This was “crossover” week in the Virginia General Assembly: the deadline for each chamber to complete work on its own bills. The House of Delegates met this deadline, passing a set of priorities that will help to build a better Virginia, including: protecting families through paid sick leave, expanding access to telehealth and broadband internet, raising the minimum wage for farmworkers, expanding voting rights, ending the death penalty and mandatory minimum sentences, legalizing cannabis, and instituting automatic record expungement for certain non-violent charges.

Now, the House of Delegates will consider those bills passed in the Senate and vice versa. You may be wondering how we expect to do so when the 2021 session is scheduled to end next week. This past Thursday, Governor Northam called a special session beginning on February 10th to allow us time to finish legislating. This special session should add only the extra days needed to reach the length of a normal, odd-year legislative session (customarily 46 days in total). It will also give us time to complete Virginia’s amended 2020-2022 operating budget.

Legislative Progress

House Bill 2175, the Preserving the American Dream Act,was reported out of the General Laws Committee on Tuesday and passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 60-40 on Friday. This legislation builds on my 2020 Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act and lays the groundwork for a housing bill of rights in Virginia.

The bill makes modest changes to Virginia’s foreclosure law to help some homeowners facing foreclosure get the support they need to bring their mortgages current and protect their homes. It requires a mortgage company to give a 60-day notice period to a homeowner of a pending foreclosure auction sale; current law only requires a 14-day notice period. It requires notice to include information for the homeowner on potential legal assistance and makes it less likely that a vindictive creditor will force the sale of a lower-income person’s home to satisfy other debt.

HB2175 also provides manufactured home lot tenants a statement of their rights and responsibilities and requires localities comprehensive plans to include strategies to preserve and maintain manufactured home communities, the least-cost entry into homeownership in Virginia. Read about HB2175 in the news.

House Bill 2176 passed the House of Delegates by a 57-42 vote on Tuesday. HB2176 would help to promote a healthy work environment for our teachers and all school board employees by defining the terms: “abusive conduct,” “abusive work environment,” “physical harm,” and “psychological harm.”

COVID-19 Vaccines

All Virginia health districts are now in Phase 1b of vaccine eligibility. According to information provided by the Administration, there are simply not enough doses available yet for everyone who is eligible to receive them. Virginia is not likely to meet the demand for Phase 1b until March or April. You can track Virginia’s progress on the COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.

If you are currently eligible to receive the vaccine based on occupation, you should first check with your employer and then the local health department where you work. If you are eligible based on age or medical condition, start by contacting the health department where you live. Find information specific to the Prince William Health District and join the Prince William County vaccination waitlist.

Further assistance in English, Spanish, and other languages is available through the VDH Call Center at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).