Happy Monday, VA!! We’re happy to bring back your weekly Virginia Updates Newsletter with a ✨New Look✨
Starting off the year fresh, we’re bringing you news on Today’s MLK Day of Service and how you can get involved. We also have updates on this past weekend’s Inauguration of Governor Glenn Youngkin along with some of the executive orders he’s already put in place.
We’ll also talk a bit about the General Assembly and what each party is thinking about prioritizing in this year's session. Finally we’ll share some Winter Weather Resources and the latest data on Vaccines and COVID-19 in Virginia.
We have news and updates on;
▪️ MLK Day of Service and how you can get involved!
▪️ Inauguration Day and Governor Youngkin’s Executive Orders
▪️ General Assembly Now in Session
▪️ Winter Weather Storm Resources
▪️ Vaccine Update
▪️ COVID-19 Data
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
This week we celebrate and honor the work, life, and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This national holiday isn't simply a day off but "a day on" to volunteer and give back to our communities and causes that matter to each of us.
This year, the family of Martin Luther King, Jr., has an urgent mission and message: They are calling for the restoration of voting rights throughout the U.S. and asking that people work to restore and protect those rights on Dr. King’s holiday.
Here are some ways you can get involved and participate in MLK’s Day of Service
Take a virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum
Search MLKDay.gov. Spearheaded by AmeriCorps, the site allows you to search MLK Day virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities in your community and explore numerous other resources.
Volunteer to transcribe historical documents through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program at transcription.si.edu/
Inauguration Day & Governor Youngkin
Glenn Allen Youngkin was sworn in on Saturday as Virginia’s 74th governor, vowing in an inaugural address delivered on the steps of the Capitol to embark on a mission to “restore trust in government, and to restore power to the people.”
Also on Saturday, Winsome Earle-Sears took the oath as Lieutenant Governor, becoming the second woman and the first woman of color to hold elective statewide office in Virginia. New Attorney General Jason Miyares became the first Latino to hold statewide office in Virginia.
The new governor immediately issued executive orders taking away mask mandates in schools and COVID-19 vaccine requirements for state workers. Youngkin’s very first executive order bans the teaching of “divisive concepts” in schools, including “critical race theory,” a term used by opponents to refer to lessons on systemic racism.
Additional Executive Orders include:
Fires members of the Virginia Parole Board and names five new members.
Directs the Safety and Health Codes Board to convene an emergency meeting to discuss whether there is a continued need for employer COVID-19 standards.
Sets up a commission to prevent human trafficking and provide support to victims.
General Assembly in Session
The 2022 General Assembly session kicked off Wednesday at the Virginia State Capitol.
Members of the House and Senate will be meeting for 60 days to craft a two-year state budget and take up bills covering a range of priorities on issues including education, marijuana policy, public safety and voting rights.
With both parties insisting they’ll focus on “kitchen-table issues,” Senate Democrats said they’ll prioritize paid family leave, making child care more affordable, addressing teacher shortages and more. House Republicans said they’ll prioritize education with a focus on expanding public charter schools, criminal justice by fully funding law enforcement, and more.
Both chambers and Youngkin seem to broadly agree on boosting education funding and raising teacher pay.
Here are two of the new laws being introduced so far:
HB 300: Provides that the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority would allow distillers to sell spirits and low alcohol beverage coolers through the internet and ship orders to consumers and licensees within the state, doing away with government-run alcohol stores.
HB 898: Provides that any person 21 years of age or older who knowingly or intentionally possesses naturally occurring hallucinogens or psychoactive substances shall be punished by a civil penalty of no more than $100 and such civil penalties shall be deposited into the Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund.
Weather Storm Alert
Virginia Department of Transportation crews continue to clear roads following the storm that dropped several inches of snow, followed by ice and rain, through most of the Commonwealth Sunday. VDOT says there are sections of interstate and primary roads in moderate condition.
Sub-freezing temperatures remain in many areas around the state and any wet spots on the roads should be considered ice, per VDOT. Drivers are reminded that bridges and overpasses freeze before roads and drivers should be extra careful.
Additionally, the combination of snow, sleet and wind Sunday and continuing into today have left more than 30,000 customers without electric service. For those in need of help or resources, please
Below are some Winter Weather Resources:
Report any downed power lines by calling 888-333-4465.
Traffic information is also available on Twitter @511statewideVA; for general VDOT information, follow @VaDOT.
To report hazardous road conditions or talk to a customer service representative, call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) or visit online at my.vdot.virginia.gov.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, January 17
Former Governor Northam declared a 30-day state of emergency as hospitalizations, driven by the spike in COVID-19 cases, are at record highs.
The order will give hospitals the power to expand bed capacity without new licensing processes, and increases the use of telehealth. It also recognizes the licenses of out-of-state health professionals and expands the number of health workers who can give vaccines.
Total Doses Administered: 14,476,288
People Fully Vaccinated: 5,838,361or 68.4%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 78.6%
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 6,705,042 or 78.6%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 89.7%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 2,330,629
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA. You can also visit vdh.virginia.gov for more.
Thanks for joining us and we'll see you again next week!
Editor in Chief, Maria