Thank you again for re-electing me to serve as your delegate in last month’s General Election. I am honored to continue representing the people of the 52nd district in the Virginia General Assembly.
I hope you are enjoying a safe, peaceful holiday season. During this time of reflection and gratitude, my thoughts are with all my constituents who continue to feel the negative effects of the COVID pandemic, those who have lost loved ones, and those who are still doing the essential work as healthcare professionals, teachers, first responders, and other frontline heroes.
There have now been close to one million reported cases of COVID in Virginia to date, including 2,400 new cases between November 30th and December 1st. There have been 115 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and one related death.
We are monitoring the Omicron variant as it is suspected to spread from person to person even more easily than Delta. The World Health Organization designated Omicron a “variant of concern” on November 26th. Omicron has been identified in the United States. According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Omicron is different from previous variants because it has both a high number of mutations and an unusual combination of mutations. Some of these are concerning because they change the viral spike protein, a key part of the virus that our immune systems respond to. While we continue to learn more about this variant, our best defense continues to be mass vaccination.
The good news: The FDA has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for children aged 5-11 years old. According to VDH, children under 18 account for a significant proportion of COVID cases in Virginia. The ability to vaccinate children 5–11 years old will help protect this age group. Equally important, per VDH, it can help our students stay in school and minimize learning interruptions such as having to quarantine. Visit https://vaccinate.virginia.gov/ to make a vaccine appointment for your child.
Additionally, VDH recommends that all individuals 18 and older receive booster doses of the COVID vaccine. If you received the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, a booster shot is recommended six months after your second dose. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a booster shot is recommended two months after the one dose. The booster dose doesn’t have to be the same type of vaccine that you originally received; you may prefer to continue with the same type or get a different booster. Find where you can get a booster dose at https://vaccinate.virginia.gov/.
During this holiday season, I urge you to take steps to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. VDH advises we know our level of risk: Virtual events and celebrations with members of your household are low risk. Large indoor gatherings, even when everyone is vaccinated, are considered medium risk. Any gathering with unvaccinated individuals is high risk. Please get vaccinated and get the booster when you are eligible. Wear a mask in public indoor spaces. Finally, stay at home and get tested if you’re feeling sick.
A Busy November
Even though the General Assembly is not in session, we have been very busy. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), of which I am a member, met early in November to hear updates on the Virginia Employment Commission’s performance, transportation and infrastructure funding, economic development incentives, and more. Find a recording of the November JLARC meeting here.
The House Appropriations Committee held its annual retreat the following week on November 16th and 17th. We were briefed on state financial trends and the budgetary outlook. We also received a progress update on Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts and the Richmond National Slavery Museum at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site. Watch the retreat’s presentations here.
The Joint Advisory Board of Economists (JABE) met in October to consider the Commonwealth’s economic and revenue prospects. JABE’s forecasts were passed on to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates (GACRE), a representative group of leaders across Virginia’s key industries. GACRE met on November 22 to recommend a revenue forecast for Governor Northam’s proposed 2022-2024 budget. Governor Northam will present that budget to the House Appropriations Committee, House Finance Committee, and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee at a joint meeting on December 16. These committees and theGeneral Assembly will use the Governor’s budget as the basis for our work during the 2022 session.
Virginia’s Minority Business Commission, which I chair, and the Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission, for which I serve as vice chair, will both convene later this month.
General Assembly Session 2022
The Virginia General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, for a 60-day regular session. The House of Delegates and state Senate will consider legislation and craft the Commonwealth’s next biennial operating budget. In preparation, please feel free to contact my office to share your legislative and spending priorities: firstname.lastname@example.org. Next month, I will announce my 2022 legislative portfolio.
John Jenkins Good Scout Award
Last month, I was honored to receive a John Jenkins Good Scout Award alongside some exceptional members of the Prince William County community at an event in support of the Prince William County Boy Scouts.
My fellow honorees were (from left to right): Mike Vanderpool, attorney and community leader; Ross Snare, Chief Operating Officer of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce; and community leader Ernestine Jenkins.
Thank you for your support. Take care and stay safe.