House wraps up legislative session
After a week full of long sessions and contentious debates, we were finally able to wrap up legislative business late Saturday at 11 p.m.
The 2021 special session will officially end on Monday, March 3 at 11 a.m. I wanted to briefly talk about some of the important issues we had to deal with during both the regular and special sessions. In the coming weeks we will go more into depth about new laws that will impact you, the State of Virginia and the budget.
When schools were closed and various learning options were implemented, it was evident that virtual education was going to present numerous challenges for students, parents and teachers.
While Democrats did manage to enact some truly terrible legislation, Republicans stood strong for our values — including giving parents a real choice for their children’s education, keeping our communities safe, and ensuring that our fellow Virginians have good jobs.
As the pandemic dragged on from “two weeks to stop the spread” to an indefinite lockdown, it became clear that our kids were losing more than just extra-curricular activities. That’s why we’ve been fighting to get our kids help since last summer. We offered legislation and budget amendments time and time again to get parents the help they needed to make virtual learning work — tutoring, technology, assistance for learning “pods,” or even the curriculum to teach their children themselves.
When it became clear that not only could schools open safely, but it was more dangerous to keep schools closed, Republicans fought hard to give parents a real choice — an immediate return to five-day-a-week, in-person education, or virtual education if they weren’t ready to come back yet.
Democrats blocked our efforts to help parents make education better for their children. They chose to stand with teachers’ unions and push back school re-openings to the fall at the earliest for some systems. It was only when the public outcry became too much for them to ignore — nearly a year after our schools closed in the first place — that they decided to take steps toward helping our children.
House Republicans held the majority for 20 years, and in that time Virginia’s neighborhoods became safer. Our cities, once feared for their random acts of violence and sky-high murder rates, became safer. Richmond was no longer the murder capital of the nation, but rather an urban oasis for young entrepreneurs to start new businesses with new technologies.
Virginia’s crime rate plummeted, making our commonwealth one of the safest places to live in the nation. In fact, until recently, Virginia boasted the fourth lowest violent crime rate in the nation. Yet Democrats, in the past two years, have done all they can to reverse that progress. They worked to defund our law enforcement officers until the politics became too daunting.
They voted time and time again to make police officers choose between bringing in dangerous criminals or losing their homes in frivolous lawsuits. They prioritized reducing sentences for violent felons, doing away with safeguards that keep rapists, human traffickers, and killers behind bars. They prioritized making it easier for those charged with these crimes to get out on bail and back into our communities.
Democrats don’t seem to remember the bad old days of the 1970s. Crime was high, and jobs were hard to come by. Energy prices were crippling for hard-working families, and government was incompetent to handle its most basic functions.
New rules and regulations will cripple businesses who have managed to hang on during the pandemic, and new laws that expose employers to significant litigation. Policies allegedly designed to make our commonwealth greener will instead impact the poorest Virginians who can least afford higher energy costs.
While all of this was being pushed onto Virginians, we witnessed multiple failures related to the pandemic. Unemployment claims are six months behind while people suffer.
Critical programs like COVID testing and vaccine distribution were unmitigated disasters for months as Virginians desperately sought information from the government tasked with these responsibilities.
That’s the road Democrats are taking Virginia. A path that takes us right back to harder, less prosperous times.
But voters will have a choice. A choice that reverses the damage done by school closures that have gone on too long. They will be able to choose to keep our neighborhoods safe. A choice that leads to a growing economy and plenty of good, high-paying jobs. We look forward to sharing our vision for Virginia’s future with the voters between now and November.
As we settle back into a more normal routine here in the 61st District, we 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 (434) 696.3061. You can also send mail to PO Box 1323, Victoria, Virginia 23974.