Another eventful week of the General Assembly has come to a close, with a variety of bills making their way through Committee processes and passing the full Senate. This week’s newsletter shares numerous updates on my legislation, as well as select community meetings. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for staying informed.
The Progress of My Bills through the Legislative Process
This week began with SB 250 receiving unanimous support (40-0) in the Senate. The bill instructs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to adjust the state's healthcare assistance plan to include a provision that permits provider reimbursement, under specific conditions, for remote ultrasound procedures and remote fetal non-stress tests. This change is critical for patients living in rural areas with limited access to maternal health care, and for those individuals whose employment or high risk pregnancies may prevent limitations to necessary screenings.
On Monday as well, I presented SB 234 and SB 276 to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. These two critical bills contribute to our ability to meet clean energy goals. SB 234 passed with bipartisan support (13-Y 2-N) in the Committee on Commerce and Labor and has been rereferred to the Committee on Finance and Appropriations. This proposal promotes solar projects (up to one megawatt) in parking lots. Additionally, the legislation establishes a fund to sustain solar incentives, program administration, and to manage an auction site for unsold solar credits. SB 276, also referred to as the Inclusive Utility Investment Act, passed with bipartisan support as well (13-Y 1-N 1-A) in the Committee on Commerce and Labor. It will be voted on by the full Senate on Monday. This legislation supports utility companies within Virginia to provide capital for residential solar, storage, or energy efficiency upgrades to customers that participate in the program.
On Monday, I presented SB 234 and SB276 to the Commerce and Labor Committee, with supportive testimonies from partners across our Commonwealth.
On Tuesday afternoon, SB 235 passed the full Senate (22-18) with bipartisan support. The bill realigned with the legislation that was passed during the 2022 session related to parental notification of sexually explicit content. That original bill faced stiff opposition from Democrats – myself included – because it opened the door for censorship; the 2022 legislation passed on a primarily partisan vote, with two of my Caucus colleagues supporting it. As an attempted compromise, the Republican patron of the 2022 bill had added an enactment clause explicitly stating that the language contained in this section of the Virginia Code could not be used to ban or censor books. However, some school divisions in the Commonwealth have used this statute as a tool for censorship (as some of us had warned) and begun removing books from schools entirely. My bill places the original enactment clause directly into the legislation itself. Interestingly, despite the identical language of both the 2022 bill and this 2024 bill, SB 235 received support from only one of my Republican colleagues when brought up for a final vote.
SB 236 was also passed by the full Senate (23-17) with bipartisan support on Tuesday. This proposal enables a full-time faculty member at a four-year public college in Virginia, for the purposes of academic research, to ask the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia for aggregated data on evictions. This legislation helps our researchers in offices such as the RVA Eviction Lab, housed at Virginia Commonwealth University, to more effectively analyze and report on eviction trends.
Wednesday proved to be a busy day in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. Three of my bills, SB 229, related to an advisory council on breakthrough therapies for veterans, the Contraceptive Equity Act (SB 238), and the Social Workers Licensure Compact ( SB 239) all passed out on votes of 15-0, 10-5, and 11-4, respectively. All bills will be up for final vote in the Senate on Monday of this upcoming week.
Thursday morning was also eventful, as five pieces of my legislation passed out of the full Education and Health Committee. Both SB 227 and SB 228, related to implementing recommendations from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s K-12 Funding Report, passed out unanimously (15-0) and will go to the Finance and Appropriations Committee for consideration. The Cover All Kids Act ( SB 231), which will provide healthcare coverage to children in Virginia, regardless of income or documentation status, passed on a partisan vote (9-6) and now heads to Senate Finance and Appropriations for consideration. SB 272, establishing proficiency-based student-to-teacher ratios for our English Language Learner students, passed unanimously (15-0) and also goes to the money committee. Finally, my legislation to expand the expedited review process for Certificate of Public Need (COPN) projects within our Commonwealth’s healthcare system ( SB 277) was amended to respond to stakeholder engagement. With full consensus on the legislation, the bill passed unanimously (15-0) and will be heard on the floor of the Senate next week. If passed by both Chambers and signed into law by the Governor, we can expect a report from the Task Force in November.
On Friday morning in the Rules Committee, SJR 18, a resolution to study the Dillon Rule and its impact on Virginia's localities, was passed by for the year. I look forward to continuing discussion surrounding this policy in 2025.
This week, we are delighted to spotlight the third member of our General Assembly session team. Manuella, an international student from Colombia, is currently studying at Reynolds Community College and serves there as a student ambassador. With aspirations to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University, Manuella plans to pursue a degree in mass communications and public relations. Manuella had the opportunity to participate in our Shadowing the Senator program in October; she made such an impression in that program, and now we are delighted to have her join us during Session in this new capacity.
Select Community Events and Meetings
We had another great week with several visitors coming to share their legislative priorities. On Monday, my staff met with the Autism Society of Central Virginia for their lobby day.
Later that day, they also met with advocates from The Arc, whose members highlighted the importance of obtaining employment and training for communities with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
On Tuesday, my staff welcomed students from Glen Allen High School. Students spent the day meeting with legislative offices, discussing the importance of the accessibility of AP courses throughout the Commonwealth’s high schools.
I was pleased to meet members of UFCW Local 400 and discuss how the General Assembly can legislate better worker protections with supportive resources such as paid family and medical leave. We also discussed how we can bring more high-paying union jobs to Virginia.
On Thursday, my staff met with the Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association as they underscored the importance of funding Alzheimer’s research and caregiving.
Later Thursday morning, I had the pleasure of welcoming the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, a group focused on protecting human rights and pursuing diplomatic solutions, both at home and abroad.
Connecting With My Office
As noted in last week’s newsletter, all legislative offices within the Senate now have new email addresses and phone numbers. My office can be reached at the following:
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