Going Hands Free
Texting and driving is more than a bad habit; it is a threat to the safety of drivers across our Commonwealth. That’s why I’m happy to have helped Delegate Jeff Bourne go hands free while presenting his bill to prohibit driving while holding a handheld communication device, a.k.a. your cell phone.
Register to Vote
If you’re planning to participate in the primary election on March 3, you must register to vote by tomorrow (Monday, February 10)! Virginia is lucky to be a part of Super Tuesday, a defining day for every presidential candidate, so be sure to exercise your civic duty. To check your voter registration status, register, or apply for your absentee ballot, click here.
Where in the World is My Legislation?
HB 475 My bill to create a sexual assault forensic examiner coordination program in the Department of Criminal Justice Services, passed the House unanimously on Friday! In addition, SB 373, the Senate companion bill carried by Senator Creigh Deeds, passed the Senate unanimously as well. With this legislation we will make sure that the Commonwealth is doing more to support survivors of sexual violence.
HB 668: This bill, which ensures that the archaeologists leading digs on state owned lands meet basic professional criteria, passed in the House by a vote of 79-19. The changes to the permitting process will protect our state-owned historic resources.
HB 673: This bill increases the penalty for any parent or guardian who is found guilty of physically or psychologically torturing their child. It passed out of the Courts of Justice Committee on Friday and is now on the way to the House floor.
Advancing Equality for All
Virginia should be a safe space for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, and sexuality. This week, we made major strides forward in the House to make our Commonwealth a more welcoming place to live. Delegate Mark Sickles’ Virginia Values Act (HB 1663), which works to prohibit public discrimination against individuals based upon sexual orientation and/or gender identity, passed on a 56-38 vote.
Additionally, the House voted to pass Delegate Patrick Hope’s bill, HB 386, which bans conversion therapy. This bill also received bipartisan support, and passed 63-27.
This week, we’ve seen a series of environmental and energy bills pass out of committees, including my own bill, HB 889, more commonly known as the Clean Energy Choice Act. The bill, which passed through Labor and Commerce on a 15-7 vote, will create a more competitive renewable energy economy in Virginia by allowing commercial businesses to purchase renewable energy from providers other than Dominion or Appalachian Power Company.
Delegate Mark Keam’s HB 706 passed the House on a 64-34 vote. The bill prohibits offshore drilling in waters of the Commonwealth in order to prevent environmental damage and preserve our natural resources.
In the coming days, there will be even more bills brought to the floor to be discussed and voted on, including the Clean Economy Act (HB 1526), the Fair Energy Bills Act (HB 1332), and more. Remember that all bills can be tracked via the Legislative Information System (LIS), and session can be live streamed here.
Commissioners & Cans Food Drive
The third annual Commissioners and Cans Food Drive is happening now through February 14th! There are a number of drop off locations in Newport News, including the lobby of City Hall, the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office, the City Parks and Recreation Office, and the Offices of Neighborhood Development Services. To make a donation, click here.
Grafton Complex Fire
I was saddened to hear about the electrical fire at the Grafton Complex, the site of both Grafton High School and Middle School. Thankfully, no one was injured during the fire. However, it will be several months before the Complex will be able to re-open. The York County School Division has released more information on this situation that you can read here.
With a huge week ahead, I am beyond excited to get to vote on the last of the House bills before we begin to hear bills that originated in the “other body” (otherwise known as the Senate of Virginia). If there is any legislation coming from the Senate that is important to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to voice your opinion. It’s hard to believe that this session is already more than halfway over!
Visits of the Week
Delegate Michael P. Mullin