eNews Archive-2016

December 26, 2016

Happy Holidays from my family to yours! Whether it is Christmas Day, eight nights of Hanukkah, seven days of Kwanzaa or simply a period for families to come together, this time of year is special, regardless of your traditions. I hope we all can realize that each person we encounter has the opportunity to enrich our lives for the better and that in this vein we can all come together as a community at the close of 2016 and the start of 2017.

During the last few weeks, I attended some of the final committee meetings and legislative briefings of 2016. These meetings will be very valuable as I continue to develop my legislative agenda, as well as prepare to vote on other proposed bills during the 2017 General Assembly session--now less than a month away.

 

ABLEnow Press Conference

This past Monday, I had the privilege of taking part in a press conference celebrating the opening of the first ABLEnow account in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I also had the great honor to celebrate this landmark event with my friends, stakeholders and constituents, Catherine, Natalie, and Mary Beck. It was in their Burke household where Stephen and Catherine Beck came up with the idea for legislation that creates tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities--now known as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. Although Stephen is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the federal legislation that bears his name and in the accounts themselves as his daughter Natalie and so many others finally have the ability to establish their own ABLEnow accounts. You can click here and here to read articles about the press conference.

 

Joint Money Committee

Last week, I went down to Richmond to attend the final Joint Money Committee meeting for 2016. Governor McAuliffe presented the budget and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown provided an economic outlook and revenue forecast for the Commonwealth. The information from this meeting will be important for consideration for my colleagues and me when we discuss and vote on amendments to the biennial budget during the 2017 Legislative Session. As Governor McAuliffe stated, while our Commonwealth certainly has some difficult challenges in light of the budget shortfall, we also have a number of wonderful opportunities to further build our New Virginia Economy. None of this would have been possible without significant bipartisan cooperation demonstrated over the past three years. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Governor's office to ensure that our Commonwealth continues to rank among the most fiscally sound and successful states in the country.

 

Fairfax Education Association (FEA) Legislative Breakfast

I joined many of my colleagues at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Fairfax Education Association last week. Local educators shared with us their priorities and we had a discussion on how we can further improve our school system during the upcoming session.  I appreciated the opportunity to hear from so many of our teachers.  After making one of the most substantial investments in education with our biennial budget this past session, I remain committed to do all we can to protect these gains to education as we make amendments to the budget this year.

 

Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability (JCTA)

Last Thursday, I took part in a meeting of the JCTA, on which I am proud to serve. The agenda from this meeting included an update from Secretary of Technology Aubrey Layne on Smart Scale--which is VDOT’s process for investing our limited tax dollars in the right projects that meet our Commonwealth’s most critical transportation needs. Additionally, we heard from DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb on Virginia’s compliance with the REAL ID Act, a federal bill which modifies U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedure standards for the state driver's licenses and identification (ID) cards. We also discussed several bills from the 2016 session that dealt with distracted driving, regulation on towing, and careless driving.

 

Cub Scout Pack 991

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with Cub Scout Pack 991. I was pleased to help these four fifth graders help earn their civics badges. As a former girl scout myself, these meetings are one of my favorite activities as a Delegate--because of the civic ownership and responsibility that scouting teaches. I enjoy spending time with our future leaders.

 

Collecting Coats for Students in the 41st District

I was pleased to be able to collect and donate brand new coats for students in need in schools throughout the 41st District. As the temperatures drop throughout Northern Virginia, I remain concerned for the many who are less fortunate and in need of warm clothes. Thanks to Alexandria City Councilman and Firefighter Willie Bailey and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue for coordinating this effort. I look forward to collecting even more coats next year for all of our schools.

 

Sandy Hook Vigil

On December 15th, I joined several of my colleagues, Congressman Connolly, Andy and Barbara Parker and so many others in front of the NRA's Headquarters in memory of those lost at Sandy Hook and their surviving loved ones. Our message was simple--the time for common sense gun safety laws is now. Far too many lives have been lost due to gun violence. While I support the second amendment, I also believe that everyone has a right to be safe and secure, especially in their homes and neighborhoods. I will continue to advocate for commonsense gun safety legislation in the General Assembly, as I have done for so many years in the past.
 

Washington Post’s 2016 Fall All-Met Teams

Congrats to Lake Braddock’s Kate Murphy, Taylor Kitchen, and Lamont Atkins for being named on the Washington Post’s 2016 Fall All-Met Teams! It is always wonderful to see our students achieve great success both inside and outside the classroom. I had the pleasure of presenting a commending resolution to Lake Braddock’s State Champion Cross Country Teams earlier this year. Thank you to all of our Fall student athletes across the 41st District for their time, talent and team spirit!

 

November 28, 2016

We are less than a month away from the start of the 2017 General Assembly Session. This year’s session begins on Wednesday, January 11th. Sine Die occurs on February 25th.

The past several weeks have been busy, as I attend meetings and legislative briefings on varying issues to finalize my legislative agenda and prepare for the 2017 session. It is exciting to me be completing my fourth two-year term in the House of Delegates. I look forward to continuing to serve and represent the residents of the 41st District.

 

Joint Commission on Technology and Science

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, on which I am proud to serve. We continued previous discussions from our September meeting including issues dealing with access to email, social media accounts, microblogging (like Twitter), other website accounts, or certain electronically stored information, upon a person’s incapacity or death. We also discussed digital document authentication standards for use with all public records of the Commonwealth, as well as the future of Virginia's aviation industry. 
 

Gun Violence Prevention Summit

I had the honor of attending the State Legislative Leadership briefing on Gun Violence Prevention at the White House. We were provided the opportunity to meet with senior White House officials to discuss issues we currently face in the Commonwealth and across the country relating to gun violence prevention. We discussed ways we can continue to work together to make progress at the state level. I came away from this program with ideas for legislation. I was honored to be invited to attend and discuss these crucial issues with legislators from around the country.

 

Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Legislative Reception

I was pleased to join many constituents at the JCCNV for JCRC of Greater Washington's Northern Virginia Legislative Reception. We discussed JCRC's legislative priorities including access to health care, separation of church and state and protecting voter access.

 

Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) Legislative Briefing 

Recently, I joined many colleagues for a briefing by NVTC. We were provided updates about the efforts of the Northern Virginia Coalition of Chambers’ stakeholder-driven working group on the formation of the Northern Virginia Regional Council under GO Virginia, the Inova Center for Personalized Health, Northern Virginia Community College’s workforce initiatives by Northern Virginia Community College President Scott Ralls and also the Center for Innovative Technology. We are fortunate to work with NVTC, an organization that advances policies and investments focused on growing Virginia’s technology ecosystem, promotes tech job creation and enhances the Commonwealth's standing as a recognized global technology center.

 

Virginia Leadership Forum

I attended the first annual Virginia Leadership Forum in Richmond. The program focused on challenges currently facing state and local officials to serve a changing economy and renewed focus on the Commonwealth in providing greater opportunities for all our citizens. We had substantive discussions on economic development and diversification, anti-poverty initiatives, increasing exports, and promoting a diverse energy sector. I especially enjoyed a great opening keynote by my friend, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran.

 

School Events

As we prepare for the holiday season, our high schools have choral concerts coming up!

 

Woodson High School

Choral Concert- Wednesday, December 13th, 7:00 P.M.

 

Lake Braddock Secondary School

High School Choir Masterwork Concert- Tuesday, December 12th, 7:30 P.M.

 

West Springfield High School

Choral Concert- Tuesday, December 12th, 7:00 P.M.

 

Robinson Secondary School

French Concert- Wednesday, December 13th, 3:15 P.M.

 

November 28, 2016 

 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with family and friends. One of my favorite quotes that I always think of during Thanksgiving is by President John F. Kennedy. He eloquently said, “As we express gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” It’s a maxim that I strive to live by around Thanksgiving and throughout the year.

Preparing for the 2017 General Assembly Session

With the General Assembly session beginning in about 6 weeks, I am continuing to finalize my legislative agenda for 2017, meeting with constituents, committees, homeowners' associations and other interested parties throughout the area, to begin addressing those issues of greatest concern to residents of the 41st District.  If you would like to speak with me about any issues that are important to you or if you have any ideas for legislation, please feel free to contact me through email or by phone.

 

House Joint Finance and Appropriations Committees Retreat

I was back in Richmond for the Joint Retreat of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee a couple of weeks ago. On the first day, we discussed a variety of issues including Virginia’s Economic and Budget Outlook, Sequestration and its Impact on Virginia, as well as Higher Education Affordability and Financial Aid. Day two covered Medicaid Expansion and Drug Courts. It was an extremely informative and productive two days.

 

Collaborations Leadership Award

Two weeks ago, in Virginia Beach, I was honored to accept the 2016 Collaborations Leadership Award from the Virginia Rehabilitation Association (VRA), vaACCSES - Virginia Association of Community Rehabilitation Programs and the Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment First (Virginia APSE). This is a joint award by three statewide associations in Virginia in recognition of outstanding leadership in making a difference in the lives of Virginians with disabilities. This year they chose to honor both Speaker Howell and me. It was particularly special to me to be recognized for my work on the ABLE Act, which will affect so many lives when the 529 ABLE Accounts become available next month. I particularly appreciate that this award recognizes “collaboration.” That is the core of my legislative strategy and agenda—working together with stakeholders, colleagues, and the Governor’s Administration to ensure that we can continue to improve the lives of all Virginians.

 

Board Appointments

Are you wondering what you can do to serve your community? One way is by serving as a member of a Board or Commission for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Openings for 2016-2017 and procedures for applying are listed here. If you are looking to contribute on local level, Fairfax County is also looking for citizens willing to serve on Boards, Authorities and Commissions as well. You can find more information about those opportunities by clicking here.

 

Giving Tuesday is tomorrow, 
November 29, 2016

Following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, there is a wonderful new tradition for the past few years known as “Giving Tuesday.” Anyone, anywhere can participate in Giving Tuesday in a way that is not only meaningful to them, but can also do a world of good for others. Whether by fundraising or volunteering, Giving Tuesday is a terrific way to engage your community and become part of a larger worldwide movement promoting generosity. You can find out more about Giving Tuesday and how to become involved by clicking here.  

Girls on the Run

Congratulations to Lake Braddock Secondary School's Girls Cross Country on winning another consecutive State Championship! Earlier this year, I was honored to present both boys and girls teams with a commending resolution celebrating the 2015 state championship. I'm looking forward to cheering on the Lady Bruins as they compete in the Nike Cross Nationals in December in Portland! 

November 15, 2016

I do not believe anyone could have predicted what happened last Tuesday. 

I know many of us need time to process our feelings. There are so many who are incredibly disappointed by Tuesday’s results and I sincerely hope you will find the resolve to come back and fight harder than ever in support of what is important to you. For those of you who were not upset, perhaps even pleased with the election results, I hope you will fight to preserve the core principles upon which our nation was founded and fight to ensure America remains the welcoming, inclusive, accepting diverse democracy we are privileged to enjoy. 

As for me, and as you all likely know, I am incredibly proud to live in a diverse community and I always pride myself as an American living in the greatest country in the world.  I am committed to continue to bring us together...all kinds of people, from different places, who think, look and live differently, as we continue to move Virginia forward.  I truly believe we are stronger together. 

Moving forward, it is my hope that both parties will listen to each other and work together to move our country forward.  I am taking the lead from our President, as I hope for a smooth transition from one administration to the next.  Our country deserves as much.  I assure you, however, that moving forward and accepting the election results does not mean I will not stand up for the values I hold dear.  I promise you, that I remain by your side, fighting for the issues that matter to us - fairness, inclusivity and equality for all, while standing up for those most vulnerable in our communities.

Please also know your efforts matter. Your voice matters, at the local, state and federal level.   We all have a voice - whether we are in office or not.  Please continue to let yours be heard, not only at election time - but now.  Our General Assembly session begins in Richmond in January AND we have our statewide elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General in 2017.  The time is now.  We need your voice.  

Girl Scout Troop 843

I enjoyed my visit with Girl Scout troop 843 in the 41st District at their meeting last week. As a scout member in my youth and mother of a former scout, I know the important role this organization plays in the leadership skill-building of young girls. It is always a pleasure to meet with young members of our community and these impressive young ladies clearly have a bright future ahead of them! I’m looking forward to seeing them in Richmond during the coming Legislative Session. 

 

Burke History Day

I enjoyed visiting Burke  Centre Library to attend the Burke History Day 2016 exhibition. It was a pleasure to see so many neighbors and friends learning about the community in which we live. There were many tutorials including interpreting historic maps, using genealogical search methods and conducting oral histories. Impressive exhibits were set up throughout the library, along with activities for the kids, including writing letters to our soldiers and veterans. 

 

Britepaths

I was pleased to be able to join the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck at the 6th Annual “Complete the Circle” FOODRaiser organized by Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread-Fairfax) with the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC). Complete the Circle (CTC) is a creative service project for groups, teams and families to join together through donating food, learning about hunger in Fairfax County, and creating a living image on the field which was photographed from the sky. Donations collected at CTC will “complete the circle” and help feed families here in Fairfax County. Kudos to my friend Catherine Read, member of the Board of Directors, who organized and emceed the entire incredible, amazing community event. Britepaths collected 7,648 pounds of food and pantry donations!
 

Health Insurance Reform Commission

I was in Richmond last Monday for a meeting of the Health Insurance Reform Commission, on which I am proud to serve. We discussed insurance coverage of  “abuse deterrent opioids”, which are members of this drug class developed to be less habit forming than traditional opioids. Abuse deterrent opioids are a promising development in the fight against opioid addiction, as the pills become less effective when they are crushed to be snorted or injected (unlike traditional opioids). We also discussed coverage of proton radiation therapy for cancer. Virginia has one of the only proton radiation therapy centers in the country, which is operated by Hampton University.  


H-Mart Opening

I was pleased to take part in the ribbon cutting and opening of the new H-Mart Asian grocery store in Burke on Wednesday, along with the Springfield Chamber and Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity. H-Mart has a long history in Virginia. The new Burke location is their 6th in Virginia and their 55th in the United States. Its name derives from the Korean expression, "Han Au Reum," literally meaning “one arm full of groceries.” This is an impressive store and definitely worth a visit, to see their beautiful produce and overwhelmingly large fresh fish section. Even more exciting are the new jobs for the 41st District!
 

Joint House and Senate Transportation Committee

I was back in Richmond on Thursday for the Joint House and Senate Transportation Committee, on which I serve. We discussed the DMV’s driver privilege card study, and received updates on transportation networks as well as ways to alleviate traffic in Hampton Roads. We also received an update from the State Police about their current difficult budget situation. It is my hope that despite the current budget deficit, we can find a way to make pay competitive for these brave men and women who constantly put their lives on the line to make our Commonwealth safe.
 

Veterans Day

I was honored to take part in two Veterans Day events this year. I joined Fairview Elementary School, in the 41st District, at their pancake breakfast in honor of our Veterans. The adorable 3rd graders did an amazing job singing patriotic songs on stage.  It was heartwarming to see so any veterans, moms and dads in the audience, enjoying watching their kids perform. Following that, I joined American Legion Post 176 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7327 for their moving Veterans Day Observance in Springfield. It was incredibly well attended and impressively organized.  I enjoyed hearing remarks from special guest, Colonel Bill Smith (USMC, Retired).
 

Governing Institute's Women in Government Leadership Program

I just returned from a two day conference as a member of the bipartisan Governing Institute's Women in Government Leadership Class of 2017. Twenty-five women were chosen to participate in the year-long program designed to promote and support elected women leaders from across the nation. I am truly honored to be part of this program. I very much enjoyed getting to know these amazing women from around the country this weekend and look forward to two other opportunities to connect with them through this program over the next eight months.  

 

October 24, 2016

The leaves are finally starting to change right here in the 41st District! I can’t wait to take a walk in Burke Lake Park to view the gorgeous foliage. The Commonwealth’s tourism website has put together a wonderful guide to viewing the trees around Fairfax County.

Northern Virginia Association of Realtors

I had an enjoyable early morning at the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors annual "Pancakes and Politics" breakfast. It was a pleasure to meet with so many members of the Realtor community here in Northern Virginia and visit with longtime friends. Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post, was an entertaining and informative keynote speaker, bringing a different perspective to the 2016 elections.

Jobs for Virginia Graduates

I enjoyed being in Richmond for the Jobs for Virginia Graduates' Student Leadership Conference in Richmond. Byron Garrett gave an inspiring and motivating speech. The young students were truly captivated. As the Chair of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, it was my privilege to again have the opportunity to meet many smart and promising students, who have already overcome great challenges in their young lives and who remain overwhelmingly positive and hopeful for their bright futures.

 

Old Dominion University Dining Hall

While in Hampton Roads, I had a wonderful opportunity of having ODU President and Mrs. Broderick provide a tour of the brand new Broderick Dining Commons, named in honor of President John Broderick and Kate Broderick, along with Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. This well-deserved recognition was selected by the student body for an amazing team: Kate Broderick and President John Broderick. As the proud parent of an ODU Alum, it is impressive how much ODU has transformed in the past decade, not just its campus, but also the city of Norfolk.

 

Virginia Community Colleges System Gala (VCCS)

I was pleased to attend the Virginia Community Colleges System’s Gala, celebrating 50 years of Community Colleges in the Commonwealth. This fantastic investment in the people of Virginia was started by the administration of Governor Mills Godwin. Spearheading the effort in the General Assembly, prior to his election as Lieutenant Governor, was then Senator J. Sargent Reynolds. Following his untimely death, the Commonwealth designated that one of the 23 Community Colleges bear his name. For me, it was particularly rewarding that NOVA Community College was so well represented that evening.

 

Commonwealth Transportation Board tour of WMATA SafeTrack

Last week, I was able to tour the ongoing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) SafeTrack program, with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation Jennifer Mitchell and my colleagues Delegates Watts, Plum and Murphy. Despite the inconvenience now, this essential work will have a significant positive impact on commuters in the future. It is my hope the efforts now will make Metro more efficient and safer for all, in the long run.

 

United Airlines Hanger Tour

I had a fascinating tour of United Airlines and their operations at Washington Dulles International Airport. We toured the bag room (where luggage is separated), a mechanical hanger, and had the opportunity to view the processing of an arriving flight at Dulles.

 

Joint Transportation Committee Meeting

On Wednesday, I attended a joint meeting of the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability (JCTA) and the House and Senate Transportation Committees, both of which I am honored to serve on. We discussed Metro’s recent SafeTrack work, the roles and responsibilities of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

 

America’s Disability Rights Museum on Wheels

I was incredibly pleased to be able to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the America’s Disability Rights Museum on Wheels at Northrup Grumman, along with Congressman Gerry Connolly and Delegate Vivian Watts on Thursday. As a Delegate who has long been committed to working closely with those who have "other abilities,” I was moved and incredibly impressed by the mobile museum. This is a must see! Thank you, Northrop Grumman. You can follow where this mobile museum will be next by clicking here.

 

Women Giving Back

I had the opportunity to join my colleagues, Delegate Jennifer Boysko, Delegate Ken Plum, Delegate Kathleen Murphy and Senator Jennifer Wexton at the Women Giving Back store in Sterling. This wonderful facility supports women and children in crisis by providing quality clothing at no cost. Their committed staff and volunteers are incredibly professional and most impressive. To find out more about this great organization check out their website here: http://womengivingback.org/

They are always looking for donations of clothing, jewelry, shoes and purses as well as volunteers to help sort and organize the aforementioned items.

 

October 10, 2016

Though we were most fortunate that Hurricane Matthew's devastating winds missed us in Northern Virginia, I am certainly keeping those here in the Commonwealth, in Hampton Roads, in my thoughts and prayers, as well as those in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Widespread flooding and high winds battered those regions. I am grateful for the help of the local first responders, as well as those from Fairfax County who have once again traveled down to the affected areas to help those in need.
 

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS)

I was honored to be invited to participate in a leadership conference of the Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) attended by a select group of bipartisan legislators, judges and executive branch appointees from southern states, including my colleague, Del. Jennifer Boysko. CALS, which took place in Arkansas, was organized by the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments. It was a great experience, with many interesting presentations, as we discussed ways to find common ground and lead in all of our states. Other notable former attendees of this program have included U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), as well as our own Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring.

 

Richmond Meetings
 

Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS)

I attended a meeting of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, on which I serve, in Richmond last week. We had a substantive discussion on issues dealing with access to email, social media accounts, microblogging (like Twitter) or other website accounts, and certain electronically stored information, upon a person’s incapacity or death. 

 

Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC)

I also traveled to Richmond for a meeting of the Joint Commission on Health Care. During this meeting, they discussed my palliative care bill, HB 473. I am most grateful for the hard work by all stakeholders, including the American Cancer Society. I am also appreciative for the valuable work done by the Joint Commission on Health Care.You can find more information on their study here.

 

Remembering Israeli President and Prime Minister Peres

I was honored to attend a moving memorial service for former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Washington, DC last week. Vice President Biden and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave poignant eulogies. Shimon Peres was a uniquely successful statesman and advocate for peace, and a widely honored recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I was also reminded of his efforts along with former Virginia Governor Baliles in creating the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), on which I am proud to serve today. Their joint work has created a powerful conduit for trade and education between the Commonwealth and the State of Israel.

 

West Springfield High School Resolution

I was delighted to be at West Springfield High School for its 50th Anniversary football game, this past Friday. I was proud to present the resolution that I introduced along with Senator Dave Marsden and Delegates Charniele Herring and Dave Albo during the 2016 Legislative Session, commemorating this event. This resolution recognizes the half-century during which West Springfield High School has provided local youth in Fairfax County with an outstanding educational experience and helped prepare them for higher education, careers, and responsible citizenship. From its establishment in 1966, under Principal S. John Davis, to today in 2016 with the great leadership of Principal Michael Mukai, WSHS now serves more than 2,200 students in grades 9 through 12. Every member of the faculty, administration, and staff at West Springfield High School contributes to motivating, inspiring and educating the future leaders of Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth. Thank you, West Springfield High School, for 50 years of inspired leadership in education.

The Women's Center Gala

I was pleased to attend The Women's Center's Reaching Back Moving Forward Gala this weekend. There were inspiring testimonies of strength and endurance shared by individuals, including the role The Women's Center played in their lives during their most challenging days. For over forty years, The Women’s Center has provided mental health counseling, support and education in the metropolitan area to help people live healthy, stable and productive lives. I am grateful for the work this center does every single day in our community and how many women's lives it impacts.
 

Page Program

Do you know a 13- or 14-year-old who is interested in getting an inside look at how the House of Delegates works? The deadline for the House Page Program is October 17th. Click here for more information. Those interested should please send a resume and cover letter to 
delefiller-corn@house.virginia.gov.

 

Wolf Trap

College students who are interested in the Arts should know that the deadline for seeking a spring internship with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is November 1. There are numerous opportunities in Wolf Trap’s Communications, Development, Education, Opera and Production Departments. Click here for more information. 

 

September 26, 2016

Last Friday marked the first day of in-person absentee voting in Fairfax County! While the main site is at the Fairfax County Government Center, there are many other satellite locations where you also can soon vote absentee. Click here to find out when and where you can vote absentee.

 

Back to School Nights

This week marked the last few back to school nights across Fairfax County. I enjoyed visiting many schools throughout the 41st District. A special thanks to the teachers and administrative staff for putting on these informative evenings.

 

Virginia Leadership Forum Advisory Board

I was pleased to attend a meeting of the non-partisan Governing Institute’s Virginia Leadership Forum Advisory Board in Richmond. We discussed ideas for Governing Institute’s upcoming Virginia Leadership Forum in December. The forum will include discussion on current issues affecting Virginia policy as well as legislation and innovative solutions to problems affecting our Commonwealth. I was pleased to join Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, Secretary of Administration Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson as well as my colleague, Delegate Charniele Herring, along with many other high level officials from state and local government for this meeting. We had a productive discussion. I look forward to participating in Governing Institute's Virginia Leadership Forum later this year.

 

Gun Violence Reverse Town Hall

I was proud to participate along with many of my colleagues, constituents as well as members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax at a "reverse town hall" to discuss gun safety. Each legislator in attendance joined constituents at a table assigned for their district, comprised of both gun owners and non-owners. All were encouraged to share personal stories and experiences with firearms, as well as make suggestions for finding common ground. I enjoyed participating in this innovative program, as I strongly believe in working together and finding common ground towards the goal of making the Commonwealth a better place for all Virginians. I always try my best to listen to both sides of an issue as I seek commonality. Many thanks to UUCF in Oakton for hosting such a valuable program.

 

Jobs for Virginia Graduates

It was an honor for me along with several members of Jobs for Virginia Graduates' board to meet with Governor McAuliffe in his Richmond office to present him with Jobs for Virginia Graduates' 5 for 5 award in recognition of the work done by JVG. JVG achieved Jobs for America's Graduates' national standards in five high performance categories: Graduation Rate, Positive Outcomes Rate, Aggregate Employment Rate, Full-time Jobs Rate, and Full-time Placement Rate. I am privileged to chair JVG. I am also grateful that both Governor Terry McAuliffe and Congressman Don Beyer (who preceded me as Chair of JVG) serve on the national board of Jobs for America’s Graduates.

 

Virginia Velocity 

This past week, the Virginia Velocity Tour (led by Governor McAuliffe) traveled the Commonwealth to shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs who are building Virginia’s 21st century economy. They had an extremely busy week-long schedule of tours, talks, and pitch competitions, offering over $100,000 in prizes in Roanoke/Blacksburg, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Charlottesville. I was pleased to travel to Charlottesville to join my colleagues, Delegate David Toscano and Senator Creigh Deeds at the Charlottesville Pitch competition. It was exciting to watch six start-up owners in the areas of Food and Agriculture in Charlottesville pitch their ideas for a $25,000 prize. 

 

The Restoration of UVA's Rotunda

I was pleased to attend the celebration of the restoration of the Rotunda on the grounds of the University of Virginia last week. The Rotunda was designed by our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who also founded the University in 1819. The renovation was just completed and the Rotunda is now not only open to the public for tours, but also home to classrooms, just as it was in Jefferson's time. It was an honor and privilege to join many of my colleagues and so many others in attendance to celebrate the restoration of this historic and beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thank you to Senators Creigh Deeds and Emmett Hanger as well as UVA President Teresa Sullivan for sharing such inspiring remarks that evening.

 

September 12, 2016

With schools reopening since my last enews, I want to wish good luck to all of the students, teachers, parents and administrators on a new school year! Thank you to all the incredible teachers and administrators who care for our children every day and encourage them to become the very best they can be.
 

Back to School Nights

Since the beginning of school earlier this month, I am looking forward to meeting local families at various Back to School Nights across the 41st District. It is important to me to hear those issues that parents care about, so that we can ensure our schools continue to provide the best education for all of our children. I've enjoyed meeting families this past week and I look forward to continuing to visit other back to school nights over the next few weeks.
 

Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab

I was really enjoyed stopping by the launch of Qualcomm's Thinkabit Lab. It was great to be with Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Deputy US Labor Secretary Chris Lu, as well as my colleagues Delegates Ken Plum and Marcus Simon. Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab is a combination of a laboratory and classroom for 6th to 8th grade students, regardless of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. With a combination of mini-lectures and team interactions, students are stimulated to innovate, collaborate and achieve beyond what exists today and improve the 21st century classroom. Classes are taught by Qualcomm engineers as well as career coaches who guide students to create, code, collaborate and then present robotic creations called “Robo Crafts.”  This allows for middle school students to experience hands-on learning in an integrated, student-centered environment. I was incredibly impressed by this new facility and look forward to seeing how it trains a new generation of STEM learners.

 

NASCAR Virginia 529 College Savings 250

On Friday, I was truly privileged to serve as the honorary starter for the NASCAR Virginia 529 College Savings 250, by waving the green flag to begin the race at Richmond International Raceway. In addition, prior to the race festivities it was great to be a part of the opening ceremonies as well. Following the national anthem, my constituents who have also become friends as well as key stakeholders for the ABLE Act, Catherine Beck and her daughter Natalie had the honor of saying to the drivers, “Start your engines,”. Also in attendance were the LaGanke family, who were also invaluable stakeholders particularly for the passage of the Virginia ABLE Act, rode in pace cars as the drivers circled the track. While Friday was a unique and fun experience for me, the real honor has been to work with these great stakeholders and so many people at Virginia 529, including their CEO, Mary Morris and their General Counsel, Chris McGee, over the past two years in introducing and passing legislation to make ABLE Now accounts for people with disabilities a reality. 

 

Burke Centre Festival

One of my favorite events of the year is the Burke Centre Festival; not even the very hot sun on Saturday could keep the crowds away from this annual event. Fortunately, for all of us in attendance, the weather was cooler on Sunday! I particularly enjoyed joining Congressman Gerry Connolly, Braddock Supervisor John Cook, Burke Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Boy Scouts at the opening ceremonies. It was wonderful to see so many new and familiar faces at my booth as well as around the festival itself. From community booths (such as a very informative booth from the Burke Historical Society) to face painting to shopping to music and dance performances, there was something for everyone. 

 

Capital Area Foodbank

I visited the Capital Area Food Bank in Lorton on Saturday with Congressman Gerry Connolly, and Delegates Ken Plum and Mark Keam. The CAFB, alongside six other food banks of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, held a statewide call to action in recognition of Hunger Action Month throughout September. Those in attendance had the opportunity to learn more about hunger issues facing this region; pack nutritious bags of food for children and seniors; and see the facility that distributes 14 million pounds of food across Northern Virginia each year. Despite the heat, the Food Bank was packed with many dedicated volunteers. To learn how you can help, like the Capital Area Food Bank on Facebook or visit capitalareafoodbank.org.
 

SOCtoberfest

I enjoyed visiting the Somerset and Olde Creek Rec and Swim Club’s first annual SOCtoberfest celebration right here in the 41st District. The center was turned into an outdoor Bavarian-style Festhaus complete with German cuisine, beer and music, not to mention plenty of people sporting lederhosen. It’s truly wonderful to see our neighborhoods continue to get together and have fun. 

 

Civil Discourse in Politics

Last night, on September 11th, I attended an interfaith program on "How to Maintain Civil Discourse in a Contentious Time,". I was pleased to join the discussion along with Braddock Supervisor John Cook, George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution Professor Arthur Romano, alumni from Operation Understanding DC and many leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu faiths. We discussed both the importance of bipartisanship as well as finding ways to work together on behalf of the community. It was special to be a part of this program on September 11th, because it reminded me of how important it is to celebrate what unites us, as opposed to focusing on what divides us.

August 29, 2016

Joint Money Committee Meeting

This past Friday, I went to Richmond to attend a meeting of the Joint Money Committee, which is made up of the Senate Finance, House Finance and House Appropriations Committees. Governor McAuliffe gave the committee anupdate on Virginia’s revenue collection. I was pleased to hear that we achieved a 2.3 percent gain in job growth in 2016, after five straight years of hovering around one percent. For Virginia, this is the strongest rate since fiscal year 2005, and in fact, it tops the national growth rate of 2 percent. As a result, jobs in Virginia have grown by more than 147,000 during Governor McAuliffe’s administration. We are fortunate to have experienced twenty-eight consecutive months of positive year-over-year employment growth. Our Commonwealth’s unemployment rate of 3.7 percent is the lowest since 2008, and the lowest in the Southeast.

Unfortunately, fiscal year 2016’s revenue growth is also slower than anticipated. The effect of budget sequestration by the US Congress and federal defense spending cuts has changed the mix of employment in Virginia. Part of this is driven by a shift in demographics. Baby boomers are retiring and leaving behind a younger workforce that is still building up seniority. Additionally, there are a larger number of temporary employees in our workforce. Because of these factors, Virginia experienced a revenue shortfall in fiscal year 2016, making for difficult decisions in future years.

I am pleased that education remains a priority for our Governor as our recently passed budget makes one of the largest investments in education in well over a decade. Given that many Democrats and Republicans have praised the budget passed during the previous session, I am optimistic that we can come to an agreement this coming session. Even so, I firmly believe that if Virginia agrees to expand Medicaid and accept the federal dollars that continue to be available to us, these funds fund would go a long way in lessening the impact of our shortfall as well as the difficult budget decisions we will be making in the future.

 

Autism Society of Northern Virginia

On August 16th, I was honored to be named a Community Builder of the Year by the Autism Society of Northern Virginia. I spoke about why I first introduced the ABLE ACT and how working with amazing advocates we were successful in passing this bill in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, Connor Cummings, the namesake of Connor's Law, gave an impressive speech. I had the opportunity to meet him in Richmond last year as he advocated in support of the legislation. Lastly, amazing musical entertainment was provided by several incredibly talented individuals including Jake Sizemore who teaches us that we should look for the talent in everybody. Thank you again, Autism Society of Northern Virginia, for this most meaningful award and honor!

Shop with the Sheriff

It was great to have Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, her impressive Deputies and close to 40 youngsters about to start school in the 41st district on Thursday, attend the 25th Annual Shop with a Sheriff program. This program places children in-need with a Sheriff's Deputy for the day, as they go back to school shopping at the Burke Target, using gift cards donated to the students. This is one of my favorite events of the year, as it brings together our County Government, public safety, business community and elected officials in support of our most vital resource--our children. Thank you to our amazing Sheriff Stacey Kincaid who has grown this meaningful program over her tenure and our committed dedicated Deputies who serve as role models to our impressionable youth.

 

DMV Precheck Facility Ribbon Cutting

Last week, I joined Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb and several of my colleagues at a ribbon cutting for a groundbreaking customer service initiative. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is partnering with the Transportation Security Administration’s vendor MorphoTrust USA to offer TSA Pre✓® and Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) at DMV’s Tysons Corner office.   Virginia is the first state in the nation to offer TSA Pre✓® and TWIC at select DMV offices around the state.  Legislation effective July 1, 2016 enables Virginia DMV to partner with contractors of federal government agencies to offer federal services through DMV. By the endof the year, nine DMV offices will offer the services, with a tenth to open in 2017.

In addition to TSA Pre✓® and TWIC services, DMV partners with other state agencies to offer E-ZPass services at several northern Virginia locations, fishing and hunting licenses, and certified copies of Virginia vital records at all 74 customer service centers and five mobile offices across the state. Instead of traveling to the Division of Vital Records in Richmond, or requesting certificates by mail, customers can obtain Virginia birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates on-the-spot at DMV. 

 

Metro Safetrack

Metro Safetrack’s Surge #8 started this pastSaturday and continues through September 11, with additional weekend line segment shutdowns. Blue Line trains will continuously single-track service weekdays between Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn St August27 through September 11, 2016. Additionally, Blue Line trains will run from the Franconia-Springfield every 24 minutes, and from Van Dorn Street every 12 minutes. There will be no Rush+ Yellow Line service. Additional trains will run to/from Huntington instead. Last but not least, riders who use Franconia-Springfield or Van Dorn Street stations should consider alternative travel, especially during rush hour.  Expect significant crowding on trains from Franconia-Springfield.

August 15, 2016

What a great first week of the Olympics! From the fabulous opening ceremonies to Townley Haas, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps’ historic swims, to Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas' incredible performances in Gymnastics, there has been excitement for everyone and a wonderful chance to cheer on Team USA.

For me, my favorite part of the Olympics is cheering on so many amazing Virginians as they go for the gold in Rio. We have so many great local athletes and coaches as well, many to cheer on who went to schools in the 41st! In fact, it was West Springfield High School alum Ginny Thrasher who won the US’s first gold medal this Olympics. It’s also been great to watch her fellow Spartan, Matt Miller in men’s four rowing, as well as Robinson alums Lucas Kozeniesky in shooting and Jill Ellis, the coach of the US Women’s Soccer Team. I can’t wait to see what the rest of Week 2 brings!

 

National Night Out

One of my favorite summertime events, National Night Out, took place around the district, the rest of Virginia and across the country on August 2nd. The idea behind National Night Out is to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. I stopped by several events throughout the night and saw all of these ideals exemplified to the fullest! Thank you to everyone who welcomed me into their homes and neighborhoods. I enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with so many of you!

 

Governing Institute's Women in Government Class of 2017

I am honored to be selected to join the bipartisan Governing Institute's Women in Government Leadership Class of 2017. Twenty-five women from across the country were chosen to participate in the year-long program designed to promote and support elected women leaders nationally. Since 2000, the nationwide percentage of women in state legislatures has languished. In fact, the 2010 election saw a decline in the number of women in Congress. To mitigate this unacceptable poor record, the Governing Institute started this program to support and encourage women in government. I am proud to follow in the footsteps of Virginia class members from prior years including our Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson and our state Treasurer Manju Ganeriwala. Click here to read the full press release.


National Conference of State Legislatures

I spent most of this past week in Chicago with many colleagues on both sides of the aisle at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit. I always enjoy attending this conference as it affords me the opportunity to meet with other state legislators from across the country and in some cases, around the world. Sometimes, just a chance meeting with a fellow legislator from across the country and sharing ideas can turn into a law right here in Virginia. A few of the highlights included meeting Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation, touring United Airlines’ headquarters in the Willis Tower, as well as my final meeting as a member of the Board of NCSL’s Women’s Legislative Network Board.

Legislation for 2017 Session

This is the time of year for me to meet with groups and individuals around the district to discuss potential legislation for the next General Assembly session. If you have any thoughts or information on a possible legislative idea, please contact me to discuss.

August 1, 2016

I hope everyone is staying cool during this hot summer!

Democratic National Convention

I was incredibly proud to serve as a member of Virginia’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention last week. I was honored to join so many Democrats to officially nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States along with our own U.S. Senator (and my former boss) Tim Kaine for Vice President. As I stood there and listened our Virginia First Lady, Dorothy McAuliffe read Virginia's votes, I couldn't help but think of the pivotal women who shaped my own life—my mother, my sister, mother-in-law, grandmother, aunts, teachers, professors, mentors, colleagues and friends. I thought also of those countless women and girls of the future: my own daughter and the young women I encounter across the 41st District and the Commonwealth of Virginia. When we put this tremendous crack in the largest glass ceiling, it was not just for Secretary Clinton, it was for them too, for all women. I will forever be grateful to be part of this moment. 

 

NoVA Chamber Distinguished Service Awards

I was pleased to attend the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Valor Awards. We heard memorable remarks from the keynote speaker Virginia Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, Admiral (ret.) John Harvey, and our Members of Congress, as well as inspiring stories of individuals, groups and businesses that support our veterans. Thank you to our Veterans who serve our country as well as those businesses that employ these American heroes.

 

White House Summit

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of participating in a State Legislative Leadership Briefing at the White House. The briefing was a great opportunity to meet with senior White House officials to discuss important issues we are facing in the Commonwealth, as well as to exchange ideas about the President's domestic policy priorities and how we can continue to work together to make progress at the state level. I came away with many good ideas for potential legislation for the 2017 session. I was honored to be invited to participate and have the opportunity to discuss many inspiring ideas with legislators from around the country.

 

Investiture of Judge Thomas Mann

This past Friday, I was honored to participate in the investiture of Judge Thomas Mann, formerly of Fairfax County’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and now a member of the Circuit Court bench.

In Fairfax County, my colleagues and I meet for hours when there is a vacancy on the bench in order to interview and discuss potential future judges. What I found so impressive is the widely held bipartisan esteem and respect for Judge Thomas Mann among my colleagues. In our decisions, we are also guided by the bar evaluations and if memory serves me, I can't remember any individual that had such high ratings due to his subject matter experience with many complex issues in the Juvenile Court, his empathy and his compassion. His reputation in the community has earned him tremendous widespread respect. 

Another measure of respect for him was that Justice Jane Marum Roush administered his oath of office. Justice Roush was formerly a judge on the same circuit court as well as a former Justice on the Virginia Supreme Court. We are so fortunate to have such highly qualified jurists from our county. I was honored to present Judge Mann with his official Commission from the General Assembly, which declared that he will serve as a Judge on the Circuit Court.

 

Copperthite Racetrack Marker Dedication

On Sunday, I was pleased to join many Burke residents as we unveiled a new marker commemorating the Copperthite Racetrack. Henry Copperthite purchased the Silas Burke House in 1899 as a summer retreat. He could afford it after founding the successful Connecticut Pie Company, which still thrives today. But Copperthite didn’t just see Silas Burke’s home as a getaway from Washington, he viewed it as an opportunity to energize the then sleepy rural town of Burke. Henry Copperthite helped to not only turn Burke into a destination, but also helped set it on the path to become the thriving community, in which many of us live, work and raise our families.

 

House Page Program Opens

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.

The online application to serve as a Page in the House of Delegates during the 2017 Legislative Session opens today and closes Monday, October 17 at 5:00 pm.  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.

Road Work in the 41st District

VDOT is currently in the process of considering contracts for road repair in 2017. They expect the list to be finalized by late fall.

In order to best serve my constituents, I wanted to proactively reach out to you.Click here to fill out my online form to report roads needing repair. Please feel free to forward this link below to your neighbors and/or members of your homeowner's association. 

Going forward, I will also keep this link on my website, under the constituent services section.

 

July 18, 2016

The heat is on! While you’re out at the beach or just in the sun walking around, please take the proper precautions to protect yourself from the harmful effects of extended UV exposure. July is National UV Safety Month and you can learn safety tips and information here.  

Best of Braddock

It was great 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—many from the 41st District. Thank you for all that you do and your dedication to the community!

AARP Office Opening

It was great to join my colleagues, Delegates Mark Keam and Dave Albo at the opening of AARP’s Take a Stand campaign office in Springfield. The campaign is an effort to strengthen Social Security, which provides vital income to more than 1.4 million Virginians. I was honored to participate in the ribbon cutting and speak at the event.

“Take a Stand,” demands on behalf of all voters that presidential candidates take a stand on their plans to update Social Security. The campaign will spread its message through advertising, social media, grassroots outreach and publications. At the new campaign headquarters, AARP Virginia volunteers will be calling voters to discuss the need to update Social Security and encourage candidates to state their own views on keeping this program solvent into the future. As Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our country’s history, we must do all we can to protect it. I am honored to be able to work with AARP on this issue.

Emerge USA Gala

On Saturday night, I was pleased to address the Emerge USA Virginia chapter Eid Gala. This organization seeks to engage, educate and empower Muslim, South Asian and Arab American (MASA) communities through educational events, voter initiatives, and leadership development to help create, within this growing community, highly knowledgable and motivated citizens. A separate foundation also empowers and encourages its constituents to become engaged and active citizens. The foundation has three programs that work toward fulfilling this mission: Emerging Leaders, Emerging Voters, and Emerging Data.

I spoke about the importance of voting. Noting the very close margin of victory I achieved in my own special election in 2010, I emphasized the fact that every single vote counts. I challenged every individual there to bring 10 friends, co-workers or family members with them to the polls.

The Atlantic Gateway Project

I am pleased to share with you that Virginia and its Atlantic Gateway Project has been selected to receive a federal FASTLANE grant of $165 million. When these funds are combined with $565 million in private investments and an additional $710 million in public transportation funding, this ambitious project will provide up to $1.4 billion to address the worst bottlenecks on the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia. This will dramatically transform travel along the entire East Coast by:

  • Building 14 miles of new rail track to improve reliability and capacity for freight, commuter, and passenger rail service, including phase I of the project to unlock rail congestion at Long Bridge—the rail bridge connecting Arlington County and Washington DC (This is great news for commuters who use VRE).
     
  • Extending 95 Express Lanes for seven miles north to the Potomac River and improve access to the Pentagon.
     
  • Extending the 95 Express Lanes 10 miles south to Fredericksburg to alleviate backups at the current southern terminus, making for a faster trip to Richmond and beyond.
     
  • Constructing a new southbound bridge on I-95 across the Rappahannock River.
     
  • Provide dedicated on-going reinvestment in expanded bus service within this corridor to ensure that all populations can have easier access to jobs, education and health care services.
     
  • Adding new commuter parking, technology upgrades and truck parking along the corridor (Desperately needed at our own VRE stations).
     
  • Enhance autonomous vehicle development by providing additional infrastructure to test and ultimately deploy the driverless cars of the future.
     
  • Acquire from CSX, the S-line, an abandoned rail corridor that runs from North Carolina to the Richmond area, to provide public ownership of what will be a key corridor for future Southeast High Speed Rail.

As traffic continues to become increasingly more congested in our district and across Northern Virginia—I am extremely proud that our Commonwealth continues to invest in our highway infrastructure. Having sound transportation options will be vital to growing our economy and increasing safety.

July 5, 2016

I hope you enjoyed a fun-filled Fourth of July holiday weekend with friends and family! Once again, I participated in events around the 41st District, including the Fairfax City Parade and the Orange Hunt Estates Parade. I always enjoy seeing so many familiar faces and meeting new friends, even despite the rain!
 

New Laws

As of July 1st, all new state laws passed during the 2016 General Assembly session, including the biennial budget, signed by Governor McAuliffe have gone into effect. Some of these laws include:

Public Safety

Education

Transportation

Economic Development

In addition to the bills listed above, another two of the bills I sponsored became law. One bill requires the Department of Education to review relevant federal regulations and suggest revisions relating to a return to learn protocol for students who have been treated for pediatric cancer. The other ensures that Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts—529 like savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, are exempt from state means testing.
 

Metro Safe Track

WMATA continues to perform significant track maintenance—accelerating nearly three years worth of work into approximately one year. The plan, known as SafeTrack, extends maintenance time on the aging rail system and includes 15 "Safety Surges” (long-duration track outages for major projects in key parts of the system).

The third “Safety Surge” begins today and ends on July 11th. This will shut down line segments between Reagan National Airport and the Braddock Road Metro stations.  Riders will experience severely reduced service at all Blue and Yellow Line stations.  Metro will close at midnight seven days a week for the duration of all safety work.

For the duration of these outages, the Fairfax Connector Bus will provide supplemental express service on existing routes or on rush-hour shuttles.  Metro has posted a complete schedule of all Safety Surges online.  Additional county resources on how to plan for the Metro SafeTrack Program, including the two VRE stations found here in the 41st District, can be found online as well.
 

McLean Islamic Center Iftar

On Sunday, I was honored to join with and speak at an interfaith iftar program at the home of Dr. Maqsood and Mrs. Nadra Chaudhary. The purpose of this iftar was to welcome Syrian refugees to the Northern Virginia area, as well as building bridges between different communities in Northern Virginia.

The following quote from Elie Wiesel, who unfortunately passed away on Saturday seems appropriate:

"Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe." -Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel gave a voice to millions of Holocaust victims who didn't have one. He was a master wordsmith and a tireless human rights advocate. May his memory be a blessing.

It is my distinct honor and privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. As always, I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you out and about in the 41st District. Please feel free to contact me directly at (571) 249-3453 if I can be of assistance to you at any time.

June 20, 2016

On Friday, I joined several of my General Assembly colleagues, as well as Mayor Allison Silberberg in Alexandria for a Moms Demand Action vigil in memory of those killed and injured in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in American history. It was a moving program, in memory of 49 lives tragically cut short and 50 others seriously wounded. Many of the speakers called for action beyond just “thoughts and prayers”. I have been a strong advocate for common sense gun safety legislation for almost 20 years. Since being elected to the House of Delegates, I have introduced gun safety legislation nearly every single session.  I will continue to be a strong advocate while working diligently to introduce and pass common sense gun safety legislation.

Bill Signings

HB 1103

I was incredibly proud to stand with disability advocates as Governor McAuliffe signed my bill, HB 1103, into law, during the opening ceremonies of Special Olympics Virginia. HB 1103 ensures that Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts, which are 529-like savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, are exempt from state means testing. Additionally, the Governor and I announced the inclusion of a state income tax deduction for contributions to ABLE savings accounts starting in Taxable Year 2016 – up to $2,000 per contributor in the biennial budget, which was approved by the General Assembly. It was so special to share that moment with so many people who I know will benefit from this legislation and our successful efforts last year, creating the ABLE accounts themselves. I am very grateful for the hard work of so many stakeholders who made the night possible, especially Catherine Beck (in memory of Steve Beck), Traci LaGanke and the Virginia529 College Savings Plan who will manage these ABLE accounts. Additionally, if you or someone you know is interested in signing up for these ABLE accounts, please visit www.able-now.com.
 

HB 659

Last Monday, I was privileged to join with stakeholders Gil Harrington, in memory of her daughter Morgan, and founder of Help Save The Next Girl, Trina Murphy, in memory of her niece, Alexis, and Annie Clark, co-founder of End Rape on Campus along with many others, as the Governor signed my bill HB 659, promoting a safe relationship curriculum in high school education. Specifically, this bill requires any high school family life education curriculum offered by a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the preventing dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Most importantly, this bill focuses on prevention, as we must educate our youth at a younger, and yet still appropriate, age. Silence isn't an option. I am proud that Virginia is taking a step in the right direction by enacting this bipartisan, common-sense legislation.

 

Richmond Meetings

Joint Commission on Technology and Science

I attended the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) meeting last week. We elected Delegate Rich Anderson and Senator John Cosgrove as Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission respectively. We discussed studying the Commonwealth’s aerospace industry, authentication of public records, autonomous vehicles and other various issues related to technology and education.

 

Health Insurance Reform Commission

The Health Insurance Reform Commission also met in Richmond last week. We adopted our work plan regarding those bills we will be studying outside of the Legislative Session. We also heard presentations from the Bureau of Insurance and the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

 

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Research Breakfast

I was pleased to attend the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Breakfast, with several colleagues. It was particularly gratifying to hear about the wonderful medical research being conducted right here in Northern Virginia to fight against this deadly disease. This past session I worked closely with the American Cancer Society on my bills related to Palliative Care (currently being studied by the Joint Commission on Health Care) and Return-to-Learn protocols for children with pediatric cancer (now enacted into law).

 

Community Events

I stopped by Olde Creek Elementary School’s “An Evening of the Arts”. The school was turned into an art gallery and concert hall with studio art, choral performances and band concerts, with many impressive and talented young students!

I also thoroughly enjoyed attending the Fairfax Little League End of the Season Ceremony and Home Run Derby. I joined Senator Chap Petersen, Delegate David Bulova and others in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Immediately following that event, I joined the Mantua Citizens Association for their annual summer parade. It was a fun afternoon with a large turnout for the parade and ice cream social. 

 

Commending Resolution Presentations

Robinson Girls Lacrosse

I was pleased to present a commending resolution to Robinson’s Girls Lacrosse Team last week, in honor of their winning the state championship in 2015. It was particularly good timing since they were heading off to play in this year’s championship game—which they later won. Congratulations on your back-to-back state championships!

 

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren

Last September, you may recall that I mentioned having a very unique opportunity to hear an astronaut, former resident of the 41st District and graduate from Robinson Secondary School, Dr. Kjell Lindgren, address his alma mater from space. Watching Kjell effortlessly float and flip at the International Space Station, while carrying on a conversation with students from his alma mater was a truly exciting experience. This past Wednesday, I finally had the chance to meet Kjell in person, not only at Robinson’s Graduation, but afterwards, where I presented him with acommending resolution in his honor. Kjell is a great example of the wonderful education our children receive in Fairfax County Public Schools. The sky clearly is not the limit for what FCPS students can accomplish. We are all grateful for Kjell's service to our country.
 

Woodson High School

On Thursday morning, I was proud to present two commending resolutions at Woodson High School’s Underclassmen Awards Ceremony. The first was to members of the Deaf Academic Bowl team for their stellar performance in the regional competition—earning them a berth in the national finals of the Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing High School Students at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The second was to Woodson High School, for being named as a Blue Ribbon School by the Virginia Music Educators Association.

 

High School Graduations

Congratulations to the Class of 2016, with graduates from Lake Braddock Secondary School, Robinson Secondary School, West Springfield High School, and W.T. Woodson High School. The graduates have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and should be very proud of what they have achieved. It is clear that the future of the 41st District is bright!

Rolling Road Public Meeting

The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting Wednesday, June 22 on plans to widen Rolling Road (Route 638) from two to four lanes, between just north of the Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) to Old Keene Mill Road (Route 644) to reduce congestion and improve safety.

You can stop by between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at Rolling Valley Elementary School, 6703 Barnack Drive, West Springfield, VA 22152 to view displays and learn more about the project. VDOT staff will be available to answer questions. The program will start with a brief presentation at 7 p.m.  In particular, VDOT welcomes input on the typical road cross-section alternatives studied to reduce impacts to adjacent properties.

If you cannot attend but wish to submit a public comment you can mail comments to
Mr. Hamid Misaghian, P.E., Project Manager,
Virginia Department of Transportation, 
4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 or email: meeting_comments@VDOT.virginia.gov.

June 6, 2016

I hope you were all able to enjoy the weather, spend time with friends and family during the Memorial Day weekend and reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day honoring the men and women who have served and fallen defending our country. It is only because of them and their sacrifices that we can all continue to enjoy the liberty and freedom we celebrate and cherish.

Memorial Day

I was pleased to have the opportunity to join the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and American Legion Post 176 for their Memorial Day Celebration. Three days later, on Monday, I had the honor of joining the Burke VFW at their annual Memorial Day observance at the Burke Center Conservancy in the 41st district. I always look forward to this moving ceremony and truly appreciated the opportunity to address the crowd along with Brigadier General Johnson of the US Air Force, my colleague Senator Dave Marsden and Supervisor John Cook.

 

White House Gun Violence Prevention Conference

I was honored to attend the White House Gun Violence Prevention Conference for state and local officials with several of my colleagues in the Virginia General Assembly and many other elected officials from across the country. We heard stirring remarks from Vice President Joe Biden, among many other leaders. Most importantly, all lawmakers met together to discuss ideas and best practices for legislation and combating gun violence. I am looking forward to using some of the ideas I learned from other U.S. state legislators in attendance, as I work on potential legislative approaches during the 2017 session in Virginia.

 

Heritage Nepal Festival

Last weekend, I was pleased to address the Heritage Nepal Festival in Herndon, held by the America Nepal Society, a non-profit organization that has served Nepalese expatriates in this area since 1967. One of the reasons I am so proud to live in Fairfax County is its incredible diversity. We are so fortunate to live in one of the most multicultural parts of the country with such an engaged, diverse community. I spoke to the crowd about the importance of voting, and with the upcoming election it is most important that everyone participates.

 

Transportation Policy Meeting

On Tuesday, I was back in Richmond for a Transportation policy meeting with Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, Deputy Secretaries Nick Donohue and Grindly Johnson among many others, as well as my colleagues Delegate Vivian Watts and Senator Dave Marsden. Secretary Layne gave an overview of the pledges Governor McAuliffe made while on the campaign trail in 2013 and the subsequent progress toward achieving those goals. Deputy Secretary Donohue covered the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority as well as the implementation of HB 2—the 2013 Transportation overhaul bill. Deputy Secretary Johnson focused on the issue of toll relief, and the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Jennifer Mitchell gave an update on WMATA and rail service in general.

 

Bill Signings

This past week, I had the honor of being a part of two bill signings.

 

Return to Learn

This past Tuesday, I was in Richmond, for the bill signing for HB 954 introduced by my friend and colleague Mark Keam, as well as my Senator and friend, Dave Marsden, for his billSB 665. I was proud to serve as co-patron onHB 954 as it builds upon my bill that was approved in 2014, which created return-to-learn protocols for student-athletes who had suffered a concussion. This new bill expands return-to-learn protocols to cover all students.

 

Veterans Care Centers

On Wednesday, I returned to American Legion Post 176, to join the Governor and many of my colleagues at the signing of HB 477 (on which I served as a co-patron), which authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority to issue bonds for the construction of Veterans care centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. It was particularly special that the new Veterans Care Center in Fauquier County will be named after former Virginia State Senator Toddy Puller, her late husband Lewis Puller, Jr. and her late father-in-law, Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Sr., all tireless advocates for our military and veterans. It was also wonderful to see Toddy again. Although we were in separate branches of the General Assembly, I miss serving with her.
 

Springfield-Burke Relay for Life

I enjoyed stopping by the annual Springfield-Burke Relay for Life Fundraiser. While in past years, this event has taken place at West Springfield High School, due to the school’s impending renovations, this year the event was held at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. A total of 34 teams and 395 participants have raised over $91,000 for Cancer research. I find this annual event moving and especially meaningful as I worked closely with the American Cancer Society this past General Assembly session, on my bills  HB 473, which dealt with Palliative Care and is currently under study by the Joint Commission on Health Care; and HB 475, which directs the Department of Education to study existing regulations and suggest new ones with regard to a return-to-learn protocol for students who have been treated for pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved with Relay for Life—what a successful event!

May 23, 2016

I just finished another busy two weeks attending events both within and outside of the 41st District. I welcome invitations from interested groups for me to review with their members all that transpired throughout the 2016 Legislative Session.

 

Wolf Trap

It was a pleasure to be at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, for their summer kick-off reception and tour with their President and CEO Arvind Manocha and Beth Brummell, Vice President for External Affairs. I was pleased to host representatives from Wolf Trap’s educational program during the 2016 Legislative Session, on behalf of the General Assembly Arts Caucus. We are so fortunate to have this renowned institution here in Northern Virginia and benefit from its impressive educational programming throughout the Commonwealth.

 

Woodson High School

 

Relay for Life

Despite cold temperatures last Saturday night, it was incredibly heartwarming to see Woodson students organize the 2nd annual community Woodson High School Relay for Life program. Held at Woodson Stadium, these hardworking students raised over $30,000! These funds will help fight this most insidious disease that affects so many. Congratulations Woodson Cavaliers on your success!

 

DRIVE SMART

I was back at Woodson on Tuesday for DRIVE SMART Virginia’s teen driving event. DRIVE SMART Virginia is a non-profit organization charged with raising awareness, changing potentially dangerous driving behaviors, thereby improving the safety of the Commonwealth’s roadways. Their goal is to improve the lives of all Virginians through effective public information and education initiatives. It was quite an experience to try out different simulators alongside the students, including a distracted driving simulator and an impaired driving course. If there was one major takeaway from this event, it was the dangers of texting while driving, for teenagers as well as other drivers.

 

SAFE Center Launch

I was honored to attend the official launch of the SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors at the University of Maryland, College Park. This center will address the serious issue of human trafficking throughout the state of Maryland and provide holistic services to help abused survivors heal and reclaim their lives. I am pleased that my friend Ambassador Susan Esserman, who inspired this concept, will now serve as Director of the Center. Maryland’s U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and future Senator and current Congressman Van Hollen offered inspiring words. It is also good to see former Lt. Gov., and future Congressman Anthony Brown. I hope that one day we may be able to replicate this center in the Commonwealth.

 

JCRC Annual Meeting

It was my distinct pleasure to address those in attendance at the JCRC of Greater Washington's Annual Meeting and most importantly, present its outgoing president, my longtime friend, Cookie Hymer Blitz with a letter from the Governor of Virginia as well as a commending certificate from the General Assembly, in recognition of her two years of extraordinary leadership. I am also looking forward to working with JCRC’s new president, Michael Friedman. Interestingly enough, Michael recently testified in support of Maryland’s version of the ABLE Act, a bill I introduced in Virginia in 2015.

 

Defensive Cyber Operations and Intelligence Conference

On Thursday, I attended the Defensive Cyber Operations and Intelligence 2016 conference. DCOI is a non-profit organization that aims to enhance collaboration between the United States and Israel in cybersecurity.

The summit is supported by Israeli state agencies in cooperation with companies and corporations throughout the U.S. and Israel. I was particularly pleased to introduce my friend, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson, at the conference. It has been a pleasure to work with Secretary Jackson for so many years through different Administrations. Her work has helped bring Virginia to the forefront of cybersecurity. This is particularly important because the Commonwealth is home to so many strategic military and intelligence installations.

 

Upcoming School Events


Robinson Secondary School:

High School Orchestra Concert
Wednesday, 7:00 PM

Middle School Orchestra Concert
Thursday, 7:00 PM

Lake Braddock Secondary School

Middle School Orchestra Concert
Tuesday, 7:30 PM

High School Orchestra Concert
Thursday, 7:30 PM

West Springfield High School

Guitar Ensemble Concert
June 6, 7:00 PM

Choir Concert
June 7, 7:00 PM

Wind Symphony Concert
June 8, 7:00 PM

Orchestra Concert
June 9, 7:00 PM

Little Run Elementary School

Chorus sings the National Anthem at the
Potomac Nationals Game in Woodbridge
Friday, 7:00-9:00 PM

 

May 9, 2016

As April has passed and May is here, like many of you, I hope to see warmer temperatures (and sunnier skies!). Despite being out of session for nearly two months, I have remained busy both within and outside of the 41st District.

 

Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement Convention

I was honored to serve as a guest speaker at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement's (MAAWLE) 30th Annual Conference. I was pleased to join Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, Superintendent of the State Police, Colonel Steven Flaherty, Former Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall, who currently serves as Director of the Office of Safety Programs for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and our own impressive Virginia State Trooper Pamela Neff who received MAAWLE’s valor award. I was pleased to speak about my public safety efforts in the General Assembly. It was an incredible event. I am grateful for the work of our women and men in law enforcement who keep our communities safe!

 

Jobs for Virginia Graduates (JVG) 

I was pleased to address those in attendance at the JVG annual Golf Tournament. I appreciated the opportunity to share with them how honored I am to Chair this Board and how JVG truly makes a tremendous difference in so many lives every single day. Thank you to all those in attendance for their support, as well as those across the Commonwealth who advocate for this invaluable statewide program.

 

English as a Second Language (ESL) Class at Northern Virginia Community College

Last week, I enjoyed speaking to the ESL Current Events class at Northern Virginia Community College, taught by Mindi Maline. The students have come to Northern Virginia from all around the world. We discussed the General Assembly, how a bill becomes a law in Virginia, and recent stories in the news. I look forward to seeing how this impressive group of students will impact our community in the coming years.

 

International Showcase

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Centreville International Showcase with my friends, Senator Dave Marsden, Senator Chap Petersen, Delegate Ken Plum, and School Board Member Ilryong Moon. This family friendly event showcased international culture through music, dance and food. The entertainment was enjoyable and impressive to watch. This successful event reminds us all of our good fortune in a such a diverse part of the country!

 

Robinson Secondary School

Films

I want to congratulate Robinson Secondary School for having not one, but two films featured in the Virginia High School League’s Annual Film Festival. RAM PRIDE is included in the “Documentary” category and Untouchable is in the ”Experimental” category. The two films are among 36 official selections that will be screened at the festival, scheduled to be held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond June 3-4. For those interested in attending, the festival is open to the public. It will include guest speakers, a filmmaker question and answer session, plus red carpet and awards ceremonies.  Ticket information is available here.

Robinson Pyramid Art Show

I enjoyed visiting the Robinson Pyramid Art Show. I had the chance to see art not only from Robinson Secondary School, but also from Bonnie Brae Elementary School, Fairview Elementary School, Laurel Ridge Elementary School and Terra Centre Elementary School. As Chair of the General Assembly Arts Caucus, I am proud to see so much talent in the 41st.

 

Other Upcoming Events in the 41st

There are several exciting events coming up this week.

  • The Burke Farmer's Market continues every Saturday until December from 8am-12pm in the Burke Centre VRE Station parking lot
  • Woodson High School is having their annual Relay for Life Fundraiser on Saturday, May 14th and Sunday, May 15th from 5pm to 5am at the Woodson Stadium

  • West Springfield High School's "All That Jazz" Concert is taking place at 7pm on Thursday, May 12th and Friday, May 13th.
  • Robinson Secondary School's Drama program presents Into the Woods on Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th at 7pm. For more information, call 703-426-2100 or visit www.robinsondrama.org.

April 24, 2016

Reconvene Session

Last Wednesday, the General Assembly met in Richmond for the one-day Reconvene Session, where we reviewed and considered each of the Governor’s vetoes and recommendations. The Governor returned 88 of the 811 bills passed this year, 32 with a veto and 56 with a recommended amendment.

 

Speaking to the Governor’s Vetoes

On Wednesday, all of the Governor’s vetoes were sustained, meaning those measures will not become law this year. A two-thirds majority by both the House and Senate is required to override a Governor’s veto. You can review the vetoed bills here. Additionally, I had the opportunity to speak in favor of sustaining the Governor’s veto on three different bills, HB 382HB 1096 and HB 1234. All of these bills were counterproductive to the Governor’s common sense gun safety policy and the Bipartisan Gun Deal, negotiated this past session.

 

Bills Amended During the Reconvene

Regarding the measures that contained amendments, several had technical fixes that required no debate. The other remaining measures underwent robust debate, after which many of the amendments were agreed upon and others not.  

The most contentious of the amendments considered were those of HB 815. The bill as passed would provide that if the Director of the Department of Corrections certifies that lethal injection is not available as a method of execution, electrocution shall be used instead, and vice versa. I did not support this bill in part because I was concerned that it would give too broad a purview to the Department of Corrections. The Governor’s proposed amendment was to interact with drug companies to maintain confidentiality in the drugs’ manufacture rather than returning to the use of the electric chair. I also could not support this amendment as I had serious concerns about lack of transparency. Despite my opposition, the House and Senate accepted the Governor’s amendment.

 

Budget

The most important bill that we debated and discussed was HB 30, the Budget Bill. As I have mentioned in the past, this is one of the strongest budgets our Commonwealth has had in years. Thanks to increased revenues, we can make important investments in critical priorities that have gone either underfunded or unfunded in recent budgets, especially public and higher education. While I had hoped that all of the Governor’s recommendations had been adopted, I strongly believe this budget is one of the best our Commonwealth has seen in well over a decade.

 

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention a somewhat less well known budget victory this year—with regard to the ABLE Act. I was proud to introduce the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2015, creating 529-like savings accounts (known as ABLE accounts) for those with disabilities.  I was equally honored this year to introduce HB 1103, ensuring that these accounts would be free of any means testing, removing a potential barrier to many interested families. On April 1, 2016, the Governor signed this bill into law. 

I am most pleased to have successfully advocated for inclusion in the biennial budget, a $2,000 state income tax deduction for ABLE accounts. I truly believe this will establish Virginia as a positive example for many of the other states who are considering adopting their own ABLE Account legislation.

 

Sexual Assault Legislation Bill Signing

On April 14th, I was honored to stand with Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, the Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and several of my colleagues, as the Governor signed legislation enhancing protections for victims of sexual assault. This includes my bill, HB 1102, which facilitates collaboration between state agencies and campus law enforcement in developing of trauma-informed training programs to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive the support and evidence-based treatment they need. Additionally, the Governor signed HB 1160, into which my bill, HB 655 was incorporated, and for which I served as co-patron. HB 1160 codifies protocols for storing Physical Evidence Recovery Kits or PERKs, which are taken from a victim of sexual assault.

 

Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to address the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia, in Ashland, Virginia at a briefing on campus sexual assault legislation. General Counsels, Campus Police Chiefs, Deans of Student Affairs, and Title IX Coordinators from 28 member colleges attended. I spoke about legislation that I have introduced and have worked on since 2011, as well as two of my bills this year that were signed into law: HB 659, which requires any high school family life education curriculum offered by a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, and HB 1102, described above.

 

Warner Building Dedication

On Friday, April 15th, I was proud to attend the dedication of the student services building bearing the name of former Governor and current U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner at Northern Virginia Community College's campus in Annandale. This building honors my former boss, friend and mentor, United States Senator Mark Warner. During his tenure as Governor of Virginia, Mark Warner was a very strong advocate for education. Naming this building in his honor is a fitting tribute to the man who helped our Commonwealth become one of the best places in the country to raise a family, throughout his 4-year gubernatorial administration as well as his outstanding tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Governor's Restoration of Rights Announcement

On Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced that more than 200,000 Virginians who were convicted of felonies, served their time and completed any supervised release, parole or probation requirements would have their civil rights and voting rights restored. This means that these Virginians can now immediately regain the right to register to vote, to run for office, to serve on a jury and to serve as a notary public. The Governor also instructed the Secretary of the Commonwealth to prepare a similar order monthly in order to restore the rights of individuals who complete their sentences in the future. This Washington Post editorial provides a good perspective on the actions taken by Governor McAuliffe.

Northern Virginia Training Center Update

(located at 9901 Braddock Road) 

Lastly, I wanted to provide a brief update on the Northern Virginia Training Center property. My office has been actively communicating with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), which operated NVTC, the Department of General Services (DGS) which is handling the sale and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which has purchased part of the property.

Currently, DBHDS has completely vacated the property. They have no staff onsite at this time. 

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has purchased approximately 4 acres of land located at 9901 Braddock Road (where NVTC was operating).  I understand that DMV is planning on constructing a two story building. A DMV Customer Service Center (CSC) will be opening on the first floor and other administrative offices will be located on the second floor. There will also be parking for 150 customers.

April 8, 2016
The last two weeks have been filled with many events around the community as well as time to prepare for the reconvene session in Richmond on April 20th. While the warm and sunny spring weather seems to be unfortunately intermittent, we were able to enjoy gorgeous Cherry Blossoms when they were in bloom.
 
HB 1223 Press Conference
 
Last week, I was proud to join my colleagues, Delegates Vivian Watts and Mark Keam along with the Korean Coalition for Political Participation in celebrating the passage of HB 1223, introduced by Delegate Watts. This bill permits a voter to give his full name and current residence address orally or in writing to the officer of election when checking in to vote. I was proud to co-patron this bill during the session, and it is my hope that we can continue introducing bills that make voting more accessible in future sessions.

Fairfax County Budget

While we are awaiting the Governor’s response to the budget we passed in the General Assembly during the session, Fairfax County continues to discuss and debate the upcoming county budget. Public hearings were held this week at the Government Center. If you are interested in learning more about this year’s county budget, click here.

 

Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce

WJLA news anchor Leon Harris again hosted the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce's 38th Annual Valor awards. This is always a wonderful event, with tremendous support from the community including business, state, local and federal government and other community leaders all honoring our impressive first responders. Thank you to our public safety officials for your sacrifices every single day!

 

Shelter House Changing Lives Breakfast

Last week I attended the Shelter House Changing Lives Breakfast. Shelter House is a community-based, non-profit organization serving homeless families in Fairfax County, Virginia. Among their many achievements, they are the first non-profit to operate Artemis House, Fairfax County’s only 24-hour Domestic Violence Shelter. As always, at their annual breakfast, there were moving testimonies and an excellent turnout. I am proud to support this organization and I am grateful for all of their efforts in assisting members of our community who are experiencing domestic abuse and are homeless.

 

Veto Ceremonies

Women's Healthcare

I returned to Richmond, along with several of my colleagues, to participate in my first-ever veto ceremony. Governor McAuliffe vetoed HB 1090, which would have severely restricted access for women in getting the healthcare they need. I support Planned Parenthood's efforts in making healthcare more accessible for all. 

Domestic Violence

This past Thursday, I was proud to join the Governor, legislative colleagues, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg and domestic violence prevention advocates at a veto ceremony. The Governor vetoed HB 560, which would have weakened Virginia law with respect to the brandishing of a weapon, as well as HB 766 and SB 626, identical bills that would have eliminated application and safety training requirements associated with concealed handgun permits for individuals who have successfully secured a protective order against another individual. We cannot lose the progress we have made in advocating for sensible gun safety legislation.

 

The Japanese Ambassador's Residence

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Ambassador of Japan, Kenichiro Sasae, at his residence. This reception paid tribute to the expanding relationship between Virginia and Japan. I am proud that our Commonwealth continues to offer attractive locations for companies both domestic and foreign. Japan invested over $455 million in our Commonwealth between 2010-2014. It is interesting to note that seven Japanese companies are located in Fairfax County.  It was a special treat to have students from Oakton High School strings join us and perform for the Ambassador, his wife, the Governor and First Lady and many guests in attendance.

 

Remembering Senator John Miller

It was with great sadness to learn of the sudden passing of my colleague, Senator John Miller. John served in the State Senate since 2007, representing the Newport News and Williamsburg area and the Commonwealth of Virginia with distinction. He was hardworking, effective, responsive, smart, thoughtful and incredibly kind. I truly enjoyed serving with John and consider him to be both a friend and mentor. My thoughts and prayers are with John's wife, Sharron and their children and grandchildren during this difficult time.

 

Lake Braddock Art Show

On Friday, I was pleased to attend the Lake Braddock Secondary School Pyramid’s Annual Art Show. I had the opportunity to see incredible works of art from many talented students.  As Chair of the Virginia General Assembly Arts Caucus, I know the important role the arts play in the development of our youth. If you visited me in Richmond during session, you may recall my pride in displaying artwork from White Oaks Elementary School on the walls outside my office. I hope to continue this tradition in the future with other schools in my district. 

 

41st District Communities

Last weekend, I enjoyed attending the Mantua Citizens Association Spring Social. It was a great opportunity for me to connect with many wonderful constituents. If your community has an event you would like me to attend, please let me know.

 

March 28, 2016

 

Since returning from Richmond after the General Assembly Session adjourned Sine Die on March 11th, I am enjoying meeting with many constituents, homeowners' associations and local organizations dedicated to great causes, 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 2016 session.
 
 
Final Budget
 
As I mentioned in last week’s enews, we passed the biennial budget, funding the Commonwealth of Virginia from FY 2016-2018 on the final day of session. This is one of the strongest budgets our Commonwealth has had in years. Thanks to increased revenues, we can make important investments in critical priorities that had gone either underfunded or unfunded in recent budgets, especially public and higher 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. However, I was gratified to vote for a budget that invests heavily in Virginia’s future in many ways. 
 
Here is a sample of what is included in the 2016-2018 budget:
 
Education
 
  • An increase of $892.3 million in direct aid to public schools across the Commonwealth
  • $34.4 million to restore Cost of Competing Adjustment for support positions in Northern Virginia schools (funding is divided between fiscal years, as opposed to being concentrated in the second year)
  • Over $80 million in additional funding for Fairfax County Public Schools
  • 2% pay increase for all teachers and staff
  • $48.2 million increase in undergraduate financial aid and a $7.5 million increase in graduate financial aid
  • 3% pay raise for higher education faculty
Jobs/Economic Development
 
  • $35 million to fund GO Virginia, a regional grant program that creates a framework to promote “research, development and commercialization.” One beneficiary of this program would be the Inova Center for Personalized Health, the newest campus of Northern Virginia’s largest hospital system.
  • $6 million in additional funds for the Housing Trust Fund each year
  • New language in the budget also prioritizes efforts to reduce the number of homeless youth and families
Health and Human Resources
  • Adding 855 new Intellectual Disability (ID) and Development Disability (DD) waiver slots
  • Adding 180 new ID waiver slots for individuals transitioning from state ID training centers to the community
  • Adding 625 new ID waiver slots for individuals residing in the community on the waiting list
  • Funding to conduct fingerprint background checks for child care providers receiving federal grants. Having introduced legislation with this objective over the past several years, including HB 500 this year, I am pleased that this important mandate is being funded.
Public Safety
  • $0.9 million each year and funding for six scientist positions to meet the expected increase in requests for Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) in cases of sexual assault, along with an expected doubling in the related workload
  • $100,000 and funding for one position each year for additional administrative support of background checks for the purchase or transfer of firearms at gun shows
Transportation
  • $50 million in new investment to support Dulles International Airport
  • $140 million for widening I-66 eastbound inside the Beltway between the Dulles Connector and Ballston

Bill Signings

The Governor has until April 10th to review all legislation passed during this year's General Assembly Session. Each bill can be signed, amended or vetoed. 
 
It gives me great pleasure to report that the Governor has signed into law several initiatives I introduced or worked on this year, including HB 475, and HB 1391. Additionally, several other measures that I introduced or worked on are awaiting the Governor’s signature, including HB 659HB 1102HB 1103 and HB 1160. If signed, all of these measures will go into effect on July 1st. 
 
Supreme Court Update
 
Last July, I was incredibly proud to stand with the Governor at the announcement that Judge Jane Roush would be appointed to the State Supreme Court. This was an interim appointment by the Governor. As the General Assembly was not in session, she did not require confirmation by the House and Senate. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Judge Roush had a remarkable career and earned a stellar reputation as a Fairfax Circuit Court Judge. This was an extremely well-deserved appointment and one which had bipartisan support from the General Assembly, as well as enthusiastic support from bar associations, public safety professionals and many others.
 
As you may recall, the House and Senate reconvened in August 2015. At that time, some members the legislature decided to nominate another candidate instead. I rose on the House Floor that day to speak in favor of Justice Roush, as a well qualified and competent jurist. When the session convened this year, I was pleased that in addition to the other nominated candidate, the House Courts of Justice Committee interviewed and certified Justice Roush. However, we soon realized that there were insufficient votes to elect her to a full 12-year term. Many Republicans voted no, an action which is not normally undertaken out of respect for judicial nominees. 
 
In addition to Judge Alston, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was suggested by some Republican members as a potential judicial candidate. While neither Roush nor Alston received sufficient support, the House and Senate eventually confirmed Judge Steven McCullough. I joined 33 of my colleagues in not voting on this confirmation, as I strongly believe this process was flawed in many respects and resulted in the loss of a qualified, impartial sitting Justice.
 
Justice Roush was an immensely qualified sitting Supreme Court Justice who was originally appointed with bipartisan support and impeccable credentials. Unfortunately, Justice Roush became the first Justice to be removed from the Virginia Supreme Court since 1900. It is important that judges be confirmed based solely on their merit, not because of partisanship. The process marked a sad day in Virginia’s history, as I believe it will seriously affect our ability to recruit the most qualified judicial applicants well into the future.
 
Returning to Richmond
 
The General Assembly will next gather on April 20th for the reconvene session where we will consider and deliberate on any action the Governor has taken on measures passed during the General Assembly.

 

March 14, 2016

Friday was Sine Die Day (Latin for "without day"), signifying the final day of the 2016 General Assembly Legislative Session.  The every-other-year 60-day session always passes quickly, and this year was no different – we even finished a day early! This session was very successful on many levels as we passed significant legislation to improve the everyday lives of Virginians. I was proud to be a part of many of the “big” issues this year and enjoyed working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make a significant impact.

 

Final Update on Passage of the Rest of My Legislation This Past Week

HB 1102

On Monday, HB 1102, was back in the House for a vote on the bill as amended. The bill requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services, in consultation with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, to develop multidisciplinary curricula on trauma-informed sexual assault investigation. I am pleased to report that the House unanimously approved HB 1102 and is now headed to the Governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.

 

HJR 336

On the last day of session, the Senate Rules Committee met and unanimously reported out my resolution, HJR 336, which designates 2016 as the Year of Shakespeare in Virginia.  As Arts Caucus Chair, I was pleased to introduce this resolution, commemorating the prolific playwright this year, on the 400th anniversary of his death. Following the committee meeting, the resolution passed the Senate by voice vote. As the Bard, himself, would say: all’s well that ends well!

 

Press Conference and Floor Speech on My Legislation Combating Sexual Assault

On Friday morning, I was honored to be joined at a press conference featuring a number of widely recognized supporters of my recently passed bills, HB 659 and HB 1102, both of which seek to curb sexual assault in Virginia. In attendance were Gil Harrington, mother of Morgan Harrington and founder of Help Save The Next Girl; Annie Clark, Andrea Pino, film subjects of The Hunting Ground, the widely recognized documentary on campus sexual assault and co-founders of End Rape on Campus; Colleen Daly, from End Rape on Campus; Kristi VanAudenhove and Kristine Hall from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance; Aviva Kurash with the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and Caren Sempel, attorney and victim's advocate. This press conference focused around two of my recently passed bills, HB 659 and HB 1102, both of which seek to curb sexual assault in Virginia.

I was extremely pleased with the wide coverage across the Commonwealth that this issue received, from the Richmond Times-DispatchCharlottesville's Daily Progress and Roanoke Times in print, to TV Stations in Northern Virginia, RichmondCharlottesville and Roanoke.

Following the press conference, I rose on the House Floor to introduce these advocates and stakeholders. Following their warm House welcome, I spoke on the Floor about important legislation combating sexual assault, including my own bills that have passed the General Assembly. You can view the speech here.

 

The Budget

Friday night, immediately prior to our adjournment, we approved the conference report on the budget bills both for the “caboose” budget for Fiscal Year 2016, as well as the full biennial budget for over the next two years.

We built on substantial success over the past several years and took decisive steps forward on K-12 and higher education, workforce development, public safety and transportation with the shared confidence that we are moving Virginia forward.

Our most notable achievement is the more than $1 billion in additional support for education at all levels. With the recession and the economic stagnation following it, state funding for our public schools deteriorated. This forced our communities to adopt various austerity measures including reducing staff. However, as Governor McAuliffe stated, "With this budget, we send a clear message that state leaders are ready to shoulder our fair share of responsibility for providing Virginia students with a world-class education."

I look forward to providing more detail on the final biennial budget in the next enews.


Cannabidiol Oil Legislation Headed to the Governor’s Desk

Last year, I was pleased to work with Senator Marsden and Delegate Albo on legislation decriminalizing the use of cannabidiol oil as treatment for those with intractable epilepsy. This year, I was proud to co-patron SB 701 introduced by Senator Marsden. This bill authorizes a pharmaceutical processor, after obtaining a permit from the Board of Pharmacy and under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, to manufacture and provide cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil. Passage of this bill is so crucial for the families of people with intractable epilepsy. These families who are advocating for their children and so many more throughout the Commonwealth are the true heroes. It has been my honor and privilege to work with them with the goal of passing bills to improve the lives of so many. Check out this article.

 

Our Innovative Schools

On Thursday, I rose on the House Floor to express the legislature's deep appreciation of our school systems and dedicated educators throughout the Commonwealth. In our education debates, too often focus on areas that don't appear to be working well. By doing so, we can lose sight of the many incredible and innovative programs our schools are implementing in order to improve outcomes for our children each and every day by creating partnerships with the public and private sectors. I was pleased to highlight several of these partnerships in which Fairfax County Public Schools take part. You can view the speech here.

 

Arts Caucus

On Wednesday, as Chair of the House Arts Caucus, I was pleased to host our final meeting of this legislative session. Twenty Senators and Delegates representing a wide range of geographic regions and from both political parties attended the meeting to learn more about the Arts in Education. We were honored to have Secretary of Education Anne Holton address us all. Virginia Commission for the Arts, led by my friend and former colleague, Executive Director Margi Vanderhye, shared with us the impressive work that the Commission is undertaking as well as providing us with a “big-picture" view of Arts in Education throughout the Commonwealth. Following that we had a presentation from the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts on their programs, which integrate the Arts and STEM into early childhood learning in 15 school districts including Fairfax County. I look forward to continuing to work with all of these organizations to promote the Arts in the Commonwealth.

 

Sine Die

We adjourned Sine Die Friday night just after 9:00 p.m.. I quickly packed up and drove home, arriving in my driveway at 11:00 p.m. We will return to Richmond on April 20, for the "Reconvened Session," or "Veto Session" where we will review any action by the Governor on legislation passed this year. I am pleased to be back home in the 41st District. I look forward to having many opportunities to report on all that we accomplished this year during the 2016 General Assembly Session. 

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.

 

March 5, 2016

As this year’s General Assembly Session begins to wind down here in Richmond, the budget remains the top issue left to be resolved. We have one more week until Sine Die and the end of our 60-day legislative session. This week, the General Assembly was required to complete all bills that have an impact on revenue, while the budget bills from the House of Delegates and Senate were sent to conference to begin discussing the differences and work toward a compromise for funding the Commonwealth through 2018.

Update on My Legislation

HB 659

On Monday, the Senate passed HB 659. This bill amends the Family Life Education section of state code to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective, and evidence-based, programs on the prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence. This is an important step in preventing such incidents as campus sexual assault and domestic violence. I am pleased that this bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

 

HB 1102

On Wednesday my bill, HB 1102, requiring the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to establish curriculum and training on Trauma-informed Sexual Assault Investigations by law enforcement and related investigatory personnel, passed out of the full Senate Finance Committee unanimously with an amendment. Yesterday it passed the Senate unanimously! It now heads back to the House where it will be again voted on as amended.

 

HB 1103

HB 1103 ensures that those individuals who are eligible for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts can take full advantage of this valuable resource without means testing. This bill passed the Senate earlier today and now awaits the Governor's signature!

 

HB 474/SJ 63

SJ 63, on which I serve as a co-patron and is companion legislation to my bill HB 474, passed out of Rules unanimously this week and passed the House! It now returns to the Senate for a vote on the bill as amended.

 

HJ 336

As Arts Caucus Chair, I was pleased to introduce HJ 336, which designates 2016 as the Year of Shakespeare in Virginia. It is fitting that we commemorate the Bard from Stratford-upon-Avon this year, as it is the 400th anniversary of his death. HJ 336 passed the House on Wednesday and will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee next week.

 

Some of the Legislation I Co-Patroned

In addition to the bills I introduced, mentioned in the section above, I want to also highlight the legislation I have co-patroned this session. Here are some of those bills:

Advocating for Members of Our Military and Veterans

HB 1203 lists the provisions of the real property tax exemption for the residence of a disabled veteran, or the spouse of a deceased service member killed in the line of duty. These property tax exemptions provide relief for those families affected by disability or death resulting from military service. This bill also provides that manufactured or mobile homes will be eligible for the real property tax exemption, regardless of the current mobility of the homes. Furthermore, the exemption will also apply to residence, regardless of whether the veteran or spouse owns the land on which the residence is situated. This bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk.

Under HB 825, the Department of Veterans Services and the Department of Health Professions will collaborate to establish a program allowing military medical personnel to practice medicine under the guidance of a licensed physician or podiatrist. The Department of Veterans Services will also establish requirements for participants. The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

 

Protecting Our Seniors

HB 248 requires the Department of Social Services or Adult Protective Services hotline to immediately refer to local law-enforcement any report of adult financial exploitation exceeding $50,000. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

HB 676 directs the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), the Department for Planning and Budget, the DARS’ Adult Protective Services Unit, the local department of social services' adult protective services units, law-enforcement agencies, financial institutions in the Commonwealth, and organizations representing elderly individuals and adults with disabilities to collaborate in examining financial exploitation of Virginia adults. Together, these organizations will recommend improvements in the identification of instances of financial exploitation of adults, as well as report of suspected exploitation to local Adult Protective Services. These recommendations will be reported to the Governor and the General Assembly for consideration. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

 

Conference Committees

This week I was pleased to be named as a conferee for the House on the following bills, HB 148 and SB 445. Both bills have to do with the date by which a county, city, or town is required to fix the real property tax rate for taxes due on June 30th. I look forward to discussing an appropriate compromise with my fellow conferees.

 

White Oaks Elementary School Student Artists Visit Richmond

As you may recall, an earlier enews mentioned that if you are visiting Richmond this session, you may notice the wonderful artwork leading to my office. These were produced by the talented student artists from White Oaks Elementary School. This past Sunday, I hosted these student artists and their families, as well as White Oaks Elementary School Principal Ryan Richardson and their art teacher, Susan Mosios, for a reception and tour of the Capitol.

The second to sixth grade students used a variety of mediums in their artwork. They submitted pictures of birds, cityscapes, the solar system, gourds and abstract landscapes. I hope to continue this tradition of showcasing a different school in the 41st District during each coming year's Legislative Session in Richmond to contribute artwork for future display outside of my Richmond office.

 

February 28, 2016

Following crossover day last week, we have begun to moderate our legislative pace here in Richmond, but we are still moving quickly toward Sine Die (Latin for without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing) in 2 weeks.  The primary focus during the remaining days of this year's General Assembly Session will be passing our biennial budget to fund the state government through the period 2016-2018.
The Budget
On Thursday, we spent 6 hours debating the budget proposal for the 2016-2018 budget years in the Commonwealth.  Following an extensive and comprehensive debate, the House budget was passed by a vote of 98-2. The House budget proposal included a number of important initiatives, many of which I have detailed below:
Health Care
The House budget proposal included 1,005 additional slots for ID/DD waivers and 100 reserve slots. This is desperately needed for families that have individuals with disabilities, as the waivers help pay for living and medical expenses. Many Virginians are currently on a long waiting list for these waivers. Passage of this budget will allow more people to take advantage of this crucial program. Additionally, the House budget increases funding for many other community behavioral health services.
Pre-K-12 Education
Regarding State per Pupil Direct Aid, the House Budget provides $5,299 in Fiscal Year 2017 and $5,500 in Fiscal Year 2018. This is a slight increase from the Governor’s budget. Additionally, both the House and Governor's budgets restored the Cost of Competing (COCA) for Northern Virginia school divisions in addressing support staff in Fiscal Year 2018. Lastly, all budgets provide salary increases for teachers in the coming fiscal years. This is all great news for Fairfax County Public Schools!
Higher Education
The House budget provides impressive funding for Higher Education in the Commonwealth this biennium. In addition to $123.4 million in funding for access and affordability for in-state undergraduate students, the budget increases undergraduate financial aid by $52.7 million. Also, the budget establishes an online degree completion program for both George Mason University and Old Dominion University.
Social Services
State employees will be pleased to see that the budget funds an accelerated phase in of employer retirement contributions for state employee plans at 100% Board-approved rates. The budget also spends $189.5 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to fully repay deferred Virginia Retirement System contributions from Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012.
Economic Development
The budget creates "GO Virginia," which will encourage regional collaboration between business, education and government organizations. It adds an additional $40 million in funding for the Virginia Research, Development and Commercialization Fund. The budget also increases funding for the Governor’s Motion Picture Opportunity Fund.
On a final note, despite this being one of the strongest budgets that the House has proposed in years, I was disappointed that Medicaid Expansion was cut from the budget once again. I am concerned that this removes $3 billion that Virginia could have accessed in federal funds. 400,000 Virginians are deprived of basic health care coverage that would be made available if Virginia would join the other 32 states to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
Bipartisan Guns Deal
This week I was most gratified that the historic, bipartisan deal that that will help to keep guns away from domestic abusers and improve background checks at gun shows, was signed by the Governor on Friday. I was especially pleased that he signed HB 1391, on which I am the chief co-patron. As I have mentioned in the past, HB 1391 will potentially be lifesaving for some Virginians who are living in a domestic violence situation. Currently, Virginia law states that while an individual under a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, it does not require potential abusers to relinquish guns already in their possession, a loophole that many, including myself, have long tried to close. I congratulate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the Governor and his team, for achieving this meaningful compromise allowing us to keep Virginians safer. I am pleased that these bills will become effective on July 1st of this year.
 
Update on My Legislation
HB 475
I am especially pleased that HB 475—creating a return-to-learn protocol for pediatric cancer survivors, passed the Senate earlier this week. The legislation is now headed to the Governor’s desk!
HB 659
This bill, which amends the Family Life Education section of state code to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, passed unanimously out of the full Senate Committee on Education and Health on Thursday, with a likely final vote in the Senate on Monday.
HB 1102
This bill requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to establish curriculum and training on Trauma-informed Sexual Assault Investigations by law enforcement and related investigatory personnel. Earlier this week I presented the bill in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee which reported and referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Finance. It will be heard before the Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Safety on Tuesday morning.
HB 1103
This bill ensures that those individuals who are eligible for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts can take full advantage of this valuable resource without means testing. I will present this bill in the full Senate Education and Health Committee next week.
HB 474/SJ 63
Two weeks ago my bill, HB 474, which would require the Department of Social Services to study licensed care and the 14 categories of license-exempt care and make recommendations to promote children’s safety where appropriate, was tabled. However, I am pleased that its Senate companion, SJ 63, on which I serve as a co-patron, passed out of the House Rules Committee’s Subcommittee on Studies unanimously on Thursday! It should be discussed by the full Rules Committee next week
The Capitol Square Basketball Classic
One of my favorite traditions during session is the Capitol Square Basketball Classic, a charity basketball game that pits the House against the Senate, and the Governor’s office against the Lobbyists. The games benefit VCU’s Massey Cancer Center. It is certainly entertaining to watch my colleagues, as well as members of the Senate, Cabinet Secretaries and lobbyists take the court. In addition, many of the teams have some "help", either in the form of family or “interns". Some of this year’s guest players include NBA player Ben Wallace, NBA player Chris Copeland, NBA player Johnny Newman and NASCAR driver Elliot Sadler. Though the game came down to the wire in the final minutes, the House pulled off a victory. Of course, the biggest winner was the Massey Cancer Center, with this event raising nearly $40,000 for the center.
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 President Angel Cabrera of George Mason University as well as representatives from the GMU Student Government Association, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, 4H, the American Cancer Society, and the Virginia Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians, among many other groups.
Voting in the Presidential Primary
This Tuesday, March 1, the 2016 Presidential Primary in Virginia will be held, You can find your polling place, here. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Remember, please bring a photo ID when you vote! Click here to see the list of accepted forms of photo ID.

 

February 19, 2016

As we end week six here in Richmond today, we have now moved past Crossover Day. On Monday, we spent over 8 hours on the House floor debating over a hundred pieces of legislation to ensure everything was acted on in time for the Crossover deadline the following day. Generally, this requires long days in considering bills that can significantly affect the Commonwealth, but Crossover itself was surprisingly brief on Tuesday. Regardless, I am again reminded of how much I value the opportunity to represent my community in the House of Delegates.

Update on Some of My Legislation (rest to be highlighted next week)

Palliative Care

The first bill I introduced this session was
HB 473, which would direct the Board of Health to require that every state-licensed hospital, nursing home, and certified nursing facility establish a system for identifying those end-stage and long-term chronically ill patients and residents who may benefit from palliative care, helping them access treatment that is dignified, humane and appropriate. Palliative Care is one of life's most difficult conversations for terminal patients. My bill sought to make that conversation easier. I am pleased to have started a discussion on this important topic. This bill will be sent to the Joint Commission on Healthcare to be studied after session. I look forward to hearing the results later this year.

Open Educational Resources Grant

I introduced HB 662, which would allow the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) to provide grants to encourage low-cost or no-cost open educational resources. This would give college and university students the opportunity to spend less for required textbook materials. I am pleased to report that the Joint Subcommittee on the Future Competitiveness of Virginia Higher Education will study this bill after session. Included on this subcommittee is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the House Majority Leader and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders.

Research & Development Tax Credit

Supporting innovation and building our New Virginia Economy has always been a key priority of mine. That is why I introduced HB 1100, which would modify the existing research and development expenses tax credit and create a similar tax credit for businesses with related expenses in excess of $5 million for the taxable year. The bill would also change the existing tax credit by extending the expiration date from January 1, 2019, to January 1, 2026; establish an alternative computation for the tax credit beginning with taxable year 2016; and increase from $6 million to $7 million the maximum amount of tax credits that may be granted. I was pleased to work with the business community on this bill. While unfortunately HB 1100 was tabled, I am pleased to serve as a co-patron on the Senate companion bill, SB 58, which passed the Senate unanimously. I look forward to advocating for the bill in the Finance Committee and on the Floor.

Gun Safes

No matter the issue, I believe in trying to bring people together to try and resolve intractable problems. When I introduced HB 1210, which would exempt from Virginia sales tax the purchase of a dial locking or biometric gun safe that costs $1000 or less, my goal was to encourage and incentivize safe storage of firearms. Far too often we hear of tragic stories of children getting their hands on a firearm and hurting themselves or others unintentionally. It was my hope that this bill would reduce such tragedies. I was pleased with the wide bipartisan support that this bill received from my colleagues and gun safety advocates and the NRA and VCDL. Unfortunately, it was continued until the 2017 session, and will no longer be considered this year. I look forward to advocating for it in the future.

Other Recent Developments in the General Assembly

Feeding the Hungry

I was pleased to continue advocating for feeding Virginia’s hungry. Last year, I patroned a bill (now a law) that added the Federation of Virginia Food Banks to the list of organizations and funds that may receive contributions of taxpayer refunds. This year, working closely with our First Lady, I joined as a co-patron on HB 1093, which establishes an individual and corporate income tax credit beginning in 2016 for food crops that are grown by a person engaged in the business of farming and donated by such person to a nonprofit food bank. This is a great opportunity for less fortunate Virginians to have access to fresh produce. HB 1093 passed the House 95-1 and is currently being heard in the Senate.

Fighting Against Discrimination

I was extremely disappointed that HB 773, the ironically named “Government Non-Discrimination Act” passed our chamber earlier this week. This bill prevents the state government from protecting many groups of Virginians from discrimination. I will continue to support bills that would protect LGBT individuals and families from discrimination and harassment under Virginia law and oppose bills that move Virginia backwards. I have absolutely no tolerance for any discriminatory legislation.

Protecting Our Environment

I was also disappointed that HB 2, which requires the Department of Environmental Quality to receive approval from the General Assembly for a state implementation plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants prior to submitting the plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval, passed the house. Throughout my time in the Virginia House of Delegates, I have been a proponent and supporter of legislation focused on keeping Virginia’s environment and bodies of water safe and uncontaminated. This bill is a needless oversight of the President’s Clean Power Plan. It is a waste of the GeneralAssembly’s time and of the taxpayer’s money. As a member of the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission, and always working to protect our environment, I opposed this bill.

Joint Meeting of the Arts and Military & Veterans Caucuses

It was wonderful to begin the first day after crossover with a joint meeting of the Arts Caucus, which I chair, and the Military and Veterans Caucus, of which I am a member. Virginia Council for the Arts Executive Director and former Delegate Margi Vanderhye updated us on continued efforts to develop a strong partnership between our Virginia arts and military organizations. This is the second year we have convened a joint meeting of the caucuses and I hope that we will continue them in future sessions.

Fear 2 Freedom

Along with the Speaker, Majority and Minority Leaders of both the House and the Senate, President of CNU, Paul Trible and co-founder of Fear 2 Freedom, Rosemary Trible, I was proud to attend my second Fear 2 Freedom event in the Capitol this week. I was honored to join so many of my colleagues in assembling “Fear 2 Freedom” (F2F) after-care kits, an essential element of healing provided to those affected by sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. The F2F kits that were assembled at the Capitol will be distributed through the James House and Henrico Country Victim Witness Services. I hope to attend more of these events in the future.

February 13, 2016

As we draw closer to crossover (when bills passed in the House go to the Senate and vice versa), this year's General Assembly Session becomes busier and busier. Every day this week, I had at least one bill up for consideration in committee or subcommittee, and as many as four in one dayOn Wednesday, I was in a subcommittee hearing until 9:30 p.m., and then began the next morning with a 7:00 a.m. hearing! However, when serving in a legislative body that has one of the briefest sessions in the country, you have to get used to late nights and early mornings.


Bipartisan Guns Deal

This week I was pleased that several parts of the bipartisan guns deal, including HB 1391, on which I am the chief co-patron, passed the house. When it becomes law, HB 1391 will potentially be lifesaving for some Virginians who are living in a domestic violence situation. Currently, Virginia law states that while an individual under a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, it does not require those individuals to relinquish guns in their possession, a loophole that many, including myself, have long tried to close. I addressed this issue again this week in an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which you can read here.

Legislation Update

Helping Child Cancer Survivors Return to School

 

I am pleased that my bill, HB 475, passed the House unanimously! This bill directs the Department of Education to review certain federal regulations and suggest revisions to its guidance documents relating to students who have been treated for pediatric cancer. Despite significant medical advances, many young survivors require substantial follow-up care for the rest of their lives because of the risk of cognitive, emotional or physical complications that can occur many years after they complete their treatment. Such complications can considerably delay a child’s return to school and a normal life. The bill will soon be heard in the Senate Education and Health Committee. You can read an article about it here.

 

Storage of Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs)

 

My bill, HB 655, required evidence to be retained by law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime of sexual assault was committed and that Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) be retained for a minimum of five years. Additionally, the bill provided that if a victim elects at the time of examination not to report the assault to law enforcement, the responsible law-enforcement agency shall send the kit to the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services of the Department of General Services, which shall retain the kit for a minimum of five years from the date of receipt or a minimum of five years after the victim reaches the age of 18, whichever is longer. This week my bill was incorporated into another PERKs bill, HB 1160, on which I serve as a co-patron. HB 1160 will likely be headed to a vote on Tuesday.

 

Child Care Safety Legislation

 

As I mentioned in a previous enews, current federal law requires fingerprint checks for all licensed, regulated, and registered providers, which will soon make Virginia’s current law out of compliance with federal law. My bill HB 500 ensures that Virginia remains in compliance with federal law beyond 2017. This bill was continued last week into the 2017 session.

 

Additionally, some child care facilities that are license exempt have no minimum training requirements, and do not undergo regular inspection by an outside entity to ensure that children are safe. My bill, HB 474, would require DSS to study reviewing licensed care and the 14 categories of license-exempt care and make recommendations to promote children’s safety where appropriate. While unfortunately the bill was laid on the table on Thursday, the Rules Committee still directed the Department of Social Services to to perform a review of the bill. I look forward to studying the results.

 

I was also appreciative that parents, grandparents and advocates from Child Care Aware of Virginia came to Richmond last week and again this past Thursday in support of my bills. I had the pleasure of introducing the group from the gallery and thanking them for sharing their heart-wrenching stories of personal loss. Following their visit I was also interviewed about my work on child care safety, which you can watch here.


Trauma-Informed Training for Sexual Assault Investigation

On Wednesday night, I presented my bill, HB 1102, which would require the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish a curriculum and training on Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigations for law enforcement and related investigatory personnel. The training would be multi-disciplinary to include law enforcement, Title IX coordinators and investigators, campus law enforcement, local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates and forensic nurses. This continues my long time efforts on campus sexual assault legislation. With DCJS training law enforcement and others on victim centered policies, we may be able to encourage more victims to come forward sooner and ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes see justice. I was pleased that this bill passed unanimously out of subcommittee Wednesday and full committee on Friday. It will come to a vote on the Floor on Tuesday.

Bipartisan compromise on I-66  

On Wednesday, I attended a bipartisan press conference where Governor McAuliffe announced bipartisan support for a plan for I-66, which would include widening I-66 inside the Beltway in concurrence with tolling single drivers during rush hour and expanding the multimodal capacity of buses and carpools when the project commences. Two passenger vehicles will continue to be exempt from the tolls but by 2020 only three person vehicles will be exempt from the tolls. The widening of I-66 would apply to a four mile stretch between the Beltway and Ballston and the additional lane would not expand the existing footprint of the road.

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 across the Commonwealth taking the time and effort to stop by my office. This week visitors included Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth, Falls Church School Board Member Lawrence Webb, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and many Fairfax County Deputy Sheriffs, representatives from the Virginia Housing Alliance, the Virginia School Boards Association, Radford University, George Mason University, the VEA, and many more.

 

Office Hours


Being available and accessible to my constituents has always been a priority of mine. This month, I will be holding office hours today, Saturday, February 13th from 4:00-5:30 at Panera Bread, 6230 Rolling Road, Springfield, VA 22152. I hope to see you there.

 

February 5, 2016

This past weekend, I joined my colleagues in Williamsburg for the 26th Commemorative Session.  Members of both houses of the General Assembly gathered in the restored Colonial Capitol. A highlight of each commemorative session is an address on a current issue facing Virginia, the United States or the world. Past commemorative speakers have included President Gerald R. Ford, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, U.S. Sen. John Warner and Colonial Williamsburg founding benefactor John D. Rockefeller Jr. This year, we were addressed by the President of the College of William & Mary, Taylor Reveley. He was most impressive. It's a special honor to be a part of the oldest continuous legislature in the "New World".

 

Legislative Update

 

Helping Child Cancer Survivors Return to School

 

I am pleased that my bill, HB 475, which creates a return to learn protocol for pediatric cancer survivors, advanced to its third reading today, with a final vote scheduled for Monday. This bill directs the Department of Education to review certain federal regulations and suggest revisions to its guidance documents relating to students who have been treated for pediatric cancer. Despite significant medical advances, many young survivors require substantial follow-up care for the rest of their lives because of the risk of complications that can occur many years after they complete their treatment. Cognitive, emotional or physical complications can impede a child’s return to school and a normal life. With passage of this bill, it is my hope that we can give parents the tools to assist their children transition back to the classroom.

 

Improving on the ABLE Act

 

In the 2015 General Assembly Session, I was proud to patron the landmark ABLE Act, which creates 529 ABLE accounts for individuals with disabilities. With ABLE accounts soon becoming available, I wanted to ensure that no potential roadblocks remain for those families hoping to take advantage of these accounts.  I was pleased to work with Virginia 529 to propose HB 1103, which ensures that state organizations are exempt from means testing as federal organizations currently are subject to. This bill ensures that those individuals the ABLE Act is intended to help can take full advantage of this valuable resource. I was pleased that the bill was passed unanimously by the subcommittee.

 

Safe Relationships Curriculum in High Schools

 

This past week, I was pleased that my bipartisan bill HB 659 passed out of subcommittee unanimously. This bill amends the Family Life Education section of state code to incorpoate  age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. The full Education committee will hear the bill next week. Additionally, you can click here and view the news story about this bill.

 

The Governor’s Bipartisan Deal on Gun Safety

 

I was proud to stand with Governor McAuliffe, Lt. Governor Northam, Speaker Howell and many members of the General Assembly last Friday as the Governor announced an historic bipartisan agreement on gun safety in Virginia.  I congratulate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the Governor and his team, for achieving a meaningful compromise allowing us to keep Virginians safer. 

 

On Tuesday, I rose on the House floor to address the part of this agreement pertaining to the possession of a firearm by those subject to a permanent protective order. This is such an important step. When this bill, HB 1391, on which I am the Chief Co-Patron, becomes law, it will potentially be lifesaving for some Virginians who are living in a domestic violence situation. Currently, Virginia law states that while an individual under a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, it does not require those individuals to relinquish guns in their possession, a loophole many of us, including myself, have long tried to address. Passage of this bill will address that loophole and provide some measure of safety and relief to victims of domestic abuse. You can view my Floor remarks here.

 

February 1, 2016

I hope that all of you have managed to recover from the aftermath of winter storm Jonas. Thank you for sharing your concerns with me about snow removal. In every case, my office has relayed your concerns as quickly as possible to VDOT. I appreciate your patience during this unprecedented snow storm. I was fortunate to be able return to Richmond last Monday morning for the General Assembly Session. Despite the icy and snowy Richmond streets, the House of Delegates remained in session.

Legislative Update

HB 474 and 500

While neither of my child care bills have been heard yet in committee, I appreciated the coverage they received this past week in the Richmond Times Dispatch. Last year the Virginia General Assembly passed an omnibus bill (including aspects of my 2015 child care legislation) which requires a fingerprint check for licensed providers as well as those who are unlicensed who care for children receiving a child care subsidy (effective in 2017). Currently, federal law requires fingerprint checks for all licensed, regulated, and registered providers, which means that our current law will soon be out of compliance with federal law. My bill HB 500 ensures that Virginia remains in compliance with federal law beyond 2017.

Additionally, some child care facilities that are license exempt have no minimum training requirements, and no occasional inspection by an outside entity to ensure that children are safe. My bill, HB 474, requires a review of all 14 categories of license-exempt care and make recommendations to promote children’s safety if appropriate.

You can read the op-ed by clicking here.

Other Bills

I have four bills and four budget amendments scheduled to be heard over the next two days (HB 475HB 662HB 1103HB 659). I will provide more information on the status of bills I have submitted in the next enews.

The Governor's Bipartisan Gun Legislation Press Conference

This past Friday, I joined Governor McAuliffe at a press conference where he announced a historic, bipartisan deal that that will help to keep guns away from domestic abusers and improve background checks at gun shows. As the related bills are being finalized, I will speak more in detail about this deal in the next enews.

Standing Up for Justice Jane Marum Roush

On Thursday, I rose on the floor of the House, speaking in support of Virginia Supreme Court Justice, Jane Marum Roush. Last July, I was incredibly proud to stand with the Governor and other colleagues at the announcement that Judge Roush would be appointed to the State Supreme Court.  Not only was it very rewarding for me to be there, but also for me as an attorney who formerly clerked for a judge.

Currently, we have an immensely qualified sitting Supreme Court Justice who was originally appointed with bipartisan support and impeccable credentials, and who is awaiting GeneralAssembly approval to continue serving.  Alternatively, Justice Roush could be the first Justice to be removed from the Virginia Supreme Court since 1900. My hope is that we will find a way to keep Justice Roush on the Court and continue her service of distinction and honor to the commonwealth as she has done for so many years. You can read coverage of my speech by clicking here.

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 and all around the Commonwealth taking the time to stop by my office including representatives from the ARC, PTA, Virginia Education Association, Virginia Auto Dealers Association, NAMI, Fairfax County Retired Educators, Fairfax Education Association—Retired, supporters of Virginia Arts Advocacy and the Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association (VDHA) and many more.

January 22, 2016

Today would mark the end of the first full week of session, but today is a very rare snow day. Only one other time in the past 48 years has the General Assembly failed to meet due to inclement weather. So, I write this edition of my enews to you from the 41st District, instead of Richmond.

My colleagues and I will be updated about the effects of Winter Storm Jonas by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management throughout the weekend. I will keep you informed. Additionally, please check out the list of useful phone numbers and websites on my website while we all weather this storm. Please stay safe and warm, and if you can, check in with any neighbors who might need help.

Legislative Updates

As I mentioned last week, among my legislative priorities are education, public safety, health care, child-care safety, and creating the new Virginia economy. Through Thursday, I continued to file bills to complete my legislative agenda—a total of 17 bills to move Virginia forward. While I mentioned many of the bills I introduced last week, here are additional bills I filed for the 2016 General Assembly Session:

HB 505

Would direct the Department of Medical Assistance Services to allow a parent to be reimbursed for providing consumer-directed caregiving services to his or her adult child with disabilities living under the same roof.

HB 658

Would prohibit anyone bound by protective orders from possessing a firearm.

HB 1092

Amends the responsibilities of the Charitable Gaming Board to regulate charitable gaming in the Commonwealth and creates a Charitable Gaming Fund to be used for the administration and enforcement of charitable gaming laws.

HB 1210

Would exempt the purchase of biometric and dial-locking gun safes under $1,000 from state sales tax, encouraging safe storage of firearms.

HB 1342

Limits exemptions to mandated school-immunization policies to medical exemptions.

You can see the full list of the bills I have introduced, here.

Martin Luther King Day at the General Assembly

While many federal, state, and local government offices were closed on Martin Luther King Day, the General Assembly remained in session. In fact, this 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. That afternoon, I joined Governor McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor Northam, Attorney General Herring, Secretary Brian Moran and hundreds of family members of victims and volunteers and organizations all seeking to end gun violence on the Capitol grounds to show support for common sense gun safety legislation.

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 taking the time to stop by my office. I met with Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and John Jones, Executive Director of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association, President Angel Cabrera of George Mason University, as well as representatives from the Independent Auto Dealers Association, AARP, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, VAYD, Virginia Interfaith Center, ACCA and Health Care Safety Net. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet with many incredible advocates including Beth Collins, Lori Haas, Bishop Jim Mauney, Irv Varkonyi, Sarah Emmett, Grace Reef and many, many more.

White Oaks Student Art in the General Assembly Building

If you are visiting Richmond this session, you may notice the wonderful artwork leading to my office. These are a number of pieces by the talented student artists from White Oaks Elementary School, led by their incredibly talented and accomplished art teachers, Susan Mosios and Erin Perticone. I am looking forward to hosting these artists and their families, along with Principal Ryan Richardson, Ms. Mosios and Ms. Perticone 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 Assembly Building. I look forward to featuring artwork from other 41st District schools in future General Assembly sessions.

 

January 15, 2016

I hit the ground running here in Richmond as I concluded the first week of the 2016 General Assembly Session! The first three days of Session were busy: with our swearing in, assignments of committees, introduction of legislation and many groups and individuals stopping by my office for meetings.

Below you can find information about my legislative agenda. I look forward to keeping you up to date on what transpires this Session.

Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability

Just hours before Session began, I attended a meeting of the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability on which I am proud to serve. We heard from Secretary Aubrey Layne and DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb about a variety of issues including I-66, Public-Private Partnerships and collection of court costs by the DMV. I look forward to continuing to tackle these issues during the session as well.

Committee Assignments

For the 2016 General Assembly Session, I was pleased to be officially reappointed by Speaker William Howell to membership on the House Commerce and Labor Committee, House Transportation Committee and House Finance Committee. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these important committees to help improve our transportation systems and create and advance the new Virginia economy.

General Assembly Legislative Update

Among my legislative priorities are education, public and campus safety, health care, child care safety, and creating the new Virginia economy. I have filed bills which protect our most vulnerable Virginians, ensure the health of the citizens of our Commonwealth, help businesses get off the ground and keep Virginians safe.

As always, I introduced legislative proposals that will make a difference for the residents of the 41st District as well as citizens across the Commonwealth. It is my priority to reflect the views of my constituents and address issues that affect all of Virginia’s diverse communities.

Described below are some of the legislative bills I have introduced for the 2016 General Assembly Session. Among the bills I have introduced are:

Education

o   HB 475 - Return to Learn Program for Pediatric Cancer Survivors - This bill would require local school boards to establish a Return to Learn Protocol for the gradual reintroduction to academic activities by students who have been treated for pediatric cancer.

o   HB 662 - Low-Cost Open Educational Resources for Higher Education. - This bill would require the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia to provide grants to universities and to faculty encourage low-cost or no-cost open educational resources. This would allow more students to be able to enroll in classes without having to purchase as many expensive textbooks.

Public Safety

o   HB 1102 - Trauma-sensitive Training for Sex-crimes Investigative Teams - This bill requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to establish curriculum and training on Trauma-informed Sexual Assault Investigations by law enforcement and related investigatory personnel.

The multi-disciplinary training will be provided to include law enforcement, Title IX coordinators and investigators, campus law enforcement, local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates and forensic nurses. This training ensures their understanding of the need to employ compassionate investigative techniques with victims of sexual assault.

o   HB 655 - Storage of Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERK)- This bill would require evidence to be retained by law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed and that Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) be retained for a minimum of five years. Additionally, the bill provides that if the victim elects at the time of examination not to report the assault to law enforcement, the law-enforcement agency shall send the kit to the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services of the Department of General Services, which shall retain the kit for a minimum of five years from the date of receipt or a minimum of five years after the victim reaches the age of 18, whichever is longer.

Child Care Safety

o   HB 500 - Fingerprint Background Checks - This bill tightens already previous existing requirements for licensed child care providers to undergo an extensive background investigation would include a fingerprint check, to ensure that these providers are fully vetted and are who they say they are.

o   HB 474 - Child Care Safety Task Force – This bill would require that the Secretary of Health and Human Resources convene a task force composed of child-care providers and other stakeholders to review and make recommendations to the Governor and the appropriate legislative committees on requirements for child care providers by November 1, 2016.

Business

o   HB 660 - Qualified Equity and Subordinated Tax Credit- This bill would encourage investments in smaller, high-technology start-ups by increasing the tax benefits that investors are eligible to receive each year and by addressing the fact that the current credit is oversubscribed.

o   HB 1100 - Research and Development Tax Credit- This bill would encourage companies to conduct research and development in Virginia by expanding the existing Research and Development Expenses Tax Credit and by creating a new research tax credit targeted at larger research companies.

Health Care

o   HB 473 - Palliative Care Information and Education Program- This bill would direct the Board of Health to require every state-licensed hospital, nursing home, and certified nursing facility establish a system for identifying end-stage and long term chronically ill patients and residents who may benefit from palliative care, helping them access treatment that is dignified, humane and appropriate.

The above-noted bills represent a partial list of my proposed legislation for this session. I will highlight the rest of my bills that I file in next week's eNews. Details on all of these bills, and others that are submitted, along with budgetary amendments I introduced this week, as well as their status in the legislative process can be found here throughout the 2016 session.

 

January 8, 2016

This Wednesday, I head down to Richmond to begin the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Session!  This year’s session is set to last 60 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, follow me on Facebook 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 would be happy to help you set up a tour of the Capitol, reserve seating for you to observe a floor session and offer recommendations of other places to visit while in Richmond. Please come visit me in my new office, Room 414 in the General Assembly Building, while you are in our state capital!

Annual Fairfax Delegation Public Hearing

Prior to Session, the Fairfax Delegation to the General Assembly holds a public hearing to listen to residents' concerns and suggestions about the upcoming legislative session.  I am excited to share that this year's hearing will be held tomorrow, Saturday, January 9th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

The hearing will start with remarks from the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and then each member of the public who wishes to speak will be given three minutes to do so.  You can watch the event live on Fairfax County Government Channel 16. Click here for more information if you are interested in signing up to speak as an individual or on behalf of an organization. I hope to see you there!

Inova Women’s Hospital Dedication

I was pleased to join many of my colleagues as well as Congressman Gerry Connolly and members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at the dedication ceremony for the new Inova Women's Hospital. With facilities ranging from a 108-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to a High Risk Pregnancy Unit, the new hospital will be the largest facility dedicated solely to women in the area. After 15 years of planning and 3 years of construction, it is very rewarding to see such a wonderful concept become reality.

Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Brand Launch

Wednesday morning was the official launch of the new Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. It was great to see many friends and colleagues at this event. I enjoyed hearing about their future plans for collaboration with other chambers. I look forward to continuing to work with the Northern Virginia Chamber throughout this session and beyond.

Justice Jane Marum Roush’s Portrait Unveiling

It was wonderful to join State Supreme Court Justice Jane Marum Roush and many friends on Wednesday for the unveiling of Justice Roush’s portrait at the Fairfax Bar Association Luncheon. I was proud to stand up during the special session this past August and speak in favor of Justice Roush’s nomination to the Virginia Supreme Court.

My First Interview of 2016

Just days after the New Year's holiday, I was honored to be interviewed by Sofia Cook of Girl Scout Troop 2719. Sofia needed to interview a woman leader for one of her merit badges and was very well prepared with a series of questions. This young lady impressed me and I look forward to her future successes and accomplishments.

My Neighborhood Report

Fairfax County's My Neighborhood Report is a great resource for residents of the 41stDistrict. The application also provides links to information about real estate assessment, surrounding land development, and nearby police incidents.

In this informative report, users can input a specific street address to find such information as political jurisdictions; elected officials (local, state and federal); precise voting precinct and its location; assigned elementary, middle  and high schools; the nearest police and fire stations; as well as the two closest libraries, post offices, Fairfax County hospitals and urgent-care facilities; and parks.

Click here to find out more about where you live!

 

 

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