HEALTHCARE

Lowering Health C...

In the United States, healthcare costs have continued to rise dramatically in the last couple decades. The high cost of insurance and deductibles are devastating the take home pay of too many Virginians, and it is unacceptable.

In order to provide Virginians with lower healthcare costs, we sought to give our constituents more freedom in determining their healthcare. I supported a bill that lets insurance companies offer low-cost benefit plans to individuals with fewer healthcare needs. We also passed legislation that enables patients to shop around for their healthcare treatments, allowing them to save money if they found more affordable prices. We were also able to lower insurance costs in two ways: first, by authorizing small businesses to pool together for insurance, and second, by approving the purchase of short-term plans for those between jobs.

The flip side of high healthcare prices is a lack of accessibility for the vulnerable, whether medically or financially. In response to this, we fought to expand access for one such group: children with autism. Before this legislation, insurance companies were only required to cover treatments for autism until age 10. Now autism treatments are covered for children of all ages.

One of the critical areas is to reform Virginia's antiquated "Certificate of Public Need" laws in which government regulations make it extremely difficult to expand health care providers to communities in need. Transparency in pricing and accountability is also key to help drive down health care costs and expand access to all Virginians.
Outside of insurance, we have taken steps to identify and fight the public health problems present in the Commonwealth. To address the growing epidemic of teenage tobacco and vape addiction, I am proud to have supported the bill that raised the legal age for the purchase of tobacco, vapor, and nicotine up to 21 years old. These substances are harmful, addictive, and have no place in the lives of our high school students. Another pressing issue that we have identified is maternal mortality. After discovering the significant disparity in maternal mortality for African Americans and women in poverty, we established the Maternal Mortality Review Team to collect the crucial childbirth data in order to put an end to this crisis in Virginia.
One other such crisis is the growing prevalence of mental and behavioral health problems. These problems are among the least understood yet most widely experienced health issues in the United States today. Approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness each year, while 1 in 25 experiences a serious mental illness that seriously impacts their lives and livelihoods. Our objective is to close the gaps in our mental health system, improving upon Virginia’s existing mental and behavioral healthcare safety net. In Richmond I will remain an advocate for better healthcare, with greater choice and lower costs for all Virginians.

EDUCATION

Education - Makin...

I attended public elementary through high school in Virginia Beach, and today my own daughters attend Virginia Beach public schools. For me, education isn't policy......it's personal. My family knows firsthand the importance of quality public education in Virginia Beach and the impact of my extraordinary public school teachers still resonates with me today. Our educators are some of our greatest public servants, deserve to be supported as such. While in Richmond, I kept a campaign promise to fight for increased funding for Virginia Beach schools. My first year in Richmond, I voted for close to $900 million in additional funding for Virginia public schools, including an increase of $45 million for Virginia Beach schools alone. Our latest budget saw an $85 million increase in education funding, which included a 5% pay raise for our hardworking teachers

Education is the key to future wellbeing for the children of Hampton Roads. Investing in education is truly about investing in the future workforce that will someday power our 21st century economy. Our students need to learn how to think creatively, communicate clearly, and work together to face the complex challenges that tomorrow will bring. How our students are tested often determines how they learn. While current standardized tests can measure how well students have retained information, they do little to assess how well students can apply course content to the real world. School testing should simulate real-life scenarios, so that students can learn the skills necessary to not only survive but thrive upon graduation. I am proud to have supported a bill that allows local schools to replace SOLs with “Performance Based Assessments,” a new tailored form of assessment that encourages critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and leadership.

Like you, I want my own children to be able to graduate from our local public schools with a world class education. However, not all children in the Commonwealth have access to the same high-level of education offered by Virginia Beach public schools. Our schools are some of the best in the nation, but other Virginia school districts are falling farther behind in terms of individual student growth. That is why I'm proud to have championed legislation specifically for those students in at-risk school districts. My legislation allows students trapped in failing school districts to file applications for public charter school. This legislation only applies to localities in which over 50% of the schools in the school district are classified by the federal government as Title I at-risk schools. In these school districts, a charter school applicant can request that the State Board of Education review and remand to the local school board a denied application. This legislation does not remove the local school board's ultimate authority to grant or deny any charter school application. I'm proud to say this legislation passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by the Governor. I will continue to work hard to ensure that our children remain the top priority in our education system.

I believe in making our schools dynamic, safe and vibrant where all kids can learn and thrive. I believe in making our schools fiscally responsible where we spend our taxpayer dollars in the classroom, where they have the greatest impact.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Safe Neighborhood...

Public safety should always be a foremost priority of all elected officeholders.

I was honored to serve as a Virginia Beach prosecutor (Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney), where I worked hand in hand with our brave officers in the law enforcement community to get criminals off our streets and in prison. During my time in the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, I handled over 600 criminal cases and worked tirelessly keep Virginia Beach families safe and secure from violent criminals. Most importantly, I understand that for the victims of violent crimes, making sure that their attacker is put in prison is just one step in the road of healing and recovery.

After the May 31st shooting in Virginia Beach, I placed people over politics and introduced an innovative Extreme Risk Protective Order which would enable law enforcement and our judicial system, if someone is suffering with several mental illness and is deemed a "severe threat" to themselves or others, to deny them access to firearms. This legislation both serves to balance our constitutional due process protections while also providing much needed public safety protections keeping firearms out of the hands of the violently mentally ill.

I am proud in the General Assembly to advance legislation to protect women and the most vulnerable by enhancing the penalties for stalkers, including serving as a co-patron on legislation that provides that a second offense of stalking committed within five years of a prior stalking conviction is punishable as a Class 6 felony.
Virginia Beach remains one of the safest cities of its size in the country and that is not by chance. It is due to the dedication of our brave men and women in law enforcement and the work of so many of my friends in the Virginia Beach Office of Commonwealth's Attorney. I'm proud to have the endorsement and support of so many in the law enforcement community and to continue to be their ally in Richmond.

Keeping our schools, neighborhoods and communities safe from violent gangs and drug dealers is critical to building a safer, more prosperous Virginia Beach.

In 2016, Forbes released an article stating that more Americans have died from drug overdose than car crashes. The devastation Fentanyl, Heroin and opiate addiction has had on families in Hampton Roads, many of whom I know personally, is heartbreaking.

In the General Assembly, I have introduced legislation enhancing penalties for drug dealers, has been highlighted by WAVY-10 for my legislation requiring opiate prescriptions to become electronic to cut down on prescription drug abuse, and for advocating for increased state services to combat this problem impacting Virginia.

ENVIRONMENT

Flooding and Hurr...

Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach are at high risk of catastrophic flooding and hurricane threats. Virginia is where Louisiana was prior to Hurricane Katrina and we are woefully unprepared; the time for action is now. If we do nothing the economic devastation to our region would measure in the billions of dollars and potentially thousands of lives lost. That is why I'm continuing to champion legislation and initiatives to tackle both flooding and hurricane preparedness in Richmond
In 2017, I carried legislation regarding the National Flood Insurance Program that requires the Secretary of Natural Resources to issue a report by November 1, 2018, listing any locality not participating in the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program and recommending any legislation necessary to encourage participation, which would lower flood premiums for our homeowners. I'm proud that this legislation passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law.
Finally, I'm am championing the Hurricane and Flooding Risk Reduction Act of 2017. Rather than wait for the next storm, this legislation is aimed at organizing state government now, rather than after a catastrophic flooding event, to prepare and tackle the host of flooding issues we face in our region. This bill establishes the Commonwealth as a Nonfederal Sponsor of Hurricane and Flooding Risk Reduction Projects. The bill also establishes the Virginia Hurricane and Flooding Risk Reduction Authority, a Board of Directors for that Authority, and a Governor's Advisory Commission on Hurricane and Flooding Risk Reduction. This legislation is critical for Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach as flooding continues to impact our neighborhoods and quality of life.

JOBS

Relieving Burdens...

Our jobs agenda has one goal: make it easier for people to work. Our jobs policies aim to create a culture of opportunity where people can empower themselves and flourish in our society. This is accomplished through private job creation and entrepreneurship, healthcare reform, and modernizing education options.
That is why I'm proud to have support the business-driven initiative, GO Virginia, which facilitates greater collaboration between the business community, higher education, and local governments. The budget funds strategic and targeted investments in economic development, while promoting increased accountability and oversight in coordination with our legislative priorities. It also provides incentives for localities to work together to attract out-of-state businesses to their region. It is critical that our region work together to attract out of state jobs to our region.
I am a firm believer that a strong economy is built from the bottom-up, starting with our small business entrepreneurs who create two-thirds of all new jobs in our current economy. Unfortunately, bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation prevents too many small business owners from being able to survive and thrive. The current regulatory system is broken. Onerous permitting requirements have made it extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to do business. Not all regulations are bad or should be done away with, however, they should be transparent, fair, and impose minimal financial burdens on businesses and families. I'm proud to have introduced legislation that would require every new regulation coming out of the state Department of Professional and Occupation Regulations to report within five years the impact that regulation is having on our small business entrepreneurs, whether it is redundant, and whether it is needed. We need to cut through red tape that is hindering our small business owners so they can hire and thrive in our emerging economy.