The General Assembly has been hard at work these past weeks in Special Session. I want to thank all members of the public who have signed up to speak about the bills we are considering - your input has been helpful to us all through every step in this process. You can keep up to date with scheduled meetings of the House here. All meetings and floor sessions are available to the public in real time and archived here.
We are continuing to work hard on the budget, COVID-19 relief, and police reforms in the Commonwealth. In this newsletter, I have some updates on those items, as well as reminders about the census, voting in Virginia, and the Rebuild VA small business/non-profit grant program.
Last week, this country lost a great leader in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her work on women's equality, justice for all, and so much more will never be forgotten. Even in death, she continues to make history as the first woman and the first Jewish person to ever lie in state at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. She was a pioneer in every sense of the word, and she will be deeply missed. Today, the House adjourned in her honor and memory, one which I hope will never be forgotten.
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.
We are officially in the midst of the special session version of "crossover" - for those of you new to my newsletter, the crossover part of session is when we receive all the bills passed by the Senate and consider them. Many of the bills the Senate has sent over to us are very similar or identical to ones we have passed in the House.
Just today, the House passed several Senate bills that deal with police reform, equity in Virginia, and COVID-19 relief. Here are a few highlights - keep in mind that some of these had House cognates, so I have mentioned some of these policies before:
SB 5031: This bill makes Juneteenth a legal holiday in Virginia. From now on, June 19th will be recognized in the Commonwealth as Juneteenth.
SB 5042:This bill requires nursing homes and hospice facilities to establish protocols that allow visits, either virtually or in person, between their residents and their loved ones.
SB 5080:This bill makes it easier for Virginians to access critical telemedicine services by directing the Board of Medical Assistance Services to provide for payment of telemedicine, regardless of the originating site of care.
SB 5088:This legislation seeks to address the growing eviction crisis in Virginia by providing tenants the opportunity to enter into repayment plans with their landlords.
Additionally, my bill, HB 5045, was reported unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary and Finance and Appropriations Committees this week. Today it was on its second reading in the Senate, and will be voted on the next time the Senate convenes.
Also, the House Appropriations Committee released the approved member budget amendments to HB 5005, the new budget bill. You can find those here. The committee will be hosting a virtual briefing on committee approved amendments on Monday, September 28, at 10am. You can keep up with all the events related to the revised biennium budget at the House Appropriations Commitee website.
As the Senate passes House bills and the House passes Senate bills, it is possible that there will be differences between the legislation as they pass either chamber. Bills that are different will need to go to conference, where representatives from both chambers will iron out the details and make changes to ensure that both versions are identical.
Voting in Virginia:
As you probably know, voting is already underway in the Commonwealth! On September 18th, early voting opened in Virginia and your local registrars began sending out absentee ballots by mail to those who requested them.
To check or update your voter registration, or apply for an absentee ballot by mail click here. If you've applied for your ballot or sent it back, and are curious as to where it is in its journey, you can check that here. Please note that in order to be counted, your absentee ballot must be postmarked on or by Election Day, and must be received
For more information from the Fairfax County Registrar, click here. For information for Loudoun County residents, click here.
If you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing the absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 Election, you are not required to have a witness present. Accordingly, you may disregard the witness signature requirement if you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing your ballot.
Rebuild VA Grant Program Update:
You may remember that a few months ago, Gov. Northam announced the creation of the Rebuild VA fund, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the administration announced that it would be expanding its eligibility criteria for the grants to small supply chain partners of businesses that closed due to COVID-19, as well as businesses that had previously received federal CARES Act funds.
More information on the Rebuild VA program, including required documents and the application can be found here. If you or someone you know has a business affected by COVID-19, I encourage you to look into this opportunity.
As you know, the deadline to respond to the census is almost upon us! If you have already completed your census form, thank you! Your responses are critical to ensure funding for schools, roads, and so much more in our communities.
If you have not filled out your census form yet, please do so as soon as possible. You can fill out your form online, on the phone, or by mail. It is so important that everyone complete the census. Thank you for doing your part and stepping up to be counted.
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
Updated Information from INOVA:
All Inova hospitals and care sites are open and serving patients. The most up to date information on Inova’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including what to do if you feel sick, how to be tested if appropriate, visitor information, and other information to plan for your care can be found at inova.org/covid19.
It is safe to visit an Inova hospital, emergency room, or other care site. For more information on what Inova is doing to ensure the safety of our care sites, visit the Safe@Inova website.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, visit the ER or call 911 immediately. Delaying treatment can be a dangerous decision, especially when it comes to signs of a heart attack or stroke.
Yes, testing is available across Inova Health System. For more information and testing locations, visit www.inova.org/covid19.
Inova has established Respiratory Illness Clinics to evaluate all patients with respiratory illness symptoms. These clinics are also able to collect samples via physician ordered and coordinated vehicle-side appointments for COVID-19 testing. All Inova Hospital and HealthPlex emergency rooms are a resource for those individuals who are experiencing clinical symptoms of COVID-19 that include cough, fever and shortness of breath.
COVID-19 Services for Medicaid/Uninsured Patients – InovaCares Clinics for Families
All members of Northern Virginia’s culturally diverse communities are welcome at the Inova Cares Clinic for Families (ICCF). ICCF provides primary care services for patients who qualify for Medicaid, FAMIS or Inova’s Financial Assistance Program, and the uninsured. Inova assists patients who qualify for Medicaid with the enrollment application process. Financial assistance/charity care options will be explored for patients who do not qualify for Medicaid
Right now, blood usage in hospitals across our region is outpacing donations. To keep our shelves stocked with life-saving blood to help our patients and neighbors, we need more than 250 volunteer donors every day. Inova Blood Donor Services is currently experiencing a critically low supply of O+ blood and is asking the community to help. Additionally, beginning September 14, all successful blood donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.