Report Shows Virginia’s Road Condition Improving but Bridges Need Work

Virginia’s state-owned transportation infrastructure is improving, ranking the state 13th among the rest of the U.S. for pavement condition. Bridge condition lags somewhat, ranking 17th, but more than 25 percent of the Commonwealth’s bridges are close to being ranked structurally deficient, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) reported to legislators on Monday.

“You may recall that there was interest in taking a look at the state’s revenue streams, planning process, and infrastructure condition after a series of major legislative actions over the last five years or so,” JLARC Director Hal Greer said. “As you’ll hear, the state’s revenue picture has improved, and recent changes have made the state’s planning process more rigorous, and based on objective data. We have, though, identified some important, but relatively minor changes to be considered to better address some of the state’s transportation needs.”

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Virginia Employment Commission Making Some Progress, but Still Has Serious Institutional Problems

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is starting to recover from over a year of unemployment insurance (UI) backlogs and call wait times brought on by unprecedented demand during COVID-19, according to a final report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC.) But the VEC crisis highlighted long-term systemic problems in the agency, and the agency still has a long way to go.

“As you’ll hear, some backlogs have been reduced, and call center performance has been improved somewhat, but there are increasing backlogs in other areas. There remain substantial challenges for the agency in the coming weeks, months, and even years,” JLARC Director Hal Greer told legislators on Monday.

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Virginia Employment Commission Delays Rollout of New Unemployment Insurance System

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is delaying the roll out of its new unemployment insurance system intended to help modernize user experience on its website and relieve strain on call centers until the beginning of November. On September 17 the VEC announced that its current system would go offline to allow for the upgrade starting September 29. But a new announcement states that the changeover will occur in late October through early November, the latest delay in a modernization project originally scheduled for completion in 2013.

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Virginia Employment Commission Still Overwhelmed by Claims Backlog

The Virginia Employment Commission is still lagging in processing claims, according to an interim report from the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) presented to legislators Monday.

“A theme that you will hear in the presentation is that while the agency could not have been expected to be fully prepared to respond to the pandemic, it could have been better prepared,” JLARC Director Hal Greer said. “As you’ll hear, 18 months into the pandemic, the agency is still overwhelmed by backlogs of claims. Its call center continues to under-perform, and the agency is struggling with how to recoup a significant amount of benefit payments that were incorrectly issued.”

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Watchdog: Virginia Employment Commission Still Struggling

A spokesperson for the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) told legislators that the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is still unable to answer most of its incoming calls and expressed concern about the backlog of certain types of claims requiring extra review. On Tuesday, JLARC Principal Legislative Analyst Lauren Axselle gave a brief update to legislators, noting that an interim report will be complete in September with a final report on the VEC scheduled for November.

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Northam Appoints Eric Reynolds Head of Foster Care Watchdog Agency

Governor Ralph Northam announced Virginia’s first Director of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman will be Eric Reynolds, who has previous experience as legal counsel for the Department of Social Services and the Office of Children’s Services. The announcement is the latest step in the creation of the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman, established by the 2020 General Assembly to help oversee Virginia’s foster care program.

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Judge Grants Virginia Employment Commission Brief Extension to Respond to Class-Action Lawsuit over Slow Unemployment Claims Processing

Virginia is trailing the rest of the United States in processing certain unemployment claims. That’s led to a class-action lawsuit against the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), filed in April. VEC Commissioner Ellen Hess asked for an extension until the end of May to respond to the lawsuit, but on Wednesday, a district judge ruled that the VEC could only have a four-day extension from May 7 until May 11.

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Governor Northam Says He Supports Marijuana Legalization in Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Monday that he supports the legalization of Marijuana use for adults in the commonwealth.

“Legalizing marijuana will happen in Virginia,” the governor said during a briefing on Monday.

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Virginia Loan Authority has Millions of Unused Funds Available for Small Businesses, Report says

The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA) is doing a poor job issuing loans for small businesses with millions in unused funds available, according to a new report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released Monday. 

The VSBFA is a part of the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, but operates separately from the rest of the agency. 

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