First and foremost, this week I want to once again talk about devastating storm that hit my district last week. As soon as the storm hit, I reached out to the counties in my district to make sure they had a contact person in the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. There is a system set in place when situations like this occur to request items needed such as generators and other emergency supplies. There is also a process the counties go through in order to evaluate the need for funding. Once a certain threshold of damage is met, they may become eligible for Federal FEMA funding for certain damages.
Some people are still without power as of this writing. I have been out visiting the warming centers and speaking on the phone with citizens and truly understand and have compassion for those without electricity. I commend the front-line workers that are working day and night to restore power and deliver fuel as quickly as possible.
The 2021 General Assembly session is in the home stretch, and the House of Delegates is working diligently to wrap up the people’s businesses before the end of the month.
When we came to Richmond this year (virtually and otherwise), one thing we heard from our constituents was the need to get our kids back in school five days a week. The damage being done to their educational and emotional health is well documented and tragic. Every day they spend stuck on a Zoom call rather than in the classroom with a teacher is wasted.
That’s why I’m proud to be fighting to give parents a real choice -- in-person school, five days a week if they want it, or virtual education if they don’t. Parents have made it very clear that’s what they expect from us. A bill that would do that just passed the Senate and is pending before the House.
Democrats aren’t happy with this bill, though, and have offered their own version that simply entrenches the status quo -- substituting “hybrid” schooling for the real deal, even though face to face learning has been shown to be safe for all involved. I expect this matter to come before the House this week. Republicans are committed to getting our kids back in school.
We’re listening to parents, and we’re following the science.
In other COVID news, Virginia has finally launched a central registration system for COVID vaccine appointments. It’s months too late in my opinion, but it is an improvement.
The site isn’t perfect. If you’ve already signed up for a shot with your local health department, you can use the new site check to see if you’ve been put on the list. If you haven’t yet, you can sign up for one. The site doesn’t have any information about appointments or how long the wait list is -- a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” set up.
Nonetheless it is an improvement over the scattershot web forms that were in use across Virginia until Tuesday. For more information or to check on your status, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov, or call 877-VAX-INVA, or 877-829-4682.
Our phones continue to ring night and day with people desperate for information about unemployment benefits. I know how frustrated many of you are. No one wants to take an unemployment check, but for too many people during this time, it’s the difference between making ends meet and having to make impossible choices. Going six or more months without answers is unacceptable.
But I can only imagine how angry people were when they saw the story that some $40 million had been paid to people who were in jail. It makes you wonder if the Northam administration could really be that incompetent. Nonetheless, House Republicans are working to find out who was responsible for this mistake.
In the meantime, my staff is working every day to get the situation resolved for as many people as we can. Unfortunately, the only real fix will be electing a new, competent, Republican governor in November.
I am happy to report that two bills I introduced passed both the House and Senate and have now been sent to the Governor for his signature. House Bill 1743 reduces from seven to five the number of members that may be appointed to industrial development authority boards by the Towns of Kenbridge and Victoria and reduces the quorum requirement from five to three members. Small localities struggle to find citizens willing to serve on these boards, therefore, this change will help them continue to conduct business.
House Bill 1764 that I introduced on behalf of the Town of Crewe will provide the ability to stagger town council elections, changes the member’s terms from two to four years, and changes the number of town council members required to call a special meeting. It also transfers from the town council to the town manager the authority to appoint, suspend, or terminate the chief of police with majority approval by the town council. Before this legislation was introduced, there was approval by the Crewe Town Council and a Public Hearing.
We appreciate all the calls and emails we have received and hope you will continue to reach out when we can be of assistance. The best way to contact me is via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or by calling 804.698.1061. You can also send mail to PO Box 1323, Victoria, Virginia 23974.