As your representative in the House of Delegates, it was an honor to serve our community during the 2022 Legislative Session. This year, I introduced legislation to increase school funding, protect tenants’ rights, defend our environment, and reform our criminal justice system.
Thank you for your continued engagement and involvement with the legislative process. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who reached out to share their thoughts and opinions on bills with me.
We tackled many important issues this session, and I want to draw your attention to a few key pieces of legislation that came before the General Assembly.
The right to vote is at the core of our democracy. We considered legislation to restore the right to vote for returning citizens and protect access to the ballot.
Restoring the Right to Vote. Virginia is one of only two states that permanently denies voting access to people with felony convictions, even after they have served their time and returned to their communities. I supported legislation (SJ1) to advance the restoration of rights in Virginia. While this bill did not pass, I remain committed to fighting for this issue.
Early Voting and Photo Identification. We’ve seen the positive impacts of expanding access to the ballot, including high voter turnout in recent elections. I voted against bills that would have limited voting by cutting the number of days of early voting from 45 to 14 (HB39) and requiring photo identification to vote (HB46). I am pleased to report that both bills did not pass.
Education was a key issue this session as we worked to provide necessary supports for our families, teachers, and school systems.
Teacher Raises. Virginia’s teachers continue to step up for our students despite the monumental challenges we have faced in the past few years. If we want to retain and attract quality educators, we must invest in them. While the budget has not yet been finalized, both the Senate and House versions of the budget bill included much needed raises for our teachers.
Fully Funding our Schools. I introduced legislation alongside Senator McClellan to fully fund the Standards of Quality (SOQs). The SOQs are the school standards created by the Virginia Department of Education. A version of our introduced bill passed (HB1135/SB490). It will require schools to provide at least four student support positions, such as social workers and nurses, for every 1000 students.
School Construction Funds. I serve on the Commission on School Construction and Modernization, and this year, we introduced a robust set of bills to tackle school construction funding. Several bills from our recommendations passed, including a bill to create a statewide School Construction Fund and Program (SB473).
Early Literacy. Legislation passed to create the Virginia Literacy Act, which will create a comprehensive statewide literacy plan to ensure that all students are on track to hit reading milestones (HB319/SB616).
Healthcare and Reproductive Rights
I believe that all Virginians should have access to quality and affordable healthcare. This year, we worked on bills regarding healthcare affordability, the state-based healthcare exchange, and reproductive rights.
Healthcare Price Transparency. Beginning July 1 of next year, hospitals will be required to provide pricing information on their websites so that we, as consumers, are better informed about healthcare costs (HB481).
Access to Abortion. I support Virginians’ access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion. I voted against bills to criminalize abortion providers with a class 5 felony (HB744) and create written consent and waiting period requirements before an abortion (HB212). I am pleased to report that neither of these bills passed.
No Virginian should have to worry about where they will lay their head at night. Affordable housing continues to be a critical issue in our community and across the Commonwealth. Our work on affordable housing included:
Appeal Bond Reforms. I introduced legislation (HB614) to support tenants in eviction cases. Currently, if you appeal an eviction decision, you pay an appeal bond. This bill ensures everyone has access to the justice system by removing this appeal bond cost for low-income residents. This bill passed in the General Assembly; however, the Governor has since proposed changes to the legislation.
Virginia Landlord and Tenant Act. I voted for legislation to allow localities to enforce the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act (HB802). While this bill passed in both the House and the Senate, the Governor vetoed it.
Environmental protections are one of the most critical issues facing our Commonwealth, and I remain committed to fighting climate change.
Virginia Clean Economy Act. Two years ago, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which requires Virginia’s electric grid to be carbon-free by 2045. This year, several bills were introduced to amend the VCEA, but ultimately, they did not pass.
Protecting our Waterways. We passed bills to form best practices for nutrient and sediment management (HB1224) and to create the Virginia Flood Protection and Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plans (HB517).
Combined Sewer Overflow Funding. I voted against amendments to the budget that would remove funding for Richmond’s combined sewer overflow projects. These projects are critical to prevent flooding in our neighborhoods.
Public Transportation. A bill passed to create a Transit Ridership Incentive Program, which will encourage transit ridership and reduce fares for low-income individuals. (HB142).
Criminal Justice Reform
I continued my work on criminal justice reforms by introducing bills to prevent the criminalization of Virginians experiencing a mental health crisis and reform our juvenile justice practices.
Limiting Use of Solitary Confinement. With this new bill (SB108), the Department of Corrections will convene a work group to study the use of solitary confinement in Virginia.
At the time of writing, the state budget is still under consideration. Select Senators and Delegates are working to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget bill. Going forward, we will meet in a special session to finalize the budget. We will also meet for a reconvened session on April 27, where we will consider amendments and vetoes sent down by the Governor.
Thank you for reading this snapshot into our work in the General Assembly this year. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about these bills or others, I would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.