Hala’s Highlights from Session: Legislation sent over to the Senate on the eve of Crossover

 

We’ve made some terrific progress during this first week of February. A number of our bills have passed the House and will be sent to the Senate!

Feb. 11th is designated as this year’s Crossover. This deadline means the House must complete all its legislation that needs to be sent over to the Senate for their action on it, and vice versa. While this year’s session brought with it a record number of bills introduced, it’s looking like we are on track to meet Crossover’s deadline!

Actions on My Bills this Week

HB 775: HB 775 just passed the House floor and will be sent to the Senate for their consideration! This bill would establish the Multiple Retirement Employment Plan, a program that would allow employees of private employers in Virginia to a defined contribution retirement plan as administered by the Commonwealth.  Link to bill: click here

HB 852: Like the last bill, HB 852 passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. This piece of legislation would request the Virginia Information Technologies Agency to develop a cybersecurity training program for all state employees so our government can better detect, assess, report and address security threats.  Link to bill: click here

HB 201: This bill that would establish same day voting registration just passed the Appropriations Committee and will be headed to the House floor for a vote! I’m looking forward to this bill’s passage. 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 1092: This bill, which I am carrying on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles, would reorganize and clarify certain parts of our code that are outdated and related to the DMV’s responsibilities. It would also restrict the release of DMV issued photographs to government agencies and allows the DMV to maintain compliance with federal and state law. I’m proud to state that it reported out of the Transportation committee unanimously and is headed to the House floor!  Link to bill: click here 

HB 1641: HB 1641 would require a utility to send a letter, listing all of the toxins found in coal ash and how and where to be properly tested, to residents living within a 1.5 mile radius of a coal ash site if their drink water comes from a well. This bill passed out of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committee and will be on the House floor soon.  Link to bill: click here

HB 1642: Like HB 1641, HB 1642 deals with coal ash. This bill would establish a medical monitoring program for residents living within a 3 mile radius of a coal ash site. This bill also passed out of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committee and is on its way to the House floor.  Link to bill: click here

HJ 23: HJ 23 is a resolution that would direct the Department of Elections to study how blockchains could possibly be used to secure voter records and election results. The resolution passed out of the Rules committee unanimously and is poised to head to the House floor after it goes through the Appropriations Committee!  Link to bill: click here

Collaboration on Legislation

This session I am honored to collaborate with my colleagues to pass legislation.  Working together gives legislators an opportunity to share ideas and empower our communities.

HJ 1: HJ 1 supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. The ERA writes gender equality into the Constitution, and it passed both the House and Senate last Monday, making Virginia the 38th and final state needed for its ratification.   Patrons: Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Jeion Ward, Del. Kay Kory. Link to bill: click here

HB 432: This bill makes it easier for small, women-owned, or minority-owned businesses to access public utility services by increasing the threshold for what is considered an unreasonable cost for service. This bill passed the House 57-42 and is headed to the Senate Labor and Commerce committee.  Patrons: Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy & Hala Ayala. Link to bill: click here

HB 714: This transformative energy bill creates the Virginia Energy Plan. Climate change is an urgent issue facing our Commonwealth, and this bill creates goals to switch our Commonwealth over to renewable energy. This bill reported 13-9 from Labor and Commerce Thursday night.  Patrons: Del. Rip Sullivan, Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Wendy Gooditis, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Del. David Reid. Link to bill: click here

HB 1666: This bill (bipartisan patrons & support) requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include an option for the owner to indicate and provide evidence that she or a member of her immediate family has a disability that impairs communication. HB 1666 passed the House on Friday afternoon unanimously.  Patrons: Del. Cliff Hayes, Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Rob Bell, Del. Betsy Carr, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Del. Kathleen Murphy, Del. Sam Rasoul. Link to bill: click here

HB 1678:  This bill extends from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the time at which polls close on election day. The bill aligns candidate filing deadlines and party nomination deadlines with the closing of polls.  Patrons: Del. Joe Lindsey, Del. Hala Ayala, Del. Alfonso Lopez. Link to bill: click here 

Major House Passages this week

Our House had an exciting and busy week. We passed several long overdue, non-discrimination bills--HB 1049, HB581, HB696, HB787 and HB1663--that will protect our LGBTQ+ community from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, and in their employment. These bills finally bring equality fully to Virginia, and I was proud to support their passage. 

Additionally, we passed HB 108 on a 55-42 vote. HB 108 removed Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday and instead installed Election Day as a state holiday. This makes it easier for people to access the ballot box and vote. 

This week, we also worked on some great environmental reforms. One of the most exciting bills is HB 234. HB 234 is the Virginia Master Offshore Wind Plan. This bill will create thousands of green jobs in our Commonwealth and greatly increase our renewable energy. This is a great step forward to a cleaner, greener Virginia. 

The House also made some great strides to protect workers’ rights this week. We passed HB 358, which authorized Project Labor Agreements for public projects. This will protect Virginia’s workforce by making sure that they are well-paid and properly trained. HB 582 also passed 54-45. HB 582 allows public employees to collectively bargain. Virginia is a great place for business, and now we are well on our way to ensuring that Virginia is also a great place for workers. 

Bills that Came Before my Committees

As was mentioned in my previous newsletters, I am a member of three key House committees: Finance; Labor & Commerce; and Communications, Technology, and Innovation (CTI). It’s been hard work (our Labor & Commerce subcommittee went to 12:30 AM this past Tuesday), but I am proud of the progress we’ve made!

We had a number of very important bills before us in these committees. In the CTI committee, one of the bills we passed is HB 1017 (a bill I’m proud to co-patron!), which establishes the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. This Partnership Authority would oversee research, development, and commercialization, as well as related investment and seed-stage funding, in Virginia. Current efforts by the Commonwealth in these matters would be streamlined and consolidated under this Authority.

The Finance Committee had a full docket this week. One of the most important bills we looked over, and one of the most important bills of the entire session, was HB 1414, which is carried by Speaker Filler-Corn. This bill is a massive transportation omnibus bill that adopts numerous structural changes to the transportation funding system in the Commonwealth. Some of the highlights of this bill include lowering registration fees for motor vehicles, adopting several safety initiatives such as making it illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and requiring all passengers in a vehicle to wear safety belts, and establishing a much needed Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. 

Similarly our Labor & Commerce Committee had an extensive amount of legislation before it. It was tough work, but very meaningful. We made major progress for our environment this past week after passing both HB 77, the Green New Deal Act, and HB 1526, the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Both pieces make great strides for curbing climate change by regulating the energy industry and promoting green friendly technologies. 

Office Visits

One of my favorite things is when constituents stop by my office to advocate for issues that they deeply care about. This week, we had several groups of constituents and passionate advocates stop by our office. 

We were visited by some James Madison University Dukes and George Mason University Patriots.  These student leaders and university board members passionately advocated for more funding for our higher education programs. It was great to see these young leaders,

including some constituents, be actively involved in the legislative process.

I was also able to meet with some of my constituents with the Arc. These passionate advocates came in support of funding for people with developmental disabilities. It is important that our Commonwealth is an inclusive place for all Virginians, and the Arc’s continued advocacy ensures that. 

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