Happy Holidays from my family to yours! Whether it is Christmas Day, eight nights of Hanukkah, seven days of Kwanzaa or simply a period for families to come together, this time of year is special, regardless of your traditions. I hope we all can realize that each person we encounter has the opportunity to enrich our lives for the better and that in this vein we can all come together as a community at the close of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.
I was truly honored to be elected as Leader of the House Democratic Caucus on December 8th. I start this new role on January 1st. I am most grateful to my colleagues for their confidence in me. Thank you as well to Delegate Charniele Herring, Delegate Sam Rasoul, Delegate Rip Sullivan and Delegate Marcus B. Simon for stepping up to run. I look forward to their continued collaboration towards our success. Lastly, I am so appreciative of our current Leader, Delegate David Toscano for his years of hard work, efforts, time and energy on behalf of our Caucus!
I know first-hand the value of strong Democratic leadership and constituent service. I have been fortunate to serve in the House throughout our entire struggle to pass Medicaid expansion and with the addition of our tremendous freshman class, we finally achieved it this earlier year. I truly believe that what we do in the General Assembly matters to every Virginian. I am committed to standing up for good, common sense legislation which improves lives across the Commonwealth. I am truly humbled by our Caucus’ support and trust in me. I am looking forward to supporting and passing legislation which represents our core Democratic principles this session and moving on to great success in November 2019.
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
I was pleased to attend NCSL’s Capitol Forum in Washington, DC last week. During this conference, I had one of my first meetings as a member of NCSL’s Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, a position I was appointed to earlier this year by Speaker Cox. We discussed issues related to internet commerce, bankingand financial services. NCSL is always a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow state legislators from across the country as well as delve into specific issues and topics with experts.
Fairfax Education Associated-Retired (FEA-R) and Fairfax County Retired Educators (FCRE)
I was pleased to join the Fairfax Education Association-Retired & the Fairfax County Retired Educators to learn about their priorities for the 2019 session. As always, they organized an informative presentation, and it was great to reconnect with friends and constituents. Thanks to all teachers, past & present for your service to our schools and your mentorship of our kids!
Joint Commission on Technology and Science
Last Tuesday, I was in Richmond for a meeting of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science. We heard presentations primarily focusing on aerospace: recent developmentsand related legislation. Delegate Glenn Davis also presented the Blockchain subcommittee’s (on which I also serve) report. I am looking forward to future legislation that may come out of this Commission’s studies. Encouraging innovation in Virginia puts us all on the road to success.
Fairfax County Delegation Meeting with the County Board of Supervisors
On Tuesday, I also joined my colleagues and members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for our annual pre-Legislative Session meeting. We discussed the County’s legislative priorities for the session and their priorities for the Governor’s proposed budget. I consider it an honor to represent a small part of Virginia’s largest county and I look forward to advocating on the county’s behalf in January.
Jewish Community Relations Council’s “Lox and Legislators” Breakfast
On Wednesday, I was honored to address the JCRC of Greater Washington’s first annual “Lox and Legislators” Legislative Breakfast with my thoughts on the past, present and future of our Commonwealth. There was an impressive turnout—over 200 people and I was very touched by the reception I received. It was great to also hear from JCRC’s Director of Virginia and DC Government Relations, Darcy Hirsh, Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross, Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol, GMU professor and longtime political commentator Bill Schneider, as well as our fantastic Attorney General Mark Herring, as part of the formal program. I am looking forward to this event growing into a longstanding tradition.
I attended the IAFF Local 2068 Annual Legislative Luncheon to learn about issues affecting our impressive local firefighters. Ron Kuley and Virginia Diamond gave great remarks on their priorities for the 2019 session, and it was wonderful to hear from our impressive Sheriff, Stacey Kincaid as well. I am looking forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of these brave first responders who put their lives on the line for us every single day in the upcoming legislative session.
Sandy Hook Vigil at the National Rifle Association Headquarters
I was proud to join Congresswoman-Elect Jennifer Wexton and my colleagues, Delegates Ken Plum, Jennifer Boysko, Marcus Simon, and Karrie Delaney as well as many advocates at a well-attended, moving vigil in front of the NRA headquarters in memory of those lost at Sandy Hook, 6 years ago. We also remembered the victims from the all-too-frequent acts of gun violence that occur in our communities including, but not limited to Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Parkland, Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks. I spoke to the crowd about the efforts of the Safe Virginia Initiative to reach out to communities across the Commonwealth and come up with solutions to prevent gun violence. One thing is clear: the time for common-sense gun safety legislation is now.