, prompting the Governor and State Senator to agree to speed up the process of restoring voting rights for convicted felons.
To address the issue, Governor Youngkin has promised to update the software system used to process restoration applications. However, some Democrats are still pushing for a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore rights for those who have paid their debt to society. This would eliminate the need for individuals to go through a potentially lengthy restoration process and would ensure that more Virginians can participate in the democratic process.
Virginia College & University Tuition Increase
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has approved a 4.9% tuition increase for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students for the 2023-2024 academic year.
The University's operating costs could be reduced if the state allocates more funding. The decision was reached during a meeting held on April 21st.
Public colleges and universities in Virginia plan to increase tuition for the upcoming academic year, with proposed hikes ranging from 3% to 7%. Among others, Virginia Tech University, William & Mary University, and James Madison University are included on the list.
Increased costs for operations and facilities are cited as reasons for the increases, and some lawmakers are calling for increased state funding to prevent them. Private colleges in Virginia are also seeing tuition increases due to rising costs of financial aid.
New History Standards
The Virginia Board of Education has approved new history and social science standards for K-12 students after months of debate and controversy. The process to create the standards began in 2015 and involved input from educators, community members, and experts in various fields.
The standards were revised to include a greater focus on Black and Indigenous history and other underrepresented groups, as well as a more comprehensive approach to teaching about slavery and discrimination.
The changes were met with praise from many educators and advocates, who say the new standards will help students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of Virginia’s history. However, some critics argue that the standards are too focused on social justice issues and not enough on traditional history topics.
The new standards will go into effect in the 2024-2025 academic year, giving schools time to prepare for the changes. Overall, the changes aim to provide a more inclusive and accurate representation of Virginia’s history and its diverse population.
Virginia has recently seen a number of new laws passed, covering a wide range of topics from child abduction to landlord and tenant rights. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key pieces of legislation that have been signed into law in recent months.
Named after a 2-year-old boy who was abducted and killed in 2022, Noah's Law increases the punishment for child abduction in Virginia. Under this law, those convicted of abducting a child will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, with the possibility of life imprisonment. Governor Glenn Youngkin signed the bill into law on April 21, 2023.
Maternal Health Care Access and Affordability Act:
This new law, which takes effect on July 1, 2023, will provide greater assistance to expecting mothers in Virginia by helping to cover the costs associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. The act requires health insurance providers to offer coverage for certain maternity care services, such as prenatal and postpartum care, as well as mental health services. The legislation was signed by Governor Youngkin on April 1, 2023.
Virginia Treatment Program for Problem Gambling:
This new law, signed by Governor Youngkin on April 22, 2023, establishes a problem gambling treatment and support program in Virginia. The program aims to provide resources and treatment options for those who suffer from problem gambling, as well as their families. The program will be funded by fees and taxes collected from casinos and other gambling establishments.
Changes to Virginia's Landlord and Tenant Act:
This recent legislation, which became effective on March 1, 2023, made significant changes to Virginia's Landlord and Tenant Act. Some of the key changes include: requiring landlords to provide tenants with a copy of the lease agreement within 30 days of signing; capping security deposits at two months' rent; and providing tenants with the right to terminate a lease early in certain situations. The law also establishes new guidelines for evictions and specifies what landlords can and cannot charge tenants for.
Virginia's Landlord and Tenant Act underwent significant changes effective March 1, 2023. These changes include landlords being required to provide tenants with a copy of the lease agreement within 30 days of signing, capping security deposits at two months' rent, and allowing tenants to terminate a lease early in certain situations. The law also establishes new eviction guidelines and specifies what landlords can and cannot charge tenants for.
This new law, signed by Governor Northam in March 2022, makes it illegal for drivers to modify their vehicles in a way that results in the front being higher than the back. This modification, commonly known as the "Carolina Squat," can be dangerous and impairs drivers' vision, making it harder to see other cars and obstacles on the road. Violators of the law face a fine of $100 for the first offense and $250 for each subsequent offense.
These are just a few of the recent changes to Virginia’s laws. As always, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest legislation to ensure that you’re aware of your rights and responsibilities.
WTOP - Virginia high school athletes could soon profit from product endorsements, other deals. The bill passed permits high school student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness. The legislation grants them the opportunity to sign endorsement deals without fear of losing scholarships or eligibility. However, the law does not allow student-athletes to sign deals with companies that promote gambling, alcohol, tobacco, or adult entertainment. The bill is set to take effect on July 1, 2023, making Virginia one of several states that allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness.
APNews - Amazon seeks first incentive funds from Virginia HQ2 project. Amazon is asking Virginia for nearly $153 million in state incentive payments, which would be the first tranche of funds to be paid out since the tech giant agreed in 2018 to build a headquarters complex in the state. Under the deal, Amazon is expected to bring 25,000 jobs to Arlington County, Virginia — across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital — by 2038. Amazon receives a $22,000 grant for each job.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you.
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