Yesterday, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die. While we do not yet have a finalized budget, this marks the end of our 2022 regular legislative session.
This session, I sponsored five bills that passed the General Assembly and should now be signed into law. As Chairman of the Virginia Minority Business Commission, I was pleased to sponsor three successful bills to uplift Virginia’s small, women- and minority-owned businesses:
- House Bill 814 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 (SWaM) businesses. This bill implements a recommendation from an oversight commission’s report on SBSD, which found that SBSD was not providing meaningful feedback on state agency’s plans to enhance procurement from SWaM businesses. This policy proposal was developed by the Virginia Minority Business Commission, which I have chaired since its establishment two years ago.
- House Bill 815 sets up a mentorship pilot program for start-up women- and minority-owned businesses. This policy proposal was a key recommendation that came out of the Virginia Minority Business Commission.
- House Bill 820 asks SBSD to conduct a business disparity study every five years. The study will examine state spending with women- and minority-owned businesses in state contracting and will strive to identify the gap between the women- and minority-owned businesses that are available in Virginia’s economy and those that are involved in state contracting. The study will be done every five years in order to look at Virginia’s progress in equitable contracting over time. Virginia has conducted these disparity studies in the past, and other states such as Indiana and New York already have this study requirement in code. This policy proposal was developed by the Virginia Minority Business Commission.
The below bills address specific needs of the people of Prince William County:
- House Bill 821 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. Currently, with only six judges, the 31st Circuit is experiencing a backlog of cases that has been building since 2015 and overbooked dockets resulting in civil cases being placed on hold. Therefore, the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Virginia formally requested an additional judge be authorized for the Prince William Circuit Court. Funding for the seventh judge was included in Governor Northam’s outgoing budget proposal. I was glad to carry the enacting legislation along with Prince William County Senator Scott Surovell.
- House Bill 822 establishes a new charter for the Town of Occoquan in Prince William County and repeals the current charter, which was created in 1930. The new charter sets out the organization of the town’s government and contains powers typically granted to towns. Changes from the current charter include (1) updating the description of the Town’s boundary, (2) changing the election dates for councilmembers and the mayor from May to November, (3) changing the mayor’s and councilmembers’ terms of office from two years to four years, (4) eliminating provisions that duplicate provisions in the Code of Virginia, and (5) deleting outdated provisions. The Senate cognate of this legislation was also carried by my friend Senator Surovell.
In addition, I co-patroned several successful bills and resolutions. These include:
- House Bill 140, patroned by Delegate Delores McQuinn, expanding the dates of establishment that qualify historical African American cemeteries and graves for maintenance and preservation funds.
- House Bill 1107, also patroned by Delegate Delores McQuinn, which will address maternal health in Virginia by creating guidelines for the direct readmission to hospitals’ maternity units of postpartum women experiencing perinatal emergencies.
- House Bill 1053, patroned by Delegate Irene Shin, convening a workgroup to study excessive fees and price gouging in local correctional facilities.
Thank you for your support throughout this session. Please stay tuned for further updates on our progress finalizing the 2022-2024 budget over the next few weeks. You may continue to contact my office regarding my legislation, the state budget, constituent services, or any issues related to state government at email@example.com or 703-785-2224.