Happenings from the Homefront 7/14/20

August 3, 2020
Hello Friends,

I want to take a few minutes to personally thank those of you who were involved with our First Annual Fourth of July Flag Project! We passed out 7,555 American flags to various neighborhoods, civic leagues, boy scout troops, churches, and residents of the 7th District. We had many of you stop by our office to help assemble flags and to pick up flags to distribute. It was truly a group effort to paint the town “red, white, and blue” and to do our part to celebrate the 244th birthday of our great country. More than ever, it is important to emphasize the things which unite us rather than get bogged down in things that divide. Celebrating our unity as Americans under the flag that symbolizes the freedoms we ALL enjoy is one small way we can remind people we are more alike than different.

We continue to power through the era of COVID-19 one day at a time. Jobs are coming back, unemployment numbers are going down, people are slowly traveling again. and the beaches are still open. I have advocated for our kids to be back in school safely 5 days a week this fall. I know the school boards have been working with their staff and parents to devise a plan that takes into account the safety of students and staff. Although my job is not to dictate school policy, I worry about the social, psychological, and academic impact of not getting our kids back into a classroom setting.

Those of us in the Virginia General Assembly continue to wait for a date for a special session to be called by the Governor. He has hinted several times that it might be in August and has admitted that we need to address budgetary shortfalls, criminal justice and police reform, and COVID related issues. I will keep you all informed as soon as I hear anything and I promise to provide a detailed update of all things discussed during the session. In preparation, please continue to email your opinions and thoughts to my office or call our office M-F 0900-1500 (757-990-3080) if there is anything we can do to help.

Thank you all for reading my newsletters and tuning into my social media if you are able. As I question the accuracy of reporting in the media on a daily basis, it is especially important that you read my personal communication and messaging from your other elected officials to understand what is truly at stake here in Virginia.

Enjoy summer and the beautiful Virginia weather we have been having! I look forward to keeping in touch with you all!

Take care-
Jen





Standby Virginia…. July 1st was the day that new laws passed by the “most progressive legislative session in Virginia history” went into effect. If you thought the last three months of executive orders were rough, welcome to the “New Virginia” elected by the majority of Virginia voters in November, 2019. For the first time since 1993, one party has control over the entire government of Virginia from the Governor, LT Governor, & Attorney General offices to the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. In my opinion, it is dangerous to have one party with unilateral control over a state government. Now the Democratic progressive agenda becomes law (which dissenting opinions were powerless to stop due to a lack of votes). If you take away nothing else, it should be that “elections matter” and “elections have consequences”. Those of you who feel under-represented living in the state of Virginia as it currently exists must exercise your vote and voices in every election.

https://apnews.com/ec79ec5c93dd92c84789941876790617
http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/idc/idc20.pdf

*Also- sharing a summary from Virginia Senator Steve Newman (R- Bedford):
GUNS:
Early in January, thousands of 2nd Amendment supporters (including many of YOU) traveled to Richmond to protest the new majority party’s super-liberal legislative agenda to pass restrictive gun control laws. Days ahead of the rally, the Governor called in throngs of Virginia State Police, Richmond City Police, and barriers were erected around the Capitol building. (A stark contrast to the reaction we saw out of the same Governor when the City was being looted and burned a few weeks ago). Despite all of the political posturing ahead of the event, the crowd was peaceful and even left the City cleaner than it was when you arrived. Despite the thousands of protestors, Democrats chose not to hear the message and proceeded to pass some of the Commonwealth’s most strict gun laws in our history.

Starting July 1st, Virginians will see stricter penalties for exposing minors to guns; a requirement to report lost or stolen firearms within 48 hours; a ban on the possession of firearms by anyone subject to a restraining order; expanded local control to allow localities to adopt firearm-related ordinances; universal background checks on all firearm sales; a limit on handgun purchases to one a month; and new power for the courts, which will now have the ability to temporarily remove firearms from anyone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others (aka “red flag law”).As we are seeing what is being deemed “police reform”, it seems more essential than ever for Virginians to be granted their full 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and defend themselves, their family, and their property when law enforcement are not allowed to do so.

GAS TAXES:
You will see an increase of gas tax at the pump. The state will now add a tax of 5 cents/gallon on gasoline. The revenue from this tax goes to the statewide funding formula, where most of it will be sent to Northern Virginia for their transit “needs” (though, right now, very few people are utilizing public transit).

So, when those two taxes are added together, those of us in this part of Virginia will see a 12.6 cent/gallon tax increase on our gasoline at midnight tonight. But, there’s more…next July 1st, the General Assembly has already voted to add another statewide tax of 5 cents/gallon…for a total tax increase of 17.6 cents/gallon.I did not support these taxes. I argued that we already had $2.2 billion of unspent money that a portion could be allocated for transportation projects, if that was our priority. Instead, this new Democrat majority decided they would spend the $2.2 billion on new state employees and new government programs…in addition to raising the gas tax on our hard working Virginia families and businesses.

ABORTION:
New laws will roll back safety measures the Republican-led General Assembly passed between 2012 and 2013. These include removal of the mandatory 24-hour waiting period prior to having an abortion (accompanied by literature to consider alternatives), lowering of abortion clinic safety standards, and allowing individuals other than medical doctors to perform the procedure. The other party claims to be pro-woman, but these new laws lower the safety of women in an abortion clinic.


News Updates
Several Virginia Beach neighborhoods, including my own, had American flags burned, ripped, torn, or stuffed in sewers during the middle of the night on July 4th. The destruction of personal property is never okay and is not the way to effect change. Thank you to WTKR News 3 for covering the story!
Click here or on the photo to see the article

National Clean Beaches Week
Last week, we spent the morning cleaning the beach with some of our summer interns from my Senate office! July 1-7 is National Clean Beaches Week and we wanted to do our part!

Fourth of July Flag Event



COVID-19 Updates
Cases in Virginia:The Virginia Department of Health website continues to update the status of cases in Virginia. As of 9 a.m. today July 14th, 69,610 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia with 2,833 probable cases. Additionally, we currently have 1,993 cases in Virginia Beach and 1,606 cases in Norfolk.

PreK-12 School Reopening Guidelines
Governor Northam announced a phased approach that allows Virginia schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year. 
Detailed information on each phase can be found in the guidance document available here.
VDOE has also developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities. “Recover, Redesign, Restart” can be found here.
A press release on this announcement can be found here.

Phased Reopening Plans
Governor Northam announced that his Administration has released its Phase 3 Guidelines for all business sectors. 
An online PDF version of that document can be found here.
For more information and detailed guidelines please visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

Virginia Beach City Treasurer’s Office Now Open With the Exception of the Lynnhaven Location
Virginia Beach, Va. (June 15, 2020) —​The City Treasurer’s Office is now open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of the Lynnhaven location. The Lynnhaven Office opening will coincide with the Planning Department’s opening, which has yet to be determined. The Lynnhaven drop box will continue to be picked up daily. 
Strict sanitizing guidelines to protect the public and employees have been implemented. Citizens will be asked to respect the 6 feet social distancing and face covering mandates that are still in effect. We strongly encourage citizens to conduct business online or by phone, email, and fax when possible.Face coverings are required for conducting business inside City Hall, per the Governor’s Executive Order 63.
For more information please contact the City Treasurer’s office at (757) 385-4445 or visit: www.vbgov.com/treas
For the latest information, please visit emergency.vbgov.com/coronavirus and follow us on facebook.com/CityofVaBeachtwitter.com/CityofVaBeach and instagram.com/cityofvabeach.

City Services Bill Pandemic Relief Program
Starting July 1, the City Services Bill Pandemic Relief Program will provide financial assistance to qualifying residential customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19. The Virginia Beach City Services Bill includes charges for solid waste collection, storm water, sanitary sewer, and water services. The pandemic relief program will provide financial assistance to qualifying applicants based on the services charged on their monthly bills. Relief is not guaranteed and is dependent on availability of funding.
Eligibility Requirements:
-Applicant must be a Virginia Beach resident with an active City Services account-Applicant must be listed as an account holder on the requested City Services account-Account must have been active from March 2020 or later-Account must have an unpaid balance due from March 2020 or later (prior balances are ineligible)-Applicant has been unemployed, furloughed or laid off in March 2020 or later-Applications can be submitted online at https://vb311.force.com/cspandemicrelief. Due to anticipated program demand, Public Utilities staff cannot provide application status updates. Customers must use the online application portal to submit and check the status of their application. Customers are encouraged to create an account when submitting their application so that they can easily check their application status.
Customers without internet access can request a mail-in application by phone at (757) 385-4160; however, status updates are not available with this option.
For additional program details and requirements, visit www.vbgov.com/CSPandemicRelief.

Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Relief Program
The Department of Human Services will begin accepting applications for the Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Relief Program on July 1 and continue through July 31. The program provides tax relief for households where an occupant has lost their employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A maximum relief of $500 for residential real estate taxes and $250 for personal property taxes has been established for eligible households. The amount of relief will be the billed amount, or the benefit maximum, whichever is lower. Each household could potentially receive both benefits for a maximum relief amount of $750. Only one application may be filed per household. An accepted application does not guarantee any benefit disbursement – applications deemed complete will be selected for review on a lottery basis.
To be eligible for consideration, potential beneficiaries must:
-Provide proof of eligibility criteria-Have established Virginia Beach residency as of March 1, 2020-Be unemployed at any time after March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic-Provide a copy of their 2020 real estate and/or personal property tax bills-Potential beneficiaries may only claim their primary residence for relief – no rental or second properties are eligible.
Additional information, including necessary documents for proof of eligibility and applications, can be found online at VBgov.com/COVID19TaxRelief.

Virginia Department of Social Services offering residents cooling assistance
The Virginia Department of Social Services said in a news release Friday it’s accepting applications for cooling assistance during the summer months. Households approved to get cooling assistance will get a one-time payment of $300. One-time payments of $100 will also go to 113,000 households who received fuel or crisis help during the most recent heating season. These payments will go directly to vendors to credit the eligible household’s account, the release said. Those eligible will get notifications in the mail this week. While the cooling assistance program is provided yearly, the $100 payments are new, and part of the CARES Act funding program, said a spokeswoman for the department. The cooling assistance payments are offered through the department’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which pays electric bills, security deposits for electricity, central air conditioning system or heat pump repairs, whole-house fans, ceiling or attic fans and window unit air conditioners. To qualify, households must have a child less than 6 years of age, a person living with a disability or an adult aged 60 or older.There’s also an income requirement. This year, the maximum gross monthly income before taxes for a one-person household is $1,383 and $2,839 for a household of four.The program is accepting applications until Aug. 17. Applications can be filled out online via CommonHelp, or by calling the Enterprise Customer Service Center at 1-855-635-4370, or contacting your local department of social services.

Long-term Care
Governor Northam announced new guidelines and testing requirements for reopening long-term care facilities, and outlined how the Commonwealth will direct $246 million, primarily from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, to support long-term care facilities in their response to COVID-19. 
In addition, the Governor is directing the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to make public facility-specific data regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths associated with long-term care facilities. Facility-specific data can be found here.

CVS Drive-thru Testing Locations
Governor Northam announced that CVS would be opening 39 new drive-thru testing locations across Virginia. Please input your location here to find a testing location near you.

Driver’s License Renewal Extension
Governor Northam announced an amendment to Executive Directive Seven (ED 7) to further extend the validity of credentials issued by DMV. The Fourth Amended ED 7 extends the validity of every driver, vehicle, and special identification credential due to expire on or before July 31, 2020 for up to an additional 90 days not to exceed October 31, 2020. This extension is in addition to the prior extension of up to 90 days not to exceed August 31, 2020. This means that a customer whose credential expires between March 15 and April 30 has an additional 90 days added to the prior 90 days, effectively 180 days, beyond the expiration date to renew. Customers whose credential expires between May 1 and July 31 will have up to 180 days beyond the expiration date to renew, not to exceed October 31, 2020. Customers with a credential that expires after July 31 must renew the credential before its expiration date. This extension will give customers with expiring credentials more time to schedule appointments to complete their DMV business.

Housing Resources
Please click here for a comprehensive overview of housing resources available to homeowners, renters, and landlords.
To identify the local Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administering organization for a household and to conduct a self-assessment for eligibility, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/eligibility or call 211 VIRGINIA by dialing 2-1-1 from your phone. Tenants and homeowners are encouraged to know their rights and responsibilities and pay their rent and mortgages on time if they are able. Visit StayHomeVirginia.com for additional information and resources.

Mental Health
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Coastal Virginia) is one of our local resources here to provide help. Especially now, check in on those you worry about & be mindful of your own mental health. The NAMI helpline number is: 1-800-950-6264 (M-F, 10am-5pm). The National Suicide Prevention Helpline (available 24/7) is: 1-800-273-8255.NAMI Coastal Virginia also provides the following support:—-Online Support Groups: https://www.namicoastalvirginia.org/online-support-groups
Hampton Roads COVID-19 Resources: https://www.namicoastalvirginia.org/covid-19-resources

Action Alliance Statewide Hotline
Many Virginians are unaware that sexual and domestic violence programs are still open – providing crisis services, emergency shelter, and resource-based support – or that they can still go to the hospital for care after trauma/assault. The Virginia Statewide Hotline is still here (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and ready to help, and so are sexual and domestic violence programs all over the state. Call: 1.800.838.8238 or Text: 804.793.9999.

Behavioral Health Resources for COVID 19
Community Services Boards (CSBs) across Virginia have transitioned some in-person strategies to work remotely. Many Virginians may be in need of additional mental health or behavioral health support and services. Linked here is a document that is updated periodically with activities and resources from local CSBs.

Frequently Asked Questions from Workers
Given the substantial economic impact that COVID-19 has had on Virginia’s workforce, the Northam Administration has released a comprehensive FAQ document to address questions that workers may have. That document can be found here.Also available in Spanish: haga clic aquí

Additional Information:
For a comprehensive list of actions Governor Northam has announced to combat COVID-19 in Virginia, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus.
The COVID19JIC@vdem.virginia.gov email is now operational. The email address account will be monitored by our Joint Information Center (JIC) staff and relayed to the appropriate subject matter expert. If you have questions, please reach out using the above email.

There are so many resources to help out there. If you are overwhelmed or need help finding specific answers to questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. The email is: district07@senate.virginia.gov and our phone number is: 757-990-3080. As always, it continues to be an honor to serve and represent you all as the State Senator from the 7th district. Stay safe and well out there! We can get through this together!

For information about best practices from the CDC, Click Here
For updated information from the Virginia Department of Health, Click Here
For updates from the City of Virginia Beach, Click Here
Like our daily routines, how we conduct politics has changed as well. We have taken a break from political fundraising for many months but are starting to begin to ask for support again in the form of small donations as we go forward. Please consider a small donation if possible to help me defend the values that we hold dear as Virginians.
Donate Here