September 16, 2020
Voters in the 36th House District: Watch your mail for a
printed copy of my Voter's Guide.
In this Issue
  • Commentary: The House at the Half
  • Latest Updates on COVID-19
  • Bulletin Board
  • What Can I Do?
  • Check your Calendar
Commentary

The House at the Half
The House of Delegates is probably half-way through its virtual Special Session. At least the House has debated all the bills introduced by its members with the exception of the budget that is always last to be considered. Those bills have been sent to the Senate and await their consideration while the House will now begin deliberations on the bills the Senate has passed.

As I have indicated in recent columns this Special Session has been a busy one as Special Sessions go. Even more unusual, it has been conducted for the first time ever in a virtual environment. The House has passed 37 bills, all of which are of considerable importance and consequence. These bills will fund safe and secure alternatives for Virginia voters to return absentee ballots during the upcoming 2020 general election, implement housing protections for Virginia families negatively impacted by COVID-19, ban the use of no-knock warrants and neck restraints, require law enforcement officers to intervene or report when they see wrongdoing from colleagues, and streamline the process for localities to remove, relocate, or alter Confederate statues and other war monuments on public property.

To understand fully what some of the bills, described here in generalities, will do, go to https://lis.virginia.gov to review the specific language and provisions. To make voting easier during the pandemic, HB5103 permits localities to establish ballot drop-off locations, supports pre-paid postage for absentee ballots, and makes it safer and easier to vote absentee. HB5116 requires large employers to provide limited paid quarantine leave for Virginia workers. HB5028 establishes a presumption of worker compensation eligibility for first responders, teachers, and other high-risk essential workers who die or become disabled due to COVID-19. HB5047 combats price gouging for personal protective equipment. There were other COVID-related bills.

Some of the bills passed in the House in the area of police and criminal justice reform are far reaching. HB5013 eliminates qualified immunity for law enforcement officers. HB5043 created a statewide Marcus Alert system for those in a mental health crisis. HB5045 bans sexual relations between officers and arrestees. HB5058 eliminates certain pretextual police stops. HB5049 demilitarizes police departments by prohibiting the acquisition and use of certain weapons by police departments. HB5090 expands disclosure of law enforcement criminal incidence information files for closed or cold cases under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. HB5148 increases earned sentence credits for incarcerated persons. HB5099 prohibits the use of no-knock warrants. HB5146 reforms state law related to expungement of police and court records. HB5069 bans the use of neck restraints by law enforcement. HB5098 expands the definition of hate crimes to include false 911 calls. HB5109 standardizes and enhances training by criminal justice academies and establishes required in-service training standards for law enforcement officers.

These are some of the bills that have passed the House at half-time. All have been subject to compromises of the legislative process and require a careful review of the current text to understand their implications. They are still subject to the scrutiny of the State Senate, possible conference committee action, and signature of the Governor.
Latest Updates on COVID-19

Fairfax County

9/15/2020 — How to Submit Documents When Applying for Food, Financial and Medical Assistance. Read the article.

9/15/2020 — Board of Supervisors Approves Additional $12 Million for Fairfax RISE Grant Program. Read the details.


Virginia

9/15/2020 — Manpower Virtual Job Fair Wednesday, September 16, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.mView or download a flyer.

9/15/2020 — State Corporation Commission Announces Utility Service Cut-off Moratorium Extended to October 5. Read the announcement.


Nationwide

9/15/2020 — CDC Outlines People Who Are at Increased Risk for Severe IllnessRead the information.

9/15/2020 — CDC Offers Guidance on Helping to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Children. Read the advice.

Bulletin Board

Congressman Connolly's Office Now Accepting Applications for
US Service Academies
To be eligible for consideration for nomination to the Class of 2025, all applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 22 as of July 1, 2025 and must be a United States Citizen. Visit the Academy Nominations page for more information. Click here for Congressional Nomination Procedures and here for the Application for Nomination.
What's at Stake in the 2020 Census 
Visit Sec. of the Commonwealth for links to each event.
Drug Take-back Boxes Now Located at All Eight
Fairfax County Police Stations
Bring your unused or unneeded medications to your local district station for a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of drugs. Learn more at Drug Take-back Boxes.
What can I do? Civic Involvement
Take Advantage of Early Voting in Fairfax County
Calendar of Events
Saturday, September 12, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Community Electronics Recycling Event, at 14801 Willard Rd, Chantilly, VA. Learn more at Electronics Recycling.

Thursday, September 17, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., Constitution Day 2020: The Bulwark of Freedom: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction. The Law Library of Congress and the Library of Congress Center for Learning, Literacy and Engagement announce their annual Constitution and Citizenship Day lecture. This year's lecture will be an online event and will be given by Michael J. Murphy, a Historical Publication Specialist in the Office of the Historian for the U.S. House of Representatives. Learn more and register at Constitution Day 2020.

Thursday, September 17, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., Your Vote, Your Voice: Make a Plan to Vote with the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area. Learn about what it takes to register to vote or update your registration in Virginia, how to check your voter registration status, how to vote absentee (no excuse needed) by mail or in-person, and lastly, how to prepare to vote on election day. Register here.

Friday, September 18, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., Webinar: 10 Ways to Stop Power Struggles & Start Motivating Your Kids, presented by Fairfax County Public Schools. Free but registration is required. Repeated 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Learn more and register at FCPS Webinar for Parents.

Sunday, September 20, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., Virginia Redistricting Amendment Community Conversation via Zoom. Join MLK Christian Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston in a community conversation on the Virginia Redistricting Commission Amendment that all Virginians will vote on this November. The conversation will take place between Del. Ken Plum and Del. Mark Levine and will be moderated by political reporter, Michael Pope. Register here. 

Sunday, September 20, 7:30 p.m., Equity Matters: Moving Forward to Equal Justice – 13th, a film that charts the explosive growth in America's prisons, from about 200,000 in the ‘60s to today’s incarcerated population of two million, while tracing the connection to the racism embedded in American history. At Reston Community Center Hunters Woods – Community Room. Learn more and register at 13th.

Tuesday, September 22, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Foster Care and Adoption Information Meeting, at Reston Regional Library. To learn more visit Foster Care Information.

Tuesday, September 22, 7:00 p.m., Virtual Virginia Climate Crisis Forum, One-on-one conversation about the climate crisis with Senator Mark Warner. Details are at Climate Crisis Forum.