2/2/21 Facts from the Floor: Week Three

February 2, 2021
Dear Friend,

Last Monday, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. Daniel Carey, and Richmond and Henrico Health Department Director, Dr. Danny Avula, who the Governor tapped to be “field general” for vaccine distribution, provided an update to our Republican caucus on the vaccine rollout. The two doctors explained some of the problems the state had experienced and provided details of plans to improve the Commonwealth’s desultory performance.

The briefing was productive as it marked the first time any Northam Administration official acknowledged there was a problem with the vaccine acquisition and distribution. That alone was a significant shift for this administration. We are staying on top of Virginia’s vaccine roll out and watching the process closely. 

We recently passed legislation out of the Senate that will significantly improve the state’s ability to distribute the vaccine quickly and lifts some of the barriers currently in place to allow healthcare volunteers to give the vaccine easier. Our Senate Bill (SB1445) also allows more locations to distribute the vaccine and makes more healthcare professionals (such a nursing and medical students) eligible to administer it.

Every Republican Senator signed on to co-sponsor the bill, as did every Democrat Senator. Introduced on a Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved the bill three days later. In legislative time, that is as fast as it gets. In these hyper-partisan times, the bill’s quick passage demonstrated lawmakers from opposing parties can work together to support solutions, at least in the Senate of Virginia.

In other news….

February marks the 12th month that most Virginia students have not been able to attend school in person. I am a co-patron of SB1303 which requires each local school division to make in-person and virtual learning available to all students by choice of the student’s parent or guardian. It narrowly passed the Senate Education and Health Committee on a bipartisan 8-7 vote with Democrats Senator Chap Petersen from Fairfax City and Senator Lynwood Lewis from the Eastern Shore joining my Republican colleagues. SB1303 heads to the Senate floor this week where we are hoping additional Democratic Senators join the effort and we can give parents the option of sending their kids back to in-person learning before the school year ends.

The Senate General Laws committee heard SB1131 which would limit the governor’s emergency executive authority by requiring legislative approval after 45 days from when the order was given and prevent him/her from reissuing a similar order if not approved by the legislature. In my opinion, governors need to be able to issue emergency orders but they shouldn’t be unilateral decisions of unlimited duration. This bill died in committee along a party line vote with democrats voting against the idea and the bill. (This bill was patroned by a republican – my seatmate- and I was happy to co-patron.) We will continue to push to restore proper checks and balances in the Commonwealth! 

We often speak about the nursing shortage in our country but we don’t often take action to improve that shortage. I’m proud of my SB 1147 expanding an existing Dept of Health scholarship to extend eligibility to Certified Nurse Assistants (in addition to RNs and LPNs) – it passed out of the Senate unanimously last week and heads to the House of Delegates this week. Hopefully more people are able to attend school to become nurses because of this bill!

Thank you to everyone who has already shared your views and thoughts on important issues with me. If you have not, I hope you will take 2-5 minutes and reach out to me by emailing me at district07@senate.virginia.gov or calling my office at (757) 990-3080
Thank you so much for all of your continued support! It is an honor to represent you in the Virginia Senate!


Take care and stay well….

 

FUN FACT: With the deadline for filing bills having passed, we now know how many pieces of legislation we’ll be considering this session. Senators submitted 379 bills by the deadline, while Delegates submitted 604, for a total of 983. That is the fewest number of bills – by far – in any regular session this century. For comparison, legislators submitted 2,000 bills in 2019, the most recent “short” session.

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

1. There are no “snow days” in the Virginia General Assembly! Session continues even if it snows (although the virtual option does provide a possible other “venue” although not as desired)!

2. When we speak to a bill, we always address the Lt Gov first (who is the President of the Senate) and we must stand before we begin speak to him. For example, we stand and begin to speak when called on and then state “Mr. President,……..”

3. The Bon Secours Physical Therapy Center is available for private meetings between legislators and constituents or lobbyists. I have only had one lobbyist request a personal meeting in this venue since we began session.

4. If we feel like we have voted wrong on a bill, we can change our vote if a senator who voted on the “prevailing side” wants to recall the vote and we all vote again. We can also change our vote on paper with the clerk’s staff in the front of the room but votes must be changed before session ends for that day.

5. We have several lawyers who attend all of our committee meetings. They usually sit in the front of the room and are there to answer questions about technical language in the bills. Oftentimes they have worked on the actual drafting of the bills being heard in that committee and probably know more of the nuances than we do about the legislation! We couldn’t do our job without the legislative services legal staff!


Virginia Beach Vaccine Update
On Monday, Jan. 25, the Virginia Beach Health District moved into Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccines will be given at the VB Convention Center. There is no charge. Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers, anyone age 65 and older, and those individuals age 16-64 years with high-risk medical conditions. People who fall into Phase 1b must pre-register to receive the vaccine through a new online portal that is now available. To access the portal, visit vbgov.com/vaccinatevb and input your personal information. Registrants must have a working email address. (Chrome is the preferred browser for the portal.)
Weekend Vaccination Event


It was awesome to be a part of administering the COVID19 vaccine this weekend with the Virginia Beach Medical Reserve Corps! We also welcomed the Virginia Secretary of Health & Human Resources (Dr. Dan Carey), Virginia Beach Health Director (Dr. Demetria Lindsey), & Mayor Bobby Dyer for a tour of the event! Big thank you to our amazing local volunteers and EMS team for conducting a mass vaccination event for 3000 people! Administering the COVID vaccine quickly and efficiently around the Commonwealth continues to be a challenge and is a work in progress. We are all working together to get it to those who are willing and able!

*For more info about local vaccine events or to sign up for a vaccine if you are in priority group 1A or 1B, please visit:https://emergency.vbgov.com/coronavirus

Touring the Science Museum of Virginia
One of the best parts about having session in the Science Museum of Virginia is walking under the SR-71 “Blackbird” aircraft every time I go to a committee meeting! Only 32 of these now-retired reconnaissance aircraft were built by Lockheed with 12 lost in accidents (none lost to enemy action).




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.
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!