Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - April 25, 2020

I hope you are safe and healthy and socially distant. These times are hard for all of us and on some more than most. If you are an essential worker -- whether a health care provider or a grocery store clerk -- risking your life to save ours, I can't thank you enough. You are the true heroes of this time.

And if you are worried about losing your job, losing your business, paying your rent, getting foreclosed upon, or paying your taxes, please review my Coronavirus Page with tips on how to protect yourself both medically and financially and links to many federal, state, and local government resources to help you in this troubling time. If you need help that is not provided there, please don't hesitate to contact my office. We will do our best to promptly respond to your needs if at all possible or at least point you in the right direction.


We met underneath the white "tent" on the right.
(More pictures of the session below.)

On Wednesday, the General Assembly reconvened in Richmond for one of its most unusual sessions in Virginia history to vote on the Governor's amendments and vetoes. To maintain proper social distancing, the House met outside on the Capitol Square lawn, and the Senate met at the Virginia Science Museum.

I was quoted at length in a press article describing the unique session.

If you'd like to discuss any aspect of it with me or ask any other questions about how Virginia is coping with the novel coronavirus or anything else on your mind, I encourage you to join me tomorrow (Sunday, April 26) between 1 and 3 pm, for another Facebook Live edition of 

TOMORROW!

Mark's Monthly Meetup

Sunday, April 26, 1 - 3 pm

Just as last time, I'll be hosting it on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/LevineforVirginia). I'll be taking questions through the comments section or you can send questions to Jacob@MarkforDelegate.com by 12 noon tomorrow.

Most of this newsletter will be devoted to what we did Wednesday, but first, we must digress to emphasize three short words:

Don't Drink Bleach!

First and foremost, please don't drink or inject bleach or disinfectant as a way of protecting yourself from COVID-19. I can't believe I have to say that. But seriously. Don't poison yourself. Thank you. 

Just as with his false statements about hydroxychloroquine, the President is promoting medical "treatments" that will kill you.  If you are a regular reader of my newsletter, you are astute enough to know you can't trust Trump's word on anything. The man has made more than 16,000 documentable lies -- and astonishing average of more than 44 a day every single day he's been President. And that's just during his first three years so far. Most of his lies are harmless. Many are defamatory political attacks.

But the President's most recent lies will kill you. I know you don't believe them. But someone in your family -- you know who it is (Uncle Joe, perhaps?) -- are not well-informed enough to realize the President is a pathological liar. They may live, for example, in the alternate-reality universe of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh where such gaslighting is inculcated without a shred of journalistic merit.

Protect your Trumpist relatives and friends from dangerous propaganda. Please make sure that they don't inject disinfectant. Or take hydroxychloroquine without a medical need to do so. It's up to us to save the lives of people trapped in the conservative media spin world who would gullibly believe him. Usually Trumpist disinformation is just annoying. But now that it poses a mortal threat to the lives of those who believe it, we have to act to save folks from its deadly consequences.

On a lighter note, there is another choice for November:


Now that we're absolutely clear about that, let's move on to:

The Reconvene Session

On Wednesday, the Virginia House of Delegates met outdoors on the Capitol Grounds underneath a tent-like covering with no sides. We each sat at our own individual tables more than six feet from one another. This was designed to maximize social distancing and outdoor air flow. The experience was a little surreal.

This was fully consistent with our rules. Rule 4 allows the Speaker "in the event of a disaster, natural or otherwise, or other emergency circumstance" to "convene the House in a location other than the House Chamber." But I don't think this portion of our rules had ever been invoked before.

I don't believe the Virginia General Assembly has ever met outside the Richmond Capitol since it was completed in 1788 (the oldest completed state capitol in the USA), other than to escape capture during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. And never, to my knowledge, outdoors. Perhaps that happened in Jamestown or Williamsburg when our legislative body (then called the House of Burgesses) was inbetween capitol buildings when several of the 17th and 18th century ones burnt down. But needless to say, it hasn't happened in many centuries, if it ever happened at all. 

  
My "desk" at what may have been the only the outdoor meeting
of the Virginia House of Delegates in its 401-year history

Should Virginia House be allowed to meet remotely in the future?
Democrats voted yes.
Republicans voted no.

Our first order of business was to decide whether or not we should be able to meet remotely in the future. This required a change in our rules.

Every Democrat voted yes. We felt we should not have to risk our lives and that of the public we might infect in order to conduct legislative business in Virginia.

Every Republican voted no. So the measure for remote voting failed to achieve the 2/3 majority necessary to change the rules in one session.

While I believe it to be dangerous and unnecessary to continue to meet in person to conduct our legislative business, this will not deter me or the vast majority of my fellow Democrats. We will continue to do what we believe is best for Virginia, even if it means risking our health to do so.

 

On March 11, 2020, amid coronavirus threat,
the Utah Legislature moved to allow remote meetings
.

But Virginia Republicans did not.

Should local governments be allowed to meet remotely?
Democrats voted yes.
Republicans voted yes.

The General Assembly did, however, accept an amendment that allows local governing bodies to conduct business remotely. The vote (on amendment 28) was unanimous in both House and Senate.

Currently, in order to be able to hold a meeting digitally, the local governing body's meeting must be specifically devoted to the public health emergency. We relaxed that prohibition so that our local elected officials and boards could continue to do all the work of the people they represent. And the work must go on, whether it's done in person or not.

You might ask why Republicans allowed local government to continue remotely while they insisted state government happen in person. It's a good question and one they have not heretofore answered. My own take on it is that state government is currently controlled by Democrats whereas local governments are controlled both by Democrats and Republicans, depending on the Virginia locality.


Selfie with Mask at Reconvened Session of the Virginia House of Delegates
(in covered open air on Capitol Grounds)

The Governor's Amendments

I voted for virtually all of the Governor's recommendations to our bills. Most of them improved bills I already supported. For example, the Governor recommended my bill to to ban predatory lending, incorporated into the Fairness in Lending Act, have its effective date moved forward six months. It will now take effect on January 1, 2021, rather than July 1, 2021. I was very pleased to ban predatory lending six months sooner.

Other amendments on which I was proud to support:

One Governor's amendment I strongly supported was unfortunately not adopted in the Senate. This one would have regulated a 5000-dog commercial breeder in Cumberland County, the largest in Virginia, where beagles are brutally crammed in tiny unsanitary cages amidst their own filth while they are prepared for experimentation (SB891). You can read more about it here. I was horrified to see this amendment fail, as it was one I intended to advocate for forcibly. As a "compromise," the facility says they will, for the first time, permit voluntary inspection. I'm skeptical. I think it needs to be regulated in the same manner as every other commercial dog breeder in Virginia. I will be back in the future working to regulate this place, which I believe practices a particularly disgusting and unethical form of animal cruelty.


I wanted to regulate this facility. But the Senate voted no.

A couple of amendments I did not support...

The recommendation that posed the toughest vote for me would have prevented realtors and other independent contractors from banding together for health care coverage. (HB795). This was a tough vote for me. Dozens of my realtor constituents emailed me asking for this coverage, to give them the same right that other associations, like the Virginia Bar Association, have. I saw no particular reason to favor lawyers over realtors. On the other hand, I was concerned that moving any more folks from the common risk pools would further undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I've long believed in Medicare for All, as I believe Medicare should be available for any American citizen who chooses it as a public option. But such federal policy is above my pay grade. I had to vote to either treat realtors equally as other businesses (but possibly undermine the ACA) or vote with the Governor to protect the ACA but be unfair to my constituent realtors. In the end, I split the baby. I voted against the Governor's amendment to protect the realtors. This throws the ball back in the Governor's court to sign or veto the bill. But I did not vote for Minority Leader Todd Gilbert's motion to override the Governor's veto on the issue.

The only other proposed recommendation I did not support would have made it tougher for small pharmacies to compete with larger ones. I was glad to see this amendment defeated in the Senate (SB251).

Why did I support so many of the Governor's recommendations?

The short answer is I largely agree with the Governor's priorities. So where I supported the underlying legislation, I was happy to vote with the Governor when he made a bill better. And even where I did not support the underlying policy -- such as the proposal to allow 500-pound robots to roam our sidewalks and crosswalks delivering packages -- I was pleased to at least be able to support a Governor's amendment to make the legislation less bad (in that case, the Governor required the devices to yield to pedestrians). Any time I do not support the underlying legislation and the Governor makes it worse, that would be an easy vote as well (no, of course), but that did not happen this year.

For Labor and Working People:
Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

The difficulty comes with legislation where I supported the underlying policy but the Governor weakened it. There, my choices were stark. I could vote with the Governor to ensure the policies I wanted to be enacted would be enacted, even though they were less progressive than what I voted for originally. Or I could vote against the Governor to express my frustration with his watering down of our original proposals.

The trouble with the latter course of action is that then, the Governor could either sign our original proposals or veto those bills entirely. With a heavy heart, I decided not to take the risk. I supported the certain benefits our legislation provided, even though our policies were weakened by the Governor's amendments which delayed their enactment. The other choice was to vote no and possibly lose everything. I just didn't want to "roll the dice," particularly when it came to labor/worker rights. And the vast majority of labor organizations also lobbied me to make this choice.

Four of the Governor's labor bills made me face this dilemma dead on. I described the stark choices we had to make in my most recent newsletter (See the end of the section on "Governor's Proposed Amendments.") In the end, I painfully voted to delay the first increase in the minimum wage that the lowest-paid Virginians have had in more than a decade, by four more months to May 1, 2021 so as to protect that increase and future increases we codified to begin in 2022 and 2023. I also regretfully voted to delay the enactment of my own legislation to allow public sector employees to collectively bargain (HB327 incorporated into HB582) and other bills to promote project labor agreements and prevailing wages for public contractors.

Let's be frank. If the Governor's amendments had been defeated based on my no vote and the Governor were to veto these bills in the emergency COVID-19 atmosphere, there was no guarantee that our more conservative Virginia Senate would re-enact these pro-worker laws in 2021. And even if the Senate did re-enact them in 2021 and the Governor then signed them, the labor protections would not go into effect until July 2021, two months later than the Governor had provided for in these 2020 amendments.

Between a rock and a hard place, I voted with labor to protect the rights for working people we had fought for, so hard and for so long, even if they were delayed longer than we hoped they would be. After waiting decades for some of these rights, I'm afraid working people will have to wait a few months longer. But this delay should in no way diminish our historic actions which have taken decades to achieve.

One step backward to be sure. But three steps forward at the same time...


The Budget

As I outlined in my last newsletter, the pandemic forced drastic changes to the biennial budget that we passed back just one month ago.  The Commonwealth's tax revenue is forecast to be much, much lower - quite possibly $1 billion less per year - than had been anticipated in March when we finalized the budget. And our expenditure on coronavirus needs will be significant. There is no way to sugarcoat this:  we will have to spend all of our record surplus and more.

In order to pay for our record expenses, given our record forecasted deficits, the Governor asked us to "unallot" virtually all of our new spending increases -- in effect, to press "pause" on new spending -- until we determined what tax revenues we had collected in June and could better forecast our extra spending requirements necessitated by the pandemic. Then we will meet again in special session -- likely in August or September -- to release badly-needed funds. Please keep in mind that, unlike the Federal Government, the Commonwealth Virginia is required to enact a balanced budget every year. So our leeway in a crisis is greatly diminished. We all recognized the unfortunate need for these unallotments, and they virtually all passed House and Senate unanimously.

Given the grim budget atmosphere where so much of our progressive priorities were delayed, I was determined to oppose any new special-interest spending. It would not be fair to unallot teacher raises and still spend money on, for example, refurbishing a specific center in southwest Virginia. I uniformly opposed all non-COVID-related new spending in the budget over which I had a chance to vote, including the few Governor's amendments that proposed new spending. That way, all new spending can be equally considered when we reconvene for a special session in late summer or early fall.

On Wednesday, we voted on Governor Northam's 37 separate amendments to the "caboose" budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which ends on June 30, 2020 and his 144 separate amendments to the biennial budget which runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022.

Here are some of the budget amendments that we passed (and I voted for) on Wednesday:

  • creating a COVID-19 relief fund to assist Virginians struggling during the pandemic. This funding will be for small businesses, unemployed Virginians, those struggling to pay their rent or mortgages, and Virginians experiencing homelessness. The program will be funded through a tax on electric skill gaming that the Governor's team anticipates will generate $150 million annually;
  • provisions to abate interest on late state income tax payments (This means you can wait to file and pay your Virginia taxes until June 1 with no penalty whatsoever. And you can file by November 1 if you pay 90% by June 1.);
  • provisions authorizing the Director of the Department of Corrections to discharge certain offenders who have less than one year remaining on their sentences (Prior to voting for this, I received a personal commitment from the Secretary for Homeland Security Brian Moran that they would prioritize non-violent offenders and in no case allow someone to be discharged they considered to be a possible threat to public safety.);
  • authorizing the Governor to appropriate Congressional funding related to COVID-19;
  • increasing nursing home and specialized care per diem rates by $20 per day per patient effective during the COVID-19 State of Emergency;
  • relaxing requirements for the state’s Medicaid program to help providers of services to disabled Virginians;
  • broadening the Governor’s authority during the public health emergency to waive requirements for unemployment insurance;
  • expanding access to long acting reversible contraceptives; and
  • placing the vast majority of new spending increases on hold until economic circumstances enable Virginia's experts to re-forecast revenues so that we can make decisions based on the new economic reality.
One budget amendment that I voted against and that the General Assembly did not approve was amendment #126, which would have allowed the Governor "to delay the initiation or continuation of capital projects supported with general fund or state-supported debt appropriations in order to address cash flow and debt capacity concerns resulting from the COVID-19 emergency, until the General Assembly reauthorizes the capital budget when it accepts the revenue forecast that confirms the revenues estimated within the Act." This amendment did not affect our immediate spending needs and could have applied to the $25 million that the General Assembly had appropriated to Alexandria for our combined sewer overflow (CSO) overhaul project and delay that funding. I voted against this amendment and it was defeated in the House, 21-71.

Unfortunately, Alexandria did get some spending unalotted when we passed amendment #98, which unallotted $2.4 million for Alexandria to renovate and restore Freedom House, the former headquarters and slave pen of the nation's largest domestic slave traders located at 1315 Duke Street. I will continue to advocate for his funding at our expected late-summer special session.


The May Elections

The Senate Votes to Bring Wisconsin Madness to Virginia

Local general elections throughout Virginia -- but thankfully, none in my district -- were scheduled for May 5. Needless to say, this posed a terrible dilemma for Virginians who wanted to cast a ballot without risking their life.

We still don't yet have the much easier no-excuse absentee ballot, vote-by-mail, postage-prepaid, and early-voting provisions in the Virginia Code that we approved in the 2020 session, as they don't go into effect until July 1. So May elections have to take place under the old Code written before Democrats took over. The old code, designed by the then-Republican-controlled General Assembly, still has a number of provisions in it designed to restrict voter access, such as the prohibition on voting the Sunday before an election to discourage the "Souls to the Polls" efforts put forward by black churches. Even more gravely, it would still require a witness signature for all mailed-in ballots.

The Governor understandably asked us to move the May elections to November, when we will all be voting for President anyway, when we hope the immediate Covid threat has dissipated somewhat, and when we will be able to take advantage of the new voting laws we put in place this session to make it easier to vote absentee.

The vote in the House to do this, which I strongly supported, was very close. In fact, I personally saved it. Our first vote was about to end in a tie and a failure, but I changed my vote in a procedural maneuver to force the vote's reconsideration. My quick action saved the day and gave us the time to garner the votes we needed to pass the election change in the House.

Unfortunately, we did not succeed in the Senate. Democratic Senator Chap Petersen led a proposal, joined by every single Republican, to force voters to risk their lives to vote in May. I was very disappointed that a few Democrats joined Republicans to make Virginia go “the Wisconsin route” which led to unnecessary infections and deaths of voters and poll workers who contracted the novel coronavirus at the polls

I also find it extremely disturbing that the Senate refused to allow a recorded vote on their egregious actions. That violates the basic principles of transparency I've been fighting for for more than four years now as Chair of the Virginia Transparency Caucus. If a legislator wants to force people to risk their health and lives to vote -- for whatever reason -- that legislator's own vote to require this should be recorded!

Let's face it: if you're elderly or immuno-compromised, coming out to vote could be a life-risking decision. I can't ask any Virginian to do that. And I'm angry the Virginia Senate has done that to you. I sincerely thought we Virginians were better than Wisconsin. If you lost your right to vote because the Virginia Senate forced you to risk your life to vote, I urge you to contact your Senator and let them know how angry you are. There may be court proceedings as well. I hope they succeed. Perhaps the courts will remove the requirement that a mailed-in vote be witnessed.

In response to the Senate's abdication of its responsibility, Governor Northam announced on Friday that he signed an executive order to move the state’s May 5th local elections back two weeks to May 19. The Governor also moved the June primary elections from June 9, 2020 to June 23, 2020. That was the most he could do under current law. The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Nine, postponing the May 5, 2020 General and Special Elections to May 19, 2020 is available here

As noted, the Governor did the most he was legally able to do. As for the Senate, I hope all the legislators who voted against safe elections will volunteer as poll workers on the election days. But I won't hold my breath. I fear these elections will be a fiasco.

As I said at the outset, none of these May 19 elections affect my constituents. But I still feel the refusal to move them further out in time is unwise and dangerous. If someone you know is able to vote in these local elections, please strongly encourage them, for safety reasons, to vote prior to election day and to contact their local registrar to find out how. Unfortunately, if they live alone or can't get a mailed ballot witnessed, they will have to leave their home to vote at the registrar's office. As the General Assembly's recently passed law to allow no-excuse absentee voting hasn't yet taken effect, the Department of Elections advises people requesting an absentee ballot to choose "2A: having a disability or an illness" as their reason to vote absentee. They can apply at this link.

But let me crystal clear: Any election where people are expected to vote in person during a pandemic is not a free or fair election.  Shame on the Virginia Senate.
 

Important Election Information for Arlington Democrats:

Don't delay! 
You must act by May 7 and May 8.

Arlington has two very important elections coming up in May:
  • a Democratic Caucus to choose whom the Democrats will endorse for school board elections in November, and
  • a Democratic Caucus to choose a member of the Arlington County Board to fill the vacancy caused by the untimely and tragic death of former board member Erik Gutshall at a special election just scheduled for July 7

I'm unaware at this time of any Republicans or independents campaigning for either of these positions.

Luckily, unlike the fiasco I described above, because these caucus are controlled by the Democratic Party and not a general election, participating Arlingtonians can vote electronically and by mail.

Arlington School Board Elections

From April 7 to May 7, Arlington registered voters may request a ballot by (a) completing and submitting an online ballot request form or (b) downloading and mailing a PDF version of the ballot request form (forma español). Use of the online ballot request form is strongly encouraged. Ballot requests must be received (not postmarked) by Arlington Dems by May 7.

Request your absentee ballot today.

Upon verifying the registered voter status of a ballot requester, Arlington Dems will issue a ballot to each voter. Ballots will be mailed on a rolling basis. Each ballot mailing will include a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of the completed ballot to a dedicated P.O. box. Voters are encouraged to immediately complete and return their ballots to ensure timely delivery. Ballots must be received (not postmarked) by Arlington Dems by May 30.

How to Complete Your Ballot

Arlington Democrats are using Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for the School Board Caucus, as they have since 2014 in any caucus with more than two candidates per slot.

Under the IRV method, voters rank the candidates in numerical order from 1 to 5 on their ballots. You should mark "1" next to the name of your first choice candidate, "2" for your second choice and so on. To ensure that your vote is counted accurately, it is important that you limit marks on your ballot to the numbers 1 through 5. Use of a checkmark or an “X” could result in your vote not being counted if your intention cannot be readily understood.

It is important to note that you cannot hurt your first choice candidate by ranking additional candidates on your ballot. In addition, by ranking additional candidates (2,3,4, etc), you actually strengthen the ultimate impact of your vote. Your ballot stays with your first choice candidate unless that candidate is eliminated from the count. At that point, your vote continues to be counted -- it will go to your second-choice candidate and so on.

Five candidates are running for two school board seats (three, if Barbara Kanninen wins the race for County Board -- see below). So IRV is crucial here to get your preferred choices elected. They are, in alphabetical order:

Arlington County Board Special Election

Yesterday, a special election to fill the seat on the Arlington County Board that is now vacant due to Erik Gutshall’s untimely death was set for July 7. Under Virginia law, the Arlington Democrats must nominate the Democratic candidate for the special election by May 8 -- i.e., only 14 days from today. This is due to an obscure provision in the Code that appears to put Arlington voters at a unique disadvantage compared to other voters in the Commonwealth.

Given that very tight timeframe, Jill Caiazzo, Chair of the Arlington County Committee, has determined that Arlington Democrats have no option but to select the Democratic nominee through a closed virtual caucus, which involves a vote by the members of its Steering Committee and County Committee that will conclude by May 7. Use Arlington Democrats’ new special election webpage, if you are one of the lucky ones eligible to vote.

Arlington Democrats are actively exploring options to achieve an extension of time to vote, including through consultation with multiple legal counsel, to allow all Arlington Democrats would be able to participate. I support this initiative, and whether it succeeds or not, I am committed to changing this law in a future session so that Arlington doesn't have to face this issue again.

The candidates running for the vacant seat include, in alphabetical order:

Governor Northam Releases Blueprint for
Relaxing Public Health Restrictions

Governor Ralph Northam yesterday presented the “Forward Virginia” blueprint, which will help guide the Commonwealth on when to safely begin easing public health restrictions. The blueprint includes a phased approach grounded in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines with specific goals to contain the spread of the virus through increasing testing, personal protective equipment and supplies, and medical capacity.

Virginia is looking at a wide range of public health data. The Governor emphasized that key indicators will include a 14-day downward trend in confirmed cases as a percentage of overall tests and in reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations. While hospitalization rates have largely stabilized in the Commonwealth, confirmed cases continue to rise.

The Forward Virginia blueprint includes the following priorities:

TESTING AND TRACING

To ensure the continued safety of Virginians, the Commonwealth aims to test at least 10,000 individuals per day. Karen Remley, former Commissioner of Health and current co-chair of Virginia’s Testing Work Group, outlined a four-stage approach to meet this goal prior to safe reopening. The expanded testing plan includes hiring contact tracers, who will support local health departments in identifying individuals who may be exposed to COVID-19 and helping them self-isolate. I was pleased to see this initiative as I've been critical of the pace of Virginia's testing.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to ramping up testing, ensuring the safety of healthcare staff, and expanding the medical workforce. Virginia’s PPE pipeline is improving, and hospitals are successfully managing their supplies. The Governor cautioned that safely easing restrictions will require an ongoing stable PPE supply chain across all sectors of healthcare and ensuring that the supply is regularly replenished.

Virginia has ordered 17.4 million N95 masks, 8.3 million surgical masks, 17.1 million gloves, 1.7 million gowns, and 1 million face shields. This includes a contract signed jointly with Maryland and the District of Columbia for 5 million N95 masks. Governor Northam further announced that a second shipment from Northfield Medical Manufacturing (located in Virginia) is scheduled to arrive today and will be promptly distributed. The latest shipment includes 3 million nitrile exam gloves, 100,000 N95 masks, 500,000 3-ply procedure masks, and 40,000 isolation gowns.

HOSPITAL CAPACITY AND STAFF

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are largely stable across Virginia, even as case counts continue to rise.  The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) continues to recruit and deploy medical and non-medical volunteers to bolster the work of local health departments, hospitals, and healthcare providers. The MRC currently has over 16,500 trained volunteers, more than halfway to Virginia’s goal of 30,000.

PHASE ONE OF EASING RESTRICTIONS

Phase One includes continued social distancing, teleworking, limits on travel and public gatherings, and recommended use of face coverings. Any easing of restrictions will be informed by public health experts, members of the Governor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force, state and local officials, and other stakeholders.

The Commonwealth is developing two sets of guidance: one with broad based recommendations for all businesses and another with industry specific recommendations for public-facing businesses like restaurants and non-essential retail. The guidance will be provided to businesses in early May. The slides from the presentation are available here.

Governor Northam also announced extensions of previous policy changes, including the ban on elective surgeries.

To ensure continued capacity as Virginia move towards “Phase One” of easing restrictions, Governor Northam yesterday extended the ban on elective surgeries through May 1 and expanded the ability of physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.

He also extended the current ban on elective surgeries by one week, until May 1, and the closure of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) public-facing offices by two weeks, until May 11. Virginia State Police are directed to continue suspending the enforcement of motor vehicle inspections and take several additional measures through July 31.

Watch his April 24 briefing by clicking here. Please note that the Governor is giving these press conferences every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 pm. They are broadcasted and archived on The Governor’s Facebook and VPM’s YouTube channel.

As always, you should always be able to find all the latest COVID-19 information on my website's Coronavirus Page.

If information is not there, let us know and we can find it, we'll add it.


My Post-Session Letter

Last week, I explained that I need your help for me to reach as many households as possible this year with my post-session letter.

Donate now and help us meet our goal of raising $3,300 to pay for the newsletter I send to thousands of constituents every year. 

So far, you all have contributed exactly $1,490 dollars. Thank you!  Donations ranged from $5 to $250. Thank you! We need to raise just $1,810 more to meet our goal. 

Every dollar donated between now and the end of the month will go towards mailing my letter to constituents. The more I receive in contributions the more people I'll be able to mail the end-of-session letter to. I'll be sending it out in late-April/early-May, soon after our April 22 reconvene session.

Some folks have expressed to me that they want me to save paper by not mailing them a hard copy, considering I email it out as well. Fair enough! Are you a constituent that would prefer to not receive a "snail mail" letter and simply have my comprehensive post-session letter emailed to you? Click here to opt out of receiving my postal newsletter. You'll still get the digital version.


If you are one of the intrepid folks who actually read every word of this newsletter, 
please let me know what you think.


Lastly, on a more positive note, Ramadan Mubarak to all celebrating. May your fasts nourish your spirit until the next crescent moon.

I realize, as with Easter and Passover, that the holidays are not the same when you're not surrounded by your friends and families. But imams -- like rabbis, ministers, and priests -- have recommended social distancing. Remember you and your family can eat "together" even if you're just seeing each other and chatting online as you break your fasts together. I hereby give you permission, just this once, to talk with your mouth full.


Pictures from the First Outdoors Session
of the Virginia House of Delegates


Social distancing on the steps of the Virginia Capitol just before session began

       

The open-sided "tent" where we met on Capitol Grounds; Speaker Filler-Corn presiding

     

      


We had very few breaks. This was a short one. Luckily it was a beautiful day.


Upcoming Events

DON'T MISS TOMORROW'S

Mark's Monthly Meetup

Sunday, March 29, 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Mark's Facebook Page (click link to join in)

I'll answer your questions in the comments...


I thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.

Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District