COVID-19 Health and Safety Information
The health and safety of Virginians is our top priority as public servants. COVID-19 is a serious public health threat and one that the House of Delegates, working with Governor Ralph Northam, is treating with the utmost vigilance and seriousness.
The Governor has declared a state of emergency through June 10th, or until further notice, which gives the Administration broader discretionary powers in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the Governor has called for all K-12 schools to close for a minimum of two weeks.
Schools will close from today, through Friday, March 27th, at a minimum. Localities will maintain authority over specific staffing decisions to ensure students maintain continuity of services or learning, while protecting the public health of teachers and staff.
Here in Fairfax County, all FCPS school buildings are closed until further notice. Only essential personnel as defined by FCPS program managers and supervisors will be asked to report to work until further notice. All other employees will work remotely.
Grab-and-go food distribution at 18 FCPS sites will continue as scheduled. All students enrolled in FCPS schools and other County children 18 years of age and under receive one meal at no-cost; and, may have additional meals at no-cost upon request. Adults may purchase breakfast and lunch meals at a cost of $2.00. Breakfast will be served from 8-10:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at locations listed here.
The Clerk of the House, at my direction, and the Clerk of the Senate have closed the Virginia State Capitol and the Pocahontas Building to the public, effective 5:00PM today, March 16th, 2020, through March 30th, 2020. The facilities, for now, will both remain open to Members and staff only.
This measure prioritizes the health and safety of Virginians, both in the Richmond area and across the Commonwealth. In my communications with the Governor and his team, I have and continue to reinforce that the Virginia House of Delegates is ready to take whatever actions necessary to help the Commonwealth through this public health crisis.
Additionally, Governor Northam and his team at the Virginia Department of Health are coordinating closely with local health departments, health care providers and others to quickly identify and respond to cases that have and might occur in the Commonwealth.
The Governor and the Virginia Department of Health have offered some of the following precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Moreover, the Governor has banned public gatherings of 100 or more people. For guidance on large and small gatherings during this uncertain time, you may click here.
I encourage all Virginians to visit the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website, vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus, or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, to learn more about the virus and how they can protect themselves and their families.
For the Governor’s latest press release of responsive actions being taken in our Commonwealth, you may click here.
Final Passage of the 2020-2022 Biennial Budget
On Thursday, March 12th, the General Assembly passed the 2020-2022 Biennial Budget. Our budget maintains Virginia’s structural financial balance while delivering on the important legislative promises demanded by voters.
This budget gives well deserved pay raises to Virginia’s public-school teachers and strives to moderate tuition for post-secondary institutions to make higher education more affordable for more Virginians. It also gives a raise to state employees and sworn State Police officers.
The budget makes significant investments to expand access to affordable health care in every corner of the Commonwealth and increases funding for the Commonwealth’s Housing Trust Fund.
We also make long needed investments to fix Virginia’s school counselor shortage, expand funding for early childhood education and fund the modernization of the Commonwealth’s transportation system
Among other vital measures, we passed a budget that:
- Raises Virginia’s reserve fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”, to the highest level in our Commonwealth’s History.
- Increases per pupil K-12 investments to the highest levels since 2008 for much needed renovations and upgrades to schools, skills training for students and improvements to the counselor-to-student ratio;
- Provides funds for higher education institutions to freeze tuition in FY2021 for in-state undergraduates;
- Gives our teachers a 4% pay raise;
- Provides $35 Million in funding for student aid and IT upgrades to our Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
- Funds the Governor’s “Get Skilled. Get a Job. Give Back.” (G-3) program, which will provide tuition-free college for low-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields;
- Adds cancers of the brain, colon and testes to the list of presumed occupational diseases covered by worker’s compensation;
- Covers mental healthcare services for first responders living with Post Traumatic Stress suffered on the job;
- Funds a minimum wage increase to $12 per hour by 2023;
- Prioritizes maternal health by extending Medicaid coverage 12 months postpartum for mothers;
- Adds $43.4 Million for Developmental Disability Waiver provider rates;
- Dedicates $16.5 million to adjust nursing home rates;
- Allocates $19.2 million to provide overtime for personal care attendants;
- Funds 1,135 additional Medicaid Developmental Disability Waiver slots in 2021, with a further increase of 250 additional slots in 2022;
- Includes the funding necessary to end surprise medical billing in the Commonwealth;
- Establishes the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange to lower insurance costs for Virginians;
- Adds a Medicaid adult dental benefit;
- Provides $76 million over the biennium for the Water Quality Improvement Fund to protect our waterways and secure Virginia’s rich natural resources for future generations;
- Includes $10.0 million each year for the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.
We made all this critical progress while maintaining Virginia’s AAA bond rating and well-earned reputation for fiscal responsibility.
Thank you to Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, Vice Chairman Mark Sickles, House Appropriations Committee Staff Director Anne Oman and so many others who worked incredibly hard to build this budget, which truly moves our Commonwealth forward.
International Association of Fire Fighters
Last week, I was honored to address over 800 fire fighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) President Harold Schaitberger, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters President Robby Bragg, 4th District Vice President Andy Pentelis, my own Local 2068 fire fighter’s union leader Ron Kuley and brave first responders from across the country for their Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
It was truly an honor to join these brave men and women who put themselves on the line, so often in harms way, for their communities. These incredible public servants have a sense of duty, honor, compassion and public service that is beyond reproach. We must ensure their sacrifices and hard work are rewarded.
Now, our local safety officers who fight for the public good every day, will finally have a seat at the table to collectively bargain for safe working conditions, better hours, well-deserved compensation, a retirement plan that will protect workers in their senior years and more.
The new House Democratic majority is also standing up for the health of our first responders. This year, we finally secured coverage for PTSD under the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act. Personally, I have been fighting for this coverage for years.
First responders in Virginia will now no longer face systemic stigma related to unseen psychological injuries. Those individuals will no longer be ignored and will no longer be forced to feel alone in their fight. Instead, our first responders will receive the support they deserve.
One of the biggest threats to the health of fire fighters is prolonged exposure to harmful substances in the line of duty. Even with best personal protective gear, exposure is unavoidable.
In Virginia this year, we also fought to add brain, colon and testicular cancer to the list of diseases covered by Workers’ Compensation for our fire fighters.
I will continue working closely with my friends at the IAFF, VPFF, Fairfax Local 2068 to ensure that our first responders, who tirelessly and selflessly serve the public each day, receive the honor, gratitude and support that you truly deserve.
Keeping In Touch
As we move forward, I will continue to be in contact with you all, my constituents in the 41st district and Virginians across the Commonwealth, providing updates on state, local and federal actions to maintain public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Once again, I hope that you please take care of yourselves during these challenging times – wishing you, your family and your friends good health.
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. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office.
Speaker of the House
Delegate, 41st District
Virginia House of Delegates