Newsletter from January 27th, 2019,
Greetings from Richmond! The third week of session started off with some great constituents and visitors coming by.
SB 1176 passed in the Virginia Senate, which requires the State Corporation Commission to provide for public inspection records and reports regarding investigations by the Commission of death or injury to any person or damage to property resulting from a leak or other incident involving facilities of a natural gas utility. Many of you will remember the gas leak in Woodbridge. The house that exploded did not have a gas line connected. After the gas company had to replace over 800 gas lines to homes in this Woodbridge neighborhood, I requested the investigative findings. My request was rejected by the State Corporation Commission. This bill aims to make sure future incidents are reported to the public and provide greater transparency and accountability for utility providers.
The Senate also unanimously passed SB 1463. This teleworking bill helps with job creation by ensuring these newly hired positions are eligible for economic development incentives and grants. If we are serious about reducing traffic we must continue to innovate.
This week we had the pleasure of welcoming our 2019 Greater Prince William Young Leaders, Taylor and Jillian. These bright high school students, through collaboration with Senator Scott Surovell’s Puller Institute and Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy’s Ella Baker Young Leadership Program, were able to visit the General Assembly, hear committee bill presentations, and meet with professionals that grew up in our area, and now work in Richmond.
These students got the chance to see first-hand how legislative process works and how a bicameral legislature is structured. Thank you to Governor Ralph Northam and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax for meeting with the Young Leaders, and to Prince William teacher Maggie Hansford for chaperoning.
Thank you to members of the City of Manassas Council, Pam Sebesky, Michelle Davis-Younger, Theresa Coates Ellis, City Manager Patrick Pate and Deputy City Manager Bryan Foster for coming down to visit the General Assembly. It’s always great to hear from local officials and find ways that state officials and local officials can work together.
Great to see the Manassas City Public School Board Members Tim Demeria, Suzanne Seaberg, Robyn Williams, and Superintendent Kevin Newman. We also had Bruce Smith, a local retired teacher, visit and provide information on important education initiatives. It’s great to hear from school officials and advocates. I have three daughters in the Prince William County Public School System, and I will continue to fight to reform SOL testing so teachers can teach our kids, and not just teach to a test.
Thank you to members of VFW chapters and other military organizations who visited. This week we’ve made very positive strides with SB 1173 and SB 1629. SB 1173 would expand the eligibility for Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education program to the spouse or child of all veterans with 90% or greater disability, who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, the Reserves, or the Virginia National Guard. It’s made its way out of committee and on to the Senate floor. You can read more about this bill here.
SB 1629 is an issue that is very important to the wellbeing of our Commonwealth. This bill would require that each local school board submit its plan to test and remediate potable water sources for lead and report these tests to the Department of Health. This would drastically improve the oversight ability for the Department of Health and help ensure that our children’s water is safe to drink. The bill passed out of the Committee of Education and Health, and is on to the Senate floor. Learn more about this bill here.
Firefighter Cancer presumption bill passes Senate! I introduced SB 1172; Workers' compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases this year, and it was rolled into Senator Cosgrove's SB 1030. Years of work to finally get this here!