The 2024 General Assembly Session is officially underway! The House and Senate kicked off the 60-day session with the swearing-in of all 140 legislators. In the House, we elected Don Scott of Portsmouth as Speaker and re-elected Paul Nardo as Clerk. I was pleased to be appointed by the Speaker to continue serving on the Education and Health committees. I also received a new appointment to the Privileges & Elections committee.
As I have previously done, I will be sending out weekly newsletters highlighting activity in Richmond. These will usually come out on Friday or Saturday, but from time to time may be delayed until Sunday.
I hope you find these weekly emails helpful and informative. If you have any questions, let me know.
State of the Commonwealth
On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Youngkin delivered his State of the Commonwealth address. Halfway through his term, the Governor highlighted the progress that has been made and laid out his goals for the coming year.
I have many thoughts about the Governor’s speech (all positive by the way!), but will keep my comments brief. I applaud his continued focus on mental health, something that we often overlook. I likewise commend his desire to keep our communities safe by enforcing existing laws and giving law enforcement the tools necessary to do their jobs. Importantly, the Governor highlighted the need to work together in a bipartisan manner for the benefit of Virginians.
You can watch the Governor’s full speech below:
I am carrying a number of bills this session that work to support our first responders, reform campaign finance rules, and protect our constitutional rights, amongst other things. I’d like to highlight a few of those bills now.
House Bill 633 would create a labor trafficking statute in state law. Virginia, sadly, is the only state in the nation without laws criminalizing labor trafficking. When law enforcement comes across a case, we hand it off to federal prosecutors. Justice on the federal level moves slower, and we don’t receive any data or truly know what the outcome is. This bipartisan effort will provide state prosecutors and local law enforcement with more tools in the fight to eradicate human trafficking in all forms.
House Bill 629 will prohibit the personal use of campaign funds by candidates for public office. Current Virginia law does not restrict candidates from using money donated to their campaign for things like country club dues, mortgage payments, and personal grocery bills. It’s wrong and should be fixed. Bills like this have received bipartisan support in the past, but haven’t quite made it to the finish line. I am hopeful that we can pass HB 629 this year.
Finally, House Bill 630 and House Bill 631 will offer enhanced retirement benefits to public safety dispatchers. As you know, dispatchers do more than send a firetruck or ambulance to the scene of an emergency. They are the calm voice on the other end of the phone who provides the very first of first aid in a medical emergency. Providing enhanced retirement benefits in line with what other first responders already receive will not only more fully recognize the important work they do, it will also help local governments fill critical vacancies in many localities.
You can view a full list of bills I am sponsoring by clicking here.
I would appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with me about a few key issues that the General Assembly will debate this year. My 2024 session survey includes just six questions and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Having your input on these matters will allow me to better serve our district in Richmond.
This survey does not include every issue the House will consider–that would be a rather lengthy survey. If there is an issue of importance to you that was not addressed, please email me your thoughts at DelMCherry@house.virginia.gov.
Visitors to the Office
One of my favorite parts about the legislative session is the chance to meet with so many community members on a wide variety of issues.
Community bankers from the Bank of Southside Virginia and the Bank of America were amongst the first visitors of the new session.
It’s always great to see young people get involved in the political process. I welcomed two homeschool students, along with their grandparents, to the Capitol as they sought to learn more about state government.
If you are in Richmond during this legislative session, feel free to drop by room 706 to say hello!
In the News
Here are a few news articles that you may find of interest:
- The fun bills of Virginia’s 2024 session
- Don Scott becomes Virginia’s first Black speaker of the House
- Three interesting bills of the week: animal cruelty offenders, age of marriage and towing fees
- GOP, Democratic lawmakers offer bipartisan bill to ban labor trafficking in Virginia
- Youngkin doesn’t want to legalize recreational cannabis sales in Virginia
- Scott announces special committee on Virginia rural health care access
It is an honor to represent you in the House of Delegates. If I can be of service to you or your family, please let me know.