Greetings from Richmond! Wednesday, Jan 10th was the first day of the Legislative Session and Governor McAuliffe gave his final State of the Commonwealth speech to the General Assembly. In his address Governor McAuliffe spoke about the noticeable progress that Virginia has seen the past four years, including $20 billion of private sector investment, creation of 200,000 new jobs, investment in education and transportation across the Commonwealth. As the 2018 Legislative Session begins, I have begun considering numerous pieces of Legislation that come across my desk. Furthermore I am committed to working with my colleagues here in Richmond to advocate for the best interests of the 29th District.
Welcome Governor Northam
On Saturday, the Commonwealth witnessed the swearing in of her 73rdGovernor Ralph S. Northam. While the air might have been cold, the enthusiasm for this historic event keep the energy at a celebratory level. I was moved by the Governor’s eloquent message of the “internal compass” that guides us through stormy weather towards a new day, full of hope. I am looking forward to working with the new administration on #thewayahead, Governor Northam’s policy agenda. You can view Governors Northam’s speech here and read the text here.
The Inaugural Parade included 26 participants from across the Commonwealth, including 1500 VMI cadets, Boys & Girls Scouts from the ADAMS Center, and members of Sempre K9 from Prince William County.
Healthcare: Medicaid Expansion
This year, the General Assembly has an incredible opportunity to help the more than 400,000 Virginians who do not have accesses to affordable healthcare. As a firefighter and EMT in Dale City for the past 18 years, I have seen the need for this first hand. A recent poll conducted by the Hospital & Healthcare Association shows that 83% of Virginians in favor of increasing access to care through Medicaid expansion. Furthermore the people of the Commonwealth have sent more than $10 billion to Washington, and we deserve to see that money come back to the people in our communities.
Criminal Justice: Felony Larceny Threshold
This week, the Senate Courts of Justice committee took up my bill, Senate Bill 102, on raising the felony larceny threshold. The last time the felony larceny threshold was increased was in 1980, leaving Virginia with the lowest threshold in the country. While theft is a crime and should come with consequences, the punishment should fit the crime. As described in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, opponents call this measure a “cost of living adjustment” for thieves. However, $200 in 1980 went a lot further; it equates to only $67.52 worth of goods in today’s dollars. By doing nothing, it has the effect of lowering the threshold in real world dollars each year. A young person who makes a mistake early in life should pay the consequences, but they should not be defined by that one moment for the rest of his or her life. While my bill raised the threshold to $1,500, the ultimate will of the committee was to only raise it to $500. I want to thank Dr. Keith Savage of First Baptist Church of Manassas - and other members of VOICE - for coming to Richmond to advocate for the bill that day.
Virginia Professional Firefighters Association: Legislator of the Year Award
Yesterday morning, I was surprised with the honor of receiving the Legislator of the Year Award from the Virginia Professional Firefighters for my work in recent years to support members of the fire service. This year, I have again submitted a bill to strengthen our Cancer Presumption laws (SB642), as firefighters suffer from greater rates of cancer than the general population due to increased exposure to carcinogens on the job. I have also introduced a grant program (Second Set of Gear Grant Program) to help local fire departments purchase a second set of protective gear, which gives first responders a chance to have their gear decontaminated between calls. Last year, I sponsored a bill (SB1118) to cover firefighter trainees in the Line of Duty Act, so prevent families like that of Cecelia Turnbough from spending thousands of dollars in legal fees and wasting years of their life during their most difficult time. There is much work to still do, but I am humbled to receive this award from Virginia Professional Firefighters.
Town Hall Meetings
Please join me for one of the following town hall meetings. Details for a third meeting are still pending.
Woodbridge Town Hall
with Senator Scott Surovell and Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy
Sunday, January 21, 2018
4pm to 6pm
Ferlazzo Building, Woodbridge
South Prince William Town Hall
with Senator Scott Surovell and Delegate Elizabeth Guzman
Saturday, January 27, 2018
12noon to 2pm
Forest Park High School
15721 Forest Park Dr, Woodbridge
The General Assembly is in session until mid-March, so please feel free to contact my Richmond office at (804) 698-7529 or via email email@example.com. It is my privilege to serve you in Senate of Virginia. Please use this link to read and track my legislative initiatives this year. There are many issues that the General Assembly will consider in the coming weeks, and I will continue to update you on their progress. Please also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real time updates from Richmond.