Happenings from the Homefront 8/17/2020

August 17, 2020
Hello Friends,

Tomorrow is the big day…. The General Assembly will reconvene by direction of the Governor for the 2020 Special Session. Per the Governor, our discussions and debates are limited to budget adjustments, criminal justice and police reform, and COVID related legislation. For those of you interested in the play-by-play of what will happen in Richmond, check out this link for a list of all the bills proposed thus far: 


You’ll see that there’s quite a wide range of things both House Delegates and Senators have filed ranging from removal of DMV inspection requirement to ensuring there is a religious exemption for the COVID vaccine. One of the most exciting bills proposed is a bill to limit the executive powers of the Governor and his ability to declare a state of emergency unilaterally without involving the General Assembly. This bill has been proposed by multiple legislators and is an idea that I am very supportive of going into special session. Also filed is a 33-page criminal justice omnibus bill, proposed by Democratic Senator Mamie Locke, which encompasses all of the Democratic police and criminal justice reform ideas into one very long bill (SB 5030).

We have heard we will be limited to introducing three bills. My three bills deal with mandatory school nurses (SB 5004), expanding worker’s compensation for law enforcement and first responders to cover COVID19 related issues (SB 5022), and a nursing home isolation bill which requires virtual or in person visits once/week for nursing home residents and their families (SB 5042).

The Senate will be meeting once again in the Virginia Science Museum where we can socially distance safely. The House will be meeting in the VCU Siegel Center. Proposed bills will be heard in committee meetings first which will be open to public comment virtually. See http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3  for more up to date information on how to watch the sessions and/or participate in public comment.

I promise to do my part and keep you all informed as best I can with what happens next week. Stay tuned to social media and look out for next week’s newsletter. I’m sure there will be much to report! Until then, take care and stay safe. I’ll be in touch!


Click Here to See Introduced Legislation for Special Session

Second Annual”Soiree on the Bay”with Senator Jen Kiggans
Reserve your spot today
Join us for an evening OUTDOORS on the banks of the Lynnhaven River to see friends and meet people who are interested in the future of Virginia politics and policies. Jen will give a summary of the General Assembly Special Session (to be held August 18, 2020). In addition, we will hear from Republican candidate for the 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives, Hon. Scott Taylor, and the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, LTCOL (Ret) Daniel Gade. We hope you can be a part of this annual event and look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrating our Summer InternsWe celebrated an awesome group of interns who helped us this summer last week! They assembled flags for our July 4th flag project, put up “Hero’s Work Here” signs at law enforcement and medical offices, did a beach clean-up, helped research legislative issues for me, & so much more. We even had them research and do mock debates on many of the issues we voted on during this past session! As they all get ready to head back to school in some form, we thank them for all their hard work and hope we’ve been able to inspire some of them to be involved in their communities and government in the future!

News Updates
Could COVID-19 make a school nurse requirement in Virginia a reality?

I am introducing this “School Nurse Bill” because I want our kids to safely return to school, but I also hear the concerns of staff, parents, and teachers. School nurses are an essential part of health assessment, infection control, and wellness education. They will be key players in ensuring our kids can return to the classroom as soon as possible!
Click here to see the article

Small Business Visit
Last week I toured the new Gather 757 office space in Virginia Beach! This new trend in co-working allows a collection of people who need an office to share a space with other small businesses and employees who might otherwise work separately. This 28,000 sq foot space is located above the Cheesecake Factory in Town Center of Virginia Beach and is stocked with all the office amenities you need and beautiful local beach and bay decor. Check them out!https://workatgather.com/location/virginia-beach/

Community Health Event
Delegate Alex Q. Askew and I joined the Virginia Beach Health Department at a free community-based COVID testing event at Level Green Park! A big thank you to the Virginia Beach Medical Reserve Corps volunteers who came out to do the testing and to everyone who helped make the event a success!

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 August 17th, 103,016 positive cases have been reported here in Virginia with 4,505 probable cases. Additionally, we currently have 5,444 cases in Virginia Beach and 4,002 cases in Norfolk.

New COVID-19 Measures in Hampton Roads Region
Governor Ralph Northam outlined new actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Hampton Roads region, which has seen a recent increase in new cases, hospitalizations, and positive tests. 

The new restrictions will apply to the Cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County, and York County.
Beginning at midnight on Friday, July 31, restrictions will prohibit the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room after 10:00pm. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Indoor dining in these establishments will be limited to 50 percent capacity. Public and private in-person gatherings over 50 people will be prohibited, down from a previous cap of 250 people.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Eight and Order of Public Health Emergency Eight is available here. Read the order in Spanish here.

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.

Emergency Temporary Standard Translations
As a reminder, on July 15, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board adopted COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, which are the first of its kind in the nation. These standards can be found here, and will be enforced for six months after posting this week (the week of July 27).

DMV Appointments
To schedule an appointment with the DMV, click here. These appointments can be made for up to 3 months out currently.

Additional Opportunity Available to Apply for Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Relief Program
The Department of Human Services will reopen the application portal for the Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Relief Program at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Applications will be accepted through Monday, Aug. 31. The program provides direct relief for households where an occupant has lost their employment, had their work hours reduced or has been furloughed due to COVID-19. Financial relief comes in the form of a check for the approved relief amount to the named recipient. A maximum relief of $500 for residential real estate taxes and $250 for personal property tax has been established for eligible households. The amount of relief will be the billed total, 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. 

Any impacted household, whether they have paid their tax bill or not, is encouraged to apply if they meet the eligibility requirements. 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. Applications will be processed as they are received. Please note that any accrued late fees, penalties or interest are the responsibility of the bill holder and are not eligible for relief. Additional information, including necessary documents for proof of eligibility and applications, can be found online at VBgov.com/COVID19TaxRelief.

$70 Million Rebuild VA Economic Recovery Fund
The state launched a $70 million grant program for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be made available through Rebuild VA, a new economic recovery fund, and grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses. 
Applications for the Rebuild VA Grant Program will be available beginning on Monday, August 10.

A one-pager on Rebuild VA is available here. See here for a press release on the Rebuild VA program.

Virginia COPES
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), in conjunction with Mental Health America of Virginia, has established a COVID-19 Response Non-Emergency Warm Line for those struggling with distress, grief, or trauma caused by COVID-19. Trained staff provide strength-based support, resilience building strategies and community resources and referrals for those in need.

Virginia COPES Warm Line
Call or TEXT Toll Free: 877-349-64289 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday – Sunday  
You can find more information on Virginia COPES and other resources available to Community Service Boards from state agencies here.

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.

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

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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.
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