In November 2019, you replaced the Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate with a Democratic majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. You ousted House GOP leaders Kirk Cox and Todd Gilbert as leaders of the Western Hemisphere's longest-lasting legislative body, and replaced them with my friends, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Majority Leader Charniele Herring. If you voted last year, contributed a dime to any Democratic candidate for the Virginia legislature, registered a single voter, or knocked a single door, you made all of this possible.
On July 17, America lost two icons: the Honorable John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian. Both men were civil rights heroes who shaped our country's destiny.
We finally have a date for our Special Session. Beginning August 18, the General Assembly will meet (either in-person or virtually) "for the purpose of adopting a budget based on the revised revenue forecast and consideration of legislation related to the emergency of COVID-19 and criminal and social justice reforms."
The nation is understandably focused on the grim news of 125,000 Americans dead from the novel coronavirus, our strenuous efforts to prevent further spread, and the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and far too many others), leading to an outcry for justice. But this grim news has overshadowed what was truly a historic session in the Virginia General Assembly: 1200 new laws go into effect tomorrow, July 1, with the most progressive policies ever put forth in Virginia history. In my June 27 newsletter, I gave you only a small sample of the laws I wrote or worked on that will go into effect tomorrow.
At his public briefing on Thursday, Governor Northam announced Virginia will enter Phase 3 of reopening on July 1. As of today, Northern Virginia is scheduled to be a part of that reopening.
The differences will be dramatic. We will be almost completely reopen, as of July 1.
In these tough times of millions of Americans sick and more than 125,000 dead from the novel coronavirus; a vital quarantine that is nonetheless devastating our economy; and our attention necessarily turned by gruesome murders and other police conduct to long-overdue issues of police reform and racial justice, we should still celebrate the historic 2020 session, the first with Virginia Democrats fully in control in a quarter century.
Today is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that slavery had been abolished in the Confederate states, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. As we celebrate Juneteenth today, let us imagine ourselves what it was like to be enslaved and reflect upon what it really means to be free. Juneteenth reminds us that knowledge itself is a key to freedom.