Happy Presidents’ Day! I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
Yesterday was the third anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The gunman killed fourteen students and three teachers and injured 17 others. Ever since this mass shooting, I have been inspired by the continuous work of the Parkland students to stop gun violence and prevent the next tragedy from happening. Gun safety measures have been one of my priorities in the House of Delegates for a long time, and I will continue to work to make our communities safer.
Before getting into this week’s General Assembly update, I want to address the political crisis and chaos our country has been experiencing.
As Senator McConnell said, "January 6 was a disgrace," and "there is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The former President riled up a violent mob and sent them to the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election and attack our democracy.
I am extremely disappointed that Republican Senators lacked the courage and moral conviction to hold Trump accountable for his horrific actions.
General Assembly Update
The Democratic majority in the General Assembly is making great progress for Virginians in all areas - economic recovery, public health, education, criminal justice, the climate crisis, and more. Last week I presented three of my bills before Senate committees, and all passed the first step:
- HB1994: Expands the Small Agricultural Generation Program so that more small agricultural businesses can produce their own clean solar energy.
- HB1995: Creates a Rare Disease Advisory Council to support and advocate for the needs of Virginians with rare diseases.
- HB1998: Reduces by one the number of mandatory lockdown drills in public schools.
The House also passed its version of the budget. Here are some highlights:
- $231.4 million for five percent teacher pay raises
- $429.5 million for no-loss payments to public schools, in addition to $1.3 billion in Federal relief and $51.1 million to address COVID-19 learning loss
- Funding to improve the school counselor-to-student ratio
- $84 million to maintain affordable access to Virginia colleges and universities and $8.5 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grant awards and include online students
Keeping Virginia Healthy
- Paid sick leave for essential workers
- Prenatal care through Medicaid/FAMIS regardless of the pregnant person’s citizenship status
- $300,000 for an actuarial study on creating a paid family and medical leave program
- Funding for worker’s compensation for health care workers and first responders who die from, or are totally or partially disabled by, COVID-19 as an occupational disease suffered in the line of duty
Rebuilding a stronger, cleaner economy
- An additional $20 million in funding directed to Rebuild VA small business grants, bringing the program total to $140 million
- Funding for a pilot program allowing public broadband authorities to compete for 10% of Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grants
- A one-time $5 million capitalization to fund electric vehicle rebates
- Additional funding for agricultural best management practices to meet Chesapeake Bay clean-up benchmarks
The Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as Healthcare.gov, will reopen today, Monday, February 15. Anyone who needs health insurance or wants to evaluate their options will be able to search for plans and see how much financial aid they qualify for. Visit Healthcare.gov for more information.
You can improve how your face mask protects you. Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that wearing a well-fitting mask is important in helping curb the spread of COVID-19. This comes after the CDC posted results of new research that tested different types of masks and found that combining a cloth mask over a disposable surgical mask significantly reduces exposure to the virus for the wearer. The CDC recommends people wear masks with a nose wire that can be adjusted for a snug fit and suggests knotting the ear loops of a disposal mask and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face. Read the updated guidelines.
Drive-up COVID-19 Testing in Loudoun
Loudoun County's next free drive-thru COVID-19 testing events are scheduled for Tuesday, February 16, and Thursday, February 18, 2021, at Cascades Library, 21030 Whitfield Place, Potomac Falls, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. No appointments are necessary, but there are registration forms you can fill out ahead of time. Find them and more details at loudoun.gov/covid19testing.
My best regards,
Delegate Kathleen Murphy
House District 34