The first full week of session flew by. We are clearly now in the full swing of committee meetings, bills and voting.
I have outlined my legislative agenda below:
HB 2203 would repeal the expiration date on the requirement that childcare providers undergo fingerprint-based national criminal history background checks. Allowing this sunset to stand would risk Virginia losing millions of dollars in child development grants. My bill would prevent this from happening, not only ensuring that federal funds remain accessible to Virginia small businesses, but also that child care would remain more safe and secure.
HB 2204 would clarify that a voter can either give their name and address out loud or in writing, and that giving an election officer a form of identification that contains his full name and current residence address would satisfy this requirement. Furthermore, the bill would end the practice of an election officer repeating the voter’s address out loud.
HB 2205 would expand upon legislation from 2016 and 2017 by strengthening education around consent in Family Life Education.
HB 2206 would exempt the purchase of biometric and dial-locking gun safes under $1000 from state sales tax, encouraging safe storage of existing firearms.
HB 2207 would require health insurance carriers to provide coverage, under any health insurance policy, contract, or plan that includes coverage for prescription drugs on an outpatient basis, for any prescribed contraceptive drug, contraceptive device, or contraceptive procedure.
HB 2281 would establish a presumption for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for certain firefighters, law-enforcement officers, hazardous materials officers, animal protection police officers, or 9-1-1 emergency call takers, dispatchers, or similarly situated employees.
HB 2282 would allow the Board of Counseling to promulgate regulations for the issuance of temporary licenses to individuals engaged in a counseling residency for the purpose of meeting the Board’s licensure requirement for postgraduate counseling practice during a supervised residency period.
HB 2454 would require a court to permit an adult chosen by a minor victim in a criminal case to be present in the courtroom during any proceedings in addition to or in lieu of the minor’s parent or guardian. Under current law, a court has discretionary authority to permit such person to be present during any proceedings.
HB 2797 would bar high school students (aged 18-21), from purchasing assault weapons or handguns with exemptions for those who are in the military or have received a high school diploma or GED.
HJ 675 would request a study of experiential learning and workforce development opportunities for high school students in high-demand fields including STEM.
HJ 676 would create a constitutional amendment that one motor vehicle of a veteran who has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability would be exempt from state and local taxes. The amendment would also provide that only automobiles and pickup trucks qualify for the exemption.
Additionally, I am also carrying two budget amendments, one is to fund HJ 675, my workforce development study and the other helps Virginia 529 fund a marketing position to help encourage more Virginians with disabilities to sign up for Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts. This builds upon my work in 2015, when I carried the bill to initially establish ABLE Accounts in Virginia.
House Democratic Caucus press conference
Earlier this week, I was proud to open the Virginia House Democrats Caucus’ press conference where we announced our legislative priorities for the 2019 Session. Last year, we showed what could be accomplished with more House Democrats fighting for the rights of all Virginians, most notably by voting to expand Medicaid. Our legislative agenda this year aims to build on last year’s progress. We will continue to show that House Democrats are fighting for greater opportunity and for the rights of all Virginians. My colleagues shared our proposals which include:
- Investing in Virginia’s schools
- Making voting easier and more accessible
- Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment
- Addressing the housing crisis
- Reforming our criminal justice system including ending the practice of driver’s license suspensions for non-payment of court fees
- Addressing the dangers of coal ash and modernizing our electrical grid
- Tackling the Opioid Crisis
The overall theme for our legislative agenda is “A House for All Virginians.” I look forward to advocating for these important issues during the 2019 Session. You can view the entire press conference by clicking here.
This week was filled with several committee meetings already, as this is the short session and things move very quickly. My first full Finance Committee meeting (click here to view the livestream) took place this past Monday. In addition to voting on several bills, we heard a presentation from Virginia’s Department of Taxation on the impact of the federal tax changes and the Wayfair decision (related to state sales tax and internet sales). Whether and how we conform to the tax code this year is an issue that in the past was fairly non-controversial (in fact, it is usually one of the first bills we voted on each session and would pass out of both the House and Senate unanimously or near unanimously) but in light of the changes to our tax code at the Federal level is undergoing some controversy.
I also have the privilege to serve on the House Rules Committee—a committee that both majority and minority floor leaders serve on. The Speaker chairs the committee. Rules generally considers bills that pertain to the operation of the General Assembly, resolutions that declare a day/week/month, and creations of studies.
I will also serve on the Joint Rules Subcommittee which deals with the governing rules of the House and Senate.
State Corporation Commission Appointment Debate
Nearly a year after, Judge James Dmitri stepped down as one of three judges from the State Corporation Commission, the Speaker called a recess on Wednesday afternoon during the floor session, so the Commerce and Labor Committee, on which I serve, “could hold an unusual, 30-minute meeting to interview the SCC candidate who had emerged with full approval of the Senate Republican Caucus.”
My concern, as well as that of our caucus throughout this entire process, is that a candidate for the SCC needs more than 30 minutes of review before being appointed. The SCC is an integral part of our Commonwealth and sets rates for public utilities (electricity), insurance and helps incorporate businesses. Appointees to head the SCC deserve serious and careful vetting, and should not be pushed through by the will of a slim majority of one party. You can read several articles about the debate on the left-hand side, but as I said to the Virginia Mercury, “sunlight did not shine in the Capitol” on Wednesday.
Military and Veterans Caucus
I attended the first Military and Veterans Caucus meeting of the session. We started by reviewing proposed legislation. I am proud that my previously mentioned bill, HJ 676, which would create an amendment to Virginia’s Constitution (allowing disabled veterans to claim a personal property tax exemption on one motor vehicle) was included in the Caucus’ legislation. We also received a presentation by MG Timothy Williams, The Adjutant General of Virginia’s National Guard. As someone who represents a district with a high population of military and veteran families, I am grateful to continue to advocate on their behalf this session.
Equal Rights Amendment
Though we have yet to vote on the Equal Rights Amendment here in the House, I am so pleased that the ERA has passed the Senate—and by a wide, bipartisan margin! Virginia once again stands on the precipice of history. If we pass this bill in the House, our Commonwealth becomes the crucial 38th state to ratify the ERA and enshrine it in the US Constitution. I hope that this is the year we can make that a reality.
Visitors to Richmond
Another week passed with many great visitors including representatives from the Fairfax County Professional Firefighters, VOICE, SEIU, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Fairfax County Democrats. I look forward to visitors and constituents stopping by this week as well!
Democratic Leader Filler-Corn in the News
- Washington Post: Republicans in Virginia kill ‘red flag’ bill endorsed by Trump administration
- Washington Post: ‘Raw political power:’ Virginia Republicans force issue of powerful judgeship
- Virginia Mercury: After nearly year-long logjam, GOP ‘rams through’ State Corporation Commission pick with no Democratic support
- RTD: Assembly elects Patricia West, former judge and top aide to Allen, Cuccinelli to SCC post
- C-Ville: 400 years: Will this year’s General Assembly make history?
- WFIR: State Senate Passes ERA
- Burke Connection: Commentary: 400 years and counting
- CBS 6: Democrats’ priorities: LGBT rights, environment, $15 minimum wage