10/23/20 Facts from the Floor: Special Session Edition

October 23, 2020
Dear Friend,

After ten long weeks, the Virginia General Assembly has wrapped up our 2020 Special Legislative Session… well, almost. 

We convened in Richmond at the Science Museum on August 18th for a special session called by the Governor to discuss the budget, criminal justice reform, and COVID related legislation. Fifty-nine days later, we unofficially adjourned but will need to go back to Richmond after the election to discuss any amendments the Governor will propose on the budget passed by the House and Senate and three bills which were amended on his desk. Depending on the outcome of Amendment ONE on the ballot (concerning redistricting: vote yes!), that funding will need to be added to the budget and voted on as well.

Par for the course, the new democratic majority in the state of Virginia was successful in passing sweeping legislation which changed the laws of our Commonwealth in an expedient fashion oftentimes lacking sufficient input from critical stakeholders due to COVID restrictions.

Here’s what we advocated for but did NOT accomplish over the past 59 days:

–          All children in Virginia are NOT back in school and school nurses are still not prioritized enough to fund one in each school.

–          NO pro-business bills were passed during this special session.

–          We were NOT able to pass legislation (despite FIVE proposed bills) to curtail the Emergency Power of the Governor and his ability to declare a state of emergency indefinitely and continue his executive mandates.

–          We were NOT able to ensure a COVID vaccine will NOT be made mandatory when it is available.

–          We were NOT able to improve the transparency of the Virginia Parole Board and prevent violent criminals from being released early to our streets.

Here’s what did pass out of the House & Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature:

–          Citizen Review Boards which have the power to subpoena records and witnesses and impose binding punishment for our law enforcement officers. 

–          Bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

–          Prohibition of law enforcement officer’s ability to pull over a car with a head light or taillight burnt out (The Governor amended this portion after an outcry of how dangerous this would make our highways), with exhaust that is too loud or search a vehicle based on the odor of marijuana.

–          A bill preventing police departments from acquiring certain equipment from military surplus (often at no cost with localities able to use equipment for special rescue operations).

–          A bill allowing criminal defendants who are convicted by a jury to opt for sentencing from a judge.

We did NOT pass a bill removing “qualified immunity” which protects law enforcement from civil liability if there is any ambiguity surrounding whether their policing actions were justified. 

I am proud to report that my nursing home visitation bill (SB5042) mandating a visitor policy at long-term care facilities that ensured a visit every ten days minimum has been signed into law by the Governor! Additionally, it is now a requirement for nursing homes to post and share their COVID19 related data publicly.

It was an honor to represent each and every one of you on the floor of the Virginia Senate every day of special session. My staff and I read each of the emails you send, listen to every voicemail and message, read each social media comment, and had the pleasure of talking to many of you in person and over the phone during the past few months. You have my word that I will continue to do my very best to represent the people of Virginia Beach and Norfolk who sent me there to be your voice in government. Please know that my office remains open to you and that I appreciate hearing your opinions and concerns. 

The next few months will be spent discussing and writing legislation to present at our next regular session in January. I will be in touch once we begin to hear what’s next on the General Assembly agenda. Stay tuned!

Stay well, keep in touch, and most importantly, get out there and vote on November 3rd!

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. 

Tour of the Virginia Beach Department of Elections
Last week, I visited the Virginia Beach Department of Elections! Lines were long at the courthouse with an almost 2-hour wait to vote. I was able to see firsthand how the absentee ballots are processed & was able to have my questions answered about election reform (side note- only 60 people total have voted without an ID during early voting). The best part of my morning was meeting so many constituents who were in line! Thank you to everyone who came out & patiently waited to vote

**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

Business Visits
Recently, I spent some time in Thalia stopping by small businesses to say hello and check on how things were going.

Hampton Roads Chamber: Military Citizen of the Year
Last week, the Hampton Roads Chamber recognized the “Military Citizen of the Year” and an impressive group of other nominees! It was an honor to attend and be a part of rewarding some amazing local sailors!

Click here for more information

Community Food Drive
Big THANK YOU to the Virginia Beach Freedom Church and Operation Blessing for their amazing community outreach event! It was awesome to be able to provide groceries to those in need and to spend the day with such a great group of volunteers!

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!