This week, I’ll share an update on my legislation post-crossover, discuss a summer opportunity to work with Virginia State Parks, highlight an art grant opportunity for local nursing homes, and elaborate on a few recent constituent meetings. I appreciate opportunities to meet with constituents from District 10, and I thank you all for staying updated on current happenings.
The General Assembly will adjourn Sine Die on Saturday, March 12, and we have just a few more days to complete our legislative work. Some of my bills are now moving through House Subcommittees, Committees, and on to the Floor in the House of Delegates:
SB 158 establishes the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Historic Preservation Fund. This bill passed the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee on a vote of 22-0.
SB 161 directs the Virginia Department of Education and other stakeholders to develop guidelines on heat related illness. This bill passed out of the Early Childhood Subcommittee on a vote of 8-0.
SB 241 creates the Renal Disease Council and Fund to develop education programs, fund support services, and pursue research opportunities. It reported out of the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee on a vote of 17-5 and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee..
SB 263 directs the Department for Housing and Community Development to expand the existing Housing and Supportive Services Interagency Leadership Team (ILT) initiative to include Virginians aged 65 and older as an included subgroup. This bill passed the House General Laws Committee on a vote of 20-0 and is on Second Read on the Floor of the House; it will be voted on by the full body tomorrow.
SB 265establishes an advisory board for support and resources for our deaf and hard-of-hearing children ages 0 to 5 in Virginia. This bill passed out of the House Education Committee on a vote of 22-0.
Meeting with Constituents
This week, I was able to meet with various groups of constituents to discuss legislative priorities such as criminal justice reform, language access in state agencies, and higher education affordability. I also made a special trip to GH Reid Elementary, a school within my district. I got to spend time with the students who had participated in the school Spelling Bee. These bright and inquisitive children had a very quick lesson on how to engage in policy decision making: I proposed a bill that would extend school into the summer months, and my proposal was soundly (and speedily) voted down.
I had the opportunity to visit with students at G.H. Reid Elementary School this week. We read “House Mouse Senate Mouse” and talked about how government—at both the state and federal level—functions.
Members of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Student Government Association met with me to discuss their legislative priorities, including higher education affordability and criminal justice reform.
Voices for Virginia's Children hosted a Racial Truth & Reconciliation: Just Futures for Young People Rally to discuss issues relating to children’s health and well-being. Delegate Kathy Tran and I were able to talk through our Language Access Equity legislation, which would enable all Virginia Commonwealth’s families to have access to state agencies and services.
Delegate VanValkenburg and I spoke with the Virginia Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (VACATE) and the Virginia Professors of Educational Leadership (VPEL) about the policy work we can do in the near future to impact our next generation of teachers.
Summer Opportunity with Virginia State Parks and YCC
Virginia State Parks is accepting applications for the 2022 Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program. The YCC crew is composed of 10 members, ages 14-17, and 3 adult crew leaders. For three weeks, this crew lives in the VSP system under a structured program and is supervised by volunteers and professional park staff.
During the day, crew members perform important maintenance projects and priority park conservation work. At night, the group participates in team building and recreational activities, and engages in environmental education lessons. On weekends, the crew participates in outdoor adventures, including canoeing, nature hikes, and bouldering. The YCC provides meals, housing, and a completion stipend of $500 for the participants. The deadline to apply for crew member positions is March 14, 2022.
LeadingAge Grant Opportunity for Nursing Homes
LeadingAge Virginia will administer a three-year program called “Opening Minds through Art,” which allows individuals to participate in social engagement and self-expression activities in Virginia-based nursing homes. LeadingAge Virginia received a million dollar grant from the Civil Monetary Penalties Reinvestment Fund (CMP) to create the program in collaboration with Art for the Journey . Nursing homes can apply for funding and training..
Older adults are at greater risk for feeling isolated and lonely, which can lead to adverse physical and mental health outcomes. These adverse health outcomes have been exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By participating in these evidence-based art programs, nursing home staff can begin to address social isolation and improve individual well-being for our nursing home residents.
Friends of the James River Park (FOJRP) works to improve the environmental ecosystem of the James River Park by reducing litter and providing easier access to trails, which includes removing invasive species plants. Since 2015, FOJRP has deployed an Invasive Species Plant Task Force to restore the areas within the park and is accepting volunteers to join them next week in the education and clean up of the James River Park. A full week of events is planned from February 27 through March 5, which provides opportunities for educational walks, programs and volunteer work. Registration is available at HandsOn Greater Richmond.
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: