In this week’s newsletter, I’ll share information on the Reconvened Session and the General Assembly, recent conversations regarding court rulings on Mifepristone, and opportunities for community engagement. I also provide reflections on recent community events. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
On Wednesday, members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates gathered at the Capitol for the General Assembly’s Reconvened Session. This session focuses on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes to the legislation that passed during the 2023 regular session.
The Governor’s vetoes were sustained. Overriding a veto requires at least 26 votes within the Senate Chamber, and we did not have enough votes to defeat the Governor’s vetoes. The bills vetoed by the Governor as as follows:
Reconvened Session is, by Constitution, focused only on legislative acts in response to a Governor’s vetoes and amendments. Conferees on the budget have still not reached agreement, but members of the Budget Conference Committee have indicated that a decision may be reached by the end of June. I will continue to provide updates in my newsletter and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Retirements within the General Assembly
All 140 General Assembly seats are up for election, and every candidate is running in newly-drawn district lines as a result of the 2021 redistricting. The General Assembly will undergo significant leadership and committee membership changes as many of my colleagues bid farewell after years and decades of service.
In significant ways, the “torch” is being passed as we see this remarkable wave of retirements in both the Senate and the House. However, I am confident that the work of the General Assembly and its efforts to address the continuing and emerging challenges of this new decade will move forward–as it must–to ensure that the Commonwealth is serving the needs of all Virginians.
Mifepristone & Access to Reproductive Healthcare
Last week, a federal judge in Texas blocked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a drug commonly and safely used for well over two decades for medication abortions. This unprecedented ruling will put the health and safety of women in jeopardy—54% of abortions in the United States are medication abortions. Further, it will impact the availability of mifepristone nationwide, not just in states with limited access to abortion care. In response, a federal judge in Washington State handed down a lawsuit against the FDA’s restrictions on mifepristone, arguing that it should be more easily accessible. These dueling rulings have the potential to reach the Supreme Court of the United States.
Although the decision by the Texas judge is meant to specifically threaten access to reproductive healthcare, it attempts to set a dangerous precedent, undermining healthcare determinations made by scientists and medical experts and placing that responsibility in the hands of political appointees or elected judges.
As we have seen with recent elections—from the election of Janet Protasiewicz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to voters in Kansas rejecting an amendment to their state constitution outlawing abortion to our special elections here in the Commonwealth of Virginia electing pro-choice candidates—Americans support reproductive rights and believe that people should be in charge of their own reproductive health care decisions.
I have joined state legislators from across the country in opposing the politicization of critical health care concerns and in rejecting any further efforts by the courts to limit access to mifepristone.
Join Us for Our Upcoming Town Hall
On Tuesday, April 25, I will be hosting a town hall at Brightpoint Community College’s Chester Campus in the Nicholas Center Ballroom. Topics include the recent General Assembly session, the state budget, redistricting, and other community concerns. The town hall is open to the public, but registration is required. Register to attend here. We hope you will join us.
VDOT Town Hall
The Virginia Department of Transportation conducts numerous projects and studies to determine the need, costs and impacts of proposed highway projects across the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) allocates public funds to transportation projects using the Six-Year Improvement program (SYIP). On Monday, April 24, at 4:00pm the CTB is conducting public hearings for SYIP fiscal year 2024-2029 in the Richmond District. Formal public comment on projects proposed to be included in the SYIP will be accepted at the meeting. A description of project proposals in various localities are able to better prepare comments. Allocations for funding can include highway, road, bridge, rail, bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation projects.
The public comment period will remain open until May 24, 2023 for SYIP fiscal year 2024-2029. A public comment can also be submitted via email or to the Infrastructure Investment Director by mail (1401 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219). Transit and public transportation public comments may be submitted via email or to the Public Information Office at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (600 East Main Street, Suite 2102, Richmond VA, 23219).
Community Events and Meetings
Connecting With My Office