This week, I discuss the upcoming General Assembly session, talk about our Community Resource Fest event, share important information on COVID at-home tests, recommend opportunities to get involved across the district, and reflect on community events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and for staying informed.
General Assembly Session
On Wednesday, September 7, the General Assembly will reconvene for a one-day Special Session. The main order of business will be to fill the vacancy on the State Corporation Commission (SCC). The SCC is a state agency and has regulatory authority over many businesses in Virginia, including public utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities, retail franchising, and railroads. Three Commissioners are appointed by the state legislature. At present, two current Commissioners are Jehmal T. Hudson (Chair) and Judith Jagdmann. Both the House and the Senate must reach agreement for the appointment of the third Commissioner.
While rumors persist that the Governor may seek to introduce a bill to ban abortions or to ban abortions after 15-weeks, such a bill would have slim chances procedurally. Introduced bills have to go through Committee procedures in both the House and the Senate, and – should they succeed – have to be “read” on the Floor of each Chamber three times. The General Assembly is returning to Richmond for one day only next week, and we have received no indication that we will be in Session beyond Wednesday. The Governor may, however, seek to introduce such a bill simply to shine a national media spotlight on his continued public stance on restricting abortions in Virginia.
Community Resource Fest
On Saturday, September 17, from 10:00am until 2:00pm, Councilperson Mike Jones and I will co-host a Community Resource Fest, an event focused on community, connection, and fun. The festival is open to the general public, and we encourage community members to join us to learn about services provided by state agencies, nonprofits, local businesses, and other community organizations. VCU Health, FeedMore, and Brightpoint Community College are just a few of our participating organizations. The event includes opportunities to visit local food trucks, enjoy music, participate in children’s activities, and more. We will also be joined by other elected officials. We look forward to seeing our community members on September 17.
Free COVID Tests Program is Ending
The federal government is suspending its free at-home COVID test delivery program tomorrow: Friday, September 2. Every U.S. household can order up to three rounds of at-home tests. Orders will be filled while supplies last. Online orders for tests can be placed here or by calling 1-800-232-0233. The hotline is open from 8:00am until 12:00am, seven days a week.
CIS Mentor Training Program
Communities In Schools (CIS) is hosting a mentor training and celebration on Thursday, September 8, from 4:00pm until 6:00pm at the Meadowdale Library. CIS of Chesterfield seeks to surround students with a community of support, enabling them to achieve academic success and learn important life skills. Great mentors act as good listeners, motivators, guides, and friends to their mentees. The CIS mentor program has had a tremendous impact in the lives of the students with whom they work. Nearly 90% of mentored students improved their attendance, academics, behavior, and graduation rates. The deadline to register is September 6; registration information is available here.
Virginia Statewide Rail Plan
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will be hosting a virtual discussion on Tuesday, September 27, from 6:00pm until 7:00pm highlighting the Virginia Statewide Rail Plan. This meeting is the culmination of months of research, planning studies, and input from stakeholders. Register for the virtual meeting here.
Officers of Elections
The November General Election is around the corner, and our local election boards are seeking community members to serve as Officers of Elections. Officers of Elections, also called poll workers, are a vital part of the democratic process in the Commonwealth. These volunteers dedicate themselves to ensuring our polling locations are prepared to welcome voters by staging the polling location, issuing ballots, demonstrating how to use the voting equipment, and explaining voting procedures. More information is available through the offices of our local registrars: City of Richmond, Powhatan County, and Chesterfield County.
Senate Page Program: Applications are Open
As a reminder: applications are now open for the 2023 Senate Page Program. The Senate Page Program is a remarkable educational experience for young Virginians who are interested in being a part of the annual General Assembly, learning about policy making, and engaging directly in state government processes. It is a tradition that has been in place for over 150 years.
Selected pages perform administrative duties, participate in team building, and help with day-to-day operations of the General Assembly. Pages are an integral part of the Capitol during the convening of the General Assembly. Pages live in Richmond throughout the duration of the General Assembly, visiting home on the weekends. The well-structured program provides time for Pages to keep up with schoolwork while also engaging in the direct experiences of government and policy making. More information about the program is available at the Senate Page Program.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 Senate Page Program, and the application process remains open until 5:00 pm, October 17. Applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth and either 13 or 14 years old on January 11, the first day of the 2023 session. The application is available here.
Chesterfield Family Caregiver Expo
The Chesterfield Council on Aging and Chesterfield County Government is co-hosting its Family Caregiver Expo on Tuesday, November 15, from 9:00am until 11:00am at Southminster Presybiterian Church (7500 Hull Street Rd). The event will have a panel discussion on the continuum of long-term care, a host of vendors, giveaways, and more. The event is free and registration is required. Registration information for the event is available here.
Select Community Engagements
Last Thursday, my Chief of Staff attended the Redefine the Vital Signs: Taking a Public Health Approach to Public Safety event hosted by RISE for Youth. During the event, community members discussed what healthy communities look, taste, smell, and sound like. Responses were collected by VCU School of Social Work and School of Health as a part of their ongoing research on community wellness.
On Wednesday, I provided the keynote at the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2022 COVES Policy Fellowship Forum. The COVES Fellowship provides graduate students the opportunity to share their expertise with legislative offices and state agencies while experiencing the policymaking process firsthand. My own office was engaged with Kyle Mason, a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University, whose research this summer focused on equity in healthcare.
On International Drug Overdose Awareness Day, I joined the McShin Foundation to remember beloved members of our community whom we’ve lost, to honor the work of those in recovery, and to support all those whose lived experiences chart paths into & through the pain of addiction.
Celebrating Labor Day
Monday, September 5, marks Labor Day, a time to honor the efforts and achievements of the American labor movement and celebrate the contributions to our nation by generations of workers. In 2019, Virginia ranked as the worst state in the country for worker’s rights by Oxfam America. In November 2019, Democrats were elected to lead the Commonwealth and subsequently passed numerous provisions to expand workers’ rights and improve working conditions, elevating Virginia to #23 in the nation for worker’s rights. Some of these legislative victories included the first minimum wage increase in over a decade, collective bargaining rights for public employees, and new protections for domestic workers.
State offices will be closed on Monday, September 5, in observance of Labor Day. We will resume normal operations on September 6.
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: