I want to thank you for the privilege of representing our community and our values in Richmond
during the 2013 session of the Virginia General Assembly. I again came to the capitol hoping to bring
some moderation, common sense, and compassion into a chamber that can sometimes seem extreme
and out of touch. I set out for Richmond with a legislative agenda focused on jobs, sustainability, and
ensuring a fair and open voting process. Unfortunately, ultra-conservatives spent much of the session
posturing on social issues and attempting to undermine fair elections when we could have spent more
time debating issues critical to the lives of Alexandrians.
As Northern Virginians, we are deeply familiar with the economic and environmental damage
caused by traffic congestion. This session, I faced the most difficult vote I have ever taken in the
Virginia House of Delegates as we finally got the opportunity to address years of underfunding and
neglect of our transportation system. Despite some deep flaws in the Governor's initial transportation
proposal, we passed a plan that begins to repair our infrastructure and meet our road and transit
needs. Unfortunately, some of the proposals that would have improved the plan failed, but Democrats
and Republicans worked together to find fairer sources of revenue, empower regions and local
transportation solutions, and minimize the impact on our state’s General Fund. While there are parts
of the transportation plan that could be better, with the regional component we did insure that the
lion share of new revenue raised by a region will remain with that region. What is most important
is that, for the first time in decades, we have taken steps towards solving congestion and ending our
Crimes such as sexual assault and elder abuse can leave their victims unconscious, preventing them
from giving the legal consent police may need to collect crucial evidence. This session I patroned and
passed HB 2120 & 2122, which now empower investigators to take the medical images and collect
the physical evidence that might be lost if officials had to wait for victims to regain consciousness.
I also worked with Virginia’s Sheriffs to improve the accountability of our police officers. HB 2121,
another success, expands the list of infractions that lead to an officer’s dismissal to include crimes
such as domestic violence, and adds decertification to the penalties, preventing perpetrators from
becoming officers in another jurisdiction.
The economy is still difficult in Virginia and the continuing Sequester makes improvement uncertain.
If we want to keep talent in the Commonwealth we need to empower small businesses, our largest
source of jobs. That is why I patroned HB 1303 to provide tax credits to small business when they
create a new job and hire a recent graduate of Virginia’s colleges and universities. While this did not
pass this year, I will continue to fight to make small businesses priority.
The long lines at many of our polling places last November were not just inconvenient, they
impeded access to our fundamental American right to vote. This year I hoped to shorten those lines
by authoring House Bills 1921 and 1922. With their passage, Virginia would have joined the 33
other states that allow any voter to use absentee and early voting systems. While these bills were
defeated in subcommittee, Republican legislators advanced a different agenda. They backed bills to
implement a photo identification requirement at heavy cost to taxpayers. I will not stop fighting for
our fundamental right to vote, and will bring forward early voting legislation again.
Healthcare Exchanges and Medicaid
This session we considered the terms for expansion of our Medicaid program. The Affordable Care
Act requires Virginians to pay more than $10.2 billion to Washington, whether or not we approve
the coverage extension. I supported moving forward with reform and extension as nearly $9.9 billion
would come to Virginia. Instead, a committee was appointed to consider this, which means losing
federal dollars in the meantime. The extreme views of our governor will also affect Virginians who
get their healthcare via the insurance exchanges that will be coming online over the next several
years. Using a backdoor amendment to HB 1900, he barred women from using their own insurance
for reproductive health care, even if she has purchased additional coverage as a separate rider.
Promoting a more sustainable Commonwealth
This year I requested a study to determine the best way for Virginia to change from a voluntary
to a mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard. Unfortunately, this was not a priority in the
Republican-dominated Rules Committee, but I will continue to work for a more sustainable future,
especially in the face of changes to our RPS system.
I am now back at home here in the West End, and look forward to the year ahead. You can always
reach my office online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (703) 606-9705. If you are
engaged in social media, I hope you will find me on Facebook or on Twitter @C_Herring.
Yours in Service,
Charniele L. Herring
Member 46th District, Virginia House of Delegates