I hope you all continue to stay safe and healthy this summer. This week was the start of the General Assembly's special session, where we will be addressing COVID-19 pandemic relief, a reworking of the state budget, and criminal justice and police reforms.
On Tuesday, the House of Delegates convened in the VCU Siegel Center to ensure social distancing protocols could be observed. I have included some details on the current state of the budget, and resources on where to view House committee meetings and floor sessions, as well as all the bills that have been introduced so far. I have also included information on a bill that I have submitted for special session.
I have also included some updates from the Fairfax Connector and Metro, another reminder about Rebuild VA grants, and information on COVIDWISE, the new app to help contact tracing efforts here in Virginia.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to my office at DelKDelaney@house.virginia.gov. My staff and I are here to help connect you to the appropriate resources or state agency as we continue to navigate this pandemic.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly convened in Richmond to start our special session addressing COVID-19 relief, the biennium budget, and police reform. Unlike in a regular session, members are only allowed to submit legislation that fits the purpose of why the special session was convened. You can read a full list of introduced legislation here.
For this special session, I have introduced one bill that I am eager to see become law. This bill is HB 5045, which would finally ban sexual relations between law enforcement officers and the arrestees they supervise. I look forward to defending this bill to my colleagues on the Courts of Justice Committee and the House and Senate as a whole. I will keep you posted as this bill makes its way through the legislative process.
Regarding the biennium budget, the Governor made a presentation on Tuesday morning that highlighted the new reality our budget is in. The new budget he proposed is $45.8 billion, which leaves us with a $2.7 billion shortfall from the budget we passed in March. The House and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees will be working on the budget thoroughly to ensure Virginia has a balanced budget as required by the Constitution of Virginia.
House committee meetings and floor sessions will be held virtually. You can tune in to all meetings and sessions here.
Fairfax Connector and Metro Updates:
Starting August 29, Fairfax Connector buses will return to full service on all routes. More information on this change can be found here.
Additionally, Metro announced this week that the East Falls Church and Arlington Cemetery stations will reopen on August 23rd. The Dunn Loring and Vienna stops will open on September 8. All of this has been part of a larger project to rebuild the outdoor platforms on the Orange Line west of Ballston. You can read more information here.
Virginia has become the first state in the country to implement a free COVID-19 exposure notification app using the Apple/Google Bluetooth Low Energy framework. The app is called COVIDWISE and was developed in an unprecedented, public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Health, Google, and Apple. Simply put, COVIDWISE allows you to anonymously notify others if you test positive for COVID-19, and notifies you if you’ve likely been exposed to the virus based on positive reports from other app users.
This effort is an example of Virginia leading the way forward during the most pressing pandemic of our lifetimes, with the goal of reducing the risk for your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues and helping Virginia stay safe and healthy.
But it only works if we all use it. Here’s how you can help:
Visit the App Store or Google Play Store and download COVIDWISE
Share information about COVIDWISE with your friends, colleagues, and family members
Post & share your support on social media
Applications for the Rebuild VA small business and non-profit grant program are now open! As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this grant program was funded with $70 million of CARES Act funding, and will provide up to $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about Rebuild VA and register for an informational webinar at this link, or view the one-pager below. The website provides useful information on how to apply, who is eligible, as well as FAQs in several languages.
Collect for Kids:
Every year, the Foundation for FCPS launches their "Collect for Kids" campaign to collect supplies and resources for kids in need in our community. This year, due to COVID-19, all collections will have to be virtual. As kids and their parents prepare for the next virtual or hybrid school year, there are still so many families who are struggling to provide their kids with the basic necessities for the classroom.