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Bill shortchanges law enforcement officers

House and Senate conferees came to an agreement on HB 7001 last Friday, working through the House and Senate versions of the legislation.

The report provides $3,000 bonuses for state supported sworn law enforcement officers who were left out of the original bill, makes minor changes to the Virginia Overtime Act section of the bill, puts $2.5 million toward Project Ceasefire, and makes minor changes to the college athletics section of the bill.

The fact that this bill shortchanges many of our hardworking law enforcement officers and leaves others out completely is inexcusable, and as your delegate, I cannot support it.

The way this bill was drafted is wrong and works against everything we’ve ever done in Virginia.

Republicans put a perfectly acceptable bill on the floor that didn’t have these failings, which I was proud to support. That bill gave all of our law enforcement officers a $5,000 bonus, completely replenished the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, and put in a permanent gun violence prevention program.

This bill leaves too much undone, for too many people, and I cannot support it.

Governor’s Vaccine/Testing Mandate for State Employees

The most important thing in this conversation is for everyone to listen to each other and respect that there are differing viewpoints that can be valid at the same time. The testing requirement for state employees is onerous. We need carrots, not sticks. Vaccines are safe and effective.

More than 96% of cases diagnosed in Virginia in recent days have been in unvaccinated people.

That being said, it’s understandable that some people have reservations. Some people may have had a bad reaction to vaccines in the past. Others may not trust a vaccine that hasn’t gone through the full FDA clearance process as of yet.

Some may object for religious reasons. Regardless, this is a personal decision that individuals should make on their own, balancing the small risks of vaccination versus the risks of COVID.

Vaccines are freely available to virtually everyone now. If someone wishes to be vaccinated, they can do so. If they don’t, then that’s their choice as well.

If someone is concerned about catching COVID from the unvaccinated, they can get a vaccine that will give them very strong protection against the virus and serious illness.

If someone is not concerned about COVID, they can take other precautions and not be vaccinated. People are free to weigh the risks on both sides and come to their own conclusions.

K-12 Mask Mandate

Regarding schools, Gov. Ralph Northam is doing what he does best — attempting to hide behind someone or something else to avoid taking responsibility for an unpopular decision.

The language is SB 1303 is clear: CDC guidance should be followed “as far as is practicable.” Forcing small children to wear masks to protect adults who can be vaccinated is not practicable.

Forced masking will hold back language development in small children and make school miserable for students who have already been through a year of masking or virtual school.

The solution here is obvious: make masking optional and vaccinate as many people as possible. Northam’s flip flopping and inconsistent messaging has destroyed the most precious currency his administration has — trust.

That makes it all the more difficult to respond to this pandemic successfully. We also need clarity from the governor.

 

I appreciate those who contact my office 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 434.696.3061.  You can also send mail to PO Box 1323, Victoria, Virginia 23974.