In this week’s newsletter, I give a final reminder about Election Day—Tuesday, November 8; I also provide updates from recent General Assembly engagements, share information from community partners, and reflect on local events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for staying informed.
Countdown to Election Day
We are less than one week away from Election Day. Early in-person voting ends this Saturday, November 5. This means that you will not be able to “early vote” on Sunday or Monday. And so, if you have not voted by Saturday, be sure to head to your designated polling location on Election Day to cast your ballot in this very important election.
Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the general registrar's office by 12:00pm on the third day following the election. Individuals who requested an absentee ballot but would like to vote in person (either early in person through November 5 or on Election Day), can surrender the absentee ballot at their polling location.
On Election Day, polls will be open from 6:00am until 7:00pm across the state. Any voter who is in line by 7:00pm must be allowed to vote, and so voters should not leave the line. Additional election information, including polling locations, can be found at Virginia Department of Elections.
Virginia Education Summit
Last Thursday and Friday, I joined members of the Senate Committee on Education and Health and the House Education Committee at the Virginia Education Summit, held at Radford University and in Roanoke, Virginia. The Summit considered the full spectrum of education in the Commonwealth: infant brain development and early childhood education, K-12, workforce development, and higher education. The panel sessions over the two days were engaging, lively, and brought together moderators and experts from throughout Virginia and from other states. The Summit provided us all the opportunity to consider education issues that will likely be debated during the upcoming General Assembly.
Joint Commission on Health Care Meeting
Wednesday morning, the Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) met in Richmond to hear reports from JCHC staff on Virginia’s local health departments and a follow-up report on the affordability policy options of our assisted living facilities (ALFs). Both entities faced considerable stress during and because of the pandemic. However, our local health departments and ALFs have had a series of ongoing challenges for many years; the pandemic only exacerbated and exposed these numerous concerns. The top remaining concern is a severe workforce shortage. Our local health departments are stretched thin as staff and clinicians leave for better employment opportunities, or as these dedicated professionals retire. Similarly, our ALFs are facing staffing shortages that impact our ability to meet the needs of aging populations.
The excellent reports prepared by JCHC staff provide a series of recommendations that will need to be considered in this upcoming General Assembly session.
The full Commission meeting can be viewed here.
Special Senate General Laws & Technology Committee Meeting
On Wednesday afternoon, I joined the other committee members of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee to receive presentations on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study on the Oversight and Administration of Gaming in the Commonwealth and the report by The Innovation Group on the “Feasibility and State and Local Revenue Impacts of Locating a Casino in the City of Petersburg.”
The JLARC study provides an overview of the expanding gaming environment in the Commonwealth. Gaming now includes casinos, historical horse racing machines, gaming activities run by charitable organizations, and a large number of unregulated electronic gaming machines. The study provides a series of recommendations that may be addressed in the 2023 Session and other upcoming sessions. The full Committee meeting can be viewed here.
CCPL Holiday Toy Bonanza
All Chesterfield County Public Libraries are collecting toy donations as a part of the CCPL Holiday Toy Bonanza. The deadline for donation is this Saturday, November 5. Donations of new or like-new toys may be dropped off at any CCPL location during regular business hours. A full list of locations and hours is available here.
Donated toys will be distributed among participating library locations for community “free shop” events throughout November. These events are open to the public. The participating locations are the following:
V-TOP Employer Readiness Toolkit
The Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership is launching new, work-based learning resources for employers and students starting in mid-November. Employers will have access to a series of online, self-paced modules: “Developing an Internship Program.” These online modules supplement the Virginia Employer Readiness Toolkit, published by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation and are available with other employer resources at V-TOP Employers.
For students, V-TOP has created the “Developing Career Readiness Skills,” a series of online modules to help students identify and develop the skills necessary to enter the workforce with confidence and awareness. Some of the lessons include helping students establish competency development goals, creating a plan to accomplish those goals, and learning how to articulate one’s accomplishments. Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership has more information regarding the release of these work-based learning programs.
Last Thursday, my Chief of Staff attended a reception to unveil the new Institute for Sustainable Energy and Environments (ISEE) at VCU. This center is the result of a collaboration between VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government. Students, faculty, and staff of the Institute will focus on addressing our climate and energy crises through research and policy development.
Saturday was the first day of early weekend voting in Virginia, and I started the day off by joining the Powhatan NAACP and Powhatan Democrats, along with VA-05 Congressional candidate, Joshua Throneburg, at the Parade to the Polls event. Expanded early voting and other voter access legislation was the result of legislation sponsored by Virginia’s Democrats in 2020 and 2021. Although our Republican colleagues sought to roll back many of these voting access measures in 2022, the Senate Democrats were able to protect expanded access for Virginians.
Saturday was also an absolutely gorgeous day for the Fall for All Festival at River City Middle School. I had a wonderful time chatting with community members, Richmond Public Schools staff, local vendors, and parents.
I was inspired by the Chesterfield County NAACP’s Freedom Fund Banquet this past Saturday. It was an evening that featured outstanding speakers and honored several individuals who have made tremendous impacts in our community.
On Tuesday evening, I joined Delegate Lee Ware as we attended the joint meeting of the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors and School Board to listen to the Boards’ legislative priorities for the 2023 General Assembly session. Policy priorities continue to focus on the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Cumberland County mega-landfill, appropriate funding for schools, and the impacts of certain state mandates on localities.
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: