Dear Friend,

The General Assembly reached Crossover this past Tuesday. Crossover is the midpoint of the legislative session by which each chamber must complete work on its own bills with the exception of the state budget. In order to meet this deadline set forth in the House Rules, Monday and Tuesday’s floor sessions were a combined 12 hours of debate and voting.

This year, a total of 1,574 bills were introduced. 734 of those bills passed the House, many with a unanimous or bipartisan vote. The divided nature of government–a Democratic legislature and Republican executive–demand that any new law have bipartisan support. As we move forward into session, we will begin reviewing Senate bills. Many of these bills have a near exact copy in the House, making committee hearings a bit quicker than it was pre-Crossover as most members will vote the same way on these identical bills.

I hope that you continue to find these email newsletters helpful and informative. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Legislation Update

I am pleased to report that House Bill 633 passed the House unanimously this week. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, this bill would empower local prosecutors to bring charges against individuals who traffick other humans for their labor. Often in these labor trafficking cases, we see an individual forced to work without pay under the threat of violence. It really is a form of modern-day slavery.

Virginia already has laws criminalizing sex trafficking, but we are the only state in the nation without a standalone statute criminalizing labor trafficking. With around 40% of all human trafficking instances in the US being categorized as labor trafficking, we are failing to protect the most vulnerable. The House’s passage of HB 633 is a significant step forward.

Unfortunately, a number of campaign finance reform bills were defeated. This includes my HB 629, which had been incorporated into HB 40. These bills would ban the personal use of campaign funds. Currently, candidates for public office in Virginia can use campaign funds for things like personal grocery bills, country club memberships, and vacations. Some legislators felt that the cost of enforcing this potential new law would be too high, despite a review from JLARC, the legislature’s nonpartisan watchdog agency, stating the cost would be negligible. I will continue to push for campaign finance reform in the coming years.

Of the many bills considered by the General Assembly each year, only a handful receive widespread publicity. One such bill this year was HB 858, legislation that would legalize physician assisted suicide in Virginia. I heard from many individuals across the 74th district who shared their strong opposition to this legislation. My floor speech putting words to my shared opposition of this bill can be viewed below.

I can report to you that after my speech, it was determined that there were not enough votes to pass this bill. As such, the bill was “passed by for the day.” Because of the crossover deadline, it effectively defeated the bill.

There is a Senate version of this bill that did pass the other body. I will keep an eye on its progress and will continue to oppose this policy.

Visitors to the Office

Despite the hectic week, Brightpoint Community College students dropped by for a visit. These bright students (pun intended) discussed the importance of a strong community college system that helps ensure affordable access to higher education. I know they will each do great things in our community.


In the News

Here are a few news articles that you may find of interest:

As I close this week’s newsletter, I want to note that the budget committees will meet on Sunday, February 18th to unveil their version of the state budget. I look forward to carefully reviewing the proposal and sharing the details with you in next week’s update.

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.

Mike Cherry