I'm proud to announce that the Virginia Transparency Caucus (VTC), the bipartisan, bicameral group that I co-founded with Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, has achieved our greatest victory to date. Both the House of Delegates and the Senate has announced their intention to live stream and archive committee hearings next year. There's still more work to be done, of course. It's critical that the House record its subcommittee hearings as well. But this is an important first step, showing the tremendous progress made since Amanda and I first decided to record the hearings on our bills with our iPhones last year and to push others to do the same.
Virginia General Assembly Adopts Recommendations of the Virginia Transparency Caucus To Stream and Archive Committee Hearings
Leaders of Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates have heeded the call by the Virginia Transparency Caucus to record Committee meetings of the General Assembly, just two months after the Virginia Transparency Caucus (VTC) submitted a letter signed by 85 Senators and Delegates demanding “full audio and visual recording capability, as well as transparent vote recording machines for all Committee and Subcommittee hearings rooms in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.” Both Senate Rules Committee Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) and House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) have announced live streaming and archiving of committee meetings to be held in the Pocahontas Building during the 2018 General Assembly session.
Please join me for the April Mark's Monthly Meetup this afternoon at Los Tios Mexican restaurant in Del Ray (2615 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria). With the Veto Session wrapping up this month, we'll have plenty to talk about. Come join us to eat, relax, and discuss policy and politics. This month, a special treat: my cousin singer-songwriter Stacy Beyer will come all the way from Nashville, Tennessee to debut her new song Good Trouble which I hope may soon become a Theme Song of the Resistance. You won't want to miss it!
After carefully reading the vetoes and Governor's amendments all weekend, I was delighted to see I supported every single one. The Republicans had passed bills that would have allowed discrimination against the LGBT community, made it easier for more people to carry more guns in more places, given millions of dollars of your taxpayer money to big coal companies, endangered refugees, limited workers' rights and wages, restricted voting rights even further, vilified undocumented immigrants, taken funding and control away from our local school boards, kicked our most vulnerable residents off of public assistance, and repealed the Virginia portions of the Affordable Care Act.
We had a great turnout. Special thanks to Congressman Don Beyer, Senator Barbara Favola, Delegates Alfonso Lopez and Marcus Simon, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Alexandria City Councilmembers Willie Bailey and Del Pepper, Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter, former Alexandria School Board Member and Team Levine Education Specialist Kelly Booz, Fairfax County School Board Member Karen Sanders, and my constituents Liz Birnbaum and Florence King for attending and speaking on my behalf.
With Session over, I've been very busy answering your questions about what happened in Richmond and how it affects you. As the only Delegate to represent both Alexandria and Arlington (plus a small portion of Fairfax County!), I've had a lot of ground to cover. But I'm enjoying every minute. It's great to be back home in Northern Virginia.
Last night, Karen Graf sent an email to her supporters announcing she is ceasing her campaign for Delegate. While I have not yet had a chance to speak with her since the announcement, I welcome her call to work together to elect Democrats throughout the Commonwealth in the many Republican-held districts in the House of Delegates, particularly those that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The woman who beat Trump by 3 million votes is right on this. We are Stronger Together.
Session ended Saturday. It's good to be home in Alexandria. And now the campaign begins. Please mark your calendars to vote for my re-election in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 13th.
One in five women will suffer sexual assault or domestic violence in their lifetime, and some men will undergo this ordeal as well. When I ran for office, I made clear that services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence would be one of my highest priorities. If you've been following along in prior newsletters, you know all about my Bill of Rights for Survivors of Sexual Assault, which extends the time in which evidence of sexual assault is preserved. On Wednesday, the Senate passed my bill HB 2127 unanimously. It passed the House of Delegates unanimously last week.
This week, two of my bills passed the House: (1) my bill to preserve evidence of sexual assault and (2) the bill I chief co-patroned with Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore to protect Virginians' First Amendment right to protest. Both bills are moving on to the Senate. Unfortunately, my budget amendment to bring more broadband internet to rural Virginia was rejected by the Appropriations Committee.
When the Democratic Leadership of the House of Delegates asked me to speak out against last week's Executive Order, I spoke straight from the heart. I compared the current ban on lawfully admitted and vetted refugees, fleeing mass murder in Syria, to the 1939 attempted exodus of German Jews, turned away at our border and sent back to the gas chambers. I called on every Delegate -- and particularly Republicans who have fallen silent -- to speak out in defense of American values and our immigrant history. I urged them to reject fear. To say, "Never Again!"