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!
I will be running for re-election in 2017 and could use your help. Plus we can use the funds raised to help elect Democrats throughout the Commonwealth. This is your last chance to hear what's on tap for the 2017 session and what I will be working on. I'm eager to hear from you about your priorities.
On Christmas Eve and the First Night of Chanukah, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, and a Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season.
This year, I introduced a bill to help survivors, spoke out several times on the Floor on the topic, and obtained a successful budget amendment to help abused children. I also became one of only three legislators to attend the Richmond meetings of Virginia's Advisory Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence (founded and ably chaired by Arlington's own Senator Barbara Favola). In addition, I joined a local task force to focus on Northern Virginia survivors that included Senator Favola, Arlington County Board Member Katie Cristol, Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, and a number of local dedicated professionals serving the community.
Please join us for Mark's Monthly Meetup at 1:30 pm tomorrow, Saturday October 29th at Los Tios Mexican Grill in Del Ray, located at 2615 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria. Like all Mark's Monthly Meetups, there is no donation required. It's just a place to sit and talk and, for most of us, eat. I always want to know what's on the mind of my constituents and supporters.
Just this week, upon my recommendation and several others, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation awarded a $900,000 grant to the City of Alexandria to preserve the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House. This unique 18th century house has been largely unaltered since the Revolutionary War era and is the oldest preserved house in Alexandria. It was once owned by George Washington's physician and will serve as a great example of 18th century life in Alexandria. We all owe thanks to Bill Dickinson and the many other dedicated people who worked so hard to make this happen.
I'm honored to announce that on Sunday, September 11, from12 Noon to 2 pm, Dr. Ralph Northam, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and the Democratic candidate for Governor in 2017, will join Congressman Don Beyer to hold a reception in my honor at the home of David Lord, Senior Commonwealth's Attorney and President of the Alexandria Bar Association, at 1005 Russell Road in Alexandria. Earlier this year, Republicans who control the General Assembly passed a number of bills harmful to LGBT rights, women's reproductive freedom, and workers' rights. They tried to make it easier to commit gun crimes, to increase the impact of climate change, and to give massive subsidies to large polluting corporations.
Like most of you, I've been watching our party's Convention in Philadelphia this week. What a contrast from that hate-filled cesspool the Republicans put on last week. We heard Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine tell us their detailed plans to raise wages, make education more affordable, increase access to healthcare, enact commonsense gun safety measures, protect a woman's right to make her own decisions about her body, and take action to mitigate the effects of climate change. We heard eloquent speeches from Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama about Hillary's and Tim's dedication and willingness to fight for the less fortunate. But I can't think of a better speech than the one Michelle Obama gave Monday night when she explained how important a role model the President is to children around the country.