Happy Holidays from my family to yours! Whether it is Christmas Day, eight nights of Hanukkah, seven days of Kwanzaa or simply a time for families and friends to come together, this time of year is special. I wish you all much happiness, smiles, laughter with those you love and peace.
Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) Meeting in Blacksburg
Two weeks ago, I was in Blacksburg for a two day retreat with JCOTS at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, learning about the various technological innovations and programs that Virginia Tech offers, as well as substantive discussion on Sea Level Rise & Coastal Flooding, Cybersecurity Economic Development, a Research & Technology Strategic Roadmap as well as 2020 legislative proposals for consideration. To see our discussion materials, please click here.
New Sheriffs School
I was pleased to address the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association at their New Sheriffs School Orientation breakfast in Richmond last week. I was appreciative that my friend, Fairfax County Sheriff, Stacey Kincaid took the time to travel to Richmond to introduce me. Thank you also to John Jones, VSA’s Executive Director for his leadership of this organization and for the invitation to speak. It was an honor to address these dedicated public servants who put their lives on the line for us every day.
Committee Chair and Vice Chair Announcements
Over the past two weeks, I have worked closely with my colleagues and my transition team to name chairs and vice-chairs of each of the House Committees. Additionally, as Speaker of the House, I will also serve as the Chair of the Rules Committee. Below is the full list of Chairs and Vice Chairs:
- Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources: Ken Plum (Chair), Wendy Gooditis (Vice Chair)
- Appropriations: Luke Torian (Chair), Mark Sickles (Vice Chair)
- Commerce and Labor: Jeion Ward (Chair), Rip Sullivan (Vice Chair)
- Counties, Cities and Towns:
Kaye Kory (Chair), Steve Heretick (Vice Chair)
- Courts of Justice: Charniele Herring (Chair), Vivian Watts (Vice Chair)
- Education: Roslyn Tyler (Chair), Elizabeth Guzman (Vice Chair)
- Finance: Vivian Watts (Chair), Mark Sickles (Vice Chair)
- General Laws: David Bulova (Chair), Betsy Carr (Vice Chair)
- Health, Welfare and Institutions: Mark Sickles (Chair), Sam Rasoul (Vice Chair)
- Militia, Police and Public Safety: Patrick Hope (Chair),
Jeff Bourne (Vice Chair)
- Privileges and Elections:
Joe Lindsey (Chair), Marcus Simon (Vice Chair)
- Rules: Eileen Filler-Corn (Chair), Mike Mullin (Vice Chair)
- Science and Technology:
Cliff Hayes (Chair), Hala Ayala
- Transportation: Delores McQuinn (Chair), Kathleen Murphy (Vice Chair)
Fairfax County Legislative Work Session
Last week, I joined many of my colleagues and other elected officials at the annual Fairfax County/General Assembly legislative work session for 2020. It was bittersweet to hear Chairman Sharon Bulova give her last legislative address as our Board of Supervisors Chairman but I know we are in excellent hands with Chairman-elect Jeff McKay at the helm as our incoming Chairman. I look forward to working closely with our new and returning Supervisors to move our community forward.
Fairfax County School Board Swearing In
I was honored to attend the swearing in of our new Fairfax County School Board last week at Luther Jackson Middle School last Thursday. To have such an amazing talented, diverse, bright and committed school board truly representing our values is reassuring and heartwarming. I know they will do great things, and I look forward to working with them over the next few years. Our new school board members are:
- Abrar Omeish (at-large)
- Karen Keys-Gamarra (at-large)
- Rachna Sizemore-Heizer (at-large)
- Megan McLaughlin (Braddock)
- Melanie Meren (Hunter Mill)
- Elaine Tholen (Dranesville)
- Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Lee)
- Ricardy Anderson (Mason)
- Karen Corbett Sanders (Mt. Vernon)
- Karl Frisch (Providence)
- Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield)
- Stella Pekarsky (Sully)
Governor’s Budget Announcements
Last Wednesday and Thursday, Governor Northam was in Northern Virginia for two budget and education related announcements. The first is one of Virginia’s largest and boldest plans for Early Childhood Education and Child Care in our Commonwealth’s history. The Governor’s budget will allocate $94.8 million in new funding will transform the Commonwealth’s early childhood education system to increase access for at-risk three- and four-year-olds, establish uniform accountability standards, and ensure educators have the training and support they need, especially in child care settings. Click here to read the full text of the Governor’s press statement.
The second announcement which took place at Northern Virginia Community College, was the announcement of the Governor’s “G3” (Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back) Program, which includes $145 million over the biennium to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. Having stood by then Lt. Governor Northam when he first unveiled this program as a campaign promise in 2017, it is exciting to see it finally come to fruition. Click here to watch the video of the announcement.
This past Saturday, I joined countless advocates and friends including Congressman Gerry Connolly and Delegate Ken Plum, in front of the NRA Headquarters to mark the 7th anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The time for common sense gun safety legislation is long overdue. This coming session, we will finally make progress on this important issue. Though we have made a great start with HB 2, which will institute Universal Background Checks, I will continue to update you on the House Democratic Caucus’ plans to address gun violence prevention as additional legislation is introduced.
Delegate-Elect Nancy Guy
Recount efforts were underway for the election in the 83rd House District earlier last week. Democratic Candidate Nancy Guy led the incumbent by a twenty-six vote margin. After the recount, that vote share increased to forty-one votes and Nancy was declared the winner.
Delegate-Elect Guy will make a great addition to the House of Delegates. Her background in public education will make her a great advocate for Virginia’s future–our kids. Her victory also gives Democrats a final margin of 55-45 in the House of Delegates.
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 out and about in the 41st District. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office.