After carefully reading the vetoes and Governor's amendments all weekend, I was delighted to see I supported every single one. The Republicans had passed bills that would have allowed discrimination against the LGBT community, made it easier for more people to carry more guns in more places, given millions of dollars of your taxpayer money to big coal companies, endangered refugees, limited workers' rights and wages, restricted voting rights even further, vilified undocumented immigrants, taken funding and control away from our local school boards, kicked our most vulnerable residents off of public assistance, and repealed the Virginia portions of the Affordable Care Act.
We had a great turnout. Special thanks to Congressman Don Beyer, Senator Barbara Favola, Delegates Alfonso Lopez and Marcus Simon, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Alexandria City Councilmembers Willie Bailey and Del Pepper, Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter, former Alexandria School Board Member and Team Levine Education Specialist Kelly Booz, Fairfax County School Board Member Karen Sanders, and my constituents Liz Birnbaum and Florence King for attending and speaking on my behalf.
With Session over, I've been very busy answering your questions about what happened in Richmond and how it affects you. As the only Delegate to represent both Alexandria and Arlington (plus a small portion of Fairfax County!), I've had a lot of ground to cover. But I'm enjoying every minute. It's great to be back home in Northern Virginia.
Last night, Karen Graf sent an email to her supporters announcing she is ceasing her campaign for Delegate. While I have not yet had a chance to speak with her since the announcement, I welcome her call to work together to elect Democrats throughout the Commonwealth in the many Republican-held districts in the House of Delegates, particularly those that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The woman who beat Trump by 3 million votes is right on this. We are Stronger Together.
Session ended Saturday. It's good to be home in Alexandria. And now the campaign begins. Please mark your calendars to vote for my re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 13th.
One in five women will suffer sexual assault or domestic violence in their lifetime, and some men will undergo this ordeal as well. When I ran for office, I made clear that services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence would be one of my highest priorities. If you've been following along in prior newsletters, you know all about my Bill of Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which extends the time in which evidence of sexual assault is preserved. On Wednesday, the Senate passed my bill HB 2127 unanimously. It passed the House of Delegates unanimously last week.
This week, two of my bills passed the House: (1) my bill to preserve evidence of sexual assault and (2) the bill I chief co-patroned with Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore to protect Virginians' First Amendment right to protest. Both bills are moving on to the Senate. Unfortunately, my budget amendment to bring more broadband internet to rural Virginia was rejected by the Appropriations Committee.
When the Democratic Leadership of the House of Delegates asked me to speak out against last week's Executive Order, I spoke straight from the heart. I compared the current ban on lawfully admitted and vetted refugees, fleeing mass murder in Syria, to the 1939 attempted exodus of German Jews, turned away at our border and sent back to the gas chambers. I called on every Delegate -- and particularly Republicans who have fallen silent -- to speak out in defense of American values and our immigrant history. I urged them to reject fear. To say, "Never Again!"
This week was the single busiest of the year for us. It was Peak Week, the middle week of the three full weeks before “Crossover”, that magical mid-session date when each House of the General Assembly finishes its business and puts its approved legislation into the lap of the other House (February 7 this year). We have to move more than 1000 House Bills before Crossover! Because 99% of House bills have to go through Committee first – and 90% of the time an additional Subcommittee as well – it’s a crazy busy time.
Last weekend, in Alexandria, we could not quite compete with the Women's March, but we still had quite a very large crowd by our standards as 1,000 people from Alexandria, Arlington, and throughout Northern Virginia came together to demand affordable health care at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. I spoke, along with Congressman Don Beyer, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Senator Mark Warner, Delegate Patrick Hope, and so many of our local leaders.
Monday morning, it was my honor to join the First Lady of Virginia at the Oakridge Elementary School in the Arlington portion of our District to highlight the school's work on increasing access to breakfast through Breakfast in the Classroom. The First Lady has championed this program for our youngest (and perhaps our hungriest) students to keep them focused on learning. And Monday night, I saw many of you at the Alexandria Democratic Committee monthly meeting. Our meetings have doubled in size since the election! Tuesday night, Dr. Kate Tulenko hosted a fundraiser "sending me off to Richmond," featuring our Congressman Don Beyer in her beautiful Belle View home. It was my first fundraiser in the Fairfax County portion of our district, and many people from the neighborhood came, including some I'd never met before. We had a full house of more than 60 supporters, with the kind of energetic and intricate policy and political discussions that Congressman Beyer and I so enjoy having with our engaged and well-informed constituents. Thank you so much, Kate and Don!