This week, I’ll share an update on my legislation, discuss highlights from our first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus town hall, talk about ways to get involved in the redistricting process in the City of Richmond, and list some events happening across SD-10. Thank you for reading this newsletter and staying informed about the current happenings around Virginia Senate District 10.
With just days left before Crossover, bills have been moving quickly through their respective subcommittees and committees, and onto the Senate Floor:
SB 158: This bill establishes the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Historic Preservation Fund. Through this fund, grants will be awarded to eligible state or federally-recognized Indian tribes, private nonprofit organizations, and localities to cover the eligible costs of acquiring land or undertaking preservation activities for areas that are of cultural or historic significance to Black, indigenous, or people of color communities. This preservation fund joins other similar efforts already in existence such as the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Trust Fund. This bill passed through the Senate on a vote of 30 to 10 and will now go to the House of Delegates.
SB 200: This bill exempts from FOIA the identity of individuals who file with the Department of Health or the Department of Environmental Quality for investigations of onsite sewage issues and are involved in cases that are currently active. SB 200 passed the full Senate by a vote of 39 to 1 and now heads to the House of Delegates.
SB 270: This legislation establishes the Interagency Language Access Working Group with the purpose of maximizing state policies, resources, technical assistance, and procurement practices to further language access and equity in the Commonwealth and its government agencies. This bill passed the full Senate on a 21 to 19 vote and is now headed to the House of Delegates.
SB 156 supports state funding for training and allocating more teachers to work with our English Learner students based on their proficiency levels. This bill was most recently heard by the Finance and Appropriations Committee and passed by a vote of 11-5. It now heads to the Senate Floor.
SB 265 establishes an advisory board for support and resources for our deaf and hard-of-hearing children ages 0-5 in Virginia. This bill was heard by the Senate Finance Committee and passed by a vote of 16-0 and now goes to the Senate Floor.
AAPI Caucus General Assembly Town Hall & Legislative Update
This past Tuesday evening, the legislative Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus (VAAPIC) hosted its first town hall. Delegates Mark Keam, Kathy Tran, Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Suhas Subramanyam, Irene Shin, and I discussed the AAPI Caucus’ legislative priorities with constituents around the Commonwealth, including expanding language access, job opportunities for teachers with international credentials, prioritizing education, celebrating our collective cultural heritage, and more.
The AAPI Caucus was established last Spring to address the issues faced by many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and in response to escalating violence against members of these communities. I joined our four Delegates who have connections to AAPI heritage to found the first VAAPIC in the General Assembly. VAAPIC was officially recognized as a bicameral legislative caucus in March 2021. With the November 2021 election of Delegate Irene Shin, we now have six members in the newly-established Caucus.
As members of the oldest elected body in the United States, we understand that the Virginia General Assembly has the unique opportunity to promote inclusion, expand equity, and serve as an example for other state legislatures across the nation. As noted in the 2010 Census, Virginia is home to over 500,000 individuals who are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, and many AAPI families have lived in the Commonwealth for generations. The Commonwealth Institute reports that the growth in the number of AAPI Virginians accounts for a substantial share—31 percent—of Virginia’s overall population growth since 2007. This brief article provides more insights about the Caucus and its goals.
If you weren’t able to attend our Town Hall, you can watch the full recording here.
To learn more about the Virginia AAPI Caucus, our legislative priorities, and future events, like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Redistricting in the City of Richmond
Richmond City Council will be holding meetings this week detailing the Public Drawing of Voter District Map Options. Meetings for public involvement, awareness, and input will follow this schedule this week:
Drafts of redistricting maps should be made available on February 28. The 30-day public comment period begins on March 1 and ends April 25. More information about the redistricting process can be found here. You can find out who your City Council member is by using the City of Richmond property search tool. Contact information for your Richmond City Council member is here.
U.S Citizenship Preparatory Class
In the state of Virginia, over 18,000 people are naturalized every year. An integral part of the naturalization process is the U.S Citizenship Exam. Richmond Public Schools (RPS Adult Education) is offering a 10 week virtual course in order to help Virginians prepare for the U.S Citizenship Exam. The course begins February 15 and goes through April 28 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30pm-8:30pm. The course registration fee is $25. For more information, email email@example.com or call (804) 780-8311.
Black History Month Celebrations in Chesterfield
Chesterfield County, in partnership with Virginia State University, is hosting the 33rd Annual Black History Month (BHM) Celebration throughout the month of February. Events include lectures on historical figures like Coretta Scott King and Mary Elizabeth Bowser, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, and more. Events will be held in-person and on Zoom. You can learn more by visiting the Chesterfield County Government website.
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: