Updates from Richmond – Politics and Policy Along the Pike – February 10th

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    It has been an exciting and fast paced week with many new developments!  As of Wednesday, February 8th, all of my legislation has been debated in subcommittee and acted upon.  

    I am proud to report that my bill, HB 780, passed overwhelmingly, 90-8, through the House of Delegates.  HB 780 would allow for owners of converted electric vehicles to title and register their cars in the state of Virginia so that they meet the proper safety inspections and mechanical requirements.  By making it safer and more feasible to convert gas powered vehicles into electric vehicles the bill helps the Commonwealth take a significant step towards creating a cleaner environment and a stronger green economy.  

    I am also very happy to report that four of my other bills were incorporated into identical or similar pieces of legislation.  I am now the Chief Co-Patron on each of these bills addressing:  

    1) Green Public Buildings,

    2) Microenterprise/Small Business Tax Credits,

    3) Creation of a new Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and

    4) Requiring the Department of Medical Assistance Services to provide pre-natal health coverage under Medicaid and the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) Plan for otherwise eligible children and pregnant women during the first five years of lawful residence in the United States.  

    In each case I have been working across the aisle to secure passage of these important bills for the 49th District.  

    On Wednesday, the Criminal Law Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice full Committee took up most of the anti-immigrant legislation before the General Assembly.  This included legislation requiring arresting officers to determine the citizenship of every individual detained and to force Virginia to pursue 287(g).  

    After long negotiations I agreed to have my In-State Tuition bill (which would enable exceptional undocumented students who graduate from Virginia high schools; whose families pay taxes; and, who know no other home but the U.S.) to get in-state tuition laid upon the table.  I did this only after ensuring that three egregious pieces of anti-immigrant legislation would also be laid upon the table.  These bills would have specifically prevented all undocumented children from attending any higher education institution in Virginia (including community colleges) and would have attacked so-called ‘Sanctuary Cities’ in the Commonwealth.  

    I would also like to thank everyone who made the trip to Richmond to stand up and let your voices be heard in opposition to these anti-immigrant bills – including Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Edgar Aranda, and Leni Gonzalez.  

    Next week is crossover, when all of the House bills that were passed on the floor go to the State Senate and vice versa. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the State Senate to address their important legislation in the House and hopefully have my legislation passed by the State Senate.

    As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about any issues of concern or legislation before the General Assembly.  

    Thank you for all of your support. I am honored to serve you, your family, and our community in Richmond.  I hope to make you proud.

    Sincerely,

    Alfonso

    Updates on My Legislation

    HB780 – Converted Electric Vehicles – Passed Through the House of Delegates this Thursday!

    HB782/HB183 – Medical assistance; coverage for certain children and pregnant women – This important legislation to provide prenatal coverage to legal immigrants who have lived in the United States for less than five years was passed by the Appropriations Committee, 22-0, and has been sent to the House Floor.

    HB788/HB1167 – Green Public Buildings Act/High Performance Buildings Act – My bill, HB788 the Green Public Buildings Act, was incorporated into HB1167 by the House General Laws Committee and passed uncontested, 21-0.

    HB 783/HB585 – Microenterprise Investment Tax Credit/Small Business Investment Tax Credit – As the goals and implementation of HB783, my legislation, and HB585, Delegate Merricks, were very similar, I offered to Chief Co-Patron his legislation and have mine stricken from the docket. HB585 allows individuals who invest in a small business that is based in Virginia and does the majority of its business in the Commonwealth to receive a 10% tax credit on the value of their investment.

    Many small businesses struggle to get off the ground because they lack access to funding for capital investments. This tax credit would encourage individuals to provide this necessary investment to help small businesses succeed and further job growth throughout the Commonwealth.

    HB790/HB121 – Affordable Housing Trust Fund – My legislation, HB790, was incorporated with Delegate Morrisey’s, HB121. While both bills created an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Delegate Morrissey’s legislation created less of a fiscal impact, which improved its chances of being reported from the Appropriations Committee.

    Thanks to the support and testimony from many wonderful organizations such as the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, the Better Housing Coalition, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Virginia First Cities, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund legislation was reported from subcommittee.

    The House General Laws Committee then reported the bill to Appropriations. I am hopeful that the minimal fiscal impact will encourage the Appropriations Committee to report this legislation to the House floor.

    The Virginia Housing Trust Fund would provide grants for the construction of new affordable housing, the rehabilitation of existing affordable housing units, and rental assistance to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

    Immigration Legislation

    This Wednesday, the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Criminal Law considered three important pieces of anti-immigrant legislation.

    HB958 would require an arresting officer to inquire about the citizenship of the accused when brought before a magistrate and the accused is not being committed to jail.

    HB1060 goes even further to require that whenever any person is placed under arrest and taken into custody, the arresting officer is required to inquire about their citizenship.

    HB1001 would require the Virginia State Police to enter into an agreement with the Federal Government to permit the State Police to perform federal immigration law enforcement functions in the Commonwealth.

    We need to have an honest conversation in America about the role of immigrants in our society. Before we turn our State Police into immigration officials or requiring local law enforcement to determine citizenship, we need to ask one important question: does this make our community safer?  

    By straining the relationship between the law enforcement and immigrant communities, these bills only serve to weaken overall public safety.  Victims in the immigrant community will be less likely to approach the police when in harm’s way and larger violence issues may not be addressed.  Each of these bills will not make Virginia safer and only serve to hurt the Commonwealth’s economy and our reputation as a welcoming society.  

    Stay Connected

    As session continues, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and this Blog for the most up-to-date information.  You can also see photos from Session on my flickr page as well as my weekly video on youtube. Links to all of these and more can be found on my website – www.AlfonsoLopez.org.

    Thanks for visiting – I hope to see you in Richmond or back home in the 49th District!!