Local Commentary

Delegate Simon’s Richmond Report

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With another election behind us, I am free to once again turn my attention to solving problems faced by Virginians in their everyday lives, with a particular focus on making sure someone is looking out for those who may not be in a position to look out for themselves.

Earlier this week, I introduced three bills to make Virginia more inclusive, more ethically sound, and more employee friendly.  All three of these bills would implement policies that most of my constituents are surprised to learn aren’t already the law in Virginia.

HB 5 – The Supreme Court has told the General Assembly that we may no longer deny all Virginians the right to marry the one they love.  It’s now time to remove that offensive statute from the code books here in the Commonwealth.

HB 6 – Converting campaign funds to personal use is so obviously wrong that people I meet are reluctant to believe me when I tell them it’s not illegal in Virginia.  With the support of the Governor’s bi-partisan commission on ethics making this their number one recommendation, I am excited to introduce this bill again this year.

HB 7 – Hard working Virginians shouldn’t have to choose between getting paid and going to work with a fever, the flu or worse.   It is essential to the health of Virginia’s workplaces that we provide a reasonable number of paid sick days for full time employees so that they don’t have to choose between paying for groceries or masking their symptoms and “toughing it out” through a work day.

Other Priorities for 2016

The Student Loan Debt Crisis

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post ran a column I wrote suggesting Virginia need not wait on the Federal government to improve the process of refinancing student loan debt. With the more than $1.3 trillion in debt already outstanding, we can’t afford not to act to make it easier for Virginians to pay those loans back under more consumer friendly terms. I will introduce legislation with State Senator Janet Howell reestablishing the Virginia Educational Loan Authority (VELA) and empowering it to refinance student loans.

Mental Health

As Chairman of the Mental Health & CIT subcommittee of the Fairfax County Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission, I learned a lot about best practices from states all over the country with regard to delivering mental health services. I am meeting with leaders from Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services this month and next to find out their highest priorities for legislation that can improve the way mental health services are delivered in the Commonwealth. I am particularly interested in finding ways to divert people in an acute mental health crisis into treatment and away from jails and prison.

Public Safety

I launched my first campaign for office with gun violence prevention high on my list of priorities. Keeping our kids and communities safe is a high priority for me, and one of the core services people have a right to expect of their government at every level.

Gun Free School Zones

As you may have heard from some of your neighbors down the street in McLean, parents at Franklin Sherman Elementary school recently learned that there is nothing illegal about opening and operating a gun store within a few yards of an elementary school in Virginia. I have drafted legislation to allow local governments to create gun free school zones by ordinance. My language contains restrictions identical to the federal gun free school zones law, which, if adopted as an ordinance by a locality, could be enforced by local law enforcement. This would allow the police to arrest anyone seen open carrying in and around the store and school, without having to somehow perform an on-the-spot threat assessment to determine if they were dealing with a so-called “good guy with a gun” or a potential mass murderer.

School Bus Cameras

I have heard from many of my Falls Church constituents who are concerned about a recent Attorney General’s opinion regarding photo enforcement against drivers passing a school bus illegally. The opinion suggests that the law allowing photo enforcement lacked language explicitly stating that a ticket can be issued via mail. I plan to sponsor legislation to correct this deficiency. This will not only help keep our kids safe, but also hopefully deter repeat offenders as well prevent new violations from occurring.

Do You Have A Legislative Idea?

If you have a legislative idea that you think will improve our community, I want to hear from you!

Prefiling for the 2016 Session began on November 16th and runs until December 7. Please email me at [email protected] and let us work together to make our community safer, welcoming, and prosperous.

 

 

 


Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at [email protected]

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