Once again this year, Election Day was memorable! It was certainly a sea change from the last “off-off year” election in 2015, where every incumbent who ran was re-elected. However, before I go any further, I would like to first thank the voters of the 41st District for re-electing me to my fifth full term. It is hard to believe that this March will mark 10 years (since my special election) of serving you in Richmond. I am excited to once again get to work to make this Commonwealth better for all of us.
In addition to being re-elected myself, Democrats flipped the House of Delegates and the Senate! The sea change I mentioned above was a continuation of the Blue Wave of 2017. The Senate now has 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans, and the House has 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans. Despite a tumultuous 2019 Session, we managed to re-elect every single Democratic 2017 freshman and add six new members to our Caucus.
As the Leader of the House Democratic Caucus, it was an honor and privilege to work closely with a record 92 candidates, staffers, partners and grassroots supporters to pull off these wins.
That following Saturday, our majority caucus met in Richmond to elect leadership positions. I was humbled and honored to have been chosen by my colleagues as the first woman Speaker-designee of the Virginia House of Delegates. I do not take the support of my colleagues nor this responsibility lightly. We are a unified caucus with the shared priority to move our Commonwealth forward, address our most critical challenges and ensure transparency for all Virginians. We are stepping up to lead and understand the value of making our schools better, our communities stronger, our economy fairer and our Commonwealth the envy of all the states.
The firsts are not lost on me—the first woman and the first Jewish person elected Speaker-designee in our 400 year legislative history—but it doesn’t define me. When I joined this body less than 10 years ago, I was the only mom serving with school-aged kids. We have come so far since then. We have the most diverse House Caucus in our history, which includes cultural, gender and geographic diversity. It also means a diversity of experience and perspectives on issues that affect Virginians in all regions.
We will continue to have a wide range of opinions as to the best path forward.
Our work will not be easy, but I am prepared and eager to serve the people of the great Commonwealth of Virginia alongside Majority Leader-Elect Charniele Herring, Majority Caucus Chairman-Elect Rip Sullivan and all of our colleagues.
I also would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the winners of our local elections here in Fairfax County. I look forward to working closely with our new Board of Supervisors Chairman-Elect Jeff McKay, as well as the Supervisors in the magisterial districts in the 41st District including Supervisor-Elect James Walkinshaw (Braddock), Supervisor-Elect and 41st District constituent Dalia Palchik (Providence) and Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield). I also look forward to working closely with our new school board including constituents Megan McLaughlin (Braddock), Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield) and Rachna Sizemore-Heizer (at-large) as well as Karl Frisch (Providence), Karen Keys-Gamarra (at-large) and Abrar Omeish (at-large). Congratulations as well to all other countywide and magisterial winners as well.
One of my first acts as Speaker-designee was to the announce the appointment of Chairs for four House Committees. I will continue to make further announcements of other Chairs in the coming days and weeks leading up to the 2020 Session. These appointments were as follows:
- Delegate Luke Torian (Prince William County) as Chair of the Appropriations Committee
- Delegate Vivian Watts (Fairfax County) as Chair of the Finance Committee
- Delegate Jeion Ward (Hampton) as Chair of the Commerce and Labor Committee
- Delegate Roslyn Tyler (Sussex County) as Chair of the Education Committee
These impressive leaders will be important allies as we shape our policy and agenda for the Commonwealth in 2020 and beyond. Each of these delegates brings a great deal of experience, both in and out of the legislature, which will contribute to our work to make our schools better, our communities stronger and our economy thriving and fair.
First Bills of the 2020 Session
As pre-filing for the 2020 session opened today, Monday, House Democrats filed several bills that will set the tone for their first session as a majority in two decades. The House Democratic Caucus will formally announce its comprehensive 2020 legislative agenda before session begins on January 8.
Over the past year, House Democrats have been working to formulate our 2020 legislative agenda, and we are looking forward to rolling it out over the coming months as the majority party. For years now, House Democrats have consistently pushed to build a Commonwealth that works for all Virginians, and the first bills filed reflect our commitment to equality and uphold our accountability to Virginia voters.The first bills filed include:
- HB1: No-excuse in-person and mail absentee voting; Patron: Del. Charniele Herring
- HB2: Universal background checks; Patron: Del. Ken Plum
- HB3: LGBTQ+ Housing Nondiscrimination; Patron: Del. Delores McQuinn
- HJ1: Equal Rights Amendment; Patron: Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy
PANS/PANDAS Advisory Council
Earlier this week, I was in Richmond to chair a meeting of the PANS/PANDAS Advisory Council. We spent time further discussing our council’s recommendations for our 2019 report. I am grateful to my General Assembly colleagues and our impressive council of medical experts, professionals and parents for a productive meeting. I look forward to sharing our report to the Governor and General Assembly in the coming weeks.
New I-395 Express Lanes
This past weekend, the new I-395 Express Lanes opened and will run for 8 miles from near Edsall Rd. to the 14th Street Bridge in D.C. For those who use I-395 to get to work, you can click here to find out more information about how the new express lanes will affect your travel.
Health Insurance Marketplace
Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace has begun and ends on December 15th. The deadline to sign up for coverage starting on January 1, 2020 is December 15th.
To apply online, please visit www.healthcare.gov. If you need any assistance, please visit Enroll Virginia by going to www.enrollva.org or calling the statewide toll-free hotline at
1-888-392-5132. Enroll Virginia’s mission is to help Virginians get the assistance they need and is a valuable resource for any Virginian requiring guidance and assistance in this process.