Legislative Update: January 17, 2021

The 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly opened this week in Richmond. Unfortunately, the session is a ‘virtual’ one, not unlike the recently completed Special Session. Regardless, I am proud to be your voice in the House of Delegates.

Concerns that arose during the 2020 Special Session have not been addressed. Issues such as technical difficulties for both delegates and the public remain. On the first day, members of the public were unable to testify before a House subcommittee. As was the case during the 2020 Special Session, many bills are being rushed through by Democrats with little to no debate. I find this unacceptable and my staff and I continue to push for changes to provide more transparency.

Not all of the news coming from Richmond has been bad, though. Virginia has received roughly 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the two approved providers, and efforts to vaccinate as many Virginians as possible are ramping up.

For local information contact:

Denise Bonds, MD, MPH
Acting District Director
Rappahannock Health District
1320 Central Park Blvd, Suite 300
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
denise.bonds@vdh.virginia.gov
540-899-4797 Office
540-785-3407 Fax

Wade Kartchner, MD, MPH
District Director
Rappahannock/Rapidan HD
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 42
Warrenton, VA 20186
wade.kartchner@vdh.virginia.gov
540-347-6363 Office
540-347-6373 Fax

Unfortunately, the efforts have been hampered by Governor Northam’s failure to prepare for this effort. Virginia ranks near the bottom in terms of vaccine distributed as a share of vaccines delivered. My office and I are keeping a close eye on the vaccination rollout and will keep you up to speed on new developments.

In the meantime, my Republican colleagues and I are fighting to safely reopen our schools for as many students as possible. The science and data has been consistently clear that not only is this virus not transmitted readily in safe school environments, the negative impacts on children who are learning remotely are serious. Students in lower income communities are falling behind, and we’re seeing an epidemic of failing grades all across Virginia,

We’re working every day to get schools open, and until then, get families the help they need to make up the difference for their children. House Republicans are once again supporting legislation that would take federal aid and use it to pay for things like tutoring, books, computers, or whatever parents need for their children. We also have legislation pending that would cap fees for students in college whose classes are virtual.

Our colleagues, sadly, don’t seem to be listening. They continue to support legislation that makes life easier for criminals and more difficult for crime victims and law enforcement. Rest assured, I am working to stop these destructive bills.

What I’m Working On:

BillsCommitteeLast actionDate
HB 1740 – Cole, M.L. – Signs on certain highways; rotation of eligible entities.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending11/22/20
HB 1745 – Cole, M.L. – General Assembly; legislative process, required expiration provision.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending12/03/20
HB 1746 – Cole, M.L. – Conduct of elections; vote counting, required live video recording.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending12/03/20
HB 1795 – Cole, M.L. – Counseling, Board of; licensure of professional counselors without examination.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending01/04/21
HB 1970 – Cole, M.L. – Voter identification; identification containing a photograph required.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending01/11/21
HB 2256 – Cole, M.L. – Local authority; parking.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending01/13/21
HB 2268 – Cole, M.L. – Powers of State Health Commissioner in epidemic; vaccine; religious tenets or practices.(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending01/13/21
HJ 515 – Cole, M.L. – Constitutional amendment; right of parents (first reference).(H)  Referral Pending(H) Committee Referral Pending12/03/20

We’re also working to restore confidence in our elections. Democrats changed a number of rules last year that opened the door for doubts about election security. The more secure and transparent our elections are, the more people will trust the results.

That’s why we’re working to end policies that could allow for ballot harvesting, reinstating photo ID to vote, and interference with poll and count watching volunteers. None of these changes will make voting more difficult, and will instead shed light on what has been an opaque process.

As we look toward Inauguration Day, I would encourage everyone to stay away from Capitol Square until after January 20. Legislators have been briefed by the State Police about threats against the Capitol, and they are serious. Unlike the riots in Richmond over the summer, Governor Northam seems to be taking these threats seriously.

In the interim, let’s remember that we all live here together. A little grace goes a long way.