I hope you and your family are enjoying spring in Richmond. As we head into nicer weather, Richmond has many upcoming festivals and fun activities. The General Assembly adjourned on February 24th. On April 3, we reconvened to decide on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes of bills. Overall, this session was productive, and many new laws will go into effect on July 1. Below are some highlights from the reconvene session as well as information about activities in Richmond this spring.
Update from Reconvene Session
In between the legislative and reconvene sessions, the Governor signed 842 bills into law and amended or vetoed 64 pieces of legislation. Among the 64 bills, 17 were vetoed by the Governor and all of the vetoed bills were sustained by the General Assembly, meaning they will not become law. You can read more about which bills were vetoed here and a full list of amendments that were passed here.
Notable amendments that passed were:
Eliminating the suspension of driver’s license over unpaid court costs and fees, which will reinstate the driving privileges for more than 600,000 drivers on July 1.
Improvements to I-81 by increasing truck registration fees and diesel tax rates in addition to a 2.1% regional motor fuels tax along the I-81 corridor. I-95 and I-64 will also see improvements south of Prince William County and between Richmond and Williamsburg.
Funding to rebuild the Central State Hospital in Petersburg, which would add 250 more beds
Failed amendments included:
Expanding distracted driving legislation statewide beyond the ban on using a mobile device in a work zone
Funding for census education and outreach to ensure an accurate census count in 2020
The next step was for the Governor to take action on the amended bills that were rejected by the General Assembly. He had 30 days (May 3) to either sign the bill into law without his recommendation or veto the bill. On May 3, the Governor vetoed additional bills related to restrictions on small businesses, changes to the Virginians with Disabilities Act, lowering the staffing ratio for school counselors, and undermining access to quality, affordable health care. You can find more details on the Governor’s vetoes and other announcements here.
The Division of Legislative Services (DLS) provides a detailed and comprehensive summary of all the proposed amendments and vetoes, which you can read here. Additionally, if you are interested in reviewing the 2019 session, DLS has released their “2019 Session Highlights” report. Hard copies are available upon request by calling my office at 804-698-1169.
ConserveVirginia is the first in the nation, data-driven, statewide, land conservation strategy that identifies high value lands and conservation sites across the Commonwealth. Its living “smart map” includes six categories that represent a different conservation value: Agriculture & Forestry, Natural Habitat & Ecosystem Diversity, Floodplains & Flooding Resilience, Cultural & Historic Preservation, Scenic Preservation, and Protected Landscapes Resilience. More than 5 million acres of agricultural and forest lands fall under these categories. The map will be updated regularly as new data is available and additional resources and tools emerge. The goal is to take the next step in identifying how and where to achieve better conservation outcomes and to prioritize the most important lands from a statewide perspective. You can view the interactive map here.
Virginia Film Industry Update
The third series in AMC Network’sThe Walking Dead franchise will film its debut season in Virginia. Production of the ten-episode series will begin in Central Virginia this summer. This is the second AMC series to film in the Commonwealth;TURN: Washington’s Spies filmed four seasons in Virginia between 2013-2017. The film industry is growing quickly in Virginia by bringing in an annual total economic impact of more than $800 million in 2017. WithThe Walking Dead having one of the largest audiences on television today, we will hopefully see an increase in jobs for skilled workers, economic opportunity for local businesses, and an uptick in tourism.
The show is eligible to receive a Virginia film tax credit, but the exact amount will be determined based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and other deliverables like Virginia tourism promotions. To read more about Virginia’s growing film production industry, visit www.filmvirginia.org.
eVA - Virginia’s Procurement System
According to the Department of General Services (DGS), 1,657 businesses, including 153 SWaM businesses, within the 69th district participated in Virginia’s enterprise procurement program in 2018. Top commodities included garbage removal, new building construction services, and police and security-equipped automobiles. This amounted in a total of $44.2 million in spending.
If you own a business or are simply interested in learning more, DGS offers a website called eVA, an electronic procurement system used by over 11,000 state and local government purchasing professionals to buy over $7 billion in goods and services each year. On the website, you can find free public reports, which show you who is buying, who they are buying it from, and how often. Click on “Procurement Transparency Reports” on the home page to find this information.
You can also explore a wealth of information on how to do business with the Commonwealth and view current solicitations by state agencies, local governments, and many school systems. To get started doing business with the state, you must register your business as an eVA vendor - registration is free and it will provide access to additional tools and resources, like online bidding and customer care. If your business is selected to work through eVA, there is a 1% fee on purchase orders that is capped at $500 for small businesses and $1,500 for other businesses.
eVA is transforming how Virginia businesses and governments work together for the benefit of everyone. I appreciate the transparency reports as they reflect and relate to the legislation that I recently passed, HB1668, which provides oversight and training for high risk contracts.
2019 Election and Voter Registration
Every year is an election year in Virginia. This year, registered voters will have the opportunity to vote on members for the House of Delegates and Senate. The primary election is Tuesday, June 11th and the deadline to register to vote in the primary is May 20th.
How to register to vote
Find out who is on your ballot
Find out where to vote
Photo ID Requirements to Vote
The General Election is on Tuesday, November 5th, and the deadline to register to vote in the general election is October 14th.
DMV Real ID
Beginning October 1, 2020, federal identification requirements are changing for domestic air travel and access to secure federal facilities. This means, in order to board a domestic flight on or after that date, you will need to have visited the DMV in person with certain documents to update your driver’s license or ID card to a REAL ID. Otherwise, you will have to present another federally approved form of identification, like a passport, at TSA checkpoints.
DMV is actively spreading the word and recommends not waiting until the last minute to get your REAL ID. If you would like a DMV REAL ID expert to attend one of your community group meetings, please contact me at 804-698-1169 or firstname.lastname@example.org and my staff will help you arrange this.
With the spring weather has come plenty of rain as well, and before we know it, hurricane season will be upon us. It is important to stay prepared for adverse weather. Here are some tips and reminders:
Make sure your prescription medications are filled
Keep your car’s gas tank full
If you have pets, stock up on food and supplies
Keep your mobile device charged and have a portable charger
Keep matches, candles, flashlights and batteries stocked in an accessible location at home
Keep extra water and non-perishable food on hand
Buy surge protectors for sensitive electronics
If you have a portable generator, make sure you have fuel and it is ready for use
Turn off or unplug important appliances
If you lose power, always report it by visiting www.dominionenergy.com or 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357). Stay away from downed lines and anything touching them - always assume lines are energized and report it using the phone number above.
If you or someone in your household uses electrically powered medical equipment, you can submit this to Dominion at www.dominionenergy.com/medical-conditions. A physician’s statement and signature are required and you must re-submit annually. In the event of a power outage, Dominion will prioritize restoring your service.
Google Initiative in City of Richmond
Google is working with small businesses, jobseekers, students, teachers, and veterans in the City of Richmond through a program called Grow with Google. They have a partnership with public libraries to bring free tools and resources to job seekers and small businesses nationwide. There is also an online option offered for businesses and job seekers unable to participate in the in-person trainings. Local organizations interested in joining the Grow with Google Partner Program can learn more and apply here.
Virginia Space Launch
It was a delight to travel to Wallops Island on April 17th to witness the 10th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Virginia Space, Northrup Grumman Innovation Systems, and NASA celebrated the launch, which also carried student scientific experiments as part of the inaugural ThinSat program. The more than 40 experiments included in the launch are designed to research cardiovascular health, Alzheimer’s, and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide. ThinSat is a low-cost initiative aimed at increasing student engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields; more than 50 middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities participated in the program. You can read more about the student-inspired satellites at theTimes-Dispatch.
Exciting Spring Activities and Events in Richmond
As you know, Richmond is a vibrant community, especially in the spring. There are many fun events for you and your family to enjoy. Here are a few that may be of particular interest:
Take time to relax and contemplate while touring the VMFA’s new exhibition: Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment (thru August 18, 2019). The VMFA also has an interesting exhibit running from June 8 – November 17, entitled “Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South”.
Plan a visit to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia
Enjoy the nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival at the annual Dominion Energy Riverrock (May 17-19)
Walk through history with the Valentine Museum’s guided tours
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 19th at the Science Museum of Virginia’s “Science After Dark.” From June 8 - September 3, the spectacular and immersive “Pompeii: The Immortal City” makes its North American debut.
Explore the African American experience in Virginia at The Virginia Museum of History and Culture’s “Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality” exhibition opening in June.
Visit The American Civil War Museum for their new space and exhibition highlighted in national media
Support local businesses at one of the many farmers markets in the 69th district:
It is an honor and privilege to serve you in the General Assembly. Please never hesitate to contact me if I can be helpful to you. You can email me at email@example.com or call my office at 804-698-1169. I look forward to seeing you and your friends and family around Richmond.
Betsy B. Carr