This week’s newsletter commemorates the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, reflects on our recent “Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Families Town Hall,” shares information on the Senate Page Program, and highlights select community engagements and events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
Celebrating One Year of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
This week was the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Much of the credit of the successes of the IRA go to President Joe Biden, his administration, and the Democratic leadership of the United States Senate and the Democratic members of the House of Representatives. This one piece of legislation is historic, consequential, and a clear indication of the ways in which policy decisions and effective governing can have–in a meaningful way–on the lives of working Americans. Rather than distracting the country with divisive language, attacks on vulnerable communities, and the rhetoric of bigotry, President Biden has focused with steadfast attention on the fundamental responsibilities of leadership and on addressing the economic challenges of our times by rebuilding infrastructure, creating well-paying jobs, reducing the costs of health care, addressing global warming, and targeting education, childcare, and other essential needs for our families.
So much of the success of President Biden’s first term in office has been obscured by a media and a social media climate that is determined to amplify those who resort to vitriol and outrage rather than acknowledge the disciplined and thoughtful work of true leadership. Recently, Hillary Clinton captured this unfortunate reality by pointing out that Joe Biden is “somebody who is not a performer in a political theater sense but is a producer in a political results sense.”
So what has the Biden Administration successfully accomplished through the IRA and how have these efforts impacted Virginians? This historically consequential legislation has taken monumental steps to combat the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and lower health care and prescription costs for Virginians. Under the IRA and for the first time in history, Medicare has the ability to directly negotiate the prices of covered prescription drugs. Our seniors no longer have to ration medication or exhaust their life savings to manage their medical needs. A full and detailed fact sheet for Virginia and health care outlines the details of the impact of the IRA on the Commonwealth.
The IRA is the single greatest investment to our climate in the nation's history. Its results are visible in Virginia’s path to a clean energy economy while saving families across our Commonwealth thousands of dollars. These investments create incentives to make homes more energy efficient, expand residential green energy tax credits, and assist consumers in lowering their carbon footprint with the purchase of new or used electric vehicles.
Virginia will continue to see the powerful impacts of the IRA through the investments in broadband expansion in our rural communities, on the rebuilding of roads and bridges, and the acceleration of green energy and technologies. Much of these successes and economic growth will impact localities whose Congressional and state-level representatives continually oppose the efforts, vote against these budgetary investments, and yet show up at groundbreaking ceremonies to take full credit.
Wrap-Up: Supporting LGBTQ+ Students & Families Town Hall
On Wednesday evening, I co-hosted a town hall with the ACLU of Virginia and Equality Virginia focused on the Youngkin Administration’s updated “model policies'' for our public schools. These policies are focused on the treatment of transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ students and individuals in our public schools. Our panelists were Breanna Diaz, Legislative and Policy Counsel at the ACLU of Virginia; Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia; and Kelly Merrill, parent of a transgender high school student who has advocated for LGBTQ+ youth throughout Virginia. The discussion focused on the legislative history of the new and discriminatory policies, the legal concerns which now arise since Youngkin’s policies are at odds with state and federal laws, and resources for LGBTQ+ students and families as we go forward.
Resources include Equality Virginia’s School Board Policy and Meeting Trackers and free virtual trainings so constituents can feel informed and confident advocating for safe, affirming school environments for LGBTQ+ students.
In addition to these invaluable partners, organizations that provide direct support to LGBTQ+ youth and their families also attended the town hall, answered questions from constituents, and provided resources. These organizations included Side By Side, He, She, Ze, and We, and Planned Parenthood.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual recognition that highlights the importance of routine vaccines for people of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides immunization schedules that help to track necessary vaccines. Vaccines are safe and effective and protect public health by reducing the spread of life-threatening diseases. Additional information and resources are located at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.
The 2024 Senate Page Program
The application form for the 2024 Senate Page Program is now live. The Senate Page Program offers a unique opportunity for young Virginians to learn about policy making and state government processes. Applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth and either 13 or 14 years old on January 10, 2024, the first day of the new session.
Pages perform administrative duties, participate in team building, undergo rigorous civics education, and help with day-to-day operations of the General Assembly. While immersed in the program, 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 General Assembly activities.
All applications will be done using this online Form; no paper applications should be mailed to Senate offices or to the Senate Clerk’s Office. The deadline to apply is Friday, October 20, 2023, at 5:00 pm. Questions may be directed to email@example.com.
Highlights from Community Events & Meetings
On Friday, I participated in a panel discussion alongside former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn, as well as Aliya Farooq and Lisa Halberstadt, members of Richmond area chapters of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. The panel was part of the National Women’s Political Caucus Biennial Convention which brought together NWPC members from across the country. Our panel focused on the documentary Stranger/Sister and the importance of interfaith collaboration in combating white supremacy within the United States.
On Saturday, our slate of Chesterfield candidates gathered together for a united canvass launch to engage voters for November's critical election. All 140 seats of the General Assembly will be on the ballot, in addition to our School Boards, Boards of Supervisors, and other Constitutional Officers. We are 34 days away until early voting begins and 80 days away from Election Day.
On Sunday morning, I joined the NWPC convention once again in Downtown Richmond to deliver the keynote address at the NWPC PAC breakfast. I then had the pleasure of swearing in the 2024 NWPC National Board of Directors; these new directors will continue the work of fighting for women’s rights, social justice, and equitable opportunities.
Yesterday, I had the honor of joining the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) and Wells Fargo to present keys to a mortgage-free home in Southside Richmond to a very deserving young couple. Retired US Army Specialist and Purple Heart recipient Eric Sabath and his wife have joined a wonderful community. Congratulations to Eric and Tear as they begin the next chapter of their lives in Richmond.
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