2019 General Assembly Update
This year, I introduced 15 Bills During the General Assembly Session:
2019 – Year of Reconciliation and Civility in Virginia
On January 3, 2019, I pre-filed House Joint Resolution – 617 (HJ 617) which proposed to “Designate 2019 as the Year of Reconciliation and Civility in Virginia”. On February 4, 2019 the Resolution was adopted in the Virginia House of Delegates with a unanimous bi-partisan vote and the Resolution was then referred to the Senate, where it also passed unanimously with a bipartisan vote.
This Resolution – challenges Virginians to embrace this unique opportunity to accelerate the healing of racial wounds by not only acknowledging the depths of racial divisions, but by developing solutions that move Virginia toward unity and Reconciliation. The goal is to establish a new dynamic where people of different races will have a much healthier dialogue and work closer together to advance the common good.
I have spent my entire adult life working diligently to preserve the history of African Americans and to promote racial equity and Reconciliation. The need for Reconciliation in this great Commonwealth and this country has become even more apparent with the recent disclosure of racially insensitive incidents. Let us use this difficult time as a teachable moment of genuine Reconciliation as we work towards achieving real equality and justice. -Passed
HJ 655 - Lynching; Acknowledging with profound regret the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
On January 31, 2019, HJ 655 was presented before the 2019 General Assembly Session. This resolution acknowledges with profound regret the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth and calls for reconciliation among all Virginians. We must acknowledge the harsh realities of the past and the impact these injustices still have on the African American community. Reconciliation of the past is the only way we can move forward as one nation. -Passed
HB 1860 Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; nonpayment of rent, written notice of termination
HB 1860 was introduced in the 2019 General Assembly, with the goal to extend the time for tenants to pay upon notice of termination from five days to fourteen days. The community would have benefited from the extension because it offered an opportunity for tenants to secure adequate funds before eviction proceedings are started in courts. The proposed bill would not only benefit the tenants, but the landlords as well. The additional time would have afforded the tenants a better opportunity to secure funds for their rent before additional late fees and court costs were accumulated. This nine-day extension could have drastically assisted the tenants in their efforts to avoid eviction and would have been beneficial in the overall well-being of the community.
HB 1861 Police & court records; expungement of records relating to misdemeanor/nonviolent felony conviction.
This Expungement Bill would have allowed citizens convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony to petition the court for expungement of their police and conviction records. The process would still include the participation of the Commonwealth Attorney’s office in the hearing proceedings, so it would not be an automatic expungement.
My Legislation That Passed In 2019
This year, I patroned 9 pieces of legislation that passed the House and the Senate and have already been signed by Governor Northam or are awaiting action from the Governor’s Office. They are listed below:
HB 2238 - Cemeteries; removal of remains, etc.., of previously unidentified. This Bill adds the category of previously unidentified cemeteries to the legislation allowing for the removal of remains from graveyards or family cemeteries that have been abandoned or are unused and neglected by their owners. This bill also includes technical amendments.
HB 2681 - Historical African American cemeteries; adds seven cemeteries in City of Hampton. This Bill adds seven cemeteries in Hampton to the list of cemeteries for which qualified organizations may receive funds from the Department of Historic Resources for the care of Historical African American cemeteries and graves.
HB 2699 - Humanities, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; This Bill provides for five additional members to be appointed to the African American Historical Resources Task Force. This Task Force was established to assist the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in its work regarding the history of formerly enslaved African Americans in Virginia.
HJ 617 – Designated 2019 as the Year of Reconciliation and Civility
HJ 655 - Lynching; acknowledging with profound regret the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth.
HJ 733 – Commending the Richmond 34. The members of this Historic Civil Rights group were recognized on the Floor of the House Chambers on Feb. 22, 2019 to commemorate the 59th Anniversary of their Sit-In and subsequent arrested for trespassing at Thalhimer’s. Their courageous non-violent protest helped to desegregate downtown Richmond and was a contributing action that sparked the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
HB 2053 – School Board; staffing ratios, guidance counselors. This bill will effectuate a three-year plan to substantially decrease the ratio of Guidance counselors to students, allowing for more quality time for the counselors to spend with the students.
HB 1916 – Employees; Break time and location to express milk. This bill provides for a reasonable time and space (clean and private) for mothers who are breast feeding to express milk while at work.
HB 2052 – Richmond City Charter Amendment/ runoff elections.