You probably know that I do my best to send very informative newsletters to constituents, chock-full of detail.
Every year, in addition to the many e-newsletters we send, we mail a hard copy post-session letter to thousands of my constituents.
Did you receive my post-session letter last year?
I hope so. As you'll see if you click the above link, it was long: 14 pages.
My mailed newsletter is not an expensive glossy one-pager. There are no photos. Just lots of detailed information about the work we have done and are doing on your behalf. (I print front and back to save paper.) In the letter, we celebrate successes, and I'm transparent about disappointments. I try to pull back the curtain so you can know what happens behind the scenes, out of the public eye, as well. I am always grateful for the positive feedback it garners, because my staff and I work hard on it.
But I must be honest with you: my post-session letter isn't cheap.
Because I consider sending that post-session letter an essential duty of my position, we end up spending thousands of dollars from my campaign's coffers to mail the letter to as many constituents as possible. The $750 annual postage allowance that we get from the House of Delegates covers a small fraction of the cost of the letter which, last year, cost the campaign more than $3000 in postage alone. That doesn't include copying charges.
I represent more than 85,000 people, but my electronic newsletter that you're reading here covers only about 4,000. Every year people tell me how much they enjoy my "annual newsletter," completely unaware of how much detail I give electronically every week. You are special. You read my email newsletters. Please let others know about them! But I must put at least one letter in the mail each year to inform those who don't get my email newsletter.
As you know, we've had a lot going on lately. First came the most historic session in at least 25 years: with more legislation proposed, more legislation passed, and far more progressive legislation passed than at any time in Virginia history since the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. A record 23 of my bills passed the General Assembly. Nine have already been signed into law by the Governor. We'll know the fate of the other 14 by tomorrow. They will all be described in the annual newsletter.
And that's just session. I'm sure you're aware of other big news we face right now.
Usually, the immediate aftermath of the legislative session is "slow." This year, it's been anything but, with new policies being announced almost daily as we face the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes. With all these changes, it is more important now than ever that people know what public policies are being implemented and where they can go to access helpful resources to help navigate these troubling times. That's why we developed my website's coronavirus page to be a central repository for useful information.
My newsletter will not just discuss what happened during session and what we are doing to combat the coronavirus. We will also fill you in on perhaps the most important reconvene session we've ever had that will happen on April 22. Expected to be held outside the Capitol -- so we can keep social distance from one another -- we will have to make some difficult choices as we transform our budget from providing the greatest surplus in Virginia history to spending that surplus to pay for this crisis with much less revenue coming in. It won't be easy. Unlike the federal government, we are required to have a balanced budget.
And I'll want to give you all the detail. As well as many thousands of others that don't receive my emails.
So, that's why I write you today. I need your help for me to reach as many households as possible this year with my post-session letter.
Every dollar donated between now and the end of the month will go towards mailing my letter to constituents. The more I receive in contributions the more people I'll be able to mail it to.
I'll be sending it out in late-April/early-May, after our April 22 reconvene session.
Look, I know this is a tough time for many of us. My newsletters rarely focus on asking for donations. And I certainly do not ask you to contribute right now if it's a tough time for you. Many of my constituents have lost their jobs or are struggling to save their small businesses. Even worse, some of my constituents are battling for every breath against the scourge of this disease. I don't want any of you in dire straits to even consider a donation.
But some of us are lucky. We are healthy and financially able to weather the crisis.
We are able to donate to food banks and help our elderly neighbors get groceries.
If in these tough times, you can still afford to contribute some funds to help me get information -- about coronavirus, about the fantastic success we had during the session, and about the tough choices we will have to make at the historic reconvene session on April 22 -- to as many constituents as possible, I would very much appreciate any amount you can give.
None of the money goes to my re-election campaign.
Every penny goes to giving important information to the people I'm proud to represent. Like you.
I want to wish a Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.
I know it's going to be a unique and unusual one,
As you gather with your immediate family or perhaps by yourself,
Instead of going to church.
Of course that's exactly what the earliest Christians did
When they were persecuted for their religion
And churches did not yet exist.
They gathered in very small groups
To practice their religion.
We have an advantage, of course,
That they did not have:
That better holiday than Easter
To celebrate renewal:
How a tragic present can,
In time and with persistent faith, be
Transformed into a bright, happy future.
I want to wish a Happy Passover to all who celebrate it.
Wednesday night was the first night of Passover.
Every year of my life from the time I was an infant,
I've spent time with my extended family in Nashville
Around the seder table -- 20, 30, or more of us:
My parents, niece, nephew, aunts, uncles, cousins, close family friends.
Until I was 18 years old,
My grandfather hosted the seder.
When he died,
My family turned to me.
I've been hosting our seder for decades now.
This was the first year of my life
I did not return to my hometown of Nashville.
You could say I spent Passover alone at my house in Alexandria.
But I was hardly alone.
Due to the magic of the Internet,
My entire extended family "came" to my house,
As I hosted yet another family seder.
Most were in Nashville,
But we had attendees from Chicago, St. Louis, and Boston as well.
It was a moving seder, as we discussed the meaning of freedom
At a time when we are all "socially distant" from one another.
Talking about plagues and washing hands took on new meaning,
As we spoke about all those in need at this difficult time.
And how taking care of our environment might just prevent the next worldwide crisis.
I took a snapshot of our family seder this year,
a seder I'm sure we will never forget.
Above is my extended family celebrating a 3,500-year-old ancient tradition in a new way.
With lots of laughter and love,
Serious discussions and story telling,
Wine, matzah, and bitter herbs.
Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover,
Ramadan or the renewal of Spring,
I wish you a safe healthy, happy season.
Even when we can't hug one another,
We can still reach out and "touch"
Our family, friends, and loved ones
As we weather this storm together
Until the sun comes out again.
I thank you for the honor and privilege of representing you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Proudly serving Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax
in the Virginia House of Delegates