I hope you are staying safe and healthy! We made some terrific progress for our Commonwealth during this first week of February. 71% of my bills have passed the House and will be sent to the Senate! I was thrilled to see that all of my bills earned overwhelming bipartisan support.
The House also met its crossover deadline on Friday afternoon. This deadline required for the House to complete all its legislation that needs to be sent over to the Senate for their action on it, and vice versa. The House is sending over 620 bills to the Senate, including legislation to legalize marijuana, abolish the death penalty, and automatically restore voting rights to our returning citizens.
Our House adjourned Sine Die and will complete our work in a special session, which starts Wednesday at noon. We will use this time to complete our work for the bills sent over by the Senate during crossover as well as our budget. I am so honored to be a part of this historic session in our majority, and I look forward to completing this great work over the coming days.
Off to the Senate
I have been hard at work over the last few weeks pushing forward my bills that will provide much-needed support during the crisis and ensure more families have the economic security they need as we recover. I am excited to share that five of my bills that I am the Chief Patron of this year have passed through the House and now are on their way through the Senate. They are here:
- HB 1891 passed out of the House unanimously on Jan. 29th and is now making its way through the Senate! We’ve heard from several constituents and local leaders that continued education around public safety, which is why we introduced this legislation. HB 1891 will train our Commonwealth’s employees on public health and safety to ensure that our employees are healthy and safe during and after COVID-19. We know that during COVID-19 education is an important piece to stop the spread.
- I carried HB 1892 on behalf of the State Corporation Commission since it will protect and help our consumers during COVID-19. This bill removes the 30 day waiting period for auto insurers to give their policyholders adjustments and refunds. This bill will put more money into the pockets of Virginians quicker. Delegate Ayala is proud to carry this bill that will help deliver faster results for Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill passed the House unanimously late last month.
- HB 1923 will expand broadband to communities throughout the Commonwealth. It expands the Dominion and Appalachian Power pilot program by allowing municipal and other public broadband authorities to participate. We know that broadband is as essential utility as electricity in the 21st century, and this bill will help close the gaps. Delegate Ayala will continue to prioritize ensuring every Virginian has access to broadband. This bill passed the House unanimously late last month and will be heard by the Senate.
- I worked on HB 1950 with NARAL Virginia and Birth in Color RVA. HB 1950 requires the Virginia Department of Health and the Office of the Medical Examiner to establish a workgroup to make a detailed plan to establish a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team in Virginia. The substitute eliminates the feasibility study from the requirements and reorganizes the language as suggested by the VDH to help with their guidance. This work is necessary. Virginia currently ranks 21st in infant mortality rates as compared to other states according to the CDC. Black women are 9 times more likely than white women to lose their pregnancies in Virginia. Governor Northam announced his goal to address maternal mortality disparities in Virginia by 2025. But it is impossible to address maternal mortality while ignoring preventable fetal and infant deaths since we know the rates are mirrored. A Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team is an essential tool to address these disparities and preventable deaths. This bill passed out of the House unanimously and will be heard by the Senate.
- My bill, HB 2266, passed out of the House with broad bipartisan support. This bill creates outdoor refreshments areas. This bill will allow folks to drink alcoholic beverages outside certain areas. This will help our restaurants, breweries, and wineries out during COVID-19 as it provides more opportunities for outdoor services that are socially distanced. It is now in the Senate.
As we come out of the COVID crisis, it is important that we support our workers, small businesses, and families. Our House of Delegates passed several exciting pieces of legislation before Crossover to protect families, keep Virginians healthy, rebuild our economy stronger, and reforming our Commonwealth’s criminal justice system.
- HB 2203 passed the House with broad bipartisan support. This bill implements the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program, which establishes the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program (VAFA Program) for Virginia farmers and food producers to donate, sell, or otherwise provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. I am proud to co-patron this legislation.
- We passed common sense gun violence prevention legislation, including HB 1992 and HB 2276. I co-patroned HB 1992, which will prohibit domestic abusers from owning a firearm. I also co-patroned HB 2276, which will ban ghost guns from our Commonwealth.
Keeping Virginians healthy
- We passed HB 2333 to expand the capacity of vaccination efforts in anticipation of increased supply from the federal government.
- We expanded access to telehealth by passing HB 1987. We’ve seen during COVID-19 how essential telehealth is to stopping the spread and keeping Virginians safe. I was proud to be a co-patron on this legislation!
- Last session we capped the price of insulin to $50, and this session I co-patron Delegate Askew’s bill to cap the price of inhalers at $50 as well. HB 1822 passed the House 91-7 last week.
Rebuilding our Economy
- Governor Northam’s G3 program--Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back--is a fantastic piece of legislation that will provide 2 years of free college to students who want to train in high demand professions like tech and medicine. Right now we have nearly 18,000 unfilled, high-paying tech jobs in Northern Virginia. G3 will create a pipeline to fill these positions and ensure equity in our education system. I know personally how education can impact someone’s career trajectory, and I was proud to co-patron this legislation.
- We also expanded access to broadband. My bill, HB 1923, expands access to the Dominion and Appalachian Power Company’s pilot program. This will help out rural areas in our state connect to this essential utility.
Making Virginia More Inclusive
- We passed legislation to expand access to the ballot box. We saw in 2020 how early voting increases participation in our democracy, and our legislature should be doing everything it can to make it easier for folks to vote. That is why I supported HB 1888 and was a co-patron on this bill.
- We passed HB 2130 to create a LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the Governor regarding the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia. I co-patroned this legislation as well.
- We passed a constitutional amendment for its first reading to automatically restore rights for returning citizens. I proudly co-patroned this important constitutional amendment.
Reforming Virginia’s Criminal Justice System
- Virginia is set to be the first southern state to legalize marijuana. Like a majority of Virginians, I am supportive of legalizing Marijuana and understand this is central to criminal justice reform. That is why I co-patroned Majority Leader Charniele Herring’s HB 2312 to legalize marijuana equitably. For too long, marijuana laws have been unjustly targeted Black and Brown communities in our Commonwealth. Black Virginians are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested and 3.9 times more likely to be convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Employment, housing and education can all be on the line for folks who are charged with marijuana offenses, which is why we must legalize it. Legalization is a necessary step to ensure equity in our criminal justice system. Leader Herring’s bill focuses on undoing these harms by including funding and a process for expunging marijuana-related offenses, promoting diverse participation in the newly-created cannabis industry, and reinvesting in the communities harmed by prohibition.
- Virginia is also on track to become the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. The Commonwealth has executed over 100 people since 1976, making Virginia second only to Texas in executions. I supported this bill.
Right now the Commonwealth receives about 129,000 vaccinations per week, and all of them have been distributed to the 160 health districts throughout the Commonwealth. This week we surpassed 1 million vaccinations. Virginia has consistently been a leader throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and our vaccination process is no exception. As we break 1,000,000 doses administered, I want to thank Governor Ralph Northam, Dr. Norman Oliver, and Dr. Danny Avula for their continued leadership throughout the pandemic. From the beginning, we knew that it was going to take time to ensure every Virginian had the chance to be vaccinated, but our Commonwealth is moving quickly to keep every person in our Commonwealth safe and healthy from this pandemic. We’ve administered more than 1,072,748 doses to 876,778 people, putting us at 9th in the nation for the percent of the state population that has been vaccinated. In Prince William County, 36,931 doses have been administered, and 6,823 people have been administered both doses of the shot. Additionally, all of Virginia is now in Phase 1b:
- Adults aged 65 and older.
- People 16-64 with certain conditions or disabilities that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- People living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps.
- Essential workers including:
- Police, Fire, and Hazmat
- Corrections and homeless shelter workers
- Childcare, Pre-K through 12th grade Teachers, administrators and supportive staff
- Food and Agriculture, including veterinarians
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit workers
- USPS and private mail providers
- Officials needed to maintain continuity of government, including judges and public facing judicial workers
To find out which phase you fall into, please use this website from the Department of Health to figure out which category you are in.
Currently, Prince William County has a waitlist for the vaccine. To sign up for the vaccination in Prince William, please use this link. If you live outside of Prince William County, please contact your local health district to see how you can schedule your appointment when it’s available.
Eviction Moratorium and Housing Support
President Biden extended the federal ban on evictions through March 2021 through an executive order on Wednesday. The extension of the moratorium will provide continuing temporary relief to tenants who have faced economic hardship.
If you are in need of financial assistance for your rent or mortgage, you may be eligible for support from the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program. You can check your eligibility and apply online here.
Additional Data and Information
- According to the VDH website, these are the most recent statistics about the spread of COVID-19:
- 529,125 persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
- 22,102 of those individuals have been hospitalized.
- 6,778 of those individuals have lost their lives to this virus.
- This virus has been shown to disproportionately affect the African American and Hispanic/Latino population throughout the country. As such, Virginia has begun to collect race/ethnicity information. With the cases we have racial and ethnicity data on, 87,476 are African Americans and 71,493 are Hispanic or Latino.
- According to the VDH website, these are the most recent statistics about Virginia’s vaccination effort:
- 1,524,950 doses have been received by the Commonwealth
- 1,072,748 doses have been administered
- 876,778 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine
- An average 37,103 vaccines are being administered per day
- 195,970 people have been fully vaccinated
COVID-19 Resource Page
I have a page on my website dedicated towards providing resources from the state, local government, and other entities to those who need it. If you need assistance please visit the webpage now!
Additionally, there are other helpful, informative links that I would recommend you take a look at so you can stay up to date on this dynamic situation. You can visit the webpage here.
Ve aquí para español.
Emergency Contact Information
While we enjoy this time of year with our family and friends, it is always important to make sure we stay safe from inclement weather or any other danger.
Here is a link to Prince William County’s Emergency Services: PWC Emergency Link
Additionally, you can find information on Prince William County school delays, closures or emergencies here: PWCS Closure, Delays, and Emergencies
Winter Travel updates, suggestions and contact information: VDOT Winter Travel
My Contact Information
Email to: email@example.com, or call my office at: (804) 698-1051.
Stay up to date by signing up for newsletters: Newsletters
Please watch my social media and website for additional updates:
In closing, I am here for you as is our Governor and our government agencies who are readily available to help during this tough time. It is important we prevent the spread for the safety of everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable. In addition, let's focus on caring for one another and beating this virus together.