Report: Virginia Lottery should be state’s primary gambling regulator
Virginia should give a single state agency the power to regulate most gambling. According to a new report, splitting those duties among multiple agencies creates oversight and enforcement gaps in a rapidly expanding industry.
Nonpartisan policy analysts also determined a casino in Petersburg would be viable while leaving it to the General Assembly to decide the best path forward for a casino in central Virginia after Richmond voters rejected one last year. The state could have financially viable casinos in Petersburg, Richmond, or both cities, the report concluded, but each option would have different impacts on the profitability of other casinos and local tax revenues.
The pair of gambling reports, released Monday by the state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, will presumably help lawmakers next year as they try to answer unresolved questions about Virginia’s push to expand legalized gambling.
Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, who chairs JLARC, said the Richmond versus Petersburg casino dispute will be “a major issue this upcoming session.”
“It’s likely to be a brawl,” Howell said in a hearing room filled with people in suits. “And it’s likely to have every lobbyist in Richmond involved, as you can see from the audience.”
In 2018, before Virginia’s anti-gambling stance softened, roughly $3.4 billion were wagered on state lottery games, charitable gaming, and traditional horse racing. That number grew steadily as the state approved more ways to gamble, with $13 billion estimated to be wagered in 2022. By 2025, when four casinos are expected to be open, total wagering could have grown to $21 billion.
JLARC recommended that the Virginia Lottery become the primary gambling regulator, noting the agency has already been beefing up its staff to handle sports betting and the four casinos built around the state. The Virginia Racing Commission, which oversees live horse racing and the horse racing-adjacent Rosie’s slots enterprise, doesn’t have the staff to carry out its regulatory mission, JLARC found. Similarly, the report concluded the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — which regulates forms of charitable gaming like bingo, poker, and slots-like machines called electronic pull tabs — also doesn’t have the resources to do its job.
“Gaming regulation is not the primary function of VRC and VDACS. Both agencies need more staff and better technology to ensure that all gaming under their purview operates with integrity,” JLARC staff wrote in an 85-page report on how Virginia regulates gambling.
Historical horse racing
The Virginia Racing Commission, which plays a dual role as both regulator and promoter of horse racing as an industry, currently has one part-time staffer specializing in oversight of the more than 2,600 slots-like historical horse racing machines at six Rosie’s locations across the state, the report found. The commission only has four full-time staffers, and JLARC concluded it isn’t regulating Rosie’s locations, which generate money for the horse industry, with the same level of oversight applied to casinos.
Notably, the Racing Commission isn’t required to participate in initiatives to address gambling addiction, the report found, even though other gambling interests are legally required to dedicate some profits to help people who might be suffering from the expansion of legalized gambling.
“Effective regulation contributes to Virginians’ perceptions of the gaming industry’s fairness and reputability, but VRC has not taken actions necessary to effectively regulate large-scale commercial gaming, which (historical horse racing) wagering has become,” JLARC wrote, adding the Racing Commission would need to quadruple its current staff to regulate historical horse racing machines adequately.
Several lawmakers who serve on the JLARC committee said they were troubled by what’s been going on in the charitable gaming industry, which was once known mostly for bingo and raffles but has grown over the last decade to nearly $1.5 billion in wagers in 2021.
Most of that wagering was done through slots-like electronic pull-tab machines. But the industry is also trying to expand into charity Texas Hold ’em poker tournaments, a process that has created drawn-out controversy over how state-sanctioned poker should be run and the opening of several unlicensed poker rooms.
Gambling regulation is a “minor function” for VDACS, the state report says, which, as the agency’s name suggests, focuses primarily on farming and consumer protection. The agency has 21 charitable gaming positions, JLARC found, and 10 of them are vacant.
“VDACS does not have enough staff to conduct a sufficient number of audits or inspections of organizations that sponsor charitable gaming,” the report says.
Read more of the Mercury’s coverage of Virginia’s gambling expansion
As Virginia gears up for gambling debate, thousands of slot-like games have already slipped in the back doorAmid a surge of slots, bingo’s last gasps in VirginiaDid Virginia lawmakers accidentally vote to legalize skill games for another year?Virginia doesn’t have licensed poker rooms. A state gambling board chairman opened one anyway.After poker ‘disaster,’ watchdog suggests stripping Va. Charitable Gaming Board of some powersA Virginia skill-game company has sued convenience stores nearly 150 timesVirginia tried to crack down on unlicensed poker. It’s still happening in the open.
Those audits, meant to ensure legitimate charities are getting the money they’re supposed to be getting, “typically discover over $1 million of unreported gaming revenue annually and hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate spending from gaming accounts.”
Over the last three years, the report says, nearly half of charities involved in gaming didn’t meet a basic requirement to devote 10% of the proceeds to charitable purposes.
“Although the use of proceeds requirement is intended to ensure that wagering on charitable gaming fulfills a public benefit, the Charitable Gaming Board has not enforced the policy,” the report says.
VDACS only recently gained the authority to enforce charitable gaming laws without the permission of the Charitable Gaming Board, a panel many lawmakers have criticized as being made up of insiders effectively overseeing their own industry. Earlier this year, the General Assembly stripped that board of some of its power in an effort to prevent conflicts of interest.
“What we have heard I found profoundly troubling,” Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, said after the JLARC presentation on charitable gaming.
Officials believe Virginia also has more than 9,000 unregulated skill machines in truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants. Those machines — which were briefly regulated by Virginia ABC because they were set up in establishments with alcohol licenses — aren’t subject to gambling taxes and are currently operating in legal limbo as the industry challenges the General Assembly’s persistent effort to ban the games. Having no one keeping tabs on the money flowing through those machines creates “a risk for fraudulent activities,” JLARC said.
“As a result, businesses that receive a proportion of machine revenue have no way of knowing whether they are receiving the correct amount of money from the machine manufacturers,” the report says. “Further, consumers who play the machines have no assurances that the games are fair.”
The lack of regulation makes it difficult to know exactly how many skill machines there are, JLARC said, but the number could grow to 20,000 if left unchecked. The report suggests that if the state were to legalize and regulate the machines, the Virginia Lottery could also handle oversight of that industry.
Ellie Rigsby, a JLARC analyst, said that even though casino slot machines, historical horse racing machines, electronic pull-tab machines, and skill machines differ somewhat on technical and legal grounds, they feel almost the same to the person playing them
“From a consumer perspective, they’re extremely similar,” Rigsby said.
The report says that centralizing gambling regulation with the Lottery would make it a core focus for just one agency and allow the Lottery to develop the expertise to stay ahead of “emerging gaming-related issues.”
“Lottery employees, specifically in the gaming compliance division, receive extensive training on regulating casinos and sports wagering,” the report says. “Many of the current employees are former law enforcement officers or worked in other states on gaming compliance, so they have an understanding of the risks associated with gaming and the necessity of mitigating those risks through regulation.”
Giving the Lottery oversight of historical horse racing and charitable gaming, which could involve at least 20 new positions and transferring 21 existing jobs to the agency, would cost roughly $5.7 million. That’s $3.5 million more than VDACS, and the Racing Commission spend to perform similar but less robust regulation.
The state could also create an entirely new gambling oversight agency, the report says, but that approach would have “several drawbacks” since policymakers just chose to make the Lottery the primary agency responsible for casinos and sports betting. Though the Lottery is partly funded by the sale of lottery tickets, which some see as giving the agency a vested interest in promoting a particular type of gambling over others, the JLARC reports note the Lottery’s expanded regulatory functions have been funded through an additional $23 million in the regular budget.
Acknowledging the value of more niche gambling expertise, the JLARC report doesn’t suggest doing away with the Racing Commission or the Charitable Gaming Board altogether.
Instead, it recommends keeping oversight of live horse racing with the Racing Commission since that was the agency’s “long-time primary focus” before the legislature approved historical horse racing machines in 2018. The Charitable Gaming Board, the report says, could serve as an advisory board to the Virginia Lottery Board, or one of its members could also serve on the Lottery Board.
Representatives from VDACS and the Racing Commission said Monday they took no issue with anything in the JLARC report.
Crunching casino numbers for Petersburg and Richmond
In a separate report, JLARC said policymakers could put a casino in Petersburg or Richmond since both locations would boost the state’s overall net gambling revenue.
Because the General Assembly picked five specific cities when it legalized casinos — Bristol, Portsmouth, Danville, Norfolk, and Richmond — the state can’t leave it to free-market forces and casino builders themselves to decide where casinos should or shouldn’t go.
Lawmakers asked JLARC to look at the feasibility of a Petersburg casino after Richmond residents narrowly defeated a casino referendum in 2021, making the state capital the only one of the five cities to say no. Richmond officials are still pursuing the casino idea, and the JLARC report is fodder for the ongoing debate over the best location.
The Innovation Group, a Louisiana-based consulting firm that has helped JLARC on casino analysis before, said a fully operational Petersburg casino would generate roughly $204 million in net gaming revenue each year. An earlier report in 2019 found a Richmond casino would generate roughly $297 million. If casinos were built in both cities, the report released this week says, Richmond’s could generate $249 million while Petersburg’s could produce $140 million.
If the Richmond/Petersburg market got two casinos, the report says, other casinos and Rosie’s locations would see a bigger revenue drop as a result.
The analysis didn’t recommend one location or the other and mostly verified the financial math to justify any casino approach the General Assembly chooses to take.
“We’re not making any judgments as a staff,” said JLARC Director Hal Greer. “We’re just giving the numbers.”
by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: email@example.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Cast Your Line: Enjoy fresh and saltwater fishing without a license
This weekend promises to be an excellent time for fishing aficionados and novices alike. Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources and Marine Resources Commission has announced free fishing days from June 2-4, 2023, enabling the public to fish without the need for a license.
Whether your passion lies in fresh or saltwater fishing, the first weekend of June offers the perfect opportunity to engage in recreational rod and reel fishing without the usual red tape.
Despite this freedom, it’s important to note that fees charged by fishing piers are not exempt during this period. Moreover, all fishing regulations, such as size, season, catch limits, and gear restrictions, remain firmly in place.
For details regarding saltwater limits and regulations, you can visit the Marine Resources Commission’s website. The 2023 Freshwater Fishing and Boating Regulations can be found on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website.
Junior Anglers are especially encouraged to check out the program tailored specifically for them.
The Free Fishing Days are authorized by the Code of Virginia, § 28.2-302.5. So, mark your calendars and make sure to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to experience all that Virginia’s waters have to offer!
Virginia State Police urges safety as summer travel begins amidst tragic loss during Memorial Day weekend
The 2023 Memorial Day weekend has unfortunately led to the loss of nine lives, which included four motorcyclists. The statistical count for this tragic weekend commenced on Friday, May 26, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. and concluded at midnight on Monday, May 29, 2023.
The Virginia State Police participated in the nationwide Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.) and the annual Click It or Ticket campaign. Throughout this period, Virginia Troopers registered 771 seat belt violations and 136 child restraint violations.
Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, expressed his concern with summer approaching and schools letting out. He emphasized the urgent need for responsible driving and adherence to safety protocols.
All available Virginia State Police patrolled the highways during the four-day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, aiming to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities due to impaired driving, speeding, and seat belt violations. The initiative resulted in 4,990 speeders and 1,924 reckless drivers being cited, with 89 impaired drivers being arrested. A total of 1,846 traffic crashes were investigated, and 634 commercial vehicles were inspected. The initiative also led to 169 felony arrests and assistance to 1,447 disabled motorists.
Fatal crashes were reported from the City of Richmond, and Henry, Loudoun, Orange, and Shenandoah counties. Loudoun and Henry counties reported two fatal crashes each, while two out of four fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in Loudoun County.
Comparatively, the 2022 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative reported 16 fatalities.
Funds generated from the summonses issued by Virginia State Police are directed towards court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which supports public school construction, technology funding, and teacher retirement.
Report on Virginia public education standards and policies overdue
Over a four-month period in 2022, Virginia leaders in education and workforce development held a series of meetings to provide recommendations to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration on improving state K-12 education.
However, a report on recommendations from those meetings, which were convened to fulfill the requirements of a 2022 law known as House Bill 938, remains six months overdue, with no explanation for its delay.
Asked about the report last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office did not provide an update on its status or why it hasn’t been released. A follow-up request in May went unanswered.
“The administration values the input from public school principals, school superintendents, school board members, and school teachers received both through the [House Bill] 938 workgroup and other feedback opportunities,” said Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter in an April email. “We continue to incorporate this feedback into the policies and actions needed to restore excellence to education and ensure our schools are serving every child. A detailed review of the policies and actions implemented over the last year and the Department’s policy recommendations will be outlined in the report.”
House Bill 938, which passed the General Assembly last year, required the Board of Education, Secretary of Education, and Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a group of stakeholders to evaluate various state policies and performance standards for public education.
Among the goals the group was tasked with evaluating were “promoting excellence in instruction and student achievement in mathematics,” expanding the availability of the Advanced Studies diploma, “increasing the transparency of performance measures,” and ensuring those measures “prioritize the attainment of grade-level proficiency and growth” in K-5 reading and math, and “ensuring a strong accreditation system that promotes meaningful accountability year-over-year.”
A report on the group’s findings and recommendations was due to the House and Senate education committees by Nov. 30, 2022.
During a Feb. 2, 2022 hearing, Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera called the legislation an opportunity for Virginia to develop a strategic plan to ensure public school students are prepared for life and the demands of the future.
“There are a lot of signs that we don’t have that, and that means taking a review of our standards, our curriculum, our assessments to make sure they are best in class and our proficiency levels are aligned with what the economy and democracy requires, and also our accountability system is aligned to make sure that we are holding systems accountable for serving every single child in Virginia,” Guidera said.
During the same hearing, Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, who carried the bill, said the legislation was “part of the governor’s ‘Day 1 Plan’ to empower parents” and a “mission statement as to where we want to take our education system.” She did not respond to interview requests.
Fifteen teachers, principals, parents, superintendents, school board members, and higher education and business experts were convened by the administration for the work group, which met at least four times before concluding its work in November, according to an October 19 report to the Board of Education. The group was also broken into four smaller groups that focused on “Mathematics Excellence and Achievement,” “Advanced Studies Diploma Options,” “Academic Growth and Assessment,” and “School Accreditation and Data Transparency.”
Each topic group met individually and was assisted by members of the Department of Education and the Region 5 Comprehensive Center, which provides assistance to states on education and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to a Nov. 3 draft provided to the Mercury, some of the work group’s recommendations included providing additional funding for elementary and middle school math specialists, revising state accreditation profiles to make them more accessible, and improving communication about how both learning growth and proficiency contribute to school performance scores.
Members who spoke with the Mercury said they were uncertain of whether there was any opposition to the recommendations after they were submitted.
“The timeframe for the HB 938 group was fairly limited, and so we could only accomplish so much,” said Kimberly Bridges, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and a member of the workgroup. “But I think there were folks at that table who were more than willing to keep working if the state had asked. But again, it just kind of ended, the report was drafted, and the folks on the working group did what they were there to do.”
A timely report
Members of the work group said the report is particularly timely given that the Board of Education is currently considering new accountability and accreditation systems.
In May 2022, the Youngkin administration released a report calling for “a new path” for Virginia education after student proficiency ratings and test scores on state and national assessments dropped following the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has blamed changes to school accreditation standards made by prior Democratic-controlled Boards of Education for the declines and, most recently, has proposed changes to how the state scores its schools.
At the same time, the administration has pushed for state education to focus more on workforce readiness, with Youngkin calling for every high school student in Virginia to graduate with “an industry-recognized credential.”
Courtney Baker, director of workforce and training for the Associated General Contractors of Virginia, who served on the Mathematics Excellence and Achievement topic group, said one of its recommendations was for Virginia to focus more on applied mathematics associated with careers such as architecture and engineering, instead of the “standard fast-paced, credit-driven approach.”
Additionally, the group recommended allowing students enrolled in career and technical education courses to qualify for Advanced Studies diplomas. Similar efforts to expand career and technical education in Virginia through legislation failed during the last General Assembly session.
[Read more: Bills to bolster career and technical education falter in General Assembly]
Baker said Virginia is “plagued” by a workforce shortage, pointing to estimates from construction industry groups that more than 250,000 craft professionals will be needed in Virginia by 2026.
“While we continue to hear how important the trades are to the health of Virginia’s economy, we do not see that reflected in current policy,” Baker said. “Students cannot pursue CTE training and qualify for prestigious advanced diplomas, CTE classrooms are in need of additional funding, and we have CTE instructors who are retiring and not being replaced.”
Proficiency vs. growth
Educators and lawmakers have debated for years how student success should be measured and whether assessments of school performance should focus more on student proficiency, as measured on state exams, or evidence of growth in test results.
Most Virginia schools remain fully accredited despite student testing declines
The Youngkin administration has argued for a greater emphasis on proficiency, saying that the inclusion of growth factors in school accreditation rankings has masked deficiencies in performance.
Officials were especially skeptical of the state’s most recent accreditation results, which showed only a few schools fell short of full accreditation despite student declines on standardized tests. Specifically, the number of fully accredited schools dropped from 92% in the 2019-20 school year to 89% for the 2022-23 year.
“This broken accountability system fails to provide a clear picture of the academic achievement and progress of our schools to parents, teachers, and local school divisions,” Youngkin said at the time. Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow similarly said the school ratings “fail to capture the extent of the crisis facing our schools and students.”
Both Balow and former Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, who chaired the House Education Committee, told the Washington Post that school accreditation rankings shouldn’t lump together proficiency and growth.
However, many education experts argue both factors are important in determining school success — a conclusion supported by the HB 938 work group, which in its Nov. 3 document stated that “focusing on both proficiency and growth provides an accurate depiction of how schools are performing.”
“The board should ensure that growth and proficiency continue to be included in one combined rate and increased parent-friendly communication surrounding its meaning would promote transparency,” the document says.
Members of the work group recommended the Board of Education “consider a weighted balance” of the two and conduct further investigation on the issue.
“We need accountability that looks at both student growth and students reaching proficiency. If you want to get a holistic picture of what’s happening with learning in schools,” Bridges said. “If you’re only looking at proficiency, particularly after coming out of this pandemic, and all of the impacts that it’s had on kids and their learning … then you’re only getting a piece of the larger picture.”
Members of the work group said they hope the report will be prepared and included as part of the board’s discussions.
Rodney Jordan, a former president of the Virginia School Boards Association who served on the work group, said Virginia has had a long history of educational excellence, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges students face.
I don’t want to see the pandemic used as an excuse for allowing opportunity gaps, lack of support for teachers and ill-defined student outcome goals to persist; I want to see those things lessened, frankly deliberately eliminated,” Jordan said.
However, he continued, education leaders must “acknowledg[e] that where students start and where students end can vary from school to school and community to community, and we have to find ways of accelerating academic excellence for all of our children while also finding ways to continue to … raise the bar and ceiling simultaneously.”
by Nathaniel Cline, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Fentanyl crisis prompts Virginia’s deployment of National Guard to aid Texas
In a decisive move, Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia has issued Executive Directive Four, deploying targeted resources to respond to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from the State of Texas. This action comes in light of the ongoing southern U.S. border crisis, characterized by increased drug trafficking and human trafficking.
The border crisis, which has turned every state into a border state, has caused significant instability along the U.S. border with Mexico. The supply of illegal drugs, including the highly lethal fentanyl, has sharply increased, resulting in devastating consequences for Virginia families and communities. Shockingly, an average of five Virginians die per day from fentanyl overdose.
Texas, recognizing the severity of the situation, requested assistance from all states and territories through the EMAC. Virginia, being a founding member of the compact, has responded to the call for help. As per Governor Abbott’s request, Virginia will be deploying 100 troops to support Texas in managing the border crisis.
“The ongoing border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state,” Governor Youngkin emphasized. “As leadership solutions at the federal level fall short, states are answering the call to secure our southern border, reduce the flow of fentanyl, combat human trafficking, and address the humanitarian crisis.”
The decision to deploy troops is driven by the intensive resource demands on Texas, the dangers posed by the fentanyl crisis, and the impact of the border crisis on criminal activity in Virginia. Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, has become a severe threat to the Commonwealth, with an alarming increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses in recent years. Mexican cartels are also smuggling other narcotics, such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin, across the border.
Texas has already invested substantial resources in border security operations, spending over $4.5 billion since 2021 and recently securing an additional $5.1 billion in funding. The state has deployed its own National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers to combat the crisis and adopt a “deter and repel” strategy. This approach involves erecting physical barriers and demonstrating a physical presence to impede border crossings and prevent the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people.
The recent termination of a public health order has further escalated the border crisis, requiring Texas to increase its resource commitment to address the issue effectively. In response, Texas made numerous requests for assistance through the EMAC, leading to Virginia’s decision to deploy the Virginia National Guard soldiers to support key aspects of Texas’ mission.
Under the executive directive, Virginia National Guard soldiers will be equipped with the necessary resources, including weapons, ammunition, body armor, protective masks, and night vision devices, to assist in their operations. The deployment will remain in effect until September 30, 2023, signaling Virginia’s commitment to assisting Texas during this critical period.
Governor Youngkin’s proactive response to the border crisis and the deployment of troops demonstrates the dedication of Virginia to tackle the supply of illegal drugs, combat human trafficking, and address the humanitarian crisis affecting communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. By joining other states in delivering additional assistance to Texas, Virginia aims to contribute significantly to the collective effort to secure the southern border and protect its citizens.
Governor Glenn Youngkin announces landmark change in state agency hiring practices
On May 30, 2023, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a landmark change in how state agencies will recruit and compete for talent by eliminating degree requirements, preferences, or both for almost 90% of state-classified positions. The new Commonwealth hiring practices will expand opportunities for Virginians and give equal consideration to all qualified job applicants.
“On day one, we went to work reimagining workforce solutions in government, and this key reform will expand opportunities for qualified applicants who are ready to serve Virginians,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This landmark change in hiring practices for our state workforce will improve hiring processes, expand possibilities and career paths for job seekers and enhance our ability to deliver quality services. Last month, Virginia achieved the highest labor force participation rate in nearly ten years, demonstrating the Commonwealth’s sustained workforce developments.”
“Changing how we think about workforce planning, talent acquisition, and leveraging knowledge, certifications, technical skills, apprenticeships, and work experience into measurable business results has been a Day 1 Workforce Development priority for this Administration,” said Secretary of Administration Margaret “Lyn” McDermid. “As an employer, the state government has one of, if not the most diverse occupational portfolios in Virginia. Our employees design, build, manage, and sustain public services across hundreds of lines of business, and giving equal consideration to all job applicants, including those who have experience solving real-world problems, is a smart business practice.”
“This is great news for the state government and all job seekers. By giving equal consideration to applicants with an equivalent combination and level of training, knowledge, skills, certifications, and experience, we have opened a sea of opportunity at all levels of employment for industrious individuals who have the experience, training, knowledge, skills, abilities, and most importantly, the desire to serve the people of Virginia,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “We are also working hard to examine regulated occupations and professions to find ways to simplify and speed up credentialing processes and universal licensing recognition for individuals who want to live and work in Virginia.”
This change will take effect on July 1, 2023. Virginia is the latest in a growing number of state governments to elevate the value of work experience and its new prominence in the future of America’s workforce. On average, Virginia state agencies advertise over 20,000 job opportunities each year.
Heavy traffic and rain forecasted for Memorial Day weekend – pack patience, plan ahead
Travel and weather forecasts for the 2023 Memorial Day weekend have the Virginia State Police strongly encouraging all drivers to be prepared before heading out to any holiday destination. Pack your patience for potential delays and congested highways due to significant traffic volume and inclement weather conditions. In addition, state police remind drivers to ditch distractions, buckle up, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Travelers are also encouraged to “know before you go” by checking the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) 511 traffic cameras and real-time information on road conditions by dialing 511 on a phone, visiting www.511Virginia.org or downloading the 511 app.
“Virginians need to make traffic safety a priority every day and, especially as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Memorial Day weekend is filled with celebrations, vacations, outdoor festivals, and backyard cookouts, which is why we need all motorists to share the road responsibly by driving smart, safe, and sober.”
Beginning Friday, May 26, 2023, VSP joins law enforcement around the country for the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries due to impaired driving, speed, and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2023 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 26 and continues through midnight Monday, May 29, 2023. All available state police troopers and supervisors will be on patrol through the holiday weekend to help keep traffic moving safely and responsibly.
On Monday, May 22, 2023, state police participated in the kickoff for the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This enhanced enforcement and education effort aims to further emphasize the lifesaving value of seat belts for every person in a vehicle.
During the 2022 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, 16 individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia roadways.* During last year’s combined Memorial Day C.A.R.E. initiative and the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign, Virginia Troopers cited 4,888 speeders and 1,875 reckless drivers and arrested 90 impaired drivers. In addition, 659 individuals were cited for seat belt violations, 117 were cited for child safety restraint violations, and 144 felony arrests were made. Virginia State Police also assisted 1,735 disabled motorists.
With the increased patrols, VSP also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.
Wind: 1mph NNW
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