Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Weekly Column: River Farm Protected and Criminal Record Sealing Compromise

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 February 22, 2021.

 River Farm Protected and Criminal Record Sealing Compromise

               The last week of the 2021 General Assembly Session has arrived and it will prove to be an exciting time with many big issues on the agenda.

               In even years, the process of amending the Constitution of Virginia typically begins.  Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Mark Sickles legislation repealing the 2006 gay marriage ban from our constitution will have a final vote.  We are also negotiating an amendment to remove Virginia’s Jim Crow Era felony voting prohibition from the Constitution and replacing it with an affirmative right to vote.   We will also be taking up my legislation abolishing capital punishment on Monday.   

This past week we announced our agreement on my legislation to reform Virginia’s expungement and rules prohibiting the sealing of criminal convictions.  Virginia is one of only nine states in America that does not allow people to seal misdemeanor convictions and one of only fourteen that do not allow the sealing of felony convictions. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Ice Storm Impacts Roads and Vaccination Clinics: Here's What You Need to Know


Several law enforcement and emergency services agencies in Northern Virginia are asking drivers to avoid the roads today as snow, ice and sleet sweep through the region. The Virginia Department of Transportation is also recommending that drivers stay off the roads today.

Reporting a Power Outage 


If you experience an outage there are three easy ways to report it to Dominion Energy: 


  1. By Phone: 866-366-4357

  2. Download the New Dominion Energy app [Click Here]

  3. On Their Website [Click Here]


Snow Removal 


Due to COVID-19 restrictions that protect the safety of plow workers, it’s possible that plowing might take longer than usual this year. To track when your neighborhood will be plowed, visit the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) plowing website, which activates after 2 inches of snow have accumulated in your county. If you live on a private street, it is the responsibility of the developers or the homeowner’s association to arrange for the street to be cleared. Call 800-FOR ROAD (800-367-7623) for information on snow removal or to inform VDOT of any snow removal problems. TTY users can call 711.


COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Cancelled, To Be Rescheduled


Fairfax County


The COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled at the Fairfax County Government Center and the four Health Department District office sites on Thursday, Feb. 18 are cancelled. People who have appointments will receive an email informing them of the cancellation. The cancellation notice will contain a link to reschedule their appointment for clinics scheduled during the upcoming week. Please note that appointment locations may be at a different site than you were originally scheduled for.

Residents who need assistance in rescheduling their appointment may call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 703-324-7404, though the call center is also closed Feb. 18.

Click Here to Read the Full Press Release by Fairfax County Government ‘Winter Weather Impacts Health Department Vaccine Clinics Thursday, Feb. 18’

Prince William County 

Prince William Health District (PWHD) COVID vaccination clinics at Potomac Middle School and Manassas Mall are canceled due to expected snow and ice.

Please check your email for additional information: to reschedule your appointment, please contact the Prince William Health District call center after 9:00 AM Thursday, at 703-872-7759. Please have available your ID number to reschedule your appointment for next week.

Read Full Press Release from the Virginia Department of Health ‘Winter Storm Closes PWHD’s Vaccine Clinics for Thursday, Feb. 18’ 


Monday, February 15, 2021

Weekly Column: Finding Solutions in the General Assembly

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 February 15, 2021.

Finding Solutions in the General Assembly

 Both the Senate of Virginia and the House of Delegates have released proposed budgets and we will vote on the budget soon.  We are also working to resolve some complex bills and to accelerate vaccinations.

Vaccination Progress

               Health care providers have administered over 1.2 million covid-19 vaccinations in Virginia as of February 12, nine of ten available first doses.  As of last week, that means that Virginia ranked seventh among states as a proportion of our population.   The state also announced a unified vaccination scheduling system although Fairfax County chose to opt out.  Virginia is now receiving 129,000 doses per week which is up 23 percent from our initial allocation.  We have also expanded the vaccination program to 36 CVS drugstores around the state.  We expect the pace to pick up once the Food and Drug Administration approves the new single-shot vaccines.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

2021 COVID-19 Update Thread

***UPDATE Friday, 2/26/21 at 12:30 PM***

Fairfax and Prince William Counties Continue Through COVID-19 Vaccination Phase 1b; Governor Northam Loosens COVID-19 Restrictions

Fairfax County


Northam eases Virginia coronavirus restrictions as health metrics improve -  The Virginian-PilotFairfax County is continuing to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to those eligible in Phase 1b according to the guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Health.  As of February 25th, Fairfax County has administered a total of 155,497 doses of the vaccine, including first and second doses. More data about vaccine distribution can be found here.


Am I eligible?

Weekly Column: Virginia's Rockets Up In Vaccine Distribution & Death Penalty Repeal 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 February 8, 2021.

               The Fifth Week of the General Assembly Session brought Crossover and the conclusion of some of our most contentious bills.

               First, Virginia rocketed up to the top ten in vaccine distribution in America.  While the system is still adjusting to vaccine supply, many constituents have reported to me that they have been able to get vaccinated.  The coming single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine and Astra Zeneca will allow Virginia to ramp up from the current rate of 128,000 shots per week.

Although infection rates are dropping, the English and South African variants have arrived in Virginia and we must remain vigilant – even after people are vaccinated.  No state is doing better that Virginia that has a larger population and we have the 8th lowest per capital death rate.  Group 1a should be done by the end of this week.  

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Weekly Column: Virginia Legislature Is Moving Bills, Addressing Problems

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 31, 2021.

Virginia Legislature Is Moving Bills, Addressing Problems

As the General Assembly begins its fourth week in session this year, vaccine deployment for Covid-19 has started to accelerate and we are discussing how to jump-start in-person schooling.  Virginia’s Secretary of Education believes all school personnel will be vaccinated by March 1 and a bill is pending to require in-person elementary-secondary school options no later than July 1.  Depending on how discussions go, the General Assembly might pass a mandate to require in-person learning sooner.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

This is Why We Need Limits on Qualified Immunity: My Bill to Make Police Officers Civilly Liable for Misconduct

                                      

Last summer, several acts of police brutality against Black Americans and people of color forced Virginia to confront a long history of oppression and racial injustice. Although we have made substantial progress toward racial equality, implicit and explicit racism still persists in Virginia and across America.  

Last session we made significant progress modernizing the training, hiring, firing, discipline, and professional accountability for police departments.  However, some issues were too complex to take up in a special session including enhancing civil court remedies for individuals who are harmed by law enforcement officers who violate constitutional and legal standards.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Winter Storm Watch for Wednesday, December 15: Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s that time of year again. Winter in Northern Virginia is often a surprising blend of chill winter weather and unseasonably warm temperatures. Occasionally, snow gets thrown into the mix. This Wednesday, we might be in for some potentially hazardous winter weather. Frozen mix precipitation is likely, and 2-4 inches of snow could accumulate in parts of the district. In light of this week’s forecast, I want to share some resources that you can use to ensure that you stay safe and informed during inclement weather.

Weather Updates 

Like with most weather forecasts, there’s a decent amount of uncertainty surrounding the conditions we might see on Wednesday. Some parts of the district might only get rain or freezing rain, while others might experience more severe forms of wintery participation. The National Weather Service is a great resource for monitoring weather conditions.


School Closures

Fairfax County School buildings will be closed tomorrow but school will operate virtually.

Click Here For Fairfax School Closures


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Sixth Annual Puller Institute - Applications are Open!

         

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cancellation of many traditions, I'm pleased to announce that the 2021 Puller Institute will go ahead virtually this year.

Each year, the Puller Institute has allowed a small group of future leaders-- exceptional junior and senior high school students-- to explore their passions for creating change in the 36th district by engaging with the state legislative process. My hope is that this program inspires a lifelong interest in civic engagement from the participants. I grew up in this area and I graduated from West Potomac High School. I know that you have unique perspectives on local issues. The future of our democracy depends on young leaders like high school students who have the energy and passion for social change. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

River Farm Update #4 - Grassroots Group Forms, Gov Northam Weighs In & AG's Investigating

Here is the latest status update on River Farm. We have continued to have meetings among our stakeholder group working out a strategy to maximize the potential that River Farm will remain in public ownership. Here is what's going on. 

Grassroots Group Organized 
The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) has generously agreed to organize and lead a grassroots effort called Save River Farm to build support and raise private funds to support the purchase of River Farm by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). 

The new website is here - Save River Farm Website 

If you care about saving River Farm, it is important that you do two things right now: 

 #1 - Sign up for email updates from the new group: 


 #2 - Donate funds to help build private support. 80% of funds will be used for land acquisition, 10% for public advocacy, and 10% for administration. Donations are 100% tax deductible. 

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Weekly Column: Legislators Revised the Budget to Address Many Needs

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 November 2, 2020.

Legislators Revised the Budget to Address Many Needs

The General Assembly met over the last few months in a special session to finalize our state budget.  We had to revisit the budget because in the last week of our regular, winter session, the COVID-19 pandemic started to flare up, the shutdown began shortly after and the economic damage and uncertainty made it impossible to build a two-year budget. Governor Ralph Northam proposed amendments that the General Assembly approved in April putting all new spending on hold until we had reliable revenue estimates.  Two weeks ago, we approved a revised budget that takes a more modest approach than our original budget, but it still has some significant investments. 

First, we balanced our budget as required by the state constitution.  Second, the budget leaves over $1 billion unspent in reserves because of continued economic uncertainty.  It is a very fiscally prudent budget. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Weekly Column: Special Session Update #2 - Building Trust in our Police Officers

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 October 25, 2020.

Building Trust in our Police Officers

                This column focuses on reforms to Virginia’s policing practices, legislation I helped craft with Senator Mamie Locke.  Last week, I reported on the criminal justice reforms that the Virginia General Assembly approved in our recent special session.   Next week, I will discuss changes in Virginia’s budget.

                The video capturing the chokehold and murder of George Floyd shocked America and was a painful example of abusive policing experienced by the African American community for too long.  These images galvanized a grassroots movement that demanded changes.  The General Assembly tried to respond with needed changes in our laws. 

Diverse Input Sought

                During the drafting process, I sought diverse views in at least a dozen meetings with state and local law enforcement leaders.  We held meetings with local officers on the street, community advocates, and heard testimony from national experts and state law enforcement leaders in a public hearing.