The General Assembly adjourned on Saturday March 12 and I am happy to be back in Newport News. Despite some challenges, we managed to protect the progress we made on raising minimum wage, expanding voting access and defending the Virginia Clean Economy Act. We also moved ahead on some significant issues, including improving children’s literacy, STEM education and human trafficking prevention.
Although we did adjourn our legislative session, budget negotiations are still ongoing between the House, the Senate and the Governor. Now it will be up to the Governor to call us back to Richmond to complete work on the budget. The official budget legislation, bills HB/SB 29 and HB/SB 30 were continued to a 2022 special session as were many of the bills that were still in conference committee negotiations when we adjourned. At stake are funds for teacher raises, school construction, mental health and reimbursements for our overworked health professionals.
I am one of three House members to be named a conference committee “conferee” to help negotiate the House and Senate laboratory school legislation which has a budget impact. The Governor wants to invest up to $150mn in new funds for school innovation. It has been my mission to convince my colleagues in the legislature that this could be a good thing, if and only if, our school boards authorize these innovative schools, including laboratory schools. My vision is the possibility of expanding programs like An Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News and throughout Virginia. Right now these negotiations are at a stalemate, but since I’m a persistent optimist, I will continue to advocate that we put these funds in the budget as long as they meet our current high standards of quality and the funds are invested through our local school boards.
Since I’ve been back this week, I’ve attended events with the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, the Sierra Club, Sister Cities of Newport News, the Women’s Club of Hilton Village and the Peninsula Agency on Aging. I would love to visit with your community group, club or school so please reach out. Our office is open year round to be of service to you. We want to hear your concerns, proposals and how we can help you. If you would like to schedule a meeting or need assistance please reach out to my staff by email at email@example.com or phone at 804-698-1094
As always it is my honor to serve as your Delegate and please know I always have time for my constituents because I work for you and I am here for you!