The second week of the Virginia General Assembly has closed with several notable developments.
Curbing Gun Violence
House and Senate Democrats joined together this week in proposing a number of measures designed to curb gun violence, including more funding for mental health initiatives, greater efforts to provide security in public schools, and comprehensive background checks for those who seek to acquire guns. You can review our release on this issue by clicking here.
UVA Board of Visitors
The Governor’s reappointments to the UVA Board of Visitors, including the possible reappointment of Rector Helen Dragas, passed out of a Senate committee and are now heading to the Senate floor, where they are expected to pass. I greatly appreciate the comments that many of you have made about this important issue; I intend to vote NO, but am not optimistic about the outcome. My efforts to reform some of the processes by which the Board is appointed have had mixed success. My proposals to increase the quorum requirement into Board deliberations and to install a faculty member as a non-voting member of the Board passed as part of a bill offered by another delegate. If we can get these changes passed, they will help the Board operate more effectively and with more transparency.
Restoring Voting Rights to Non-Violent Felons
The efforts to automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have paid their debt to society failed in both the House and the Senate. Hopefully the Governor’s efforts to elevate this issue will help to progress this issue in future sessions.
Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
My bill designed to address the problems of financial exploitation of the elderly will be heard Monday in committee. I am hopeful that this bill draws greater attention to the increasing problems of financial exploitation, and that my colleagues will embrace an approach that will assist the elderly in protecting their assets.
We continue to debate the Governor’s transportation proposal. Democrats have many questions about this plan, but we need to find a way to address our transportation funding shortfalls. You will likely see much press about this in the upcoming weeks.
Finally, Democratic efforts to repeal the invasive ultrasound legislation of last year failed in both the Senate and House. This leaves in place the requirement that women undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure prior to terminating a pregnancy. Last year’s bill was one of the most controversial of the session, but despite public outcry the repeal effort did not muster enough support to be successful. Efforts to repeal the unnecessary and burdensome regulations designed to shut down certain women’s health clinics also failed. A bill to define birth control and protect family planning was killed in the Senate but has yet to be heard in the House. These issues will likely be important in the fall elections, when we will elect the Governor and all 100 seats in the House of Delegates.
For those who have yet to take my on-line poll, I hope you will take a moment to send me your thoughts on issues of importance before the General Assembly. You can find my constituent survey here. I will present the results in my next update.
It is a pleasure and honor to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. As always, please feel free to contact me to share your thoughts and comments on legislation that will be before us so I may better serve you in Richmond.