Tammy Mulchi: I want everyone to get a world-class education

Published 12:00 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

The General Assembly continues to move along. Bills are passing out of the Senate and moving to the House. Some bills moving through the process will strengthen Virginia; others could set the Commonwealth back. This week, I want to tell you about some noteworthy legislation related to education and elections. 

I am committed to ensuring that every Virginia student receives a world-class education, including access to training for a career or an affordable college degree. This year, progress is being made toward that goal.

One of the best moves toward improving access to Virginia’s public colleges and universities is a bill banning the use of “legacy” status in admissions decisions. Like many, I believe that decisions like these must be based strictly on merit. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and is waiting for action by the House of Delegates. 

Another bill that recently passed the Senate will allow school boards to develop more effective policies to limit cell phone use. While my colleagues and I recognize that having a child carrying a cell phone can help ensure their safety, phones can also be a significant distraction in the classroom. Most of my Senate colleagues share my view that school boards should be able to set clear rules about when a cell phone may or may not be used during regular school hours. An overwhelming bipartisan majority passed this bill out of the Senate, and it now awaits action in the House of Delegates. 

In a democracy like ours, few things are more critical than ensuring citizens feel confident that their vote is counted and that the electoral process is honest and reliable. 

My Republican colleagues and I are committed to fair and secure elections, ensuring only legal voters can vote. Republicans have put forward common-sense proposals like ensuring someone registering to vote has a valid Social Security number, requiring a voter to show a valid photo identification, and mandating voting machines provide a printed receipt allowing each voter to have a record of when and where they voted and how they cast their ballot.

Democrats killed these and other reasonable ideas that would ensure the security and validity of our elections. Despite this, I will continue to work for laws that keep our elections fair and honest. 

My bill that would have banned males who identify as females from playing all-girl sports in Virginia was killed in the Senate Public Education Committee this week. This legislation would have protected female students K-12 from being forced to play sports against athletes who were born male and often have a physical advantage in sports. There is also an important safety factor to consider for our female athletes. I testified that if my six-year-old granddaughter wants to play on an all-girl soccer team, it should genuinely be all-girls, and if she wants to compete against boys, she can choose to play coed. This should be her choice. This important legislation died on a vote of 3 Democrats to 2 Republicans.

This week, I met with the Governor to discuss my top priorities. I arrived at his office with a long list. We talked in depth about workforce development and modernizing the state’s funding of schools. Both were priorities of now-retired Senator Frank Ruff that I promised voters I would continue pursuing. The current formulas do not work for rural areas of the state, therefore keeping us at a disadvantage regarding education funding. I also explained the one item in this year’s General Assembly session that has been of most concern to the localities: the proposed legislation to take away localities’ decisions on solar projects and give them to the state. This would have an extremely negative impact on our livelihoods and our rural land. He understands the gravity of this proposal and gave me his commitment not to allow this to happen.

As always, I encourage you to watch the General Assembly session. You are welcome to visit in person in Richmond and view the proceedings from the gallery. You can also stream each day’s session here: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3. Session typically begins at noon each weekday except Friday, which generally starts at 10 or 11 a.m. Always check these times, as they can change when needed. You may also be interested to know that committee meetings are also streamed. A list of upcoming meetings with links to streaming are here: https://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509.