VIRGINIA SENATE SHOWS SOME LOVE:
I am happy to say my colleagues in the Senate have moved forward several of my bills that seek to help children. SB 436 would expand foster care to age 21, SB 433 would allow relatives of foster youth to receive financial support after certain conditions have been met, and SB 215 would require regulations on limiting the use of solitary confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. My fostering futures and kinship care bills both passed out of Senate Finance unanimously this week, and my bill to limit juvenile isolation passed the Senate on a 28-11 vote.
In other news, Governor McAuliffe reached a compromise on I-66 that I support but will continue to monitor to make sure that this project meets expectations. Next week is “Crossover,” which means that we’ll have a chance to evaluate and vote on bills that originated in the House. Stay tuned!
On Wednesday, Governor McAuliffe announced that his administration would support widening I-66 inside the Beltway in concurrence with tolling single drivers during rush hour and expanding the multimodal capacity of buses and carpools when the project commences. Two passenger vehicles will continue to be exempt from the tolls but by 2020 only three person vehicles will be exempt from the tolls. The widening of I-66 would apply to a four mile stretch between the Beltway and Ballston and the additional lane would not expand the existing footprint of the road.
Public Hearings for Electrical Line Construction
My bill SB 136, which requires the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to hold a public hearing in the area affected by the construction of an electrical transmission line if asked by a local governing body, passed the Senate unanimously. Currently, the SCC is required to conduct a hearing in the affected area only if requested by 20 or more interested parties. I carried SB 136 at the request of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to ensure that members of the community can stay informed and make their concerns heard.
High-Tech Businesses Choose 31st District
I am very proud that high-tech businesses Opower and AvePoint decided to keep their businesses in the 31st District. OPower, a global leader in cloud-based software, will invest $10.45 million to expand its headquarters in Arlington. This means that Arlington will keep 357 high-paying jobs and create 70 new ones. AvePoint Inc., a leader in cross-platform innovation, will add 55 new jobs to its business in Arlington. These businesses chose NoVA because of its diverse and well educated workforce, coupled with an entrepreneurial and creative culture that we have cultivated.
I wrote a letter to the editor that the Washington Post published yesterday, explaining why I think that reducing the use of juvenile isolation in correctional facilities is important. In brief, the use of solitary confinement can be mentally and physically damaging to juveniles and we should work to make juvenile isolation safer and rare. My bill directs the Juvenile Justice Board to create regulations that limit the circumstances under which juvenile isolation may be used and requires the use of less restrictive means prior to the use of isolation. SB 215 has passed the Senate and will now go to the House.
Next week, I will keep you updated with my bills as they move through the House. Have a safe and happy Valentine’s day with the ones you love:)