February 28, 2019
The 2019 legislative session adjourned on Sunday, February 24th. I am excited to share updates from the seventh, and final, week of the session.
I was honored to host my fifth and sixth scout troops from the 42nd District during session. Girl Scout Troops 114 and 52002 had the opportunity to meet with me and learn about my role as their delegate, tour our state capitol, be introduced in the House of Delegates gallery, and meet with Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. I appreciated their civic engagement and our thoughtful discussion on issues facing our community.
I look forward to being back in the 42nd District and continuing to serve our community. When I was elected in 2017, I made a commitment to work with all my colleagues, regardless of political ideology, to find solutions to issues facing our Commonwealth. I am proud of the results I have been able to deliver these past two sessions. As always, if there is anything my office can do for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me by emailing DelKTran@house.virginia.gov or calling 804.698.1042.
During the last week of session, we voted on amendments to the biennial budget. The proposed updates include increased investments for public K-12 schools and higher education, rural broadband, and the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. I will provide a more detailed overview in an upcoming newsletter once the Governor signs the amendments.
With strong bipartisan support, we started the process to end gerrymandering in Virginia by passing a resolution to amend the Constitution of Virginia to require the establishment of an independent commission on redistricting. I very much believe this is an important first step to ensuring our voices are fairly heard and counted in our democracy, and I voted to support this resolution.
The commission would be responsible for proposing the maps for the Congressional districts as well as districts for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates districts starting in 2021, after the next Census is completed. The commission would include citizen and legislative members, be required to hold public hearings and open meetings, and end political gerrymandering. Because this will be a constitutional amendment, the resolution will need to pass in the 2020 legislative session in its exact form and then win the approval of voters during the general election of that year.
We also voted on changing our rules in the House of Delegates to have a floor vote on a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). I support enshrining women’s equality in the US Constitution and voted to support the rules change; however, those changes failed to pass.
The ERA has strong bipartisan support in Virginia: 81 percent of Virginians want the ERA ratified, and 36 local governments, including Fairfax County, adopted their own resolutions urging the General Assembly to pass the ERA. This session, the Virginia Senate passed the ERA with bipartisan support. However, the House resolution failed in a subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, and an attempt to bring the House resolution in front of the full House Privileges and Elections Committee also failed. I want to thank all my constituents who have actively advocated for the ERA this session for their hard work and dedication. Together, we will ensure Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify the ERA.
After a busy session, I am proud to share my accomplishments with you. This session, I passed three bills that would expand access to healthcare, fight climate change, and create a more welcoming Commonwealth. A fourth bill I introduced to strengthen public education was incorporated into the Senate equivalent, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin, and passed the General Assembly. Two additional bills -focused on improving services for students with disabilities and addressing our Commonwealth’s doctor shortage - were recommended to be further studied.
House Bill 2493 will increase access to oral healthcare by expanding the responsibilities of remotely supervised dental hygienists. I am proud to have the support of the Department of Health Professionals, the Virginia Dental Hygienists Association, and the Virginia Dental Association to get this bill passed.
House Bill 2792 will create a pilot program for local governments to use solar energy and participate in our Commonwealth’s net metering program. This legislation will protect our environment, save taxpayer dollars, and allow us to invest in important programs like our schools. I appreciate the support of a diverse group of stakeholders like the Virginia Association of Counties, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Powered by Facts to pass this bill.
House Bill 2494 will prohibit state agencies from sharing the religious identity information of Virginians with the federal government if the data is going to be used to create a registry or database. Given calls by then-candidate Donald Trump to establish a Muslim registry, a rise in religious-based hate crimes, and fear that different communities have for being targeted based on their religion, I am proud that we passed this legislation to ensure our Commonwealth protects Virginians’ religious identity data. Thank you to the Family Foundation, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center for working on this bill with me.
Senator Ebbin and I worked with Fairfax County Public Schools to increase access to dual enrollment classes for our high school students. We introduced House Bill 2589 and Senate Bill 1575 to allow school boards to have the ability to issue teacher licenses for instructors of dual enrollment and career and technical education classes if they meet certain requirements. The legislation will also make the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System a voting member of the Virginia Board on Teacher Education and Licensure and have the Board make further recommendations on this issue. I am proud to have worked with Senator Ebbin, Fairfax County Public Schools, and the Virginia Community College System on this bill.
House Bill 2463 would shift the burden of proof to schools during due process hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). After the bill hearing, the subcommittee chairman agreed to request that the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission further assess this issue. The basis for this bill came from constituents who advocate for students with disabilities, and I appreciated that they came to Richmond to testify. I will continue to work with our students, families, and schools to identify ways we can strengthen public education for students with disabilities.
Lastly, the Rules committee chairman agreed to request the study on the issues that I raised in House Joint Resolution 682. The study will require the Department of Health Professionals to look into how we can tap into physicians living in Virginia but trained outside the United States to address the shortage of medical doctors in rural and underserved areas. This study will increase access to healthcare for those in need and builds on my experience in immigration advocacy and workforce development. I look forward to the completion of this study.