Vol. 37 Iss. 12 - February 01, 2021


Protecting Businesses from Increasing Cost of Unemployment Insurance

Importance of the Issue

Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, many Virginians are out of work due to business closures, school closures, and other health-related emergencies. The United States Department of Labor has greatly expanded the definition of who is eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, the period of time a person may be on unemployment compensation benefits, and the amount of unemployment pay a dislocated worker receives per week. The increase in workers who are eligible as well as the increase in funds distributed to families in the Commonwealth has depleted the Virginia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, and resulted in greatly increased levels of employer benefit charges and anticipated increases in the tax rates of covered employers under the Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act.

In response to this crisis, the United States Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has issued guidance letters (Federal Guidance) regarding the broad, emergency flexibility that States have to provide temporary relief to unemployed individuals and employers directly impacted by COVID-19. Pursuant to that guidance and its own authority, the Virginia Employment Commission (Commission) has already taken action with the United States Department of Labor to secure benefits for Virginians and request and repay Title XII advances from the Federal Unemployment Account.

However, there is still work that the Commission can do to lessen the tax burden on businesses that has resulted from record unemployment. Under the Federal Guidance, the Virginia Employment Commission may also relax its ordinary requirements in calculating the annual statement of the employers' benefit charges and taxes for the preceding fiscal year because of the historic demands on the Commonwealth's unemployment system and resulting employer benefit charges during this pandemic. Pursuant to that guidance, the Virginia Employment Commission must take action to provide relief to employers whose experience rating accounts have been chargeable with overwhelming amounts of benefits attributable to record high rates of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia, Section 2.2-104 of the Code of Virginia, Item 131, Section F, Chapter 56 of the Acts of Assembly of the 2020 Special Session I, § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia, in furtherance of Amended Executive Order 51 (2020), and my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby delegate to the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission the following authority and responsibility. The Commissioner shall:

Calculate the appropriate tax rate of each covered employer whose experience rating account has been chargeable with benefits for the second quarter (April 2020, May 2020, and June 2020) of the calendar year 2020;

Modify the annual computation to omit addition of the benefits for the second quarter (April 2020, May 2020, and June 2020) of the calendar year 2020, that she may calculate and provide to every covered employer by December 31st, or as soon as practical thereafter, a statement of the employer's benefit charges and taxes for the preceding fiscal year under Article 4 of Title 60.2 of the Code of Virginia, and as contained in the Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act;

Calculate a proper variation in the computation of the employers' benefit charges for the preceding fiscal year;

Execute any necessary agreements with the United States Department of Labor related to continued implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), 15 USC § 9001, et seq., for such other temporary tax relief for such covered employers during this public health emergency.

Effective Date of this Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and remain in full force and effect until the expiration of Amended Executive Order 51 unless sooner amended or rescinded.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 22nd day of December, 2020.

Ralph S. Northam


Declaration of a State of Emergency Due to Civil Unrest in Washington, D.C. and Potential Civil Unrest in the Commonwealth

Importance of the Issue

On this day, January 6, 2021, I declare that a state of emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia due to potential civil unrest that poses a danger to public safety. Due to significant events in Washington, District of Columbia, the Commonwealth is at a heightened risk of civil unrest that may require intervention to restore order, ensure the safety of the public, protect property, and provide additional resources to support our local, state, and federal partners. Specifically, violent protests in Washington, D.C. have led its Mayor to declare a state of emergency and impose a curfew. The District also requested assistance from the Commonwealth to address this unrest and restore order to our nation's Capital.

There is significant concern that the unrest unfolding in our nation's Capital may spark violence in the Commonwealth. This is of particular concern with respect to areas of the Commonwealth in close proximity to the District. To alleviate that potential, the Mayor of the City of Alexandria and the Chair of Arlington County Board requested curfews in the City of Alexandria and the County of Arlington.

The Commonwealth has a compelling interest to maintain peace and order in the face of escalating tension. The effects of this civil unrest constitute an emergency wherein human lives and public and private property are imperiled, as described in § 44-146.16 of the Code of Virginia (Code). Action is necessary to preserve life and property and to alleviate the conditions caused by this situation.

Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article V of the Constitution of Virginia, by §§ 44-146.17 and 44-75.1 of the Code, and as Governor and Director of Emergency Management and Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth's armed forces, I proclaim that a state of emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Accordingly, I direct state and local governments to render appropriate assistance to prepare for and respond to this situation, to alleviate any conditions resulting from the situation, and to implement recovery and mitigation operations and activities so as to return impacted areas to pre-event conditions as much as possible. Emergency services shall be conducted in accordance with § 44-146.13 et seq. of the Code.

In order to marshal all public resources and appropriate preparedness, response, and recovery measures, I order the following actions:

1. Implementation by state agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan, as amended, along with other appropriate state plans.

2. Activation of the Virginia Emergency Operations Center and the Virginia Emergency Support Team, as directed by the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, to coordinate the provision of assistance to state, local, and tribal governments and to facilitate emergency services assignments to other agencies.

3. Authorization for the heads of executive branch agencies, on behalf of their regulatory boards as appropriate, and with the concurrence of their Cabinet Secretary, to waive any state requirement or regulation, and enter into contracts without regard to normal procedures or formalities, and without regard to application or permit fees or royalties. All waivers issued by agencies shall be posted on their websites.

4. Activation of the Virginia National Guard to State Active Duty to assist in mitigating this emergency as well as providing support to Washington, D.C. pursuant to the National Guard Mutual Assistance Compact, § 44-54.1 et seq. and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, § 44-146.28:1 et seq. of the Code, as well as any other applicable law.

5. Persons traveling to and from home, work, or places of worship;

6. Authorization of a maximum of $2,750,000.00 in state sum sufficient funds for state and local government mission assignments and state response and recovery operations authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management allowable by The Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121 et seq. Included in this authorization is $750,000.00 for the Department of Military Affairs.

Further, I declare that the City of Alexandria and the County of Arlington shall be under a curfew between the hours of 6 p.m., January 6, 2021 and 6 a.m., January 7, 2021. Unless extended by further executive order, that curfew shall end at 6:01 a.m. January 7, 2021. While the curfew is in place, no person shall be present on any street, road, alley, avenue, park, or other public place in the City of Alexandria and the County of Arlington with the following exceptions:

Hospital personnel;

Members of the press;

State and City of Alexandria or County of Arlington employees and volunteers;

Military personnel including but not limited to national guard troops;

Private emergency medical transport workers;

Travel to and from public meetings of the City of Alexandria and the County of Arlington;

Persons seeking emergency services; and

Other emergency workers.

Nothing in this Order shall be construed to prohibit or restrict travel to a hospital in the event of a medical emergency, nor shall such travel be considered in violation of this Order.

Further, in the event of any conflict between this Order and Executive Order 72, Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, Section I, this Order governs.

Violation of this Order shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 44-146.17 of the Code.

Effective Date of this Executive Order

This Order shall be effective immediately, and with the exception to the provisions instituting the curfews, shall remain in full force and effect until February 6, 2021, unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 6th day of January, 2021.

Ralph S. Northam