Welcome to the General Assembly: 2019

Today is the first day of the 2019 General Assembly Session. 2019 is a particularly important year as it marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the House of Burgesses, making the Virginia General Assembly a historic law-making body. I am incredibly humbled to be your voice and thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this historic capacity. On Fridays, I intend to recap each week of Session in a series known as the “Debra Dispatch.” Welcome to volume 1! I hope you find this information educational and useful for you and your family. 

In recognition of the 400th anniversary of the first House of Burgesses meeting in Jamestown, the House Clerk’s Office unveiled the culmination of an ambitious, multi-year project called “DOME” (Database of House Members). This comprehensive catalog offers both biographical and legislative service information on every House member since the first Burgesses convened on July 30th, 1619. A preview of the website can be found by clicking here. The full website will be available later in the Spring.

Session begins today, January 9th and will end of February 23rd. Every weekday at 12 noon you can watch the House of Delegates floor session online. Please click here to access the livestream.

I serve on the following committees: Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources; Health, Welfare and Institutions; and Education. The meeting days and times are listed below:

Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee meets at 8:30 am on Wednesdays in House Room 3 in the Capitol;

Health, Welfare and Institutions meets at 8:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the House Committee Room located in the Pocahontas Building;

Education Committee meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30 am in the House Committee Room located in the Pocahontas Building.

Throughout 2018, I attended over 200 events and met with thousands of constituents. During these meetings and events, I listened to your concerns and hopes for our community. This year I am proud to be carrying 15 pieces of legislation that focus on education, voting access, consumer protection, women’s health and rights, local business development, and helping seniors and the disability community. Some of my top priorities are listed below:

HJ 592  is a bill that would direct the Department of Education to take a look at the current teacher evaluation guidelines and criteria and develop new criteria based on the changes that occurred at the federal level with Every Student Succeeds Act. Virginia has not updated our guidelines since these changes and it is really time that our teachers are evaluated fairly. This is a small change that will have a huge impact on our teachers and improve their quality of life.

HB 1844 aims to address teacher shortages. This bill would direct localities to report to the DOE the number of teacher vacancies. The DOE will assess the data and convene a task force to address the vacancies.

Some of my higher education priorities include a bill that will protect non-traditional students such as single moms and veterans from predatory, for-profit and nonprofit higher education institutions. These institutions have included a forced arbitration clause in their enrollment agreements. HB 2236 would allow for students to seek a different recourse before arbitration begins.

HB 1692. This bill would allow for a personal needs allowance increase for residents in a long-term care facility. 

HB 1726: I am very excited about this new voting access bill that targets college and university students. Higher education institutions that are authorized to administer the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant money would also distribute the voter registration form to students when they receive their funding paperwork.

I am re-introducing HB 1658 which is a pilot program to vote by mail. The bill allows localities to set up a pilot program to mail out the ballot to residents. The locality can choose to ask residents to mail ballots back, or they can set up ballot box receptacles, similar to the USPS blue mailboxes.

I have introduced HB 2179, a bill that would create a new ABC license category for co-working spaces. Co-working spaces, like Gather which is locally owned, are spaces that have all the amenities of an office for individuals who do not have a permanent office space. Entrepreneurs and remote workers typically use these spaces and have access to beer on tap for social hour. Co-working spaces currently do not fit into any of the ABC license categories, so I am defining a co-working space in the Code to create a section for them.

I am honored to introduce HB 1912, a bill to designate “Virginia, the Home of My Heart” by Susan Greenbaum, a 73rd district constituent, as the state folk song of Virginia.

If you want to contact my office to advocate for a particular bill or to follow up with any questions, please email me at DelDRodman@house.virginia.gov or give us a call at (804) 698-1073.

To look at a comprehensive list of all bills that have been introduced this Session, be sure to visit the LIS website:http://lis.virginia.gov/.

I am honored and humbled to serve as your Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates. It is the privilege of a lifetime to be here as your representative to mark the   of Virginia and serve you. Thank you for reading volume 1 of the Debra Dispatch, and be on the lookout for a smaller recap this Friday, January 11th. Volume 2 will be out on January 18th.



Debra Rodman