The Virginia General Assembly gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 12th with a new House majority, and Saturday saw a political change in all three statewide offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. The Executive branch in Virginia holds vast authority over the structure and direction of our government — including the appointment of cabinet secretaries and deputy secretaries, all agency heads, and 3,300 board and commission members, strong veto powers, and the ability to choose how to enforce and enact many of our laws and regulations. The weight of gubernatorial power is hefty in Virginia, and vested with a Constitutionally mandated single four-year-term, must be mastered and wielded quickly if an Administration is to successfully accomplish the promises made on the campaign trail.
A newcomer to Virginia government and politics, Glenn Youngkin began that process on Saturday, January 14th at the Capitol in Richmond when he was inaugurated as our 74th Governor. The weather on Saturday was a a frigid 30 degrees and was followed on Sunday with an icy winter storm. Whether that signals a slippery start for Governor Youngkin is yet to be seen, but, as for any new governor, the learning curve is steep and the stakes high for their upcoming term. I will work hard to find areas where we find common interests, and think we will be able to agree on many things, particularly on much needed increases to school funding, systemic improvements at the Virginia Employment Commission, and support for our veteran community.
I was heartened by the unifying and optimistic themes Governor Youngkin outlined in his inaugural speech. However, I will be measuring Youngkin’s performance by deeds, not words. Just hours after his inclusive address, the Governor signed eleven divisive executive orders including attempts to ban the teaching of critical race theory in k-12 schools, banning local authority to mandate the wearing of facemasks for students' health in schools, and withdrawing Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which caps carbon outputs and provides much needed flooding resiliency funding to our community. These actions are in direct violation to our Commonwealth’s laws and the principle of separation of powers, and a sharp about face from the lofty rhetoric of his swearing in. In fact, Article VIII of the Virginia Constitution vests the power to set curricula with the Board of Education, so the banning of critical race theory, a topic that has never been taught in our K-12 schools, is both unconstitutional and unproductive to improving public education. Under Virginia law local school boards must adhere to CDC guidance, which recommends the wearing of masks in schools to protect those not yet vaccinated. The Executive does not rule by fiat in Virginia.
Where necessary, I plan to provide a wake up call for proposals dangerous to our common safety, prosperity, and welfare. On climate change, any proposals to divert public education dollars from public schools, and attacks on reproductive rights, however, the Democratic Senate majority will serve as a firewall against the forces of short sighted partisan policies.
Challenges are coming — for sure — especially with a new House majority and new Speaker at the dais. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) took the gavel on Wednesday with a slim (52-48) majority. With differing parties controlling each house of the legislature, the number of bills passed and signed may winnow from the close to 2,000 we passed in 2020 down to the hundreds. The reconciliation of the proposed two-year budget will be more contentious and prolonged than it has been in recent years, when one party held power over the “Money Committees” in each body. But among the strife and bustle of session, I look forward to continue representing the 30th Senate District’s interests in committees and on the floor.
Already I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are vehemently opposed to the cabinet nomination of former President Trump’s EPA director Andrew Wheeler as the next Secretary of Natural Resources. A former coal lobbyist, Wheeler used his federal authority to undermine years of bipartisan environmental progress. In his first year as the EPA Administrator, Wheeler worked to restrict the use of scientific data in agency rule-making, rolled back federal efforts to clean up coal ash, reversed Clean Water Act protections, ignored EPA scientists' calls to ban asbestos, weakened a rule to cut the potent greenhouse gas methane, and blocked efforts to cut vehicle emissions and advance fuel efficiency. He is an untenable choice to oversee our shrinking natural resources — which I have been glad to work to safeguard throughout my career. In my 18 years in the Assembly I have never voted against a Governor’s cabinet pick — Democratic or Republican.
Unfortunately, I expect that streak to end this session.
The outset of a new session is always an exciting and uncertain time. The beginning of a new administration even more so. Even before the official start of session on January 12th, things seemed to be moving at a breakneck pace. Monday the 10th saw the final meeting of the Cannabis Oversight Commission, which I chair. During that meeting, we recommended expediting sales to January 1, 2023 through the existing medical cannabis providers and several industrial hemp manufacturers to ensure we can supply the market and begin to reduce unregulated, illicit sales, and received a report from the Department of Corrections on persons still incarcerated for multiple offenses which include cannabis felonies. Afterwards, I attended a meeting of the Senate Finance and Appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Resources where we discussed critically needed funding for a number of healthcare services which we will address through the budget this year. The next day I had another flurry of meetings with public defenders from Justice Forward, a group of brewery owners, and the Virginia Credit Unions before several hours of meetings with my Senate colleagues and staff to finalize the legislation I plan to introduce this year.
If you have thoughts on legislation which will be before me over the next two months, please email my office at email@example.com. Due to the spike in cases caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, I am attempting to take as many meetings as feasible virtually, which I hope will protect all of our safety and increase the ability for constituents to access my office without trekking down I-95 to Richmond.
It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District,
Adam P. Ebbin
Member, Senate of Virginia
The General Assembly officially adjourned “sine die” on Monday, March 1st, wrapping up a high-pressure session which caps one of the most progressive, accomplishment filled two year legislative cycles in Virginia’s history. It is hard to overstate what the new majorities in Virginia have accomplished, and how much more work is needed to create a fair, safe, and successful Commonwealth for all. This year I passed five bills, which are headed to the Governor’s desk, and one Constitutional Amendment, which will need to pass again next year before being approved by the voters. These include:
SB1215- Statutory Penalties for Unlawful Evictions.
In order to address the stunning number of illegal evictions which occurred during COVID-19, I worked with the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Delegate Sally Hudson to pass this bill to allow tenants to receive damages after an illegal eviction. The bill expedites the timeline in which hearings to remedy illegal evictions are heard, and allows for tenants to receive 4 months rent or $5,000, whichever is greater as well as reasonable attorney’s fees.
SB1309- Flood Water Assistance Funding.
At the request of the City of Alexandria, I passed a bill to allow localities to use their local flood water assistance for short-term, stop-gap projects to protect neighborhoods and homes from inland flooding, provided that the projects are in alignment with the localities long-term flood mitigation plan.
SB1178- Repealing the Genetic Counseling “Conscience Clause.”
At the request of a constituent, the ACLU, and NARAL Virginia, I introduced this bill to repeal a medically unnecessary and potentially harmful barrier to patient-centered-care for those seeking genetic counseling.
SB1381- Banning Guns in State Buildings and Capitol Square.
Working with Moms Demand Action, I passed a bill to codify a current state policy to ban firearms in state buildings and expand the ban to Richmond’s Capitol Square.
SB1406- Legalizing Adult Cannabis Use in 2024.
Eliminates penalties for personal possession of marijuana for those 21 and older in 2024 (it is currently a $25 fine under legislation I passed last year), creates a regulated adult-use market for cannabis centered on building wealth for those damaged by the prohibition, expunges certain criminal records for the possession of marijuana, and allows for resentencing and release of those convicted under the prohibition. Due to the short session and limited lead-up time, portions of this bill are subject to review this summer and a second vote next year.
SJR270- Same Gender Marriage Ban Repeal.
Repeals the now inoperable ban on same sex marriage in the Virginia Constitution and replaces it with an affirmative right to marry regardless of gender. The amendment must be passed again next year and then by the voters in order to go into effect.
Democrats passed additional legislation critical to moving Virginia forward, including:
All this work, and so much more was accomplished in a hectic six weeks. This year has been exceptionally challenging for everyone, with so many long-established inequities laid bare, and novel strains on our government and society. Even in this climate, we made bold strides forward, and will continue to listen to those we serve to do better, and root out those issues still yet uncovered and unaddressed in our Commonwealth.
With one week remaining in the 2021 legislative session, Senators and Delegates are putting the finishing touches on legislation, and preparing to head home to the districts they represent in Richmond and throughout the year.
One of the great features of the 30th Senate District, which I have been privileged to represent since 2011, is its sweeping access to the Potomac River, and the many tributaries that feed into it. Despite sitting miles from the Bay and Ocean, water is all around us, bringing with it cool, fresh air; rich, diverse marshland; and the ability to walk from the office to multitudes of freshwater activities in moments. With these benefits, as those who live in our area know all too well, also come a number of challenges. The most obvious of which is the damage and danger of inland flooding.
As our climate is altered by a multitude of manmade factors, we face the reality of storm intensities beyond what our infrastructure was ever designed to handle. In just the last year, the city of Alexandria has faced three “ten-year” storms (storms that have a one-in-ten chance of happening in a given year that drops 2.28 inches of rain over an hour or 4.81 inches in a day). The intensity of this rainfall has overburdened our stormwater management systems, creating serious backups and flash flooding in underprepared areas of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax.
Areas such as Del Ray and Four Mile Run, among many, have faced serious flooding. Many individuals have felt the brunt of the inadequacy of our existing stormwater infrastructure to handle the quantity of water it is facing on a much more regular basis. Basements and properties have been severely damaged, people have been trapped in cars during flash floods, and the problem is only getting worse. We face both a short and long-term problem: protecting the homes and properties of those who live in the affected areas, and also fixing an overrun and aging infrastructure system to mitigate flooding issues.
In Alexandria, residents are looking to the city to do everything possible to deal with the recurring flooding that’s impacting our community. The city is currently working on a Flood Mitigation Action Plan which includes more than $170 million in infrastructure investments and capacity projects throughout the community which will take ten years to complete.
While that crucial long-term investment is underway, we must find ways to support those people who are being affected now. I was glad that local officials in Alexandria worked with me on legislation to give them flexibility to address the immediate needs of constituents. Often, our local officials are placed in a jam in Virginia -- they have the ideas, money, and staff to pull off incredible projects, but their hands are sometimes tied by the “Dylan Rule.” Unlike “home rule” states, Virginia localities draw their power from the state legislature, and any new power they wish to adopt must be approved by the legislature.
In this case, localities have created a flexible grant fund, drawn from their own coffers, to address stormwater management, but they were limited in how they use those funds to address flooding. That is why I introduced SB1309, which grants increased power to preserve at-risk properties through flood proofing, grading, and other flood protection products. These cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly projects should grant some much-needed reprieve to our water-adjacent neighborhoods, protecting the most vulnerable neighborhoods while Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax governments work diligently to overhaul their stormwater management systems.
I was glad to unanimously pass this legislation and send it to the Governor’s desk last week. I look forward to this becoming law and will continue working to address the underlying issues resulting in environmental and infrastructure threats in our community.
Last year was my first on the influential Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, where I was glad to gain direct experience in the allocation of funds and the tweaking of expenses which together create our state budget. At the time, the economic outlook was strong, and we reported an incredibly bold, progressive budget. Within a month of its adoption it was clear many of our lofty funding goals would need to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparably, Virginia has weathered the economic storm well, and we were able to restore some of these funding priorities this year, as well as take important new steps to begin the process of rebuilding our economy.
Last week the Senate and House reported our respective amendments to the second-year appropriations of Virginia’s biennial budget. The differences between these versions will be reconciled in the coming weeks by the joint budget conferees. The Senate budget prioritizes repairing the damage COVID has done to our students’ ability to learn, bolsters our education system, protects small businesses, expands access to broadband, increases affordable housing opportunities, and funds growing vaccination efforts as well as directing aid to at-risk medical patients.
In healthcare, we made prudent decisions to increase federal matching dollars for children’s healthcare and foster care, and secured a large amount of federal funding to support a statewide vaccination program. Since my last column, Virginia has become one of the most successful states in vaccine distribution, and this funding will help us further advance that mission while saving nearly $100 million for other priorities. We also appropriated dollars to add slots for Developmental Disability Waivers to support those vulnerable residents most impacted by COVID-19.
Virginia’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which funds short and long term projects to reduce barriers to ownership and renting of affordable housing, as well as projects reducing homelessness, has been funded at or around $5 million a year since its inception. That was simply not enough, and I am glad the Senate budget takes the issue seriously by allocating $110 million to the Trust over the biennium. We also allocated significant federal relief dollars for rent and mortgage relief. As this year has proved, access to the Internet is not a commodity, but rather a necessity. To address this reality the Senate included nearly $50 million for broadband infrastructure grants. We also included expansive tax breaks and small business loans to protect and bring back small businesses and jobs in the coming year -- a major priority for members of the Senate Finance Committee.
Everyone has suffered during this pandemic, but especially of concern are Virginia’s children, who have been uniquely affected during their formative years. The Senate budget moves to address those concerns in order to get kids back into even better schools than the ones they left, with more support and a higher chance at life-long success. We increased salaries for hard-working educators, and also allocated significant dollars in order to add three additional support staff (including mental health counselors and nurses) per 1,000 students statewide. We also increased per-pupil funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative to level the playing field, so that disadvantaged early learners have a better shot at success.
Despite economic struggles, I am glad that the Senate did not adhere to austerity economics as was done during the 2008 financial crisis. This legislative session has been one to address needs, not wants, and I am glad to support a budget that addressed those needs aggressively and responsibly. With the funds allocated in this year's budget, Virginia will recover.
It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District,
Adam P. Ebbin
Member, Senate of Virginia
Last Friday, February 5th, the General Assembly reached “Crossover” the point where all bills must have passed their house of origin to continue on their legislative journey. For my part I was glad to pass seven of the nine bills I introduced and a Constitutional Amendment, all but one on a bipartisan vote, out of the Senate. By a unanimous vote the Senate approved legislation I introduced for the City of Alexandria to give localities enhanced ability to fund short-term flood mitigation measures. This will allow the city, and other localities, to fund projects to protect homes and neighborhoods from the shocking increase in inland flooding we have experienced over the last few years. By a vote of 27-12 the Senate approved my legislation to give Virginia's illegal eviction statute statutory teeth, addressing a major concern during COVID-19 of evictions being carried out, without the court's approval, against low-income residents. By a vote of 24-14 I was able to pass legislation, brought to me by a constituent, to remove an unnecessary barrier to patient-centered-care from Virginia’s genetic counseling licensure program. My legislation to create a regulated adult use market for cannabis passed 23 to 15 but is expected to have continued changes as we reconcile differences between the House proposal and the Senates.
On the last day before Crossover, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee took up a number of potential amendments to the Constitution of Virginia. In order to be adopted, these amendments must pass this year and then again after this fall’s election in order to be sent to the voters for their consideration.
As sometimes happens, I was called on to chair the committee when Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) presented a bill in another committee. That opportunity gave me the pleasure of presiding over one of the most important votes I believe the committee will take this year: approving Senator Mamie Locke’s (D-Hampton) constitutional amendment to end felony disenfranchisement. Virginia is one of four states where a person loses their right to vote entirely after they are convicted of a felony-level offense. This disenfranchisement is a lasting vestige of the “lost-cause” of white supremacy. Added to Virginia’s Constitution in 1902, the practice of disenfranchising criminals was leveraged as one of the most powerful and pernicious tools of Jim Crow. At the Constitutional Convention a number of barriers to the ballot box for Black Virginians were enacted, with purpose and conviction, effectively ending the right to vote for Black Virginians within two years of its enactment. Many were later stripped away during the Civil Rights Era, but felony disenfranchisement has persisted. Though we have taken many steps to reform our criminal justice system in the two years since Democrats took the majority in Richmond, the fact remains that proportionately there are many more Black Virginians with felony convictions than any other race. As long as the right to vote is tied to criminal history, it will have the effect that the drafters of the 1902 Constitution intended: racially motivated voter suppression. The Amendment went on to pass the full Senate.
I also carried two Constitutional Amendments to the Senate floor which I have been working on for several years. SJ271, which allows a Governor to run for two consecutive terms, provoked extended floor debate, but ultimately failed. Currently Virginia is the only state which does not allow their Governor to run for consecutive terms. I believe this hampers government accountability, continuity in planning, long term budgetary decisions, and limits the benefits of experienced and talented Governors.
I was glad to pass SJ270, which begins the important process of repealing the stain on our state Constitution of the now inoperative ban on same-sex marriage, enacted in 2006, and replacing it with an affirmative right to marry regardless of gender. Though the US Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality in 2014, removing this now defunct ban from our Constitution is important both in affirming our values and ensuring protections against any actions by the current far-right Supreme Court. If the amendment is approved next year, and by the voters, it would make Virginia the second state in the nation to enact an affirmative right to marriage. Virginia is not often a leader on social justice or equality, but I am proud that in this case, we are blazing a trail not just in the south, but nationwide.
The Senate has passed a total of 296 bills to the House, and we will receive 416 for review. Among those passed were a ban on the death penalty in Virginia, strengthened protections against workplace harassment, expanded access to healthcare, and tax credits to increase affordable housing development.
It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District
Adam P. Ebbin
Member, Senate of Virginia
If one tuned into the Senate floor stream for the first time last week, they might think much of the Senate’s work is solely focused on dealing with the actions of just one member -- Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield). Over several days hours long debate was held over a resolution to censure Senator Chase, whose participation in the rally that led to the attempted overthrow of our federal government, and her public support of those seditionists, have made headlines. The censure eventually passed by a vote of 24-9, with several Republican colleagues speaking in support of the measure, but then walking off the floor when the time came to cast a vote.
It is my hope that prolonged debate does not overshadow the legislative work being done in Richmond, of which, even during this short session, there is a great deal. With only one week of committee work left on Senate bills, I was glad to move several important measures forward to the floor. These measures include legislation to create serious repercussions for illegally evicting someone (SB1215) and a bill which will codify a ban on dangerous weapons from state-owned buildings and Capitol Square (SB1381).
Despite a clear statutory prohibition against “do-it-yourself” evictions, the number of unlawful evictions executed by landlords without any due process for tenants or judicial oversight rose dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis. Unscrupulous landlords have used illegal lockouts and utility shut-offs to evict tenants, knowing that the only penalty that could be imposed on them was an order to allow the tenant back into the home and possibly paying that tenant’s attorney’s fees. One legal aid attorney who spoke in favor of this legislation said they have been fighting this problem since 1990. That is why Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) and I introduced legislation to create strong penalties for illegal evictions: four month’s rent or a $5,000 payment, whichever is greater, along with attorney’s fees so that the cases are taken up, and a requirement that a judge hear cases involving illegal evictions within five days, ensuring an immediate response to someone losing their home. This legislation addresses the bad actors in the rental industry, and enhances tenants’ rights, which is why it’s supported by the Apartment and Office Association, the Virginia Apartment Management Association, the Virginia Realtors, and the Virginia Poverty Law Center. Delegate Hudson’s bill has passed out of the House and is headed to the Senate. My bill passed out of committee unanimously with one abstention and is headed to the Senate floor.
As we saw last month in Washington, there is a dangerous faction of extremists that have been emboldened over the last few years to the point that they felt comfortable attempting to breach the nation’s Capitol, some calling for the execution of members of Congress who they did not agree with. Violence and intimidation have no place in the public square, which is why I introduced legislation to codify a ban on dangerous weapons, including firearms, from state buildings and extend this ban to Richmond’s Capitol Square grounds. The violence in Washington last month was not a one off -- last year when a large pro-gun rally occurred in Richmond, there was no violence -- likely only because the FBI arrested several would be rally-goers armed with 1,500 rounds of ammunition who planned to “literally hunt people” according to court filings.
For those who have not yet come to Richmond to lobby, you may not realize just how many people visit the legislature during a normal year. On a given day, thousands of people come to lobby their legislators, hold rallies, and tour the Capitol. Children, college students, doctors, business owners, disability advocates, and advocates from across the political spectrum crowd the hallways, bumping into one another in their haste to get to their next appointment with a lawmaker. Virginia’s Capitol police force has enough trouble keeping the hallways orderly and ensuring the safety of all citizens when so many people crowd the building. They don’t need the added concern of a firearm accidentally discharging, causing a panic. These concerns aren’t just hypothetical -- some years ago, a delegate's firearm accidentally discharged, only stopped from entering a fellow delegate's office by a bullet proof vest on the back of his door. For these reasons I was glad that this bill advanced out of committee this week and is headed to the floor.
I look forward to passing this legislation through the House and sending it to the Governor’s desk, along with several other bills to address inland flooding, access to medical care, and marijuana legalization, in the coming weeks.
It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District,
Adam P. Ebbin
Member, Senate of Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), health care professionals, and Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps continue to work overtime to care for those afflicted with COVID-19. This work now involves the distribution of vaccines to prevent future cases. Unfortunately even as we grow our capacity to vaccinate, Virginia, like many other states, continues to see an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations daily.
In the General Assembly we continue to feel the great burden of the deaths, the fears, and the long term effects of this virus. Our colleague Senator Ben Chafin (R-Russell County) passed away from COVID-19 complications just days before our session began, and his empty seat is a continual reminder of the loss far too many have experienced over the last year.
While we must take as many steps as possible to mitigate the damage of this pandemic, the key to beginning our recovery is vaccinations. The good news in Virginia is that we are on the way. At the time of writing, close to 420,000 Virginians have received their first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
While the vaccine is not mandatory, I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you are able, and continue to comply with the recommendations of health experts to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and frequently wash hands to prevent the spread.
Vaccine prioritization is coordinated at a Federal level — through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Defense, in collaboration with state health officials. There is, obviously, high demand for the vaccine and many groups merit early vaccination. To complicate matters, there is only so much of the vaccine available for each state. That said, I am confident that the CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are following the science and working hard to ensure that vaccinations are equitably distributed as efficiently as possible based on the schedule developed with the Federal Government. Let me be clear: everyone deserves an opportunity to be vaccinated, and eventually everyone who wants to be, will be vaccinated. With the whole world seeking and competing for doses, we are faced with the difficult decision of prioritizing people by definable groupings. In Virginia, this does not speak to any person’s merits, but rather to the risk posed to the majority of that pool for contracting and dying from the novel Coronavirus. You can determine when you will get vaccinated by checking your local Department of Health website’s phase schedule.
Only thirteen other states have vaccinated more people than Virginia, the twelfth largest state. But the reality is that every state is struggling to meet the demand for vaccines due to the expansiveness of this undertaking and the former administration’s handling of the vaccine distribution. The needed stockpile of vaccine doses from the federal government, promised by former President Trump’s administration, has failed to materialize. This failure means every state is undersupplied. Right now shot-giving in Virginia is outpacing the supply we're receiving from the federal government. We are administering an average of 19,000 shots per day--5,000 more than we're receiving.
I am glad that Governor Northam has responded to this curveball by assigning Dr. Danny Avula to coordinate the necessary work between state health officials, local health departments, hospitals, private providers, and communities. The Virginia National Guard will provide logistical support and help local health departments in the administration of vaccines. The Virginia Department of Health, the Governor’s Administration, and Virginia Hospital Association are coordinating with medical facilities around the Commonwealth to get shots in people’s arms. I co-sponsored legislation from Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) which will expand locations where vaccines can be distributed and mobilize volunteers to provide vaccines. This emergency legislation has passed the Senate and is headed to the House for their consideration.
The first goal laid out by Governor Northam is to clear all our storage freezers. Medical facilities have been directed to use up everything they have, quickly, to get more. Our immediate target is to move to vaccinating 25,000 people a day. Within a few days, Virginia will meet this goal: by the end of last week, more than 18,000 shots were being given daily. Ultimately, 50,000 people a day will receive a dose. Online tools are being rolled out to answer your questions about the vaccine, to understand your phase of the process, and to register locally.
Beyond vaccinations, the pandemic continues to compound other issues in our society and daily lives. We see this as cases of Covid per 10,000 people are higher for Latinos and other communities of color than among White people. We see this as those without a safety net are evicted or threatened with eviction. We see this as food insecurity rises in our communities and volunteers at food banks decline. That is why Virginia’s vaccine campaign is rooted in health equity, prioritizing those with an elevated risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, including those in long term care facilities, people sixty-five or older, frontline workers, the homeless, people with underlying conditions, the incarcerated, and migrant workers.
To address these inequities, I am proposing legislation that will expand the statutory damages a tenant can recover when unlawfully evicted, a trend we have seen growing throughout the pandemic. As a member of the Finance and Appropriations Committee, I have also filed several budget amendments to alleviate the strain of this pandemic. These include:
Today the Senate of Virginia gavels into session at noon. There have certainly been considerable changes over the last 249 years since we first met in Williamsburg, with many occurring in just the last year. Senators will wear masks, meeting at the Science Museum of Virginia to allow for adequate social distancing.
Preparing for the legislative session has always been a hectic time, as we finalize legislation, draft budget amendments, and pack our office up to travel down to Richmond. I am confident, however, that there has never been a more hectic week preceding session in Virginia’s history. The shocking assault on our nation’s Capitol, whose halls had not been breached since the war of 1812, rattled our nation to the core. Five people lost their lives, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick of Springfield. This violent, shocking insurrection was inspired and directed by the sitting President of the United States. The rally was attended by one of my colleagues, Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), who spoke to the crowd of protestors before hopping in her car and hightailing it back to Chesterfield. The actions by these elected officials must and shall be condemned in the strongest possible manner.
Overshadowed by these shocking events in DC were the momentous Senate runoff elections in Georgia. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock flipped Republican seats, handing Democrats a trifecta and opening the door to true progressive change at the national level. As white nationalists stormed the halls of Congress in a psychotic attempt to derail our democracy, the son of a sharecropper who preaches from the very same pulpit as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, became the first Black Senator from Georgia. He and many others overcame voter suppression, intimidation, and historic wrongs. That is democracy at work.
I look forward to seeing what President Joe Biden is able to accomplish with control of Congress, and expect him to take bold action quickly. Virginia Democrats, after seizing power last year, did just that, and I am prepared to expand that work in the coming weeks.
With bill limits imposed this year I have introduced bills and Constitutional Amendments to achieve the following:
As we work through hundreds of bills and amendments to the budget, I hope constituents will contact me with their opinions. It helps me represent the 30th District best. If you have any concerns, thoughts, or suggestions on upcoming legislation, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you, and continuing the work of the people in Richmond.
It is my continued honor to serve the 30th District,
Adam P. Ebbin