The 2022 legislative session officially kicked off on Wednesday with the swearing in of all newly elected legislators. I was honored to take the oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Virginia. I am humbled by the trust placed in me by the people of Colonial Heights and Chesterfield. I give you my word that I will work continuously on your behalf.
Below is the first edition of an e-newsletter that I plan to bring you each week while the General Assembly is in session. I hope that you will find these both interesting and informative.
Opening day is a time for the House to get organized for the upcoming session. This means setting a schedule of business and adopting rules.
As part of our organization process, the House unanimously elected Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah County to serve as the new 57th Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Speaker Gilbert has previously served as both minority and majority leader and has a firm understanding of the workings of the House of Delegates. I am very excited to be serving under his skilled leadership.
We also took time out on Opening Day to honor my predecessor and former Speaker, Kirk Cox. Kirk served this district with distinction for 32 years, working tirelessly to make our state the best place to work, live, and raise a family. I was pleased to lead a rare center aisle presentation where we unveiled an official portrait of Kirk that will be displayed in the House chamber for years to come.
COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS & LEGISLATION
In addition to debating bills on the floor, much of our work in the House of Delegates takes place in committees. I am pleased to have been assigned by Speaker Todd Gilbert to the following committees:
- Health, Welfare, and Institution
- Cities, Counties, and Towns
In addition to my work on these committees, I am carrying several pieces of legislation.
House Bill 131 will allow localities the option of including 9-1-1 dispatchers in enhanced retirement benefits for hazardous duty service, an option already available for firefighters, police officers, and other first responders. Dispatchers are the very first of first responders, taking the initial call when people are most in need. While they often receive well-deserved praise and recognition for their efforts, they unfortunately don’t receive the same hazard pay and retirement benefits that other first responders receive. My bill will help fix this discrepancy and ensure our local 9-1-1 dispatchers receive the same benefits as other first responders.
I am also carrying House Bill 132 to expand the Disabled Veterans’ Passport at Virginia State Parks. This expanded passport program would provide free park admission to all veterans with a service-connected disability. Currently, the passport is only offered to veterans with 100 percent service-connected disabilities. A similar bill was signed into law in December 2020 by President Trump to allow free admission to National Parks for veterans with a service connected disability.
You can read more about other bills that I am carrying in this press release.
My team and I are slowly getting settled and welcoming visitors to our new office in the Pocahontas Building. If you’d like to make an appointment to meet with me, reach out at DelMCherry@house.virginia.gov or call my office at (804) 698-1066.
Delegate Kim Taylor and I met with President Makola Abdullah and Eldon Burton of Virginia State University. VSU is an integral part of our community and I am very excited to be representing and supporting their goals here in the General Assembly. Go Trojans!
I also had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education. We discussed the importance of ensuring that students have access to technical education courses.
I met with members of the Police Benevolent Association who were advocating in support of my bill to provide 9-1-1 dispatchers enhanced benefits.
As your Delegate, I aim to serve you in the best way possible. To do that I need your feedback! I have put together a short survey to get your input on some of the key issues that will come before the General Assembly this year.
This survey is designed to be completed in 10 minutes or less. If there’s an issue important to you that isn’t included, please let me know.
CEREMONIAL SWEARING IN
You are invited to join me at the Capitol on Sunday, January 23rd for my ceremonial swearing in. This special event will be held the House chamber and followed by a reception. If you can make it out to the event, please RSVP here.
IN THE NEWS
Here’s a few news articles from this week that you may find of interest:
- Mike Cherry column: Formerly incarcerated Virginians served their time. Restore their right to vote
- ‘Too long in coming’: Portrait of former Speaker Kirk Cox unveiled in House
- Youngkin names key leaders for his incoming administration
As I sign off, I will note that our region is expected to get another round of severe winter weather. I encourage you to tune in to local media to stay up to date on the latest developments.
I am here to serve you. If I can assist you or your family in any way, please let me know.