Public Comments for 02/02/2023 General Laws
HB1401 - Community Policing Act; repeals Act.
To: House Committee From: Chief Deputy Chad Harris Date: 2/2/2023 Ref: HB 1401 Community Policing Act The community policing act bill that was passed July 1 2020 feels like a weighted blanket Law Enforcement must carry around. This bill doubles the work for Law Enforcement. The majority of information on CPA forms are collected through our agencies CAD (calls for service) system already. Why are we doubling the work and putting burden on LE officers and agency budgets? There are twenty boxes an officer must check off for one traffic stop or consensual encounter. This act was passed without any State funding forcing small agencies like Floyd County Sheriff’s Office to find money in an already skeleton budget. Our office had to seek part time employment for data entry and training. Our office consists of less than 30 sworn officers and one month of entries takes us six to eight hours to enter and submit (This excludes initial form completion by the LEO). Not only is it time consuming for officers to complete on the shoulder of the highway, this bill puts officers at risk on the shoulder of the highway. These forms distract LEO awareness and force them to focus on unnecessary box checking. The CPA form takes time away from our community! Our offices’ focus for our community is answering calls for service and assisting the public with their needs all while keeping them safe. Again, our officers focus should not be sitting on the shoulder of the highway checking boxes. Please consider squashing this unnecessary piece of paperwork. It burdens all corners of LE and I urge you to seek alternative measures for community policing. Thank you for your time, Chad Harris
HB1521 - Kratom products; prohibited acts, civil penalty.
My 30 year old son died from mitragynine toxicity on Dec 11, 2021. There are no medicinal uses for kratom. It is highly addictive, no given dosages and no interactions on any labeling. You do not want this gas station drug in your neighborhoods. It's sold as "in the coffee family" but it is far from coffee. It's not needed. Just ban it. I wish I had my son back. Walking outside a mall and collapses. It's ruined our lives and I am on a mission along with many other parents, to ban this dangerous drug.
HB1635 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; uninhabitable dwelling unit.
HB 1635, HB 2045, HB 2082 and HB2153--I support all of these bills. They all move Virginia in the right direction in terms of tenant/landlord relationships and equity for people with disabilities. Please support these bills. Thank you for your time.
HB1730 - Alcoholic beverage control; grounds for suspension or revocation of license, exception.
Chairwoman Robinson and Members of the Committee: My name is Robert Melvin, and I am the senior manager of state government affairs for the Northeast region for the R Street Institute. I reside in Richmond. The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government in many areas, including public policy related to alcohol and criminal justice issues. This is why HB 1730 is of particular interest to our organization. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic upended labor markets and businesses around the Commonwealth. Hospitality businesses like restaurants were one of the hardest hit sectors of Virginia’s economy. These businesses continue to face workforce challenges even several years after the forced closures and restrictions imposed by government edicts. Recent reports indicate that restauranteurs still have an inadequate number of staff, including waiters, bartenders, managers and others. Unfortunately, archaic state prohibitions hamper the ability of restaurants and other businesses that hold Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (VABC) licenses to hire employees who possess certain criminal records. The VABC possesses the power to “suspend or revoke” a VABC license from a restaurant or other establishment if that business hires an individual who has been convicted of a “felony…or offense involving moral turpitude.” The challenge is that these stipulations not only hold back the recovery of the workforce for the struggling hospitality industry, but they also act as a barrier to gainful employment for the formerly incarcerated. Studies have found that recidivism can be curtailed if former inmates are able to obtain meaningful employment. While the VABC can grant special dispensation from these requirements, the process alone still discourages many licensees from hiring individuals with certain criminal records. Ultimately, the question is whether the government should dictate who employers are allowed to hire. Conversations with many restaurateurs have yielded the conclusion that the structure of the system acts as a disincentive because there are perceived challenges with pursuing this process and the risk of a potential license suspension from simply hiring a formerly incarcerated individual is too high. Restaurant owners and other licensees should have the ability to determine who they deem best to hire for a particular position, free of any government involvement. There is a market incentive for these businesses to hire individuals who they deem to be a good fit for a position, and the business owners are certainly more qualified to make that determination than an alcohol regulator would be. As you consider HB 1730, we urge you to recognize the benefits of this legislation. The proposal can help alleviate the workforce shortage in Virginia’s restaurants. This bill will also provide a path to meaningful employment for formerly incarcerated individuals and help them reintegrate into society. Additionally, it will put the power to make hiring decisions back in the hands of the most appropriate individual—the business owner. For these reasons, I strongly encourage you to grant this legislation favorable consideration. Thank you, Robert Melvin Senior Manager, Government Affairs for the Northeast Region R Street Institute firstname.lastname@example.org
HB1765 - Fire protection; expands definition of fire company.
HB1805 - Virginia Resources Authority; community development and housing projects.
We must protect Virginia waters and protect the community from harm we are danger
It's our responsibility to protect the ones that have no voice
HB1829 - Small, women-owned, or minority-owned businesses; certification, grant and procurement awards.
HB1881 - Industrial hemp; registration and renewal fees, no fee shall exceed $250.
Dear Delegates, As I sit here thinking of all the genetic illness’s I suffer with. I can not help to wonder why you would not make this medicine available to people who suffer. My background was in the medical field, now disabled due to Ehlers Danlos syndrome (genetic disorder never goes away) and almost all of its comorbidities! Look it up it’s living with extreme flu symptoms everyday on top of the rest and your collagen being like faulty bubble gum. You wake up with bruises just because it’s part of the disease migraines and nausea .Which I am now limited to treatment options as well as pain management and am allergic to most meds I have adverse reactions due to my genetic illnesses. As well I have seizures, tremors, CPTSD from severe trauma and all forms of abuse. Cervical spondylosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Dysautonomia, Postural Orthostatic tachycardia and bradycardia when my body decides to throw a fit. Also sleeping with all these conditions is almost impossible and I wish it in no one. But I do wish we could find the good in this! Revenue for Va, roads and school systems , small businesses, People not suffering more than necessary “ let’s be humane”, how about our Emergency response crews who deal with trauma everyday and need to sleep/ mental break, let’s end prohibition on cannabis. It’s not fair alcohol is the one that makes people violent, abusive and kill. I grew up in that legal drinking home of abuse. As a person of 46 years of age this is the only option for relief. Why should we be penalized by doctors or jobs? They don’t alcohol test first if they did, most wouldn’t be treated like cannabis users. My daughter was having major surgeries in Colorado this year for our genetic illness. A surgeon walked out and came to talk to the family beside me. His advice to the family was get him some Strongest medicinal marijuana and yes he emphasized it. Best Regards, Linda Ludin
Any bill that supports the retail market through the medical cannabis providers will further weaken the current quality and quantity of the medical cannabis offerings. Patients wait as much as 12 weeks for the medical cannabis product that was discussed with their practitioner and has provided the benefit that they need. The focus of the medical cannabis producers has pivoted from medical patient care to that of recreational, which is evidence by the accompanying lines of products they carry. The key comment I have heard from patients is that they are uncomfortable in the dispensaries as they carry lighters, other smoking devices and it seems less medical and more recreational. The medical dispensaries need to do a much better job focusing on what they were licensed to do. Have a continual supply of products that benefit and work for the patients and cease catering to the recreational user who received their medical certificate through a 1-800 number or a Groupon for $69.00. People are hurting because the medical processors want to be in the recreational field, and treat the medical process and the patients with disregard.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has a rich and storied history in the cultivation and use of cannabis and hemp. As early as the 1700s, Virginia farmers were growing hemp for textile production, making it a vital component of the state's economy. In 1979, Virginia became the first state in the union to recognize the medical potential of cannabis, a discovery that would change the course of history for patients and healthcare providers alike. As we move forward, it is imperative that we build on this legacy and create a cannabis industry that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. This legislation is a commitment to the people of Virginia to create a cannabis industry that benefits all, and to make Virginia a leader in the national conversation on cannabis legalization and regulation.
We strongly support HB1881 as it gives all Virginians a fair chance to participate in the incoming recreational cannabis market. It truly is a bill for the people. We support HB1750, as long as it is amended to not allow existing medical processors a head start to begin recreational sales before anyone else. We also would like to see a true social equity component added back into the bill. We STRONGLY OPPOSE HB1464, as this would essentially give 4 companies reign to monopolize the recreational industry in Virginia before the market is even established. These major processors have already received multi-million dollar head starts by monopolizing the medicinal space in the state, and at least half of the companies are out of state operators, which means their profits don’t even benefit the Virginia economy! We can do this the right way, where locally owned Virginia companies thrive and the Virginia economy thrives. Please vote no to HB1464, and vote yes to HB1881. Thank you, Savana Griffith
I'm glad that we've come this far as a state but do not dwindle it away by giving a monopoly to cresco and col-care. What happened to creating jobs for Virginians? Not these multi-state multi billion dollar companies who only care for quantity at the expense of quality leaving people at risk for consuming pesticide. Cresco already has allegations in other states with poor quality control with no oversight. What happened to both parties caring about the individual? The working class? Instead Virginians have no voice in Virginia only those with deep pockets... Let Virginia be about Virginians.
In 2021, the Commonwealth of Virginia legalized marijuana. Since then the commonwealth has been in grey area wrt marijuana. The delaying the sale for adult use does not stop the use. Allowing legal sales quickly so the product sold is safe and only sold to adults is the priority of the commonwealth. Today Cresco operates a majority of the medical storefronts the the proposed bills will only increase Cresco's gripe on the market. The spirit of legalization was to help people of color run legal adult use establishments, not create a monopoly for Cresco under the direction of Virginia's NORML chapter. Please allow non multi-state to open establishments to receive licenses and open before Cresco and others multi-state companies to open more (they run all the medical dispensaries) establishments.
HB1888 - Real estate settlement agents; fees, informed consent.
HB1898 - Virginia Public Procurement Act; prohibition on boycotting Israel.
Virginia Faith and Freedom would like to express our strong support for bill HB 1898. The Virginia Public Procurement Act is a protection of human rights and prevents the promotion of anti-semitism in the Commonwealth. According to The Jewish Virtual Library, Virginia has one of the fastest growing Jewish populations in the country with a total of 150,620 followers. To date 35 states have adopted laws to discourage boycotts against Israel. Even Virginia itself has already passed a resolution condemning the actions of the BDS movement. HB 1898 is the next step to further prevent this current injustice from occurring.
Mr. Chairman, I'm Rabbi Eric Fusfield, Director of Legislative Affairs at B'nai B'rith International and a member of the Virginia Commission to Combat Anti-Semitism. I join this discussion to speak strongly in favor of legislation prohibiting anti-Israel boycotts. This is not a free speech issue; rather, this is a matter of withholding Virginia's economic support for an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic movement that does not represent the Commonwealth's values. BDS is not simply about criticism of Israeli polices. To understand what BDS represents, you need only to listen to the movement's founders and leaders describe their central goal, namely, the elimination of the Jewish state. According to Omar Barghouti, "Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine." And according to As'ad AbuKhalil, "The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel...That should be stated as an unambiguous goal." This objective helps explain the movement's use of the most hostile allegations with which to demonize Israel, such as apartheid or ethnic cleansing, in order to relegate the Jewish state to pariah status and weaken its place in the international community. BDS spreads anti-Semitic tropes, dehumanizes Israelis, and undermines Middle East peace and reconciliation. Virginia must say no to BDS and yes to HB 1898. Respectfully, Rabbi Eric Fusfield B'nai B'rith International Arlington
Dear Delegates, My name is William Walls and I reside in Arlington, Virginia. I am a retired U.S. Government Foreign Service employee and a strong believer in human rights. I like to review bills as to who or what organization is behind it and who or what entity benefits from it. I am writing to ask you to vote NO on HB 1898 “Virginia Public Procurement Act; public institutions of higher education; prohibition on boycotting Israel; civil penalty” because HB 1898 would be bad for business, bad for civil rights, and bad for human rights. HB 1898 would amend the Virginia Public Procurement Act to prohibit public bodies from contracting or subcontracting with businesses that “engage in a boycott of Israel, its instrumentalities, or any of its territories.” As such, this bill clearly aims to restrict our Constitutional right to free speech, including the right to criticize any government, foreign or domestic. According to the ACLU Virginia, “Government contract restrictions cannot be based on the desire to punish First Amendment activities that aim to influence public opinion on our nation’s policies. Accordingly, federal courts have repeatedly found that bills targeted at restricting boycotts of Israel—bills identical in substance [to HB 1898]—violate the Constitution.” More specifically, I ask you to vote against HB 1898 for the following reasons: This bill would essentially require companies and individuals doing business with the Commonwealth to sign a loyalty oath to a foreign government, subject to serious penalties. Imposing a loyalty oath on government contracts would be antithetical to the ideals of a free market and an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. It reintroduces a bill which has already been twice rejected by the General Assembly in 2016 and 2022; and It would have a chilling effect on legitimate and constitutionally protected criticism of Israel and Israeli human rights abuses. Freedom of speech is vital right for a functioning democracy. As George Washington stated in his address to the Officers of the Army, on Saturday, March 15, 1783: if "freedom of speech may be taken away, [then] dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter." The people sponsoring this bill have no respect for human rights for the Palestinian people in the West Bank. The people or entity that would benefit from this legislation is the state government of Israel and its supporters. Why the state of Virginia is getting involved in foreign affairs is beyond the scope of Virginia legislation. Based on all the reasons listed above, I ask that you vote NO on HB 1898 to affirm that all Virginians and businesses have the right to free speech, including the right to participate in boycotts to support human rights and social justice!
Please support this bill to prevent public bodies of the Commonwealth and public institutions of higher education from boycotting Israel. The BDS movement (boycott, divest and sanction) should not be allowed to demonize the one democracy in the Middle East.
As a Virginia resident and taxpayer, I ask that you vote NO on HB1898, Virginia Public Procurement Act prohibition on boycotting Israel. This bill is a clear attempt to silence those who speak up for the human rights of Palestinians who are being subjected every moment of their lives to a brutal and illegal Israeli government Occupation. It has nothing to do with the Jewish right to self-determination. I fully support that right. It has nothing to do, as those who support this bill suggest, with harming the state of Israel within its borders. I fully support the right of Israel to exist within its borders. If I, as business-owner or individual, choose to boycott Israeli companies doing business in the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, it has everything to do with taking a stand against oppression and human rights violations -- taking a stand for the basic human rights to freedom, security of person, and self-determination for all people. This bill is a clear attempt by a foreign entity, the government of Israel, to shield itself from criticism of its actions in Occupied Palestine. It has no business in U.S. domestic law and is an infringement on my First Amendment rights. I visited Israel and Palestine in 2019 on a dual-narrative tour. I witnessed the stories of both Israelis and Palestinians. I was shocked and deeply saddened by what I learned. Most Americans have no idea about the realities of life on the ground there. To name just a few things, there are two sets of roads, two sets of laws, and two sets of municipal services. Palestinians are rarely granted building permits while Israeli settlements continue to grow at a burgeoning pace on their land. Palestinians are not granted regular access to clean, running water because the Israeli Government chooses to route it to the settlements instead. Palestinians are asked to step aside as their homes and schools are demolished by Israeli bulldozers at an increasingly alarming rate. Entire villages have been at risk of being wiped entirely off the map. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has documented over 9,000 demolitions conducted by Israeli authorities in Occupied Palestine. In other circumstances, such actions would be labeled war crimes, ethnic cleansing, apartheid. Yet, for the government of Israel, we make exceptions. Why? We need to have free and open debate about what is happening in Israel and Palestine without restrictions on the forms such peaceful expression or protest may take. We need to be cognizant of the rights to freedom and self-determination for all persons everywhere. Boycotts are the oldest form of peaceful protest known in our democracy. This bill is asking anyone doing business with the Commonwealth to take a loyalty oath to the government of Israel. How can this possibly be good for prospects for real peace and security in Israel and Palestine? How can this possibly be good for business and what place does this have in U.S. domestic politics? I believe we are heading down a slippery slope if we allow this bill to pass and that the very foundations of our democracy and the values that we hold most dear are at stake.
Please pass HB1898 - Anti-semitism must be stopped. Anti-semitism is unamerican. BDS is not a positive organization. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
I am in favor of HB1898. It ensures my taxpayer dollars are not subsidizing an antisemitic effort to boycott the one and only Jewish state. HB1898 is NOT unconstitutional! And HB1898 does NOT constrain an individual’s right to boycott Israel. It only pertains to businesses that want to sign a contract with Virginia that have more than 10 employees and the contract is >$100K. More importantly, it is only relevant when the contract is in effect, so that business can boycott Israel, just not during the period of the contract. Please vote YES on HB1898!
I am writing to ask you to vote NO on HB 1898 “Virginia Public Procurement Act; public institutions of higher education; prohibition on boycotting Israel; civil penalty.” HB 1898 would amend the Virginia Public Procurement Act to prohibit public bodies from contracting or subcontracting with businesses that “engage in a boycott of Israel, its instrumentalities, or any of its territories.” As such, HB 1898 would be bad for business, bad for civil rights, and bad for human rights. How is HB1989 bad for business? Procurement of goods and services for the commonwealth should be based on the best value for Commonwealth and for our tax money, not on who is willing to sign a loyalty oath to a foreign government. How is this bill bad for civil rights? Our civil rights include freedom of speech, including the freedom to boycott. Article I Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia states that “the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.” The first Amendment of the US Constitution also guarantees free speech, as does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted by the United Nations. According to the ACLU Virginia, “Government contract restrictions cannot be based on the desire to punish First Amendment activities that aim to influence public opinion on our nation’s policies. Accordingly, federal courts have repeatedly found that bills targeted at restricting boycotts of Israel—bills identical in substance [to HB 1898]—violate the Constitution.” How is HB1898 bad for human rights? This bill is clearly targeted at silencing human rights advocates and organizations because of their criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. Those seeking to boycott Israel are doing so in support of human rights, as all the major human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the premier Israeli human rights organization, B’tselem, have stated unequivocally that Israel is committing massive human rights violations, including Apartheid which is a crime against humanity. Freedom of speech is a vital right for a functioning democracy. And boycotts are an American tradition - from the Boston Tea Party to the Montgomery Bus Boycott - and are a widely celebrated form of peaceful protest traditionally employed by those whose voices have been ignored. The boycott of Israel should not be an exception to our nation’s documented history of participating in similar actions for human rights and social justice. Based on all the above, I kindly ask that you vote NO on HB 1898 to affirm that all Virginians and businesses have the right to free speech, including the right to participate in boycotts to support human rights and social justice! Sincerely, Paul Noursi Vienna, VA
Vote NO on HB1898. Again, whatever amendments were made to HB1898 did not clean up this bill. It very similar to last year’s HB1161, which was also submitted by Delegate McGuire. It still has all the language which would force certain contractors with the State of Virginia to agree to refrain from boycotting Israel. It is still in violation of the First Amendment right of free speech which protects boycotts. Also, I applaud Delegate Wampler for his statement that this does not belong in Virginia law – it is a federal issue. I respectfully ask him to switch his vote in accordance with this statement, remembering that last year’s similar bill was tabled. The companion bill was defeated in the Senate so there is no need to waste further time on this. I am sending several other pieces of information to show that the Jewish community is not united on this bill. The Jewish community is not a monolith. There is a long list of Jewish organizations and individuals who oppose the codification of the IHRA definition. These organizations include Jewish Voice for Peace (of which I am a member) as well as many other Jewish organizations such as J Street (the political home of pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans), T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and Americans for Peace Now with its 1000 supporters (Jewish and non-Jewish) within the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am not alone in my opinion on this bill. In keeping with the highest ethical standards of my religion and in supporting the constitutional right to free speech, I urge you to vote NO on HB1898 I am also providing an article printed in a recent issue of the Richmond Jewish Reflector, which is published by the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. I am submitting the article as an attachment. The important paragraph here states that the makeup of the Governor’s Commission was biased from the very beginning, and that in fact, the Jewish community is not all of one voice. And please be sure to note that this article was printed in a publication of the Richmond JCRC. I quote: “Though many applied, we understand the Antisemitism Commission did not accept members from all political leanings – the center or left – of the Jewish community. They too have a story to be told…No community is a monolith and oversimplifying the Jewish community into one political party (only Republicans or Democrats) is inaccurate.” I am also a member of the Jewish community and I ask that you vote “NO” on this unconstitutional bill.
Talking Points House Bill XX (Prohibitions on -BDS) History of BDS: 1. Surveys have shown a majority of American Jews view a positive relationship with Israel to be an important part of their religious, cultural or social identities. BDS seeks to separate Jews from their religious, cultural, and social identities while couched in the language of human rights and social justice. 2. According to the ADL, “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is an international campaign aimed at delegitimizing and pressuring Israel, through the diplomatic, financial, professional, academic and cultural isolation of Israel, Israeli individuals, Israeli institutions, and, increasingly, Jews who support Israel’s right to exist. In practice, the global BDS movement doesn’t seek to create a Palestinian state but rather aims to dismantle the Jewish state and end the right to Jewish national self-determination on any portion of this contested land. BDS is one tactic in the long history of campaigns and efforts to delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel.” 3. Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS movement, has said the following: a. “Ultimately, BDS aims to turn Israel into a pariah.” b. “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine... [only] a sellout Palestinian would accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” 5 . Israeli Jews are “colonial settlers... I make a distinction between self-determination for Jewish settlers in Palestine, which I categorically oppose... Colonizers are not entitled to self-determination.” 6d. “If the occupation ends, would that end your call for BDS? No, it wouldn’t.” 74. The BDS movement is run by individuals that deny the right of Israel to exist and the right of Jews to live there. The movement has received funding from individuals who also fund terrorist organizations like Hamas.8 5. While Virginia passed a non-binding anti-BDS resolution in March 2016, it has not passed a statutory anti-BDS law that prevents businesses contracting with public bodies from boycotting Israel as other states have. 6. To date, over 30 states have adopted laws or policies that ban boycotts against Israel related to companies that contract with states, including Tennessee, South Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, and New York. 7. The legislation is based on a recommendation from the Virginia Commission to Combat Antisemitism. 8 Jonathan Schanzer, “Israel Imperiled: Threat to the Jewish State,” testimony at a joint hearing before the House Foreign
My name is Katherine Akbar, and I am with the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights. I am also a member of the Virginia business owners community, and I urge you to defeat this punitive bill. Members of the Virginia House should be in the business of supporting local businesses, not mandating their business practices as they relate to doing business with a foreign country. I choose not to do business with apartheid states, including Israel, because human rights are even more important to me than money. I have lived under the brutal Israeli occupation, and my ex-husband was imprisoned and tortured by the Israeli government for his nonviolent political activities. Even if you hold a different opinion, I hope you recognize the First Amendment right to free speech and the right of businesspeople to freely choose any business practices that do not discriminate against any protected class. Foreign countries do not fit this definition and are not your constituency.
I am writing in support of HB1898 to prohibit boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel. Israel is the key ally of the United States in the Middle East and should be supported, not undermined or delegitimized. BDS is the tool of those who would deny the right to a Jewish state of any size. It is a tactic and policy that is not in the interests of Virginians of Americans and it is discriminatory under the IHRA definition of anti-semitism.
As a Palestinian American who has lived in the state of Virginia for well over 15 years and who saw my mother and uncles suffer deeply for their losses of property, peace of mind and safety when they became refugees in 1948, I urge you to vote no to this bill. You would criminalize a citizen who has already struggled as a single mother, as a n immigrant, as a Muslim during islamophobic times, for the very priviledge to spend her money as she sees fit and more importantly not to contribute to the traumatic consequences of apartheid policies to her family. Do not criminalize me for standing up for justice for my family.
Dear Members of General Laws - Subcommittee #4, I am writing to ask you to vote NO on HB 1898 “Virginia Public Procurement Act; public institutions of higher education; prohibition on boycotting Israel; civil penalty.” HB 1898 would be bad for business, bad for civil rights, and bad for human rights. HB 1898 would amend the Virginia Public Procurement Act to prohibit public bodies from contracting or subcontracting with businesses that “engage in a boycott of Israel, its instrumentalities, or any of its territories.” As such, this bill clearly aims to restrict our Constitutional right to free speech, including the right to criticize any government, foreign or domestic. According to the ACLU Virginia, “Government contract restrictions cannot be based on the desire to punish First Amendment activities that aim to influence public opinion on our nation’s policies. Accordingly, federal courts have repeatedly found that bills targeted at restricting boycotts of Israel—bills identical in substance [to HB 1898]—violate the Constitution.” Freedom of speech is vital right for a functioning democracy. As George Washington stated in his address to the Officers of the Army, on Saturday, March 15, 1783: if "freedom of speech may be taken away, [then] dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter." Boycotts are an American tradition--from the Boston Tea Party to the Montgomery Bus Boycott - and are a widely acclaimed form of nonviolent protest traditionally employed by those whose voices have been ignored. The boycott of Israel should not be an exception to our nation’s documented history of participating in similar actions for human rights and social justice. I kindly ask that you vote NO on HB 1898 to affirm that all Virginians and businesses have the right to free speech, including the right to participate in boycotts to support human rights and social justice! Sincerely, Paul Noursi Vienna, VA
HB1911 - Conflict of Interests Act, State and Local Government; certain gifts prohibited, foreign countries.
HB1953 - Virginia Freedom of Information Act; closed meeting exemption, home instruction of children.
HB1987 - Charitable gaming; organizations exempt from certain fees, temporary permits authorized, limitation.
HB2082 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; employees of the landlord, rental dwelling unit keys.
HB 1635, HB 2045, HB 2082 and HB2153--I support all of these bills. They all move Virginia in the right direction in terms of tenant/landlord relationships and equity for people with disabilities. Please support these bills. Thank you for your time.
HB2098 - Common interest communities; authority of association to suspend right to use certain facilities.
Attachment provides a rationale for changing the law to allow hearings and fines to be levied for repeat single offenses. David Bulova had asked me to speak at the committee meeting, but I was unaware that I needed to sign up before noon. Attached are my remarks.
HB2101 - DWR; guidance documents developed to be filed for publication with Va. Registrar of Regulations.
Pls stop all animal experiments and cruelty. Someone has to speak and step up for those who cannot. Pls stop all cruelty Thanks
HB2113 - Procurement policies; various Authorities to adopt.
HB2122 - Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council; training for members of school boards.
HB2125 - Charitable gaming; exemptions from certain requirements for specified organizations.
HB2223 - Conflict of Interests Act, State/Local Government; statement of economic interests, etc.
HB2242 - Elections administration; requests made pursuant to Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
VOTE NO ON HB2242 Governor Youngkin has made transparency of information an important objective for his administration. Virginia has a common-sense Freedom of Information law that is one of the pillars supporting transparency and accountability in government agencies at the state, city and county levels. HB2242 will blacken Virginia’s hard-earned reputation for transparency. DAMAGES PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN ELECTIONS: HB2242 drastically reduces transparency and accountability for information about elections, banning access by the media, citizens, and all voters, at the very time that public confidence in elections is just starting to be restored by the Youngkin administration. BANS VOTERS’ INFORMATION RIGHTS FOR 1/3 to 1/2 OF THE YEAR: HB2242 forces Virginia electoral boards and registrars to ban and suppress citizens’ rights to public election information for over a third of the year (over four months), and in some cases over half of the year (over 6 months). BANS INFORMATION ABOUT ALL TYPES OF ELECTIONS: HB2242 bans information about primaries, general elections and special elections. HERE ARE THE BANNING PERIODS IN 2023: In 2023, HB2242 would ban citizens’ rights to public election information for over four months - from 5/06/2023 through 7/7/2023, and from 9/22/2023 through 11/24/2023. If a locality holds a special election, the media and citizens’ rights to public information are suppressed even more, for a total of three elections or 186 days out of 365 total days - over 50% of the year. NO TRANSPARENCY AND NO THOUGHT TO CONSEQUENCES FOR ELECTION OFFICES: Because the FOIA law requires a response within 12 working days (that includes the 7-day extension), election office staff will THEN have to respond to all the accumulated FOIA requests within less than three weeks - for all the requests - after each banning and suppression period. HB2242 will make Virginia one of the least transparent states in the U.S. for media, citizens and especially voters seeking information about elections. VOTE NO ON HB2242
Please vote NO on HB 2242. This bill does everything to thwart and undermine the purpose of FOIA, which is to TIMELY provide election information to the public. Not only does this bill identify many black out dates which are during the election season, it precludes the public from receiving important election information until AFTER certification of an election. In other words, under this bill, by the time a requestor would finally receive the information it would be too late to have any effect or change the course of any past election. Any issue with a current election would be kept under wraps until after certification. The bill would also NOT decrease FOIA burdens on the registrars or electoral boards. The FOIA requests would simply pile up, and registrars would have to respond to many more requests in a narrow timeframe. If the GA wants to reduce FOIA requests, rather than tampering with the existing and fair FOIA law, it might help to require registrars to make more of their election information public and transparent, such as posting daily updates for things such as how many drop box ballots there were per precinct, etc on their websites.
Our elections need more transparency, not less. Elections offices can do easy things to provide information to the public on their websites, and probably many FOIA requests fall into categories that are predictable. Election offices can just do a one time upload to their site for the public to find. There is nothing to hide. The people have a Constitutional rights against maladministration as in Article I. Bill of Rights Section 3. Government instituted for common benefit. HB2242 needs a NO vote.
HB2312 - Uniform Statewide Building Code; stop work orders, appeals.
The City of Portsmouth does not support this bill because it will open up the locality to financial liabilities. Please oppose this bill!
HB2441 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; termination of multiple month-to-month tenancies.
HB2450 - Virginia Public Procurement Act; construction management, contract requirements.
HB2452 - Charitable gaming; amends definition of Texas Hold'em poker tournaments.
My name is Len Dillon representing the Bassett Volunteer Fire Department. I would like to express our support for HB2452. Volunteer fire departments all over the commonwealth depend upon charitable gaming to raise funds to keep up with the tremendous cost of running a volunteer department. HB2452 lessens the restrictions on charitable poker and is a step in the right direction that will provide fundraising opportunities for fire departments all over the Commonwealth. Please pass this bill in a way that will allow us to raise the funds necessary to continue to serve our community. Thank you for your consideration.
HB2458 - Charitable gaming; regulations related to electronic devices, prohibited practices.
HB2461 - COVID-19; penalty reimbursements, sunset provision.
I hope that the committee moves to report to full committee HB1491 and HB2461.