The General Assembly formally convened for Special Session 2021 this past Wednesday. This Special Session is intended to run through the end of the month, giving us time to act on all remaining bills and complete work on Virginia’s amended 2020-2022 operating budget.
As many of you know, I am seeking to continue serving as your Delegate for the 52nd District in the Virginia General Assembly. In order to do this, signatures are required to be placed on the ballot for re-election. The Occoquan Democratic Committee is holding a drive-thru signature gathering event this Sunday, February 14, at Woodbridge High School from 1-3pm. Please stop by during that time and sign the petition to assist me and other Democrats with placement on the ballot. You can remain in your car to do this!
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee reported an amended House Bill 1800, the budget bill, to the full House of Delegates. In considering the more than 500 amendments submitted, we maintained the focus on fiscal responsibility that has kept our Commonwealth on solid footing thus far. Based on the priorities I laid out at the start of the 2021 session, the Committee’s work emphasized funding policies that will protect Virginia’s workers and promote financial security for all Virginia families. We are restoring more funding for key priorities and anticipatingVirginia’s needs in 2022 and beyond.
The Appropriations Committee’s recommended package of amendments to the Commonwealth’s 2020-2022 biennial budget includes:
- $231.4 million for a 5% teacher pay raise
- A 3.5% raise for state employees
- $5 million for an immigrant welcome center in Prince William County
- $84 million to maintain affordable access to Virginia colleges and universities and $8.5 million to increase Tuition Assistant Grants
- Funding paid sick leave for essential workers
- $74.8 million to meet the minimum wage increase for home care workers
- A $12 per patient, per day increase in nursing home payments
- Funding to institute automatic expungement and end mandatory minimum sentences
The amended budget bill passed the House of Delegates today by a vote of 68-30. Now, members of the House and Senate will collaborate to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the budget. Once agreement has been reached on every detail, the final version will be subject to another vote in the House and Senate.
House Bill 2175, the Preserving the American Dream Act, was reported out of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 11-1. 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. HB2175 also provides manufactured home lot tenants with a statement of their rights and responsibilities and requires that localities’ comprehensive plans include strategies to preserve and maintain manufactured home communities, which are the least-cost entry into homeownership in Virginia.
House Bill 2176 was reported out of the Senate Education and Health Committee’s subcommittee on Public Education by a 2-1 vote on Thursday. HB2176 would help to promote a positive and 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.”
The Prince William Health District (PWHD) is currently in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution. PWHD has nearly completed all vaccinations that fall within Phase 1a. Those currently eligible to receive the vaccine include: police, fire, and rescue workers, hazmat workers, people working or living in correctional facilities and homeless shelters, childcare workers, teachers, those 65 and older, those in migrant labor camps, and individuals age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions or disabilities.
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. A new statewide pre-registration system will launch next week to improve the consistency of this process and allow individuals to confirm their pre-registration status at any time. Note: the PWHD pre-registration form will be down between 5pm on Friday, February 12 and 8am on Tuesday, February 16 during the transition to the statewide system. This new system will not replace the current PWHD waitlist nor remove you from the PWHD waitlist.
CVS Pharmacy is administering vaccines to the public. PWHD is not involved in this process; this is an arrangement between CVS and the federal government. CVS is using an online registration system with 36 CVS Pharmacy locations in Virginia. Residents can call and make appointments directly with CVS. These locations are currently administering about 100 doses per day, based on supply.
The PWHD call center can answer your questions, assist with the waitlist, and schedule appointments. The call center is available every day from 9am to 4:30pm at 703-872-7759. Assistance in English, Spanish, and other languages is available through the Virginia Department of Health Call Center at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).