Time flies when you’re passing bills! What a week it was.
Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day–known here in Richmond as “Lobby Day”–and it included a slew of meetings with gun safety activists and gun rights groups. It’s a remarkable–and, given the calendar, ironic–day. I begin the day meeting with groups like the NRA and the Virginia Citizens Defense League (who believe that the solution to the scourge of gun violence is to give more people more guns), and end the day with gun safety activists (who advocate for what I consider to be important and effective laws like universal background checks, assault weapons and ghost gun bans, and a variety of measures that would keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them).
I enjoy meeting with both. I’m among great friends when talking with gun safety advocates. But while my meetings with groups like the VCDL are always cordial, they are surely less friendly. I try–I really try–to look for common ground. One area we all ought to be able to agree on is Virginia’s red flag law. I spoke with them about what I believe to be the importance of the red flag law, and my concern that while it is saving lives all across Virginia it is not being used enough. I wasn’t able to convince them, but I still hold out hope that my red flag law will gain more support—perhaps even with the folks at the VCDL. You can click here to see an NBC4 news story of my meeting with the VCDL.
As the session gains steam, we are doing most of our work in committees and subcommittees. I sit on four committees: Finance, Courts of Justice, Labor and Commerce, and the Rules Committee. I am vice chair of the Finance Committee and will chair the Labor and Commerce Committee Subcommittee #3, which takes up all the energy bills that have been introduced this session. A majority of my own bills that deal with energy will end up in the Labor and Commerce Subcommittee.
Though I sat on the Courts of Justice Committee last year, the Republican Speaker stripped me of my seat on the Civil Subcommittee. I am pleased that Speaker Scott has put me back on the Civil Subcommittee, where I can bring the experience of my day job as a litigator to bear on the many issues that come before that Subcommittee.
Of the twenty-nine bills that I am carrying—yes 29—nine of them so far have been heard in committees and subcommittees. To date, all nine have passed either a subcommittee or full committee.
My bill HB124 will be the first bill to pass the House this session when it comes before the House on Third Reading tomorrow. HB124 is a bill I carried at the request of the State Corporation Commission, and simplifies and speeds the process for corporations to file their annual reports with the Commission. It will save small businesses in Virginia time and hassle.
HB123 is the result of a task force created by legislation passed last year by my friend Senator Barbara Favola, to streamline health care billing and payment practice standards. The workgroup included representatives from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Medical Society of Virginia, and the Virginia Association of Health Plans. HB123 passed out of the Labor and Commerce Committee unanimously.
HB120 is a bill that originated out of an issue pointed out to me by a constituent, who is a very experienced Registered Nurse. It addresses how licensure issues are reported relating to license suspensions or disciplinary actions. It will hopefully prevent nurses from encountering difficulty applying for jobs–an important issue given the severe nursing shortage we face. I was pleased that HB120 passed unanimously from the General Laws Professions and Administrative Process Subcommittee.
HB459 is a bill that focuses on the important issue of the loss of our tree canopy, gives localities like Fairfax County tools to incentivize developers to preserve trees when building a new home, and gives the county better options for preserving newly planted trees. It passed the County, Cities, and Towns Committee 15-7.
HB115 is a bill I carried at the request of the Supreme Court of Virginia. It clarifies the guardianship process in Virginia as it pertains to court procedures with local departments of social services. The bill passed in the Civil Courts Subcommittee unanimously.
Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with my friends at the National Federation of the Blind—an outstanding organization dedicated to advocacy for blind Americans. I always enjoy meeting with them.
Thursday I met with members of the Sierra Club from the 6th district. The Sierra Club is a powerhouse organization of advocates for protecting our environment. There are serious challenges ahead with respect to our energy transition and the environment. Thanks to organizations like the Sierra Club, we can leave the planet in better condition than when we found it.
Please come visit us in Richmond, and stay in touch by phone or email. Stay tuned for updates next week.
Delegate, 6th District