Last week, I was in Richmond for the reconvened/veto session. We have much to be proud of coming out of the reconvened session this year on behalf of all Virginians, including upholding the Governor’s vetoes on potentially harmful legislation. Interestingly enough, very few of the bills vetoed (click here to view them all) were actually contested by the bill’s patrons.
We deliberated over many recommendations from the Governor for nearly 8 hours on the Floor. Though there were some bills and budget items that I wished had a different final outcome, we have a lot of successes to point to:
- Approving $4 Million in increased funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund to assist in the creation of affordable housing and reduction of homelessness
- Securing funding for transportation improvements to I-81, I-95 and I-64, as well as $20 Million in additional funding for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
- Eliminating the practice of suspending driver’s licenses over unpaid court costs and fees
- Providing temporary relief from legal penalties for late mortgage or rent payments for Virginians who were furloughed during the Federal government shutdown
- Expanding paid family leave to state employees who are foster parents.
- Establishing a Balance Billing workgroup which will evaluate options regarding prohibiting the practice of balance billing by out-of-network health care providers for emergency services rendered. The work group will also establish equitable and fair reimbursement for health care providers
After a long and tiring, but productive day, I was glad to return to the 41st District late Wednesday night.
Northern Virginia Training Center Site (in the 41st District)
Additionally, I wanted to provide an update on what is currently happening at the Northern Virginia Training Center Site on Braddock Road. While most of the land is undergoing the comprehensive plan amendment process, the Department of Motor Vehicles also purchased a 3.9 acre parcel of the land in October 2015 at a cost of $2 million. The site already consists of a 150 vehicle parking lot and an undeveloped building site. It can accommodate a building between 15,000 and 16,000 square feet. DMV issued a solicitation for design services and six proposals were received. Evaluation of each of those proposals is currently underway. The building and site design and required approvals will take approximately one year and cost approximately $200,000. However, the start date of construction is yet to be determined.
VDOT Meeting Regarding Burke Centre Parkway
VDOT will hold a meeting, this Thursday, April 10th to update Burke Centre Conservancy residents on the widening of the Fairfax County Parkway from four lanes to six lanes between Lee Highway and Ox Road. You can find out about the plans, view displays and learn more about the project and its preliminary design, including Popes Head Road interchange options under consideration. Project staff will be available to answer your questions.The presentation will start at 7:00 p.m. You can also click here to read more about the widening.
Brain Injury Association of Virginia Award
It was such an honor to receive the Legislator of the Year Award at the Brain Injury Association of Virginia’s Legacy Dinner this past Saturday. I have enjoyed working and collaborating with the BIAV throughout the years, especially on my legislation which requires the Board of Education to include “Return to Learn” protocols in their policies and procedures for student-athletes who have suffered concussions. Thank you to the Brain Injury Association of Virginia and their Executive Director Anne McDonnell, for her impressive leadership!
Fairfax Little League Opening Day
Saturday was a great morning for the Fairfax Little League opening day! The sun was even shining. It was fun to ride in the parade led by so many little league players and their coaches. and to throw out a first pitch during the ceremony with many friends as well as state and local elected officials. This is an event that I look forward to attending every year. Play ball!
Richmond Committee and Commission Meetings
PANS and PANDAS Council
I was in Richmond this afternoon to chair a meeting of the PANS/PANDAS Advisory Council. We had an engaging and substantive discussion on documents created by the Council. We also discussed the future steps that we can take to continue to raise awareness of these insidious diseases. I am proud to Chair this distinguished council of impressive professionals, physicians, medical experts and parents in search of relief for these young people inflicted with PANS or PANDAS (and those caring for them). I truly appreciate everyone’s time and energy, including my General Assembly colleagues who serve on the Council.
Joint Commission on Technology and Science
Prior to the reconvened session, I was also in Richmond for a meeting of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, on which I serve. We heard an update on Blockchain from JCOTS Vice Chair, Delegate Glenn Davis. We discussed what issues we can look into out of session, while also planning our future meetings in Richmond, as well as visits and tours of Virginia Tech and Wallops Island.
Department of Motor Vehicles Women’s History Month
I was pleased to address the fabulous, hardworking employees at the Virginia DMV for their annual Women’s History Month Celebration. The topic this year was “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence”. Thank you to Commissioner Rick Holcomb and the DMV Cultural Committee for hosting a wonderful event. I enjoyed speaking about Virginia women who inspired me and sharing my own personal story.
I also appreciated the opportunity to salute a really wonderful employee of the DMV. If you have ever contacted my office about an issue with DMV, my office has more than likely reached out to Vivian Cheatham on your behalf. Vivian is the Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Constituent Services and has a proven track record of being incredibly responsive and helpful. It is not often we get to recognize unsung heroes, but I was proud to show Vivian just how much all of us in the General Assembly appreciate her efforts.
I so enjoyed attending the Virginia21 Leadership Luncheon and awards in Richmond a couple weeks ago. Virginia21 works with colleges and universities to equip the next generation of leaders with the skills and knowledge to engage their communities. These young individuals make me incredibly proud and hopeful for our future. Thank you as well to our incredible U.S. Senator Tim Kaine for delivering an empowering keynote address!
Arc of NoVA Breakfast
It was truly wonderful to join the Arc of Northern Virginia’s “A Life Like Yours” Breakfast. The ARC promotes and protects the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, supporting community inclusion and participation. Great to see so many friends, including advocates and friends: Craig Heizer, Conner and Sharon Cummings at this inspiring breakfast. The Arc has been a wonderful stakeholder for so many pieces of great disability-related legislation over the years and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.
Alexandria Commission for Women
I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Alexandria Commission for Women’s reception on “Civic Activism: Women Leading the Way” on March 25th. There was so much energy inside the spectacular Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum. It was fun to reconnect with so many friends and many women leaders coming together!