The nation is understandably focused on the grim news of 125,000 Americans dead from the novel coronavirus, our strenuous efforts to prevent further spread, and the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and far too many others), leading to an outcry for justice. But this grim news has overshadowed what was truly a historic session in the Virginia General Assembly: 1200 new laws go into effect tomorrow, July 1, with the most progressive policies ever put forth in Virginia history. In my June 27 newsletter, I gave you only a small sample of the laws I wrote or worked on that will go into effect tomorrow.
At his public briefing on Thursday, Governor Northam announced Virginia will enter Phase 3 of reopening on July 1. As of today, Northern Virginia is scheduled to be a part of that reopening.
The differences will be dramatic. We will be almost completely reopen, as of July 1.
In these tough times of millions of Americans sick and more than 125,000 dead from the novel coronavirus; a vital quarantine that is nonetheless devastating our economy; and our attention necessarily turned by gruesome murders and other police conduct to long-overdue issues of police reform and racial justice, we should still celebrate the historic 2020 session, the first with Virginia Democrats fully in control in a quarter century.
Today is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that slavery had been abolished in the Confederate states, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. As we celebrate Juneteenth today, let us imagine ourselves what it was like to be enslaved and reflect upon what it really means to be free. Juneteenth reminds us that knowledge itself is a key to freedom.
TONIGHT, we will be debating Virginia's proposed constitutional amendment on your November ballot this fall. Because I oppose gerrymandering, I oppose the Republicans' proposed constitutional amendment to allow it. This Amendment, if it passes, will give absolute (and unappealable) power to Virginia's Republicans to gerrymander the legislature -- specifically to those Republicans on the Virginia Supreme Court chosen for 12-year terms by the former Republican majority who had illegally racially gerrymandered the Virginia Legislature.
I've received more than 100 emails over the last couple of weeks on the need to address the twin scourges of systemic racism and police brutality. I wrote back at some length to everyone who wrote me on what we've seen, what we've done, and what we intend (with your help) to do to substantially reform the nature of policing and criminal justice in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I decided to share the substance of that letter with the rest of you.
This morning, June 12, Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax – begins Phase Two of "Forward Virginia," Governor Northam's plan for reopening. Most of Virginia entered into Phase Two on June 5th. Here are some of the big guidelines to know.
- Restaurants will be allowed to re-open for indoor dining at 50% capacity.
- Retail stores may operate at 50% capacity.
- Farmer’s markets may permit limited on-site shopping.
- Houses of worship can open at 50% capacity.
- Fitness centers can open indoor areas at 30% capacity.
- Pools can expand operations to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving and swim instruction.
- Social gatherings can have a maximum of 50 people, up from 10 people allowed under Phase One.