General Assembly Session Week 2
House Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment
Another historic week in Richmond! For the women of Virginia and the women of America, the ERA has finally passed!
On January 15th, 2020, we in the Virginia House of Delegates passed HJ 1, which will ratify the Equal Rights amendment to the United States Constitution.
After nearly 100 years of working to put equality into the Constitution, a document that lays out our nation’s most fundamental rights and laws, we are taking the historic step to make ratification a reality. Finally, women will be represented in the Constitution.
For many who have felt the sting of discrimination, fought to be treated equally in their workplaces and within our institutional structures, we are making history and walking down a more inclusive path. One where our daughters and their daughters after them will have equal protection under the law. Putting gender equality in the Constitution does not right the wrongs of the past, nor fix all forms of discrimination, but it lays down a marker on a map that leads us to a more just and equal future.
There have been thousands of people who have marched before us; who worked to make this a more just and equal society; who have worked to make the Equal Rights Amendment a reality. I cannot possibly begin to thank them enough for their dedication, sacrifices and leadership. We honor them – and all women across Virginia and America – with our actions this week.
“We Demand” Exhibit at the Library of Virginia
Serendipitously, the same day that we ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, I visited the opening day reception of “We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th constitutional amendment, which enshrined women’s right to vote in the United States Constitution.
The exhibit stands as the culmination of three years’ worth of hard work, research and collection by the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia and Library of Virginia. On display are original banners, support buttons, dozens of meeting notes, pamphlets and postcards – all publicly available to preserve the significant historic efforts and achievements of the women who comprised the suffrage movement. Many of these incredible, driven women have gone unrecognized for too long. It is past due that they be recognized and commended as trailblazers who led the way for modern leaders and activists.
To bear witness and contribute to this generations-long story on the same day that Virginia moved closer to becoming the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was both incredibly humbling and moving.
Located in the Library of Virginia, the exhibition is free and open to the public in the library’s exhibition space on the first floor and is supported by the General Assembly’s Task Force to Commemorate the Centennial Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote. The Library of Virginia is located at 800 E. Broad St. in Richmond. For more information about the exhibit, visit www.lva.virginia.gov. The library is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Virginia Professional Fire Fighters
I was also thrilled to again meet with the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, including members of Fairfax County’s Local 2068, during their annual lobby day in Richmond. This year, it was my honor to host the meeting in the Speaker’s conference room and discuss their 2020 legislative priorities. These brave individuals, and all first responders across our Commonwealth, put their lives on the line every single day. I am tremendously grateful for all that they do.
Northern Virginia Delegation Meeting
This week the Northern Virginia Delegation resumed our weekly meetings in Richmond. The Governor’s Chief Workforce Development Advisor, Megan Healy joined us at the meeting to expand on the Governor’s G3 Grant Program. The program is centered on the mission to help students “Get a skill, get a job, give back” and does this by making community college more affordable for low to middle-income families seeking employment in high-demand sectors such as technology, skilled trades, healthcare, early childhood education, and public safety.
Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO, Stephen Moret, joined us as well and provided an update on the economic stability and growth of our Commonwealth. Virginia continues to have one of the strongest economies, not only among southern states, but in the entire U.S. We were once again CNBC’s top state for business in 2019 and continue to benefit from a number of strategic investments across many sectors and industries.
However, not all Virginians are benefiting equally from this success. Many individuals, workers and businesses, especially in rural areas of the Commonwealth, are experiencing the difficult side of a changing economy. I remain committed to working tirelessly so that our Commonwealth has an economic environment benefiting all Virginians.
VUU’s 42nd Annual Community Leader’s Breakfast
It was truly an honor to deliver the keynote address at Virginia Union University’s Community Leader’s Breakfast honoring the legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. with friends and colleagues, as well as many leaders from VUU and communities throughout the Commonwealth.
As I said during my address on Friday: We have a unique opportunity to correct course on so many injustices in the Commonwealth’s past and to create a safer, a more inclusive, a more prosperous commonwealth for all of our citizens. This session, we will fly and we will make historic progress in Virginia.
GMU, ODU & VCU
Virginia’s excellent institutions of higher education are one of the many reasons our Commonwealth continues to thrive and attract new talent. Thank you to GMU President Anne Holton, ODU President John Broderick and VCU President Michael Rao for meeting with me to discuss access and affordability to our state colleges and universities, as well as the many incredible benefits that our public higher education institutions contribute to the Commonwealth.
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.