General Assembly Session Week 6
We have now moved past Crossover Day. On Monday, I spent 9 hours on the Speaker’s dais presiding over hundreds of pieces of legislation to ensure they were all acted on in time for the Crossover deadline. Tuesday lasted another 4 hours. Now, all legislation that was passed in the House will be considered by the Senate and vice versa.
I am incredibly proud of the bills that the new Democratic majority has introduced and passed in the House so far this session. We have kept our promise to truly be the “People’s House” by passing long overdue legislation to protect Virginians from exploitation, discrimination and senseless violence. We have stood up for working families, strengthened our democracy, moved to preserve Virginia’s natural assets, and, at last, voted to enshrine women in the United States Constitution.
Below are just a few of the incredibly important measures that we have conveyed to the Senate for further consideration. We look forward to finishing this session just as strong as we have started it as we work with our colleagues in the Senate to continue this historic progress in Virginia.
For a full list of bills passed in the House and Senate so far, you may click here.
Making the Commonwealth Safer for All
The House has made historic progress this session toward making Virginia safer for families and individuals. Here are some of the vital pieces of legislation we passed in the House related to gun safety:
- HB 2 – Establishing universal background checks;
- HB 9 – Requiring lost or stolen firearms be reported within 24 hours;
- HB 264 – Removing the option for concealed handgun permit applicants to demonstrate competence online;
- HB 421 – Allowing localities to enact gun safety measures that work for their community;
- HB 674 – Removing firearms from persons posing a substantial risk;
- HB 812 – Reinstating Virginia’s one-gun-a-month policy;
- HB 888 – Establishing an exemption from retail sales tax for a biometric or dial combination locking gun safe with a selling price of $1,500 or less;
- HB 961 – Prohibiting the purchase or transfer of new assault weapons.
- HB 1004 – Preventing those with a permanent protective order against them from owning a gun;
- HB 1080 – Keeping guns out of schools;
- HB 1083 – Keeping guns out of the hands of children;
Fighting for Equality & Ensuring Anti-Discrimination Protections
The House also passed a number of bills that will ensure Virginia is more of an equal place to live, work, do business and raise a family regardless of where you come from, who you love, the religion you practice (if you do) or what you look like. A few of the anti-discrimination bills that have been introduced and passed in the House this year include:
- HJ 1 – Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
- HB 6 – Making housing discrimination on the basis of a person’s source of income unlawful;
- HB 276 – Enhancing reporting to State Police of hate crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability;
- HB 386 – Banning conversion therapy;
- HB 618 – Increasing penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of gender, disability or sexual orientation;
- HB 623 – Replacing the terms “husband” and “wife” with gender-neutral terms throughout the Virginia Code;
- HB 696 – Giving localities additional authority in prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit and education on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
- HB 1049 – Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, public accommodation, public contracting, apprenticeship programs, housing, banking and insurance;
- HB 1429 – Prohibiting a health care provider from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or transgender status;
- HB 1514 – Providing protection from discrimination on the basis of traits historically associated with race, such as hair;
- HB 1663 – Granting non-discrimination protections under the Virginia Human Rights Act to Virginians on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Protecting & Expanding Access to Voting
We are keeping our promise to give more Virginians a voice in their democracy. The elderly and those who cannot make it to the polls on election day, but who want to vote absentee, will no longer be scrutinized or punished. A few bills increasing access to voting include:
- HB 1 – Allowing Virginians to vote absentee, by mail or in person, for any reason;
- HB 19 – Permitting a voter to sign a statement affirming their identity in place of showing identification;
- HB 108 – Designating Election Day as a state holiday in place of Lee-Jackson Day;
- HB 201 – Establishing same-day voter registration in the Commonwealth;
- HB 220 – Requiring that absentee ballots include prepaid postage on the return envelope;
- HB 235 – Establishing automatic voter registration during specified transactions at the DMV;
Addressing Systemic Inequities in the Commonwealth
Our Commonwealth is abundant with opportunities to succeed. However, the system remains imperfect and opportunities are not always equal for all Virginians. So far this session, we have made incredible progress to ensure that everyone in our Commonwealth has an equal shot at success:
- HB 180 – Eliminating the requirement that the race of married parties be included in marriage records;
- HB 366 – Establishing a public defender office in Prince William County as well as the Cities of Manassas & Manassas Park;
- HB 857 – Repealing laws that implemented segregated accommodations on steamboats;
- HB 914 – Repealing laws that implemented segregation on rail cars, streetcars and buses;
- HB 972 – Decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana;
- HB 973 – Repealing laws relating to racial segregation of students in elementary and secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth;
- HB 995 – Increasing the felony threshold for grand larceny from $500 to $1,000;
- HB 1042 – Establishing the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice to advise the Governor and provide recommendations intended to protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of environmental pollution;
- HB 1406 – Removing the Robert E. Lee statue from the National Statuary Hall Collection;
- HB 1537 – Allowing localities to remove, relocate or alter civil war monuments, in accordance with the wishes of their own community;
- HB 1638 – Repealing laws from 1901 – 1960 related to the implementation and enforcement of racial segregation and discrimination in public facilities.
Supporting Working Individuals & Families
We were all thrilled that Virginia reclaimed our #1 ranking as the Top State for Business last year. At the same time, it was incredibly disappointing to learn that Virginia is also last among states for our worker protections. This year, the new House majority has worked to achieve incredible improvements for our working individuals and families. This includes passing:
- HB 46 – Increasing transparency during worker’s compensation claims;
- HB 56 – Prohibiting an employer from classifying an individual as a tipped employee if the individual is prohibited by applicable federal or state law or regulation from soliciting tips;
- HB 123 – Combating wage theft by providing workers a private right of action to hold contractors liable for unpaid wages;
- HB 336 – Improving accountability in cases of potential wage theft;
- HB 358 – Authorizing any public body to require bidders to enter into project labor agreements when contracting public works projects;
- HB 395 – Raising the minimum wage to $10/hr this year and $15/hr in 2025;
- HB 582 – Repealing the prohibition on collective bargaining by public employees, allowing our teachers, fire fighters and police officers to seek improved working conditions;
- HB 833 – Requiring workers be properly compensated at the prevailing wage when performing services in connection with public works contracts.
Protecting Virginia’s Natural Assets
From the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia is rich with natural beauty and resources. It is a top priority of the new Democratic majority to ensure that our environmental resources are protected for future generations. Among the many environmental protection bills passed in the House this year include:
- HB 572 – Promoting the establishment of distributed renewable solar and other renewable energy by removing the 1% cap on net metering;
- HB 706 – Prohibiting offshore oil and gas drilling in the coastal waters of the Commonwealth;
- HB 1448 – Delivering management of the Atlantic menhaden fishery to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to protect the delicate balance of our Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem.
- HB 1526 – Making progress on environmental protection and requiring the use of 100% renewable energy by 2050;
Improvements to Virginian’s Every Day Lives
In addition to the incredible accomplishments of the House listed above, we are working tirelessly to improve the every day lives of Virginians.
- HB 10 – Establishing a borrowers bill of rights;
- HB 66 – Capping insulin co-pays at $30 per month;
- HB 697 – Protecting food insecure children from going hungry while at school;
- HB 789 – Combating predatory lending practices in the Commonwealth, which disproportionately affect low-income communities and individuals facing hardship;
- HB 980 – Repealing medically unnecessary Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that restrict access to reproductive healthcare;
- HB 1414 – my omnibus transportation bill will improve transportation safety as well as streamline the current opaque funding for our infrastructure.
- HB 1428 – Creating the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange to facilitate the purchase and sale of qualified health plans and dental plans.
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 in Richmond or out-and-about in the 41st District. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office