It was a proposal that seemed odd from the outset: Create a state holiday to honor the position of clerk of local courts.
In the end, the measure – patroned by Republican Del. William Wampler III of Abingdon – spent the early part of the legislative session in a state of suspended animation, sitting untouched in the House Committee on Rules until dying without a vote when “crossover” arrived on Feb. 15.
Wampler’s measure would have been far more than an honorific for those who occupy the elected post across the commonwealth; it would have given state workers a day off on the second Friday of August each year. The cost to the state government for paying overtime to those who had to work on the day was described by the Virginia Department of Planning & Budget as “indeterminate.”
(Had the measure gained more traction, one wonders if supporters of those in other constitutional elected officesacross Virginia – treasurer, commissioner of revenue, commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff – would begin asking for holidays of their own. With those five constitutional offices, theoretically that could equate to a whole week off in summer for state workers.)
In Virginia, clerks of Circuit Courts are elected by the public to eight-year terms. Clerks of lesser state courts are appointed positions. The post dates back to the mid-1600s.
Virginia’s state-government calendar of holidays already has bloated somewhat in recent years with the addition of Election Day and Juneteenth. Other holidays for state workers include New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, George Washington Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day (which is celebrated in tandem with Yorktown Victory Day), Veterans Day, Thanksgiving (two days) and Christmas.
Formally sanctioned state holidays are not required to be followed by businesses or, in most cases, even by local governments.