This week, I discuss the historic passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, reflect on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), share information about the Senate Page Program and the Ultimate Backpack Drive, and talk about community events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and for staying informed.
Inflation Reduction Act
On August 4, the US Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, an all-encompassing bill that lowers healthcare costs, launches an affordable clean energy economy, creates jobs, and addresses inflation. This bill is a historic investment in American families, now and in the future. The legislation will now be voted on by the US House of Representatives on Friday, August 12, where it is expected to pass with few changes. Here are some of the highlights of this bill:
Lowering Healthcare Costs
Caps out of pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2000 per year for Medicare recipients and allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices
Extends Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies through 2025, preventing 3 million people from becoming uninsured
Limits the monthly cost of insulin to $35 for Medicare patients; regrettably, GOP lawmakers blocked efforts to apply this same $35 cap for privately-insured patients
Addressing the Climate Catastrophe
Allocates $370 billion towards renewable energy production, which is expected to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030
Creates electric vehicle tax rebates for middle- and working-class consumers for electric vehicles made in America
Dedicates $60 billion for environmental justice initiatives, investing in communities that have historically been disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental degradation
Impacts health concerns and healthcare costs by preventing up to 100,000 asthma attacks and avoiding 3,700-3,900 premature deaths per year in 2030
Growing Our Economy & Helping Families
Increases domestic production for batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and more, which is estimated to create 1.4 to 1.5 million new jobs
Allocates $300 billion to Deficit Reduction, lowering costs for everyday families
Helps families switch to cheaper electricity for heating, cooking, and vehicles, which will save the average household $500 per year
Requires that corporations pay their fair share by imposing a new minimum corporate tax and by closing loopholes, which will raise $749 billion in revenue to fund these reforms for the American people. No new taxes will be imposed on families making $400,000 or less and there will be no new taxes on small businesses.
This bill would not have passed without the leadership of Democrats in the United States Senate, including Virginia’s own Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and members of the Biden Administration.
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Highlights
Last week, I attended the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a conference that brought together legislators and legislative staff from across the country. I began my NCSL participation a day early since I was asked to serve as a Fellow on the Higher Education Committee. In that particular day-long committee, we examined issues of access and affordability, emerging trends in higher education, and today’s college students who are increasingly older and approaching college with different needs and expectations. This very productive conversation shed light on the ways in which Virginia and other states must think about the resources and structures necessary to support higher education in the upcoming decades.
During the four days of the NCSL, I attended other sessions focused on public education, housing concerns, transportation, the economy, voter protections, and the pandemic’s toll on women and their families. These comprehensive discussions provided insights and data from researchers and experts that will help to craft effective legislation for Virginians.
Senate Page Program: Applications are Open
The Senate Page Program is a remarkable educational experience for young Virginians who are interested in being a part of the annual General Assembly, learning about policy making, and being much more engaged in the state government processes. It is a tradition that has been in place for over 150 years.
Selected pages perform administrative duties, participate in team building, and help with day-to-day operations of the General Assembly. Pages are an integral part of the Capitol during the convening of the General Assembly. Pages live in Richmond throughout the duration of the General Assembly, visiting home on the weekends. The well-structured program provides time for Pages to keep up with schoolwork while also engaging in the direct experiences of government and policy making. More information about the program is available at the Senate Page Program.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 Senate Page Program, and the application process remains open until 5:00 pm, October 17. Applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth and either 13 or 14 years old on January 11, the first day of the 2023 session. The application is available here.
Today: 5th Annual “Ultimate Backpack Drive”
The 5th Annual Ultimate Backpack Drive is taking place today, August 11, from 11:00am until 6:00pm at the Arthur Ashe Center (3001 N Arthur Ashe Blvd). This year, organizers have a goal of supporting 50,000 students in five local school systems (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Petersburg and Hanover), as well as the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. This event is only for dropping off donations; distribution will occur later. The list of acceptable school supplies donations is available here.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend AASuccess’ “Dare to Dream Big” Gala in Falls Church. This event celebrated young leaders across the DMV area who have participated in AASuccess’ programs centered on creating the community leaders of tomorrow through mentorship, soft skills development, and teambuilding.
On Tuesday, I met with members of Hamkae Center’s New Leaders Collective, who are focusing their efforts on education equity with Asian American Virginians. We discussed issues of education access, affordability, and equity in Virginia’s public schools and institutions of higher education.
Connecting With My Office
My staff continue to hold meetings with constituents via Zoom or by phone. You can sign up for a meeting with either of my staff members with our easy scheduling app: