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Governor Northam addressed the joint assembly last week in his first State of the Commonwealth Address. Women’s reproductive rights, responsible gun ownership, expanded voting access, climate change, clean energy, and raising the threshold for felony grand larceny were some of Governor Northam’s political priorities. Protecting college students from “predatory student lenders” and helping them pay off their loans yielded bi-partisan support from both sides of the chamber. To view the address, click here
The Eastern Province of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc. had their 10th Annual Legislative Day at the Capitol last week. They were here to discuss civil rights, healthcare, improving public education, and mentoring programs for our youth. I had the opportunity to speak to them about my legislation that addresses teacher shortage and what we can do to attract and retain the most highly qualified teachers.
Hampton University students studying to become Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) visited the Capitol. They shared their advocacy on eliminating the Hearing Aid Exam for Audiologists, student debt reduction, and consideration in reducing the Virginia caseload standards from 68 to 48. Although the majority of SLPs provides direct clinical services in educational settings, many obtain employment in the healthcare field.
Virginia Center for Public Safety (VCPS) held its 26th Annual Vigil and Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Before meeting with legislators to discuss their issues, VCPS hosted a rally at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square that honored over 900 victims of gun violence. Members of the community and other advocacy groups shared their experiences with gun violence. Faith leaders gave reflections for the victims and offered prayers. Governor Northam, Lt. Governor Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring spoke about gun violence and shared their support for legislation that would enforce stricter laws on gun ownership.
I enjoyed meeting with members of the New Virginia Majority, an organization that builds power in working-class communities of color across the Commonwealth. Some of the issues they are passionate about are: access to higher education, economic opportunity, environmental and climate justice, criminal justice reform, expanding access to voting, and opportunities for immigrant families. For more information about their advocacy, click here
It’s always nice to be visited by the National Federation of the Blind (NFIB), America’s largest and most active organization for the blind. With more than 50,000 members, they are NOT an “agency” claiming to speak for the blind; they are blind people advocating for themselves. Their top three priorities include: protection of civil rights of disable parents, blind students in Virginia deserving literacy equal to their sighted peers, and they are against the weakening of Virginians with Disabilities Act.
The House Democratic Caucus held a press conference last week on workforce development and small businesses in Virginia. Some of my colleagues and I discussed legislation we have patroned in these areas. I explained my HB 1407 that will codify former Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 20, which made women and minority-owned businesses more competitive. Prior to the issuance of this order in 2014, Minority and Women Owned Businesses only received 1.5 percent, or only $75 million in procurement contracts statewide. That was out of over $5 billion issued by the state to the private sector. Since the issuance of that order, minority and women-owned businesses have received over $1.2 billion in state procurement contracts. We believe the provisions contained in the executive order should be incorporated into law. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity in Virginia to support all our small businesses. To view the press conference in its entirety, click here
I presented my first bill, HB 773 to a subcommittee in Courts of Justice. HB 773 is a bill that would expand the ability of localities to abate nuisances in situations where certain properties have caused a breach of the peace on a repeated basis through the discharge of firearms. I was joined by Chief Sult, Hampton City Chief of Police, who asked that I carry this bill on behalf of the city. This issue will be studied further.
It is my privilege to serve as your voice in the House of Delegates. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions are concerns you may have. 

All the best, 
Delegate Jeion (ja-WAN) Ward 
Copyright © 2018 Jeion Ward for Delegate, All rights reserved.


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