That's a wrap on the 2021 legislative session! It truly was a session unlike any other. Although the House of Delegates met virtually this year, we were still able to pass incredibly important legislation to keep Virginians healthy and build a more equitable and prosperous Commonwealth. I am so proud of the work that we've done together in the past weeks, and look forward to returning for our reconvened session in April. During that day, we will go over all the Governor's recommended amendments to the bills that we passed, including the state budget.
As I mentioned last week, this week some public health restrictions were eased in Virginia. However, it is still critical that we all continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid large crowds. It has been a long and difficult year for so many of our neighbors, and I hope we can all continue to follow these public health guidelines to keep Virginians safe and healthy.
In this newsletter, I have included highlights of the modified state budget, important legislation passed this session, and updates on COVID-19 vaccination in the Commonwealth.
As a reminder, you can reach out to my office at any time at DelKDelaney@house.virginia.gov to schedule a virtual meeting with me. I am looking forward to continuing to engage with you and your family now that session is over. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email my office or call us at 703-996-9415.
Over the course of the 2021 regular and special session, the General Assembly passed meaningful legislation that aims to protect families, keep Virginians healthy, create a more inclusive Commonwealth, and build back our economy stronger than ever. I am so proud of the work we've done, and here's some highlights of important bills that passed the legislature and have headed to the Governor's desk for his signature:
HB 2137:Providing paid sick leave for home healthcare workers
HB 2133: Expungement for human trafficking survivors (my bill!)
HB 2047: Allowing admission of evidence of defendant's mental condition, including developmental or intellectual disabilities
Overall, we passed over 600 bills and sent them to the Governor's desk - a full list of those bills can be found here. As our Commonwealth navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, we have set the stage for an equitable and robust recovery.
Our Updated State Budget:
The budget conferees from the House and Senate were able to come to an agreement on a state budget that makes the necessary investments to build a better Virginia through the next fiscal year. This budget puts an emphasis on fiscal responsibility, equity, and prioritizing our workers in these difficult times. Here are some highlights:
An additional $250 million for our reserve fund
Pay raises for teachers, state employees, and state-supported local employees
$47 million in federal funds and $31 million in general funds for our COVID-19 response and recovery, including for purchasing of PPE and coordinated relief operations
Funding sales and use tax exemptions for businesses purchasing PPE
Allows for up to $100,000 in tax deductions for businesses expenses paid for by tax-free PPP loans and Rebuild Virginia grants
A record investment of $125.7 million in the Housing Trust Fund
$100 million for broadband infrastructure
Funding for a new round of small business grants through Rebuild Virginia
Funding for overpayment forgiveness for unemployment insurance at the VEC without raising employer UI taxes
$37.2 million this year and $71.6 million in the next fiscal year in federal funds to support mass vaccination efforts and COVID-19 communications
$15 per patient, per day increase in nursing home payments
Expanded access to prenatal care through Medicaid/FAMIS programs
Adds 435 developmental disability waiver slots
$40 million to address learning loss due to the pandemic
$26.6 million to fund the 1:325 school counselor-to-student ratio
$149.4 million to maintain affordable access to Virginia's public colleges and universities
$30.3 million increase in undergraduate financial aid
Reinvesting savings from abolishing the death penalty into indigent and public defense programs
$25 million in additional support for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund
$12 million for environmental justice and clean energy regulatory programs
$50 million in general bunds and $50 million in bonds for nutrient removal in the Chesapeake Bay
I am very proud of the work we were able to accomplish through our new state budget. Even in these trying times, we are continuing to prioritize our workers, our environment, and equity in the Commonwealth. House Appropriations staff provided a hearing on the conference report, which you can watch here. And here is the link to the presentation with budget highlights from that hearing.
Upcoming Petition Signature Drives:
Each election year, candidates for the House of Delegates are required to collect 125 signatures from registered voters in the district in order to get on the ballot. I'm having two events in the district next weekend - I hope you can stop by!
Sunday, March 7 at the ION Center in Leesburg: Loudoun County Democrats Petition Drive
Saturday, March 13 from 12pm to 2pm: Petition Drive with Dulles District Democrats (we will have petition pages for both Loudoun and Fairfax County residents!)
Saturday March 13 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm: Greenbriar Petition Drive
IMPORTANT: These events will be held in line with CDC public health guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks that fully cover the nose and mouth will be required. We will have sanitized pens available, but you are encouraged to bring your own to safely sign. You must be a registered voter of the 67th district in order to sign the petition.
Mental Health and Domestic Violence Resources:
At this trying time, it is important that we continue to care for our mental health. Here are some resources if you are struggling and need help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board hotline: 703-527-4077
Loudoun County Mental Health Emergency Services...703.777.0320
Loudoun Suicide Prevention...703.777.0176
PRS CrisisLink: 703-527-4077 or text “Connect” to 85511
SAMHSA National Helpline: 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357)
Children's Regional Crisis Response: 844-NCrisis (844-627-4747) in English and Spanish