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3/3/21 Facts from the Floor: End of Session

March 4, 2021
Dear Friend,

The Virginia Senate and House have adjourned “Sine Die” which means our work from both the regular and special sessions is now complete. It has been a long six weeks of heated floor debates, bad weather, and some of the most progressive legislation we have ever seen in Virginia. I feel like I have just returned from the frontlines of a political battlefield!  For the past six weeks in the Virginia Senate, a group of us fought everyday against the progressive agenda that the ruling liberal party brought to the table. Governing under a one-party Democratic majority continues to be dangerous for Virginia and dangerous for America. As one of my colleagues stated, “It was a political ‘jewelry store smash and grab’ for them.” They were able to get away with passing a great deal of the progressive legislation which now sits on the Democratic Governor’s desk…the majority of which is just bad for Virginia.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must put an end to this one-party rule in Virginia. The majority Democratic party set their agenda last year and has been plugging away aggressively to get everything accomplished to change Virginia before the 2021 election cycle where we will elect a new Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and vote for all 100 seats in the House of Delegates.


Photo taken by Bob Brown RTD

Before we get to the bad bills, there were a few good things that came out of this session:

–     SB 1303: a bill focused on getting our kids back in school and passed out of the House & Senate. This bill, which I co-patroned, requires schools to offer an in-person learning option for students in addition to all-virtual learning. Although we pushed for an emergency enactment clause, we did not have the votes and the legislation would not go into effect until the fall, 2021.

–     SB 1445: a bill lifting barriers for providers to administer more vaccines to people in the Commonwealth. This bill, which I co-patroned, allows for healthcare professionals from all backgrounds, including medical and nursing students, to be able to administer the vaccine without requiring some of the tedious training sessions and unnecessary, burdensome orientations. It passed out of the House & Senate.

–     SB 1146: a bill to conform Virginia’s tax code that includes a deduction of up to $100,000 for Virginia businesses who took Federal assistance loans to keep their doors open (Republicans pushed for full exemption but it was voted down). This means that businesses will only pay state taxes on PPP loans from the federal government over $100,000. This bill passed out of the House & Senate.

–     SB 1403: a bill that establishes a tax exemption for Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, face shields, etc). This bill passed out of the House & Senate.

Now for the bad legislation that passed during this session:

–     SB 1406: Marijuana bill: The legislation that would set Virginia on course to legalizing and taxing the sale of marijuana for recreational use. This was an extremely complicated and detailed bill that was hundreds of pages long. The underlying issue addressed by the bill was contentious on its own. Add in hundreds of pages of complicated policy encompassing issues related to law enforcement, government policy on intoxicants, along with taxation, and you get a recipe for a lot of discussion. The bill was too much pushed too fast to roll out a controversial legalization of marijuana.

–     SB 1381: A bill that prohibits possession of a gun on Capitol Square or in any building owned or leased by the state.

–  SB 1261: A bill to pack the court of appeals by increasing the number of judges from 11 to 17 (includes adding 50+ lawyers for staff as well)= expensive!

Bills that did not pass this year but I am sure will be back:

–     SB 1443: A bill to end mandatory minimums in criminal sentencing
 
–  SB 1370: A bill to bring back parole in Virginia

Additionally, every bill to reduce the executive authority of the Governor failed as well as my bill to get deceased names off the voter rolls more efficiently. They even fought to prevent a bill to improve how votes are reported to prevent late night “vote dump” numbers.

There is a lot headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature! Bills passed by the General Assembly are subject to action by the Governor who can sign, veto, or submit amendments. (The General Assembly will convene for its annual one-day “reconvene” session on April 7 to take up any actions by the Governor.) 

Out of the twelve bills I proposed this session, five are headed to the Governor’s office:

1-    SB 1147: A bill to expand eligibility for the Nurse Loan Repayment Program to include certified nurse aides who meet criteria determined by the State Board of Health.

2-   SB 1148: A bill to change the date of the primary election held in June from the second Tuesday in June to the third Tuesday in June. This is a school safety issue, and elections should be held after the school year ends.

3-   SB 1150: A bill to establish the position of Military Spouse Liaison in the Department of Veterans Services to conduct outreach and advocate on behalf of military spouses in the Commonwealth.

4-   SB 1190: A bill to direct the Board of Education to include advanced directive education in its curriculum framework for the Health Standards of Learning for high school students.

5-   SB 1356: A bill to require the Board of Health to include in regulations governing hospitals, nursing homes, certified nursing facilities, and hospices allowing clergy visitation.

With the Senate of Virginia closing up shop for now, we’ll be working back in the 7th District at our Virginia Beach office. You can contact our office by emailing us at district07@senate.virginia.gov or call the office at 757-990-3080 M-F between 9am-3pm.

I will continue to fight for our families and practice calm, common sense leadership that brings balance to the radical left in our Commonwealth and restores faith in our government. It is an honor to represent the people of the 7th District and to be your voice in state government.

Take care & keep in touch-




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

1. A bill died in the House and was brought back as an “Administration Bill” during the last three days of session in an attempt to get a bad bill through the backdoor. It died only because we ran out of session days! Very sneaky….!

2. Muhammed Ali’s wife was our guest in caucus this past week! She signed autographed pictures of she and the boxing great!

3. The “Night at the Museum” theme when we are still in the Science Museum after dark is not as fun as the movie! (All the exhibits shut down and the dinosaurs do not come to life…!) 

4. Hearing one of my democrat neighbor’s sitting near me state, “This is the dumbest bill” and then watching him vote for it anyway!

5. We lost the marijuana legalization bill by a vote of 20-19. (One vote short of killing it.) It was a party line vote with one democrat voting with us to defeat the bill.

Last Day of Session Photo

Honored to be a part of this amazing group of people…. the Virginia Republican Senate Caucus! They are some of the most well-spoken, smartest, & common sense people I have ever met and who work everyday to protect our Constitution and keep our Commonwealth great. This is our last day of session ‘class picture’ (& we took our masks off for a few seconds for the photo)!

Capitol Tour

I was able to actually go in the Virginia Capitol building for the first time this session! It was nice to sit on the Senate floor and dream of the good old days when we used to hold session in that awesome historic room. I sure hope we are back there next year for regular session, and I look forward to having people be able to visit us in person in Richmond too!

Executive Order Update…

News from Richmond….a small step in the right direction… (& yes- we have tried through several bills to curb the Governor’s executive power but all have been killed in committee!)!

“Governor Northam has amended Executive Order 72 to expand opportunities for outdoor activities in light of improving COVID-19 case statistics. While limits on indoor gatherings remain the same (including a limit of 10 people at indoor social gatherings), the limit on outdoor social gatherings and exercise groups will increase to 25 people and the limit on outdoor racetrack and amusement venues will increase to 1,000 people. The amended order removes the stay-at-home order from midnight to 5 a.m. and extends the cutoff time for alcohol sales in restaurant dining rooms from 10 p.m. to midnight. These amendments, which will be effective March 1, follow the recent amendment in effect as of February 22 to increase the capacity limit for outdoor recreational sporting events to 250 spectators. Summer camps will be able to open as of May 1, using strict mitigation protocols such as small cohorts of campers.”

Link to executive order: Executive Order 72

Vaccine Update
Virginia has a new online registration system to receive a COVID19 vaccine:
https://vax.preregister.virginia.gov

If you are in priority group 1b and are interested in getting the vaccine, please register online. (I get my second shot Saturday and will be administering the vaccine at the VB Convention Center as well!)
Here’s is more information:https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

Additionally, CVS has started to offer the vaccine to Virginians who are 65+. Please follow this link to register: https://www.cvs.com/vaccine/intake/store/covid-screener/covid-qns

For updates from CVS regarding the vaccine, please visit: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine

Keep In Touch!


You can 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 2021 Legislation
Click Here for Sen. Kiggans Legislation

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!


My work in the Virginia Senate would not be possible without donations from supporters like you, and I will continue to work hard in Richmond to advance common sense, conservative, pro-growth policies for our Commonwealth. I hope that moving forward I can count on your continued assistance as we look to promote the values we share. Will you consider a donation of $25, $50 or $100 today to help my campaign?

Donate Here

2/17/21 Facts from the Floor: Week Five

March 4, 2021
Dear Friend,

Last week, the General Assembly adjourned its 2021 regular session on Monday and convened a special session, called by Governor Northam, on Wednesday. The purpose of the special session is to complete the unfinished work of the regular session. 

Why, you might ask, could the General Assembly not complete its work in the 30 days allotted by the Constitution of Virginia? The answer is that the majority party needed more time than 30 days to pass their progressive agenda and move Virginia further to the left . When there is one party rule from the top down including both chambers of the legislature, the ruling party has to act quickly to pass ALL the legislative priorities they have before the House elections (and Governor, Lt. Gov and Attorney General) this November.

This situation is emblematic of a larger point: Democrats like government, want to grow government, and look to government as a solution to most problems. They also don’t mind raising taxes to pay for their big government.  Judging from Virginia, however, Democrats don’t actually run government very well. The failure to complete our regular session work on time – even with what was by far the smallest workload in at least 27 years – is the latest example of this shortcoming.

Republicans continue to fight for the things that are important to Virginians during these trying times: opening our businesses and getting people back to work, opening our schools and getting our kids back in the classroom in person, and finding ways to get the COVID vaccine out to people and turn this health crisis around. We’ve also demanded explanations and accountability from the Northam Administration. But one of the consequences of the Democrats having total control over state government is they have the power to squelch these efforts at accountability. And Republicans just don’t have the votes to stop any of their legislation from passing.

Here’s a great example:

SB 1422: This is my “voting accuracy” bill. It requires the State Registrar of Vital Records to transmit to the Department of Elections a weekly list of deceased people from the previous week. Currently, this list is transmitted monthly but in actuality only gets there every 2-3 months per the registrar. The bill requires the registrars to use this information to conduct list maintenance and to promptly cancel the registration of a person on the list. With strong bipartisan support, the Senate passed that legislation to increase election integrity by a vote of 34 to 5.
Democrats on the House Privileges and Elections Committee turned around and “laid my bill on the table” (which is the House’s way of killing the bill) on the very first day of the special session, with only one Democrat joining Republicans on the Committee who voted in favor of the bill. The silver lining was that it exposed the Democrats unwillingness to pass bipartisan legislation that improves the accuracy of our election process. Noted. Please remember that in November as well!



My other remaining bills will crossover and be heard in House committees this week. If you would like to follow the six bills that were passed in the Senate and heading to the House, please visit here: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?212+mbr+S109C

Next week, there will be more on which to report from Virginia’s capital city. Until then, have a great week and stay tuned!

Thank you to those of you who have reached out to express your opinions about upcoming legislation. It is appreciated. And thanks to all of you for your continued support. It is an honor to represent you in Richmond!   


Keep in touch and stay tuned!


Take care and stay well….


 


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

1) When presenting my bills in virtual House committees from the Science Museum, it can be difficult to find a quiet place. My favorite places to present in virtual committee are the wind speed exhibit and the origami paper folding area (very quiet there!)!

2) When the Lieutenant Governor is absent from the Senate, the President Pro Tempore becomes the presiding officer. Currently Sen. Louise Lucas (D- Portsmouth) holds that position and has had the opportunity to run the show a few times this session already. (Today was the Lt. Gov’s bday so he was late and she stepped in until he arrived!)

3) Every year, starting on February 1st, the Clerk of the Senate offers daily reminders at the end of our Senate day about how many “shopping days” are left leading up to Valentine’s Day. This is a helpful reminder for the Senators to not forget to get a gift for their significant other! (Madam Clerk loves Valentine’s Day!)

4) In the Science Museum, Senators are not seated in sections by party as they are in the chamber in the Capitol. This has actually been a good thing as we have been forced to talk to each other, make new “friends” and mingle with the opposite party throughout the floor session!

5) The House is meeting virtually, so it is not uncommon to see Delegates’ pets, family members, houses, kitchens, etc. in the background. In my opinion, this is probably not the best way to do government but it does make for some funny sightings!


2021 Virtual Women Veterans Health and Wellness Forum

Thankful to be a part of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services 2021 Virtual Women Veterans Health and Wellness Forum! Always great to be with other women veterans and hear about their service to country!






Valentines Day 2021

Valentine’s Day is usually a special holiday in the General Assembly. Normally we decorate our office doors, exchange a few valentines, & eat too much chocolate during session, but this year looks a little different here in the Science Museum. We did get heart cookies from the Executive Mansion though….. so there’s that!





Happy Anniversary!!

When you’re a Navy pilot and you marry a Navy pilot, you have a wedding full of awesome airplanes! Happy 22nd Anniversary to the cutest, sweetest, and most supportive husband a girl could ask for!! I love you!!





Vaccine Update

Virginia has a new online registration system to receive a COVID19 vaccine:
https://vax.preregister.virginia.gov

If you are in priority group 1b and are interested in getting the vaccine, please register online. (I get my second shot Saturday and will be administering the vaccine at the VB Convention Center as well!)
Here’s is more information:https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

Additionally, CVS has started to offer the vaccine to Virginians who are 65+. Please follow this link to register: https://www.cvs.com/vaccine/intake/store/covid-screener/covid-qns

For updates from CVS regarding the vaccine, please visit: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine




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

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!

Happenings on the Homefront: The Post-Election Voting Concerns Debrief

December 2, 2020


Dear Friend,


With special session coming to a close a few weeks ago, the Virginia Senate has had a period of down time with not much to report legislatively. We are beginning the process of working with staff lawyers to draft bills to be presented during our next regular session which will start January 13, 2021, and last 30 days this year. Since we are considered “part time legislators” in the state of Virginia, our regular session work is limited by our state constitution and defined in length as lasting 30 days for non-budget years (60 days every other year for budget). In 2021, Senators will be limited to introducing 12 bills each while delegates in the House will be limited to introducing 7 bills each (These limits were set by the members of the Rules Committee from both chambers, the 2020 session had no bill limit). Stay tuned for a pre-session update in the weeks to come outlining my priorities going into the next session (Spoiler Alert: nursing home staffing, veterans advocacy, and yes- the balloon bill will be back!). 

I wanted to take a few minutes to address the concerns of so many of you who have reached out to me about the integrity of our elections held on November 3rd, 2020. First, please know that I hear each and every one of you who has called my office & spoken to one of my staff, who has emailed my district office, or who has commented on a social media post. I agree with you 100% that it is right to question the electoral process and to hold those accountable who are responsible for ensuring our elections are conducted fairly with the utmost integrity. The night of my own election last November, 2019, I personally saw and experienced precinct reporting that I questioned and still doubt. I paid for and worked with lawyers for days after my own election to ensure the absentee and provisional ballots were properly counted. I watched Delegate Chris Stolle lose his seat in the 83rd precinct by 27 votes and did not feel confident that I trusted those results. 

Since my election, I have made it very clear to the Virginia Beach Department of Elections staff that I want to be involved in the local electoral process and that I have been and will be watching closely how we conduct each and every election going forward. I was on the phone consulting with Donna Patterson, Virginia Beach Director of Elections/ General Registrar, the day of the 2020 June Republican Primary when the voting machines experienced a malfunction which many of you may remember. I wrote a letter from my office addressing my concerns in writing after that day, including the fact that my husband and I had to cast a provisional ballot in that election due to a machine malfunction. 

In preparation for this November’s election, I scheduled an appointment to meet with Ms. Patterson and her staff in person in October and went to the Department of Elections’ office at the Virginia Beach Courthouse complex for a tour. I saw the room where the absentee ballots are processed and spoke with Ms. Patterson about the extreme changes in election law that had been passed during our 2020 regular session. The day of the election, I worked at seven different polls throughout the day. I watched the election results play out the night of the election, including the after midnight reporting of all the early and absentee ballots in one large grouping, and saw the leads flip for many contentious races in the blink of an eye. I scheduled another phone conference with Ms. Patterson the following week and relayed many personal concerns and constituents’ concerns to her one at a time. These included people receiving absentee ballots who did not request them, college students never receiving their absentee ballots, people’s voting record being improperly listed on the Dept of Elections website, and numerous other concerns that had been relayed to my office. I am in the process of relaying these concerns in writing to Mr. Christopher Piper, the Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. 

Above all else, the most important action I have taken to prevent voter fraud and to maintain the integrity for ALL of our elections was to vote NO to each and every suspicious election reform bill that came before me on the floor of the Senate this past year. This included voting NO to the bill ending the requirement to show voter ID, NO to the bill to end no excuse absentee voting, and NO to the special session bill one month prior to our November election allowing for ballot drop boxes and opening the door to ballot harvesting (and included a $2 million price tag). 

The majority of these 2020 election reform bills passed along party lines votes with the Democratic legislators having a majority of votes in both chambers therefore having the ability to pass any and all election reform legislation they could imagine. I have said time and time again and will say once more….. it is dangerous to have one party that controls all parts of government in our Commonwealth including the Governor, Lt Governor, Attorney General, Senate, and House of Delegates. Elections have consequences, and I knew this before I got on a ballot and worked hard to win my seat. I encourage each and every one of my colleagues in the Senate and House to be as involved and proactive as I have been and will continue to be to stay on top of our electoral process in Virginia Beach and Norfolk and to continue to be vigilant, to fight for free and fair elections, and to ensure every legal vote is counted. I encourage all candidates who lost races to work with their legal teams to exhaust their ability to recount, audit, and investigate their resultsto the full extent of their ability as I did in my race in 2019. It is a team effort and we all must continue to do our part until we can reform our electoral process and restore voter confidence in our elections. You can be assured, I will continue to watch closely for each and every election and to do my part for as long as I hold elected office in the state of Virginia. 

Very Respectfully,

Jen


Click Here to Visit the Virginia Department of Elections Voter Complaint Site

*Virginia Beach Electoral Board holds periodic meetings open to the public. Their next meeting will be on December 17th at 1 p.m.at Building 14 of the Virginia Beach Courthouse Complex. You are encouraged to attend to have your questions and concerns heard.


*Additionally, the City of Virginia Beach is always looking for election officials to work polls on election day. See here for more information and to apply: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/voter-registrar/Pages/election-official-information.aspx



Virginia Peninsula Foodbank Volunteer Event


This week, I joined other community leaders in volunteering at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank in Hampton to raise awareness of the role our foodbanks play in addressing food insecurity in our area. In addition to providing meals to families and school children in need, they also offer a culinary training program to adults to teach skills needed to work in the food service industry. Thank you for all you do!



Local Mental Health Resource Visits

Recently, I had a tour of the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center to understand how they are serving the mental health needs of our community during COVID. After that, I visited Hampton Roads Hyperbaric Therapy to learn how hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping our veterans with PTSD & brain injuries. In my primary care job I see an increased need for available and accessible mental health services now more than ever. We must continue to work to expand these local resources for Virginia Beach and Norfolk.



Girl Scout Zoom Meeting

I was honored to talk to Girl Scout Troop #552 (via Zoom) about Navy helicopters, nursing, & the Senate of Virginia! They were great listeners and asked lots of great questions! (& I hope we inspired a few future girl pilots and girl politicians out there….!) Thank you for inviting me!



Tree Planting Event


It was a great day to turn off the TV, go outside, & plant some trees! Thank you to Lynnhaven River Now for organizing the opportunity to plant almost 400 trees in common areas in the Ocean Lakes neighborhood and distribute 100 trees to residents. Ocean Lakes is in the Back Bay watershed and, like many low-lying neighborhoods, is vulnerable to flooding. Planting these trees will help reduce local flooding! #GoOutside #PlantTrees#EnjoyTheSun (Special thank you to my daughter for coming with and helping me!! )



Sen. Kiggans Honors Family Military History on Veterans Day

“A veteran is someone who at one point in their life wrote a blank check payable to America for the amount up to and including their life.” 

A special shout out to my Grandfather, Dad, Husband, & Son for their service!



DMV Issues??

DMV now offers most current credential holders who are required to renew in person the option to use online service and obtain a new two-year driver’s license or ID card. This will suspend the requirement for those customers to visit a DMV customer service center until it is time for their next renewal. If you would like to renew your license for its full five or eight years (length of license validity varies by customer), or if you need a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, you must still make an appointment.

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!

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-

Jen

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!
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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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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!

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,
Jen

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!
shot_preparation.jpg

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


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!

9/1/20 Facts from the Floor: Special Session Edition

September 2, 2020
Dear Friend,

As we wrap up week two of our General Assembly Special Session, we continue to change the state of Virginia with one party (the Democrats) having unilateral control over the legislative and executive branches. This past week, the Senate continued to meet in person at the Science Museum of Virginia (despite one senator being quarantined at home due to a positive COVID-19 test last week). We spent many days in heated debate over several issues that no one campaigned on but that have come to light over the past several months of national unrest.

One of the most contentious bills we voted on this past week was SB 5032 which removed the mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail for assault and battery against a law-enforcement officer. It also allows a judge or jury to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor (from a felony) in cases where an officer is not hurt. The bill passed along party lines with a vote of 21 (D) – 15 (R). I voted against this bill because I believe we should support our law enforcement officers by having stiff penalties in place as a deterrent for assaulting an officer. Especially in today’s climate, the message this bill sends to our law enforcement and to would-be aggressors is not right in my opinion. 

Another bill that passed on a party line vote of 21 (D) – 16 (R) was SB 5120 which is the companion bill to a budget amendment that allocates $2,000,000 for pre-paid absentee ballot stamps and ballot “drop boxes” (among other things). It also mandates the general registrar to notify the absentee voter of any ballot errors within three days of such finding. The absentee voter shall then be entitled to make necessary corrections before noon on the third day AFTER the election and his ballot shall be counted. I voted against this bill as I worry about keeping our elections fair and secure, especially after passing legislation during our regular session eliminating the requirement to show photo ID and allowing for no excuse absentee voting among other changes. I believe everyone has the opportunity to vote in this country and there is no voter “suppression” occurring in the way we currently conduct elections. Opening the door to fraudulent elections is NEVER the answer.

One thing I have heard from many of you since March and the beginning of COVID-19 is the question of why our Governor is able to mandate executive order after executive order with no input from the legislative branch. As it currently stands, Virginia law gives the Governor unilateral authority to declare a state of emergency for an unlimited amount of time without involving the legislature. This past week we voted on FIVE bills in committee which addressed this imbalance of power (SB 5001, SB 5008, SB 5048, SB 5077, SB 5111) including two (which I co-patroned) which proposed that the Governor’s emergency orders be limited to 30 days or 45 days before calling back the General Assembly. I voted in favor of all five bills, but all five were killed one-by-one in committee along party line votes of 8(D)-6 (R). I believe that no matter which party is represented in the Executive branch, the Governor (one person acting independently) should not be allowed to have this much power for an unlimited amount of time. 

Monday morning in my General Laws committee, we voted on a bill adding a civil penalty of not more than $500 as a punishment for people who do not follow the Governor’s executive orders. Currently it is a Class 1 misdemeanor only (which is not often enforced), but adding this fine allows people to be fined fairly easily for not following mandates like mandatory masks or gathering restrictions. I voted against this bill (which passed 9-5) because in my opinion, we should not make it easier to hand out monetary punishments to people and families who are already struggling financially, nor do I feel it is right to fine people for living their lives in a manner they feel is responsible.

From now until we are finished with the business of special session, we will be reporting to Richmond Wednesdays through Fridays. This allows us to do our “other jobs” Monday and Tuesday which is great because I miss my patients and helping people one-on-one. Although representing the Seventh District and having a seat at the table governing the Commonwealth is the honor of a lifetime, it is good to keep up with my regular job as a primary care geriatric nurse practitioner!
I thank you all for being engaged and for following state politics. Now more than ever, I need people to understand what is happening in Virginia and to be vocal and involved. Please forward my email to your friends who are concerned about the direction of our Commonwealth and keep them “in the know”. Let me know if there is anything I or my office can do to help you all navigate through any challenges you may be experiencing. We are here to help! 

Take care,
Jen

Election Reform
The battle in the Virginia General Assembly for fair and unbiased elections (as printed in today’s Richmond Times)……




Navy License Plate: 2021 SessionI’m proud to be the legislative sponsor for a US Navy specialty license plate in Virginia! There have been 210 prepaid plates sold but need to get to 450 before I can introduce it in the General Assembly during regular session. Thank you NAVY PLATE Virginia for helping to make this license plate a reality! Click here for more info:https://www.navyplatevirginia.com


A Tour of Richmond


Steve’s Airplane Build
Most people have cars in their garage but not us! For eleven years Steve has been building a kit airplane in our garage (keeps him out of trouble!) I am so proud of him because this past week he was able to paint it Navy blue and is about ready to stencil on the stars and bars so it looks just like a WWII plane!


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!