I support raising the minimum and tipped wages, and support legislation to increase them here in Virginia. We also must acknowledge the thousands of Virginians who are currently seeking employment. I oppose efforts to roll back the social safety net that is so important to unemployed Virginians searching for work.
We can grow our economy by expanding workforce training programs, increasing access to capital for small businesses, and creating incentives for small business development.
Great teachers are the key to our children’s success, which is why we must ensure that our teachers are paid competitive salaries that reflect our deep appreciation to these outstanding public servants. Too often our teachers are forced to “teach to the test,” which is why I strongly support the SOL reforms that were passed in the House of Delegates last year (HB930).
I oppose offshore drilling, and instead believe we should be increasing our investments in renewable energies. For example, Virginia has an incredible amount of untapped wind energy waiting to be harnessed. I support efforts to increase our renewable portfolio standard and incentives for meeting these goals, as well as mandatory energy efficiency standards for investor-owned electric utilities. Additionally, I support tax credits for individuals and businesses that install solar panels or small wind systems.
As a parent with children who attended our public schools and a son at Virginia Tech, this is an issue particularly important to me. I support a ban on assault weapons, magazine restrictions, and the reinstatement of “one-gun-a-month” in Virginia.
These gun control measures have the potential to save lives. Just as importantly, our mental health system must be re-evaluated to prevent future tragedies from occurring.
I strongly support Medicaid Expansion in Virginia to cover more than 400,000 uninsured Virginians. I was disappointed to see Speaker Howell rule the Governor’s veto of the Stanley Amendment out of order. It’s clear that this fight is not yet over - I am confident that Virginia can achieve Medicaid Expansion, and willl be steadfast in my support for this important program.
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I strongly support the rights of loving couples all across our great Commonwealth. I joined thousands of Virginians in celebrating back in February when a federal judge struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment on marriage. In addition to marriage equality, I support efforts to prevent workplace discrimination for LGBTQ and transgender Virginians.
Mr. Speaker and Ladies and Gentlemen of the House:
You are going to see and hear something this morning hour that you have never seen or heard before.
I stand before you to discuss—briefly—the wisdom and importance of passing HB 4003, an extreme risk protection bill. Nothing new there. But here’s the unusual part:
I join a group of supporters of the ERPO bill I don’t often agree with. But I am pleased to do so today.
This legislation has been endorsed by the likes of Attorney General Bill Barr, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Senator Marco Rubio, Vice President Mike Pence, and yes, President Donald Trump.
17 states have adopted these statutes—and several of them are deep red. Former Governor—now Senator—Rick Scott signed one into law in Florida. Then-Governor Mitch Daniels signed one in Indiana after it passed its Republican-controlled General Assembly.
And the President’s Commission on School Safety urged states to pass these laws. Attorney General Barr, when he said “we need to push the ERPO’s,” opined that “this is the single most important thing we can do in the gun control area.”
Mr. Speaker, are these Republican leaders less reverential of the 2nd Amendment than anyone in this body? Surely not.
But they have come to the thoughtful conclusion that these bills strike a proper balance between an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights and issues of public and personal safety.
The President’s Commission called on states to adopt these bills, and specified a checklist of provisions it suggested states include:
- A prompt hearing
- A prompt return of the firearm
- Limits on who can apply for an order, and safeguards that the process won’t be abused.
HB 4003 addresses all of those issues.
It limits the initial order to no more than 14 days.
It includes a heightened standard of proof to clear and convincing evidence—something the NRA has said is important to its support of these bills.
So there must be clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a substantial risk of harm to self or others before a final order can be issued.
The point is, Mr. Speaker, that the bill focuses on providing and protecting the due process and 2d Amendment rights of the subject of the order.
Mr. Speaker some skeptics have worried that the process could be abused by an ex-girlfriend or an ex-wife.
Not HB 4003. The ex-wife or the angry neighbor cannot just run off to court to make accusations.
A petition can be brought only by law enforcement or the Commonwealth’s Attorney, after independent investigation, and the bill attaches a stiff penalty—a year in jail---for anyone who falsely makes a report to law enforcement.
Mr. Speaker, we seem to always bog down on the question of whether this bill or that bill could or would have prevented the last tragedy.
With all due respect, that is NOT the issue. And certainly not with this bill. This bill has been shown to be effective. It is an evidence-based idea.
The President’s Commission cited two well-regarded studies—one by Duke University, another by Indiana University—showing that suicides in Connecticut and Indiana are down significantly since passage of these bills in those states.
And as the members of this body well know, unfortunately, more than half of the gun deaths in Virginia are suicides—an epidemic that is particularly rampant in the rural areas of the Commonwealth, and with our veterans.
This bill—which may well help avoid the next Virginia Beach tragedy—will, WILL, predictably save lives.
Mr. Speaker, I can’t claim a consensus, but surely there is a growing bipartisan trend across the country—and urged on by our federal government—to pass these life-saving bills.
Let’s show Virginians—who are watching us so very closely today—that we can still work together in a bipartisan way to save lives in Virginia. Let’s pass HB 4003.
I have served on the Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission, and am very familiar with our transit issues here in Northern Virginia. I believe paving more roads is not the long-term solution to our transportation problems. I was excited to see Metro’s Silver Line open recently, and will seek out ways in the General Assembly to incentivize use of public transportation and expand mass-transit opportunities.
It’s simple. A woman’s decisions regarding her reproductive health should be left between her and her doctor, and government has no business interfering in such a private matter. I oppose all measures that would limit reproductive freedom, and will work to expand health care access and coverage to thousands of women by expanding Medicaid in Virginia.