“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The 2021 legislative session is in full swing. The House of Delegates meets virtually to conduct business while the Senate meets at the Science Museum of Virginia. While the environment is certainly different, I have enjoyed continuing to meet with many constituents and advocacy groups about their priorities.
The two Chambers of the General Assembly are approaching “Crossover” – when the legislation passed in the House moves to the Senate for consideration and vice versa.
It is an honor to have all of my bills pass the House of Delegates this session:
HB1901 expands the availability of the online Virginia Driver’s Manual course in order to provide greater accessibility, which is particularly important as we continue to battle COVID-19.
HB1902 prohibits food vendors from using styrofoam food containers by 2025.
HB1903 allows localities to reduce speed limits in residential and business districts to 15 miles per hour.
HB1969 provides fiscally stressed local governments (such as Richmond) important tools to transform blighted, derelict properties back into productive, tax paying use and provisioned for affordable housing opportunities.
HB1971 clarifies the Virginia Fair Housing Law to ensure that someone with a disability can request accessible parking in order to fully use and enjoy their housing.
HB1981 provides that if a tenant does not feel safe having workers come into their home, they can notify the landlord that they do not want non-emergency maintenance to be addressed during a pandemic, such as COVID-19. The tenant must agree to hold the landlord harmless for any routine maintenance not addressed.
HB2299 implements several recommendations from JLARC’s review of K-12 special education in Virginia in order to improve the quality of learning that students in special education receive
I am also proud to support the following legislation:
Abolishing the Death Penalty
Reviewing the racial and ethnic impact for proposed criminal justice bills
Ensuring paid sick leave for workers
Tax rebates for Electric Vehicles
Legalizing and regulating marijuana – focusing on social and economic equity
Prohibiting firearms in polling places
Establishing and funding the “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” (G3) Program
Transit equity and modernization study
Ensuring tenant rights and protections
Providing abortion coverage under health benefits
Entering the National Popular Vote Compact
Requiring law enforcement officers to report wrongdoings by other officers
Community and environmental justice outreach
Ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers
Establishing the Produce Rx Program to address food insecurity
Establishing a process for automatic expungement
Protecting domestic workers under the Virginia Human Rights Act
Facilitating the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine
Recognizing racism as a public health crisis
Budget Amendments that I have introduced:
Restoring funding for nursing homes with special populations (at the request of the Virginia Home)
Establishing a pediatric cancer research fund
Providing for additional English Learner Teachers (at the request of Richmond Public Schools)
Increasing funding for the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program
Supporting Solar Hands-On Instructional Network of Excellence (SHINE)
Restoring funding for local libraries
Planning and establishing the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team (at the request of NARAL and Birth in Color)
Providing Medicaid support for Mobile Vision Clinics for Kids
Funding demographic services for aging groups (at the request of Senior Connections)
Increasing funding for the Family and Children’s Trust (FACT) Fund (at the request of Voices for Virginia’s Children)
Restoring funding for the marine archaeology program
Creating urban green space at the Science Museum of Virginia
Increasing funding for the VCU Wilder School’s RISE initiative to confront racial equity and social justice work in public affairs
Legislative Resources & How-Tos
Participating in the Legislative Session
Watch: All House and Senate committees, subcommittees, and floor sessions are live-streamed and available to the public. Visit the Virginia General Assembly website and click on “Members and Session” on the left-hand side of the page.
Share Your Views: You have the opportunity to participate in the committee process through the new HODSpeak website. You can sign up to speak during the committee and can call in on either your computer or phone. Specific instructions are sent out in advance of the meeting after you sign up.
Track Legislation: You can use the Legislative Information System website to access bill information, committee information, and meeting schedules.
How to read a bill:
Regular font shows you what the Code of Virginia already says
Italicized font means that language is being added to the Code of Virginia
Strikethrough means that language will be removed from the Code of Virginia
Bold font indicates a title or headers
Addressing this pandemic has been a priority of mine since early last year. I have been working closely with my General Assembly colleagues to pass emergency legislation, HB 2333, to expand the capacity of vaccine distribution efforts. However, the critical issue now is to supply Virginians with sufficient doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which comes from the federal government. I am extremely appreciative of all the work put in by President Biden to speed up production and try to make up for the deficiencies of the last Administration.
I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all my constituents have quick, easy, and equitable access to vaccines across my district.
Virginia ranks 10th among all states for percent of the population that has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 12th for percent of available doses administered.
Soon, there will be a new statewide pre-registration system to improve the process and allow individuals to confirm their pre-registration status at any time.
Call the Virginia Department of Health’s Call Center at 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8345) for assistance with questions and pre-registration. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and other languages and the call center’s capacity is expected to increase exponentially to help ensure folks receive the answers they need.
It is important to remember that Virginia – and all states – rely on the federal government to distribute vaccine doses. This is based on population. Virginia is receiving around 105,000 doses per week. President Biden has announced an increased distribution of 16% but it may be weeks before we see a significant increase.
Once Virginia receives doses, they distribute the doses proportionally to each local health district.
All local health districts are in Phase 1b of vaccine eligibility, meaning around 50% of all Virginians are now eligible. There is flexibility in how doses are administered to individuals, but roughly half of the available supply is dedicated to people aged 65 or older.
At this point, there are simply not enough available doses yet for everyone who is eligible to receive them. Virginia will not be able to meet the demand until March or April.
If you are eligible based on occupation, please check with your employer to see if arrangements are being made.
If you are eligible based on age or medical condition, then please register with the local health department in the locality in which you live.
If you receive a first dose of the vaccine, you WILL receive the second dose three or four weeks later.
Watch Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator and Director of the Richmond & Henrico Health District, present information on vaccinations to the House Appropriations committee on January 22:
It is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly. If you have any questions, concerns, or issues that I can help address, please email me at email@example.com or call 804-698-1069. I am available to meet with you or your civic association or community group via a web call to discuss your legislative priorities. Finally, I am happy to share that you can now find me on Twitter (@delbetsycarr) as well. I look forward to staying in touch.
Betsy B. Carr