Special Session 2020 continues this month as the General Assembly works to make necessary revisions to Virginia’s biennial budget and to reform our criminal justice system. Since convening on August 18, the House Appropriations Committee has: been briefed on the Commonwealth’s new revenue forecast and Governor Northam’s proposed budget changes; heard from the sponsors of new budget amendments; and passed a stand-alone budget funding voter access measures for November’s elections.
Read my updates from Week 1 and Week 2 of Special Session.
Special Session Town Hall
Last Tuesday, Delegate Lashrecse Aird hosted a virtual community conversation focused on criminal justice reform efforts and COVID -19 relief. I was delighted to join in the discussion of these 2020 Special Session issues with Delegates Chris Hurst, Don Scott, and Kathy Tran.
I also provided an update on the Commonwealth’s budget process. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to hear about all future public events first.
Utility Shut-Off Moratorium
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has extended the utility shut-off moratorium until September 16. When the moratorium expires, customers who have arranged payment plans will not have their service cut off. Utilities are additionally obligated to protect medically vulnerable customers from disconnection, even after the moratorium. Get more information about Virginia’s public utilities here.
TheNovember 3 election is only 63 days away. Please ensure that you areregistered to vote; you mayupdate your voter registration here. The voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 13. Here is an excellent source of information about voting in Prince William County: www.pwcvotes.org
You can apply for an absentee ballot now. Absentee ballots will be mailed out starting 45 days before the election. Once you have completed your ballot, you can return it by mail or drop it off at your local registrar’soffice. House Bill 5103, which passed the House of Delegates on Friday, allows you to return your absentee ballot to a drop-off location establishedby your registrar. HB5103 makes voting absentee more accessible by prepaying the postage on your mail-in ballot. No excuse is needed to vote absentee, and a witness signature is not required.
In Person Early Voting:
You may also vote early in person at your local registrar’s office or the locations indicated below starting 45 days before the election, which is Friday, September 18. The last day to vote early in person isSaturday, October 31. You do not need to provide a reason or fill out an application to vote early.
Virginia remains in Phase 3 of the Governor’s reopening plan. As of Monday, there have been 12,476 cases, 1,008 hospitalizations, and 210 deaths in Prince William County. You can always find free COVID-19 testing locations in Prince William County here.
In August Virginia became the first state in the country to implement a free COVID-19 exposure notification app using the Apple/Google Bluetooth Low Energy framework. The app is called COVIDWISE and was developed in a public-private partnership between VDH, Google, and Apple. COVIDWISE allows you to anonymously notify others if you test positive for COVID-19 and notifies you if you’ve likely been exposed to the virus based on positive reports from other app users. You can join this effort by visiting the App Store or Google Play Store to download COVIDWISE.
COVIDWISE was created with both public health and public trust in mind. It’s easy to use, protects your privacy, and helps secure the health and safety of our communities. No location data or personal information is ever collected, stored, or transmitted via COVIDWISE. In addition, the use of the app is 100% voluntary and can be deleted at any time. This effort is an example of Virginia leading the way forward during the most pressing pandemic of our lifetimes, with the goal of reducing the risk for your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues and helping Virginia stay safe and healthy.
I understand that these are very busy and challenging times for all of us. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.