I lost my brother to gun violence. Two gunmen robbed and murdered him. He was the father of five young children, a loving husband, a thoughtful son and a really fun brother.
Gun violence has become all too common in our society. In the wake of recent tragedies it is clear that we need sensible gun safety solutions that will keep our children and communities safe from gun violence. I support enhanced background checks and closing the gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase guns without a background check. I support banning bump stocks and semi automatic firearms with high capacity magazines that are designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.
I started the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus with Senator Adam Ebbin to ensure our efforts would be bi-cameral. I co-chaired the Safe Virginia Initiative and after speaking with people across the Commonwealth we authored a report on gun violence prevention and our responsibility to our communities. I continue to work with local groups, police, and concerned citizens to find reasonable regulations to help prevent these terrible tragedies. We must do our best to stop criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining dangerous weapons.This should be a bipartisan issue.
Affordable health care is a core necessity for all Virginians. The passage of Medicaid Expansion meant that over 300 thousand Virginians now have access to affordable healthcare. There is still work to be done to protect healthcare as a right and make prescription drugs affordable. It is essential that we tackle the problems associated with opioid abuse, including over prescription. There should be treatment options available for these addictions to help with recovery.
I started the Rare Disease Caucus to help families who deal with the challenges of a child or family member who has a rare disease. I have offered legislation to expand coverage for several rare diseases.
Education is an investment in our future. It is key to ensuring that our children will have opportunities to succeed and for building and strengthening a healthy economy. Virginia has consistently been rated as a leader in providing a world-class education for students in our public schools and universities.
We must take measures to ensure that our public schools remain competitive in a changing 21st century economy and promote innovative opportunities and practical solutions to improve education in Virginia.
Unfortunately, our schools are underfunded, and our teachers are underpaid. As your Delegate, I am committed to making responsible budget decisions that protect funding streams that our communities depend on to support our local schools.
Our Universities and Community Colleges are among the best in the country. An educated workforce is key to our region’s economic growth. In order to ensure that they remain among the best we need to support them financially. As financial support from the Commonwealth has decreased for our universities, tuition has gone up for our students. We need to continue working with our Universities and Community Colleges to keep higher education affordable. Our Community Colleges are a pathway to an affordable college education and a great resource for providing workforce training.
I serve on the board of Veteran’s Services and chair the committee on Women Veterans Issues.
There are over 104 thousand women veterans in Virginia. I have held 9 roundtables across the Commonwealth for women veterans, to hear directly from them about their issues and specific concerns. I was successful in securing funding for a Women Veterans Coordinator and will continue to champion their issues.
I also serve on the Veterans Caucus in the General Assembly.
Northern Virginia has a transportation problem. We know that transportation, infrastructure and education together are key investments that fuel future economic growth and impact our quality of life. We waste hours sitting in traffic. We want real transportation solutions.
I opposed adding tolls to I-66 inside the Beltway. The plan adding tolls to I-66 has not adequately addressed the problems commuters are seeing, and has pushed more traffic into our neighborhoods, and acted as a tax on already stressed commuters.
I am working for efficient use of transportation funds and for Northern Virginia to get its fair share. We need to make sure these funds are allocated to the critical projects that will relieve congestion, improve intersections, and ensure pedestrian and bike safety.
For too many years we have deferred investments in our infrastructure. This has not only impacted our economic growth, it is a safety issue. Our roads, highways, and bridges are our lifeline. Rebuilding, repairing, and improving aging roads and bridges must be a priority.
Virginia has many assets that make it attractive to do business and raise families. We have excellent schools, a great quality of life, and a competitive corporate tax rate that make Virginia one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family.
In order to grow our economy we must support our schools, ensure access to affordable health care and deal with our growing transportation challenges. We also must make sure that Virginia is a welcoming community for all workers and their families.
As your Delegate I have been recognized by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for my work to promote and support a healthy and welcoming climate for business.
Women’s rights are human rights. After years of hard work, in the 2020 legislative session Virginia became the pivotal 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees equal rights to all -- in the workplace, in education, and in pay -- regardless of sex. I was proud to co-patron the bill to pass this Amendment to the US Constitution.
But there is still much work to do. On average, women earn only 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. The number is even lower for women of color. It has been more than 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law making it illegal to pay unequal wages to men and women who do the same or equal work. It is time to end the wage gap.
I believe we must protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, including choices about contraception. I am a strong voice against the passage of bills that attempt to limit a woman’s access to health care or that attempt to close clinics that provide life saving cancer screenings. Women should make their health care decisions with their doctors -- not their legislators.