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SARA Honors Work Against Sexual Violence at Annual Awards Breakfast

November 17, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The Sexual Assault Resource Agency, or SARA, honored two Virginia lawmakers at its annual awards breakfast on Friday, November 17.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn and state Senator Jennifer McClellan were recognized for their work against sexual violence.

Both sponsored legislation to teach about consent in relationships.

The money raised from the breakfast provides for about a third of SARA's programming and operations costs each year.

“It was monumental because we had students from Charlottesville High School in our Step-Up Club who helped write the legislation and who got sponsors and who followed through with it with all the committees,” says Sheri Owen, the community outreach director of SARA.

The event, held at the Boars Head Inn, was emceed by NBC29's Jennifer Von Reutuer.

Delegate Filler-Corn Named to Gov-Elect Northam's Transition Team

November 15, 2017

On November 15th, Governor-Elect Ralph Northam announced his bipartisan Transition Committee. This group includes leaders in government, business, non-profits and social action groups. Among the legislative leaders he appointed was Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax).

In his press release, the Governor-Elect noted that "This bipartisan group of community leaders reflects the diversity that makes our Commonwealth a wonderful and inclusive place to live." The committee will work with the Governor-Elect over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful Northam administration.

"I am extremely honored to be appointed to Governor-Elect Ralph Northam's Transition Committee," said Delegate Filler-Corn "The committee membership reflects the Governor-Elect's commitment to considering a wide range of diverse views on important challenges that he will face in governing the Commonwealth over the next 4 years. Representing all regions of Virginia, the transition committee is charged with the responsibility of helping build the foundation for an effective and innovative administration that will be ready to 'hit the ground running' on Inauguration Day," she added.

Filler-Corn, herself, is a veteran of several gubernatorial transition committees including those of former Governors and current U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as well as current Governor Terry McAuliffe. To view the full list of transition committee members, please visit: https://govelect.virginia.gov/.

An Open Letter To The Women Of Virginia On The Importance Of Voting For Attorney General

November 1, 2017

We’ve run enough campaigns to know that things can get pretty silly towards the end. The dubious claims and accusations start to fly and voters just wind up frustrated and unsure of what to believe.

But here’s one thing we know is true — Mark Herring is a champion for Virginia women.

Having served side by side with Mark, we know we can always count on him to be a forceful ally for economic justice, reproductive rights and healthcare, and more.

As a State Senator, he introduced legislation to rollback the outlandish regulations that were designed to close women’s health clinics, supported equal pay for equal work, and fought the infamous “transvaginal ultrasound bill” every step of the way.

As our Attorney General, he has been a breath of fresh air after the relentlessly anti-women administration of Ken Cuccinelli.

Mark corrected some of Cuccinelli’s bad legal advice and protected our women’s health clinics.

He helped defeat the Republicans’ 20-week abortion ban with an official opinion that said it would be an unconstitutional attack on women’s rights.

He has elevated women to senior leadership roles, built an inclusive staff, and promoted pay equity in the Office of Attorney General.

And while his Republican opponent John Adams wants to ban abortion, put employers in charge of women’s contraception coverage, and went to the Supreme Court twice to try to limit women’s access to birth control, Mark is leading the fight against President Trump’s rollback of contraception coverage and fought at the Supreme Court for our right to access reproductive healthcare.

So as we get down to the final days of this campaign, don’t be fooled by the lies and half-truths you’re going to hear from the other side.

The fact is, Mark Herring is the right choice for Virginia women.

Sincerely,

Delegate Lashrecse Aird (District 63-Petersburg)
Delegate Jennifer Boysko (Herndon)
Delegate Betsy Carr (Richmond City)
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (Fairfax)
Delegate Charniele Herring (Alexandria)
Delegate Daun Hester (Norfolk)
Delegate Kathleen Murphy (McLean)
Delegate Marcia Price (Newport News)
Delegate Delores McQuinn (Richmond City)
Delegate Jeoin Ward (Hampton)
Delegate Vivian Watts (Annandale)

Senator Rosalyn Dance (District 16-Petersburg)
Senator Barbara Favola (Arlington)
Senator Janet Howell (Reston)
Senator Mamie Locke (Hampton)
Senator Jennifer McClellan (Richmond City)
Senator Jennifer Wexton (Loudoun)

Statewide Advisory Council on PANS and PANDAS Diseases Convenes; Names Filler-Corn Chair

October 5, 2017

On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, the Advisory Council on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANS) Associated with Streptococcal Infections and Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANDAS) convened for the first time, just outside of Richmond. As one of its first acts of business, it named Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) chair and Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke), vice chair. In addition to elected officials, the council includes doctors, researchers, nurses, parents and advocates. Members come from across the Commonwealth and will convene on periodically throughout the next four years.

"I was honored to be elected as chair of the council by the members and am appreciative of the trust they have put in me," said Filler-Corn, commenting on her election as chair of the committee. "It is my hope that by working together across party lines, across disciplines, and across the Commonwealth, we can promote awareness and research of these insidious diseases," she added. The Advisory Council was established by Filler-Corn's 2017 legislation in the General Assembly, which passed near unanimously out of the House of Delegates and the State Senate.

PANDAS occurs when children, after an infection such as strep throat, almost immediately develop tics, severe anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder as well as many other behavioral symptoms. PANS is a broader term, referring to the same onset of symptoms whether or not a strep infection triggered it.

After establishing council bylaws and electing a chair and vice chair, the council then heard two presentations by fellow board members. First, Dr. Susan Swedo presented the scientific aspects of PANS and PANDAS. Dr. Swedo is the Chief of the Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Insititute of Mental Health (part of the National Institutes of Health. She and her team first identified PANDAS and PANDAS. More recently, Dr. Swedo, along with Dr. Jennifer Frankovich of Stanford University and Dr. Tanya Murphy of the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg developed the guidelines for treating PANS and PANDAS. Following her presentation. Jan Kirby, a registered nurse and patient advocate at VCU Children's Hospital gave the advocacy perspective.

Following the presentations, the council agreed upon a work plan and future meeting dates. The council is expected to meet again this November, and periodically through 2018. The council will also present an interim report to the Governor and General Assembly on December 1st, 2017.

 

Festival Highlights Burke Centre 40th Anniversary

September 13, 2017

 — With the hurricanes in the south wreaking havoc, the Burke Centre Festival 

went on without a hitch on Sept. 9-10. Under sunny, blue skies, the festival had all the ingredients that’s made it such a community celebration through the years, like a climbing tower, giant slide, burgers on the grill and a 1965 Ford Mustang up for raffle by the Rotary Club.

This year was the 40th anniversary of the festival, and Jeannie Winslow at the Burke Conservancy was manning the operations tent, a duty she’s taken on through the years. “We’ve added more in artists, and crafters, we needed to make adjustments,” she said.

Lots of students were on hand to put in community hours for their school requirements. Leslie Vilca, a senior at Robinson Secondary School, and Sky Waters, a Robinson eighth grader, had the official title of “water runners.” Vilca goes to school, works at Petland and a daycare center as well.

“I’ve seen a bunch of people from school,” she said.

The festival opened with remarks from Patrick Gloyd, of the Burke Conservancy, the color guard from the Burke VFW Post 5412, and the flag raising from the Boy Scouts of Troop 1345. Elected officials in attendance were U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11), Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock District) . The Legacy Band opened up the ceremony with Pamela Wilson singing the National Anthem.

Other bands playing through the weekend included the Delaney Hall Band, the QOK Band and the Stormin’ Norman Band.

Norman Voss of Stormin’ Norman said “the crowd went crazy for us.”

After two days of 70-degree weather under blue skies, Winslow was relieved everything went so well. “Many times during the weekend people expressed this was one of our best festivals in many years, and how suiting that was for Burke Centre's 40th Anniversary,” Winslow wrote in an email.

“Many times during the weekend people expressed this was one of our best festivals in many years, and how suiting that was for Burke Centre's 40th Anniversary.”— Jeannie Winslow

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: American Values

August 30, 2017

The following open letter was addressed to Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie.

On Aug. 11 and 12, we saw violence and hate we hoped we would never again witness on American soil. In Charlottesville, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists took to the streets, marched with torches, gave Nazi salutes, shouted that Jews “will not replace them,” chanted the Fascist slogan “Blood and Soil,” proclaimed white supremacy, and murdered a woman who was brave enough to stand up to them. Then, instead of clearly rejecting this evil, the President of the United States twice defended those marching with the very Neo-Nazis who unleashed this deadly violence on one of Virginia’s greatest cities.

After President Trump’s press conferences, we were left shocked and then deeply saddened. Let’s be clear. “Very fine people” don’t march with people who are holding Nazi flags and chanting anti-Semitic slogans. We were heartened to see, in the wake of Donald Trump’s horrifying comments, that leaders in both parties came together to reject hate and renew our nation’s founding principles of equality and inclusiveness. But instead of joining these leaders — including many prominent Republicans — we understand you have refused to speak out against the President’s reaction to Charlottesville.

As Jewish members of the Virginia General Assembly, we write you because, as Virginians and Jews, we find your failure to denounce the President’s reaction to Nazism deeply disturbing. The events in Charlottesville recall the darkest moments in both the history of this country and the Jewish people. What we saw on Friday and Saturday was an assault on our democratic society and the very values this country was founded upon. Yet the President of the United States, the leader of our country, has not once but twice defended those who would march with the Neo-Nazis and their ilk.

Our country at its best has been a beacon of hope and safety for all peoples. Hundreds of thousands gave their lives so that the forces that destroyed Europe would never set foot on American soil. President Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville represented a betrayal of that noble legacy and our core American values.

Donald Trump is the leader of your party. Your refusal to speak out against him is a colossal failure of leadership, a moral abdication, and deeply troubling to Virginia’s Jewish community. We urge you to break your silence and immediately denounce Donald Trump’s hateful and inadequate response to the Charlottesville attack.

We are living through a moral reckoning, a time when all citizens of our great commonwealth and nation are called to defend the most fundamental values of our democracy. We ask you to immediately stand up, loudly and clearly, against those who would condone violence and hatred.

As Americans, Jews, and Virginians, we urge you to join us and immediately condemn the President’s dog-whistle defense of Nazism.

Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, Del. Marcus Simon, and Del. Mark Levine

National Night Out in Burke

August 3, 2017

Burke — About 100 people attended a pizza and movie night during National Night Out at the Cardinal Estates community in Burke on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. After visits with police from the West Springfield Station and firefighters from the Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department (Station 14), the crowd enjoyed pizza, chips, and sodas, then watched the movie "Toy Story." Also on hand was Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41).

National Night Out is an annual neighborhood based crime and drug prevention event that shows neighborhood spirit and strengthens partnerships with local police and fire departments.

"Here in Cardinal Estates we put on National Night Out to welcome all of our local police officers and fire and rescue to promote safety here in the neighborhood and get people active in the community. If you see something, say something," said organizer Amanda Fox, Captain of the Neighborhood Watch and Vice President of the Cardinal Estates Home Association.

New Virginia law addresses bullying in schools

August 1, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Just in time for the new school year, Virginia lawmakers are trying to cut down on bullying in classrooms.

A new law, which went into effect July 1, sets a time frame of when schools must report any bullying to parents.

Dawn Driskill knows what it’s like. She said her daughter was bullied while attending Matoaca Middle School in Chesterfield County. She said the bully chopped off a chunk of her daughter’s hair.

“She was really nervous about going back to school,” said Driskill. “It’s very frustrating.”

Driskill said the school notified her when her daughter’s hair got slashed, but she later learned the problems began before that.

“My daughter informed me that she had been telling her teacher she was having problems with the student for the past month,” said Driskill.

HB 1709 was introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax).

It requires school principals to notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation.

In a statement, Filler-Corn said the law was a product of a shared belief that every student in Virginia has the right to not only learn but thrive in school.

“I am grateful that Virginia is taking the lead to fight back against bullying in our schools. Together, we can make our schools a safer and more inclusive space for students across the Commonwealth,” she said.

Driskill supports the legislation. She said she hopes to see even more targeting bullying.

“I don’t think it’s enough. I think it’s a good step though,” she said. “You have to have administration and the schools on board, and then you also have to have the students that are willing to speak up and say that they are being bullied.”

Tiffany Goodman is a counselor for Challenge Discovery Projects. She also facilitates an anti-bullying program called Say It With Heart.

“A child is not going to be excited to go home to say, ‘Mom I was bullied today in school.’ There’s a lot of shame around it,” she said.

She believes the new law will hold people accountable and get the conversation going between the schools, the families and the students.

“I think it brings a lot of transparency to things that might not be totally transparent at this point,” she said.

Goodman said the effects of bullying can range from increased anxiety or depression to truancy or higher rates of dropout.

When the governor signed the legislation he also signed one from the Senate.

SB 1117 requires school counselors to have mental health training.

Many new Virginia laws took effect July 1

July 7, 2017

The Virginia General Assembly approved 836 bills before adjourning its 2017 session on Feb. 25, and many of the bills that were signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe officially took effect last week on July 1. Virginia’s Constitution designates July 1 as the effective date for new laws. That day also marks the beginning of the state’s new fiscal year.

This year’s new laws cover a wide range of subjects, from electronic ticket resales and college tuition hikes to birth control access and firearms for school security officers.

One of the new laws adopted this year was HB 2386. This bill was sponsored by Richmond Delegate Manoli Loupassi with some amendments by Governor McAuliffe.

Under this new law, a Virginia resident who has had their license suspended for unpaid court fines can now get their license back by paying the fine or setting up a payment agreement (like an installment payment when you buy a car). The new law sets up uniform rules for pay plans. It provides a realistic pathway for Virginia citizens both to meet their financial responsibilities and re-establish their driving rights.

Here are some of the before and after effects of this new law:

• Before the new law, you could not get on a payment plan if you had defaulted on a previous pay plan. Now you can get another plan if your circumstances have changed.

• Before, a large down payment--such as 50 percent--could be required. Now the maximum down payment is 5 percent for larger fines. So for a fine of $2,500, the down payment would be $125, not $1,250.

• Before, missing an installment payment date meant immediate default. Now you have a 10-day grace period.

• And now, in setting the terms, like the amount of monthly payments, courts must consider the individual’s financial resources, and not base it solely on the amount of the fine.

Here are some other laws that took effect July 1:

• Virginians are guaranteed the right to resell electronic tickets

H.B. 1825 prohibits any person or organization that issues tickets for public admission to a professional musical, sporting, or theatrical event from selling those tickets solely “through a delivery method that substantially prevents the purchaser from lawfully reselling the ticket on the internet ticketing platform of the purchaser’s choice.”

The legislation, which was introduced by Del. David B. Albo (R-47th) and signed by the governor on Mar. 3, also prohibits individuals from being discriminated against or denied admission to an event because they resold a ticket or purchased a resold ticket on a specific online platform.

Because it is a state law, it applies only to transactions in Virginia. Violators face a civil penalty between $1,000 and $5,000.

This new law comes in response to the online ticket-selling platform Ticketmaster, which has blocked ticket holders from reselling tickets in the past, according to The Washington Post.

• Health plans must cover up to one year’s supply of contraceptives

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn’s (D-41st) H.B. 2267 dictates that, starting on Jan. 1, 2018, all health plans with coverage for hormonal contraceptives must cover up to a 12-month supply when dispensed “at one time for a covered person or at a location…authorized to dispense drugs or supplies.”

Before this new law, women were only allowed to get one or three months’ worth of contraceptives at a time. Women are more likely to use birth control continually and consistently when they have a full year’s supply, decreasing the possibility of unintended pregnancy and abortions, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The law explicitly states that it also extends to coverage for hormonal contraceptives that are prescribed for reasons other than contraceptive purposes, such as decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer or other health issues.

• Colleges must notify public of planned tuition increases

S.B. 1376, which was introduced by State Senator Chapman Petersen (D-34th), prohibits public higher education institutions from approving an increase in undergraduate tuition or mandatory fees without first notifying students and the public.

Public colleges and universities must announce a projected range of the planned increase, explain the need for the increase, and give notification of the date and location of any vote on the increase at least 30 days prior to that vote.

• School security officers can carry firearms

H.B. 1392, introduced by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st), authorizes school security officers to carry firearms in the performance of their duties.

However, there are a number of conditions that an officer must meet in order to be authorized.

An officer may be authorized to carry a firearm if they were an active law enforcement officer in Virginia within 10 years immediately prior to being hired by the local school board and if they retired from their law enforcement position in good standing.

The officer must meet the training and qualifications to carry a concealed handgun as a retired law enforcement officer, as well as any additional training and certification requirements by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

The local school board has the final authority to grant school security officers the ability to carry a firearm. The board must first solicit input regarding the officer’s qualifications from the chief law enforcement of the locality where they served and ensure that the officer is not banned by state or federal law from possessing, buying, or transporting a firearm.

The law requires the DCJS to establish additional firearms training and certification requirements for school security officers who carry a firearm.

• Sexual assault evidence recovery kits will be retained for a longer period of time

H.B. 2127, introduced by Del. Mark Levine (D-45th), requires that recovery kits used to collect physical evidence of sexual assaults be stored for an additional 10 years following a written objection to its destruction from the victim.

Prior to this new law, physical evidence recovery kits (PERK) could be destroyed after testing without the victim being informed.

In addition to requiring that investigating law enforcement agencies advise victims of sexual assault about their rights to PERK kits, the bill requires the law enforcement agency to notify a victim at least 60 days before the date when the kit is scheduled for destruction. It also ensures that no victim will be charged for the cost of collecting or storing a kit.

“Basically, these kits are stored as long as the victim is even considering prosecution,” Levine said when explaining his bill during a July 1 press conference at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

• Schools have a timeline for notifying parents about bullying incidents

H.B. 1709, introduced by Filler-Corn, requires that school principals notify the parent of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying about the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation.

• Virginia will research and highlight African American history

Delores L. McQuinn’s (D-70th) H.B. 2296 directs the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to identify the history of formerly enslaved African Americans in Virginia and to find ways to preserve the history for educational and cultural purposes.

This task includes the identification, preservation, and conservation of historic sites significant to the history, presence, and contributions of formerly enslaved African American people in Virginia.

The foundation will identify contributions by African American people to Virginia, the U.S., and the world, as well as historical sites significant to African American history in Virginia. It is also directed to recommend ways to increase tourism and revenue associated with such historical sites.

The bill creates a task force of both legislative and non-legislative members to help the foundation in its work. The full list of newly effective laws is available online at Virginia's Legislative Information System under the 2017 session list of bills approved by the governor or enacted.

• Commercial drivers could face mandatory jail time for DUIs

Persons convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle in Virginia while intoxicated will face increasing mandatory minimum jail sentences and fines.

As part of Virginia’s newest driving under the influence (DUI) law[i] which becomes effective this week, convicted impaired commercial operators in or through Virginia will now face mandatory minimum fines up to $ 500 plus mandatory minimum jail sentences up to one-year. Specifically, persons convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle in Virginia while intoxicated will face the following spectrum of mandatory minimum penalties:

FIRST OFFENSE: $250 fine plus, if offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .15 or higher = five days incarceration; .20 or higher BAC = ten days incarceration. (Currently no mandatory minimums and no high-BAC sanctions.)

 SECOND OFFENSE:  w/in five years: $500 fine plus one-month to one year incarceration (20 days of which are mandatory minimum). W/in 5-10 years: $ 500 plus one-month incarceration (ten days of which are mandatory minimum). W/in ten years: $ 500 fine plus, if offender’s BAC was .15 or higher = additional ten days incarceration; .20 or higher BAC = additional 20 days incarceration. (Currently $ 200 mandatory minimum and $ 2,500 maximum. No high-BAC sanctions.)

THIRD OFFENSE: w/in ten years: Class 6 felony. (Currently no felony level threshold.)

Democratic lawmakers ask McAuliffe to commute sentence of convicted killer

July 3, 2017

RICHMOND — Several Democratic members of the Virginia General Assembly have joined thousands of petitioners in asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to block the execution of convicted murderer William C. Morva, scheduled for Thursday.

Morva, 35, faces the death penalty for shooting to death a guard and a sheriff’s deputy while escaping from jail in 2006. Supporters say the jury that sentenced him was not made aware of the severity of his mental illness.

“The system failed Mr. Morva,” Del. Mark H. Levine (D-Alexandria) wrote on Monday. “I do not believe he should die because of a lack of due process.”

Levine was adding his name to a group of legislators who wrote McAuliffe on Friday seeking clemency for Morva. The seven delegates and five state senators, all Democrats, said the case intersects with a rising effort by the General Assembly to take steps to “address the overlapping areas of public safety, criminal justice and mental health.”

That letter asks McAuliffe to commute Morva’s death sentence to a term of life without parole. It was signed by Dels. Jennifer B. Boysko (Fairfax), Patrick A. Hope (Arlington), Sam Rasoul (Roanoke), Marcus B. Simon (Fairfax), Charniele Herring (Alexandria), Alfonso Lopez (Arlington) and Eileen Filler-Corn (Fairfax), as well as Sens. Adam P. Ebbin (Alexandria), Barbara A. Favola (Arlington), Lionell Spruill Sr. (Northern Chesapeake), Mamie E. Locke (Hampton) and Scott Surovell (Eastern Fairfax).

Morva’s lawyer argues that he was suffering from severe delusional disorder while being held in jail in the Blacksburg area awaiting trial for several botched robberies and burglaries. Believing that he was going to die, Morva tried to escape and killed the deputy and guard.

During sentencing, supporters say, jurors were told incorrectly that Morva was not delusional. His pending execution, set for 9 p.m. Thursday, highlights a growing national movement to eliminate capital punishment for people with severe mental illness.

Morva ran out of appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up his case in February, leaving the governor as his last hope. McAuliffe has said he is studying the case, and a spokesman said Monday that the governor would make a statement when the review is complete.

Virginia to Expand Sexual Consent Curriculum

July 6, 2017

Virginia’s Education Department is revising Family Life Education curriculum. The new material was spurred by a group of students from Charlottesville and expands lessons on the meaning of sexual consent. 88.9 WCVE’s Saraya Wintersmith has more for Virginia Currents.

Learn More: Find information about the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, and more on Family Life Education in Virginia.

Transcript:

Since it was created in the late 1980s, Virginia’s Family Life Education has included areas like human sexuality, abstinence and the value of marriage. The curriculum also covers STD prevention and steps to avoid sexual assault.

Senator Jennifer McClellan: I think it’s very important that the minute you start talking about sex, you also talk about consent.

State Senator Jennifer McClellan sponsored one of two partner bills set to trigger a curriculum revision.

While current guidelines mention sexual consent twice as a topic for sophomores, McClellan and other supporters say it wasn't enough. Under her bill, SB 1475, the legal definition of consent can now be part of lessons on dating, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

McClellan: Mine focuses just on the fact that sex without consent is a crime, it is sexual assault. And I think we’ll focus on the fact that – for children – we’ve made the policy decision that 18 is the age of consent and sex younger than that does not have consent by law and is a crime – and I think it is very important for young people to learn that.

The bill also expands the topics of family and sexual relationships and changes the wording when it comes to “avoiding” sexual assault, putting an emphasis instead on prevention and deterrence.

McClellan: By focusing on avoiding sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence, it inadvertently blamed the survivor and unfortunately we do have kids in school who are survivors of these terrible crimes and so we really want to focus more deterring sexual assault and domestic violence and dating violence so we changed that word in the code and in the curriculum. And then, finally, FLE only focuses on the importance of marriage in a family, but we wanted to expand this to include other family relationships, because a family is more than just a husband and a wife.

The other bill is sponsored by Fairfax County Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn.

It provides that high school students can learn age-appropriate, evidence-based lessons about sexual consent beyond its legal definition.

The Governor signed both bills in March, now the State Board of Education must work out exactly what the new guidelines will be.

Laurie Jean Seaman: The reality is that consent actually is going to prevent non-consensual sex from happening.

Laurie Jean Seaman is Lead Prevention Educator for the non-profit Sexual Assault Resource Agency.

She says that while some parents may express concerns as Family Life Education is updated, further incorporating the concept of consent won’t necessarily encourage sexual activity or more talk of sex.

Seaman: We’re not trying to go in and say “everybody start having sex now!” We’re saying “when you begin” – which at some point – 99.9% of people will have sex at some point, this is our chance when we can actually reach them to teach them what a healthy, sexual life looks like whether it’s when you start at 30, or 50, or tomorrow – and we do know that there are kids who are starting tomorrow, Right? - That we want them to have healthy, appropriate, safe sexual lives when that happens. The other thing is, we don’t necessarily even talk about sex when we’re talking about consent. Remember this is about respecting other people’s bodies. We aren’t increasing the amount that the health teachers are going to talk about sex, they’re already talking about it. We’re not increasing the amount, we’re changing how they talk about it so that it’s not shaming, so that it’s not victim-blaming, but so that the community can respond and prevent sexual assault before it happens.

And prevention is one of the big things the bills’ youngest advocates are hoping will come from increasing classroom dialogue and awareness around consent.

Stella Sokolowski is with the Charlottesville High School organization Step Up – a peer activism group that teaches students about preventing sexual violence.

At the ceremonial bill-signing, she beamed with pride while describing their role in the legislation. She says they started by examining the current Family Life curriculum.

Sokolowski: and it really did not teach us anything about what it means to be aware of sexual assault and be aware of what it means to have healthy sexual relationships.

She says even though Family Life Education in Virginia stresses abstinence, consent is still an important concept.

Sokolowski: Even if a person wants to abstain, they have to understand what assault is, they have to understand how to gather around and prevent assault and prevent violence in their community and they have to understand, y’know, the absence of consent within a marriage is just as illegal as anything else.

Sokolowski says she and her fellow Step Up members define consent as a clear, free and happy “yes.” They say that while that might look different for each person and relationship – emphasizing the need to understand consent is crucial to fostering healthy relationships.

How a Group of High School Students Changed Sexual Education in Virginia

June 9, 2017

Two years ago a group of high school students in Charlottesville thought something was lacking in their family life education, so they set out to make a difference and change Virginia law. As Mallory Noe-Payne reports, this week, they were successful. 

Mollie Pepper and Ellen Yates, both recent high school graduates, were in Richmond Friday to watch the Governor sign a bill guaranteeing Virginia students will learn about consent in relationships. 

It was the end of a process that began when Pepper, as a junior, spent a school holiday combing through Virginia’s legal code. 

“Over winter break we read through the majority of the Standards of Learning for Family Life Education in Virginia and the laws kind of reflected what we had been seeing in our classes,” says Pepper. 

What they had been seeing in their classes was a lack of guidance on how to express what you’re comfortable with, and what you’re not comfortable with, in situations like the one Ellen Yates recalls. 

“I remember -- this was especially a problem during freshman and sophomore year -- catcalling during lunch,” Yates says. “Girls would get up to throw away trash from their lunch and there would be tables of guys who would catcall them.” 

Now, beginning next school year, students will have more opportunities to learn and discuss the ideas of permission and consent as they relate to all kinds of relationships. High school curriculum will also teach the legal definition of consent, and that in Virginia you can’t give consent for a sexual relationship until you’re over eighteen. 

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn and state Senator Jennifer McClellan helped pass the measure.

“The concept of consent can begin as early as when you have a child who says ‘I don’t want to hug Grandma,’ and you need to respect that,” McClellan says. “Because if you say ‘No you have to hug Grandma anyway’ you are inadvertently teaching that child that what (they) want doesn’t matter. And that’s really the first step to creating a culture of ‘I can do what I want.’”

Advocates hope more education can change that culture. And, pointing to the young women who cared enough to rewrite the law, they say maybe that shift has already begun. 

Virginia Governor Signs Anti-Bullying, Suicide Prevention Legislation

June 7, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed two bills into law designed to curtail student suicides and increase prevention efforts.

Senate Bill 1117, introduced by Virginia state Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William County), requires school counselors to receive training in bullying and suicide prevention in order to renew their state licenses.

“We lost our younger brother 18 years ago. He was a junior in high school,” McPike said. “So this is something that is very near and dear to our hearts.”

House Bill 1709, introduced by Virginia House Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), directs schools to notify parents within five days if their child is involved in a bullying incident.

During the signing, Filler-Corn introduced 17-year-old Brandon Farbstein, whose personal experiences with bullying encouraged her to champion the legislation. Farbstein has a rare form of dwarfism and says the bullying began for him when he entered high school in the Richmond area. He became a motivational speaker who has appeared in TED Talks to advocate for people with disabilities, but that seemed to fuel cruel social media posts.

"One was, 'If this midget doesn't kill himself, I'm going to kill him,'" he said.

As his profile grew, his situation worsened.

"Until the point where I was in school, I couldn't go to the restroom because I felt I was in so much physical danger," he said.

School administrators knew of the bullying but found it hard to investigate, to identify the culprits, his parents said.

Farbstein eventually turned to online classes, but he and his family also took their concerns to Filler-Corn.

“With the signing of this bill, HB 1709, it is my hope that fewer Virginians will have to go through what Brandon did,” Filler-Corn said. “Every student has a right not only to learn, but to thrive in their school environment.”

The bills were signed at Forest Park High School in Prince William County in recognition of students there who organize a suicide awareness march every year to bring attention to the issue.

“Our goal is to make sure that when a student comes to our schools they’re safe,” McAuliffe said. “They’re protecting psychological, emotional and physical aspects of a student. We want students to come to school to focus on education and not be worrying about people bullying.”

 

New Virginia laws aim to combat student suicide

June 5, 2017

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s governor will not be in Richmond when he signs into law two bills aimed at cutting down on student suicides. Instead, he’ll be at a Northern Virginia high school.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to be at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge on Tuesday afternoon, June 6, to sign the legislation.

State Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, from Prince William County, said the governor will sign “a piece of bullying legislation as well as training for school counselors on bullying and suicide prevention.”

One bill, House Bill 1709, introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, would require that parents be contacted if their child is involved in bullying.

The other bill, Senate Bill 1117 by McPike, would require school counselors to get training in bullying and suicide prevention when they are renewing their licenses from the state. 

McPike said that Battlefield High School senior Payton Freeze took her life in February 2016. He said that the 17-year-old’s father testified to Virginia lawmakers on how a concussion and bullying had contributed to her death.

McPike said these bills are being signed at Forest Park High School by the governor to recognize the students there who, for three years, have organized a suicide awareness walk to shine a light on a dark subject.

“These kids have been so active, this is now the third year running, and they deserve recognition [for the] hard work of trying to raise awareness, which is why we selected Forest Park High School,” he said.

McPike lost his own brother to suicide.

His brother was in high school at the time in Prince William County.

The new laws take effect July 1.

 

'I haven't seen my son since August:' Parents advocate for awareness, education on debilitating pediatric condition PANDAS

May 25, 2017

The diagnosis alone cost $1,200.

Jill and Bryan Lemon were sure it was PANDAS, and they also knew that, despite several interactions that their daughter, Tanner, had with medical providers over the previous 18 months, nobody had mentioned that word to them.

But they saw, for over a year, the anxiety attacks that consumed Tanner, her sudden fear of death, tornadoes and crossing bodies of water, her insistence on following her parents around every room in the house, her cough-like tic, her sudden episodes that Jill Lemon can only describe as “rage attacks.”

“It was scary to watch her like that, but it was scary to watch me react to it,” Lemon said. “I just didn’t like the parent that I was becoming, or how it was affecting my other children.”

The one time Jill Lemon brought it up, the provider nodded, wrote the term down, and never acknowledged it again.

So the Midlothian family did not waste time going to a pediatrician with their concerns, once Tanner’s symptoms became so severe that Lemon knew it was bigger than her family, she said. They went straight to a specialist in Washington, D.C., who confirmed her suspicions.

In the 18 months after that $1,200 visit in January 2016, the Lemons spent more than $2,000 in additional costs — on co-pays, follow-up appointments with the specialist, lab work and other medical procedures.

The cost has left behind a lingering question for the Lemons as they grapple with the condition and wonder what Tanner’s future will look like: What do poor families do?

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. The term refers to children who, following an infection such as strep throat, abruptly develop obsessive compulsive disorder, tics, severe anxiety and a variety of other behavioral issues.

A broader term, PANS, refers to the same sudden onset of OCD whether or not it was triggered by a strep throat infection.

PANS is relatively young in terms of research and understanding. It only came to the attention of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, in the 1990s, and is still far from a widely-known term among parents and even pediatricians.

Treatments can range from antibiotics to steroids to a regimen of over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. But for the most severe cases, it can require outrageously expensive procedures that insurers rarely cover.

It’s hard for researchers to know how many kids might have PANS. In 2010 Dr. Susan Swedo — one of the NIMH researchers who coined the term PANDAS in the 1990s — estimated that as many as 25 percent of children with OCD and tic disorders — nearly 160,000 children based on recent estimates — might actually have PANS. But some doubt the condition exists at all.

“The main controversy is — is it a condition caused by (an immune response to an) infection, or do such patients just have psychiatric disorders?” said Dr. Wei Zhao, an immunologist for VCU Health System who treats patients with PANS. “The key here is sudden onset. So many parents can remember that, ‘My child was completely normal until such a day, and we don’t know what happened, and then he became a different person.’”

Despite that controversy, though, more providers and parents are getting behind the NIMH research, possibly because treating the inflammation that is causing the sudden onset of behavioral issues actually works to stop the patient’s symptoms, which is not the case in classic OCD or anxiety cases.

As awareness gathers, so too might research, parents and advocacy organizations hope. During its most recent session, Virginia’s General Assembly approved a 15-member advisory council to advise the state’s health commissioner on PANS. The state is in the process of appointing members to the council.

“I feel that creating the advisory council will bring the awareness that’s needed for this debilitating disease,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the legislation. “With greater knowledge, people will be able to recognize it and diagnose it. It could mean less heartache for the parents, and kids will be diagnosed — and diagnosed properly.”

For most children, the condition does not go away — though Zhao said he has seen PANS flare-ups grow less severe over time in some patients. But to end a flare and to ease the anxiety and OCD, typically medical providers must determine what the underlying condition is — such as a bacteria or infection — that is causing the behavioral issues.

Jessica Gavin, founder and president of the Richmond-based PANS Research & Advocacy Initiative — which advocates for broader understanding and treatment of PANS — describes a flare of PANS as losing her children. Sometimes, a flare can last months — in the most extreme cases, years — before it is successfully treated.

When her son is having a flare, Gavin said it doesn’t just feel like her son is in a bad mood — it feels like someone else is occupying his space. Dexter, who is usually a fun-loving, kind boy who likes playing with his friends and sisters, won’t want to play with others, antagonizes his siblings, and cannot play even simple games like tic-tac-toe because, as part of his OCD, he has to win.

Gavin said it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s a full personality switch. Most recently, Dexter had a flare from August to around May.

“I told (the pediatrician), ‘I haven’t seen my son since August,’” Gavin said during a recent interview.

***

After Tanner was diagnosed at 8 years old, she was put on a round of antibiotics for about six months.

“We saw significant improvement,” Lemon said. “It’s actually hard to articulate just the difference that it made.”

Now Tanner is a bright, precocious 10-year-old with long brown hair and rectangular glasses, who is constantly trailed by her 5-year-old sister and loves riding her bright blue scooter.

Her parents have evidence of the dramatic shift in Tanner’s personality and behavior before and after she started antibiotics. Before the diagnosis, she suddenly started struggling in school and her handwriting grew sloppy. But after her improvement, her handwriting became neater and more organized.

School photos illustrate the difference, too. Before the diagnosis, a typical photo of Tanner showed an unhappy little girl with dark eyes, unsmiling, with her head tilted down. After her treatments, the photo shows her head up and a broad smile on her face.

“But it’s not foolproof,” Jill said. “We know that, literally every morning, it could come back. ... We constantly wonder: Are we free of this? Is she free of this? And the answer is no.”

PANS flares can occur unexpectedly, and the triggers could change with the environment. One of the reasons it may have taken so long for her parents to recognize PANDAS in Tanner was because, soon after the illness that triggered the condition, she left school for summer vacation and she improved because she wasn’t exposed to the same bacteria as usual.

The symptoms associated with PANS are caused by an underlying infection, bacteria or other pathogen that trigger an autoimmune inflammation. The antibodies created by the immune system then mistakenly attack the brain, causing the OCD, anxiety and tics associated with the condition.

Dr. Christine Seliskar with Midlothian-based Pediatric & Adolescent Health Partners — one of a handful of pediatricians in the Richmond area that treats PANS, though the number is growing — said some of her patients require intravenous immunoglobulin (known as IVIG) , a treatment administered through an IV that basically reins in the immune system by adding antibodies , or plasmapheresis, which, like dialysis, removes antibodies from the blood by cycling it through a machine.

The trouble is, both those treatments are prohibitively expensive. They can both cost as much as $10,000, and frequently parents must pay for it out of pocket.

Last year , Gavin and her family paid $13,000 out of pocket to treat 5-year-old Dexter, who has PANS, along with Gavin’s 3-year-old daughter.

“It’s not like we had $13,000 — that came out of our retirement account,” Gavin said. “We are fortunate enough to have 401ks to pull from. Not everybody can.”

Gavin’s son had the IVIG treatment , but eventually his pediatrician discovered the strep was in his gut, so the $10,000 treatment did not ultimately help.

“Families are in complete and total chaos with this, and trying to figure out how to pay these things on top of it, it’s just another burden for families,” she said. “It’s a huge barrier for care.”

***

Tanner experienced a flare of her symptoms in mid-May. Her OCD spiked. When picking strawberries with her family, she became obsessed with the placement of her strawberries in her basket.

When she accidentally shattered a bowl, her mom came downstairs at 6 a.m. to find Tanner meticulously fitting together every piece of the bowl, as though it were a puzzle.

Tanner can easily, almost nonchalantly, talk about her symptoms before her treatment with her parents, explaining that she would follow them around their home because she was afraid they would leave, and describing her panic attacks.

“They were pretty much scary and confusing,” Tanner said. “They would last maybe two days to one day. Sometimes even a week, maybe. One time, I was having an anxiety attack during a tornado warning. And I also was scared about tornado drills at school, that would freak me out.”

The Lemons are now part of the PRAI group that Gavin runs, which is growing in numbers. It works with about 200 families from all over Virginia.

“Just last week, we had nine PANS moms come into the group,” Gavin said during an interview this month. “Nine children lost their minds to insanity last week.”

PRAI’s effort is to raise awareness of the disorder and encourage states to take action, as well. Gavin brought the issue to Filler-Corn’s attention and helped advocate for the legislation that created the advisory council, and PRAI is in the process of launching chapters in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Right now PRAI is also working to spread awareness among pediatricians so they can understand and treat PANS, as well as mental health providers, who may misdiagnose a child — with autism or bipolar disorder, in some cases.

Gavin’s son was misdiagnosed with autism, but she noticed that it waxed and waned: One week he would look and act normal, and the next he would exhibit autistic symptoms. She said she changed pediatricians monthly to try and discover what was happening.

“I was told autism doesn’t wax and wane, and it was probably in my head,” she said.

With fewer pediatricians knowledgeable about PANS, more parents end up going to practices like Pediatric & Adolescent Health Partners, where Seliskar and her colleagues are overloaded with patients.

Stories like Gavin’s are typical — parents often discover the condition before their pediatricians do, and sometimes have to fight to be believed.

But they do keep fighting, in some cases for years.

“It’s funny, they say you don’t understand love until you become a parent, and it’s absolutely true,” Seliskar said. “I think a lot of parents, they’ll do anything for their child. And it drives them to really keep seeking until they get some help.”

Filler-Corn Receives Excellence in Education & Workforce Development Award

May 18, 2017

Burke — On May 11, The Virginia Chamber of Commerce awarded Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), the Excellence in Education & Workforce Development Award for her efforts to improve workforce development. Filler-Corn was one of three Democratic members of the House of Delegates to be honored by the largest pro-business advocacy organization, Thursday night in Richmond at the Chamber’s 93rd Annual Dinner and 2017 Legislative Awards Reception.

“Del. Eileen Filler-Corn sponsored bipartisan legislation that will help address Virginia’s most critical workforce-readiness needs,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We are pleased to recognize her with the Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award for her leadership in improving career and technical education in Virginia high schools.”

Filler-Corn has both introduced or co-patroned key bipartisan legislation focused on improving workforce development for many years and this year was no different. She introduced bipartisan legislation this session (backed by the Chamber of Commerce) that would have changed the way the Commonwealth looks at accreditation by including industry career technical education credits. She also introduced a resolution that would have studied experiential learning and workforce development opportunities for high school students in high-demand fields.

“I am grateful to Virginia Chamber of Commerce for honoring me with the Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award,” said Filler-Corn. “Education and workforce development are always key priorities for me. I was proud to introduce legislation this year that focuses on workforce development, specifically preparing our high school students for the workforce. This is an area I care deeply about as I also serve as Chair of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, a statewide program which helps Virginia’s at-risk students graduate high school and transition from school to work,” she added.

Filler-Corn hopes to continue to work on legislation that fully prepares Virginia students for the workforce in the coming 2018 session.

At N.Va. venue, governor signs bipartisan birth-control measure

April 28, 2017

Gov. McAuliffe used an April 26 appearance in Arlington to sign legislation allowing women enrolled in health-care plans to purchase up to a year’s supply of birth-control pills at a time.

The measure, patroned by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield), won bipartisan support on votes of 94-1 in the House of Delegates and 34-6 in the state Senate.

The measure supersedes current law, which does not permit the dispensing of birth-control measures for such a long period of time.

“Access to safe, reliable birth control will benefit many throughout the commonwealth,” Filler-Corn said. “This is a major victory for Virginia women.”

McAuliffe signed the legislation at the Warren G. Stambaugh Human Services Center, which houses the Arlington Department of Human Services. The late Stambaugh represented Arlington in the General Assembly, where he focused on health and human-services issues.

Virginia Governor Signs Law Expanding Coverage Of Birth Control

April 27, 2017

Women in Virginia will soon be able to get a full year’s supply of birth control pills covered by their insurance. Under current insurance policies, Virginians can only receive three months’ worth of pills at a time. The new law requires insurers to cover a 12 months’ supply instead.

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the Birth Control Access Act into law Wednesday at a clinic in Arlington. He was surrounded by women’s rights advocates and elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), a current gubernational candidate.

The bill was sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), who called the bill signing a “huge moment” for women in Virginia.

Supporters of the new law say receiving a year’s supply of pills at a time could make it easier for women to stay on the medication, which could lead to a decrease in unplanned pregnancies. According to NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, more trips to the doctor and the pharmacy to obtain birth control prescriptions can interfere with consistent birth control use.

Gov. McAuliffe has called the legislation a major bipartisan victory. The bill passed through the Republican-controlled legislature with large majorities — it was approved by the House by a vote of 94-1 on Feb. 7, and the Senate by a vote of 34-6 on Feb. 16.

Currently, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have similar statutes in place. Virginia’s new law will go into effect July 1.

Governor signs bill giving women access to a year’s supply of birth control pills

April 26, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that will make getting birth control easier for women.

HB 2267, which was introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield), gives women the option to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control pills for up to one year at a time.

Previously, health insurance policies typically allowed 90 days’ worth of prescriptions to be mailed at a time.

After the signing, Del. Filler-Corn called it a “huge moment for [Virginia] women.”

Amy Spicer knows how challenging it can be to get birth control in bulk. Last year, she went on a 12-month trip across the globe.

The most difficult part of her planning? Not packing, not raising funds, but making sure she had a year’s worth of prescriptions with her.

“It was probably the biggest struggle for me going on this trip,” she said. “I spent a lot of time talking to insurance and talking to the pharmacy going back and forth. It was a big struggle to get a year’s worth.”

Dr. Kenley Neuman of Virginia Physicians for Women says the change is a good thing.

“I definitely think it’ll be helpful to many women,” said Dr. Neuman.

Dr. Neuman says this exact thing has proven to be effective.

“There have been studies that show women who are provided a one year supply of birth control are 30 percent less likely to have an unintended pregnancy compared to those given a one to three month supply,” she said.

Dr. Neuman says it can be difficult to remember when to pick up pills, and sometimes pharmacies don’t have prescriptions ready when you arrive. Others, like Spicer, need multiple months’ worth in advance.

Though it’ll be easier to access birth control pills, Dr. Neuman says don’t be a stranger to your doctor.

“If you’re having any symptoms or problems or concerns about side effects, you need to see your doctor. If it’s a medication you’ve been on for a while, we still want to see you every year to check and make sure it’s still the right prescription for you,” she said.

New law orders Va. insurers to cover 12-month supply of birth-control pills

April 26, 2017

Virginia women will be able to have their insurance provider cover a full year of birth-control pills at once under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe at an Arlington County clinic.

McAuliffe (D), surrounded by about a dozen elected officials and more than 50 women’s rights advocates, said he was happy to sign what he called the first positive women’s reproductive health measure to emerge from the legislature in his term.

“I’ve spent these years blocking and tackling, stopping the most insane anti-women legislation you can imagine,” he said after the event at the Arlington County Stambaugh Human Services Center Clinic. “This is why elections do matter.”

The bill-signing had the feel of a campaign rally as the ebullient governor bounded into the packed room to a round of applause and joined a crowd of state and local elected officials at the dais. He was introduced by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who hopes to succeed McAuliffe in the governor’s mansion in November.

McAuliffe touted the candidacy of Northam, who is battling former congressman Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination, and gave a shout-out to Democrats in the House of Delegates, who helped sustain the record 111 vetoes he has issued during his term.

“If I lost one Democrat in the House of Delegates, one single vote, I would have been overridden. They stood with me,” McAuliffe said.

When the new law takes effect July 1, Virginia will join five other states — Oregon, California, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont — and the District of Columbia in requiring insurance companies to cover 12 months of birth control at a time.

The legislation was sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), who said it will help women avoid gaps in birth-control use. It passed both chambers in the Republican-controlled legislature with large bipartisan majorities.

Representatives for health insurers questioned whether the law was necessary, noting that current insurance policies allow people to get 90-day prescriptions and ask for automatic refills.

Advocates called the 12-month birth-control measure a “common-sense” measure that will make it easier for women to stay on the medication.

They cited studies that say having access to 12 months of birth-control pills could reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies by 30 percent and decrease by 46 percent the odds of having an abortion.

A similar bill failed to get out of committee in 2016. The difference this year was that Filler-Corn personally lobbied Republicans, said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.

In addition, women’s advocates, accompanied by three physicians, talked with lawmakers who had opposed the bill a year earlier.

“It just makes sense that women have consistent, reliable access to birth control so they can control their reproductive destiny,” Keene said. “It’s much cheaper to supply a woman with a year’s worth of birth control than cover an unexpected childbirth.”

Residents demand effective action from local politicians

March 17, 2017

The longest bout of applause at the General Assembly session wrap-up panel held in Fairfax on Mar. 11 by the public policy advocacy network Social Action Linking Together (SALT) went to a Muslim man who tried to ask a question.

Identifying himself as a long-time U.S. citizen, Jisan Zaman got caught up in his emotions as he chokingly worked his way through a question to the General Assembly members in attendance about how they plan to address recent surges in hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiments.

At one point, the woman standing behind Zaman in the Q&A line gave him a hug.

Zaman, who came to the U.S. when he was 10 and now works in McLean as a senior software developer for Celerity, seemed a little embarrassed and frustrated afterwards that his emotions prevented him from properly explaining his inquiry.

While he appreciated the support he got in the room from fellow constituents and the legislators, Zaman expressed skepticism that the feelings of goodwill can translate into effective political action.

“I was kind of disappointed by some of the answers,” Zaman said of the response he got to his question. “I’m not from the six countries [included in President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban], but I think it’s turning the waters for what’s coming next.”

Trump issued an executive order on Mar. 6 that temporarily suspended entry into the U.S. by nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen as well as the admittance of all refugees. A previous version of the executive order also applied the travel ban to Iraq.

The General Assembly members at the panel--all of whom were Democrats--noted that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring have spoken out against the executive order.

“Our top leaders are fighting with us and for us,” Senator Barbara Favola (D-31st) said. “We do live in a very diverse local community in Northern Virginia, and all of our local governments have come out and said that they are going to ensure that the police embrace an environment of trust with everyone they’re serving.”

Zaman says he had hoped for a more proactive response, such as specific legislation designed to protect immigrants and counter faith-based discrimination.

Fairfax Delegate Mark Keam (D-35th), who was born in Seoul, Korea, and lived in Vietnam and Australia before immigrating to the U.S. with his family, says that it is difficult to make progress on immigration and civil rights, because he and the General Assembly’s Democrats have to focus their energy on opposing legislation.

For example, during the 2017 General Assembly session, the Republican-majority House of Delegates and Senate both passed a bill that required nonprofit resettlement agencies to annually report information about resettled individuals, including refugees, to the Department of Social Services.

Both chambers also passed a bill that required local jails to assist federal immigration authorities by detaining inmates sought after by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

McAuliffe, a Democrat, subsequently vetoed the first bill, known as H.B. 2002, on Feb. 24 and the second bill, H.B. 1468, on Mar. 3, according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System.

“As someone who cares about immigrant rights and minority rights, we have to play defense against bills on the wrong side,” Keam said. “To do something positive, there just aren’t the opportunities, because we’re only one-third of the votes.”

The challenge of getting traction for progressive legislation in a staunchly conservative General Assembly emerged as a dominant theme of the wrap-up panel, which took place on the Virginia International University campus in Fairfax.

While it is officially nonpartisan and does not advocate for particular candidates or political parties, SALT focuses on policy related to poverty and other social justice causes, and the faith-based organization generally skews liberal.

According to SALT founder and coordinator John Horejsi, who moderated the event, the group invited several Republican representatives, including Delegates Richard Anderson (R-51st), Robert Marshall (R-13th) and Timothy Hugo (R-40th), but none of them came. Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-67th) was also invited and has attended previous wrap-up panels.

As members of the minority party in the General Assembly, the legislators who attended the panel spent as much time discussing what they were unable to accomplish in the 2017 session as they did on successful bills.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41st), for instance, passed a bill requiring school principals to notify parents of students involved in alleged incidents of bullying regarding the status of any investigations into the incident.

She also served as chief patron for the New Americans Voting Act, which would have extended the amount of time new citizens have to register to vote, and a bill to increase the monetary threshold for an act of larceny to be classified as a felony, but both bills died in committee.

Filler-Corn says she plans to reintroduce the felony larceny bill next year, since it failed by only one vote.

Delegate Jennifer Boysko (D-86th) cited the unanimous passage of a bill letting trained individuals dispense naloxone, a drug that can be used in emergencies to treat opioid overdoses, among the biggest successes of the 2017 General Assembly session.

Boysko originally introduced the bill in December, but it was tabled by a House subcommittee on Jan. 24 and replaced with a nearly identical bill sponsored by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) that was ultimately passed by both chambers and approved by the governor.

Boysko was listed as a chief co-patron on LaRock’s bill.

“I have learned…that you cannot care about who gets the credit on the work that you do,” Boysko, who was elected to the House in 2015, said.

The Fairfax delegate’s “Dignity Act” exempting personal hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary pads, from the sales and use tax and a bill prohibiting employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their salary history both died in committee.

Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) passed a bill aimed at helping women- or minority-owned small businesses receive certification, legislation that McAuliffe signed on Mar. 13, but bills addressing lead levels in drinking water, the use of child labor on tobacco farms, and driver’s license suspensions for failing to pay fines were all left on the table by subcommittees.

In total, of the 1,221 bills that failed in the General Assembly this past session, only 30 were brought to the floor, while the remainder died in committee. 824 bills were defeated without recorded votes, according to Horejsi.

Because the Commonwealth does not officially broadcast legislative committee hearings, the Virginia Transparency Caucus, led by Delegate Mark Levine (D-45th) and Senator Amanda Chase (R-11th), has started to videotape committee meetings, managing to film to about 75 percent of all legislation in committees and subcommittees.

More than 60 percent of all state legislators signed a letter distributed by the transparency caucus calling for the new General Assembly building that will replace the current structure, which is scheduled for demolition this year, to feature cameras and vote-recording equipment, according to Levine.

“Transparency is important,” Levine said. “[Senator Chase] and I don’t agree on virtually anything, but we do agree that the public has a right to know what goes on behind closed doors in committees and subcommittees in the General Assembly.”

Sexual Consent Education May Be Added to Virginia High School Lessons

March 2, 2017

Lessons about sexual consent may be added to the high school sexual education curriculum in Virginia.

A bill passed last month by the Virginia General Assembly requires the addition of "age-appropriate" information on consent to the Family Life Education curriculum taught in high schools. Students would be taught how to determine if someone is giving permission to engage in sex.

If young people don't get any lessons on consent until they go to college, it's too late, said Fairfax County Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, who introduced the legislation.

“If the first time our students are hearing about what’s appropriate is at college orientation, then we’ve really missed the boat, and it’s too late," she said.

She said House Bill 2257 is aimed at stopping sexual violence.

“This is an issue that has been very important to me as a mom, not just as a legislator, for years and years," she said in an interview.

A coordinator in Fairfax County schools' health, family life and physical education department said explaining consent to students is a must.

“The CDC put out information a couple of years ago when we started this conversation in our community about implementing this, that 1in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Liz Payne said.

Lessons about consent would be introduced statewide in the context of discussion of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Filler-Corn's bill on teaching students about healthy relationships passed last year and is now law.

In 2015, California became the first state in the country to require that school districts add information on sexual consent to their health lessons. 

In Fairfax County, discussion of consent begins in 10th grade. By the time students are in 12th grade, government teachers take over the subject and educate students about legal ramifications.

Filler-Corn responded to the idea that discussions of sex are best done at home, not in the classroom. She agreed.

“Yeah that makes a lot of sense, but they’re not all learning that at home," she said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign the bill into law.

Families and entire jurisdictions in the state would be able to opt out of the lessons. In Fairfax County, parents already have that option.

Editorial: Good, Bad and Missed Opportunities

February 28, 2017

GOOD THINGS

Progress in funding mental health and addressing the opioid epidemic on multiple levels were among the successes of the 2017 General Assembly session.

  • In addressing the opioid crisis, the General Assembly passed important steps, including Del. Tim Hugo’s bill to limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply in most cases; increased access to naloxone, a drug that instantly reverses an overdose; needle exchange programs (to reduce the spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases); focus on infants born with opioid exposure.
  • Increased funding for mental health included $7.5 million to facilitate providing same-day access to mental health screening services by July 1, 2019. (The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board began offering same day, in-person screening for mental health/and or substance use concerns to adults in July 2015 and extended same day access service to youth. The official launch date for youth walk-in service was Feb. 1, 2017.) Also supports for discharge planning and services for people with serious mental illness being released from jail.
  • The budget included 3 percent raises state employees, increase for teachers and a larger increase for state police.
  • The Virginia Board of Corrections was given added authority and resources to review deaths in local and regional jails.
  • Negotiation and legislation will accelerate the City of Alexandria’s massive undertaking to fix its sewer system that dumps raw sewage into the Potomac River whenever it rains. Wendell Berry’s version of the golden rule: “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
  • Scott Surovell’s bill requiring Dominion to provide better information on coal ash pollution, disaster preparedness, and recycling.
  • Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill requiring that insurance cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives when dispensed or furnished at one time.
  • School boards are required to have anti-bullying policies that includes notifying parents that their student was involved in a bullying incident.
  • Use of FaceBook Live allowed members to stream floor discussion, and report to constituents and answer questions directly.

BAD BILLS

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has already vetoed some of these, and is expected to veto some others.

  • Expanded access to concealed weapons; vetoed by Governor. SB1362 would allows anyone with a military ID card to carry concealed weapon; HB2077 would allow guns in emergency shelters and prevents state police or others from prohibiting them for any reason
  • End funding of Planned Parenthood, vetoed by Governor.
  • Anti-Sanctuary City Law HB 2000 says no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
  • As a reality check on the Virginia General Assembly, HB2025 would allow discrimination against LGBT community under guise of religious freedom, and passed 21-19 in the Senate and 57-37 in the House of Delegates.
  • HJ 545 would allow special committees of the General Assembly to overturn regulations, upsetting separation of powers. Constitutional amendment (first resolution): “Provides that the General Assembly may suspend or nullify any or all portions of any administrative rule or regulation.”
  • Photo identification required for absentee ballots.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

  • The biggest missed opportunity of the 2017 General Assembly session was the failure to advance any redistricting legislation, which passed in the Senate and died in the House of Delegates. It’s clear that Virginia voters want an end to gerrymandering, but hopes for reform before the next census in 2020 are diminished.
  • Mental Health in Jails: $4.5 million was removed from the Governor’s proposed budget that would have paid for desperately needed mental health screening in jails.
  • Legislation to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500 failed. Virginia’s threshold has not changed since 1981, unnecessarily focusing “police and prosecutors on minor crimes instead of violent crime while tainting thousands of Virginia’s suffering from depression or drug addiction with felony charges for life,” says Surovell.
  • Ken Plum’s bill to increase and index the minimum wage never made it out of committee.
  • Bills to address student debt also died during the session, as did bills aimed at reducing student suspensions and expulsions.
  • Republicans stripped language that would have brought $6 million in federal funds to provide Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) to those at risk for unintended pregnancy at no cost to Virginia voters.

Thanks to Ken Plum, Scott Surovell, Marcus Simon, Jennifer Boysko, Adam Ebbin and others whose columns and responses helped inform this editorial. We welcome opinions and additions to this list.

— Mary Kimm

5-day deadline to report school bullying goes to Va. governor

February 25, 2017

RICHMOND — Virginia principals would be required to notify parents of bullies and their victims within five days of any report of bullying under a bill given final approval by the General Assembly Friday.

While the agreement to require the notification within five school days sailed through the Senate, it sparked debate from some House members who wanted the deadline extended.

“If my child was bullying, was being bullied, I would want to know,” responded the bill’s sponsor, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 41st District.

She hopes the notifications could prevent bullying, including online.

Another delegate, Marcus Simon, said the notification could have helped him.

“My son was the bully, and I didn’t know about it ’til he told me about it,” said the Democrat representing the 53rd District. “My wife and I, we called the school to find out what was going on, and we called the parents of the other child, and guess what? We put an end to it, and we fixed it, just as soon as we found out,” he said.

Opponents of reducing the notification period from the 14 days the House had initially approved to the five days agreed to in the Senate expressed concerns that parents could be notified before instances are confirmed.

“Maybe there was an altercation, and the other child said, ‘They were bullying me,’ but in fact they just had a disagreement or they got into an argument,” said Del. Steve Landes, a Republican representing the 25th District.

“You don’t have the time in five days to clear all that up and make sure that Johnny’s not being wrongly accused of something that Sammy said,” he said.

Waiting any longer could make the process stretch on for weeks if there are days off of school in between, said Dickie Bell, a Republican representing the 20th District.

“Any act of bullying, whether it’s real or perceived, is a serious thing, and it needs to be treated as a priority,” Bell said.

The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Virginia’s General Assembly is expected to wrap up its annual session on Saturday with a vote on the budget and some other outstanding bills.

Lawmakers return in April for a one-day session to consider any vetoes or amendments suggested by the governor to bills they have passed.

 

God, waffles and graffiti: The General Assembly building on one of its final days

February 22, 2017

If you work in the Virginia General Assembly Building, you’ve been talking for years about asbestos and how the germ-filled building seems to make people sick.

The elevators are overloaded, the plumbing shaky and the temperature never right. A new building is on the way, and it’s hard to find someone who will actually miss this charmless place — actually four structures connected — that’s scheduled for demolition.

The lawmakers and their staffs will move into the nearby Pocahontas Building for the next four General Assembly sessions while a new building is constructed.

On Wednesday, on one of its final days as a working legislative building, the GAB, as the General Assembly Building is known, no longer displayed much of the photos and artwork along its walls near legislative offices. Many lawmakers have boxed up their stuff and moved it to their cars — or their statues and awards and plaques are snug in bubble wrap waiting for departure.

The large crowds of school groups and gun activists are long gone as this year’s 46-day session nears its end, which could be Friday, or Saturday at the latest.

But on this Wednesday in its final week, the old GAB, a building no one seems overly sad to leave, took on a spirited feel.

***

William J. Howell, the esteemed speaker of the House of Delegates, already announced his retirement this week. At 7 a.m. Howell hosted his last speaker’s Bible study caucus, a group that started meeting in the early 1990s.

Lawmakers of both parties joined lobbyists and pages listening to Howell read from the Bible, then guide a Q&A. Howell asked if someone could read Psalm 21. David Skiles, a lobbyist, volunteered.

In a discussion about leadership and following God to find one’s true abilities, Howell said, “People will remind you from time to time that you’re not doing things perfectly.”

He prayed that those in Richmond will return safely to their families when the General Assembly session ends.

In his office afterward, two pages — Jacob Boykin of Powhatan and Logan Kellum of the Northern Neck — gave Howell a preview of a prayer that was to be read at a page ceremony, and got photos with him.

Howell said he’s taking some of his office’s contents to the Pocahontas Building because he remains speaker until January. But a lot of it needs to go, he said.

***

Two floors up at the office of Del. Daun Sessoms Hester, D-Norfolk, Morgan Jameson and Ann Fitzgibbon made waffles.

Fitzgibbon is an assistant to Hester and Jameson an assistant to Del. Jennifer B. Boysko, D-Fairfax. His apron read, “What the” and then showed a picture of a fork.

“We might run out of mix,” Jameson said. An intern was drafted into getting more. They later clarified that he “volunteered” to go to Kroger for more mix.

Word of “Waffle Wednesday” spread. Kevin Groh, a session assistant to Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, raved about the Costco maple syrup. Del. C. Matthew Fariss, R-Campbell, enjoyed a plate.

Perhaps inspired by the knowledge that the GAB will be demolished, Fariss did some interior decorating on the eighth floor.

One of the more entertaining sequences of the legislative session was debate over a bill from Howell, which ultimately failed, that would have created fines for people whose hunting dogs roam onto others’ property. Fariss, who opposed the bill, told an entertaining story on the House floor of a fantasy rabbit hunt at Capitol Square.

With a black marker on Wednesday, he wrote on a wall in the GAB: “HUNTING WITH DogS WELCOME,” realizing too late that his capitalization was not consistent throughout the message.

People coming off the eighth floor elevator marveled. A reporter later tweeted a photo of the area showing that the message had been removed, the wall restored to pure white.

Meanwhile, rumor spread of a Bloody Mary bar available at one lawmaker’s office.

 

Lawmakers approve bill to allow women to get year’s worth of birth control

February 16, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Senate on Thursday passed legislation allowing pharmacists to provide women a full year of birth control pills at once if prescribed by a doctor.

HB 2267, was sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield. The bill, titled the Birth Control Access Act, will now be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to be signed into law.

Women’s right activists praised the measure’s passage. Many insurance policies currently limit women to a 90-day supply of birth control pills.

“Passing the Birth Control Access Act is a huge victory for women. Women lead busy lives, and going back and forth to the pharmacy every few weeks to get the birth control they need isn’t necessary, so we’re thrilled that the General Assembly has passed this common-sense solution,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia. “Everyone in a community benefits when women are able to take control of their own bodies, and passing this bill is a step in the right direction.”

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam agreed.

“I applaud the Senate for supporting expanded access to contraception for Virginia women. Extending oral contraceptive prescriptions to 12 months will ensure that more women have reliable access to reproductive health care,” Northam said.

“As a doctor, I know that having prescription options is important for the best patient care. Moving forward, I would urge members of the General Assembly to support measures to promote access to the full-range of reproductive health care services for all Virginia women.”

The bill states, “Any health benefit plan that is amended, renewed, or delivered on or after January 1, 2018, that provides coverage for hormonal contraceptives shall cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives when dispensed or furnished at one time for a covered person by a provider or pharmacy or at a location licensed or otherwise authorized to dispense drugs or supplies.”

The bill – which had been approved by the House, 94-1, on Feb. 7 – passed the Senate on a vote of 34-6.

Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, said current insurance policies allow 90 days’ worth of prescription to be mailed at a time. People can check an “automatic refill” box and automatically receive a refill as a prescription starts to run out.

The existing law for prescription contraceptives does not specify the amount that can be prescribed at once. Filler-Corn’s bill would solve that vagueness.

“We applaud the bipartisan vote,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “It’s a rare moment in Richmond when a pro-choice, proactive women’s health bill is advanced on a bipartisan basis.”

Research has shown that women who receive a one-year supply of oral contraceptives are more likely to continuously and consistently use contraceptives than women who get only a one- or three-month supply.

Studies show that unintended pregnancy is reduced by 30 percent and abortion is reduced by 46 percent when women have access to a full year’s supply of birth control, according to Progress Virginia.

The group noted that the average cost to an insurer of birth control for one year is $160-$600. A birth can cost an insurer between $18,000 and $28,000.

Bill Would Mandate Coverage of 12-month Birth Control Supply

February 13, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A bill advancing in the General Assembly would require health insurance companies to cover a 12-month supply of prescription birth control.

A Senate committee approved the measure Monday. It has already passed the House of Delegates with only one no vote.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, says it will ease a burden for women and prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Three physicians testified in support of the measure.

The bill doesn't require that providers write a 12-month prescription.

Opponents, including insurance industry representatives, said the bill could lead to waste.

 

Va. House of Delegates OKs letting women buy a year’s worth of birth control

February 7, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – The House of Delegates on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed legislation allowing pharmacists to provide women a full year of birth control pills at once if prescribed by a doctor.

The House voted 94-1 in favor of HB 2267, sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield. The bill, titled the Birth Control Access Act, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Women’s right activists praised the measure’s passage. Current insurance policies in Virginia generally limit women to a 90-day supply of birth control pills.

“Expanding access to birth control just makes sense, and we are thrilled that the House has passed this bill,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of the advocacy group Progress Virginia. “Women lead busy lives, and there’s no medical reason to make them go back and forth to the pharmacy every month to get the medication they need.”

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, cast the only vote against the bill. Four Republicans – Dels. Matthew Fariss of Campbell County, Nicholas Freitas of Campbell County, James Morefield of Tazewell County and Charles Poindexter of Franklin County – did not vote.

The legislation states, “Any health benefit plan that is amended, renewed, or delivered on or after January 1, 2018, that provides coverage for hormonal contraceptives shall cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives when dispensed or furnished at one time for a covered person by a provider or pharmacy or at a location licensed or otherwise authorized to dispense drugs or supplies.”

Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, said current insurance policies allow 90 days’ worth of prescription to be mailed at a time. People can check an “automatic refill” box and automatically receive a refill as a prescription starts to run out.

The existing law for prescription contraceptives does not specify the amount that can be prescribed at one time. Filler-Corn’s bill would solve that vagueness.

“We applaud the bipartisan vote,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “It’s a rare moment in Richmond when a pro-choice, proactive women’s health bill is advanced on a bipartisan basis.”

Research has shown that women who receive a one-year supply of oral contraceptives are more likely to continuously and consistently use contraceptives than women who get only a one- or three-month supply.

Studies also show that unintended pregnancy is reduced by 30 percent and abortion is reduced by 46 percent when women have access to a full year’s supply of birth control, according to Progress Virginia.

The group noted that the average cost to an insurer of birth control for one year is $160-$600. A birth can cost an insurer between $18,000 and $28,000.

Not Representative of Who We Are — Richmond Report

February 3, 2017

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

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

Joining Women's March on Washington

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

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

Legislative Update

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

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

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

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

Visitors to Richmond

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

It is my privilege to serve in the House of Delegates on your behalf and address the issues that face the 41st District and the Commonwealth as a whole. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you in Richmond and/or out and about in the 41st District during the weekends. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office.

Women may be able to buy a year’s worth of birth control

February 3, 2017

RICHMOND – Virginia women finally would be able to obtain a year’s worth of birth control at one time if prescribed by a doctor, under a bill going forward in the House of Delegates.

The House Commerce and Labor Committee advanced the Birth Control Access Act (HB 2267), sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield. The committee unanimously voted for the bill Thursday and sent it to the full House for approval.

The bill states, “Any health benefit plan that is amended, renewed, or delivered on or after January 1, 2018, that provides coverage for hormonal contraceptives shall cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives when dispensed or furnished at one time for a covered person by a provider or pharmacy or at a location licensed or otherwise authorized to dispense drugs or supplies.”

Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, said current insurance policies generally allow 90 days’ worth of prescription to be mailed at a time. People can check an “automatic refill” box and automatically receive a refill as a prescription starts to run out. Gray said HB 2267 would make birth control more accessible.

The existing law for prescription contraceptives does not specify the amount that can be prescribed at once. Filler-Corn’s bill would solve that vagueness.

“We applaud the bipartisan vote,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “It’s a rare moment in Richmond when a pro-choice, proactive women’s health bill is advanced on a bipartisan basis.”

While Republicans voted to pass this bill, they are also pushing forward a bill to end state funding to Planned Parenthood. HB 2264, introduced by Del. Ben Cline, R-Lexington, would “prohibit the Department of Health from spending any funds on an abortion that is not qualified for matching funds under the Medicaid program or providing any grants or other funds to any entity that performs such abortions.”

Pro-choice activists noted that Cline voted in favor of the Birth Control Access Act and at the same time is working to defund an organization that widely distributes contraception.

The access bill is geared toward hormonal birth control, also called “the pill.” According to a 2011 study by the University of California, women who receive only three months of birth control at a time are more likely to lapse on taking the pill or stop taking it altogether.

In economic terms, the pill can cost $160 to $600 a year, and the cost of a birth is $18,329-$27,866, according to a CNN report in 2013. The cost of raising a child is around $12,500 per year per child. Economically speaking, it’s cheaper to give women a year’s worth of birth control rather than have an unintended, increased-risk pregnancy.

Among the access bill’s advocates was Margie Del Castillo, associate director of community mobilization with the NLIRH Virginia Latina Advocacy Network.

“Continuous access to contraception helps Latinxs plan their families and their futures, improving their health and well-being,” Del Castillo said in a statement. “This bill will provide a 12-month supply of oral contraceptives for Latinxs in Virginia and help in the fight against the health inequities that currently exist in our community.”

 

In Suprise Twist, Virginia Lawmakers Revive Bill on 'Consent' in Sex Ed

January 31, 2017

Last week we brought you the story of a bill that was shot down in Richmond. The measure would have required the topic of consent in relationships be part of high school curriculums.

But now, that measure has been revived. Early Monday morning, it passed the Republican-controlled education committee.

Mallory Noe-Payne explains.

It’s not entirely clear what happened, but lawmakers seemed to have had a change of heart on Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill. It directs school districts to incorporate the topic of consent and permission into their family life lessons -- beginning in 9th grade, says Filler-Corn, a Democrat from Northern Virginia.

“It’s a step in the right direction, all towards educating our youth in an age appropriateevidence based manner,” explains Filler-Corn. “And this will hopefully prevent future instances that we all are reading about so often.”

Republican lawmakers on a subcommittee hesitated last week, saying they were concerned such lessons might imply to under-age students that they could legally give consent for sex. They voted to table the measure.

But in the full committee meeting Monday many of those same lawmakers seemed pacified by a small tweak in language -- adding the word legal, before consent.

“One of the aims of this language is too point out that even though a consensual relationship among people of high school age that depending upon their age, even if it is consensual, it could be illegal in Virginia,” said Delegate James LeMunyon in the committee hearing. LeMunyon is a Republican from Northern Virginia who is also on the subcommittee that initially heard the proposal and said it needed more work.

“And that was really one of the things that we wanted pointed out in this Family Life education class. I think that was one of the reasons the subcommittee went with this change,” he continued.

Other lawmakers, like Republicans Scott Lingamfelter and Brenda Pogge, also switched their vote.

The measure though, still has a ways to go. It has to pass the full House of Delegates, known for being more conservative, and then on to Virginia’s Senate.

 

Medical marijuana bills go down in House

January 30, 2017

House Republicans shot down medical marijuana reforms Monday expanding access to oils to people with more diseases, but key members indicated they can be swayed on the measures.

With a Senate measure on the same subject already clearing that chamber on a bipartisan vote, it's still possible change could come this session. But Monday night two measures went down on lopsided votes in the House subcommittee that debates changes to Virginia's criminal laws.

Two years ago the legislature approved THC-A oil and cannabidiol, derived from marijuana not producing its characteristic high, for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. This year's House Bill 2135 was initially a full-on medical marijuana bill, legalizing the plant as a treatment for any ailment with a doctor's prescription.

That was reined in before Monday's vote to deal only with the oils, and only for cancer patients. House Bill 1637 would have allowed the oils as a treatment for Crohn's disease.

The subcommittee heard emotional testimony, but members said they didn't hear enough hard science to change the law. Dels. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and Dave Albo, R-Fairfax, said repeatedly that more data, and a bigger push from advocates before the time crush of this legislative session, might have flipped their "no" votes to "yes."

"I don't like to make big decisions like this on the fly," Gilbert told Nikki Narduzzi, a Staunton woman who has Crohn's and swore, tearfully, by the oil as her only treatment option.

The Fraternal Order of Police and a Chesterfield group called Substance Abuse Free Environment opposed the changes, arguing a lack of scientific evidence and the slippery slope toward full marijuana legalization.

Del. Glenn Davis, House Bill 1637's sponsor, acknowledged there are relatively few studies showing oils derived from marijuana as effective treatments. But that's partly because the federal government lists marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, making research difficult.

The anecdotal evidence, Davis said, cannot be ignored.

"Five Nikkis is enough," he said.

Harward payment clears Appropriations

An innocent man who served more than 30 years for a brutal Newport News murder would get $1.55 million from the state under legislation moving forward at the General Assembly.

Keith Allen Harward, whose conviction turned on now debunked bite mark comparisons, was exonerated last year by DNA evidence that pointed to his former shipmate on the USS Carl Vinson as the killer. Authorities now believe it was Jerry L. Crotty who, in the 1980s, raped a Newport News woman and murdered her husband with a crowbar.

The killer left bite marks on the woman's thighs and calves which experts matched to Harward's teeth. Harward was given a rare writ of actual innocence last year. His exoneration was so complete that the Virginia Supreme Court signed off on his release within a day of Attorney General Mark Herring's request.

That process often typically takes weeks, authorities said at the time.

Efforts to reach Harward for comment Monday were not successful. He spent more than half his life in prison.

House Bill 1650, which cleared the House Appropriations Committee on a unanimous vote, would pay Harward nearly $310,000 up front and provide another $1.24 million for an annuity. The bill also entitles Harward to $10,000 free tuition at the state's community colleges. A companion bill is awaiting committee hearing in the Virginia Senate.

Larceny threshold killed

An increase in Virginia's threshold for felony larceny was killed off in subcommittee Monday, but it drew bipartisan support, and opposition, from local legislators.

The bill, a multi-year effort at the General Assembly and filed this year as one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's priorities, would increase the line between misdemeanor theft and a felony from $200 to $500. Virginia's threshold is currently one of the two lowest in the country, tied with New Jersey, McAuliffe has said.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn's bill went down in a House criminal law subcommittee, but it drew support from two Republicans: Del. Les Adams of Chatham and Del. Rick Morris of Carrollton.

"Two-hundred dollars doesn't make any sense," said Morris, who faces child abuse charges in Suffolk but has said repeatedly that he is innocent, something his wife and her ex-husband back him on.

Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, also broke with his party on the vote, going against the bill. Mullin is a prosecutor in juvenile and domestic court.

"What I see in courtrooms is organized groups of gangs who are stealing just below larceny threshold," Mullin said. "They take it into account and will go from retailer to retailer. It's incredibly hard to prove and devastating to the retailer."

Proposal to Make 'Consent' Part of High School Curriculums Dies

January 26, 2017

A bill that would have required Virginia schools teach high-schoolers about consent in relationships was shot down Wednesday in Richmond. 

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, a Democrat of Northern Virginia, thought her proposal to broaden sexual education to include the concept of consent, beginning in the 9th grade, was fairly straightforward.

“It’s all about starting earlier and talking about permission, and as we see there’s a rise in instances of sexual assault, and abuse, and unhealthy relationships," Filler-Corn said. "I think it’s important that we start teaching consent and what that means. What are we talking about? We’re talking about permission.” 

But in a hearing Wednesday morning, members of an education subcommittee disagreed. Republican Delegate Mark Cole of Spotsylvania voiced concern that introducing the idea would imply to kids they could grant consent for sex at all. 

“I know it’s important to teach people that you can’t have your way with somebody without their consent, however -- like I said -- the law currently does not empower someone who is under 18 years old to legally grant consent,” Cole said during the hearing.

Advocates urged lawmakers to view the bill as broader than just sexual consent, citing examples like handholding, or physical teasing. 

But other lawmakers on the House Elementary and Secondary Educationsubcommittee agreed with Cole. 

Delegate Brenda Pogge, a Republican from Norfolk, expressed concern for the context in which the material would be taught -- alongside information about illegal actions like dating violence and domestic abuse. 

"I just want to make sure that, how this is being taught, is not that by giving consent all of these things are okay -- because they are not okay" said Brenda Pogge, a Republican from Norfolk. "It's so broad." 

"I think the bill needs a little more work to be honest," said Delegate James LeMunyon, a Republican from Northern Virginia. "And I'm still not sure what's absent in the current curriculum." 

The current family life curriculum includes teaching the definition of consent in the 10th grade, but the word is not mentioned anywhere else. Filler-Corn's legislation would have required that local school divisions incorporate the concept of consent into their lessons at all highschool grade levels, including freshman year.

But in a vote along party lines, the bill was killed.

After the vote, Filler-Corn had this to say: 

“It’s disturbing, disappointing. I really thought that since this law would be in the Family Life Education section, we’re talking about the option for some families to opt out. Some of them liked the concept but felt like we weren’t quite ready, so I have my work cut out for myself. And I will be working with them and convincing them, and I think they’ll hear from their constituents as well.” 

Filler-Corn says she’ll be back next year with similar legislation. 

Bill to raise felony theft threshold advances in state Senate committee

January 25, 2017

If you steal something worth $200 in Virginia, it’s a felony.

Only New Jersey has the same standard.

In nearly all other states, it’s at least $500 – a level some Virginia legislators endorse.

The state hasn’t raised its felony larceny threshold in 37 years, but a bill that would increase the amount from $200 to $500 advanced in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday.

Two separate Senate bills on the issue were combined, and the legislation has gone to the full Senate. The bill is sponsored by Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax City, and Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax County, is sponsoring a similar bill in the House.

Raising the threshold – the amount at which a misdemeanor theft becomes a felony – has long been an issue in the General Assembly. Last year, an increase to $500 passed the Senate but died in a House subcommittee.

The highest felony threshold, $2,500, is in Wisconsin. Virginia’s threshold has been the same since 1980.

This year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe called for an increase as part of his package of proposed criminal justice reforms.

Supporters said the $200 amount is outdated . With inflation, $200 in 1980 is worth about $585 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We just have not kept the pace,” said Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, adding that a low threshold diminishes the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

Opponents say the state’s current threshold deters shoplifters.

Both the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the state Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys support raising the bar to $500 for larceny.

Vikram Kapil, president of the defense lawyers group, pointed to the lasting impact a felony conviction can have . It can lead to prison time, during which a person can’t provide for his or her family, Kapil said. Down the road, it can create barriers in finding work, housing and education.

“The impact on families is tremendous,” Kapil said. “The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor can be dramatic.”

Eric Olsen, president of the commonwealth’s attorneys group, said prosecutors rarely pursue a felony larceny charge against a first-time offender accused of stealing an item valued near $200 — such as a phone or a pair of shoes. When it’s appropriate, a prosecutor will reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor, he said.

“We recognize that the threshold has not been raised in decades and to account for that lapse of time, it’s appropriate for the misdemeanor-felony line to be higher than when it was enacted,” said Olsen, commonwealth’s attorney for Stafford County.

The state conference of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia also support an increase – but they would like to see the bar even higher, perhaps to $1,500.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the state ACLU, said raising the threshold to $500 is “a good first step.” But a higher amount would bring Virginia in line with what other nearby states have done, she said. Maryland, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. have thresholds set at $1,000 and South Carolina’s is $2,000, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For years, the Virginia Retail Federation has opposed a change. Jodi Roth, a lobbyist with the group, said raising the theft threshold is akin to inviting criminals to steal more. The group worries that increasing the threshold would lead to an increase in crime.

Some retailers operate on a small profit margin and can’t afford the costs to cover thefts, Roth said. “Our opposition has not wavered.”

Last year, Moran and a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, the ACLU and retailers analyzed the issue as part of a “Blueprints for Change” discussion through the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

The department analyzed shoplifting rates from 2000 to 2013 in two groups of states: four that raised their threshold during that time and four that did not. The “Blueprints” report found “little evidence” that raising the threshold led to an increase in shoplifting.

A similar study last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found raising the threshold had “no impact” on overall property crime or larceny rates.

How Virginia House Democrats seek to protect reproductive rights

January 17, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to protect and expand women’s health care in Virginia, House Democrats said Tuesday they have introduced three bills to ensure easier access to abortion and contraceptives.

The bills represent a contrast to Republican measures such as the “Day of Tears” resolution that encourages Virginians to mourn abortion, Democratic legislators and their allies said at a news conference.

Progress Virginia Executive Director Anna Scholl said the General Assembly has seen more than 75 proposals to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care since 2010. She urged legislators to stop making women’s health care political.

“A woman who has decided to have an abortion should be treated with dignity and respect, not subjected to medically unnecessary rules and laws pushed by politicians who wish to shame and stigmatize women,” Scholl said. “Women deserve no less than full autonomy over their healthcare and reproductive care decisions.”

Participants in the news conference included NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, the Virginia Latina Advocacy Network, and Progress Virginia. They endorsed three pending bills involving women’s health and birth control.

Introduced by Del. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-Herndon), the Whole Women’s Health Act (HB 2186) provides that a woman has a fundamental right to a lawful abortion and forbids statutes that may place a burden on this access. The bill would eliminate all the procedures and processes, including the performance of an ultrasound, that are required for a woman’s informed written consent to an abortion.

Del. Jeion A. Ward (D – Hampton), introduced the Patient Trust Act (HB 2286), which would allow women to waive their right to a mandatory waiting period before seeking an abortion.

“These bills recognize that after receiving medically appropriate counseling and information from a healthcare provider, it is not in a woman’s best interest to force her to receive additional non-medical information,” said Janice Craft, director of policy and government affairs for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.

“Laws that require a woman to hear or receive information that she does not want or need and that her physician believes is irrelevant to her care, biased, misleading or outright false violate the basic tenets of informed consent and the standards of medical ethics,” Craft said.

The Birth Control Access Act (HB 2267), introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D – Fairfax County), allows women to receive a full 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives at one time. The bill is expected to face opposition from insurance companies.

Dr. Wendy Klein, a Richmond physician, spoke on behalf of the bill as a clinician and scholar in women’s health.

“As a physician, I can tell you that interruptions in birth control supply are a huge impediment to birth control actually working and preventing unintended pregnancies. That’s why having the ability to pick up a full year’s supply of hormonal contraceptives is such a big deal, and there’s no medical reason to restrict access to it,” Klein said.

According to a Pew research poll, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the age of 45 and 7 in 10 women support the right to have an abortion. The speakers urged members of the General Assembly to pass the bills as soon as possible.

“When a woman has to travel hours away from home, spend the night in a hotel, get childcare for her children, and lose hours at work, all to have an extremely safe, simple medical procedure, something is wrong,” said Dr. Mark Ryan, a family practice doctor in Richmond.

“Legislators belong in the legislature, not forcing themselves between my patient and me as we work together to determine the best steps for my patient’s health.”

Va. launches ABLE program for people with disabilities

December 27, 2016

WASHINGTON — Virginia has launched its version of the ABLE savings program, which lets people with disabilities and their families save money for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for other assistance programs.

ABLEnow is a tax-advantaged account that allows eligible people to save up to $14,000 a year. Virginia is one of the first states in the nation to offer an ABLE savings account program.

Maryland is expected to implement its version of ABLE in late 2017.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law Dec. 19, 2014, creating tax-free savings accounts to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation. It supplements other benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, the Supplemental Security Income program and other sources.

The accounts are administered like college savings accounts, health savings accounts and individual retirement accounts.

“ABLEnow allows individuals with disabilities to save like never before and, for many, we believe this will be a big step for independence and personal empowerment,” said Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529, the state agency administering the new ABLEnow program.

The Virginia ABLEnow program includes a debit card that can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses directly from the account.

The Virginia ABLEnow program has no enrollment fee and no minimum contribution.

Learn more about Virginia’s ABLEnow program.

 

Burke, Fairfax, Springfield: Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) joins ABLEnow in commemorating the opening of the first ABLEnow account in Virginia.

December 23, 2016

On Monday, December 19th, the 2nd year anniversary of the federal passage of the ABLE Act, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) joined ABLEnow for a press conference to commemorate the opening of the first ABLEnow account in Virginia. Fittingly, this account was opened for Natalie Beck, whose parents first came up with the idea for ABLE accounts several years ago.

"The ABLE Act is proof of the power of citizen advocacy," said Filler-Corn. "From the kitchen table of Catherine and Stephen Beck in the 41st District, to President Obama’s desk and to Governor McAuliffe’s pen, twice, the 2015 bill and the 2016 bill both experienced a long journey. A journey that Stephen unfortunately was not able to see come to a close. But Stephen’s legacy will live on through his daughter Natalie, and through these ABLE Accounts and the families that they will help."

Delegate Filler-Corn introduced and helped pass the Virginia Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act during the 2015 Virginia General Assembly Session. This law makes it possible for individuals with disabilities and their families to open tax-free savings accounts to cover important expenses such as education and housing.

Other guests that joined Delegate Filler-Corn and the Beck family at the press conference included U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8), Mary Morris, the CEO of Virginia529 College Savings Plan, ABLEnow, Michael Morris with the ABLE National Resource Center and Sara Hart Weir with the ABLE Alliance for Financial Empowerment.

Eligible individuals with disabilities can now open their own ABLEnow account. Click here to learn more or to sign up for an ABLEnow account today.

H-Mart Opens in Burke

November 18, 2016

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The store opened with a large crowd and much fanfare, including Korean percussion music, a Chinese lion dance, traditional Vietnamese dance and plenty of balloons. Amongst those in attendance were Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) and Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), as well as members of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Both Filler-Corn and Herrity participated in the official ribbon cutting.

“For more than 27 years, my husband and I have lived and raised our two children just down the street from this shopping center. I was excited when I heard that H-Mart was coming to Burke. I feel particularly fortunate to live in a place as diverse as Fairfax County. Having H-Mart here in Burke, further exposes our community to different cultures, food and traditions. The store is impressive. I was particularly taken by the beautiful produce section and fresh fish. H-Mart has a long history in Virginia and I am so glad that they decided to locate in the 41st District,” said Del. Filler-Corn.

Filler-Corn also mentioned how appreciative she was that in addition to providing new jobs in Burke, H-Mart brings with it a long history of giving back. The company partners with charities both local and national to make its community a better place.

The new H-Mart supermarket is located at 9550 Burke Road, in Burke. It is open seven days a week from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Va. commission recommends not changing state's immunization exclusion guidelines

November 9, 2016

The General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Health Care on Wednesday recommended making no changes to the state’s regulations on possible exemptions, including religious reasons, for otherwise-mandatory school vaccinations.

The decision came after the commission received more than 700 comments on the subject, the majority of which were in favor of taking no action.

The issue was brought before the commission at the bequest of Dels. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, and Christopher P. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who introduced a bill during the most recent General Assembly session that would have removed religious exemptions as a valid reason not to have a child vaccinated.

Filler-Corn and Stolle struck the bill and requested the commission research whether non-medical exemptions should be tightened.

The bill received a great deal of attention from those against mandatory vaccinations, most of whom wore red to Wednesday’s meeting, which was held at the General Assembly building in downtown Richmond. Some in red wore T-shirts and hats supporting President-elect Donald Trump.

Most brought their children with them, and one young boy held a sign that said: “Vote ‘No’ to Mandatory Vaccines.” When the commission recommended taking no action, the crowd cheered.

The commission was created in 1992 with the purpose of recommending and researching medical decisions to ensure Virginia adopts “the most cost-effective and efficacious” health care policies, according to the state code.

The body does not make final decisions on legislation, and its decisions are considered recommendations that the General Assembly will take into account during its next session.

Among those in favor of making no changes to immunization exclusions was the Virginia Department of Health, which stated that “the low exemption rates and relatively high vaccine coverage rates and low morbidity from vaccine preventable diseases” made taking no action on the issue an acceptable option, according to commission documents.

On the other side, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the commission remove the religious exemption option. Earlier this year, the group updated its official policy to recommend states remove non-medical immunization exemptions.

***

Also on Wednesday, the commission recommended the Department of Health create a page on its website that explains palliative care.

Palliative care is meant for those with severe illnesses to ease their pain and symptoms. It is not hospice care, though the two terms are sometimes confused, the commission’s staff explained during a presentation.

The commission’s staff found that the information on one website may not match the information on another, and commission members agreed that one definitive explanation of palliative care would be beneficial to Virginians.

Also discussed during Wednesday’s meeting was another option to provide the Department of Health with $120,506 to create a Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council, in addition to a website.

But commission members seemed hesitant to recommend an option that included additional funding.

Virginia lawmakers will have to close a $654 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.

“Who will carry the budget amendment?” commission member Del. John M. O’Bannon III, R-Henrico, asked, and his comment was met with laughs from other members of the commission.

Welcoming Fall at Burke Centre Festival

Temperature dips between massive two-day event.


With more than just a few degrees Fahrenheit separating Sept. 10 and 11, the two days of the annual Burke Centre Festival, the massive community event once again signaled the end of summer and beginning of fall in more ways than one.

“It always seems to kick off fall,” said former Burke resident Jim Miller, who was demonstrating traditional Okinawan Karate from a Burke Centre Conservancy class.

“I like the community aspect of it -- so many different cultures enjoying themselves,” Miller said.

Miller’s booth was just one of more than a dozen outreach booths at the festival, that included local politicians, churches and temples, and Fairfax County government and services.

There were also around a dozen each of food vendors and sponsor booths, and about 100 crafters.

One fairgoer of Burke said she likes that families have a chance to “see police officers and firefighters as a more friendly aspect” at their vendor booths.

The Burke Veterans of Foreign Wars, local Boy Scouts troop members and politicians supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock), Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) and Rep. Gerry Connolly participated in a patriotic opening ceremony for the festival, which fell on the weekend of September 11.

The festival was organized by the Burke Centre Conservancy. For more information, visit www.burkecentreweb.com or call 703-978-2928.

DMV Expands Range of Services

TSA Pre✓® and Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) available at DMV’s Tysons Corner office.

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Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) joined Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb and Virginia legislators 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. 

TSA Pre✓® offers travelers expedited security screening at select airports across the United States. TWIC provides workers access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime facilities. These important, secure services allow convenient access to safe travel and transport, as well as increasing opportunities for Virginia’s diverse workforce.

“I have been thinking about enrolling in TSA Pre✓® for a while now, and it’s exciting to be able to do so simply by visiting the neighborhood DMV,” said Del. Filler-Corn, a member of the House of Delegates Transportation Committee as well as a member of the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability, while addressing attendees of the ribbon cutting.

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 end of the year, nine DMV offices across the Commonwealth 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 their Virginia birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates on-the-spot at DMV.

“DMV is much more than a place to renew your driver’s license or vehicle registration,” explained Commissioner Holcomb. “DMV is always working to expand its portfolio of product offerings. It’s important that we bring services to you when you need them.”

Delegate Filler-Corn Honored by the Autism Society

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On Tuesday, Aug. 16, the Autism Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) honored Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) with the Community Builder of the Year Award during ASNV’s Annual Wine and Dine for Autism event. This award recognizes those who have had a significant positive impact on the autism community.

ASNV chose to honor Filler-Corn for her work in making the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act a reality in the Commonwealth. Her 2015 bill created “ABLE” Accounts, similar to the 529 college savings accounts, which would allow for those with disabilities as well as their families to save money for various needs including housing, education and medical care. Virginia was the first state to pass such legislation since the passage of the federal act. This past session, Del. Filler-Corn introduced and passed legislation that would ensure these same accounts would be free of means testing. In addition, she also worked with the Governor this year to ensure that the biennial budget included a $2000 income tax deduction for contributions to the ABLE savings accounts starting in Taxable Year 2016.

Addressing the crowd, Filler-Corn spoke of how the ABLE Act came to be, adding with pride that the idea came from constituents in her district. “Stephen Beck and his wife Catherine are parents of a child with Down syndrome and they worried for years about how they would care for Natalie when she was older and they were unable to provide the day to day support they were once able to provide. While sitting at their kitchen table they developed the idea for the [federal] ABLE Act,” said Filler-Corn “After years of advocating and working for its passage at the federal and state level, Catherine and Stephen’s hard work as well as the work of so many others paid off. While unfortunately Stephen is no longer with us, his work with Catherine will live on in these ABLE accounts, which will help countless Virginians for years to come.”

“Overall, it was an incredible evening with fabulous people all committed to make a difference. There was an impressive speech by Connor Cummings, the namesake of Connor's Law, who I had the opportunity to meet in Richmond last year as he advocated in support of legislation. Amazing musical entertainment as well by several incredibly talented individuals including my constituent Jake Sizemore, from Burke, who teaches us that we should look for the talent in everybody,” she said.

Burke, Mount Vernon: Copperthite Race Track Receives Historical Marker

2,000-person grandstand once stood in Burke.

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More than 100 years since Copperthite Race Track opened in Burke, harnessed race horses once again trotted back and forth on the same grounds, now inhabited by the Burke Nursery and Garden Centre.

The race track, including a 2,000-person grandstand, was built by local entrepreneur Henry Copperthite. Elected officials, community members and seven generations of the Copperthite family came together July 31 for a celebration around unveiling of a Fairfax County historical marker for the track.

“In 1897, Henry Copperthite purchased the Silas Burke Farm and constructed nearby one of Virginia’s finest harness racing facilities,” the marker reads. “The racetrack, whose grandstand sat 2,000, opened on July 4, 1908. Horse, harness, motorcycle and car races were featured at the track. Special trains from the Washington, D.C. area brought visitors to Burke, where they could stay at the new hotel. Families enjoyed agricultural fairs, Fort Myer cavalry drills, balloon ascensions, baseball games, athletic contests and dances at a pavilion. For almost a decade, thousands were entertained at the Copperthite racetrack and fairground.”

Copperthite’s great great grandson Mike Copperthite lives in McLean and is proprietor of the family business Henry started, the Connecticut Copperthite Pie Baking Company of Georgetown. Mike Copperthite has spent the last four years working on getting the marker erected.

The Copperthite pie business was once the largest of its time, Mike Copperthite said, with 15,000 employees putting out 50,000 pies a day.

Debbie Robinson, chair of the historical marker committee, said in order for their to be a marker, it was important for Mike Copperthite and his supporters do extensive research of primary source documents and prove all the facts. The marker text, as a result, is heavily footnoted, drawing from period newspapers including “The Washington Post,” “The Sunday Star” and “The Alexandria Gazette.”

“We appreciate what happened in the past, the people who came before us,” Robinson said, “and what they did for our communities, like Henry Copperthite.”

In addition to the racetrack and grandstand, Copperthite built a hotel, sidewalks and a grocery store.

The morning of the marker unveiling, Mike Copperthite (who was joined by seven generations of the Copperthite family) served 600 of the famous pies out of the back of an original 1914 Ford Model T pie delivery truck.

The vintage vehicle was joined by other period Fords of the Nation’s Capital Model T Ford Club, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary. After appearing in Burke, the club members drove to the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum for another viewing.

To give spectators a feel of the harness horse-racing atmosphere, a horse and rider took two eighth of a mile laps on the grass along Burke Road. The running is being submitted for consideration as a record for the longest time between races at the same track.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), who represents the Burke area in the Virginia General Assembly, said she’s always interested in learning more about history and was delighted to “share this momentous occasion.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said celebrating history in this way helps us “understand what we are,” and gives “a better idea of where we want to go, what we want to be.”

Making light of the ongoing work of regulating food trucks in Fairfax County, Bulova referenced the 1914 Ford pie delivery truck. “What goes around comes around,” she said.

Jon Vrana, president of the Burke Historical Society, commented that in this area, there tends to be more focus on the Civil War-era history rather than turn of the century.

“The world was changing,” Vrana said. “This shows this area has rich history across the spectrum. It extends the understanding of the variety and diverse history we have in Fairfax.”

Governing Institute Announces Women in Government Leadership Class of 2017

Twenty-Five New Participants Selected for the Yearlong Program Designed to Promote and Support Elected Women Leaders From Across the Nation

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - August 02, 2016) - The United States is one of the worst-performing developed countries in the world when it comes to the number of women in politics.* Since 2000, the nationwide percentage of women in state legislatures has stagnated, and the 2010 election saw a decline in the number of women in Congress. In an effort to help encourage and support women in government, the Governing Institute today announced the 25 members of the Women in Government Leadership Program Class of 2017.

Governing Institute's Women in Government Leadership Program brings together outstanding elected women leaders from across the nation to acknowledge their contributions, provide leadership development, and to mentor the next generation of women leaders to run for office. The first two classes completed their yearlong curriculums in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The 50 alumnae of the program are now "paying it forward" recruiting women candidates around the U.S.

"The issue of parity is important for women, for families, for our economy and for the country. We are woefully behind other nations in terms of gender equality," said Cathilea Robinett, president of Governing and e.Republic. "Women at the state and local level in both parties need and deserve our support, which is why we launched the Women in Government Leadership Program. Our goal is to build a powerful, national network of state and local elected women leaders."

More than 125 women were nominated for the Class of 2017. The class was selected based on career and educational accomplishments, recommendations, a commitment to actively participate and the goal of seating a diverse class in a number of categories. Each class also includes one rising star, a young woman not yet serving in elected office, but with the interest and potential to run in the future.

The first member of the Class of 2017, California State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, was selected last month as the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) Lois M. DeBerry Scholar. The annual scholarship acknowledges the pioneering work of Rep. DeBerry of Tennessee and encourages recipients to carry the spirit of leadership forward in support of women in elected office as Rep. DeBerry did for 41 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

"The women in the Class of 2017 are among the most influential and devoted elected leaders in state and local government," said Julia Burrows, director of the Governing Institute. "Each year, the program adds to a national collaborative, with 25 new members who establish deep friendships, support their respective campaigns and recruit future female candidates. The common goals of gender parity and better governance forge a bond that rises above partisanship and will pay dividends for literally generations into the future."

Women in Government Leadership Program Class of 2017

The Women in Government Leadership Program Class of 2017 includes women from 19 different states holding a variety of elected offices in state and local government.

The Honorable Diane Allen
New Jersey State Senator

The Honorable Megan Barry
Mayor, Nashville, Tennessee

The Honorable Ruby Brabo
Supervisor, King George County, Virginia

The Honorable Cynthia I. Cloud
Wyoming State Auditor

The Honorable Suzanne Crouch
Indiana State Auditor

The Honorable Debra M. Davis
Commissioner, Charles County, Maryland

The Honorable Eileen Filler-Corn
Virginia State Delegate

The Honorable Karen Freeman-Wilson
Mayor, Gary, Indiana

The Honorable Cindy Hyde-Smith
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture & Commerce

The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine
Councilwoman, Columbia, South Carolina

The Honorable Teresa Jacobs
Mayor, Orange County, Florida

The Honorable Merceria L. Ludgood
Commissioner, Mobile County, Alabama

The Honorable Lydia L. Mihalik
Mayor, Findlay, Ohio

The Honorable Holly J. Mitchell
California State Senator
SLLF Lois M. DeBerry Scholar

The Honorable Cherelle L. Parker
Councilwoman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Honorable Deb Peters
South Dakota State Senator

The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle
Board President, Cook County, Illinois

The Honorable Julie Stokes
Louisiana State Representative

The Honorable Crystal Rhoades
Nebraska Public Services Commissioner

The Honorable Nily Rozic
New York State Assemblywoman

The Honorable Evelyn Sanguinetti
Illinois Lieutenant Governor

The Honorable Hillary Schieve
Mayor, Reno, Nevada

The Honorable Chelsa Wagner
Controller, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

The Honorable Betty T. Yee
California State Controller

Rising Star
Nicole Cid
Deputy District Attorney, Placer County, California

Each class is chosen from nominations submitted online at www.governing.com/wig. Women must be elected to a state or local office and not on the ballot or running unopposed during the program year.

The 25 women in the program's new class will be profiled in the February 2017 issue of Governing magazine and will participate in Governing events throughout the coming year.

The Class of 2017 will gather for their first leadership conference November 13-14 in Chandler, Arizona.

Communities Observe National Night Out

Law enforcement and neighborhoods come together in Fairfax Station, Springfield and countywide.

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Every night, that’s seven nights a week, Amanda Fox and her mother make rounds of the 169 houses in their community of Cardinal Estates in Springfield.

Fox is captain of the neighborhood watch. On National Night Out, however, she’s walking around handing out glow-sticks while neighborhood children, parents and police officers watch “Zootopia” on a giant inflatable screen.

First responders from Fairfax County Police, Fire and Rescue, the Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and other first responders spent the night on Aug. 2 visiting special events being held in their communities.

The goal is to promote interaction, respect and trust between the various agencies and the people they’re sworn to protect. And to remind and help educate community members to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

“It’s great to get the community actively involved, aware of crime,” Fox said. “We have dog-walkers, runners, people out and about. If you see something, call it in.”

Captain Gervais T. Reed is Commander of the West Springfield District Station for Fairfax County Police. He took over at the beginning of July, though he’s been with the department for 26 years.

Speaking at another National Night Out gathering in the Crosspointe neighborhood of Fairfax Station, he said the special event is the department’s “number one crime prevention effort.”

“It’s more eyes and ears out there,” he said in an interview.

Reed called National Night Out a “tremendous opportunity for the community to come out and show strong ties.”

“We get wonderful support in Fairfax,” he continued. “We’ve always had a really good relationship, we’ve never taken that for granted. In some communities it’s a challenge, but it’s not here.”

Gary Saturen, neighborhood watch coordinator for Crosspointe, is with the Community Emergency Response Team that put on the event in that neighborhood. It included demonstrations of first aid and CPR, and the Sheriff’s office creating safety identification cards for children.

Saturen said he really likes the chance for people to interact with the public safety infrastructure.

“They’re human beings like the rest of us,” he said. “They support us, we support them, everyone’s happier for it.”

Supervisor Pat Herrity,R-Springfield, toured half a dozen different events with Captain Reed. He’s been attending National Night Out events since he was elected in 2008. That community support “is part of what makes Fairfax County great,” he said. “We learn what issues are happening, crime and otherwise, and remind people they have a supervisor,” Herrity added. “We all get to hear what’s important for them.”

Burke and Springfield: AARP Campaign Office Opens in Springfield

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On Wednesday, July 6, Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) and Dave Albo (R-42) helped kick off the opening of the American Association of Retired Persons’s “Take a Stand” Campaign Headquarters in Springfield. The campaign is an effort to make Social Security, which provides vital income to more than 1.4 million Virginians, stronger for future generations.

“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 making calls to discuss with voters the need to update Social Security and encourage candidates to take a position on keeping this program solvent for future generations. Filler-Corn and Albo both participated in a ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of the office.

Filler-Corn and Albo, along with AARP Virginia’s State Director Jim Dau spoke at the event. Filler-Corn said that Social Security must be strengthened for the future, pointing out that one in six Virginians receive a monthly check from the program. “Every American deserves a secure, healthy and dignified retirement,” Filler-Corn said. “Social Security must be kept strong for seniors, people with disabilities, and future generations.”

Dau told the crowd gathered at the ribbon-cutting of the Take a Stand Springfield office that Virginia voters – key in the upcoming presidential election – want to hear the candidates talk more about Social Security on the campaign trail. “AARP Virginia and our more than million members here in the Commonwealth think doing nothing is not an option, and we’re here to do something about it,” he said.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935. The program will celebrate 81 years of existence this August. “Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in American History. We must do all we can to protect it,” said Filler-Corn.

Burke and Springfield: McAuliffe Signs High School Curriculum Bill Into Law

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On Monday, June 13, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s (D-41) bill, HB 659 in the State Capitol in Richmond. HB 659 will require high-school family-life curricula to include awareness, understanding and prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

“This bill focuses on prevention,” says Filler-Corn. “We need to educate our youth at a younger age. Silence is not an option. We cannot expect them to wait to learn about dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence in college. We need to teach them earlier.”

Filler-Corn was flanked by leading voices in the fight against campus and domestic sexual assault including: Gil Harrington, co-founder of Help Save the Next Girl and mother of Morgan Harrington, who was tragically murdered in 2009; Trina Murphy, aunt of Alexis Murphy, who disappeared in 2013 in Nelson County and whose body was never found; and Annie Clark, executive director and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, an organization seeking to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors; prevention through education; and meaningful policy reform. “This bill will save more lives,” said Harrington, immediately following the bill signing.

Delegate Filler-Corn’s bill, HB 659, had both Democratic and Republican co-patrons and passed unanimously out of the House of Delegates and near unanimously out of the Senate during the 2016 General Assembly Session. It will take effect on July 1, 2016.

Burke and Springfield: Saving ABLE Savings Accounts

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On Friday, June 10, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) joined Special Olympics Virginia’s Opening Ceremonies to ceremonially sign Delegate Filler-Corn’s bill, HB 1103, into law. HB 1103 builds upon Filler-Corn’s 2015 legislation, the Virginia Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which created 529 savings accounts for people with disabilities (called ABLE accounts) similar to those used to save for college. HB 1103 ensures that these ABLE Accounts will be free of means testing at the state level.

“After meeting with Virginia 529 last fall, I found out that while Virginia ABLE accounts would be exempt from federal means testing, they could be subject to state means testing. If we didn’t act, some families might decide to avoid ABLE accounts and their advantages for fear of an adverse impact on eligibility for critical state benefits programs,” said Filler-Corn. “This outcome would circumvent the intent of both the federal and state ABLE legislation and fail to assist the very individuals intended to benefit from ABLE accounts. That’s why I introduced HB 1103.”

 

Governor McAuliffe and Delegate Filler-Corn have also announced that the 2016-2018 budget includes an income tax deduction for contributions to the ABLE savings accounts starting in Taxable Year 2016 – up to $2,000 per contributor. “While the 2015 ABLE Act was a significant and bi-partisan victory, I knew that we could do better. We could make this program one of the shining examples for the rest of the country,” added Filler-Corn.

Filler-Corn was joined by many stakeholders who advocated for the passage of both the 2015 and 2016 legislation including Catherine Beck and her daughter Natalie. The Becks are residents of the 41st House District—represented by Filler-Corn. The federal ABLE law is also named for Catherine’s late husband, Stephen who was a driving force for the federal law.

ABLE Accounts will be available for Virginians with disabilities later this year; however, the website where people can eventually open these savings accounts is already live. Those who are interested in finding out more about ABLE accounts can visit https://www.able-now.com.

Honoring Fallen in Springfield

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Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Filler-Corn participated in several Memorial Day events over Memorial Day Weekend. On Friday, Filler-Corn joined with Delegate Vivian Watts (D-39) to commemorate Memorial Day with the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce at the American Legion Post 176.

Those in attendance watched as members of the American Legion laid a wreath to honor the memory of all veterans in the Greater Springfield area. Addressing the veterans and active duty military members in attendance, Filler-Corn said, “You are truly heroes and your commitment to your country deserves the highest recognition and appreciation.”

Filler-Corn states that having a large military population in her district has encouraged her to both introduce and co-sponsor military and veteran friendly legislation during her tenure in the House of Delegates. In addition to co-sponsoring several military friendly measures this past General Assembly Session, in 2015, Filler-Corn introduced and passed a bill (now law) that reduces from 30 to 20 days the allowable application review period after which a regulatory board within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation or the Department of Health Professions among others will be required to issue a temporary license to certain military spouses while the board completes its review.

Filler-Corn believes that this law will be beneficial to the many military spouses who leave their careers behind when their spouse gets transferred. Filler-Corn concluded by stating how proud she is to be a member of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus which advocates for the interests of Virginia's Veterans and Military communities.

Memorial Day 2016 Observed at Burke Centre Conservancy

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Piper Matthew Kuldell led the color guard -- members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5412 and Boy Scout Troop 1345 -- into the area of the Burke Centre Conservancy on May 31 to begin the observance of Memorial Day.

Friends, families and supporters of military men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country sat on folder chairs set up on the Conservancy’s expansive green lawn.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) and State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37) each made remarks. They were joined by keynote speaker Brigadier Gen. Billy D. Thompson, U.S. Air Force.

Gov. McAuliffe Signs Del. Filler-Corn's Legislation Into Law

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On Thursday, April 14, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed several bills into law relating to sexual assault, including legislation related to the storage and testing of physical evidence recovery kits (PERKs), as well as legislation that enables a minor to consent to an evidence recovery examination over the objections of a parent or guardian and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn’s (D-41) bill, HB 1102, which promotes collaboration between state agencies and campus law enforcement in the development of trauma-informed training to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive the support and evidence-based treatment they need.

“From day one, the health and safety of Virginia’s women has been a chief priority of our administration. That is why I created and enabled a group of leaders and advocates to offer solutions to enhance the services and protections this Commonwealth offers to survivors of sexual violence," said McAuliffe. “The survivors of these malicious crimes are trusting in us to provide a full accounting of these cases and to bring perpetrators to justice. To ensure their safety, it is vital that we have all areas of law enforcement, government, and private organizations working together. The measures…provide a permanent and coherent solution for that process,” he said.

“I’m so proud to have sponsored a bill that will reduce the trauma of survivors by developing training for law enforcement,” Filler-Corn said. “The Department of Criminal Justice services and SCHEV working together will greatly improve the lives of survivors of sexual assault.” The Delegate from Springfield was also pleased to serve as a co-patron on HB 1160, which establishes procedures for handling evidence kits in sexual assaults, after having introduced a similar bill this past session herself.

All legislation signed by the governor will take effect July 1, 2016.

Del. Filler-Corn Champions New Laws Preventing, Combating Sexual Assault

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On Friday, March 11, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), flanked by leading voices in the fight against campus and domestic sexual assault participated in a press conference in Richmond on the last day of the 2016 General Assembly session announcing the passage of several bills addressing this issue.

Filler-Corn introduced three bills this session focused on this topic.

*HB 659 will require high school family life curricula on awareness, understanding and prevention of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and sexual violence.

*HB 1102 will require the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop multi-disciplinary curricula on trauma informed sexual assault investigation.

  • HB 655 was incorporated into HB 1160 (patroned by Del. Rob Bell of Albermarle), relates to the storage of Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs), ensuring that all PERKs are stored for a minimum of two years or two years from the victim’s 18th birthday, if the victim is underage.

“Yes, we had success last year moving the ball forward on these crucial issues,” said Filler-Corn referencing related bills she helped shepherd last year, “but the key this session was to shift focus to education and prevention. This year we did exactly that. My hope is that with earlier information, young people can prevent incidents of sexual assault both on campus and in any and all settings.”

The sentiment was echoed by several longtime victims’ rights advocates who praised the legislation as thoughtful and substantive.

Said Gil Harrington, mother of Morgan Harrington and founder of Help Save the Next Girl, in Richmond on Friday: "I applaud the work of Delegate Filler-Corn. House Bill 659 will teach high school students skills that may actually ensure their very survival in our complex world. House Bill 1102 will train investigators to respond with more compassion and help improve psychological health for victims.”

Annie Clark, executive director of End Rape on Campus, termed the education component “a critical first step. If we wait until college orientation to talk about sexual assault, then we are way too late.”

She, too, credited the Springfield lawmaker for her leadership on the issue: “End Rape on Campus is so thankful for Delegate Filler-Corn’s commitment to ending sexual violence and supporting survivors.”

HB 1102 and HB 1160 were among 21 recommendations of a state task force formed by Governor Terry McAuliffe and led by Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

All of the bills have an April 11 deadline for the Governor to either sign, veto or amend.

White Oaks Students Tour the Capitol

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On Sunday, February 28th, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield) hosted student artists and their families from White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, VA for a reception and capitol tour in Richmond. White Oaks Elementary School Principal Ryan Richardson and White Oaks Art Teacher Susan Mosios were also in attendance.

Since January, the works of these young artists have been displayed on the fourth floor of the General Assembly building, in the hallway leading to Filler-Corn’s Richmond office. This is the first time that Filler-Corn has featured artwork from a local elementary school. "I would like this to be an annual event, featuring different schools in the 41st District,” Filler-Corn said.

The student artists are a variety of ages and used a variety of mediums in their artwork. Students from second to sixth grade submitted drawings of birds, cityscapes, the solar system, gourds, and even abstract landscapes. The works were selected blind—without knowledge of which student made them, by White Oaks art teachers, Susan Mosios and Erin Perticone. “I was so pleased when Delegate Filler-Corn contacted me about featuring our students’ art work in the General Assembly Building,” said Mosios.  “It is crucial to encourage the arts at a young age. It broadens a child’s understanding of the world,” she added.

Delegate Filler-Corn, who also serves as chair of the General Assembly Arts Caucus, was pleased that so many families made the trip down to Richmond. She posed for pictures with many of the student artists as they pointed out their artwork to her and their very proud parents. “You never know who might have walked by these paintings,” Filler-Corn explained to the students. “Delegates, Senators, and Cabinet Secretaries have all viewed your beautiful work. You should be so proud of yourselves." 

Following the reception in the General Assembly Building, the entire group, including Delegate Filler-Corn, walked over to the Capitol for an official tour, with a stop on the Floor of the chamber House of Delegates. The students listened intently to both the tour guide’s explanation of the history of the chamber, and the Delegate’s stories of a day in the life of a Delegate in the General Assembly.

Filler-Corn hopes to continue the tradition with other local elementary schools in the 41st District. “There are nine elementary schools in my district. I look forward to continuing the tradition we started this session for years to come. ” Delegate Filler-Corn said.

 

Burke, Fairfax: Filler-Corn Promotes Child Care Safety in the General Assembly

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In the 2016 General Assembly Session, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) has offered two bipartisan bills continuing her work in making child care safer in Virginia. Ensuring that child care facilities are licensed, regulated and safe has been a priority for Filler-Corn since 2014, when she first introduced legislation that would close that threshold gap for caring for children in an unlicensed day care, as well as requiring child care providers to go through an extensive background check which includes a fingerprint check to ensure that these providers are fully vetted and are who they say they are. “As a mother of two, I know first hand how stressful it can be to not only find child care, but know that your child is safe,” said Filler-Corn.

Last year the General Assembly passed legislation requiring a fingerprint check for licensed providers and those who are unlicensed who care for children receiving a childcare subsidy. This bill becomes effective in 2017. However, loopholes still remain. “If the law is not fixed, Virginia stands to lose $5 million annually through a reduction in federal child care funds,” according to Sharon Veatch, executive director of Child Care Aware Virginia.

Del. Filler-Corn’s first bill, HB 474, requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) to study child day centers that are licensed and exempt from licensure. Additionally DSS would be required to review all categories of child day programs exempt from licensure, formulate recommendations regarding whether such programs should remain exempt from licensure or whether any modifications that may be necessary to protect the health and well-being of the children receiving care in such programs, consider such other matters as may be necessary regarding health and safety requirements for licensed child day centers, and consult with all relevant stakeholders. Del. Filler-Corn’s second bill, HB 500, conforms Virginia’s child care background checks with federal requirements.

Both pieces of legislation were heard in the Health, Welfare and Institutions, Subcommittee #3. The subcommittee voted to continue HB 500 into the 2017 session. The full Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee then heard HB 474 on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and referred it to the House Committee on Rules. While the bill was tabled, they did however, direct the Department of Social Services to review both license and license-exempt care.

Burke and Fairfax: House Passes Filler-Corn Legislation Helping Pediatric Cancer Survivors

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s (D-41) bill, HB 475 passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Monday. The bipartisan bill requires the Department of Education to review regulations and suggest revisions to existing guidelines relating to a return to learn protocol for students who have been treated for pediatric cancer.

“These students are coming back, often, from a brutal regimen of chemotherapy or radiation or surgery or all of the above. Until now, students who have courageously fought back – against both the disease and the treatment – have had difficulty returning to their classroom. My bill, HB 475 seeks to change that. It will help parents know what questions to ask. It will help schools be prepared for a student’s return and most importantly ensure a student’s transition back to school is as smooth as possible,” said Filler-Corn.

Pediatric cancer survivors can face a bevy of complications upon achieving remission. Cognitive late effects impact attention and concentration, short term memory and processing speed. The physical late effects may include fatigue, low stamina, hearing loss or neuropathy in the hands or feet, along with numerous others. 

Alma Morgan, an educational consultant with VCU Medical Center, who specializes in oncology and hematology patients was extremely pleased with the bill’s passage.

“While the survival rate for childhood cancer has improved significantly, we have to be educated on the late effects of treatment and how the late effects impede academic success. Many times these late effects do not show up until several years after treatment…The Return to Learn protocols can educate both staff and parents, as well as address specific modifications and accommodations for all children returning to school following treatment,” said Morgan.

The bill builds on Filler-Corn’s previous work, when her bill which placed language for a "Return to Learn" protocol into the Virginia Board of Education’s concussion guidelines was signed by the governor in 2014. The legislation requires school personnel to accommodate the gradual return to the classroom of a student suffering a concussion. The appropriate time away is based on a recommendation of the student’s doctor, in consultation with school administrators.

HB 475 will be heard by the Virginia Senate after crossover on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

 

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn Offers 16 Far-Reaching Bills Reflecting Broad Areas of District Concern

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Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (41st District) introduced a series of bills in furtherance of her work in education, victims’ rights, health care, public safety and prudent fiscal growth. “My constituents represent ranging views on a myriad of matters,” said Filler-Corn. “But those differences are dwarfed by the common hopes for our children. It is from that perspective that I have introduced the following 16 bills for consideration to the General Assembly this year:”

 

BUILDING A NEW VIRGINIA ECONOMY

  • HB 660—Angel Investor Tax Credit 
    Would improve the already existing angel investor tax credit program open to entrepreneurs. The cap on the maximum amount of credits available to each taxpayer would increase from $50,000 to $100,000.
     
  • HB 661Fees on Outdoor Advertising Permits
    Would direct the Virginia Department of Transportation to increase application fees for outdoor advertising permits, allowing the program to be self-supporting.
     
  • HB 662Low-Cost Open Educational Resources for Higher Education. 
    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 on textbook materials.
     
  • HB 1092—Amending the responsibilities of the Charitable Gaming Board
    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 1100Research and Development Tax Credits 
    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 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 year2016; and increase from $6 million to $7 million the maximum amount of tax credits that may be granted.

KEEPING VIRGINIANS HEALTHY

  • HB 473Palliative Care Information and Education Program
    Would direct the Board of Health to require that 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.
     
  • HB 475Return to Learn Protocol                                                   
    Would direct local school boards to establish a Return to Learn Protocol for the gradual return to academic activities by students who have been treated for pediatric cancer.
     
  • HB 505Elderly and Disabled Consumer Direction Waiver Amendment                                                                                       
    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 1103ABLE Act Amendment 
    Would amend the ABLE Act to ensure that all state organizations are exempt from means testing, consistent with federal law.

 

KEEPING VIRGINIANS SAFE

  • HB 474Task Force to Study Unlicensed Child Care
    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 updated requirements for child care providers by November 1st, 2016.
     
  • HB 500Criminal History Background Checks for Childcare Providers                                        
    Would require Childcare providers to undergo fingerprint-based national criminal-history background checks beginning July 1st, 2017.
     
  • HB 655Storage of PERK Kits 
    Would require evidence in a sexual assault case to be retained by law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred and that Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) be retained for a minimum of five years. 
     
  • HB 658—Prohibit Possession of Firearms if under Protective Order 
    Would prohibit anyone bound by protective orders from possessing a firearm.
     
  • HB 659—Adopt Safe Relationship-Behavior High-School Curriculum 
    Would require all high schools to adopt a curriculum that includes relationship behavior, prevention of adolescent- and teen-dating violence, domestic abuse and consent.
     
  • HB 1102Trauma-sensitive Training for Sex-Crime investigative Teams 
    Would require the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) establish curriculum and training on Trauma-informed Sexual Assault Investigations by 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.
     
  • HB 1210Gun Safe Sales Tax Exemption
    Would exempt the purchase of biometric and dial-locking gun safes under $1000 from state sales tax, encouraging safe storage of firearms.

Del. Filler-Corn Receives the Jobs for America’s Graduates’ National Network Leadership Award

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Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) was honored by Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) with their National Network Leadership Award in Washington, D.C. This annual awards event recognizes a select number of national, state and local leaders for their support of the mission of Jobs for America’s Graduates, as well as the activities of their respective state organizations and local JAG programs.

JAG is a national nonprofit organization with state partners, dedicated to preventing school dropouts among young people who are most at risk. Governor Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer both serve on JAG’s national board of directors. JAG recognized Filler-Corn for her work as chair of their Virginia affiliated organization, Jobs for Virginia Graduates (JVG), which she has chaired since 2012, succeeding Congressman Beyer. 

The festivities began on Wednesday night in the Kennedy Caucus Room at the Russell Senate Office Building. Following an introduction by Beyer, Filler-Corn had the opportunity to address the crowd. “One of my principal goals for JVG is to become Virginia's ‘Program of Choice’ for dropout prevention and obtaining good job opportunities for at-risk students,” said Filler-Corn. “On a personal level, I am committed to continuing to expand the ability of Jobs for Virginia graduates to reach a growing percentage of the many thousands of our students who remain at high risk of dropping out of school before graduation, and thus become likely to remain on the sidelines of an otherwise growing economy throughout their working lives,” she added.

In addition to Beyer, Sen. Tim Kaine and Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton also attended Wednesday night, as well as Mississippi governor and current chair of JAG, Phil Bryant. The following day, JAG held its national awards luncheon where Filler-Corn was presented with a plaque commemorating her efforts on behalf of JVG.

White Oaks Hosts “Bring Your Veteran to Breakfast”

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On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) spoke to students, parents and veterans at White Oaks Elementary for their sixth annual “Bring Your Veteran to Breakfast” event. The event honored those individuals in the school community who are currently serving or who have served in the U.S. Military.

Started by Marion Fegley and assisted by fourth grade teacher Charlotte Hoffer and kindergarten teacher and Army veteran Ralph DiBacco, the elementary school’s annual breakfast has grown to serve nearly 300 guests, children, parents and veterans alike.

In her remarks to the attendees, Filler-Corn presented Principal Ryan Richardson with a letter from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner John Newby. She also recognized all veterans, active-duty men and women, Guardsmen and Reservists in the audience.

“You have gone above and beyond duty, raising your hand to volunteer to defend our nation and freedoms. The Commonwealth thanks each and every one of you, and I thank you and your families,” she stated.

Filler-Corn also shared with the group that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced that day that Virginia has become the first state in the country to functionally end Veteran homelessness. “No one who has served our country in times of war or peace, men or women, active duty or reserves, should ever be left on the streets without shelter or services,” she said.

After Del. Filler-Corn’s remarks, the attendees were treated to a concert by Downrange, the U.S. Army’s Rock Band. Downrange has been entertaining members of the armed services and their families since 2002. When the concert ended, service members and veterans visited classrooms and encouraged the White Oaks students to work hard, listen to their teachers and enjoy learning.

Students thanked their honored guests with cards, showing appreciation for the sacrifices made by the men and women who served our country.

Delegate Filler-Corn Addresses Student Leadership Conference

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Last Wednesday, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) served as the keynote speaker at the Jobs for Virginia Graduates' Student Leadership Conference in Richmond. She currently serves as chair of the organization.

Jobs for Virginia Graduates (JVG) currently works with over 1,250 high school students in the Commonwealth per year. The program seeks to work with at-risk and disadvantaged youth to graduate from high school and then obtain and keep quality jobs. It is affiliated with the Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) program. Using JAG’s model, JVG acts as one of the state’s initiatives for decreasing the dropout rate and improving the transition from school to work. JVG works through Virginia’s public school system, and together with state employment programs.

In her remarks to the students, Del. Filler-Corn first spoke about her journey to elected office and then addressed the importance of improving the world, finding commitments beyond careers and college, and the values of perseverance and resilience.

“What does it mean to improve the world?” asked Filler-Corn. “Some argue that it means building an ethical society. We improve our world by treating people how they want to be treated and encouraging others to do the same…others argue that improving the world should be a call to action. It’s a responsibility. People cannot only focus on creating this model society within their own communities, but they are responsible for the welfare of a greater world at large. I truly take this to heart.

“As the Chair of JVG, it was wonderful to meet many smart and promising students who have already overcome tremendous challenges in their young lives and remain positive and hopeful for achieving a bright future.” said Filler-Corn after her remarks.

Del. Filler-Corn’s ‘CARE Act’ Passes the House

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Del. Eileen Filler-Corn’s (D–41) HB 1413 passed the full House of Delegates on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. HB 1413 or the “CARE Act” addresses the important role of the informal and family caregivers and improved communication with them and medical providers. Specifically, the bill looks to improve healthcare and reduce preventable hospital revisits by having hospitals formally acknowledge a patient’s family caregiver at the time of admission and provide critical home care instruction before discharge.

“In Virginia today we know that the majority of older Virginia residents want to live independently at home. Family caregivers in Virginia help their loved ones achieve this. They are there when a person in need wakes up, when they fall asleep and in between. Simply put, they are the bedrock and foundation of our long term care system,” said Del. Filler-Corn.

The CARE Act will also strengthen the link between hospital care and home based care, an interface of critical importance that will need continued attention. “Many family caregivers perform a variety of nursing/medical tasks once provided only in hospitals. However, most family caregivers receive little or no training to do these tasks,” added Del. Filler-Corn.

Almost half of family caregivers reported they never received training to perform tasks of the kind and complexity once provided only in hospitals. “There is a need for HB 1413 and I believe that it is in the best interest of Virginia to implement this legislation,” continued Delegate Filler-Corn.

Most Virginians who receive assistance at home rely exclusively on unpaid family caregivers for help. In fact, family caregivers provide unpaid care valued at about $11.7 billion annually.

“Delegate Filler-Corn understands the critical role family caregivers play in hospital transitions and in keeping their loved ones from being rehospitalized. We are grateful for her leadership. Family caregivers have a big responsibility and this bill will make their lives a little easier,” said David DeBiasi, Associate State Director of AARP Virginia.

Eileen Filler-Corn Holds First Mid-Session Office Hours in Springfield

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Though Del. Eileen Filler-Corn made headlines in the first week of the General Assembly for her proposed legislation on how sexual assault on college campuses is reported, she was game for any topic at her first mid-session office hours.

The delegate held court on Jan. 24 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Springfield. She said it offers a much better opportunity than a larger town hall meeting to engage with constituents about issues that are personal to them.

“We don’t have an office, this is our office,” said Filler-Corn. “I’m always available, but some people are more intimidated by calling or emailing. They know I’ll be sitting here.”

Burke residents Jane and Reede Taylor didn’t know about the office hours ahead of time, but interrupted their breakfast at Peet’s to meet Filler-Corn.

“I’m so glad she’s out here, seeing what’s going on,” said Reede. “She’s trying to find out, trying to understand.”

“I get great ideas for legislation from these,” Filler-Corn added, “like my bill helping self-managed homeowners’ associations that’s now law. That literally came from a meeting like this.”

Filler-Corn’s next office hours will be Feb. 15, 10-11:30 a.m., at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, 5719 Burke Centre Parkway, Burke.

Filler-Corn Announces Legislative Agenda

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) recently unveiled the legislation she has introduced for consideration by the 2014 General Assembly.

Among Delegate Filler-Corn’s legislative priorities are education, public and campus safety, workforce development, childcare safety, creating the new Virginia economy and looking out for our seniors.

Del. Filler-Corn was reappointed by Speaker William Howell to the House Transportation Committee and House Finance Committee for the 2015 General Assembly Session. In addition, she was newly appointed to the House Commerce and Labor Committee. This Committee is responsible for all business, economic development, workforce development and employerrights related legislation.

Among the bills introduced by Del. Filler Corn this week are:

  • HB 1343 - Campus Sexual Assaults - This bill would require campus and or local law enforcement to report reported instances of campus sexual assaults to the local Commonwealth Attorney within 48 hours of the reported incident.

  • HB 2047 - Child Care Safety – Currently, child providers that care for 6 or less unrelated children are exempt from state safety regulations, this bill looks to close that threshold gap to ensure children are safe while in the hands of child care providers

  • HB 1552 Child Care Safety – This bill would require licensed child care providers to go through an extensive background check which includes a fingerprint check to ensure that these providers are fully vetted and are who they say they are.

  • HB 1327 - This bill would permit individuals 75 years or older or persons with a disability to go to the head of the line on Election Day or when voting absentee between the hours of 9:30 to 4:30 when lines tend to be shorter.

  • HB 1413 - The CARE Act looks to improve healthcare and reduce preventable hospital visits by requiring hospitals to formally acknowledge a patient’s family caregiver at the time of admission and providing critical at home care instruction.

  • HB 1668 - This bill would give students in all grades the opportunity to be given an expedited retake of the Standards of Learning (SOL) examination, in the event of their failure to pass the initial test.

This is a partial list of legislation. Details on all of these bills as well as the rest of the bills and budget amendments Del. Filler-Corn introduced this week and their status in the legislative process can be found at lis.virginia.gov under Del. Filler-Corn’s name.

 

It was an honor and privilege to join Sheriff Kincaid, the 40 plus Deputies and the incredible children participating in the Shop With A Sheriff program last week. It was inspiring to watch the hard working Sheriff and so many Deputies give more of their time to provide opportunities for these kids.  It was heartwarming to watch the excitement in the kids' eyes as they were afforded the opportunity to do some back to school shopping. It was hard for many to contain their excitement as they selected, shoes, sneakers, socks, undergarments, coats, jeans and wallets for their newly acquired IDs from the Sheriff's office. I spoke with many of these kids and they expressed their desire to return to school and their classroom as soon as possible!  I look forward to participating annually to support these well deserved children in our community. Great job Sheriff Kincaid on a well run, much needed and impressive program.

You can watch news coverage here

  

 

Workshop Promotes Science Education

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) is pictured here with Mark Ginsberg, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University and Ashley Hart, a teacher from Willow Springs Elementary School in Fairfax.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) is pictured here with Mark Ginsberg, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University and Ashley Hart, a teacher from Willow Springs Elementary School in Fairfax. Photo contributed

On Tuesday, July 15, the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), in conjunction with the George Mason University College of Education and Human Development, held a day-long program that focused on advancing science education in Fairfax County schools.

The workshop was an opportunity for both students and teachers to gain a better understanding of science education and instruction. The program also focused on enhancing the comprehension of scientific subjects by all students, including those with special needs. A major objective is to maximize the quality of elementary science education by increasing the number of certified middle school and high school science teachers.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) joined the participants in witnessing firsthand the efforts of VISTA and GMU in fostering science education throughout the state. “I was incredibly impressed by the program that VISTA organized, bringing together students and teachers to enhance their knowledge and teaching ability of science based material. STEM degrees are preparing our children for the jobs of the future. VISTA has recognized this and is aiming to give Virginia students the best chance of succeeding going forward,” said Filler-Corn.

Similar all-day workshops have also been held at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, at VCU in Richmond, and at William & Mary in Williamsburg. In the Fairfax program, the students tackled a real-life scenario of construction run-off causing dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay that are no longer able to sustain natural habitats. The students' objective was to develop methods for mitigating the environmental impact of construction at George Mason University on the Chesapeake Watershed ecosystem.

Del. Filler-Corn added, "These impressive students are examining real problems facing our communities and the Commonwealth as a whole. With the assistance of certified science instructors and an increased emphasis on STEM education, VISTA is helping ensure that these real-world challenges can be addressed by our next generation of leaders. I was pleased to be able to join them and I look forward to continuing my involvement with VISTA's efforts in the future."

 

Governor McAuliffe Signs into Law Legislation for Military

A signing ceremony was held in Norfolk, Va. right outside of the USS Wisconsin.

A signing ceremony was held in Norfolk, Va. right outside of the USS Wisconsin.

Virginia has one of the largest active-military populations, second only to California and the most military civilians by state. Several of the bills focused on helping military families moving to the Commonwealth with their normal services and job transition. Among those were HB 1247 introduced by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41). HB 1247 requires the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to expedite the review process for temporary licenses for military spouses that already hold the equivalent license in another state.

Other legislation aimed to help military families and spouses were HB 576, increasing eligibility into Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, SB138, increasing the grace period of vehicle safety inspection approval for certain members of armed services and SB18 which extends unemployment compensation to military spouses voluntarily leaving their job to accompany their spouse in reassignment.

"It was an honor to join my colleagues, the Governor and Admiral Harvey to sign these critically important pieces of legislation into law. I look forward to continuing to advocate for military families and I hope my bill eases the burdens on military spouses associated with reassignment," said Delegate Filler-Corn.

 

Del. Filler-Corn Appointed to State Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) was appointed to the Virginia Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation in April. This Commission is comprised of members of the General Assembly to promote the Commonwealth’s interest between other states and the federal government. The Commission formulates proposals for cooperation between Virginia and other states as well as formulating proposals concerning interstate contracts and conferences. Additionally, the Commission monitors and makes recommendations concerning federal policies that are of concern to the Commonwealth.

"My personal and professional experience gives me great insight into intergovernmental relationships as well as between the Commonwealth and the federal government. I can use this experience to promote the Commonwealth and increase our standing as one of the best managed states” said Filler-Corn.

Delegate Filler-Corn has served as Deputy Director of the Virginia Liaison Office under Mark Warner during his term as Governor. There she served as a contact between Virginia, the U.S. Congress, other state offices and other state governments. Filler-Corn then served as Senior Advisor for State and Federal Relations in Governor Tim Kaine’s Administration.

Del. Filler-Corn has been appointed to a term that will coincide with her term in the Virginia House of Delegates.

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Del. Filler-Corn Meets Scout Troop 698 of Burke

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) visits with Scout Troop 698 of Burke to talk about civics and the Virginia General Assembly.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) visits with Scout Troop 698 of Burke to talk about civics and the Virginia General Assembly.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) recently met with Scout Troop 698 of Burke to discuss the important role civics and community participation plays in government and community development. Del. Filler-Corn and the group even played Virginia jeopardy, testing the Scouts knowledge of the House of Delegates and everything Virginia.

"I truly enjoy spending time out in our community, meeting with many groups throughout the 41st district. I continue to be inspired by so many individuals who regularly work to help make our community a wonderful place to live. I am especially energized by meeting with groups of young people. These young scouts were quite impressive, knowledgeable and inquisitive. I know the future of the Commonwealth will be better off with their leadership in he future," said Del. Filler-Corn.

The Scout Troop 698 of Burke is led by Scoutmaster Mike Koehler of Burke and the event was organized by Eagle Advisor Heather Zdancewicz.

Bill to Help Homeowners’ Associations

Del. Filler-Corn passes legislation to help constituent homeowners’ associations.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), right, with Tena Bluhm of Fairfax after testifying in favor of HB 550 to benefit local HOAs.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), right, with Tena Bluhm of Fairfax after testifying in favor of HB 550 to benefit local HOAs. Photo contributed

Currently, the Code of Virginia requires that all homeowners’ associations respond to a written records request within five business days. While five business days is an ample amount of time for a HOA that has a common interest community manager in charge of association management, these requirements often represent a burden and problem for self-managed communities.

HB 550 extends the time for self-managed unit owners' associations to respond to a written request for information from five days to ten days. "By doubling the time allotted to return requested information by self-managed Associations, we are providing flexibility and added convenience for these organizations", said Del. Filler-Corn. "Self-managed communities are run by volunteers in the community who have dedicated time to help their neighborhood. The governing members of these associations often have full-time jobs, which can require significant commitments, including travel. Therefore, it is not always possible for these associations and their members to respond to these requests within five days."

Tena Bluhm, a 41st District resident of Fairfax and local homeowner association president worked with Del. Filler-Corn on this legislation. "The present five day time frame to produce copies of an association's books and records places an unreasonable burden on such an association. The passage of HB 550 will greatly relieve the burden and help self-managed associations remain in compliance with the Code of Virginia," said Bluhm.

"These community associations are the lifeblood of many towns and counties across the Commonwealth. I know the important role they play in my district, and I highly value their input and opinion," said Filler-Corn.

HB 550 was supported by the Virginia Legislative Action Committee which is a committee of Community Associations Institute and the Virginia Realtors Association.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill, HB 550, was signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe on March 7 and will take effect on July 1.

Delegate Filler-Corn Passes Legislation for Military Spouses

House Bill 1247, aimed at reducing burdensome red tape for military spouses, has passed the House of Delegates and Senate with unanimous bipartisan support and now awaits signature from the Governor.  Sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (41st District) and supported by the Administration, HB 1247 would require the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to expedite the review process for temporary licenses from 30 to 20 days for military spouses that already hold the equivalent license in another state.

“Our military servicemen and servicewomen sacrifice so much for their country every single day. Many military spouses are often forced to leave successful careers behind and face excessive red tape preventing them from resettling in their chosen profession upon relocation. This bill aims to ease that burden.”

Virginia currently employs the second highest number of active-duty military out of the 50 states.  A wide variety of professionals are required to have state-issued licenses in order to work in their field. This bill affects everyone from realtors, barbers, accountants, to construction workers.

“Every day that military spouses must wait to receive a license for a profession that they are already approved to practice in another state is another day that they are unable to earn income, support their family, and contribute to Virginia’s economy” said Filler-Corn. “This bill will reduce the time it takes for military spouses to receive temporary licenses for their professions, thereby dramatically reducing their financial and emotional burdens.”

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Delegate Filler-Corn Up Close and Personal

Eileen Filler-Corn meets constituents over bagels and coffee

By Janelle Germanos Friday, February 21, 2014

Residents of the Burke area visiting local bagel and coffee shops may have found themselves meeting a busy state legislator over the last couple weeks.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) has been holding office hours at locations such as Caribou Coffee and Einstein Brothers Bagels in order to connect with constituents and listen to their concerns.

The General Assembly recently passed Crossover Day, when all bills that originated in the House switch to the Senate, and vice versa.

As the legislative session moves on, Filler-Corn said her office hours are a great way to meet with her constituents in person.

“Sometimes they have personal issues that they want to talk about. Other times, if we have four or five waiting, we’ll all sit at one table and talk, but sometime they just want to talk privately,” Filler-Corn said.

Filler-Corn said the topic of conversation really depends.

“I’d say education is a big one in the 41st district. SOL reform has been very big,” Filler-Corn said.

SOL reform and education have been major issues this session and are often brought up by constituents at her office hours, Filler-Corn said.

“We have some of the best schools in Fairfax County,” Filler-Corn said. “I think we are moving in the right direction with our SOL reform. A lot of folks want to talk about education.”

Medicaid Expansion is another major priority for Filler-Corn.

“Closing the coverage gap is really a better way of saying it. Just focusing on individuals- 400,000 working Virginians don’t have insurance. We can do something about it, and we really just need to act now. Why not take the money? We’re losing five million dollars a day by not accepting federal money,” Filler-Corn said. “I would say that’s the number one issue.”

According to Filler-Corn, constituents also bring up ethics reform at office hours.

“We spent a lot of time going over some of the current events of what transpired and specific laws and restrictions. We want to know what we can do to ensure the public’s trust, and what will that take,” she said.

Burke resident Rosemarie Kirwan said that ethics and voting reform are the most important issues in Virginia.

Kirwan, who said she has been in activist mode lately, is a major supporter of having more women elected to office.

“I think more women in government is better for society,” Kirwan said.

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Virginia House Votes 95-0 on Proposal to Freeze Credit of Minors

Legislation was introduced by Northern Virginia lawmakers Delegate Scott Surovell and Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn.

Posted by Mary Ann Barton (Editor) , February 07, 2014

The Virginia House of Delegates has voted 95-0 in favor of legislation to freeze the credit of minors to protect them from predatory credit card offers and identity theft.

The legislation was introduced by Northern Virginia lawmakers Del. Scott Surovell and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn.

Identity theft of children is a growing problem in the United States. Identity theft affects 30 million Americans, and approximately 500,000 of those cases are young people. Identity thieves increasingly target children because nobody generally discovers their actions until years later when a child becomes an adult, so that number is likely underreported. 

This legislation would make Virginia one of the first states to adopt a minor credit freeze law, allowing a parent to freeze the credit of a child so that no person can seek credit under their name. 

Surovell introduced legislation after his children, ages 13 and 11, received credit card solicitations in the mail. 

“This is a major step for consumer protection in Virginia,” said Surovell. “Credit card companies should not be soliciting business from eleven year-old children and creating opportunities for identity thieves.” 

• HB543: Security Freeze for Protected Consumers: Allows the parents or guardians of a minor (16 years and under) to request that a consumer-reporting agency place a security freeze on the protected consumer’s credit report. 

“I introduced this bill to protect children throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, said Delegate Filler-Corn. “It is my hope that this legislation will go a long way in protecting our children from the dangers of credit fraud and identity theft, while giving peace of mind to parents.” 

Surovell and Filler-Corn introduced separate, identical legislation to protect the credit of minors and Surovell is a chief co-patron of Filler-Corn’s bill. 

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Filler-Corn Pushes for Free Textbook Resources for College Students

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, who represents Burke and the 41st District, has been advocating for more open education resources for Virginia college students.

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Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, who represents Burke and the 41st District, co-hosted an open education resources forum on Dec. 2 at George Mason University. Credit: Courtesy of Filler-Corn's office.
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, who represents Burke and the 41st District, co-hosted an open education resources forum on Dec. 2 at George Mason University. Credit: Courtesy of Filler-Corn's office.
As the cost of higher education rises, students in Burke, Northern Virginia and beyond continue to search for ways to save money while completing their degree. One aspect of higher education, textbooks, are usually an expensive, but necessary expense for students.

That might not be the case for long if a bill by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41st) for colleges and universities to acquire more open education resources (OER) for students gets approved.

Bill HB 1777, which was submitted earlier this year, aims to create an Open Education Resource Council tasked with developing and acquiring open education resources that could be provided at no charge to students. OER materials are textbooks or other auxiliary resources developed and produced with no copyright restrictions. This makes them available for anyone to access and use at their disposal. University professors often develop these materials, which are also peer reviewed for accuracy.

"Several states are currently utilizing OER materials as a way to reduce cost burdens on their students. These books are available at no charge and accessed digitally at the student’s convenience. This is an excellent method to increase affordability, while still providing accurate information and quality material," said Filler-Corn.

The bill was referred to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science during the 2013 General Assembly session and has drawn wide interest from different parties.

In an effort to continue the year-long conversation about OER, Filler-Corn recently co-hosted a forum on Dec. 2 with David Anderson, Executive Director for Higher Education at Association of American Publishers and Nada Dabbagh, Professor and Director of Division of Learning Technologies at George Mason University (GMU) to discuss new technologies and affordable options for higher education textbooks. This forum brought together several important stakeholders involved with higher education and the development and usage of textbooks.

"I was honored to lead this forum that continued the vital discussion of how we can reduce costs for our students and families through the use of new technology and resources in textbooks and class materials," said Filler-Corn. "We have continued to see a rise in the price of textbooks and other auxiliary materials in higher education. We need to use new resources as a way to reduce costs and ensure that students are getting the most out of their higher education."

The forum discussed using these technologies at both Virginia universities and colleges as well as in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) where many students are turning to save money by avoiding the tuition costs of a four year university. Representatives from George Mason University, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the VCCS attended the forum to add their input on the idea. Additionally, representatives from the major textbook publishers and Fairfax County Public Schools were also in attendance.

"It is my hope that this forum can continue to move forward the discussion of OER digital textbooks in the Commonwealth. As leaders and policy makers, it is our responsibility to look at the current system and find areas that need improvement," said Filler-Corn. "The rising cost of college continues to need to be addressed and I believe this can be a way of alleviating some of the financial burden on our students and their families.”

Editor's note: Thanks to Del. Filler-Corn's office for providing much of the background information on the forum.

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Two Historic Measures Mark Assembly Session

Q&A with Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41).

By Victoria Ross

Springfield Connection

Friday, March 8, 2013

Transportation funding was one of the big stories to come out of Richmond during the 45-day “short session,” but it wasn’t the only one.

Unlike Congressional gridlock, where lobbyists, special-interest groups and political aspirations converge to slow down legislation, the pace in Virginia’s capitol is fast and furious. Legislation gets passed in the blink of an eye. It’s a pace Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the second-term Democrat representing nearly 90,000 residents in Burke, Fairfax and West Springfield, knows well.

Before she became one of the few women serving in the Virginia House, she learned to navigate the political process in Richmond during her tenure as deputy director of the Virginia Liaison Office in Washington for Governor Mark Warner, as well as a senior advisor to Governor Tim Kaine. She also chaired the National Governors’ Association Executive Committee Staff Advisory Council during Governor Warner’s term. At the beginning of the 2013 General Assembly, she introduced 13 bills for consideration. Her legislative priorities included education, transportation and public safety. She also introduced legislation focused around cutting college students’ expenses, expanding voting hours, protecting children and protecting funding for Virginia Railway Express.

 

Q: What drove your legislative agenda this session?

A: With a short session, I decided to introduce important legislative proposals that would make a difference for the 41st District and across the commonwealth. It is always my priority to reflect the views of my constituents and address the issues that affect our community.

Like every legislative session that I have participated in, I dedicate the nine or 10 months away from Richmond speaking to constituents in my district about legislative ideas, their concerns and issues they have noticed in the community. Every day I strive to reflect the voice of my district and help those in our area that may need state-related assistance.

Q: Bullying is a hot topic for every parent. What motivated you to sponsor the legislation on that issue?

A: HB 1871, which I was proud to co-patron, defines the term “bullying” as any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim. It also requires schools to establish a prohibition against such behavior and adopt policies to create a bully-free environment. This was important legislation in order to establish a clear and legal definition of bullying and to help prevent it in our schools. Too often today we hear about tragic instances of bullying gone too far and this legislation takes another step forward to prevent another unfortunate event.

Q: What were the most important pieces of legislation this session?

A: This session saw two of the most important measures passed during my time in the House of Delegates. The final day of the Legislative Session was a historic one for the commonwealth. A new comprehensive transportation package passed and is awaiting the governor’s signature. In addition, the budget passed and included Medicaid expansion. Both of these measures underwent considerable revisions and compromise throughout the seven weeks of extensive debate and consideration. I supported the transportation plan, which will generate $880 million annually for statewide transportation funding, and provide another $350 million for Northern Virginia transportation projects. In addition, this bill provides dedicated funding for mass-transit and inter-city passenger rail and includes $300 million for Phase II of the Dulles Silver Line metro. I feel strongly that the benefits represented by this comprehensive plan successfully help address our area’s transportation needs, however I did not agree with every aspect of the transportation package. I was disappointed in the $100 fee that was included for hybrid vehicles, a provision that I opposed. It is my hope that removing this specific provision will send a message to the 91,000 Virginians that drive these vehicles, including many in my district, that we applaud their effort to help sustain our environment while reducing our dependence on foreign fuel. I have spoken to the governor about this issue and followed up with a letter requesting that this portion of the bill not go into effect.

Additionally, the General Assembly passed the budget, which agreed on a way forward to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 400,000 additional Virginians desperately in need of adequate health care options. Included among the approved budget amendments was a commitment to allow Virginia to opt into the federal Medicaid expansion program once it is determined that appropriate reforms are in place. With the federal government paying 100 percent the first three years and 90 percent thereafter, Virginia will save $317 million over a five-year period on Medicaid costs.

I am now optimistic that we can focus more of our efforts on improving our schools, creating new jobs, expanding economic development and furthering our reputation as one of the best states in which to raise a family and establish a business.

Q: What was your biggest disappointment this session?

A: Again, this session, little progress was made on many important issues such as education, women’s health rights, gun safety and voting rights.

My bill, HB 1774, which would have extended voting hours from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the benefit of commuters and all voters, did not advance out of subcommittee due to a lack of funding and registrars that said they are overworked.

In fact, a number of bills were passed that will make voting more difficult rather than easier for voters. Legislation was passed that requires photo identification in order to vote, which will negatively impact voters who do not have a birth certificate and will force voter registrars to purchase costly equipment to provide a substitute ID for those who request it. Another measure that passed requires the use of a federal scanning database to remove non-citizens from the voting rolls, even though this database has proven faulty and prevented some naturalized citizens from exercising their right to cast a ballot.

Additionally, my bill HB 2199 did not advance from the House Appropriations Committee after being referred by the Education Committee. This bill was intended to increase the numbers of students eligible for expedited retakes of the Standard of Learning tests given to the commonwealth’s public school students. Currently, only high school students are allowed to take retakes if they score within 25 points of the passing score. Students may not pass their SOLs for a variety of reasons, and they should be given a chance to retake them. Moreover, it is important to instill confidence, particularly in our younger children, who may be negatively impacted if they do not have the opportunity to retake a failed SOL test. This legislation was supported by the Superintendents Association, several County School districts including Fairfax, and the Virginia Education Association. It is my hope that this bill can advance next year using a different approach through a budgetary amendment.

Q: Describe your experience as a woman in the House of Delegates.

A: I serve with only 18 other women in the Virginia House of Delegates and I believe I am only one of two moms with school-aged children. I believe women can bring a different perspective and quality to the state capitol, one of consensus building, “getting things done” and cooperation. Our perspective, experience and ability to engage and inspire are unique characteristics which can be helpful in Richmond. With the recent women’s health issues debated over the past two years, it is even clearer to me the need to elect good, smart, quality women to the General Assembly.

In recent years, such outstanding women members of the General Assembly including Delegate Vivian Watts and Senators Janet Howell and Toddy Puller, with whom I am now honored to serve, have set a very high example for the 25 current female members of the General Assembly. In this regard, I have always strongly encouraged women, who are interested in becoming candidates to do so, and I frequently speak to such groups as the Girl Scouts about the importance of civic duty and the opportunity to serve their community and address major women’s issues.

Highlights of Del. Filler-Corn’s session:

Details on all of Del. Filler-Corn’s bills and what happened to each bill can be found at lis.virginia.gov under her name.

  • HB 1778—Informing women of increased risk of breast cancer due to dense breast tissue. This bill requires doctors to include information of the increased risk of breast cancer due to dense breast tissue on a mammogram, describing the potential link to cancer. This bill builds on legislation that was signed into law last year and is an important step forward for women’s health. The additional screening and procedures that many women will undergo following a consultation and notification from their mammogram about dense breast tissue can be life saving. This bill passed the House and Senate unanimously and now awaits the governor’s signature.
  • HB 2041—Allows the Recreational Access Fund to utilize guidelines instead of regulations to fund access roads and bikeways to public recreational areas and historical sites. This bill replaces language that requires the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to adopt regulations for administrating the Recreational Access Fund, with language authorizing the CTB to utilize guidelines instead. This streamlines the Recreational Access Fund’s administration and improves government services to Virginians, while still allowing for the public’s involvement in the decision making process. This bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously and awaits the governor’s signature.
  • HB 1777—Creating an online database of free textbooks for college students. This bill would reduce costs for college students and their families by creating an online database where they can access digital versions of up to 50 textbooks at no charge for some of the most common prerequisite courses. It also would create an open source digital library. The bill has been referred to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), which will bring together interested stakeholders to discuss all of the aspects and concerns relative to this proposed legislation and thus hopefully move this bill forward in the future.
  • HB2201—Require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all new public school construction and rehabilitation of existing public schools. This bill would protect children from the dangers of potentially deadly leaks by requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all new school construction and any renovations of existing schools. After discussions with the Department of Community and Housing Development (DCHD) it was determined that the best route of action for this proposal was via the regulatory process through DCHD. Therefore, at my request, the DCHD is now reviewing regulatory action with regard to implementing this important requirement in all new schools as well as those undergoing structural renovations.
  • HB1782—Protecting children from dangers of concussions. This bill would require third-party organizations using public parks and schools for sporting events to adopt concussion guidelines in accordance with Virginia requirements or from the locality where the event is being held. This topic and issue will now be sent to the Joint Commission on Health Care for their 2013 study plan.
  • HB 1774—Making it easier for citizens to vote. This bill would have extended voting hours by an additional hour, until 8 p.m. on Election Day. The proposal would have made it easier for workers, commuters, caregivers and young people to participate in the voting process by providing more time to get to the polls. Although the bill did not advance, it sparked important conversation among legislators, election officials and citizens.

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2013 General Assembly Press Release

For Immediate Release:
January 18, 2013

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn unveils legislative agenda and is appointed to House of Delegates Finance Committee

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41st District) unveiled the 13 bills that she has introduced for consideration by the 2013 General Assembly.  Members of the House of Delegates may introduce a maximum of 15 pieces of legislation during this year’s 45-day session.

Among Del. Filler-Corn’s legislative priorities are education, transportation and public safety.  She will also focus on cutting college students’ expenses, expanding voting hours, protecting our children and promoting a healthy lifestyle for all adults. She stated “With a short session, I decided to introduce important legislative proposals that will make a difference for the 41stDistrict and across the Commonwealth. It is my priority to reflect the views of my constituents and address the issues that affect our community.”

Delegate Filler-Corn will also have a new Committee assignment in the 2013 session.  In addition to her two previous standing House Committees (House Transportation and House Militia, Police and Public Safety), she has now also been appointed by Speaker of the House, William J. Howell, to serve on the House Finance Committee as well.

The House Finance Committee, which dates back to 1624, is responsible for overseeing state revenue and taxation issues.  Under the chairmanship of Del. Harry R. Purkey (R-Virginia Beach), this Committee is currently comprised of 15 Republicans and 7 Democrats.  Del. Filler-Corn stated “I am honored to have been appointed to the House Finance Committee. This important and historic Committee is vital to the operation of the Commonwealth.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop solutions to the fiscal challenges currently facing the Commonwealth.”

Among the bills introduced by Delegate Filler Corn this week are:

HB 1774      Would extend voting hours to 8 p.m. from the current closing time of 7:00 p.m., make voting more convenient for individuals that spend significant time commuting

HB 1775      Would give any woman the right to opt-out of the mandatory ultrasound procedure that is costly and often medically unnecessary.

HB 1776      Would waive the penalty on physicians who choose not to perform an unnecessary ultrasound procedure against their medical judgment and training.

HB 1777      Would alleviate costs for college students and their families by creating an online database where they can access digital versions of up to 50 textbooks at no charge for some of the most common prerequisite courses.

HB 1778      Would require that doctors provide female patients with information on dense breast tissue describing the potential link to cancer and that additional screening procedures may be necessary.

HB 1779      Would waive the monthly electronic E-Z pass fee after 10 uses in that month

HB 1781      Would make it a felony for individuals to knowingly take advantage of an elderly individual’s finances.

HB 1782      Building on past legislation, this bill would protect our children by ensuring that all parties using public school facilities are aware of Virginia’s guidelines for the diagnosis, care and treatment of concussion injuries.

HB 2024      Would help individuals taking the right steps towards a healthy lifestyle if, during wellness check fully covered by insurance, it becomes necessary to perform a diagnostic procedure, the patient would only be responsible for the additional cost of that procedure.

HB 2041     Would improve the Recreational Access Fund by streamlining and moving rulemaking away from regulations to guidelines, allowing improvements to be made in a timely manner.

HB 2201      Would require that Carbon Monoxide detectors to be installed in all new public school construction and rehabilitation of existing public schools.

HB 2199      Would give students in all grades the opportunity to be given an expedited re-take of the Standards of Learning (SOL) examination, in the event of their failure to pass the initial test.

HB 2297      Would restore the dedicated federal funding to the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) for track usage fees, for the benefit of our communities.

Details on all of these bills and their status in the legislative process can be found at lis.virginia.gov under Delegate Filler-Corn’s name.

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