Now that we are past the halfway point of the General Assembly session, the attention of the legislature has turned to budget negotiations between the House and the Senate. I was pleased that the House version of the budget included funding for two of my initiatives. The House versions (HB29 and HB30) included approximately $300,000 for a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (or drone) program at Denbigh Aviation Academy and close to $500,000 for the human trafficking prevention bill I sponsored. We were also delighted to see money in the House budget to upgrade the front entrance gate at Fort Eustis Army base, a vital asset for Newport News.
The House budget plan also includes a 4% raise for our teachers as well as important investments in mental health and Community Services Boards. The Senate budget has even larger funding increases for housing, early childhood and education so we will continue to negotiate with them to get the best deal possible for our constituents back home. The last budget vote is scheduled for March 2nd, but no matter what, the budget will have to be finalized before we adjourn the General Assembly on March 12th.
This February, I have enjoyed celebrating Black History Month. It was a chance to hear stories from my community about our shared history and also to get to better know some of my dear colleagues in the House of Delegates. I was moved by stories from Delegate Jeion Ward of Hampton who spoke about her childhood fascination with swing sets and her heart break at not being able to swing in certain playgrounds because of the color of her skin. She said, “It’s up to us to heal by sharing our stories. And I think we should talk about the good, and the bad, and the secrets and the celebrations because that makes us who we are.” I also had the pleasure of attending a special Black History Month service at First Baptist Church Denbigh where Trustee Milton Cary spoke about the important historical context for the Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, which I was not aware of. I’m really embracing the joy of being a “lifelong learner” as a Delegate and I am so grateful for the opportunity Black History Month provides to learn the living history of those around me in my community.
As always, it is my honor to serve you in the Virginia House of Delegates. We look forward to hearing your concerns and how we can help you. We hold office hours each Tuesday and Thursday 8 to 10AM or 2 to 5PM. If you would like to schedule a meeting or need assistance please reach out to my staff by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 804-698-1094.
Photos from the Week
Delegate Ward giving a speech on Black History Month on the floor
Enjoyed attending First Baptist Church Denbigh Sunday morning and celebrating Black History Month with Trustee Milton Cary
My constituent AJ Woodard shadowed me for
a day and we got to meet with Senator Mason