Happy New Year!
For members and staff of Virginia’s General Assembly, January signals the convening of a new Session. We look forward now to a “long session” because 2024 is a budget year, challenging us to craft a strong two-year plan for the priorities of the Commonwealth.
This week’s newsletter shares information on the upcoming 2024 General Assembly session, discusses laws that went into effect on January 1, reflects on a recent “Shadowing the Senator” experience, and provides an important update regarding connecting with my office. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for staying informed.
2024 General Assembly Session
The General Assembly convenes for the 2024 Session on Wednesday, January 10, at noon in Richmond. This year marks the inaugural session in the new General Assembly Building, which had been under renovation and construction since 2017 and only recently opened to the public in October. In addition to our new building, both chambers are welcoming a historic number of new members to both Chambers as a result of the November elections. These elections also brought Democratic majorities to both chambers, new leadership to both parties, and the most diverse incoming class of legislators. The Session will be historic as well as history-setting in many ways.
My Legislative Priorities
As I begin my second term and fifth session in the Senate, my priorities and commitments continue to focus on the central issues of public and higher education, health care access and affordability, environmental protections, and housing. My legislation includes bills that
By this upcoming Tuesday, most of the legislation to be presented in this year’s Session will be publicly available on the Legislative Information System.
Welcoming Community Members to the General Assembly Building
On the first day of session, my office is hosting an Open House within our new office spaces (Room 616) from 9:00 - 11:00 am. Constituents and others are invited to stop by to meet my staff and grab a treat before the Senate and the House convene in Chambers at 12:00 pm.
Community members have numerous opportunities to stay engaged throughout the General Assembly. Session activities are accessible through the Legislative Information System (LIS). Helpful links include the following:
The public is also welcome to attend and testify on bills of interest during Subcommittee and Committee meetings.
Visitors to the Capitol and to legislative offices should have a plan in place such as being familiar with security policies of the General Assembly, knowing the schedule of Senate and House Subcommittee or Committee meetings, identifying the locations of committee rooms and/or legislative offices, and being aware of the particular bills on the docket for that day’s committee meetings. The public is also welcome to sit in the Senate and House Galleries to observe Floor proceedings. Visitors planning to attend the 2024 Session can reach out to my office for assistance or clarification.
Pre-Session Community Town Hall
On Monday, January 8, 6:30 - 8:00pm, I am co-hosting a Pre-Session Community Town Hall with Delegate-elect Michael Jones (representing Richmond City and Chesterfield County) and Delegate-elect Debra Gardner (representing Chesterfield County). The Town Hall will be held at the new Beulah Recreation Center in Chesterfield; the address is 6901 Hopkins Road. We will discuss our legislative and budget priorities, anticipated major topics, and other community concerns. The event is open to the public; registration is required. We hope you will join us for this important discussion.
Laws That Went Into Effect on January 1
Every year, most legislation that has successfully passed both the Senate and the House and that has been signed into law by the Governor goes into effect on July 1, However, some legislation is passed with a delayed enactment clause, resulting in new laws becoming effective a few months later in January.
Here are some of the laws that recently went into effect:
The Virginia Counseling Compact: In 2023, I carried legislation authorizing Virginia to join the interstate counseling compact. This interstate compact allows professional counselors who are licensed and who are residing in a compact member state to practice in other compact member states without the need for multiple licenses. This compact also expands Virginians’ access to licensed counselors.
Home Studies in Adoption: Home studies conducted by local social service boards or by licensed child-placing agencies for foster care or adoption purposes are now transferable between all localities and agencies within the Commonwealth of Virginia, at the request of prospective foster or adoptive parents.
Coverage for Hearing Aids for Minors: Health insurance providers are now required to provide coverage for hearing aids and supportive services for children 18 years or younger, when an otolaryngologist recommends services or equipment.
Oversight of the Medical Marijuana Program: Oversight of the Virginia medical marijuana program has transferred from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority.
Change in Notification to Enrollees: Insurance companies that use provider panels are now required to notify enrollees of a provider termination.
Shadowing the Senator
In December, my office hosted its final 2023 “Shadowing the Senator” program participant: Grace, a constituent from Richmond.
As a student pursuing a degree in history at Bridgewater College, Grace’s interest in our program stemmed from her academic work in political leadership, government, and legislative processes. She hopes to run for office herself in the future. Grace’s shadowing day included attending a Virginia Housing Commission meeting, participating in legislative meetings with different organizations focused on health care access and clean energy, holding a Q&A with my staff, and speaking one-on-one with me on a variety of topics. Grace shared some thoughts about her experience:
“Spending the day with Senator Hashmi was eye opening, and I very much enjoyed the chance to talk with her. The many meetings we attended, one right after the other, and with widely differing topics were hard to get my head around. Shadowing is the perfect opportunity for anyone interested in meeting elected officials or in experiencing a day in state politics. I learned that senators and delegates are approachable individuals who really care about the people they represent.”
An Important Update: New Contact Information for My Office
All Senate of Virginia emails have changed from district-specific to member-specific addresses. Our new contact information is the following:
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