The middle of the General Assembly session is called “Crossover” – the day that each chamber must complete work on all bills originating in each chamber before starting work on bills that have “crossed over” from the other Chamber.
I introduced thirty-one pieces of legislation and twenty-nine appear to be on track to cross to the House of Delegates where passage will be much more difficult. I was disappointed that my bill to turn the VA529 Plan’s $1.4 billion actuarial surplus into an endowment for Pell-eligible students failed, but no competing bills passed and both chambers appear poised to set up committees to further study the issue over the coming year to see if we can develop a consensus approach.
Many constituents have reached out to me after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case about doing more to protect women’s right to reproductive healthcare. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee reported a Senator Jennifer McClellan’s proposed amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that would put women’s right to reproductive healthcare on track to be placed on the ballot for ratification by voters into the Constitution of Virginia.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also reported out my legislation which would protect Virginia’s doctors and women assisting with abortion care or contraception from extradition to states such as Alabama who have pledged to prosecute women. My legislation also would allow Virginia women to sue any company who sold information regarding their reproductive information to any third party. Many women keep information regarding their menstrual cycles on phone apps and location data kept by phones can be used to track who has travelled to and from various locations such as abortion clinics. My legislation was sent to the floor on a party-line vote.
In 2020, I passed legislation that authorized companies to sell shared solar or community solar in Dominion’s service territory which I thought would be very useful in our community. If you have lots of sun and own your roof, you can put solar panels on your roof and reduce your electric bill to nearly zero, but if you live in a community with lots of trees, do not own your roof, or live in a community with a homeowners’ association that prohibits solar panels, you cannot generate your own power.
Shared solar allows homeowners to purchase a portion of output from a specific smaller solar project and then net the output of those panels against your home electricity bill. The solar industry and incumbent monopolies have continued to fight about what homeowners should pay to support existing electrical infrastructure and other costs associated with electricity production. One of my bills requires the State Corporation Commission to consider the benefits of solar energy such as climate change, health benefits, and infrastructure upgrades in connection with determining that amount. In addition, I am carrying legislation to authorize a shared solar program in the territory for Appalachian Power which is in Southwest Virginia.
On Nov. 17, 2017, Bijan Ghaisar was shot and killed at the corner of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue. He was unarmed and chased down by the police after leaving a traffic collision where he was struck from behind. After the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice refused to prosecute the two police officers who shot him, the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office attempted to prosecute him. The prosecution was removed to Federal Court and Attorney General Mark Herring joined in the prosecution. After Attorney General Jason Miyares was elected, he voluntarily dismissed the prosecution during its appeal without ever taking input from Mr. Ghaisar’s parents who qualify as victims under the Virginia Crime Victims Act. My legislation to make clear that the law applies to the Attorney General has passed so far without any opposition.
Finally, the chambers announced their respective budget amendments this weekend and I will discuss that next week. I have also received over 300 responses to my constituent survey which you can complete at www.scottsurovell.org/survey. As always, if you have any feedback, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org