Lucas relates casino effort

Published 6:07 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Only two legislators at annual breakfast

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Sen. Louise Lucas was happy to report that after years of effort, her casino bill had passed the General Assembly and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

It took collaboration and compromise, but it passed, said Lucas Thursday during the Richard J. Holland Post-Legislative Breakfast held at The Smithfield Center. 

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Lucas, D-18th, and Del. Emily Brewer, R-64th, were the only two of Isle of Wight County’s five state legislators to attend the meeting. Sen. John Cosgrove, R-14th, and Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-75th, sent representatives. Sen. Tommy Norment, R-3rd did not attend and did not send a representative. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The casino bill does not interfere with the Pamunkey Indian tribe’s desire to build a casino in Norfolk and includes a provision for a referendum in the five localities that fit the criteria in the bill — Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Richmond, said Lucas.  

The bill also requires a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission review of casino gaming laws in other states, to be due by Dec. 1. 

The idea is for the localities to receive proceeds from casino gambling for local concerns, and in Portsmouth that is to help defray the costs of tolls, said Lucas.  

During the General Assembly session this year, Brewer said that she and Sen. Monty Mason, D-1st, were able to set up the state’s first bipartisan Foster Care Caucus.

The caucus will work on legislation to bring Virginia from the bottom of the country for foster care and adoption up into the top 10, said Brewer. 

Brewer outlined other bills she had passed this year dealing with adoption and foster care issues, such as expanding the definition of a close relative to include stepfamily members.

“We know the family tree has changed a bit,” she said. 

One bill that Brewer submitted that didn’t pass called for putting maintenance of major evacuation routes, such as Routes 460, 10 and 58, as one of the major factors considered in the state’s Smart Scale prioritization process.

Locally, Brewer has set up a forum for veterans to have issues resolved as part of her constituent services. 

“I don’t have a political party in front of me when it comes to constituent services,” she said. 

Cosgrove’s representative, Christie New Craig said he had submitted 21 pieces of legislation this year, notably one that includes certain cancers to the list of occupational diseases under workers’ compensation, which passed. 

A bill calling for sex offenders to notify emergency shelters of their status also passed, said Craig.

Cosgrove’s bill on allowing retired law enforcement officers to serve as school resource officers passed the Senate but not the House, said Craig.

Cosgrove also got a bill passed that lengthens the waiver to make up days for schools falling under a mandatory evacuation order, such as what occurred last year during Hurricane Florence.  {/mprestriction}