Eileen's Latest eNews - July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017

Thoughts After Visiting The Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture

Last week, I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Wow, what an experience, diving into history and culture that so enriches our country. I felt tremendously moved by the exhibits. We all studied our country’s history, but this museum really drives home the horror of racism that so many people experienced for hundreds of years, just because of the color of their skin. I also learned of so many personal stories throughout the moving exhibits, of those who helped our country grow and advance. The museum also highlights many activists, inventors, musicians, actors, teachers and cultural ambassadors who all helped shape what America is today.

I was only a child when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, so I do not personally remember much of that era, but like all of us, I certainly studied MLK in school. One quote, in particular, stood out to me, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Dr. King’s words present a challenge to me, not just as a person, but as an elected official. How can I effectively use my voice to not only stand up and do what is right but also set an example for others to do the same? What steps can I take to make the playing field more level?

If you have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Passes for November 2017 will be released this Wednesday, August 2nd at 9:00 AM. Click here for more information.

 

Thelma Kouzes's 100th Birthday

It was wonderful to celebrate the 100th birthday of my constituent, Thelma Kouzes. It has been my honor to get to know her over the years. Thelma has served as a host mother to over 170 foreign students (in addition to her two boys) and continues to be a tireless community stalwart. I was thrilled to attend this momentous occasion and join her as she marked this milestone! I also want to give additional kudos to my friend, constituent and advocate extraordinaire, Cecilia Ochoa Williams for arranging such a lovely gathering for such an incredible lady. Click here to read the lovely Washington Post article mentioning both of them.

 

House Page Program

Each year, the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints students 13-14 years of age from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly. These young people assist members in the House of Delegates, as well as the House Clerk's staff and other legislative staff in the countless daily duties required for the successful operation of the House during the Legislative Session.

Tomorrow, the online application to serve as a Page in the House of Delegates during the 2017 legislative session will become available.  The application may be accessed at the bottom of the Capitol Classroom Page information section on the Virginia General Assembly website or by clicking here.

Each completed application requires a personal endorsement from the applicant’s Delegate. Therefore, it is the applicant’s responsibility to contact me to request this endorsement.

 

Flood Safety

As we all know, the heavy rains last week caused a lot of high water throughout the county. It should be noted that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into a roadway covered with water. Just six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control. Never underestimate the power and force of even a relatively modest amount of water. Check out this video from the National Weather Service about flood safety and remember, turn around, don’t drown!

 

Braddock Nights

The Braddock Nights Concert Series continues this month. This annual summer tradition is one of my favorite community events. Every Friday during the summer you can head out to Lake Accotink Park or Rutherford Park to hear great music! Each concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and there is no charge for admittance. To check out the dates for scheduled performances, click here.

July 17, 2017

I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July. I certainly enjoyed participating in events and parades in and around the district. In addition to barbecues, fireworks and pool parties, if there is one thing summer has become synonymous with in recent years, it is road work and repaving.

This summer, there is substantial paving that will be taking place in and around the 41st District. To open this enews, I would like to provide you with some information from VDOT about what to expect during the repaving of residential streets. You canclick here to see which roads are scheduled to be repaved this summer. 

 

What to Expect During Roadway Resurfacing on a Residential Street:

The paving process starts with neighborhood notices.  The contractor will place door hangers on the front doors of the houses on the affected streets.  Door hangers are placed no sooner than 30 days prior to the work, but at least 3 days before work will begin.  At least three days prior to the start of work, “No Parking” signs will be posted.  These no parking signs will list a date range during which street parking is prohibited, in order to allow FCPD to enforce the restrictions legally if necessary. Please note that paving may occur at any time during the posted date range.  A range of dates is listed due to the nature of paving work.  There are many factors such as weather, equipment breakdowns, personnel issues, material supply issues, etc. that can impede the progress of a paving project.

Parking enforcement and towing is handled by the Fairfax County Police Department at the contractor’s request.  However, the no-parking restrictions are only enforced if a parked vehicle interferes with the contractor’s work. Parking on the street during non-working hours, or on days when the contractor is not working on the street should not result in a ticket or your vehicle being towed.  Even so, please note that parking on a street with posted no parking signs is done at your own risk. Even if construction equipment may not appear, that does not guarantee that your vehicle will not be towed and impounded.

You can also work directly with the Construction Manager in the field by calling them at the at the phone number listed on the paving web site: http://www.virginiadot.org/novapaving. If you click on the affected road, it will list the construction manager's email and contact information.

 

Constituent News

Last week I had the opportunity to meet an impressive young constituent, Hope Baker. While she has cerebral palsy, she is not defined by her disability, but rather she is motivated by her incredible abilities. She is a rising Senior at Robinson Secondary School and is an impressive public speaker, having had several unique opportunities to keynote many events. Hope is a wonderful and engaging young woman, who I am confident has a bright future ahead of her. I am looking forward to following her next steps including future education, career path and no doubt many future successes.

I also had the opportunity to meet with another constituent Andrew McGrail, one of Troop 1966's newest Eagle Scouts. He just recently had his official Court of Honor ceremony. Andrew graduated Robinson Secondary School and will be attending Virginia Tech this fall. Congratulations Andrew, for having achieved the Boy Scouts' highest rank. Best of luck as a future Hokie!

 

Women in Government 

I attended my final conference as a member of the Women in Government Fellows Leadership Program Class of 2017. I was pleased to be with so many incredible women elected officials at the local and state level from throughout the country. They are all doing such amazing things for their constituents. I was profoundly grateful to be a part of this worthwhile program and to have learned a great deal from these amazing women. I look forward to using what I have learned from these women and this program to better serve you in the House of Delegates.

 

Best of Braddock

It was wonderful to join friends from the Braddock District Council in honoring the Best of Braddock award recipients last week. Every year, the Braddock District Council presents awards to individuals and groups in our community for their contributions to the neighborhood. This year, honorees included another outstanding and deserving group of individuals, families and businesses that make Braddock such a great place to live.

 

Short Term Rentals Survey

With the passage of SB 1578 during the 2017 General Assembly Session, localities now have the authority to require registration of short-term rentals, such as Airbnb. Fairfax County would like to hear from you about how best to implement this new law. Click here to go to the County’s survey about short term rentals.

 

Campus Sexual Assault Policies at the Federal Level

The recent actions by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos effectively rolling back the important strides made under the previous administration to more effectively address campus sexual assault were incredibly distressing to me. As we have slowly moved the ball forward on a difficult issue over the past few years, we now risk moving backward. I am proud that groups like End Rape on Campus (EROC) are continuing to fight against these efforts. I have had the distinct privilege of working with EROC on legislation here in Virginia for over the past 3 years. This group has been a powerful voice in support of campus sexual assault survivors and just this past week, they met with Secretary DeVos to explain to her why rolling back the hard-won efforts of the prior administration are simply wrong. Click here to read the Washington Post article about it. Despite this federal setback, we must continue to make changes at the state level.

 

Bears in the 41st District

To be honest, I never thought I would have to share this type of information for my constituents. That said, given the recent "visitor" to the King Park West area, I wanted to be sure you knew what to do if you see a bear in your neighborhood. In general, any questions about bears can be directed to Fairfax County's Wildlife specialist at 703-246-6868 or the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003. You can also click here for more information about bears in the county.

July 3, 2017

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." -United States Declaration of Independence

That is the opening sentence of our own, uniquely American, Declaration of Independence. I have been thinking about this sentence a lot during the last few weeks, between taking part in our own elections, watching special elections across the country and of course, seeing what is happening across the Potomac. We united as a people to declare our independence from a foreign power. We embarked on a great new experiment in government known as the United States of America. Our representative democracy was unprecedented, as we insisted on a separation of powers, a separation of religion and state, and a limited amount of time that our head of state could hold power.

While personally, at times I have grave concerns that the lines of the separation of powers (between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches), as well as the separation of religion and state, are blurring, what troubles me most is the heightened risk of the dissolving of our own American “political bands”—in the sense of the hyper-partisanship both at an inter-party level and an intra-party level. Far too often, we filter our news and our thoughts to only hear and accept what we want to hear. We dismiss someone automatically because they label themselves as conservative or progressive, Democrat or Republican.

In the General Assembly, while I will always be one of the first to stand up for our inalienable rights or Democratic values, I will also try to find opportunities for common ground with my Republican colleagues in the name of moving the ball forward—and have done so on many key issues important to us all: education, SOL reform, creating jobs, birth control access, bullying, child care safety, combatting campus sexual assault, and dealing with our transportation challenges. As I mentioned in my previous edition of eNews, I believe there are myriad opportunities for us all (myself included) to strive to disagree without being disagreeable. On the eve of our nation’s 241st birthday, let’s all strive to make civility toward our fellow Americans a reality.
 

July 4th Parades

I am looking forward to marching in three parades tomorrow: Fairfax City, Olde Forge-Surrey Square and Orange Hunt Estates. I look forward to seeing you and having the opportunity to connect. Regardless of your plans tomorrow, while I hope you can enjoy the day with friends and family, let us also take time to reflect on the incredible freedom we enjoy in these United States! I am proud to join area parades in celebration of our wonderful country and the freedom we enjoy and maintain every single day. 
 

Fireworks Safety

It is not the 4th of July without fireworks. Fairfax County has put together a guide for those fireworks that are legal in the county, as well as a list of safety tips for a fun 4thClick here to read them.
 

Lorton Celebrates Independence Day

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the annual fireworks show at Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. This is the second time I have attended. This event combines art exhibits, food trucks, local craft beer and wine and live music. If you missed it this year, keep an eye out for it next year--it is a great event for families and friends. 
 

Food and Fairfax County Public Schools

I was proud to join the First Lady, Senator Scott Surovell, Delegate Paul Krizek, Fairfax County School Board Members Megan McLaughlin, TamaraKaufax and Ryan McElveen, as well as Inova CEO Knox Singleton for FCPS’s Food and Nutrition Services Summer Meal Kickoff last Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School. This program connects families with free or low-cost resources available in the county, and encourages healthy eating and physical activity. A number of children receive free and reduced-cost meals at school. I am grateful that FCPS continues to ensure that our students do not go hungry even during summer vacation. I am also so proud of our First Lady's efforts to ensure that no child who lives in the Commonwealth goes hungry! 

If you are interested in finding out more about the program and its locations closest to you in Fairfax County, please click here.
 

Girl Scouts

It was special for me to address over 400 Girl Scouts in Alexandria last week. As a former Girl Scout myself, it was very meaningful to look out and see hundreds of girls aged 5-17 who have set out to change the world. These are girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. I hope that I will see some of them one day in the future serving in the General Assembly or elsewhere!

High School Graduations

Graduation season concluded two weeks ago, and I was pleased to join all four high schools in the 41st District for their graduations. I mentioned in my last eNews that I attended the graduations of Lake Braddock and Robinson. Two weeks ago, I was thrilled to join the West Springfield Spartans and the Woodson Cavaliers for their respective graduations. Congratulations to all graduates this year. I know you all have bright futures ahead of you!

 

New Laws in Virginia

On July 1, legislation that was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McAuliffe this past session officially became law, unless otherwise stated. You can check out this link to view legislation that is likely to affect the daily lives of Virginians. You will see mention of both my bill that allows women to purchase a year's supply of birth control pills at one time, as well as my bill that requires school principals to notify parents of a child who is part of a bullying investigation within five days.

 

Britepaths

Fairfax-based non-profit Britepaths (formerly known as Our Daily Bread) is currently seeking volunteers from the community to donate backpacks, calculators, or funds to help students in need who attend schools in the Fairfax County area as part of their annual Collect for Kids Back to School Program. Those interested in making a donation online can click here. Those who prefer to mail a check can do so, by sending it to 4080 Chain Bridge Road, 2nd Floor, Fairfax, VA 22030. Please be sure to write “BTS” in the memo line of your check. Donations of new backpacks and new or gently used scientific calculators are also welcome. You can bring them to Britepaths’ offices (located at the address above) through August 5th, Mondays through Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

June 19, 2017

Once again, it is hard to believe we are discussing another tragic shooting in our country. The latest event occurred so close to home. Not unlike Burke, Springfield, Fairfax and Fairfax Station, the neighborhood of Del Ray in the city of Alexandria is home to many young families who settle and raise their children in its comfortable and diverse homes. 

The serene peace and safety that we feel as we step outside our houses was brutally shattered for the people in Del Ray on Wednesday with the shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park’s baseball field. My thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Steve Scalise, the Congressional staffers and first responders who were wounded. I am also grateful for the work of the Capitol Police and other first responders, whose quick action potentially averted a far greater catastrophe, as well as the brave residents of this neighborhood who opened their doors to shelter those fleeing the park. Indeed, in the face of great horror and tragedy, we often truly see the best in people.

At times, Northern Virginia may seem to many, monolithic, but we are a varied patchwork quilt of communities full of good people, who can and will pull together in times of trouble. Most, if not all, of you know my feelings on gun safety. Many of you also know my legislative efforts in dealing with gun violence prevention. While I will not expand upon this here, what I do hope, however, is that regardless of whether we live in the 41st district, or elsewhere, and regardless of the political party we align with—we can uphold our shared values of civility, decency and resiliency that were so recently on display in the aftermath of the shooting in Del Ray. I believe we are all more than up to these challenges.

 

Remembering Nabra Hassanen

I am heartbroken and deeply distressed to hear of the violent death of 17-year-old, NabraHassanen of Sterling, VA, last night. There is absolutely no excuse for such unspeakable violence, just as there is no excuse for hate of any kind in our community. My heart breaks forNabra's family and friends and my thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, the ADAMS Center and her surrounding community. We can and we must do better, as a society and community!

 

Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards

I was excited to join many friends at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards last week. This event honors individuals, businesses and non-profits for significant business leadership, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement. We are fortunate that Northern Virginia’s business community advocates for volunteerism and community stewardship. In addition, outgoing House Speaker Bill Howell and current Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw received the NoVA Forward Legacy Award for their service and advocacy to Northern Virginia’s business community. Congratulations and thank you to all businesses and individuals for setting a strong example for all of us.

Fairfax 275th Anniversary

This past Saturday marked the 275th anniversary of our amazing Fairfax County. I was pleased to join several of my colleagues in presenting HJ 1019, commending the 275th anniversary of Fairfax County to Chairman Sharon Bulova and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. I was also honored to meet Lady and Lord Fairfax, who came all the way from the United Kingdom. I am proud to live, work and raise my children in Fairfax County!

 

Primary Elections

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries have come and gone. We saw unprecedented turnout on June 13th.  Personally, I am very excited for the statewide Democratic ticket of Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring along with the numerous and diverse Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates. My hope going forward is that we can have substantive and civil discussions about the best directions for our Commonwealth at both the statewide and local levels. Most importantly, on matters which we may not agree, I hope we can strive to disagree without being disagreeable. As I mentioned earlier, civility and decency will help not only heal the divisions in Virginia and across the country but allow us to move forward together.

 

Bill Signings

Two of my education bills were signed this past week. As with all other legislation approved by the Governor (unless otherwise stated within the language of the bill), they will both take effect on July 1st.

 

Bullying Notification

I was proud to join the Governor of Virginia as he signed my bill, HB 1709, which will require school principals to notify parents of a bullying incident involving their child within five days. At the same bill signing ceremony, the Governor also signed my friend and colleague, Senator Jeremy McPike's bill, SB 1117, requiring school counselors who are either applying for or renewing their license to undergo training to recognize mental health disorders. A special thank you to the Farbstein family. They were the inspiration and impetus for my bullying bill. I so appreciate their invaluable testimony and support throughout the session. I was also pleased to also have representatives from the Virginia School Boards Association and the Virginia Education Association at the signing, in support of these two important pieces of legislation.

 

Consent Education

I was also pleased to join Governor McAuliffe in Richmond as he signed both my bill, HB 2257 and Senator Jennifer McClellan’s bill SB 1475 regarding consent and improving Family Life Education curriculum. HB 2257 has been a multi-year process for me, building on my healthy relationship education bill passed and signed last year. My goal for this bill, as it relates to the law and meaning of consent to be taught in FLE, has been education along with prevention of sexual assault. I am grateful for the help of many stakeholders including the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, End Rape on Campus, and especially the young women working with the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, who just graduated high school. They met with me prior to the start of session, during the session, they were present while I presented my bill in subcommittee and full committees, for the final vote on the Floor and again last Friday as our Governor signed the bill.

 

Resolutions Presented

I also presented two commending resolutions to a couple of our amazing schools in the 41st District. 

 

Cherry Run Elementary School and their PTA

I appreciated the opportunity to present a commending resolution to Cherry Run Elementary School and their PTA. They were one of 14 schools in the Commonwealth to earn a 2016-2018 National PTA School of Excellence designation for their leadership and accomplishments in building strong, effective family/school partnerships! Congratulations to Beth Cassaday and Joanna Sampson, past and current PTA presidents respectively and Principal Mark Bibbee. As a former PTA Vice President myself, I know how difficult this job can be. Thank you all for strengthening the bonds between a great school and a great community.

 

Robinson Wrestling Team

I was also pleased to present a commending resolution last week to the Robinson Wrestling team for their hard fought 2nd place finish in the state tournament. While successful in athletics, the wrestling team is also home to some famous names. In fact, last year I had the opportunity to present a commending resolution to a former Robinson wrestler—astronaut Kjell Lindgren. I look forward to seeing what this year’s wrestling team will achieve in the future. Congratulations Rams on your hard work!

 

Graduations

Graduation season is officially upon us. I was thrilled to join the Robinson Rams and the Lake Braddock Bruins for their respective graduations and I am looking forward to celebrating with the Woodson Cavaliers and the West Springfield Spartans tomorrow! Congratulations to all graduates this year. I know you all have bright futures ahead of you!

 

Greenspring Retirement Flag Day

I was pleased to attend Greenspring's Flag Day Program and Ceremony on June 11th. There was a packed house of Greenspring residents, welcoming words by our Congressman Gerry Connolly who also presented a flag which was flown over the U.S. Capitol, and inspiring remarks by our Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. The program included wonderful patriotic music throughout the event as well.

Flag Day also marked the United States Army’s birthday. Particularly enjoyable was the opportunity to meet and visit with Greenspring’s residents who were members of the Greatest Generation—both as veterans and those who dealt with the war on the home front. Their resiliency under trying circumstances remind us that our own tough times today pale in comparison to what their generation experienced—whether horrific warfare or dealing with rationing and fears of air raids—particularly for those Americans living in close proximity to the nation’s capital. As this highly respected generation grows smaller, it is our responsibility to remember the lessons they teach.

June 5, 2017

Voting in the primaries

Next Tuesday, June 13th is election day. The Democratic and Republican statewide primaries for Governor and Lieutenant Governor will be held throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. For certain parts of Virginia, including Fairfax County, there will also be primaries for various House of Delegates districts. You can find your polling place, here. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Remember, please bring a photo ID when you vote! Click here to see the list of accepted forms of photo ID.

Additionally, prior to June 13th, absentee voting will continue at the Fairfax County Government Center throughout the week. On Saturday, June 10, there will also be several satellite locations (including the West Springfield Governmental Center) open for absentee voting as well. Click here for more information.

 

Adult Detention Center Tour

I had an eye-opening and informative tour of the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center with Sheriff Stacey Kincaid last week. The Adult Detention Center provides multiple types of jail housing based on security needs and offers a wealth of education, training and life skills programs for inmates to improve their chances of success once they are released back to our community. Kudos to our amazing Sheriff Kincaid and her impressive deputies for their incredibly well-run model facility. 

 

JCC Annual Meeting

I appreciated the opportunity to join friends and colleagues at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia for their annual meeting. While the Governor was scheduled to address the meeting, he was unable to travel due to inclement weather. I was proud to provide remarks to the tremendous crowd in attendance as well as introduce remarks by the Governor via video.

 

 

Tribute to NoVA Labor

I enjoyed attending the Tribute to NoVA Labor Dinner this past Friday with so many friends. This annual event benefits the Northern Virginia Labor Federation. Congratulations to all the honorees, and especially to former NoVA Labor President, Dan Duncan for receiving the lifetime legacy award. Dan and his wife Karen are great friends as well as residents of the 41st District.In fact, I was proud to co-patron a commendingresolution in his honor earlier in this year's Legislative Session. Thank you, Dan, for your many years of service and congratulations on this well-deserved award.

 

Mantua Parade

This past Saturday, I joined the Mantua welcoming parade and picnic. This is one of my favorite annual events. It was great to see so many old friends and meet new neighbors. This year was especially fulfilling, as I presented HJ 1053, a commending resolution honoring Mantua Citizens Association, which has been serving the community for nearly 60 years! Special thanks to outgoing MCA President Sue Kovach Shuman and so many Mantua residents for keeping me abreast of everything going on in Mantua. I look forward to working with the recently elected board of the MCA.

 

Woodson High School Relay for Life

It was heartwarming to see so many impressive students organizing the 3rd annual community Woodson Relay for Life program. Held at Woodson High School, these hardworking students raised over $30,000 for cancer research! These funds will help fight this insidious disease that affects so many. Congratulations Woodson Cavaliers on your success!

 

High School Graduation Traffic Near GMU

High School Graduations start next week. Many of these schools’ ceremonies (including all four high schools in the 41st district: West Springfield High School, Robinson Secondary School, Lake Braddock Secondary School and Woodson High School) will take place at the EagleBank Arena at George Mason University. Please be aware that travel, particularly on Ox and Braddock Roads will likely be impacted. To see which graduation ceremonies are taking place and when, please click here.

 

Best of Braddock

For those of you who live in Braddock District, Braddock Supervisor Cook and Braddock District Council of Community Associations (BDC) have announced that nominations are being accepted for the 2017 Best of Braddock Awards.  This annual tribute to deserving citizens will take place during the District Picnic on July 12. Click here to submit your nominations. The deadline is June 9, 2017.

 

Celebrating Our County

Not one, but two events are coming up to celebrate the County that we all call home. Starting this Friday is the annual, not to be missed event, Celebrate Fairfax. It is Northern Virginia's largest community-wide celebration from June 9-11. Click here for more information.

Additionally, June 17th marks Fairfax County's 275th Anniversary. Earlier this session, I joined the rest of the Fairfax Delegation in 
co-patroning HJ 1019, celebrating this momentous occasion. The County will hold a large event at the Fairfax County historical courthouse with Lord and Lady Fairfax in attendance, all the way from the United Kingdom. Click here for more information about the big day!

 

May 22, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

While I am sure we are all looking forward to barbecues, the opening of pools, baseball and ample sunshine this weekend, I hope you join me in taking a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day, by honoring the men and women who have served and fallen defending our country. This year, I am thinking of one veteran in particular, who would have turned 100 years old next Monday: John F. Kennedy.

JFK's story inspires so many Americans. He overcame significant health problems to be commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Navy during World War Two. After an attack on his boat, PT-109, he risked his life towing one of his injured crewmen to shore--pulling a life vest with his teeth. From there he pursued a career in U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and eventually, the White House. His inaugural address implores us, "Ask not what yourcountry can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." These words inspire us all to take action and to make sure we leave our communities in a better shape for future generations. 

We often put JFK up on a pedestal, but I think that his nephew, Connecticut State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (son of JFK's brother U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy) put it best, in terms of how to think of our late former president, "When speaking about my Uncle Jack, my father taught us all, not to idolize this man, like a lot of the historians and the history books do. He was somebody who cared. Yes, he was a bright man who had high intellect, a great speaker. He was a person who cared. All of us, everyone can make a difference in their community. You don’t need to become President of the United States.”

 

Health Insurance Reform Commission

I was in Richmond for our first meeting of the Health Insurance Reform Commission following the end of the legislative session. During this meeting, we heard reports on the new insurance rate filings, the status of current mandatory benefits in Virginia, as well as an update on the Commonwealth’s health insurance market. We also developed our work plan for the rest of this year.

 

Pathways Homes Breakfast

I enjoyed an inspiring morning at the Pathways Homes breakfast again this year. This organization provides non-time-limited housing and supportive services to adults with serious mental illness and other disabilities in Northern Virginia. I always look forward to attending and supporting this event because of the valuable services it provides to so many. During the breakfast, we heard firsthand from Pathways' clients who have dealt with severe mental illnesses, experienced homelessness, or both, and who now benefit from the programs and services that Pathways Homes provides in Northern Virginia.
 

Virginia Chamber of Commerce 93rdAnnual Awards Dinner

I was sincerely honored to receive the Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award in Richmond, at their 93rd Annual Dinner and 2017 Legislative Awards Recognition Dinner for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Education and workforce development are always key priorities for me. I was proud to introduce legislation this year focusing on workforce development, specifically preparing our high school students for the workforce. This is an area I care deeply about as I also serve as Chair of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, a statewide program which helps Virginia’s at-risk graduate high school and transition from school to work. I was proud to be honored by this highly respected pro-business organization.

 

Bill Signings

I was fortunate to attend several of my General Assembly colleagues’ bill signings this past week.

 

HB 2040

On Tuesday, the Governor signed Delegate Kathleen Murphy’s bill HB 2040 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Loudoun Campus. This legislation requires for-profit post-secondary schools regulated by SCHEV to sign a contract with students detailing the status of their accreditation, the transferability of their credits, their financial solvency, and whether they have ever been on probation. This bill is crucial to so many Virginians, particularly veterans who may wish to use the GI Bill to further their education.

 

HB 1547 and HB 2296

On Wednesday, at the Civil Rights Memorial at the Capitol, the Governor signed Delegate Delores McQuinn’s HB 1547, ensuring that historic African American Cemeteries will be preserved long into the future. He also signed Delegate McQuinn’s HB 2296, which directs the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to identify the history of formerly enslaved African Americans in Virginia and determine ways to preserve the record for educational and cultural purposes. I was proud to be a co-patron of HB 1547 and attend this bill signing.

 

HB 1675 and SB 974

Last Week, the Governor signed Senator Louise Lucas' and Delegate David Bulova's bills, SB 974 and HB 1675, respectively, in Richmond. I was proud to serve as HB 1675's chief co-patron this past session, as both of these bills grew out of the Joint Commission on Health Care's study of my 2016 Palliative Care legislation. Special thanks also goes to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network for all their hard work on both my colleagues’ and my legislation.

 

Woodson High School Pyramid Art Show

I enjoyed stopping by the Woodson Pyramid Art Show last week. The Woodson Pyramid includes several schools in my district: Little Run Elementary School, Mantua Elementary School, Olde Creek Elementary School, Frost Middle School and Woodson High School. The art show highlighted the amazing talent of these students using a variety of artistic mediums! 

 

Korean Bell Garden Celebration

It was great to join several of my colleagues in Vienna on Saturday at the annual Korean Bell Garden Celebration—a partnership between NOVA Parks and the Korean American Cultural Committee. This year is the 5th anniversary of the completion of this garden, and the 10th anniversary of the commencement of the project. The event included great Korean dance performances, music, a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, beautiful traditional Korean clothing, adorable children, Korean games, delicious complimentary Korean food, and the ringing of the 6,000 pound Korean bell.

 

ACCA Child Development Center Family Day

I appreciated the opportunity to visit the ACCA Child Development Center for their family day this past weekend. Kudos to my constituent Maria-Isabel Ballavian for heading up such an impressive program that provides child care for children from working, low-income families. The event itself had an incredible turnout and showed the inspiring work by Ms. Ballavian and ACCA over the past year.

 

May 8, 2017

Shocked and disappointed! By a slim majority, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. For many Americans, repeal of the ACA could literally be life-threatening. Under the House bill, people with pre-existing conditions, including but not limited to, heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes and Parkinson's could be required to pay exorbitant premiums.

I believe health care is a right for all and not merely a privilege for a few. This bill could pose bankruptcy risks to millions of hardworking middle-class Americans. It could have devastating consequences for our seniors. If such a bill reaches President Trump's desk, many Americans could have to choose between food, shelter or life-saving treatment—an unacceptable option. What kind of country are we to virtually eliminate health care for our citizens? This is tragic, but equally distressing for me is the obstinacy of the majority of House of Delegates members in refusing to expand Medicaid here in Virginia. Regardless of the outcome of this so-called “repeal and replace” policy nationally—we have already missed out on billions of dollars of funding. We must do all we can to protect health care for all of our citizens. 

Missing Persons Day

I joined the Governor of Virginia, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, as well as Gil Harrington and Trina Murphy of Help Save The Next Girl, for the issuance a proclamation declaring April 29th as Missing Persons Day in Virginia. I was proud to introduce and pass a similar resolution (HJ 612) for Missing Persons Day earlier this year during the 2017 General Assembly Legislative Session. With the passage of my resolution and the Governor’s subsequent proclamation, we will hopefully shed essential light on a difficult issue and help ease the anguish experienced by many people whose loved ones are missing. You can click here and here to see coverage of the event.

It was meaningful to hold this event at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Chesterfield. Thank you to Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for hosting us. The Emergency Operations Center is an impressive nerve center of activity—particularly during the occurrence of natural disasters.

 

Birth Control Bill Signing

I joined the Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, many of my colleagues in the General Assembly as well other elected officials from Arlington and so many activists and stakeholders to sign my bill HB 2267 into law. Women will now be allowed to obtain a year's supply of birth control pills at one time. Virginia, the first state in the South to pass this bill, joins five other states and D.C in achieving this reasonable goal. Moreover, this is also the first proactive women's reproductive health bill passed in Virginia in over a decade! I was proud to see this moment become a reality. Click here to read the Washington Post’s coverage of the event.

Salamander Savers

A rainy Saturday could not keep the Salamander Savers away. I enjoyed stopping by Hidden Pond Nature Center for Salamander Saturday, this past Saturday. Salamander Savers is a 4H Club right here in Fairfax. They are an impressive group of young students and their dedicated parents. They even came to Richmond this session to explain why they felt Shenandoah salamander should be our Commonwealth's state amphibian. 
 

Fairfax County Public Schools Special Education Parent-Teacher Association

Congratulations to the newly chartered Fairfax County Public Schools Special Education PTA! I was thrilled to attend their launch. The room was packed, with an impressive turnout of passionate and determined parents and supportive FCPS school board members in attendance. I am looking forward to amazing results from this incredible newly formed PTA. It is always so wonderful to see parents come up with new and unique ways to advocate for their children. I hope FCPS’s model can be replicated in other parts of the Commonwealth.

 

Vice President Biden Visits George Mason for “It’s on Us”

I was proud to attend a program at George Mason University last week. The HUB was filled to capacity with excited students and professors to listen to former Vice President Joe Biden addressing the need to improve our efforts in combatting sexual assault. He was joined by Alisha Boe and Joy Morgan, the star and executive producer of the hit Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”. Vice President Biden, amazing and inspiring as always, gave an impassioned speech about the importance of recognizing and preventing sexual assault. 

After he spoke, I was honored to have the opportunity to discuss with him my recently passed legislation on consent. He was genuinely excited to discuss the progress VA and other states are making on this front. Congratulations to GMU on a well-organized, well-attended event on an extremely timely, important topic, which is all too often overlooked.

 

First Mount Zion Baptist Church 150th Anniversary Celebration

I was honored to join my friend, colleague and seatmate, Delegate Luke Torian for the 150th Anniversary of his church, First Mount Zion Baptist, in Dumfries last week. I was proud to join Governor McAuliffe, Senator Mark Warner, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Speaker William J. Howell, and my colleagues: Senators Jeremy McPike, Scott A. Surovell and Delegates Lamont Bagby, Jennifer Boysko and Matthew James. Thousands joined this celebration, which included spectacular music, inspiring service and speeches and an impressive ice sculpture commemorating the sesquicentennial Anniversary of the church.

 

Jim Scott Memorial

This past Saturday, I attended a memorial service for my friend, colleague and mentor, former Delegate Jim Scott, at his memorial service at INOVA in Fairfax. He was an incredibly kind, thoughtful and helpful person. I was always grateful for his insight and often sought his advice. I was truly fortunate to serve with him in the House of Delegates and have the opportunity to get to know this unique individual and devoted public servant. His legacy lives on through his tremendous accomplishments on behalf of his constituents and all of us in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He will be terribly missed. My heart goes out to his incredible wife Nancy and the entire extended Scott family.

April 24, 2017

The past two weeks have been emotional ones for many in our community, beginning with the vandalism at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Northern Virginia and Little River United Church of Christ on Monday, April 10.  I was proud to stand with hundreds in our community at an over-capacity vigil at the United Church of Christ. The message communicated at this uplifting vigil was that hate has no home in Fairfax County. I was honored to speak and address the crowd. I shared that we are a unified community and are stronger together. We welcome and embrace our diversity. Together we can and will stand strong against those that divide us. I expressed that I was hopeful and uplifted by the many individuals who reached out to both the Church and JCC after the incidents, as well as by those in attendance at the vigil—all races, religionsand backgrounds were represented. Pastor David Lindsey of the UCC led the vigil, Jeff Dannick, ED of the JCC also spoke as did members of the Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Jewish communities. The vigil ended with all in attendance encircling the church with candles outside. This truly was a wonderful testament to our amazing, diverse community, in which we live, work and raise our families. 

 

Yom HaShoah

Last night, I was proud to attend the JCC's Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration. This annual event included a candle lighting by Holocaust survivors, dance,music and original readings. The occasion is always a moving one. It provides poignant reminders of the cost of remaining silent in the face of injustice.

 

Legislative Forums

On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, I had the opportunity to address two legislative forums. First I spoke to the Braddock District Legislative Forum on Wednesday night. The following evening, I addressed the SDDC Legislative Forum. Both events were conveniently in the 41st District. For me, it is always uplifting to connect with so many constituents and provide an update on what transpired during the 2017 Session.

 

State Tax Deduction for ABLE Accounts

This year our state income tax filing changed. If you have an ABLE Account, you are now allowed to take a tax deduction for account contributions of up to $2,000. This was a development I worked on with the Governor’s office last year as I wanted to ensure that our Commonwealth incentivized the use of these ABLE Accounts. It is indeed exciting and rewarding to see this concept working in practice.

 

NARAL Panel

Last Monday, I joined four of my colleagues on a panel hosted by NARAL where we discussed the developments in this year's legislative session related to women’s health initiatives. I discussed my newly passed birth control bill, now a law, allowing women the option to purchase a full year's supply of birth control pills at one time. This was an exciting and rare victory for women’s health in the Commonwealth, as NARAL's Executive Director stated this was the first time in a decade that the Virginia General Assembly passed a women's reproductive health bill. I am proud to have worked with so many incredible stakeholders on this issue.

 

Suicide Prevention Action Network Meeting

I appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Suicide Prevention Action Network earlier last week. Having successfully passed suicide prevention legislation earlier this year, I am pleased to continue the conversation on how we can effectively reduce the incidence of suicide in the Commonwealth. I look forward to continuing to work with SPAN and other organizations in the future.

 

International Brotherhood of Electrician Workers Local 26 Tour

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to tour the IBEW Local 26 headquarters in Lanham, Maryland. I learned about their impressive apprenticeship program, which leads to well paying jobs. We are fortunate that so many in the Greater Northern Virginia area have had the opportunity to take advantage of this vocational training. I hope we can continue to create many pathways for jobs, as IBEW Local 26 provides. Virginia needs these workforce development programs in order to help our residents work and thrive.

 

Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards

I began this past Friday with an early morning at the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards. This is one of my favorite events each year. It is incredibly heartwarming to see so many individuals who regularly commit their time and energy, day after day, year after year, on behalf of so many valuable causes. We are truly fortunate to live in a community where regular citizens believe in service above self. It was particularly special for me to see a great many friends and constituents, who were being honored for their service in the community.

April 10, 2017

After the General Assembly adjourned sine die on February 25, the Governor signed, amended or vetoed all legislation passed by the House and Senate during the 2017 Regular Session. We reconvened this past Wednesday, April 5 to discuss, debate and vote on all legislation that the Governor amended or vetoed. While the acceptance of the Governor’s amendments requires a simple majority, two-thirds of the members of both legislative bodies must vote to override a Governor’s veto. We deliberated over this legislation for 8 1/2 hours on the floor. The following is a summary of bills and budget amendments that might be of interest to you.
 

The Budget

We passed HB 1500 (the budget bill) on the morning of February 25thThe Governor then released several amendments to the budget which were then acted upon by the General Assembly. As the final budget bill originated in the House, we had the first opportunity to vote on these changes. If the House of Delegates accepted the changes, the Senate then had the opportunity to vote on them as well.
 

Medicaid Expansion

The Governor’s budget amendment to expand Medicaid would have allowed Virginia to access the $6.6 million dollars per day that instead is being sent to other states that have expanded Medicaid, such as Indiana which chose to take the federal dollars under then Governor Mike Pence. I was disappointed that once again, the General Assembly failed to expand Medicaid on a party-line vote. Providing health coverage for 400,000 working Virginians is a goal I will keep fighting for as long as I have the opportunity to serve in elected office.
 

Reducing Funding to the Jamestown-Yorktown 2019 Commemoration

While it is an honor and a privilege to serve in the oldest English-style legislative body in the Western hemisphere, I agreed with the Governor’s view that spending $10 million to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the General Assembly would require too much of our hard-earned tax dollars. The Governor’s fiscally responsible amendment would have cut spending on this activity in half. The $5 million saved would then revert to the “unappropriated balance,” thus preserving these funds for other unforeseen economic needs that arise in the future. Despite my opposition as well as that of many of my colleagues, this amendment failed to pass in the House on a near party-line vote.
 

Toll Violations

This amendment will establish stricter parameters for when the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) refuses to either renew or issue a vehicle registration or license plate to an individual who is identified as having toll violations on their record. The intent behind this amendment is to discourage toll facility operators from charging exorbitant fees for toll violations. This amendment passed both chambers of the General Assembly.
 

Governor's Amendments and Vetoes to Legislation

During our reconvene session, the Governor amended 83 billsSB 1398 is one example of the many bills that he amended. It deals with the closure of Dominion’s four coal ash ponds in the Commonwealth, due to their risk of causing a significant environmental impact on Virginia’s ecosystem. The Governor’s amendment established a one-year moratorium and gave the bill greater pollution assessment and enforcement that had originally been stripped during the legislative session. I was pleased to support these changes. The amendment passed both chambers of the General Assembly and the bill now heads back to the Governor for his signature.

 

Governor’s Vetoes

The Governor also vetoed 40 bills and the General Assembly sustained all vetoes in each house of origin (meaning all vetoes of bills that started in the House of Delegates were sustained in the House and all vetoes of Senate bills were sustained in the Senate respectively). Here are a few highlights of some of the vetoed legislation.

Anti-LGBT Legislation

Bills that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT people were vetoed by the Governor. HB 2025 and SB 1324 would not require any person, religious organization or affiliates to “participate in the solemnization of any marriage” if it conflicts with “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” I was pleased that both vetoes were sustained in the House and Senate.
 

Firearms Legislation

The Governor vetoed numerous bills that would have expanded access to concealed carry permits to certain individuals, along with legislation that would have encouraged the introduction of firearms into domestic violence situations.  According to a study by the Violence Policy Center, for every instance a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a handgun. The facts here are clear—adding firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation makes that situation less safe. I was pleased that every veto of these dangerous bills was sustained.
 

Anti-immigrant Bills

Three unfriendly immigration-related bills also passed during the regular General Assembly session, without my support. The Governor vetoed all three. One bill would have required localities to enforce all federal immigration laws. A “refugee tracking” bill would have required the Department of Social Services to publish refugee information. A third bill would have obliged local sheriffs to hold illegal immigrants in their jails until ICE approves of their transfer or release.

I opposed all three of these bills because they stoked anti-immigrant sentiments. I am pleased that the General Assembly sustained all three vetoes.

 

Commission Meetings

Prior to the legislative session, I was in Richmond for meetings of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) and Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability (JCTA), on both of which I serve. Below I have provided a brief update on each meeting.
 

JCOTS

We discussed a variety of issues including a presentation on HB 2459, introduced earlier this session by Delegate Bob Marshall, which deals with the sale of telecommunications devices (in most cases cell phones) to minors. We also received an update on a study related to the future of Virginia’s Aviation & Aerospace Industry. Lastly, we discussed the work plan for the rest of the year. In many cases, this deals with legislation that has been referred to our commission for further study.
 

JCTA

During the JCTA meeting last week, we heard updates on the I-95 reVAmp as well as updates on congestion mitigation and tolling in Northern Virginia, along with presentations about tolling on tunnels between Norfolk and Portsmouth and construction on Interstate 81. Finally, we discussed our work plan for legislation that has been referred to our commission for further study.
 

Good Deeds Day

Last week, I visited Gesher Day School for its annual Good Deeds Day. This annual event includes a plethora of charity projects that benefit all members of our community. I so appreciate the valuable work of the JCC of Northern Virginia and the JCRC for sponsoring the well-organized program. I always enjoy seeing so many friends performing good deeds throughout the day.
 

Woodson High School Honor Society

I was pleased to address Woodson High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society. I spoke about the meaning of the four pillars that make up their organization: leadership, character, scholarship and service. I enjoyed sharing with the students my thoughts on each of these four facets of the Honor Society and how they each have a unique opportunity to change and better the world. With so many engaged and enthusiastic young adults, there is no question in my mind that the future of the 41st District is bright.
 

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Panel

I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the panel for OLLI at George Mason University, "Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know" seminar. I was pleased to share updates on laws related to senior citizens that passed during this year's General Assembly session as well as others I have been working on for several years. I hope to have more opportunities in the future to speak with OLLI groups.

 

March 27, 2017

The last two weeks have been filled with many events around the community as well as time to prepare for the reconvene (“veto”) session back in Richmond on April 5th. While the warm and sunny spring weather has often been elusive, we can enjoy the gorgeous cherry blossoms in bloom.


Events Attended in Northern Virginia/DC 
 

Public Leadership Education Network

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to a dynamic group of young women from around the country who participated in the Public Leadership Education Network's Women in Congress program. I spoke about my decision to run for office and why we need more competent women to do so in the future. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and it is readily apparent that they have a bright future ahead of them! I am pleased that an increasing percentage of women are so interested in pursuing a career in public service.
 

Valor Awards

It was good to join so many friends and colleagues at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce's annual Valor Awards last week. This event honors public safety heroes from the Fairfax County Police Department, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department and Fairfax County Office of the Sheriff. I am so grateful for all the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us!
 

Arc of Northern Virginia 55th Anniversary

Last week, I joined in celebrating the Arc of Northern Virginia's 55th Anniversary! The Arc started 1962 with a group of parents concerned about the future of their children. Today, the Arc of NoVA represents and serves 34,000 people with Intellectual Disabilities/Developmental Disabilities of all ages throughout the lifespan. I have been pleased to work so closely with this organization on several pieces of legislation, and I am so appreciative of all the great work this organization does.
 

United Response to Hate Speech and Crime

I was pleased to attend Fairfax County's United Response to Hate Speech and Crime with local clergy, community leaders and elected officials, yesterday at Northern Virginia Community College. We came together to discuss such issues as expressions of the Golden Rule, Federal and Local Response to Acts of Hate as well as Individual and Community Response to such hate crimes. Our residents are most fortunate to live in Fairfax—one of the most diverse counties in the United States. I will continue to celebrate our diversity and condemn those who seek to divide us.
 

Richmond Event

PANS/PANDAS Documentary Screening

It was incredibly special for me to be in Richmond at the screening of "My Kid is Not Crazy," which tells the story of six children affected with PANS or PANDAS disease. I have learned much about this disease over the past year. I was proud to introduce and pass HB 2404, which creates an advisory council on PANS/PANDAS. I am pleased that the Governor of Virginia signed this bill into law! I was privileged to address the over 200 attendees and also communicate a greeting from our Governor, last week at the screening of this documentary.

 

Our Impressive Schools in the 41st District

I am so proud of the many students who attend school here in the 41st District. I wanted to highlight a few students at several of our incredible schools here in the 41st, who have achieved particularly impressive successes.

 

Frost Middle School

Rohil Bhinge is an 8th grader at Frost Middle School who is competing for a spot in the State Geographic Bee, which will be held later this week at Longwood University. One of Rohil’s competitors is his brother, Samik, currently a 6th grader at Mosby Woods Elementary. They are part of 100 other school winners competing at the state championship. The winner of the tournament at Longwood will go on to compete at the national level, with a potential prize of $85,000. Best of luck to both Bhinge brothers!

 

Robinson Secondary School

The Robinson Chapter of the Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) is part of an international association of college and high school students, as well as teachers of marketing, entrepreneurship and management in finance, hospitality, business, and marketing sales and service. I was thrilled to hear that Robinson’s DECA team is headed to Anaheim for the national championship. Congratulations to the entire Robinson team! We will all be cheering you on.

 

Lake Braddock Secondary School

Student Chefs from Lake Braddock’s Culinary Club and the LBSS Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter took home the 5-Star Winning Team Award at the Real Food for Kids Culinary Expo earlier this month. The team cooked a Chicken Shwarma Wrap, Fruit Salad and Hummus and Carrots, which will be added to FCPS’s Lunch Menu. Way to go Lake Braddock, and best wishes for your continued culinary successes. 

March 13, 2017

 

Since returning from Richmond after the General Assembly Session adjourned Sine Die on February 25th, I have been attending many meetings with constituents, speaking to local organizations and homeowners associations and serving on panels to provide updates on what occurred during session. It is wonderful to be back in the 41st District! Please let me know if you are interested in having me speak to a group you are associated with to discuss all that transpired throughout the 2017 session.

 

Further updates on the Session

In previous newsletters, I have highlighted the bills I introduced and passed this session. I wanted to take this opportunity to address several other important topics discussed during the 2017 session that may also be of interest to you.

Education

In addition to my three education bills that currently sit on the Governor desk, many proposals introduced this year were aimed at improving education in the Commonwealth. I have listed below several bills patroned by my colleagues which I supported:

· HB 1721 will make community college more affordable for members of the military. 

· HB 2290 will require driver education programs in the public school system to include instruction concerning traffic stops, including law-enforcement procedures for traffic stops, appropriate actions to be taken by drivers during traffic stops, and appropriate interactions with law-enforcement officers who initiate traffic stops.

· HB 2174 will require each school board to annually report to the public the actual pupil/teacher ratios in middle school and high school, by individual school for the current school year.

 

Opioid Epidemic

It has been reported that more than 1,000 Virginians died from opioid overdoses in 2016. This is a 33% increase from the previous year. In fact, deaths from overdoses have now exceeded deaths from firearms and motor vehicle accidents. Many bills were introduced this session dealing with our growing heroin/opioid epidemic. Bills that have been signed by the Governor deal with the distribution of naloxone (which can be administered to counteract an overdose), provide resources for substance-exposed newborns and their mothers, establish a needle exchange program and make all opioid prescriptions electronically tracked by 2020.

 

Transportation

The General Assembly passed the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact, a joint effort between Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. This Commission will become an independent overseer of our Metro system. Had we not passed the same compact as that of Maryland and DC, the federal government would have withheld 5% of our federal transit funding across the entire Commonwealth. I was a co-patron on the House version, HB 2136.

The General Assembly also passed SB 1507, which will allow individuals to make an appointment for an automobile's safety inspection. The law will still allow for first-come, first-serve customers, but will grant flexibility for Virginians who want to make appointments to receive this service.

You might also be interested to learn that HB 2201, passed the General Assembly and will increase penalties on slow-driving motorists who remain in the left lane on our highways. There will be a $100 fine associated with this infraction. 

 

Immigration

I was proud to introduce HB 2405 this year which would have made it easier for new citizens to register to vote, unfortunately the bill died in subcommittee. I was furthermore dismayed to see many anti-immigrant bills introduced this session.

The following three bills passed the General Assembly without my support. HB 2000 is a “sanctuary cities” bill that would force localities to enforce all federal immigration law. It currently sits on the Governor's desk awaiting his action (amendment, veto or approval). HB 2002 is a “refugee tracking” bill that would require the Department of Social Services to publish refugee information. It passed both houses of the General Assembly. This bill was vetoed by the Governor. A third bill, HB 1468, would force local sheriffs to incarcerate illegal immigrants in their jails until ICE approves of their transfer or release. It also passed the General Assembly; however, the Governor vetoed this bill as well. 

 

Redistricting Reform

Multiple bills that would have implemented nonpartisan redistricting were tabled in the Privileges and Elections Committee. Therefore, I did not have the opportunity to vote on any of these bills. I support redistricting reform and the creation of non-partisan districts. It is my hope that we can have districts both at the state and federal level that are free of partisan influence.

In another development, two weeks ago theU.S. Supreme Court instructed a lower court to re-examine whether or not the Virginia General Assembly unconstitutionally concentrated African-American voters into a few, limited House districts. This has the potential to open the door to a much different and new political map that could ultimately reshape the legislature. 
 

New Fairfax County Judges

During the Session, we named two new judges to our Circuit Court bench, David Bernhard and David Oblon. Both are immensely qualified attorneys and will greatly strengthen our local judiciary. Additionally, please check out this amazing life story by the Washington Post on one of the new judges, David Bernhard. As a young man, he fled El Salvador following the attempted assassination of his father. It is wonderful to see another example of the American Dream happening right here in Fairfax.

 

JCRC Press Conference

Like many of you, I was extremely distressed to learn of the bomb threat so close to home, at the Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax County. In response, I joined Attorney General Mark Herring, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Chairman Sharon Bulova, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, several colleagues in the General Assembly, other Northern Virginia elected officials and the JCRC of Greater Washington at the JCC of Northern Virginia for a press conference. In my remarks addressing the recent bomb threat at Gesher Day School, I stated unequivocally that, "hate has no home here--not in Fairfax County, not in the Commonwealth of Virginia and not in the United States of America." I will continue to stand strong with our community in the face of these despicable acts and so many others towards people of different religions, races, sexual identities and abilities.

 

Northern Virginia Dental Society Mission of Mercy Program

I was pleased to attend the Northern Virginia Dental Society's annual Mission of Mercy Project at the impressive NOVA Community College Medical Education Campus on Saturday. This annual project is an opportunity for low income individuals, who do not have health insurance, to receive free dental care from area dentists. During this two day clinic, dental professionals generously donate their time and invaluable service to close to 1,000 patients. For many throughout the Commonwealth this is the only dental treatment they ever receive.
 

Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department's Banquet

I enjoyed attending the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department's annual banquet on Saturday evening. During this annual dinner, they installed their new officers. The immense amount of time and dedication these volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members give to keep our area safe is impressive. We are so grateful for BVFRD's 69 years of service and the dedication of these first responders who put their lives on the line for all of us every single day.
 

Woodson High School Basketball

A huge congratulations to the Woodson Boys Basketball team. They are state champions! This was the first time Woodson made an appearance in the state championships. Saturday night they beat Hylton High School, 55-50 in overtime at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond. Go Cavaliers!

February 27, 2017

Saturday was Sine Die (Latin for "without day"), signifying the final day of the 2017 General Assembly Legislative Session.  The every-other-year 45-day session always passes quickly, and this year was no different. This session was successful on many levels as we passed significant legislation to improve the everyday lives of Virginians. I was proud to be a part of the many significant issues this year and enjoyed working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make a significant impact.In fact, click here to read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the 25 reasons that this General Session mattered—three of my bills, including my bill to raise the felony larceny threshold, are featured in the article.

If you are interested in discussing the session further with me, please stop by my office hours tomorrow, February 28th, from 4:00-5:30 at Peets Coffee on Burke Lake Road in the Kings Park Shopping Center.

This year, the General Assembly faced an enormous challenge in the form of a $1.2 billion-dollar budget shortfall. This meant that unfortunately we needed to make difficult budget cuts in many areas, including in higher education, despite our best efforts to protect it. While imperfect, I voted in favor of this budget. I am pleased that we could restore funding in several areas:

· We increased funding for public education over the Governor's introduced budget (specifically, an increase of approximately $840,000 for Fairfax County). 

· We included funding for a 2% pay raise for teachers.

· We created a three percent salary adjustment for state employees. Additionally, higher increases are provided for high-turnover positions, including State Police and health care workers in low paying positions.

· We have provided over $30 million in new funds targeted to mental health and substance abuse programs.

· We have ensured there is no reduction to financial aid for college students. 

· We funded positions for two circuit court judges in Fairfax County.

· We included language to help ensure that needed safety and operational reforms are instituted at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Final Legislative Update

Two of my bills are already on the Governor's desk. HB 2257 will codify that the law and meaning of consent education can be taught in High School Family Life Education and HB 2267 will allow women to obtain a full year's supply of birth control pills. Additionally, my resolution HJ 612, declaring April 29th each year as Missing Person’s Day has also passed both the House and Senate.

I am pleased to report that in addition to the bills listed above, four more of my bills await the Governor's signature. Below I have provided an update on each of them.

 

Education and the Workforce

My bill, HB 1708 will direct the Board of Education to consider including industry credentials in the Standards of Accreditation. The Senate Education and Health Committee added a friendly clause to have the Board report back to the Chairmen of the House Education and Senate Education and Health Committees before the start of the 2018 General Assembly Session. After passing the Senate unanimously, this bill went back to the House. The House agreed to the amendments unanimously and the bill now sits on the Governor’s desk. I am very grateful to have had the backing of several Chambers of Commerce including the statewide chamber and our own local Northern Virginia Chamber for supporting this measure

 

Bullying Notification

My bill, HB 1709 will direct school principals to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within 5 school days following the allegation of bullying. This bill was initially amended in the Senate and it then went to a conference committee. In the end, the House accepted the Senate's amendments. Despite a contentious debate on the floor of the House (click here to read the WTOP article about it), the bill eventually passed again out of the House and Senate and now is before the Governor! I am very grateful to Brandon and Sylvia Farbstein who provided not only the impetus for this bill, but also compelling testimony in the House and Senate.

 

Ensuring Our Commonwealth is Doing All It Can to Prevent Suicide

My bill, HB 2258, will require the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report on the status of its activities related to suicide prevention by December 1st of this year. I am pleased to report this bill passed unanimously out of the Senate. Next stop, Governor McAuliffe! I appreciate the efforts of Leigh Boswell and the American Federation for Suicide Prevention in support of this legislation.

 

Raising Awareness about PANS/PANDAS

My bill, HB 2404, will create an advisory council to study and increase awareness of PANS/PANDAS, a set of syndromes which affect many children. After presenting the bill before the Senate Subcommittee on Health Professions, the bill passed unanimously with technical amendments out of that subcommittee as well as the Senate Education and Health Committee and the full Senate. This past week it returned to the House where we voted overwhelmingly in favor of accepting the Senate amendments. It now heads to the Governor’s desk! Thank you to Jessica Gavin, Ladonna Branson and Teresa Champion for their tireless advocacy on this issue and their help not only in educating me, but as well so many of my colleagues on these syndromes. You can read an article about the bill passing the House here.

Team Filler-Corn During the 2017 General Assembly Session

Thank you so much to my wonderful 2017 session team: my Legislative Assistant, Leigh Nusbaum, my two session aides, Rohan Ramesh and Kevin Groh and my session intern, Samantha Braver. I so appreciate their hard work and efforts!

General Assembly Building

This past week marked the last full week in my Richmond office. While we reconvene on April 5 to vote on the Governor's recommendations and vetoes, the General Assembly Building, where my Richmond office is located will soon be demolished. These halls hold many memories for me, as well as for many colleagues, staff and friends. For many years, I have walked these halls as a private citizen, as a member of the Warner and Kaine Administrations and now as a Delegate (since my election in 2010). Though I am looking forward to both the interim GAB at the Pocahontas Building and the new facility to be built over the next four years, I am profoundly grateful for the experiences I have had here at the corner of 9th and Broad. 

As always, I want to thank you all again for giving me the privilege to serve in the House of Delegates on your behalf and help address the issues that face our district and all of Virginia. I look forward to seeing you all out and about in the 41st District. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office.

February 19, 2017

Tomorrow starts the final week of session. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed. I am looking forward to being back in the 41stDistrict full time very soon. In fact, my first post-session office hours will be next Tuesday, Feburary 28th, from 4:00-5:30 at Peets Coffee on Burke Lake Road. I hope you can join me!

Additionally, if you are interested in having me come speak to your homeowners’ association, boy scout troop, girl scout troop, PTA or other group you may be involved in, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my office.

 

Legislative Update

Consent

HB 2257 returned to the House this past week with Senate Amendments. This bill will codify that the law and meaning of consent education may be taught in High School Family Life Education. I am very pleased that with the House’s agreement to the Senate Amendments the bill is now headed to Governor McAuliffe’s desk! For me, this is especially exciting given that it is an initiative of mine that was several years in the making, and builds upon my safe relationships bill from last year. You can view a story about it here.

 

Improving Access to Birth Control

My bill, HB 2267, will allow women to obtain a full year's supply of birth control pills. Earlier this week, I presented the bill before the Commerce and Labor Committee, where I am pleased to report that it passed by a 13-1 vote. On Thursday, the bill passed out of the Senate by a 34-6 vote. I am thrilled that this bipartisan legislation is now headed to the Governor’s desk.You can click here to see coverage of this bill’s passage.

After we adjourn sine die on Saturday, I will provide a full update on the final outcome of all of my legislation.
 

Other Key Issues Addressed During the Virginia General Assembly Session

Opioid Epidemic

The heroin and opioid epidemic continues to be a serious problem facing our Commonwealth and puts a significant strain on Virginia’s public safety and social service providers. Unfortunately, deaths associated with drug overdoses now outnumber motor vehicle accidents and gun related deaths combined. Several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have carried legislation dealing with how doctors prescribe opioids as well as improving access to treatment for addiction and overdoses.


Redistricting Reform

There were several resolutions in both the House and Senate dealing with redistricting reform this session. In fact, a bill that passed the Senate would create the Virginia Interim Redistricting Commission when districts are deemed unconstitutional. Unfortunately this bill was killed in the House Privileges and Elections Committee, along with so many other redistricting reform bills, before I had a chance to vote on it. However, I support the goal of creating independent entities to establish congressional and state legislative districts. It is my hope that we can work toward creating districts that are free of political influence. 

 

Joint Meeting of the Arts and Military & Veterans Caucuses

It was great to start Wednesday morning with a joint meeting of the Arts Caucus, which I chair, and the Military and Veterans Caucus. Virginia Commission on the Arts Executive Director and former Delegate Margi Vanderhye updated us on continuing efforts to develop a strong partnership between our Virginia arts and military organizations. This is the third year we have convened a joint meeting of the caucuses and I hope that we will continue them in future sessions.

 

Our Fabulous House Pages

Those of you who have visited me in Richmond may have seen some very active young teenagers running around the Capitol. These are our pages. Each year, the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints students 13-14 years of age from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly. These young people assist members in the House of Delegates, as well as the House Clerk's staff and other legislative staff in the countless daily duties required for the successful operation of the House during the Legislative Session. 

February 12, 2017

As I mentioned in the previous enews, we have just passed Crossover, or the midpoint of the session. In addition to presenting seven pieces of my own legislation to Senate Committees and Subcommittees, I am also voting on Senate legislation coming through the Commerce and Labor, Finance and Transportation Committees on which I serve. Sometimes these are individual bills, but in many cases, they are “companion bills” to those I have already voted on that originated from the House.

 

Legislative Update

Here is an update on each of my pieces of legislation which passed the House and crossed over to the Senate.
 

Consent

I presented HB 2557 before the Senate Education and Health Committee last week. This bill would include consent education in High School Family Life Education. I am pleased to say that it passed out of committee by a 13-2 vote. It will be voted on by the full Senate this Monday. If it passes, it will then return to the House where we will decide whether to accept or reject the Senate Amendments.
 

Missing Persons Day

My resolution, HJ 612, was heard by the Rules Committee on Friday morning. The resolution, along with many others reported out in a block (meaning that it was voted on along with many other uncontested resolutions at the same time). It will be voted on by the Senate this week.

 

Allowing Women to Purchase a 12 Month Supply of Birth Control

My bill, HB 2267, would allow women to obtain a full year's supply of birth control pills. I will present this bill before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee tomorrow afternoon.

 

Education and the Workforce

My bill, HB 1708 would direct the Board of Education to consider including industry credentials in the Standards of Accreditation. I will be presenting this bill before the Senate Education and Health Committee's Subcommittee of Public Education tomorrow morning.

 

Bullying Notification

My bill, HB 1709 would direct school principals to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within 14 school days following the allegation of bullying. I will also present this bill tomorrow morning before the Senate Public Education Subcommittee.

 

Ensuring Our Commonwealth is Doing All It Can to Prevent Suicide

My bill, HB 2258, would require the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report about the status of its activities related to suicide prevention by December 1st of this year. It has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

 

Raising Awareness about PANS/PANDAS

My bill, HB 2404, would create an advisory council to study and increase awareness of PANS/PANDAS, a set of syndromes which affect many children. The bill has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

 

The Budget

This week, the House passed the updated biennial budget. We are currently facing a $1.5 billion shortfall and unfortunately that means that we must be careful to tighten our belts. Despite taking an austere look at our fiscal situation, we still found ways to make important investments in education. I continue to be disappointed that the final version of the budget did not include Medicaid expansion, which would have provided health insurance for 400,000 uninsured Virginians and provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the Commonwealth, nor did it provide a reasonable raise for our teachers, who so desperately need it. I am hopeful that the final budget will address these teacher raises and make sure that our New Virginia Economy continues to prosper.

 

Arts Caucus

As Chair of the General Assembly Art Caucus, I was pleased to host our first Arts Caucus meeting of the session last week. We were honored to be joined by Governor McAuliffe and over fifteen of my colleagues in the General Assembly! We discussed how various Virginia organizations use their resources to make Arts accessible to people with disabilities and other life challenges. Thank you to Margi Vanderhye of the Virginia Commission of the Arts for her impressive leadership.

 

Jewish Advocacy Day

I met with many different groups from across the Commonwealth on Jewish Advocacy Day or “Date with the State” last week. Representatives from Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads came by to discuss the various important issues affecting their local Jewish Communities. In addition, I had the distinct honor to recognize visitors in the gallery as well as introducing Rabbi David Katz of Temple Beth El, who gave the morning’s invocation. Following the introductions, I spoke on the life of the great humanitarian and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. After my remarks, I am pleased that the House agreed to my resolution celebrating Wiesel’s life, HJ 851, and also agreed to adjourn in his honor and memory.

 

Jobs for Virginia Graduates

As many of you know, I am incredibly proud to chair Jobs for Virginia Graduates. JVG makes a tremendous difference in the lives of Virginia’s at-risk youth, helping to ensure they graduate high school and assist in their transition from school to employment. I was so happy to see newly elected JVG Student President Johnny Sample and JVG Student Vice President Quazhanik Upshur in Richmond on Thursday. I was honored to introduce them from the floor. I have no doubt that these two students have bright futures ahead of them!

 

Student Artists from Fairview Elementary School

I thoroughly enjoyed spending this afternoon with so many student artists from Fairview Elementary School in Richmond. I was happy to host these artists and their families, along with Principal Lynn Mayer, and their art teachers Ms. Vered Grossman and Ms. Heather Devlin here for a reception and tour of the Capitol in honor of their art being displayed outside of my Richmond office. I am proud of our young artists and their pictures certainly brighten up the 4th Floor of the General Assembly Building. Did I mention it was 80 degrees in Richmond today?

 

February 7, 2017

We have just passed the midpoint of the session, also known as “Crossover”. Today, every bill passed by the House of Delegates will move to the State Senate for their consideration. Similarly, every bill that the State Senate passed will move to the House of Delegates for our consideration. As this year is a shorter, 45-day session, the previous week has included very full committee dockets and included several days where I had to present several of my bills in one day on top of attending many committee and subcommittee meeting. 

Legislative Update


Education and Workforce Development

Last week, I presented HB 1708, which would direct the Board of Education to consider including industry credentials in the Standards of Accreditation, to the full Education Committee. This bipartisan bill was reported out of Committee that day. I am pleased to say that this bill passed the house unanimously last Thursday. I am appreciative of the opportunity to work with educational organizations and many chambers of commerce on this important workforce development legislation. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.

 

Expanding Voting for New Citizens

Last week, I presented my bill, HB 2405 before the Privileges and Election Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections. This bill would have allowed new American citizens who were naturalized after a voter registration deadline to register to vote past the deadline and vote in the upcoming election. Elizabeth Villarroel gave compelling testimony in support of my bill. A recently naturalized American, she has spent much of her adult life working in counter-insurgency programs on behalf of the United States in Afghanistan and around the world. While unfortunately the bill was tabled and will no longer be considered during the 2017 legislative session, Elizabeth provided powerful testimony about what it means to be a new US Citizen and how much she values voting.

 

Ensuring Our Commonwealth is Doing All It Can to Prevent Suicide

I presented HB 2258 last week before the Health, Welfare and Institutions’ Subcommittee 3. This bill would require the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report about the status of its activities related to suicide prevention by December 1st of this year. Leigh Boswell, a recently retired Fairfax County Firefighter and suicide prevention activist spoke movingly about the loss of her friend and fellow Fairfax County Firefighter, Nicole Mittendorf who died earlier this year. I am pleased that this bill passed out of subcommittee unanimously on Monday and out of the full committee last Thursday. Today, it passed the House unanimously on the uncontested docket. On to the Senate!

 

Raising Awareness about PANS/PANDAS

HB 2404 was the third bill that I presented last Tuesday morning. This bill would create an advisory council to study and increase awareness of PANS/PANDAS, a set of syndromes which affect many children. I am grateful to Jessica Gavin, an incredible advocate who spent a lot of time in the General Assembly building over the past few weeks with her team. I also want to thank my friend Teresa Champion for bringing this issue to my attention. HB 2404 was reported out of both the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and the Appropriations Committee last Friday. Today, it passed the House by a vote of 93-4. The bill will now be considered by the Senate. 

 

Consent

Building on my work from last year on my Healthy Relationships bill, this year, I introduced HB 2257. This bill would ensure that consent education is taught in High School Family Life Education. I am proud to report that HB 2257 reported out of the full education committee last week and passed the House today with significant bipartisan support on a vote of 83 to 11. On to the Senate!

Allowing Women to Purchase a 12 Month Supply of Birth Control

My bill, HB 2267 passed the full Commerce & Labor Committee last week. The bill would allow women to obtain a full year's supply of birth control pills. This legislation would increase consistency of use of birth control, decrease unintended pregnancies and reduce the burden for many women who must travel frequently to pharmacies. I want to thank Dr. Rankins, Dr. Gianfortoni, Dr. Goldberg and Dr. Klein for coming to testify in support of this bill. I am pleased to report this bill passed the House today, with a 94 to 1 vote! It will now be considered by the Senate.
 

Visitors to Richmond

It’s always a treat to see so many dedicated individuals representing many groups and organizations in Richmond advocating for their causes. I truly appreciate visitors from the 41st District, as well as others from throughout the Commonwealth taking the time and effort to stop by my office. This past week included visitors from the College of William and Mary Law School, George Mason University, the Northern Virginia PTA, The Arc of Northern Virginia, the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, Radford University and many more.

January 29, 2017

Immigration Ban

Like so many of you and so many Americans, I was appalled when I learned of President Trump's Executive Order barring those from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States, even if they have valid American visas of any kind. This is not representative of who we are as a country. It is in direct opposition of our American values and our constitution because it essentially creates a religious test for entry into the United States. Until a recent reversal by the White House, it also denied due process to green card holders who have been unable to reenter the country. 

One of the many reasons my husband and I chose to live and raise our family in Fairfax County was due to its diversity. We wanted our children to be exposed to people of different cultures and religions. We strived to set an example for them to be tolerant of others. We taught them that America is great because of immigrants, not in spite of them. We should know better than to repeat the mistakes of the past, such as when European Jews were turned away from American shores and in many cases, like that of Anne Frank, later perished in concentration camps. Accepting this as the status quo is unacceptable.

 

Women's March on Washington

I was honored to join the hundreds of thousands of women and men who participated in the Women’s March on Washington last week.  All of us who took part in one of the largest peaceful marches in American history exercised our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. We sought to remind our new President how important it is to us that he protect our precious civil liberties. In addition to well over half a million people marching in Washington, estimates placed the number of participants nationwide at over 3 million in more than 500 separate locations—with every state represented.

I cannot accurately put into words the feeling I had marching with my daughter and my husband as well as being surrounded by so many passionate women of all ages, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, as well as men of all ages as far as the eye could see. This past Monday, I gave my first floor speech of the session about the Women’s March, why we marched and how precious our First Amendment right to peacefully assemble is. You can watch my remarks here.

 

Legislative Update

This past week several of my bills were acted upon in subcommittee, full committee and on the floor of the House of Delegates.
 

Notification of Bullying

My bill, HB 1709, which would direct school principals to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within 14 school days following the allegation of bullying, unanimously passed the House this week! Next, I will have the opportunity to present the bill to the State Senate. I was appreciative of the compelling testimony provided the previous week by Sylvia and Brandon Farbstein. Brandon is a 17-year old student in Henrico County Public Schools who was a victim of bullying. His mother Sylvia struggled to get updates about the status of the incidents in which Brandon was victimized. It is my hope that this legislation will ensure that parents receive timely updates when their child is a part of a bullying investigation.
 

Encouraging Workforce Development in our Schools

My bill HB 1708, which would require the Board of Education to consider including industry credentials earned when measuring school accreditation, was passed in the Education Innovation Committee. I will present this bill to the full Education Committee tomorrow. As Chair of Jobs for Virginia graduates, I often visit schools that not only ensure that students graduate, but also prepare them for life after high school. For some students, that may include higher education, for others it may be directly entering the workforce. This bill advocates for rewarding schools that provide career technical education to their students.
 

Boundaries and Consent

I had two bills up in the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee this past week. One, HB 2257, would ensure that consent education is taught in High School Family Life Education. The other, HB 2406, would require any family life education curriculum offered in any elementary school, middle school, or high school to include instruction on the importance of the personal privacy and personal boundaries of other individuals. HB 2406 and HB 2257 passed out of subcommittee and will go before the full Education committee tomorrow.
 

Visitors to Richmond

This was another week of friends, constituents and groups visiting me in my office in Richmond. I truly appreciate visitors taking the time to make this effort. I met with representatives from the GMU Student Government Association, members of the VEA, AARP, SEIU, 4H, and student hygienists from Northern Virginia Community College among many other groups.

January 22, 2017

We concluded the first full week of the 2017 General Assembly Session. Richmond continues to be very busy. In fact, in one day alone, I had three subcommittee meetings, two full committee meetings, two of my bills up in various subcommittees and a press conference. Most of those events happened before 10:00 AM that morning! 

My Legislative Agenda for 2017

I continued to introduce additional pieces of legislation this week, a total of 18 pieces of legislation (bill and resolutions). I highlighted many of my bills in the enews last week. Here are the other parts of my legislative agenda:

● HB 1707—This bill would close a tax loophole by prohibiting taxpayers from claiming a charitable contribution deduction in calculating Virginia taxable income if a neighborhood assistance tax credit or an education improvement scholarships tax credit is claimed for the same donation. The prohibition would be effective for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2017. The bill would have a positive impact on our state revenue without hurting charities.

● HB 2258—This bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, together with the Secretary of Public Safety, to convene a task force to raise public awareness of suicide and increase suicide prevention education by adding several agencies and industry stakeholders.

● HB 2266—This bill would require the proprietor or other person in charge of a retail establishment or restaurant which has a policy of allowing firearms on the premises, to post in an appropriate place, in a clear, conspicuous and sufficient manner, a "Firearms Permitted" sign.

● HB 2404—This bill would create an advisory council on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. It would advise the Commissioner of Health on research, diagnosis, treatment, and education relating to these identified disorders and syndrome which are referred to by the National Institute of Mental Health as PANDAS and PANS.

● HB 2405—This bill would provide that any person who becomes a citizen during the period immediately following the close of registration records and the day of the election and is otherwise qualified to vote, the ability to register and vote up to and including the day of the election.

● HB 2406—HB 2406 would require any family life education curriculum offered in any elementary school, middle school, or high school to include instruction on the importance of the personal privacy and boundaries of other individuals. This bill also expands upon my bill, HB 659 from the 2016 Legislative Session, which has since been signed into law.

● HJ 678—HJ 678 would create a study of the teaching profession in the Commonwealth. With over 800 positions vacant in Virginia’s public schools, this study would, among many different facets, consider why so many teachers leave the profession or change positions within school systems.

Several of these bills have already been acted upon. While unfortunately, HB 1707 and HB 2266 were tabled, I am pleased that HB 1709, my bullying notification bill passed unanimously out of subcommittee and will be heard by the full committee tomorrow. I am also pleased that HJ 612, declaring April 29th, Missing Persons Day in Virginia passed the full Rules Committee after a moving testimony by Gil Harrington, founder of Help Save the Next Girl. Gil and I have been working together on legislation since 2015 and I am pleased to continue to advocate with her on several important issues.

I will continue to provide weekly updates and include the status of all of my bills.
 

Martin Luther King Day at the GeneralAssembly

While many federal, state, and local government offices were closed on Martin Luther King Day, the General Assembly remained in session. In fact, MLK day has become a day of advocacy, both for those in favor of additional gun safety legislation and those on the other side of the issue in Richmond. That afternoon, I attended a rally along with Governor McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor Northam, Attorney General Herring, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, Congressman Donald McEachin, many of my colleagues in the House and Senate and hundreds of family members of victims and volunteers, all gathered in support for common sense gun safety legislation.
 

Women’s Health Caucus Press Conference

Thursday, I joined several General Assemblycolleagues in the Senate and House as well as the Governor, Lt. Governor and First Lady at a press conference put on by the Women’s Health Caucus. I was pleased to discuss my bill HB 2267, which would allow women to purchase a year's supply of birth control pills. Interruptions can be a significant impediment to hormonal contraceptives’ effectiveness in preventing unintended pregnancies. My bill would allow women to decrease that risk.
 

Fairview Elementary Student Art in theGeneral Assembly Building

If you are visiting Richmond this session, you may notice the wonderful artwork leading to my office. These are pieces by the talented student artists from Fairview Elementary School, led by their talented art teacher, Vered Grossman. I am looking forward to hosting these artists and their families, along with Principal Lynn Mayer and Ms. Grossman in Richmond for a reception and a tour of the Capitol later in the session. I am proud of our young artists and their pictures certainly brighten up the 4th floor of the General AssemblyBuilding. 

January 15, 2017

We have hit the ground running here in Richmond as we concluded the first week of the 2017 General Assembly Session. The first three days of Session were busy, with the swearing in of new members, committee assignments, introduction of legislation and many groups and individuals stopping by for meetings. Below you can find information about my legislative agenda. I look forward to keeping you up to date on all that transpires this Session.
 

Delegate Filler-Corn’s Legislative Agenda

I have introduced 15 pieces of legislation to date and will be filing several others this week. You can find details outlining my legislation here. Among my legislative priorities are education, public safety, workforce development, child care safety, creating the New Virginia Economy and looking out for our seniors. I have filed bills which teach students about safe relationships, protect our children in child care, expand workforce development opportunities and look out for those caring for some of our most vulnerable Virginians (seniors and persons with disabilities). Here are some of the pieces of legislation I have introduced:

 

Public Safety and Criminal Justice

o   HB 1704 – Felony Larceny Threshold - This bill would increase from $200 to $500 the threshold amount of money taken or value of goods or chattel taken at which point the crime rises from petty larceny to grand larceny. The bill increases the threshold by the same amount for the classification of certain property crimes.

o   HB 2259 – Child Care Licensure – This bill would amend licensure regulations for child care to ensure that children in all types of child care programs are safe.
 

Education

o   HB 1709 – Bullying Notification—This bill would require the school principal to notify the parent of any student victim of bullying or harassment of the status or results of any investigation of such incident of bullying or harassment.

o   HB 2257 – Consent in the Classroom - This bill would ensure that high schoolers are taught about consent as it relates to safe relationships in an age-appropriate and evidence-based manner.
 

Workforce Development – Economic Development

o   HB 1708—This bill would require the Board of Education to include in the standards of school accreditation, the number of industry certification credentials, as defined in relevant law, obtained by high school students.

o   HJ 679—This resolution would create a study to find workforce development opportunities in high schools.
 

Senior Citizens and People with Disabilities

o   HJ 680 – Joint Subcommittee to Study Caregiving - This resolution would establish a joint subcommittee to study issues related to family caregiving and long-term care supports and services.
 

Advocacy for Women

o   HB 2267 – This bill would allow women to purchase a year’s supply of birth control in one visit to a pharmacy.

o   HJ 712 – This resolution expresses that the General Assembly supports legislation to remove the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The above-noted bills represent a partial list of my proposed legislation. Details on all of these bills and others that are yet to be submitted, along with budgetary amendments I introduced this week, and their status in the legislative process can be found here.
 

Governor McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth

On Wednesday night, Governor McAuliffe gave his fourth and final State of the Commonwealth address before a Joint Meeting of the Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates. The Governor spoke on a variety of issues including creating our “New Virginia Economy,” reforming K-12 education, and ensuring that convicted felons who have paid their debt to society can see their civil rights restored. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Governor McAuliffe’s Administration to ensure that Virginia remains open for business and one of the best places in the country to live in and raise a family.

 

January 9, 2017

This Wednesday, the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session in Richmond begins!  This year’s session is set to last 45 days, with many issues important to our community up for debate including: the biennial budget, the New Virginia Economy, education reform, health care, military and veterans, public safety and transportation.

During this year’s session, I will once again provide you with weekly updates through my eNews about the important topics that arise during each week as well as any action on the legislation I plan to introduce. 

I encourage you to visit the Virginia General Assembly’s website here.  This website is a great tool to track legislation of interest, follow Committee meetings and contact my office or your Senator’s office.  You can also watch each day’s House of Delegates session live starting Wednesday here. In addition, please visit my website here and follow me on Facebook at Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn and Twitter at @efillercorn for breaking updates and issue briefs during the Session.

If you are interested in visiting Richmond during the Legislative Session, please contact me at eileen@eileenfillercorn.com.  My Legislative Assistant, Leigh Nusbaum (leigh@eileenfillercorn.com) and I will be happy to help you set up a tour of the Capitol, reserve seating for you to observe a floor session and offer recommendations for other places to visit while in Richmond. Please come visit me in my office, Room 414 in the General Assembly Building, while you are in our State Capitol!

 

Fairfax County Delegation to the General Assembly Pre-2017 Session Public Hearing  

Every year, prior to the beginning of the General Assembly session, the Fairfax Delegation holds a public hearing to listen to the concerns and suggestions of our Fairfax County citizens. This year’s hearing took place this past Saturday, January 7th, from 9 am to 1 pm at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Despite the snow and ice, over 80 people, including a number of constituents, testified during the hearing. From education to the economy to the environment to social issues, all that was shared was incredibly valuable information to me, as well as to my colleagues. I consider myself fortunate to live in and privileged to represent such an engaged community.

 

Health Insurance Reform Commission (HIRC)

Last week, I was in Richmond for the final pre-session meeting of HIRC, on which I am proud to serve. We discussed the costs of Health Care and reform of both Certificate of Public Need (COPN) and Direct Primary Care. Both issues were major topics of debate and discussion during the 2016 Legislative Session. Given that neither was resolved, I believe they will likely also be major topics of debate during the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session. I look forward to engaging with my colleagues on these issues, and hope we can come to a solution that improves access and lowers the cost of health care for all Virginians.

 

Senator Charles J. Colgan

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Chuck Colgan last week. Senator Colgan was the longest serving member of Virginia Senate. He was in office from 1976 to 2016. Part of that time, he served as the Senate’s President Pro Tempore. Throughout those four decades, he had worked tirelessly to fight for his constituents in Prince William County, and for all citizens of the Commonwealth. It was truly an honor to serve alongside him in the General Assembly. We will all miss Senator Colgan dearly.

 

Governor’s Criminal Justice Initiatives

This past week, Governor McAuliffe unveiled a broad policy plan to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system. You can find the full list of his initiatives here. I am proud to be carrying HB 1704, which would raise the monetary threshold for grand larceny from $200 to $500. The current $200 threshold was established almost 40 years ago and has not been altered since. It is time for our law to adjust to the present-day economy, especially adjusting for inflation. Passing this bill will do so.

 

Pohick Regional Library

After 15 months of extensive renovation, the Pohick Regional Library, located in the 41st District, one of the most popular library branches in Fairfax County, has reopened! The library has incredible new and improved features such as a new teenagers’ section and a beautifully improved children’s section, more than 100,000 books and items featured on new shelving units and a Wi-Fi station. The library also employs environmentally friendly technology, embracing Fairfax’s push towards adopting a green building policy for county facilities. I am looking forward to visiting it soon!

 

 

For past updates please visit the eNews Archive.

 

Paid for and Authorized by Eileen Filler-Corn for Delegate

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