The first two and a half weeks of the General Assembly session have been a whirlwind of activity. Floor sessions are now getting longer as legislation starts to report out of the committees. Thanks to the many constituents who visited me in Richmond to advocate for (and against) a wide range of issues.
I am excited to be holding my annual Town Hall meeting next Saturday, February 4 from 9-11 a.m. at Fairfax City Hall. We will be joined by Senator Chap Petersen. The meeting will include an overview of major issues, the status of our legislative initiatives, and lots of time for Q&A.
This past week I spoke on the House floor against HB1485, which would undermine key legislation passed in 2020 to ensure that Virginia meets its Chesapeake Bay restoration targets. The 2020 legislation set a deadline of 2026 for larger agricultural operations to implement nutrient management plans and fence livestock out of streams. HB1485 would move that target to 2030, placing Virginia at risk of not meeting U.S. EPA mandates and risking penalties that would most likely target urban areas like Northern Virginia. While the bill passed on a 52Y-47N vote, I am hopeful that it will either be defeated or significantly amended in the Senate.
Update on My Legislation
So far, three of my bills have made it through committee, including one that has now passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.
Unsung Hero Bill – Nursing Home Standards
While there is no shortage of controversial bills that are highlighted in the news, I like to highlight good bills that often don’t get the attention they deserve. One of these deals with minimum staffing standards for nursing homes.
This issue has been debated in the General Assembly for as long as I’ve served in the House. Virginia is one of only 12 states with no laws setting minimum standards. According to a report from the
This may finally be the year that we pass minimum standards! HB1446 sets minimum hourly standards for daily care per resident and imposes administrative sanctions on those out of compliance. The bill is up for debate on the House floor this Monday.
Raise the Red Flag Bill – Short-Term Rentals
There are also sleepy bills that could have a big impact on our community if passed. Such is the case with HB2271 dealing with short-term rentals (Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.). When short-term rentals started to become popular in the early 2010s, the General Assembly debated whether to regulate them at the state-level or to empower localities to regulate them based on local needs. The latter argument won out with legislation in 2017. Many localities, including Fairfax County, spent years working with stakeholders to adopt local ordinances.
HB2271 would circumvent these local ordinances if the property is managed by a real estate salesperson licensed by the Real Estate Board. When originally conceived, short-term rentals were presented as a way for a property owner to make some extra money by periodically renting out a room or renting a home out over a weekend. HB2271 would nullify many of these local rules. Specifically, localities would no longer be able to limit the number of days that a home could be rented out or be able to require that the property be primarily occupied by the owner. That basically turns short-term rentals into small hotels. I have nothing against short-term rentals, but I do have a serious concern about commercializing our neighborhoods. The bill is still in committee where I hope it will stay.
Please do not hesitate to send me a note if you want more information on a particular issue or want to advocate for or against legislation. I hope to see you at my Town Hall meeting next Saturday!