I begin this column with a quote from the inspirational leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “The time is always right to do the right thing.”
This is never more true than it is today. Advocacy is not a single effort, but a consistent effort over time. Let your opinion make a difference — be heard on all the pressing issues that will be addressed in our final budget bill. When the biennium budget is passed, our Commonwealth’s priorities will be clear — but we aren’t there yet. We can make Medicaid Expansion happen. We can offer healthcare to the 400,000 uninsured working Virginians. We can use the savings from implementing Medicaid Expansion to improve education at all levels, raise teachers’ salaries and offer more mental health services across the state. We members of the House of Delegates have passed a budget that includes Medicaid Expansion two times!
The Senate has yet to pass a budget that includes Expansion and increases spending for education and mental health. Senator Emmet Hanger and Senator Frank Wagner have both stated their support for Medicaid Expansion publicly. They need your support, contact them today.
Thank you to all who attended the town hall that I co-hosted with Senator Dick Saslaw. The Sleepy Hollow Elementary School cafeteria was packed with 38th District folks who had many questions. Of course, the proposed Medicaid Expansion in the House budget was a major issue, as was the budget process the General Assembly follows to agree upon a budget. Redistricting and gerrymandering were also discussed, with both Senator Saslaw and I agreeing that we need an independent commission to draw district lines. Too many other questions to list here, but one important topic is that the size of the Democratic caucus this year (49) made a big difference in our proceedings and decisions — the most important action issue before the General Assembly is directly attributable to the “Blue Wave”: Medicaid expansion. Without all the new Democratic Delegates you voted into office, the House would not have even discussed Medicaid expansion this year, let alone voted it into our budget. Thank you, voters.
Transportation funding and decisions are always front and center, and the recent town hall was no exception
Many constituents have asked me about the proposed Fairfax County ordinance amendment governing Short Term Rentals (STRs), often referred to as Airbnb regulations. I applaud our Board of Supervisors for taking up this controversial issue. But I must remind everyone that the General Assembly passed SB1578 in 2017, giving localities the power to regulate STRs as they saw fit. We did not and will not dictate the parameters or processes contained in a proposed STR ordinance amendment. This is a local decision to be made by local government only.
Many have also wished to discuss the controversial ACP and MVP pipeline projects. These complex and hotly debated projects are raising many governmental responsibility and accountability questions as well as serious environmental issues. I stand firmly with the grassroots organizations calling for the stream by stream analysis of all water crossings which the state is empowered to conduct under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia State Water Board must protect our water quality – we cannot depend upon the Army Corps of Engineers to provide that protection for us. Our water quality is our responsibility. Our Commonwealth needs to step up to the plate.
The Department of Environmental Quality has posted a number of important proposed new regulations on its website. Public comment period is open now – please send in your comments. Remember Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, “This land is your land, this land is my land…”
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected]