In this week’s newsletter, I provide my final legislation update of the 2023 session, extend my congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Jennifer McClellan and to Lamont Bagby (the Democratic nominee for her Senate seat), share opportunities for engagement across the district, and highlight engagements from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and for staying informed.
Final Legislation Update
The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die late Saturday afternoon, after forty-five days of subcommittee and committee meetings, floor debates, bill deliberations, conference committees, and discussions with colleagues, lobbyists, and numerous constituents and advocates.
Unfortunately, several items of legislation were derailed this session because of politics rather than policy. Of the twenty-seven bills I introduced this session, 19 passed the Senate and most of those secured either strong bipartisan or unanimous support. The story in the House of Delegates was a different one: Republican House members struck down 15 of those bills, and so only 4 made it out and were sent to the Governor’s desk.
Legislation that passed:
SB798 replaces the terms “handicap,” and “handicapped” in the Code of Virginia with alternative terms such as “disability” and “impairment.” After being “passed by” in the House for several days with no explanation, this bill was finally passed on Monday on a 96-2 vote. If signed by the Governor, the Virginia code will better reflect the language used by the disability community.
SB802 authorizes Virginia to join the Interstate Counseling Compact. This legislation permits eligible licensed professional counselors to practice in other Compact member states if they are licensed in at least one member state. This legislation will enable more Virginians to access critical mental health care services.
SB928 provides compensation to Michael Haas, who was wrongly convicted and who served over 23 years in state prisons. Mr. Haas is my constituent, and my office has been working closely with his attorney to address his wrongful conviction. Last Monday, the House of Delegates passed this bill unanimously, following the footsteps of the Senate. Now, Mr. Haas is one step closer to receiving the compensation he deserves and a new opportunity to rebuild his life.
SB1005 enables licensed physical therapists to provide direct patient care without the need for unnecessary physician referrals. After being “passed by” for nearly a week with no explanation, the House of Delegates at last passed SB1005 unanimously. If signed into law by the Governor, patients throughout the Commonwealth will have one less obstacle to receiving high quality care with greater efficiency.
Each session, my office submits commending resolutions to honor individuals in my district that are doing extraordinary work in their communities. Here are just a few of the resolutions I filed this session:
On February 27, 2018, Josephine Goodman became the first African-American to be appointed to the Powhatan County Electoral Board and served dutifully for four years. Ms. Goodman has deep family roots in Powhatan County and has served the community through various charitable causes throughout her life.
This year, the Virginia Academy of Science celebrates its 100th anniversary. Since its inception, the Academy has helped to establish the Virginia State Parks system, the Junior Academy of Science, and the Science Museum of Virginia. Today, the Academy funds scientific research and advises elected officials in the hopes of making more positive contributions to the Commonwealth.
Robert L. Easter has spent his entire career as an architect supporting underrepresented individuals in his profession. Mr. Easter served as both the President of American Institute of Architects and the National Organization of Minority Architects and has advocated for his organizations’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recently, Mr. Easter received the Whitney M. Young Award from the American Institute of Architects, an award named in honor of the civil rights leader that challenged the architectural profession to be more inclusive.
Congratulations to Jennifer McClellan
Last Tuesday evening, history was made in the Commonwealth with the election of Jennifer McClellan to the United States Congress. She is the first Black woman to represent the Commonwealth on Capitol Hill.
As a state legislator, Senator McClellan has a long list of accomplishments. When the rest of the South was racing to add restrictions to voting rights following the Supreme Court’s gutting of the federal Voting Rights Act, Senator McClellan served as patron of the Virginia Voting Rights Act. She led the charge for Virginia’s green transition by patroning the Virginia Clean Economy Act. She sponsored the Reproductive Health Protection Act, ensuring crucial protections to the reproductive rights for Virginian women. And she has consistently fought for funding for public education.
Jennifer McClellan has served all of her constituents diligently throughout her time in the General Assembly, and I know she will do the same for the many more constituents of the 4th congressional district.
Congratulations to Delegate Lamont Bagby
Immediately following Congresswoman-Elect Jennifer McClellan’s resignation of her Senate seat, President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas called for the special election to fill McClellan’s now-vacant Senate seat in the 9th Senatorial District.
The compressed timeline for the party primaries and the general election certainly challenged everyone, but I thank all candidates and volunteers who worked hard to reach out to voters and inform SD9 constituents about this important election. Running for the Democratic nomination were Delegate Lamont Bagby, Delegate Dawn Adams, and former Mayoral candidate Alexsis Rodgers. Democratic primary voters selected Delegate Lamont Bagby to move ahead to the upcoming special general election that is scheduled for Tuesday, March 28. On the Republican side and following a Party Canvass, the 9th Senate Legislative District Committee selected Stephen Imholt as the Republican nominee for the seat.
Congratulations to Delegate Bagby on his success in the primary. Delegate Bagby has been an outstanding leader for the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus for which he serves as Chair. A member of the House of Delegates since 2015, he has been an integral voice on critical issues ranging from housing, education, and social justice.
We look forward to having his strong voice in the Virginia Senate as he moves forward to serve the constituents of SD9.
Budget Sessions Across the District
Localities are now drafting their annual budgets, and they seek citizen input during this process. Richmond City, Chesterfield County, and Powhatan County have all announced public information sessions:
City of Richmond
Community Events and Meetings
Last Monday morning, members of the Virginia Young Democrats visited my office for their annual lobby day. I enjoyed hearing their thoughts and concerns about the current session and loved listening to their aspirations for political engagement in the future. This next generation of civic leaders will make our Commonwealth more welcoming, environmentally responsible, and economically just.
On my way to the Senate floor last Monday, I stopped by to speak to Edu-Futuro, an organization committed to empowering immigrant and underserved youth and families through mentorship, education, leadership development, parent engagement, and workforce development.
Last Tuesday morning, during the final days of Session, I spoke with the Senate Page Class of 2023 about their thoughts and experiences regarding the session. The Senate Page Program continues to educate the next generation of civic leaders. The application process for the 2024 Senate Page Program will open up in the Fall of 2023; I look forward to reviewing applications from the youth in my district.
Connecting With My Office
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