HELLO Spring! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and you got a brand new Virginia Updates Newsletter waiting for you to read - what more can you ask for 🌷
Thanks for joining us again VA Community! We hope everyone had a relaxing weekend, watched some March Madness or adventured outside, and looked forward to the week ahead.
Here are your Virginia Updates Newsletter for March 21 📬 We have news on;
▪️ Governor Youngkin calls to Suspend the Gas Tax for 3 Months
▪️ The CROWN Act passes the U.S. House of Representatives
▪️ Virginia State Parks (they are hiring and have tons of fun activities coming soon!)
▪️ Virginia Headlines
▪️ COVID-19 Data
▪️ Vaccine Data
Suspend the Gas Tax
Governor Glenn Youngkin will introduce emergency legislation to suspend Virginia’s gas tax for three months.
Youngkin announced on Wednesday that the bill would eliminate the entire state portion of the gas tax, an estimated $0.26 per gallon.
It means gas distributors – those who set the prices at the pump – will temporarily not have to pay the tax, according to the Code of Virginia.
The Governor said the tax would be phased back in following the 90 day suspension.
The proposed legislation would result in the loss of $437 million in transportation funding. Youngkin’s administration claims that the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, which supports maintenance and construction, has over $1 billion more revenue than anticipated this year.
Youngkin said the bill will take effect immediately if it’s approved by the legislature in a special session. He said there is still no set date for lawmakers to convene.
The governor had previously called for a temporary suspension of a 5-cent increase in the state’s gas tax, but that idea failed to gain traction in the Senate. Youngkin said his new proposal — which will come via emergency legislation introduced in the coming weeks whenever the General Assembly reconvenes for a special session — replaces his earlier plan and would give Virginia drivers a break “right now.”
The CROWN Act
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), in a 235-189 vote which will further put an end to race-based hair discrimination.
This new legislation will prohibit discrimination based on one's hair texture or hairstyle -- specifically pointing to hairstyles associated with a particular race or national origin.
A 2019 study conducted by the JOY Collective said Black women were 80% more likely to feel pressure to change their hairstyles in order to fit in at the office.
Federal protection is still needed, the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund said. That extra mile would give Black people a legal safety net from consequences at school or work for their natural hair.
With this new passing, the bill will now head to the Senate to be voted upon.
Following California's official ban in 2019, the CROWN Act has also seen legislative wins in 13 additional states including New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado as well as in 34 municipalities.
Virginia State Parks
The Department of Conservation and Recreation is looking to hire people who love any of Virginia’s 41 state parks to work either part-time or full-time.
Virginia state parks have it all for anyone who enjoys working outdoors, sharing educational or historical expertise, or planning events and programs.
Daily duties vary depending on the job and there are different needs at each park location. As of now, the department’s website lists the following positions as vacancies that need to be filled:
Education Support Specialist
Full-time/Additional park positions:
Chief Ranger, Visitor Experience
Assistant Park Manager (Administrative)
Housekeeping Park Ranger
Headquarters Management Positions
A full list of job vacancies at certain parks can be found here.
Also happening, the Virginia State Park Adventure Series returns this weekend with a wide range of competitive events held in state parks across the Commonwealth!
Events include adventure races, running events, mountain bike races, cyclocross races, triathlons, gravel time trial and an old-school enduro race.
Their unique scoring system offers two ways to win, either by point total or participation. They have also expanded the number of winners for the top ten competition categories. With spring just around the corner, this is a great way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.
Learn more at www.wsls.com/virginia-state-parks-adventure-series-returns/
In more news, Virginia Headlines
WTOP News - Virginia high schoolers launch nonprofit to address education disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. The pandemic has led to many students falling behind in school, but Immunize for Immunity is working to close that gap. They've donated over 5,300 books to libraries and charities throughout the country through the charity’s 13 national chapters and 73 volunteers. Their next mission is to drive institutional change at the policy level by working with state leaders to create new educational pathways.
Learn more about the group and how to get involved at www.immunize4immunity.org
ODU Website - Old Dominion University Launches Virginia’s First Four-Year Major in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. MfgET, as it’s referred to, will be on the Norfolk campus and at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), in Danville. The classes will be offered with on-site, virtual and hybrid options, leveraging the advanced manufacturing lab space of IALR. The two-year manufacturing engineering technology degree will eventually be available to all colleges within the Virginia Community College System.
Virginian Pilot - Virginian-Pilot reporter, Sierra M. Jenkins, among those killed in Granby Street shooting in downtown Norfolk. The shooting that happened early Saturday, killing two people and injuring three others. Norfolk Commonwealth’s attorney Ramin Fatehi issued a statement on social media asking anyone with cell phone video or surveillance footage of the incident, or any other information to contact police. Authorities are asking anyone with information to call 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or to submit a tip online.
We want to share our deepest condolences for the friends and families of each of the victims lost in the shooting and all those suffering from the same loss 🤍
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,659,710. The 1,659,710 consists of 1,186,446 confirmed and 473,264 probable cases. There are 19,466 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 3.6%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, March 21
Total Doses Administered: 15,523,427
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,218,895 or 72.4%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 82.3%
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 6,974,636 or 81.2%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 92.1%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 2,866,448
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA
Thank you for joining us this week 😁 If you found today's newsletter informative, share it with a friend and keep the conversation going!
- Maria Reynoso, Editor-in-Chief