The 2023 General Assembly session is officially underway! The 46-day session officially started this past Wednesday at noon. Our first few days are always a bit like syllabus week at college–getting reacquainted and preparing for the tasks ahead. I do hope it will be a productive session.
Throughout this legislative session, I will be sharing a weekly update with you. I hope to cover many of the big moments that take place. If you have questions about a bill during the week, you can always reach me at DelMCherry@house.virginia.gov. I also encourage you to stay tuned to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for additional updates.
I am carrying several bills this year that I hope will make a positive impact on our community.
House Bill 1699 will make it a class 5 felony to offer or accept money for the purchase of a minor person. Recently, local police via an undercover sting operation encountered an individual attempting to sell his child for money. Because sexual acts were not mentioned, they were unable to charge the individual in the same way they would charge someone seeking to sell a minor into sex trafficking. The bill includes specific language to ensure that it does not negatively impact surrogacy or adoption contracts.
House Bill 1826 will prohibit candidates for office from using campaign funds for personal uses. The majority of other states legally prohibit candidates from using campaign funds for things like mortgage payments, grocery bills, and country club memberships. Virginia should join those states and ensure that money given to candidates is used for campaigning only.
House Bill 2327 and House Bill 2328 will add 9-1-1 dispatchers to the list of public safety personnel eligible to receive enhanced retirement benefits. HB 2327 will authorize local governments to provide those benefits to employees moving forward and backdate those benefits for current employees. HB 2328 seeks to extend those benefits to state 9-1-1 dispatchers. Our dispatchers are the very first of first responders, and we should recognize the seriousness of their jobs by ensuring they receive enhanced benefits like their colleagues in police and fire departments.
House Bill 2329 will establish the Care for Retired Police Canines Grant Program and Fund. Currently, law enforcement departments pay for necessary medical care for active duty canines within their ranks. When that canine retires, they are purchased for a small sum–often $1 by the handler–and live out their retirement taking naps and playing fetch. However, the handler is often responsible for the retired dog’s medical expenses. You can imagine the added costs of taking care of a senior dog. This bill will authorize the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to create a grant fund that will assist with those veterinary expenses. The fund will be administered by a nonprofit.
To view all bills introduced during this session and to track their journey through the legislative process, visit: lis.virginia.gov.
State of the Commonwealth
Article V of the Constitution of Virginia requires the Governor “communicate to the General Assembly […] the condition of the Commonwealth.” Governor Glenn Youngkin fulfilled his constitutional obligation on Wednesday when he delivered his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the General Assembly.
In his address, the Governor recalled the successes of the last year and laid out his goals for the coming legislative session. Cutting taxes and creating safe communities remains at the top of both the Governor’s and House Republican’s agendas. I am particularly glad to see the Governor calling for an additional $1 billion in tax cuts. That’s on top of the $4 billion in tax cuts that we adopted last year. The Governor is also proposing a major overhaul of the state’s mental health system in order to help those most in need. This is long overdue. The Governor will likewise focus on tackling violence in our communities by recruiting more police officers and creating stiffer penalties for those committing violent crimes.
You can watch the Governor’s full remarks here.
In the News
Here are a few news articles that you may find of interest:
- VPM: 3 General Assembly issues where lawmakers could find common ground
- Chesterfield Observer: The legislative horizon: county’s delegation goes to work as a busy election cycle awaits
- WTVR: What to expect as Virginia lawmakers return to Richmond for General Assembly session
It remains an honor to represent you and your family in the House of Delegates. If I can assist you in any way, please let me know.