MARK IN THE NEWS:
ARLINGTON CONNECTION: 13,500 Gallons of Mineral Oil Flow into River (Story on page 3)
ARLINGTON CONNECTION: Oil Spill Reaches Roaches Run, Potomac (same as above account but not a .pdf)
For important dates during the session, go here.
This week included "Crossover," the date by which the House of Delegates had to finish work on all of its bills. As of Crossover, two of my bills had passed unanimously. I have every confidence the Senate will pass these bills as well, and they will be signed into Law by Governor McAuliffe.
Emergency Medical Services Interstate Compact
My first bill, introduced at the request of the Firefighters' Union, would join Virginia with other states in an interstate compact to allow First Responders to cross state lines in an emergency. Republican Delegate Chris Stolle joined me to pass this practical bi-partisan measure (HB1007/HB222) by a unanimous vote of 91 to 0.
Easier Prosecution of Cyber-Stalking
My second bill that passed the House of Delegates was a measure suggested to me by Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson to make it easier to prosecute cyberstalking and thereby protect victims of domestic violence. Working with Democratic Delegates Jennifer McClellan and Monty Mason, the House of Delegates passed our measure (HB1154/HB924) unanimously 99 to 0.
No doubt both of these bills passed because they were practical non-partisan measures. My more progressive proposals, including increasing the minimum wage, decriminalizing marijuana, banning LGBT discrimination, protecting victims of domestic violence, and providing common-sense gun regulation and paid family medical leave (and several other measures) did not pass this year in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, but I will work to build support for these and other progressive measures in future years.
As February is Black History Month, I shared with the House of Delegates my own family's experience with the civil rights movement. My aunt went to Mississippi during Freedom Summer 1964 to register African Americans to vote. Her disagreement with my grandfather--who was worried about her safety--and the compromise between them has inspired me to this day. Watch me share my family history on the Floor of the House of Delegates.
In a debate on Republican bill HB1371 to ban Virginia localities from passing higher minimum wages than the $7.25 federal minimum (with only $2.13 minimum for tipped workers), Republican Delegate Jackson Miller made the astonishing claim that Alexandria and Charlottesville have a higher minimum wage than the rest of Virginia. I don't know where he got this misinformation, but I set him straight on the House Floor.
I introduced the Parent Leadership Training Institute on the Floor of the House of Delegates (video here) when they came down to Richmond to visit the General Assembly. PLTI helps parents advocate on behalf of the health, safety, and learning of their children in policy decisions in their communities.
Thursday saw the first meeting of the Virginia Transparency Caucus, a bicameral, bipartisan group I co-founded with Republican Senator Amanda Chase to make the General Assembly more transparent to the public that we represent. We discussed ideas for how we might open up the committee process to make it more visible to citizens across Virginia. I'd like to thank all the Delegates and Senators from both parties who agreed to join our push for more transparency, and I look forward to growing our caucus in the future.
Virginia's Presidential Primary is right around the corner. Under Virginia's open primary laws, any voter can participate in either party's primary, so please make sure to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday March 1.
If you are unable to vote on Election Day, you can vote absentee in-person at the Registrar's office this week. More information is available here. But the process is easy: just go to the registrar of your city or county during the in-person voting hours:
If you need to vote absentee by mail, the application must be received at your Registrar's office by Tuesday February 23 at 5pm. The addresses are listed above. The form is available here.
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax
in Virginia's 45th District