2017 Legislative Agenda

The 2017 General Assembly Session is about to begin and I am eager to continue advocating for the issues I am passionate about.  My legislative agenda focuses on protecting State funding for K-12 education, strengthening families, supporting vulnerable children and providing workforce-training opportunities. 

 

I will also introduce common-sense gun safety legislation and require that additional de-escalation techniques be incorporated into police training programs.  Public safety has always been a top priority for me. 

 

The 2017 General Assembly Session begins on January 11, 2017.  Specifics on key legislation are noted below.  If you scroll down, you will find information on upcoming town hall meetings.

 

Strengthening Families

 

Paid Family Leave:  Legislation directs the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to develop a framework with recommendations for implementing paid family leave.  The recommendations shall address which size employers shall be covered and under what conditions a payroll tax could fully fund an employee benefit package, that includes six weeks of paid leave at 80 percent of an employee’s salary.  Stakeholder groups would participate in developing this framework.

 

Kinship Assistance Program:  The Department of Social Services would be directed to participate in a federally funded program that enables extended family members to receive cash payments if they can provide a permanent home for a relative who would otherwise be in the foster care system.

 

Protecting our Youngest Children:  Child protective service workers would be required to investigate reports of neglect & abuse on children one year of age or younger.  This is intended to provide services to families who need assistance developing good parenting skills.

 

Health Family Visits:  Enable the Medicaid program to expand its “Healthy Families” program.  These community-based home visits are cost effective ways of ensuring children receive preventive care and families create safe environments for their children. 

 

Workforce Training:  Enable welfare moms to continue to receive support services for 24 months if they are participating in a certificate or degree program. The current limit on receiving services is 18 months. 

 

Public Safety

 

De-escalation Training Requirement Included in Law-enforcement Officer Training:  De-escalation tactics can enhance officer safety as long as officers are properly trained in what they need to do. A good de-escalation training program includes ways to improve communication skills, how to assess a subject's situation, how to know when you need backup, and proven safety techniques.  This training should help prevent the use of excessive force while enabling officers to create a more safe environment.

 

Reporting Lost or Stolen Firearms:  Requiring a person who lawfully possesses a firearm to report the loss or theft of the firearm helps deter gun trafficking and discourage straw purchasing.  Such reporting would also facilitate the return of lost or stolen guns to their lawful owners.  Additionally, this requirement helps law enforcement disarm individuals who may be ineligible to posses firearms.

 

Firearm Registration:  Registration of firearms could speed the identification of firearms used in crimes. Registration would also aid police in identifying the types of firearms to which an individual may have access.  This bill directs the Virginia State Crime Commission to study the feasibility and costs of establishing a firearms registration program for firearms purchased in the Commonwealth, including what categories of firearms should be registered along with the potential efficacy of firearm registration in reducing firearm-related deaths and injuries.

 

Women’s Health

 

Strike the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider Laws in Virginia: The bill strikes a Virginia law in an effort to conform to a recent U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.  The SCOTUS ruled that abortion restrictions, known as TRAP laws in Virginia, that require clinics to have facilities comparable to an ambulatory surgical center can have a devastating impact on women and force clinics to close.  Thereby, making abortion access not just difficult, but impossible. The June 2016 decision determined that the Texas law was so restrictive that the undue burden on women seeking an abortion violated the Constitution.  Based on this decision, Virginia’s restrictive laws should be removed from the books.
 

Preventing Sexual Assaults

 

"Bar Bystander" Training:  Addresses the need for sexual violence prevention education in the community by requiring the Alcohol Beverage Commission to include "Bar Bystander" training in the curriculum for licensure.  The intent of this training is to make bartenders aware of potentially risky situations and to give them tools to prevent opportunities that may result in sexual assault.

 

There are several town hall meetings coming up.  I hope you will attend one and share your thoughts and ideas regarding the upcoming legislative session.  The meetings are open to all and I welcome your input.

 

Thursday, January 5th, Arlington County Legislative Hearing

6:30 pm, Arlington County Board Room – 3rd Floor
Courthouse Plaza
2100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA

 

Saturday, January 7th, Fairfax Delegation Public Hearing

9:00 am, Fairfax County Government Center – Board Auditorium
12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA

Fairfax County residents or individuals speaking on behalf of a Fairfax County organization may sign up by noon Friday, January 6 for a 3 minute speaking slot at the link here.

 

Saturday, January 14th, McLean & North Arlington Delegation

1:30pm, McLean Community Center
1234 Ingleside Avenue, McLean, VA

 

You can also contact my office at 703-835-4845 or 804-698-7531 during session.  My district email account is also a good way to contact me at district31@senate.virginia.gov.  Many of you also come to Richmond to advocate for your special cause and I hope you will stop by my General Assembly office, Room 316. 

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