I appreciate the opportunity to provide you a legislative update. The General Assembly met April 5 for the reconvened session to consider the Governor’s vetoes and amendments to legislation that passed during the 2017 regular session. A listing of legislation vetoed by the Governor is available at this link. Fortunately, the General Assembly did not override any of the Governor’s vetoes, many of which preserved keeping Virginia more welcoming, inclusive and business friendly.
Several of the Governor’s budget and legislative amendments attracted significant interest. An amendment to place a year-long ban on permitting for the closure of coal ash storage facilities passed. However, an important budget amendment that would have allowed for the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia failed.
Many constituents contacted me regarding a bill, HB 2264, that I opposed which would have limited the funding of family planning services. This bill was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe and will not become law. Redistricting reform was a major topic of conversation in the legislative session and since adjournment. The General Assembly did not pass any redistricting reform legislation, including my HJ 651, during the session. Since the session adjourned in February, lawsuits relating to the constitutionality of Virginia’s House of Delegates districts are ongoing.
School suspension was another much-discussed topic. A bill I supported to attempt to limit the number of days a child could be suspended from school did not pass on a tie vote in the House. Those in favor of the bill argued that keeping children out of school is ultimately not helping them learn. Removing violent behavior from the classroom is necessary, but those children will be not be assisted in the best way if they have no supervision or direction. Those arguing against the bill were concerned about the removal of local control of school-related decisions. This session was not the first one to see this type of legislation introduced. Frequently, new, comprehensive and/or controversial legislation may take several years before moving successfully through the legislative process. After hearing arguments from all stakeholders, the introducers of the bill learn what modifications will enable the bill to pass.
Solar energy is a popular topic in constituent emails. Recently, Dominion Virginia Power submitted its integrated resource plan to the state for review. Dominion states that their plan includes an increase in the use of solar energy across Virginia. The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently published an article detailing the plan which includes comments from various stakeholder groups.
The Governor signed legislation that I introduced allowing for the expansion of land bank programs to reduce blighted properties. Additionally, he signed my bill which establishes a process for candidate withdrawal from a race for an elected position after the ballots have already been printed.
As a result of work this session, there were several measures taken related to the topic of marijuana reform. Senator Marsden’s SB 1027, which I co-patroned, will allow for the production of cannabidiol oil in Virginia to treat epilepsy. Additionally, the Virginia State Crime Commission will study whether or not Virginia should decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
Before the 2018 session begins next January, legislative committees and commissions, will continue meeting. I will attend and serve as a member on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, Housing Commission, Appropriations Committee, and Joint Rules Committee meetings. The General Assembly publishes a calendar for committee or commission meetings that are open to the public and is available here.
Primary elections will be held across Virginia on June 13th atyour regular polling location. Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party will hold nomination contests. The deadline toregister to vote in the primary is May 22. The deadline to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you is June 6. Voters in the City of Richmond will vote in Democratic nomination contests for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, City Treasurer and Sheriff, or in Republican nomination contests for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. In Chesterfield County, voters will participate in Democratic or Republican nomination contests for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
This year’s General Election Day is November 7, 2017. I will be seeking re-election to the House of Delegates. On the ballot this day will be elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and House of Delegate candidates in both Richmond and Chesterfield. Richmond voters will also select a City Treasurer, Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney.
There will be a Spring Cleaning event at 6807 Midlothian TurnpikeSaturday, May 6, hosted by the Richmond Clean City Commission. Shredding machines will be on hand to accept up to 5 boxes or bags of personal documents; electronics recycling will be available. Containers of pesticides, herbicides or oil-based paints will be accepted for proper disposal. Additionally, old curbside recycling bins that have been cleaned will be collected for use in the schools.
As we enter spring and summer months, there are many opportunities for engaging in seasonal activities. The City of Richmond Parks and Recreation Department’s Spring and Summer Program Guide is available at this link. The Program Guide provides information on a wide variety of activities that are taking place including recreation youth sports leagues, aquatics, dance classes, and youth summer camps. At this link, you can register for any of the Parks and Recreation Department activities in Richmond.
The Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Summer Program Guide is available at this link and provides information on camps and activities that are taking place. Chesterfield County provides both adult and youth programs for residents.
There are 3 inviting farmer’s markets in the 69th District:BirdHouse, on Tuesdays from 3 to 6:30pm at 1507 Grayland Avenue, South of the James, from 8am to noon on Saturdays at New Kent and 42nd Streets, and Carytown Market, on Sundays from 11am to 3pm at 3201 West Cary Street.
Beginning June 12th, my office will be located in the Pocahontas Building at the southwest corner of Capitol Square at Bank and 10th Streets. The current General Assembly Building, will be demolished over the course of the next year due to health and safety concerns. A new General Assembly office building, welcoming for citizens and functional for legislative representatives and staff, will open in January 2021. A special sub-committee of Rules, on which I serve, is overseeing rebuilding plans and process.
While the legislature is in session for only a few months, I am available to meet with constituents throughout the year. I welcome visitors, including students, to my office; and can meet with community members in their local district locations. It is a privilege to serve you in the House of Delegates. Please never hesitate to contact me if I can be helpful with a state agency or with legislative information. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my office phone number is 804-698-1069.