Wednesday, February 16, 2022

2022 Crossover

Monday, we spent nearly 12 hours on the House floor, reviewing over 300 bills and resolutions.

Repealing, Rolling Back, & Watering-Down

We made a valiant effort on several fronts to combat the onslaught of bad bills that were set to pass the House yesterday and today.

With Del. Sally Hudson, we fought HB 212 - politicians have no business interfering between an individual and their doctor when it comes to reproductive healthcare. I have always opposed legislation that restricts or limits women's access to reproductive healthcare and will continue to do so. You can view our remarks here.

We tried to amend the Stadium Authority Bill (HB 1353) to make it contingent upon the NFL to releasing the Wilkinson Report. When the amendment failed, I led the opposition to the bill on the House floor, which puts me at odds with Senator Saslaw and Senator Peterson.
Although it still passed, I made an impassioned speech against HB 70, which would roll back progress we made in the past few years regarding civilian oversight of law enforcement.
Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, Del. Sam Rasoul, and I worked to amend the fatally flawed bills (HB 1272 & SB 739) that will strip our school boards' authority to require masks in schools. This issue has previously been left to the local boards as they know what is best for their areas. You can watch the full debate of our amendments on HB 1272 and on SB 739.
Knowing the Rules
Last week, Republicans killed constitutional amendments to restore rights to returning citizens (HJ 28) and to remove the obsolete same-sex marriage ban (HJ 57) from the Virginia Constitution. This is upsetting for several reasons, not the least of which is that both of these measures have the floor votes to pass and that the Republican leadership did not want to give us the opportunity to do so.
Tomorrow, we'll vote on my rules change resolution (HR 24) so we can try to force a vote on these constitutional amendments. To be clear, the Rules change would have to pass first and then we could move to discharge the two amendments from committee. Virginians deserve to have their voices heard on these issues and we will use every tool at our disposal to fight for them. During my floor speech on the Republican's flip-flopping on these issues, I go into a little more detail. 
Legislation Update
My two Code Commission bills to remove obsolete language in the Code of Virginia, my bill to update the City of Falls Church Charter, and my bill to ban the possession or transfer of unserialized firearms have now crossed over to the Senate. They will be heard in Senate committees over the next few weeks.
Just as there are bills to undo our good work, there are also bills to that I'd categorize as missed opportunities. One such bill, HB 833, completely misses the mark in the fight against gun violence in the Commonwealth. The bill removes the Operation Ceasefire Grant Fund program from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and moves it to the Attorney General's Office. This watered-down effort highlights the differences in our approach to prevention, putting the emphasis on law enforcement instead of focusing on the root causes of gun violence.
Next week, we'll review the House Appropriations version of the state budget and have a long floor session to review amendments.
Unfortunately, with our current numbers in the House, we can't defeat all the bad bills (or push through the common-sense ones), but we can certainly bring the issues to light and not go down without a fight.