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!
And we are off! The 2023 General Assembly session sprang to life on January 11 with the crack of the gavel. Thus began our 46-day sprint to consider 1,800+ bills and several hundred proposed amendments to the biennial budget.
Mark your calendar for my annual Town Hall meeting on Saturday, February 4, from 9-11 a.m. This is one of my favorite traditions and I’m excited that we will be returning to Fairfax City Hall. The meeting will include an overview of major issues and then lots of time for robust Q&A.
Thank you to everyone who emailed in response to my last newsletter, where I invited feedback on the Governor’s budget amendments and other priorities. I am still working through responses – but please know that I have read them all and greatly appreciate the input. I also want to share a more comprehensive overview of the Governor’s proposed amendments by our House Appropriations Committee for those who are interested in more details.
This year I have introduced 14 bills dealing with a wide range of issues. Below are a few highlights. Click here for the full list.
Thank you to the many constituents who came down to Richmond this week to visit and advocate for a wide range of issues. It is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly!
Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones have a joyful and prosperous 2023.
It is hard to believe that at high noon on January 11 we will gavel in for the 2023 General Assembly session. Odd years are “short” sessions, meaning we will complete (hopefully) our business in 46 days. Virginia packs a lot into these short sessions. On average, over 2,000 bills are introduced. In addition, General Assembly members and the Governor have an opportunity to propose amendments to Virginia’s biennial budget.
You can help shape this year’s session by sharing what is important to you. The easiest way is to email me. I greatly value the diversity of expertise and perspectives of my constituents. Hearing from you helps me to make more informed decisions. Send me a note anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, you can participate in two upcoming forums designed to receive community feedback.
Public Hearings on Proposed Budget Amendments
The House Appropriations and Senate Finance and Appropriations committees will hold virtual public hearings on the Governor’s proposed budget amendments (see below for details). There are four hearings, including one specifically for Northern Virginia. Speakers are asked to limit comments to three minutes or less.
Those wishing to speak must register on Wednesday, January 4. Visit hac.virginia.gov to register and for more information.
If you are unable to attend, you may submit comments electronically. The public hearings will be livestreamed on the Virginia General Assembly web site.
Fairfax Delegation Public Forum
The Fairfax Delegation to the General Assembly will also hold its annual public forum. The forum is limited to Fairfax residents speaking for themselves and/or a community-based organization. Speakers are allotted three minutes on a first-come first-served basis.
Those wishing to speak must register by noon on Thursday, January 5. More information (including how to register and how to watch remotely) can be found here.
Governor Youngkin’s Proposed Budget
Last month, Governor Youngkin presented his proposed budget amendments for consideration by the General Assembly. You can read his proposed budget at this link or you can watch the Governor’s remarks here. In addition, we received a report on the economic outlook from the Secretary of Finance. The key takeaway is “caution.” While FY2022 ended on a revenue high note, the budget assumes a recession beginning at the end of Q3 of FY 2023 and lasting two to three quarters.
In addition to the Governor, each member of the House and Senate may also introduce amendments. It is then ultimately up to the General Assembly to pass a budget. As often quoted in state capitals everywhere “The Governor proposes; the legislature disposes.”
Below is a summary of amendments proposed by the Governor. As always, there are things I agree with and disagree with – with the devil often being in the details. And, just because something is a good idea, it doesn’t make it a priority. In Virginia, we must balance the budget every year.
New Laws – Grocery Tax Decrease
Most laws passed by the General Assembly go into effect July 1. However, some laws have delayed enactments for a variety of reasons. This is the case for a decrease in the grocery tax, which went from 2.5% to 1% effective January 1. The tax cut includes food for home consumption and specific personal hygiene items. Click here for a full list of eligible items. The 1.5% that was eliminated is the state’s portion of the grocery tax. The General Assembly left in place the 1% local sales tax that goes fund local programs.
It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly! Watch for updates on my legislation and our annual Town Hall meeting in early February.