Session may be over, but my work advocating for the people of the 45th District continues. Since we adjourned sine die on February 24th, I have been petitioning to get myself on the ballot for re-election, catching up on constituent services, working closely with organized labor to advocate that Amazon sign Project Labor Agreements for its HQ2 projects, and organizing my colleagues to urge the Governor to veto or amend bad bills that flew under the radar in the General Assembly.
On Sunday morning at 11:52 am, after being unusually extended an extra day, the 2019 Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die. The whirlwind seven weeks of the "short session" has come to an end. I'm really glad to be home in Alexandria. To get an idea of how fast-paced the short session always is, I encourage you to read the first article in the news section from the Virginia Mercury: Tracking bills during the General Assembly session: like drinking from a firehose
I want to thank each and every one of you who joined us at Third Baptist Church last Sunday to voice your feelings and listen to your fellow community members do the same. For those of you who weren't there, we set out some ground rules to guide us that I thought worked exceedingly well: 1) Be respectful. I asked each speaker if you disagree with someone, to disagree with their point of view rather than calling someone out. 2) One at a time. Everyone could speak once. No one could speak twice. 3) No time limit, unless someone spoke much longer than others (and then I encouraged that person to wrap it up). 4) The press who attended were required not to record anyone who asked not to be recorded. We also took a vote as to whether or not the media could stay, and the overwhelming majority in the Church voted to allow them to stay. 5) People were urged to stay on the topics of racism, sexism, sexual assault, and what should be done with Virginia's leaders.
I know we are all reeling right now from this week's news. And hurting. We need to talk to one another and hear each others' perspectives in a healing environment. Not to sweep anything under the rug, but to have an open, honest, and direct conversation. If we disagree, let's have respectful disagreement. But mostly, we need to listen.
We need have a continuing conversation about racial injustice, both in Virginia and in America, as it happened yesterday, as it continues today, and what we can do to reduce it tomorrow and in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Ultimately, that conversation has to result in action to rectify Virginia's four-centuries long history of endemic, systemic racism.
This last week and the next one, the fate of most of our bills is determined. We delegates and senators have just one more week to get our bills passed out of committee in our respective chambers. Otherwise, our bills are dead for the year. This week, I presented 8 of my bills in various committees and subcommittees throughout the Capitol. It's always an uphill battle for any member of the minority Democratic party to get bills (and, in particular, important progressive bills) approved by the Republican majority. But with your help, this could all change in November.
I'm honored that our Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn has appointed me as Deputy Whip to the Caucus to make sure that our colleagues don't miss bad bills before they go to committee or subcommittee. In addition, she also appointed me as the Committee Whip of the Militia, Police, and Public Safety (MPPS) Committee. This is the important committee that oversees all of Virginia's gun legislation (as well as other matters).
I spent most of this week reviewing the exact legislative text and planning out strategy for the 13 bills and a constitutional amendment I have filed so far. During short sessions (which occur in odd numbered years), delegates are limited to introducing 15 bills, although constitutional amendments and commending resolutions don't count in the limit. Every year, I have far more than 15 bills that I would like to introduce. So I have to ensure I pick the very best! Many of the bills I am introducing this year were inspired by ideas brought to me by constituents. It's such a privilege to work to put your opinions, concerns, and priorities into legislation.
I will be sending out my traditional first-week newsletter Sunday morning, as I will every Sunday morning from this Sunday until session ends. But given we have snow, Metro closings, and an Amazon town hall tomorrow (Saturday), I had some information to share that couldn't wait until Sunday.
I am excited about what this session and year will hold for all of us. This Sunday -- in what will become weekly newsletters all during session -- I will share the legislation I am introducing this year. My 2019 legislative slate will, as always, be focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us. And of course, I will be introducing my comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to make sure that people aren't discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Click the photo below to view my two-minute announcement of this legislation at Monday's press conference with Equality Virginia.