Greetings from the 86th District!
What a week we’ve had in Washington, DC. If anything shows you that elections matter, the Supreme Court appointment of Brett Kavanaugh makes it very clear. Those in charge make the decisions, and those decisions affect our lives directly.
Back here at home, I have been diligently working to make a positive impact on our community. I have just returned from a bipartisan, nationwide conference to discuss how we can better deploy broadband and spoke on a panel to talk about my work throughout the Commonwealth to encourage localities to consider broadband in their local planning efforts.
I serve on the Privileges and Elections Committee and am a member of the special subcommittee on elections. You must be aware that Virginia is under a court order to remedy eleven unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts in Virginia. After a special session and two P&E hearings, we are officially at an impasse. The General Assembly will be sending it back to let the courts redraw the districts to repair the harm done to the 800,000 voters who have been affected. I support having the courts draw the districts. I do not believe that politicians should be choosing their own voters. I also look forward to continuing to support an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would create an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission to oversee the 2021 redistricting.
Here at home I have held two town hall meetings so far this fall and have another planned. At my town hall in early September, we discussed what will likely take place with Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court where Roe vs. Wade is concerned. Reproductive rights are issues that many of our community members care deeply about and I will continue to advocate and champion allowing individuals to make their own personal decisions for themselves.
The second town hall meeting focused on renewable energy and climate change. I brought a diverse panel of experts to the table to talk about what they believe is achievable by 2035 in Virginia and we discussed ways that we can move towards a zero carbon future, with reliance on renewable energy. With the impacts of climate change causing suffering throughout the world, including here in Virginia, I am resolved to work diligently on these issues.
Next up is a town hall on veterans issues on October 23 with several of my fellow legislators and Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. There is more information below.
I’ve participated in a number of VDOT meetings to discuss future transportation challenges in our community in Eastern Loudoun and Western Fairfax County. Easing congestion and finding affordable transportation options is one of my top priorities.
On the fun side, I enjoyed participating in the Herndon High School Homecoming parade and SterlingFest. I love the vibrant community spirit we enjoy here!
See more photos on my Facebook page.
You can watch the Herndon Homecoming Parade here.
District 86 is a welcoming, highly educated, economically and culturally diverse and vibrant community in the Dulles Technology Corridor. I am honored to serve as your delegate.
2018 Congressional and Local Elections
Use your power and vote on November 6! The largest party in the 2016 presidential elections is the group of people who choose not to vote. Make sure that your friends and family members are registered. I recommend that each of you check your voter registration status - even if you voted in June or last November.
If you have a student away at college, encourage them to vote absentee in person when home for fall reading days or to request an absentee ballot and to mail it in early! We’ve learned that hundreds of absentee ballots were received too late to be counted in our last election. Sending stamps to share with other absentee voters might help.
Register to vote and check your registration status here.
9/21 - Absentee Voting Started
10/12 - last day to register to vote
10/30 - last day to request an absentee ballot (but if you are going to mail it in, make your request now)
11/3 last day to vote absentee in person
11/6 - Election Day
I have been back to Richmond several times for Privilege and Elections Committee meetings focused on redistricting of the 11 Virginia House of Delegates districts struck down by the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in the Golden Bethune-Hill case. Governor Northam ordered the special session so that we can meet the court’s deadline of October 30 to "construct a remedial districting plan that rectifies the constitutional deficiencies.”
Our district, the 86th House of Delegates district will not be impacted. This court order pertains to regions surrounding Richmond and Hampton Roads that have been found to be unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered.
What does this mean for all of Virginia? Unpacking the current unconstitutional House districts creates significantly more swing districts giving voters a real choice.
Delegate Bagby introduced a map with the support of the House Democratic Caucus that is compact, contiguous, and respects communities of interest. The map complies with the court’s order and the U.S. Constitution to ensure that voters in the affected districts have an adequate voice in their representation. On a party line vote, the P&E Committee rejected that map and voted for a bill consisting of a map drawn by House Republicans. Governor Northam has announced publicly that he plans to veto that bill because it does not address the unconstitutional packing of districts. We now expect the Court to appoint a Special Master to draw the districts.
I know that many of you support redistricting by an independent, nonpartisan commission. As your delegate and a member of the Privileges & Elections Committee, I have and will continue to support legislation to create a nonpartisan, independent commission for redistricting. This will be a major priority in the 2019 session so that we are ready for the 2021 redistricting. To do so, a proposed amendment that passes the General Assembly in 2019 must also pass in the following session (after an election of the Virginia House of Delegates), and then be approved by the state’s voters in a special or general election. The last few months have removed any doubt that it is preferable for legislators to draw their own districts.
Many of you have traveled to Richmond to show your support for this legislation at committee meetings. I encourage you to support the proposed amendment during the 2019 Session.
Support Virginia’s Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment
Virginia has the opportunity to be the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. I am a committed advocate for gender equality and a co-patron of HJ 579, the resolution for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Equality advocates around the state continue to raise awareness and the VAratifyERA campaign has a stated goal of 20,000 supportive signatures on its petition.That large number translates to 200 signatures per House district. I believe our district can easily exceed this goal because I know thousands of you support constitutional gender equality. To learn more and to sign the petition, visit https://varatifyera.org/petition.
Public Comment Period Open - Review of Virginia’s Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities
Medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion limit access to reproductive healthcare and burden women, particularly those with limited financial resources. You have the power to influence changes made to these regulations.
Submit a public comment now thru October 31 to tell the Health Commissioner and the Virginia Board of Health: rely on evidence-based medicine and amend the sham restrictions on Virginia women's health centers.
Use either the public comment page: http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/comments.cfm?stageid=8350
Or use this link to send an email written for you by our friends at Progress Virginia: http://act.progressva.org/si…/trap-2018_public_comment/NARAL.
Updates on My Town Halls
Next Town Hall: A Town Hall on Veterans Issues with Delegate Boysko, Delegate Delaney, Delegate Gooditis and Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins
Our Town Hall is scheduled for Tuesday, October 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, Leesburg. Let me know that you are joining us on the Facebook event, https://www.facebook.com/events/1839192069463826/.
Town Hall: If Roe Falls, what happens in Virginia?
We had a great turnout for my September 4th Town Hall with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. Several people asked what will happen in Virginia regarding access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare if Judge Kavanaugh is appointed to the US Supreme Court. (We now know that he has taken his lifetime appointment on the bench.) Galina Varchena, who works as an attorney for NARAL Pro-choice Virginia, said that at this time, there are no cases at the lower court level ready for appeal to the US Supreme Court that would find that abortion is not legal. However, many states have been passing restrictions on abortion that make it difficult for women in many areas of our country to obtain an abortion, particularly for women with limited financial resources. She shared that nonprofits are setting up funds to help women with the expense of seeking an abortion, including travel. Further, when clinics close, many women are left without access to birth control, cancer screenings and other medical care.
I will file the Whole Woman’s Health Act for the 2019 Session. My bill removes abortion from the criminal code and removes the medically unnecessary restrictions under current law. There is no medical justification for treating abortion differently than any other medical procedure - it is a safe outpatient procedure that requires no additional precautions than other outpatient procedures. Many of the restrictions are intended to shame women and reduce access to abortion.
Town Hall on the Future of Energy in Virginia
Last month, I hosted a productive and thoughtful panel discussion on Virginia’s transition to 100% renewable energy. You can watch the town hall at https://bit.ly/2NCDC1j, courtesy of our friends at Herndon Community Television.
Responding to the serious threats of climate change requires that we work together and I am glad that we could identify many of the challenges of transitioning from fossil fuels and the steps we need to take to meet those challenges. Our panelists included representatives of energy companies and environmental groups: Ivy Main, Sierra Club; Hayes Framme, Orsted; Eric Holdsworth, Edison Electric Institute; Scott Emery, Zero Carbon; Katharine Bond, Dominion Energy; and Will Gathright, Tumalow. Flint Webb did a great job as moderator. I am glad that several environmental groups, including the Herndon Environmental Network, Zero Carbon, the Sierra Club and We of Action joined us and set up tables for sharing their information.
We discussed PJM, the entity that tracks the generation of energy for a multistate area and then dispatches that energy to meet demand. You can learn more about the complexities of power dispatching at PJM’s website. Wind and solar power are weather dependent sources of energy and estimating how much energy will be generated is challenging. To meet 100% of our energy demand with renewable energy, we need to find ways to store that energy so that we have power when we need it. We discussed Dominion’s pump storage facility and battery storage.
Another challenge is the siting of renewable energy facilities. Permitting issues and community opposition to solar farms are challenges we need to address. All of us can work together to share the benefits of solar power and the need for renewable energy so that we face less opposition and delay in our communities. We discussed wind power issues, particularly offshore wind energy, and the need to work closely with our military who have a significant presence in the waters off of Virginia’s coast. Energy efficiency is another significant area of development - we do not need to generate as much energy when we reduce our demand for energy. We will need to modernize our electric grid to meet these challenges.
All of this can seem daunting and the consequences of climate change are so serious - we are already seeing flooding, fires, droughts, diseases, and other deadly results. I believe that we will find solutions. We have the passion, the education, and the determination to make the changes we need to make.
I recognize that the General Assembly can remove barriers that have slowed our transition to renewable energy in Virginia and provide incentives to make the transition more quickly. Other states have far more solar and wind power than we do. We have plenty of reasons to do better. Aside from climate change and other negatives of fossil fuels, green energy jobs will be a significant area of employment - Virginia needs to be a leader. Virginia has many fine universities - we should be a leader in the research and development that will refine battery storage, electric grid innovations, energy efficiencies and new sources of energy we have yet to envision. Working together, we can remove the barriers - starting with the limits on community solar. I’d also like to create a regulatory environment that attracts groups like Grid Alternatives who install solar for people with limited finances, while also training community members as installers. My town hall was one of many conversations addressing these issues. I hope that we will continue to work together as we move forward in Virginia to reliance on renewable energy.
Your 13 or 14 Year Old Can Serve in Richmond as a House of Delegates Page
Each year, the Virginia House of Delegates welcomes 13 and 14 year old students to serve as House Pages during the legislative session. As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, I would be proud to work with students from District 86. The online application for the 2019 House Page Program is due by October 19, 2018. Applicants need a letter of recommendation from their delegate which I would be happy to provide.
There is a featured slide about the Page Programs, known as Capitol Classroom, on the homepage of the Virginia General Assembly. The Page workday begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. A lunch break is provided. There is no weekend work, except maybe for the last Saturday of session. In addition to other duties, Pages deliver documents throughout the Capitol complex and perform errands for members and staff during each day’s floor session and at committee meetings. Pages live in the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond, under the supervision of chaperones. After work each day, Pages have a mandatory study hall. Certified teachers supervise the Pages and help individual students as needed. Pages are responsible for arranging with their schools and teachers the preferred method of taking tests and exams.
Medicaid Expansion - Public Comment Period Thru 10/20/18 on the Work Requirement
A major victory was won this year for Virginia families— expanding access to quality and affordable health coverage for nearly 400,000 Virginians.
Now, Virginia families need your help to protect these important strides in life-protecting and life-saving health care coverage. In addition to passing Medicaid expansion during the legislative session, the General Assembly also directed the state to propose what’s called an 1115 Medicaid waiver request from the federal government, called Virginia COMPASS which stands for Creating Opportunities for Medicaid Participants to Achieve Self- Sufficiency. If implemented, Virginia COMPASS would impose work requirements, monthly premiums, and other costly provisions on to Medicaid enrollees.
The first draft of Virginia Compass was released by the state Medicaid office on September 20, triggering a 30-day state public comment period that will end on Saturday, October 20. Public comments may be submitted by email to 1115Implementation@dmas.virginia.gov. After reviewing the public comments, state officials will then submit this waiver request to federal health officials.
Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Alternatives Analysis and Long Term Planning Study
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is holding public meetings on the Fairfax County & Franconia-Springfield Parkways Alternatives Analysis and Long Term Planning Study. The Long-Range Planning Study, led by FCDOT, in collaboration with VDOT, will provide recommendations for 2040 and beyond for the FCP/FSP corridor. It will consider whether changes should be made to the county’s current Transportation Plan.
Some questions that are to be addressed in this study are: the degree to which existing intersections should be considered for conversion to interchanges or under/ overpasses, how transit should be integrated into the corridor, whether tolling and or HOV lanes on the Parkways should be planned, and bicycle/ pedestrian mobility. Speak out - public input will help develop these preliminary alternatives and lead to an FCDOT / VDOT final recommendation in identifying a preferred alternative concept plan.
I attended the first meeting, held on October 11. You can attend the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, at Armstrong Elementary School, at 11900 Lake Newport Road, Reston. The meeting will begin with a presentation at 7 pm, followed by a question and answer period at 7:30 pm, and public input at 8 pm. There will also be a time for public input at 8 p.m.
VDOT Community Meeting re McLean Traffic
The Virginia Department of Transportation and Fairfax County are holding a community meeting on Thursday, October 18 at 7 pm to identify.potential congestion solutions for neighborhoods near I-495 (the Capital Beltway). VDOT and the County are seeking input on some of the longer-term proposals, including a potential pilot project to evaluate limiting access to the ramp from Georgetown Pike to northbound I-495 during weekday afternoon/evening periods. Stop by to learn more and provide input at McLean High School, 1633 Davidson Road, McLean, VA 22101. VDOT and Fairfax County staff will be on hand to answer questions.
Visit the study page for more details, as well as meeting materials following the meeting. Email comments to email@example.com, please include “Mclean Traffic Analysis” in the subject line.
DOT Public Hearing re Rehabilitation of Bridge at Route 7 Westbound over Sugarland Run
This project includes bridge superstructure replacement on a structurally deficient bridge and minor widening to enable 3-lanes of traffic to be maintained during construction. This project will also include repair of the existing substructure and relocation of affected utilities. The existing sidewalk will be made wider and transformed into a Shared Use Path. The meeting will include an open house, a formal presentation, and a question and answer period. Individual questions will also be addressed during the open house. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 23 from 7 to 9 pm, with the presentation beginning at 7:15 pm. The meeting will be held at Dranesville Elementary School, 1515 Powells Tavern Place, Herndon, VA 20170.
The public will be invited to submit oral and/or written comments at the meeting. Written comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solarize Loudoun & Leesburg - Solar Power for Homeowners
Solarize NOVA’s Loudoun and Leesburg campaign runs now through November 2d. Solarize Loudoun is a bulk purchasing program where organizers have negotiated discounted prices on superior equipment installed by vetted solar contractors. Sign up now for a free solar satellite assessment and to learn more about pricing and community workshops. More information can be found on the Solarize NOVA website, https://solarizenova.org/.
If you are already enjoying the benefits and savings of powering your home with the sun, or don't live in this campaign's service area, please forward this email to a friend in Loudoun or Leesburg who could benefit from going solar.
Safe Driving as You Age
NV Rides will host a free event with speakers and workshops offering tips and best practices to help you stay on the road safely, and for as long as possible.
Tuesday, October 23, 10:00 am to 2:30 pm
Exhibitor Fair opens at 10:00 a.m.; speakers start at 11:00 a.m.
Location: Reston Community Center Hunter Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston.
A light lunch will be provided but an RSVP is required by October 18 for planning purposes. RSVP to Gina Cocomello at 703-537-3070 or email@example.com.
Intern in my District Office
I am accepting applications for internships in my office. College and high school students welcome. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org describing why you would like to work for me and learn more about our state government. Please call my office (703-437-0086) if you have any questions or to set up a meeting to learn more about this opportunity.
Held in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge is a public awareness and fundraising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence and financial abuse and the need for resources to help survivors. The Purple Purse Challenge runs from Tuesday, October 2 at 12:00 pm through Thursday, October 31 at 1:59:59 pm. All proceeds collected through the www.crowdrise.com/shelterhouse-purplepurse2018 site will go directly to Shelter House, a community-based, non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence by engaging the community, building effective relationships and providing crisis intervention, safe housing and supportive services.
In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served 742 households comprised of over 2,300 individuals, and was able to provide the means necessary to move 70% of families served into permanent housing.
In the News…
Local Legislators Among VHHA HosPAC 2018 Healthcare Heroes, Alexandria News, 9/26/2018
Virginia prisons ban visitors from wearing tampons, Think Progress.org, 9/24/2018
Ribbon Cutting held for Renovation of the Fairfax Connector Reston Herndon Operating Facility, Connection newspapers, 10/3/2018
Saturdays and Sundays, now thru November 3 at 10 am, noon and 2 pm/Canvass launch from my home, 940 Locust Street, Herndon. Join us and knock doors for Senator Kaine, Jennifer Wexton for Congress (CD 10), and Congressman Connolly (CD 11).
Friday, Saturday and Sundays, now - November 4/Shocktober, Paxton Manor is Northern Virginia’s only REAL Haunted House. Its haunted attractions are not for the faint of heart, this annual event is PG-13 Scary Fun. Shocktober is a fundraiser for The Arc of Loudoun, a Loudoun-based nonprofit that serves people with disabilities and their families. Tickets and more information at https://shocktober.org/. Location: 601 Catoctin Circle, NE, Leesburg, VA 20176
Thursday, October 11, 6 - 9 pm/Arts Crawl & Chalk the Town for Arts Week, Arts Herndon joins with Partners in the Arts, local downtown businesses, to produce the Arts Crawl Series. Join in the festive atmosphere; purchase one-of-a-kind handcrafted items; try a free dance or instrument lesson; watch an art demonstration or listen to great live music. Events are located at various venues in downtown Herndon. Start your Arts Crawl journey at ArtSpace Herndon, The Green Lizard, Monroe Street Studios, Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern or Town Hall Plaza and follow the Arts Crawl map around town. Admission is free.
October 13, 10 am - 4 pm/Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Stations Open Houses. In celebration of Fire Prevention Week, all Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Stations will host open houses on October 13. Stop by your local station that day to meet your firefighters, see the fire trucks, participate in fun and educational activities, and learn about fire safety.
October 13 from 8 am to noon/Free Document Shredding. For more information, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/recycling-trash/document-shredding. Location: Sully District Government Center, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly.
October 20 from 4:30 - 7 pm/Herndon Community Television Community Media Day, Herndon Community Television (HCTV) hosts its second Community Media Day to provide local non-profits free personalized coaching session on how to use video media to reach out to those in need and support grant funding. Register at email@example.com. Location: Herndon ArtsSpace, 750 Center Street, Herndon, VA.
October 22 from 6 to 7 pm /Solarize NOVA Info Session. Learn whether solar power is a good investment for your home or business and how the SolarizeNOVA Campaign can connect you with discounted prices from great local installers. This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP due to limited space. Location: Ashburn Library, 43316 Hay Rd, Ashburn, VA 20147.
Tuesday, October 23 at 6:30/ Join my Town hall with Delegate Wendy Gooditis, Delegate Delaney and Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. Let me know you are coming on the Facebook event, https://www.facebook.com/events/1839192069463826/. Location: Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison St., Leesburg, VA.
Wednesday, October 24 from 6 - 8 pm/Safe Virginia Initiative’s Discussion, Guns and Domestic Violence: A Lethal Combination. Visit https://www.facebook.com/safevirginiainitiative/ for more information on The Safe Virginia Initiative Task Force (SVI), a workgroup founded and led by Virginia legislators, which focuses on developing policy initiatives that will reduce gun violence in Virginia. Location: George Mason University, Johnson Center, Meeting Room C, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA.
Saturday, October 27/Food for Neighbors red bag pick up day; sign up to donate food to be distributed to school children with financial need or to volunteer. https://www.foodforneighbors.org/
765 Lynn Street, Herndon, VA 20170
Thursdays 8:00 am -12:30 pm (Now - 11/8/18)
SNAP benefits available
Cascades Market—the Senior Center parking lot
21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling, VA 20164
Sundays, 9 am - 1 pm May - October and 9:30 - 12:30 am November - April
Keep in Touch
Call my District Office, 703-437-0086, for constituent services, appointments, and to schedule meetings with your community group.