I have now passed three bills through the General Assembly: House Bills 814, 815, and 822. HB814 directs the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) to annually review state agencies’ plans to enhance procurement from small, women- and minority-owned businesses. HB815 will establish a mentorship pilot program for start-up women- and minority-owned businesses. HB822 modernizes the Town of Occoquan’s charter and brings its local elections in line with the rest of Virginia.

House Bills 820 and 821 were passed by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. HB820 asks SBSD to conduct a business disparity study every five years. HB821 adds a judge to the 31st Judicial Circuit, increasing the maximum number of judges in Prince William County’s Circuit Court from six to seven. These bills are now before the full Senate for a final vote.

Visit from Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai

On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed a resolution, introduced by Delegate Candi King, commending the Republic of Sierra Leone on the nation’s upcoming 60th Independence Day. We were honored to be joined on this occasion by His Excellency Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America.

Virginia Housing

Virginia Housing recently launched a new website in concert with the organization’s 50th anniversary: www.virginiahousing.com. Virginia Housing works to ensure every Virginian has a place to call home by helping them to attain quality, affordable housing. They offer home loans, free first-time homebuyer classes, and financing for rental units. Visit Virginia Housing’s new website to see all the resources that may be available to you whether you are a homebuyer, homeowner, or renter.

New DMV Service Model

Note: Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles is now offering walk-in services Monday-Saturday (in offices with Saturday hours) and expanded appointment opportunities Monday-Friday at all 75 customer service centers throughout the Commonwealth. Offering appointments and walk-in service at the same time is possible through the DMV’s new, more robust appointment system. A percentage of in-person service Monday through Friday is dedicated to appointments, and each location is offering a specific number of appointments based on the size and location of the office. Customers may walk in for service without an appointment Monday through Saturday (in offices with Saturday hours). Learn more: www.dmv.virginia.gov

Budget Conference

On Wednesday, the primary budget bill – HB30 – was sent into a “committee of conference” after the House of Delegates and state Senate failed to agree on identical funding policies. That evening, the House and Senate announced their budget conferees. I was appointed to represent the House in budget negotiations along with Delegates Mark Sickles, Barry Knight, Terry Austin, Robert Bloxom, and Emily Brewer. The Senate conferees are Senators Janet Howell, George Barker, Emmett Hanger, Mamie Locke, Louise Lucas, Steve Newman, Tommy Norment, and Richard Saslaw.

The fourteen of us will work together to resolve any discrepancies between the two chambers’ different versions of the Commonwealth’s next biennial operating budget. The final version of the budget – ideally, one that the majority of both chambers of the General Assembly can agree to – should be reported and voted on before the 2022 Session ends on March 12th.

You can view every version of the state budget, as well as every budget amendment that has been submitted, at budget.lis.virginia.gov.

If you have any questions or comments about the General Assembly Session, please reach out to my office at info@delegatetorian.com or 703-785-2224.