Our schools should be safely reopened

Published 2:18 pm Friday, January 22, 2021

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The 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly opened last week in Richmond. Unfortunately, the session is a virtual one, not unlike the recently completed special session.

Concerns that arose during the 2020 Special Session have not been addressed. Issues such as technical difficulties for both delegates and the public remain. On the first day, members of the public were unable to testify before a House subcommittee. As was the case during the 2020 special session, many bills are being rushed through by Democrats with little to no debate. I find this unacceptable and I will continue to push for changes to provide more transparency.

In an effort to distract from their disastrous policy proposals and how operating the House virtually just doesn’t work, the Democrat majority remains fixated on national issues, not the business of Virginia.

Not all of the news coming from Richmond has been bad, though. Virginia has received roughly 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the two approved providers, and efforts to vaccinate as many Virginians as possible are ramping up.

Unfortunately, the efforts have been hampered by Gov. Ralph Northam’s failure to prepare for this effort. Virginia ranks 45th in the country in terms of vaccine distributed as a share of vaccines delivered.  This is another failure and is it costing lives here in Virginia.

My office and I are keeping a close eye on the vaccination rollout and will keep you up to speed on new developments.  You can also checkout resources regarding the vaccine at the following website: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

In the meantime, my Republican colleagues and I are fighting to safely reopen our schools for as many students as possible. The science and data have been consistently clear that not only is this virus not transmitted readily in safe school environments, the negative impacts on children who are learning remotely are serious. Students in lower income communities are falling behind, and we’re seeing an epidemic of failing grades across Virginia,

We’re working every day to get schools open, and until then, get families the help they need to make up the difference for their children. House Republicans are once again supporting legislation that would take federal aid and use it to pay for things like tutoring, books, computers, or whatever parents need for their children. We also have legislation pending that would cap fees for students in college whose classes are virtual.

Our colleagues, sadly, don’t seem to be listening. They continue to support legislation that makes life easier for criminals and more difficult for crime victims and law enforcement. Rest assured, I am working to stop these destructive bills.

We’re also working to restore confidence in our elections. Democrats changed a number of rules last year that opened the door for doubts about election security. The more secure and transparent our elections are, the more people will trust the results.

That’s why we’re working to end policies that could allow for ballot harvesting, reinstating photo ID to vote, and interference with poll and count watching volunteers. None of these changes will make voting more difficult and will instead shed light on what has been an opaque process.

Last week, House Bill 1743 that I introduced at the request the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge passed in the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns.  This legislation will reduce from seven to five the number of members that may be appointed to their Industrial Development Boards.  It will also reduce the quorum requirements to three members.

These towns in Lunenburg have seen a decrease in the number of people willing to serve on their IDA Boards.  Some of this lack of interest has come from new government regulations requiring them to disclose all their personal and business assets.  This legislation will simply help these small towns continue to conduct business with fewer members.  I was glad the committee agreed with this much needed change and gave it unanimous support.

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.

If you would like to view House Committee Meetings or House Floor Sessions you can do so at the this web address:  https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php