Today’s newsletter is sponsored by the Legal Aid Justice Center. They partner with communities and clients to achieve justice by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty. Justice means racial justice, social justice, and economic justice. 

On Thursday, Attorney General Mark R. Herring formally asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to reject an appeal that seeks to keep the state-owned Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue.

Attorney General Herring has prevailed in every legal challenge that has sought to block removal of the statue, but an injunction remains in place that bars its removal.

Herring is taking this action two days after the plaintiffs filed the appeal.

“It is time for this obstruction to end. The courts have carefully considered all the claims and arguments and found that removal of the Lee statue is lawful, and in my opinion, a necessary step as we seek to move forward as a united Commonwealth,” said Herring. “The trial court found, as we have stated from the beginning, that the Lee statue was raised against a backdrop of white supremacy as part of a concerted propaganda campaign to recast the Civil War and obscure the true purpose of the Confederacy. This statue and its message are incompatible with the Commonwealth we want to be and it is time for it to come down.”

Herring is asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to either decline hearing the appeal, or to hear it as quickly as possible.

“Even though we have defeated every single challenge to the statue’s removal, it nevertheless remains in place because of an injunction that we believe is improper and should be dissolved. Otherwise, this handful of individuals will continue to impose their will over the will of the people of Virginia as expressed through their General Assembly and their governor.”

Census delays likely to blow up the state’s redistricting timeline – Richmond Times-Dispatch

by Mel Leonor

Census delays are squeezing Virginia’s timeline for reapportioning its House of Delegate seats in time for the fall elections, when all 100 seats will be up for grabs. U.S. Census Bureau officials said this week that reapportionment data needed to redraw political boundaries will not be delivered before July 31 — weeks after the state’s scheduled June primary and just 94 days before the fall elections.

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Virginia hospitals have administered 317,837 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association

The current figure reflects doses administered by hospitals as of Tuesday, Jan. 26 and it represents a 35 percent increase from the more than 234,000 administered doses reported by VHHA last week. Virginia hospitals and health systems continue to lead the way in administering the majority of shots so far. VHHA will continue to provide weekly vaccination updates, which will be available on the Virginia Hospital COVID-19 Dashboard.

Early data shows extent of learning loss among Virginia students – Virginia Mercury

by Kate Masters

Early data from Virginia schools suggest that more students are struggling academically as the majority of divisions continue to operate totally or partially remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a concern that educators have raised as they continue to navigate virtual instruction. According to a survey of 132 local districts conducted by the Virginia Department of Education, 40 ranked failing students as the biggest issue with remote learning — above even access to reliable internet, which was the highest concern for about 35 divisions.

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Current and former Republican Delegates from across Virginia endorse Kirk Cox for Governor

Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) received several endorsements on Thursday as he seeks the Republican nomination to run for Governor.

“For nearly 20 years, Republicans held a majority in the House of Delegates that governed responsibly, balanced the budget, fostered a pro-business environment, and defended conservative principles. Over the last year, we’ve watched one-party Democratic control in Richmond fail to govern, spend with abandon, put labor union bosses first, and advance a collectivist, partisan left-wing agenda,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert. “Kirk Cox built a majority and held back the far-left for two decades. Now, he gives Republicans the best chance of taking back the majority in the House and winning back the governor’s mansion. Kirk is a fearless leader and someone conservatives can count on to do the right thing, no matter the circumstances.” 

Former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell said, “I watched Kirk rise through the ranks of House leadership, from Committee Chairman, to Whip, to Majority Leader, and eventually to Speaker of the House. He worked hard every day, fighting for conservative principles and offering policy ideas to lead Virginia forward. And he did it with a kind of integrity and character that is unfortunately missing from our politics these days. I know he will do the same as Governor. He is a proven leader, a proven conservative, and a proven winner.”

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Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11) endorsed Mark Herring for Attorney General

“Mark Herring has been the most progressive and effective Attorney General in Virginia history and I am proud to support his re-election,” said Congressman Connolly. “Mark has been fearless and ahead of his time on so many issues that make a difference in the lives of Virginians, like his fight for gun violence prevention, his courageous work to legalize marriage equality, his actions to give DREAMers an affordable education in Virginia, and most recently, his work to keep the Trump administration in check. Mark spent the last four years on the front lines of the battle to restrain Donald Trump and his criminal administration, and he won time and again. Mark and I have worked together for many years and I can tell you that he deeply understands Northern Virginia and its needs. His long record of experience and accomplishments have earned him my enthusiastic support and endorsement for re-election as Attorney General.”

Herring is running for reelection to a third term as Virginia’s Attorney General. He is facing a primary challenge from Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk).

Here are some insights from Piplsay’s poll of 30,336 Americans about optimism under new presidential administration.

Access the full research report here.

America under Biden and Harris: How hopeful are people?

  • 75% of Americans are happy to see the diversity within the Biden-Harris administration
  • 65% of Americans believe the Biden-Harris administration will bring credible reforms for women70% of Americans trust the Biden-Harris administration to lead the country successfully on the global frontICYMI: Two Bills Advance to Facilitate COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
    By David TranCapital News ServiceRICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia House and Senate have unanimously advanced separate bills to facilitate administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. House Bill 2333, introduced by Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond, intends to strengthen the state’s vaccine distribution efforts and also bolster data collection.The measure removes barriers on health care providers’ eligibility to conduct vaccination. Any person licensed or certified by the appropriate health regulatory board, who is in good standing within the past 10 years, can volunteer to vaccinate. This includes nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacy technicians. The bill also allows anyone to volunteer whose license was in good standing within 10 years before it lapsed.Health profession students enrolled in statewide accredited programs who have been properly trained in vaccine administration will also be allowed to volunteer. The bill directs the Virginia Department of Health to establish a program where eligible individuals may volunteer and complete training. Institutions such as hospitals, medical care facilities and universities would be able to volunteer their facilities as vaccine administration sites.The bill also requires the collection of race and ethnicity data of people receiving the vaccine. Bagby said during the House meeting that this will ensure a more equitable vaccination rollout. The bill also allows higher education institutions to assist VDH with data processing and analytics.“(This emergency legislation) is essential to making Virginia safely and efficiently distribute the COVID-19 vaccine supply we will receive from the federal government,” Bagby said.VDH does not mandate reporting data based on race and ethnicity, but vaccine providers are asked to enter such data, states the organization’s website. Over 300,000 vaccines have been administered without data collection of race or ethnicity, according to the department’s vaccine dashboard.A similar bill cleared the Senate unanimously last week. That measure, introduced by Sen. Siobhan S. Dunnavant, R-Henrico, does not require data collection on race and ethnicities. Dunnavant’s bill, Senate Bill 1445, allows anyone licensed or certified by the Department of Health Professions with good standing to volunteer, including those whose licenses were in good standing within five years prior to lapsing due to retiring. Del. Israel D. O’Quinn, R-Bristol, chief-co patron of the House bill, said during the meeting that despite the two bills he “has no doubt that we can work through those differences expeditiously.” The bill’s House passage on Tuesday came hours after President Joe Biden announced efforts to increase the country’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines by 200 million by the end of summer.The Biden Administration plans to distribute weekly a minimum of 10 million doses to states, tribes and territories. The move would add 1.4 million doses per week than what’s currently being distributed. Biden’s administration said it will try to maintain the distribution for at least the next three weeks.Roughly more than half a million Virginians have been vaccinated as of Wednesday with at least one dose. That means nearly 67% of the available first doses Virginia received were administered, according to the VDH vaccine dashboard. Over 488,000 total COVID-19 cases have been reported in Virginia as of Wednesday. The 7-day positivity rate is over 12% throughout the state. “People want to help,” O’Quinn said. “I think we can put a lot of people to work utilizing their skills that have been honed in our communities.”The bills now head to the other chambers.Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

By vascope

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