10/6/20 Facts from the Floor: Special Session Edition

October 6, 2020
Dear Friend,

Special session is not over! What we now refer to as a “very special session” started back on August 16th. The past two weeks were tough. We discussed the 2020 budget and attempted to pass budget amendments (all but one failed). We also began voting on criminal justice reform bills from the House, most of which differed from the bills we passed in the Senate.

The budget adjusted for the $2.7 billion shortfall we are experiencing due to COVID19 was developed and proposed by Democratic leadership from the Finance and Appropriations committees. Because of this, Republicans were left out of the bulk of the discussion and instead were able to submit floor amendments in an attempt to legislate our priorities through the budget. Some floor amendments proposed (and not passed) included: (keep in mind each floor amendment was voted on separately and failed along a party line vote of 21D- 19R)

–          Expanding the authority of the Capitol Square Preservation Council to review changes to monuments and artifacts within Capitol Square (brought due to the Speaker of the House removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night without prior notice to anyone)

–          Requiring the administration’s Chief Diversity Officer to provide the Finance and Appropriations Committee with an itemized list of expenditures made

–          Prohibiting any vaccination for COVID19 from being mandated on persons who object based on conflicts with religious tenets or practices

–          Providing a 5% salary increase for elected sheriffs, deputies, & regional jail officers

–          Providing a 20% increase for 3 months to personal care attendants who serve the elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients in the homes during COVID19 (from federal CARES Act funding)

–          Limiting the duration of a Governor’s emergency orders to 90 days and after that, requiring the Governor to convene a special session of the General Assembly to address the emergency

–          Ensuring the VDH (Virginia Dept. of Health) disseminates public health-related information consistent with the standards adopted by local government and requires vendors to keep contact information confidential and not used for any other purpose. (this was in response to the VDH BrdsNBz sexual health text line flyer mailed to homes of teenagers without prior parental consent)

–          Providing direct aid to parents of $500/child for reimbursements for educational and childcare costs incurred in response to COVID19 disrupting in-person instruction (from federal CARES Act funding). See video below to hear my thoughts on why this is needed:

To see a list of floor amendments offered click the following link: https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/amendments/2020/2/SB5015/Introduced/FR/

Regarding the criminal justice reform bills that have come from the House, here are some of the more significant ones:

HB5049: Prohibits law enforcement agencies from acquiring, purchasing, or accepting military surplus equipment or vehicles. This bill passed on a party line vote of 21D-18R. I voted NO because, in my opinion, we should arm our law enforcement with the equipment they need to do their job and should attain this equipment at the most reasonable cost. Additionally some of this equipment is vital to flood response in our region.

HB5069: Prohibits the use of neck restraints if law enforcement officers do use this maneuver in an official capacity unless it is “immediately necessary”. This bill passed along a party line vote of 21D-18R. I voted NO because, in my opinion, “immediately necessity” was not clearly defined for a law enforcement officer who may use this as his/her only recourse in an emergency.

HB5099: Prohibits the use of no-knock warrants. This bill also passed with a vote of 22D (one R)-18R. I voted NO as I feel prohibiting no-knock warrants puts both law enforcement and victims at risk as potential criminals would now be given warning before police entered the home thus eliminating the element of surprise.

There were several other House versions of criminal justice bills passed last week. Please visit this link to read more: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?202+sbj+SBJ

Thank you all for your input on legislation over the past few months and for staying in touch and tuned in to the changes occurring in our Commonwealth. I ask that as we wrap up this “very special session”, you continue to watch closely and monitor how these legislative changes impact the safety of our communities and our law enforcement recruitment and retention. I have been, and will continue to be, a staunch defender and supporter of all those in law enforcement who put their lives on the line on a daily basis to keep our communities safe for our families.

Lastly, with less than a month left before the election, don’t forget to register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot if needed, or make a plan to vote in person either early or on November 3rd. Elections have consequences and we are seeing that here in Virginia. Exercise this precious right and make your voice heard! (see below for more information.)

Stay well, keep in touch, and thank you for all of your support!

Take care,

Voting Information
Early voting in Virginia has started!! Find out when to vote, where to vote, and how to vote here: https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/

Important Dates for the Election:
September 18: Early voting starts.
October 13: Deadline to register to vote.
October 23: Last day to request an absentee ballot.
October 31: Last day to vote early in person.
November 2: Last day to request an emergency absentee ballot.
November 3: Election Day!

**In addition to supporting the Republicans running at the federal and state level, join me in supporting these local Republicans on the ballot. Local races do not have party designations after their names but it is important to know which party they affiliate with.

To find your closest voting location and hours, check here:https://www.elections.virginia.gov/…/early-voting…/

You can also request to have an absentee ballot mailed to you by clicking here: http://elections.virginia.gov/absentee

REMINDER: Two constitutional amendments will be on the ballot as well. Please join me in voting “YES” to both.

Amendment 1
Question 1: Vote YES to create a fair, bipartisan Redistricting Commission to handle the regular redistricting process and remove the process from the hands of legislators. Several other states have taken this approach to help end gerrymandering. This amendment has the support of both Republicans and Democrats and ensures our district lines are drawn without the influence of partisan politics.

Amendment 2
Question 2: Vote YES to provide additional tax relief for our disabled veterans. This amendment would allow for a veteran with a service connected disability to receive a break on personal property taxes associated with a vehicle. 

**Flu shots are out and available! Get yours today at your doctor or local pharmacy!

DMV Issues?? Having trouble getting an appointment at the DMV, please call our office for assistance and we can help! 757-990-3080

Soiree on the Bay
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to everyone who came out to the “Soiree on the Bay” event! It was a fantastic turnout and great to see so many old and new friends and supporters! Special thanks to Daniel Gade and Scott Taylor (& many other candidates!) for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend! We are excited to take back Virginia in 2020 and 2021!! (& very big thank you to my team for organizing such an awesome event- you guys are the best!!)

VB Republican Women’s Club

It is always an honor to speak at the Virginia Beach Republican Womens Club Luncheon! I am inspired by women who are interested in politics and ready to be involved! It was great to meet back in person too!

Please join me in support of Mayor Bobby Dyer

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!