I hope you all have been staying safe and warm this week! Our area is expected to receive more winter weather this weekend, so please exercise caution if you're driving. If you need any assistance, please reach out to my office.
This week, the House and Senate continued the work of the 2021 legislative session and entered into special session. Traditionally in years with short sessions, the legislature has always voted to extend the 30-day session an extra two weeks to ensure that the General Assembly has enough time to carefully consider all legislation introduced and make necessary changes to the state budget - this year, that did not happen. Governor Northam quickly called the General Assembly into special session, however, so we will have the time that is needed to ensure we can finish the work of the people.
Overall, everything will look much the same. Committees and subcommittees will still meet every day, I am defending my bills in the Senate, and representatives from each body are working to come to an agreement on the budget. I am so proud of the work we've been able to accomplish so far this session, and am excited to continue that work in the coming weeks.
In this newsletter, I've provided information about COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, an update on my legislation before the General Assembly, as well as updates on the 2022 state budget.
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 during the session. I am looking forward to hearing from you as the session as the session continues. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email my office or call us at 703-996-9415 or 804-698-1067.
Earlier this week, I joined the Loudoun Delegation for a vaccine town hall with Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia's vaccine coordinator, and Dr. David Goodfriend, the head of the Loudoun Department of Health. Although some information is specific only to Loudoun County, there is also some helpful insights for the state level that Dr. Avula shared. You can click the photo below to be directed to the full video on Facebook.
Although we are continuing the work of the 2021 session, we are technically in special session now. I've started defending bills in Senate Committees, and have one brief update for you on my legislation. I've been working with parents in the district on House Bill 1865, which strengthens the Code of Virginia around reading intervention services for kids who are struggling to read. Yesterday, I defended this bill successfully to the Public Education Subcommittee in the Senate, and I'm proud to say that it they recommended reporting unanimously! Next, it will be heard in the full Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday.
Additionally, today the House discussed amendments to the fiscal year 2022 state budget. Earlier today, the House Appropriations Committee presented their work on the budget to all members of the House of Delegates, and you can watch the full presentation by clicking the picture below. Please note that the link will take you to the archives of all House streams, and you just need to select the recording for the Approprations Committee meeting from today, February 12, at 1pm.
House Appropriations staff has posted the presentation in PowerPoint format, which is available here.
After the House Appropriations briefing, we returned to the floor for further discussion on the budget. I'm proud to say that the House version of the budget passed with strong bipartisan support. I was proud to vote in favor of this budget that protects Virginia families, keeps Virginians healthy, and makes critical investments to help us rebuild from the pandemic.
Here are just a few highlights of the House's version of the 2022 budget:
Includes funds for a 5% teacher pay raise
$1.3 billion in Federal funds and an additional $51.1 million to address COVID-19 learning loss
Funding to reach a 1:325 school counselor-to-student ratio
$84 million to maintain affordable access to Virginia's colleges and universities, including and additional $8.5 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grants and include online students
Paid sick leave for essential workers
A $12 per patient, per day increase in nursing home payments
Expanded prenatal care through Medicaid/FAMIS programs
Funding for worker's compensation for healthcare workers and other first responders who die from or who are totally or partially disabled due to COVID-19 that they suffered from while in the line of duty
And additional $20 million in funding for Rebuild VA grants to small businesses
Additional funding for agricultural best management practices to meet Chesapeake Bay clean-up benchmarks
$375,000 for domestic and sexual violence prevention
Funding to increase the reimbursement rate for forensic exams to 60%
Next, the House and the Senate will appoint conferees on the budget bills that will work out all differences between the two versions of the budget bill. I will keep you updated when the final version takes shape in the coming weeks.
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