1/18/20 Facts from the Floor: Week One

January 18, 2021
Dear Friend,

We are back! 

The Virginia General Assembly opened its 2021 regular session last Wednesday, but not in the Capitol.  The Senate convened in a very spacious conference room at the Virginia Science Museum.  The House of Delegates convened via Zoom.

Our new Senate chamber is really a cavernous ballroom that allows everyone to be socially distanced – and then some.  Senators wear masks, our temperatures get checked daily, and our desks have our own bottle of hand sanitizer.  I really miss the historic Senate chamber we sat in last year with the wooden desks, comfortable chairs, and so much history. I’m proud that we are continuing to meet in-person because there’s nothing like an in-person floor debate plus it’s important that we can talk to each other and ask questions of each other during breaks. With 40 total senators, we are able to get to know everyone very well which helps us to maintain civility in heated debates and be more effective legislators overall.

The Constitution of Virginia sets the length of sessions held in odd-numbered years at 30 days which we agreed to last Wednesday.  Democrats wanted a 45 day session, but the Constitution requires a super-majority (2/3rds vote) to extend session beyond the 30 days.  Republicans committed to adhering to the Constitutional session length back in November, a week after the 84-day special session ended. Since we are not able to meet with constituents in person and people who speak before us are all virtual, it is not the best way to conduct a government by the people for the people. Next year (when all is hopefully back to normal), I look forward to being back in our historic Capitol for a 60 day 2022 session!

A shorter session with fewer bills this year will encourage legislators to focus on issues requiring the most immediate attention. My priorities remain efficient administration of the COVID vaccine, getting public schools open and children safely back in the classroom, and reviving our economy. Although we have not taken any votes on the floor yet, I have had four bills pass out of committee so far. I will continue to focus on healthcare legislation, especially regarding improved nursing home staffing recruitment and retention, and family and veteran’s issues. My bill creating a position for a Military Spouse Liaison in the Virginia Department of Veteran Services passed out of committee. In addition, my school nurse bill, a nursing scholarship bill for Certified Nursing Assistants, and a bill requiring education on advanced directives for high school students all passed out of the Education and Health committee. Senators are allowed to patron twelve bills total this session. I will co-patron several others with my colleagues and will keep you posted on their passage!

Speaking of priorities, I worry those of the current administration are not aligned with what Virginians need most right now. During this session, we will see bills for legalization of recreational marijuana, Medicaid funded abortions, and removing the Right to Work law in Virginia (which keeps union membership optional and not mandatory). I will continue to be an advocate for what is important to the people in my district who sent me here to represent them. I value all of your input and ask that you please keep in touch and let me know what is important to you!

Until next week, take care and stay well!

~Jen

SENATOR KIGGANS’ TOP FIVE MOST SURPRISING THINGS SEEN IN THE VIRGINIA SENATE THIS PAST WEEK:


1. If a Senator passes away while in session, their desk is draped with a black cloth for two weeks during a mourning period. Senator Ben Chafin’s desk had red roses from each of us for one week as well. (He passed away on January 1).

2. We are not inviting clergy into our “chamber” this session in the Science Museum and instead the senators are taking turns saying the daily prayer before session. There are no special guests allowed in this year which makes for a very lonely session.

3. Everyday we are waiving the “rules” of the Senate to allow Senators who are sick or quarantining to log on virtually and vote virtually. Although we try to meet in person, we are doing our best to keep everyone safe. The absent senator’s Zoom face shows up in the top right corner of our voting board now when it’s time to vote.

4. The Virginia Science Museum is actually open while we’re in session in their conference center. We caucus and hold committee in different side exhibit rooms in the museum. Expect to run into us if you visit the museum in the next month!

5. We have food (& a lot of coffee and tea!) available to us throughout the day in a back hall attached to our conference room. We have to-go meals, soups, drinks, salads, fruit, desserts, candy, cookies (& one day we had cannolis!). I think they keep us well fed to help keep tensions down!

Keep In Touch!
Call us!! The Senate of Virginia is operating a toll-free constituent hotline for the 2021 General Assembly Session. You can call 1-833-617-1821 to express your opinion on legislation Mon-Thurs 8:30am-5pm and on Fridays 8:30am-2:00pm. The message will be sent directly to your legislator’s office. (& yes- I love the plug in handset I got for Christmas for my cell phone!) You can also call my district office at (757) 990-3080 or send me an email to: district07@senate.virginia.gov.

Legislation Information

Click Here to View All Legislation

Click Here for Sen. Kiggans Legislation

To watch the Senate of Virginia’s daily meetings and committees, follow this link: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

All session and committees are recorded so you can go back and watch previous debates. This is a great tool the public can use to track what is happening with our state government in Richmond. 

**Additionally, if there is a bill that is coming before a Senate committee that you feel passionately about, you can sign up to speak in favor of or in opposition to the legislation. This can be found at the top of the page following the link above.

Healthcare Selfie



Picture from the Richmond Times Dispatch celebrating week #1 complete in Richmond! (Fun fact- the three of us are the healthcare providers in the Virginia Senate: Sen. Dunnevant is an OB/GYN MD, Sen. Pillion is a Dentist, and I’m a Nurse Practitioner).

Minority Business Commission Update


I was honored to be nominated as the Vice Chair of the Virginia Minority Business Commission! Supporting all businesses and ensuring all Virginians have jobs they can be proud of is so important to me. I am excited to work with Chairman Torian and this bipartisan group of legislators and members of the community to support minority businesses! 


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