Monday, January 29, 2024

An "Average" Session Day

As we finished out last week in Richmond, we're continuing to move at a rapid pace this session. I've had a couple of my busiest days yet - between meeting with advocacy groups and presenting legislation, the days are flying by!

An "Average" Session Day


I always tell folks there is no such thing as an "average" session day. That is to say, that no 2 days are ever truly alike. However, a few things remain the same - the days are long and the issues we cover are diverse.


In the Morning


As an example, my longest day last week was Thursday. I started the morning at 7:30am, presenting my bill on real estate disclosures in a Counties, Cities, and Towns Subcommittee. I then went straight to my Public Safety Subcommittee at 8am for a fairly long bill docket that covered correctional facilities, the Parole Board, law enforcement officer training, and even Space Force.


Even though the subcommittee was still meeting, I rushed back to my office just after 9am to meet with folks from the Culmore Clinic of Falls Church, plus a few other advocacy groups both in-person and virtually.


At 10am, I met with the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors for their lobby day in one of the conference rooms. By the time I finished there, I needed to run over to the Capitol for our 11am caucus meeting, which happens every day an hour before the floor session begins at noon.


In the Afternoon


Because our committee agendas are getting longer, we had a relatively short session that day and I was headed to the General Laws Committee about 1:15pm. As soon as the full committee was over, I chaired my Housing Subcommittee which had 16 bills on the docket.


While I pride myself on running an efficient committee meeting, I still only had a few minutes in between before heading to the Firearms Subcommittee meeting at 4pm. Unfortunately, we then had to delay the meeting time as we waited for a quorum - several of the subcommittee members were in another committee that was running over time. We finally began at 5pm, completing the docket about 6:30pm. This gave me just enough time to return to my office to drop off my bill folders and floor calendar before heading to our weekly Thursday evening caucus meeting at 7pm.



Monday, January 22, 2024

2024 Session | January 22nd Update

We've wrapped up the first full week of the 2024 General Assembly Session and things are moving quickly.

It was another busy week of meeting with advocacy groups and lobbyists on bills that are important to them. Starting on MLK Day, traditionally the biggest lobby day of the session,  there were a lot of folks visiting the building, advocating on a variety of issues from gun violence prevention to criminal sentencing reform and from environmental protection to mental health care.


New Chair Appointments


Chairman Bulova appointed me as Chair of the Housing & Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the General Laws Committee and Chairman Hope appointed me as Chair of the Civil Law Subcommittee of the Courts of Justice Committee. These are two of the busiest subcommittees in the legislature and is in addition to my role as Chair of the Public Safety Committee. We had our first meetings last week and I'm looking forward to continuing our work this session.


Keep reading for a legislative update on my bills, information on the budget amendments I've introduced, and a few more items!


Friday, January 19, 2024

2024 Session | January 19th Update

The 2024 legislative session kicked off on January 10th with the House of Delegates unanimously electing Don Scott of Portsmouth the first African American Speaker in the 405-year history of the body.  

Scott’s ascension to the Speaker’s dais was the result of Democrats winning 51 of the 100 seats up for grabs in November’s election, putting the party back in the majority in the House by the slimmest of margins. 

Along with the ability to elect the Speaker, majority status means Democrats will be in charge of the Committees and Subcommittees in the House where the real work of legislating happens.  

As the 26th most senior member of the House and one of the most senior members of the Democratic Caucus, I’ll have a lot of leadership responsibilities this session.  

I’m honored to have been appointed Chairman of the House Public Safety Committee by Speaker Scott, as well as Vice Chair of the Courts of Justice Committee. I’m looking forward to once again serving on the General Laws and Rules Committees as well. For subcommittees, I’m chairing the Civil Law Subcommittee of Courts of Justice and the Housing and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of General Laws this session. 

As Chairman of Public Safety, I’ll be charged with shepherding through a number of caucus priorities in the area of gun violence prevention, including HB2 our assault weapons ban, my bill to ban unserialized, untraceable, ghost guns, and a number of bills to required safe storage of firearms.  

The Courts of Justice Committee is among the busiest in the General Assembly, hearing hundreds of bills in the short 60-day sessionAs Vice Chair of the full committee and Chair of Civil subcommittee, I’ll be working on legislation to improve access to justice by making Virgnia the 49th of the 50 states to allow class actions. I’ll be working on leveling the playing field between landlords and tenants when they find themselves in court and working on fine tuning of family law and civil procedures. 

On the General Laws Committee, I’ll reprise my role as the Chairman of the Housing and Consumer Protection Subcommittee where bills regulating real estate transactions, landlord tenant law, fair housing and other important subjects are addressed.  

If those assignments weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I’m also patroning roughly 20 bill myself, including my perennial effort to make it illegal for candidates to convert the funds in their campaign accounts to personal use. I also have a bill to establish a public financing option for candidates that choose to rely on small donations to fund their campaigns.  

On behalf of the City of Falls Church, I’ve reintroduced legislation to allow the city to change their charter to allow residents who aren't citizens to participate in local boards and commissions. 

My bill, HB 81, will finally abolish the common- law crime of suicide. An outdated provision that needs to be removed from the Code of Virginia. 

As I mentioned previously, I’ve reintroduced my bill to prohibit the manufacturing, importing, or selling of ghost guns.  

To further my gun violence prevention agenda, HB 175 prohibits individuals from carrying assault weapons in public areas and HB 183 requires firearms to be properly stored in a locked container when minors are present.  

Related to the election process, HB 185 requires that challenges to a candidate’s ballot qualifications be made at least 60 days before the election date. This will hopefully prevent deceptive challenges from being submitted for political purposes.  

I’ve also got a bill that will enhance consumer protection in Virginia, which allows for class action lawsuits in Virginia's circuit courts. 

Working with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Justice Forward, I’ve got two bills that will further improve the criminal justice process by allowing defendants to have more flexibility in jury sentencing as well as protect them from being charged with “failure to appear” when the circumstances are beyond their control.  

I’ve got a full legislative agenda, to say the least, and I’m looking forward to working on the issues that my constituents care about the most. In that vein, you can contact my office in Richmond any time, sharing your concerns about a bill or if you have questions about what’s happening - (804) 698-1013 or 

Monday, January 15, 2024

2024 Session | January 15th Update

The 2024 General Assembly Session began on January 10th and we've hit the ground running!

During the first floor session, all the House members were sworn in and we officially elected Delegate Don Scott as the first black Speaker of the House. Since then, committees have started meeting and the General Assembly Building has been full of advocacy groups, lobbyists, and constituents - all eager to meet with legislators and to tour the new building. We've also had several legislative deadlines already for submitting budget amendments and introducing bills. No rest for those in the General Assembly!


Keep reading for more information on my 2024 Legislative Agenda, committee assignments, and more!


My 2024 Legislative Agenda

Now that the Democrats have once again taken over the House, I'm happy to report that my committee assignments have expanded and I have the opportunity to take on a larger leadership role in this area. Subcommittee chair assignments will be announced later this week.

Courts of Justice | I have been on this committee since 2020 and have been appointed Vice Chair.

Public Safety | I'm honored to be the Chair of this committee and look forward to working with my colleagues to enhance gun violence prevention initiatives, strengthen the relationship with law enforcement agencies, improve transparency, and hold our Department of Corrections to a higher standard.

General Laws | As I work a lot on these issues, I'm thrilled to be back on this committee.

Rules | Chaired by the Speaker, this committee reviews a variety of legislation and resolutions.


Please welcome new members to Team Simon!

We're rounding out Team Simon this year with some additional staff for session. Many of you already know Andrea, my Chief of Staff, and may have also spoken with Becky, our Administrative Assistant.

However, I'd like to introduce Spogmai Anwar, a recent UVA graduate, who is our Session Aide. She's interested in criminal justice, government transparency, ethics reform, and plans to attend law school.

Justin Sheppard is joining the team as our session intern. A junior at VCU, Justin also has an interest in criminal justice and would love to work at one of our federal law enforcement agencies one day.