Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Week #3 - ERA & Predatory Lending Dies, HOA Reform Moves Forward

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 29, 2019.

The third week of the General Assembly brought action on many of my bills

First, the Equal Rights Amendment was killed in House Committee at the beginning of the week.  It was the first time the House of Delegates has ever held a hearing on the amendment.  The official statements from members who opposed indicated that they felt women had equal rights and the amendment was no longer necessary.  However, the conservative activist community has attempted to make the amendment all about abortion which is inaccurate - the right to contraception and reproductive freedom is already recognized in the U.S. Constitution.

Women do not have equal rights.  There are numerous pieces of legislation that are regularly passed across the country that have a disparate impact on women.  Unfortunately, these are very difficult to challenge in court because government actions that differentiate on sex are not given the same scrutiny as government actions that differentiate based on race.   I have carried this bill for seven years and we will continue to fight to enshrine equality in the U.S. Constitution. 

My legislation has started to move.  the new “gig economy” has created challenges with some of our old systems.  For example, Virginia Law does not allow child support to be withheld from anyone who is paid by 1099.  Some child support payees have used jobs at entities like Uber and Lyft to avoid making payments.  My legislation to close this loophole cleared the Senate Courts Committee.

Next, my bills to regulate predatory lending strangely failed.  I introduced legislation to put a 36% rate cap on consumer finance loans.  My legislation was supported by the consumer finance industry, but was opposed by internet lenders who want to use Virginia’s consumer finance laws to allow them to make loans over the internet at over 400%.  Five senators changed their votes from last year and my bill that passed the full Senate 38-2 failed in committee by two votes.  I will be back next year.

My legislation provide more transparency with homeowners associations cleared committee.  First, my legislation would require all homeowner and condominium associations to actually publish their budget to members on an annual basis (this is not currently required).  Next, association will be required to tell their members exactly how much reserves for capital investments are recommended by their reserve study and exactly how short they are.  Associations frequently do not raise dues to save enough money which leaves sidewalks, pools, and parking lots in a decrepit state.

Next, homeowner association of childcare has been a regular problem.  Home based childcare is entry level employment for many immigrant families and provides a useful service given that childcare in the D.C. Metropolitan Area is the most expensive in the United States.  Many associations try to use “home based business” prohibitions to prohibits unsophisticated homeowners who have already received country approval for their childcare service.  My legislation says associations can only prohibit homebased childcare if they pass a specific rule about homebased childcare.  This will help avoid disputes.

My legislation to amend the Town of Dumfries Charter to require elections to be held in November instead of May also passed committee.  This will save taxpayer dollars and increase turnout.  More people voting makes for better elections.

Finally, we have seen zero movement on reaching tax conformity with the federal government.  Because of this, Virginians still cannot file a tax return.  This is becoming a crisis, but the Republican majority has refused to reach out for input to us even though conformity legislation cannot pass without twelve Democratic votes as emergency legislation.  We need to get this done immediately.

Please complete my constituent survey online and email me at if you have any feedback.  It is an honor to serve as your state senator.


  1. You support many good causes but Virginia will have to elect more Democrats to make progress on most of them. One issue where the prospects could be better next year is reasonable gun regulation, because of the outpouring of support from the medical community, after the NRA responded to a medical journal article about firearm violence with a tweet admonishing “self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane”. Doctors and other medical personnel immediately began responding that firearm injury prevention definitely is in "their lane", as this article in the New England Journal of Medicine explains:

  2. I appreciate your efforts on ERA and hope it will pass in the near future. One thing about apartment living in Northern Virginia is that many commercial apartment buildings raise rent on tenants that have been living in a building for an extended period while giving lower rent to new tenants. Many people are forced to change apartments within the same building or move due to their rent rising just because they have been living there longer than new tenants. They say that the longer a tenant is in place, the more expensive they become to the landlord. Why do tenants have to pay above market rates just because they have been living in their apartment for a longer period of time? To me this contributes to the lack of affordable housing in the area.