Hala’s Highlights from Session: Marathon Session Night!

 

We’re nearly done! Our second-to-last week just finished up earlier today.

This week we have been working through many of the Senate’s bills. This meant late nights on the floor with my colleagues to make sure that all of our revenue bills were completed on time while making progress on the regular calendar and in committees. Check out what we’ve accomplished this week below:

Marathon Session to Pass Revenue Bills

We were working hard until 1:20AM on Wednesday to ensure that we passed all of the revenue bills as constitutionally mandated. Revenue bills are any bills that have a fiscal impact, meaning any bill that could affect the budget. The rules of the House mandated that we finish passing any revenue bills by Wednesday, so we stayed late to ensure each bill got a fair hearing. Here are a few of the exciting bills that we worked on:

HB 477: This bill increased the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults from 14 to 16. This bill directly combats the school-to-prison pipeline in our Commonwealth and is a key part of criminal justice reform. This bill passed the House on a 99-0 vote and is headed to conference with the Senate. Link to bill: click here

HB 972: This bill decriminalizes simple marijuana possession and creates a civil penalty of $25 for possession and consumption. This removes a higher civil fine and jail time from the statute. People of color are disproportionately incarcerated for simple marijuana possession offenses, so this is a good first step forward in addressing racist structures within our criminal justice system. This bill passed the House 64-36 and is headed to conference with the Senate version, SB 2. Link to bill: click here

HB 1196: This bill ends the suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines and costs. This ends the vicious cycle that people get trapped in where they cannot pay their fines, lose their car, and then lose their job because they cannot drive to work. This bill had broad bipartisan support and passed the House 72-27. It is headed to conference with the Senate version. Link to bill: click here

Actions on My Bills this Week

HB 201: This bill that would establish same day voting registration just passed the Senate! After the House accepts a technical amendment from the Senate, it will be on its way to the Governor’s desk. This legislation eliminates the arbitrary voter registration deadline and would allow any qualified voter in Virginia to register to vote or update their registration up to and including election day.  Link to bill: click here

HB 852: HB 852 just passed the Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk! HB 852 would establish a standard training program for all state employees to detect, assess, and address information security threats. This will go a long way in strengthening the Commonwealth’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Link to bill: click here

HB 1092: HB 1092 passed unanimously from the Senate transportation committee on Thursday. This bill would clarify and reorganize parts of the code related to DMV records. While much of it is technical, it will go a long way in streamlining a lot of the DMV’s operations. Link to bill: click here

HB 1641: This bill passed the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee and will be heard on the Senate floor on Monday. HB 1641 would require utilities that own or operate a coal ash pond to complete a survey of drinking water wells within 1.5 miles of these ponds by Oct. 1st, 2020 and to notify residents about the survey. Link to bill: click here

HB 1642: This bill also passed the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee and will be heard on the Senate floor on Monday. Like HB 1641, HB 1642 relates to coal ash ponds. This bill would require utilities to test the water quality near coal ash ponds. If the water does not meet certain standards, the utility would take the necessary steps to provide alternative water supplies. Link to bill: click here

Office Visits

As our session begins to wrap its business, the amount of visitors has certainly decreased. However, we still were fortunate to meet with a number of great folks during this past week!

In the beginning of the week, I met with one of our amazing House pages, Nuria. She came to me to speak to me about the bill she is introducing in the House pages’ mock General Assembly. Her bill would require the school system to take out Tartrazine, more commonly known as Yellow dye #5, from their breakfasts and lunches. I was so astounded by the extensive research Nuria conducted to create this bill! The House page program is a great opportunity for our young students to truly be a part of the democratic process in Richmond. If you know of a 13 or 14 year old student who would like to participate in this unique experience during the 2021 session, please contact our office! More information on the page program can be found here.

NVRC - Coronavirus Notice

As I am sure many of you have already heard, our state, and country, is on the watch to ensure we protect against the recent strain of the Coronavirus. Our Commonwealth will take the necessary steps to combat this respiratory illness, but you can take measures to make sure you and those around you are safe. More information on the Coronavirus as well as important local health department resources can be found on the Northern Virginia Regional Commission website here.

Additional Legislation

This session, legislation that I introduced has been sent to the speaker for further study. For instance, privacy was a huge topic of discussion this year given my background in national security.  Legislation introduced has passed out of the assigned committee(s) with a study prior to implementation.  

Here is a list of the pieces of legislation that will move on to a study until 2021: 

HB 322 Cybersecurity Advisory Council; created, report

HB 323 Criminal sexual assault; definition of intimate parts

HB 952 Digital services; protection for minors

HB 954 Cybersecurity; care and disposal of customer records; security for connected devices

HB 955 Children's online privacy protection

HB 956 Virginia Consumer Protection Act

HB 958 College and Career Readiness Steering Committee; Secretary of Education to establish

HJ 23 Voter records/election results; Dept. of Elections to study use of blockchain technology to protect

HB 1640 Obtaining records concerning electronic communication service or remote computing service; location data.

Here is a full list of all introduced legislation which can be found on the Legislative Information System (LIS).  click here

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

NVRC Homeless Shelter List

Many of us aren’t so fortunate to enjoy the comforts the rest of us have. Things like shelter may be something a lot of folks don’t think about, but for many who don’t have stable access to it, it can very literally be life or death.

The winter months can be especially brutal to the homeless in our community. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission has updated their Homeless Services List. If you know someone who doesn’t have a home and needs shelter ASAP, please use their website to gain more information about homeless shelters in the region. You can visit the website here.

Thank you for your continued support!

I am so humbled to have been re-elected by the 51st District. I will continue to fight for you and keep the trust you have placed in me. As always, my door will be open to you should you need it. Thank you again for your support.

I take my legislative cues from you, the constituents who I represent every time I take a vote in Richmond. Your voice is an integral part of the 51st District’s well-being and betterment.

It is the honor of my lifetime to serve you, Looking forward to seeing you out and about in Prince William County! 

Sincerely, 

Hala Ayala