Public Comments for 02/08/2021 General Laws
SB1110 - Real estate settlement agents; duties.
Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

Last Name: Johnson Organization: State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance Locality: Henrico

When the law was enacted 23-24 years ago the requirements for title settlement agents to carry E&O coverage and a Surety Bond were put into place to provide protection for consumers. As a policy the Bureau has issued the surety bond information and E&O information to consumers who have a claim against an agent. It was suggested that the Bureau clarify the ability to release this information in the Code since we also have a section that very specifically states that our files are confidential. Basically, the bill just clarifies that the Bureau can provide consumer protection documents to consumers who may have a claim against an agent.

SB1127 - Charitable gaming; conduct of instant bingo, network bingo, pull tabs, and seal cards.
Last Name: Mayer Organization: NR Warriors Baseball Club Locality: Suffolk

We have used bingo for years to support the Nansemond River High School Baseball program to fund field enhancements and maintenance, fall uniforms, the purchase of training equipment, fund the varsity program’s spring break tournament fees and most importantly, providing scholarships for graduating baseball players . I support this bill in its amended form because it includes Youth sports. There remains an area of concern fir the charities I represent. It deal with the geographic restrictions on small organizations like ours. The bill in its current form would provide preferential treatment to charities located near bingo halls that have higher gross revenues. This would have a disproportionate impact on my charities impacting their mission. I would recommend strong consideration of this concern by either redrafting that wording or delaying the bill in favor of a study to understand the impact. Again, the money raised through charitable gaming is our lifeblood and provides opportunities for many kids that may not never have the chance otherwise.

Last Name: Zajur Organization: Virginia Hispanic Foundation Locality: Richmond, VA

Honorable Members of the General Assembly: Please be informed that the Virginia Hispanic Foundation (Foundation), the educational and non-profit subsidiary of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, staunchly opposes Senate Bill number 1127 as it is currently written. Virginia Hispanic Foundation has been working with Virginia Union University , under an organization known as the Virginia Hispanic African American Alliance, for over a year. This alliance was created to educate and promote in the workforce students who are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. One of the primary mechanisms we use to raise funds and support these students in their educational journey are the proceeds of charitable gaming. Charitable gaming has positively affected our student base who are disadvantaged and an important sector of our economy. The Virginia Hispanic Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profits as regulated by the IRS. Further because our entity is considered private we do not enjoy the benefit of receiving funds from the Virginia Lottery. As such, charitable gaming is a mechanism of at least attempting to bridge this disparity gap which has plagued our community for many generations. Because our institution and our Hispanic community have a stake in this legislation we strongly object to being excluded from participating in the drafting of this legislation. Secondly, we oppose this legislation because, while it attempts to include our community into the equation, it does so in a very limited way, by precluding charitable gaming for our institution throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Currently the legislation as introduced allows our institution to engage in charitable gaming within the jurisdiction and adjacent jurisdictions in which our principle office is located. This is another example of the disparity placed upon our institution. The Virginia Lottery is allowed to serve the entire Commonwealth of Virginia for its public institutions of higher learning. Yet, our institution, who have students throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, are limited to a mere couple of counties. If the ABC/Gaming Subcommittee as well as the General Laws Committee believe that better control or reform of the charitable gaming should be implemented, then we support you wholeheartedly. However, it is not reform to deny a significant segment of our community, such as Hispanic Foundation, the opportunity to participate in the drafting of legislation that impacts socially and economically disadvantaged students who are a strong and vibrant voting segment our community. As such we strongly oppose this legislation as currently drafted.

Last Name: Lucas Organization: Virginia Union University Locality: Richmond, VA

Honorable Members of the General Assembly: Please be informed that Virginia Union University (Union) staunchly opposes Senate Bill number 1127 as it is currently written. Virginia Union University has been working with the Virginia Hispanic Foundation, under an organization known as the Virginia Hispanic African American Alliance for over a year. This alliance was created to educate and promote in the workforce students who are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. One of the primary mechanisms we use to raise funds and support these students in their educational journey are the proceeds of charitable gaming. Charitable gaming has positively affected our student base who are disadvantaged and an important sector of our economy. Virginia Union University is a 501(c)(3) non-profit as regulated by the IRS. Further because this entity is considered private, we do not enjoy the benefit of receiving funds from the Virginia Lottery. As such, charitable gaming is a mechanism of at least attempting to bridge this disparity gap which has plagued our community for many generations. Because our institution and our community has a stake in this legislation we strongly object to being excluded from participating in the drafting of this legislation. Secondly, we oppose this legislation because, while it attempts to include our community into the equation, it does so in a very limited way, by precluding charitable gaming for our institution throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Currently the legislation as introduced allows our institution to engage in charitable gaming within the jurisdiction and adjacent jurisdictions in which our principle office is located. This is another example of the disparity placed upon our institution. The Virginia Lottery is allowed to serve the entire Commonwealth of Virginia for its public institutions of higher learning. Yet, our institution, who has students throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia is limited to a mere couple of counties. Virginia Union University was founded in 1875 and took its present name in 1899. It has educated students from all walks of life and from the vast majority of the counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Union’s history in conjunction with our alliance with the Foundation demands an acknowledgement of the breath of our voter base. As such, please be placed on notice of our concern regarding this legislation. If the ABC/Gaming Subcommittee as well as the General Laws Committee believe that better control or reform of the charitable gaming should be implemented, then we support you wholeheartedly. However, it is not reform to deny a significant segment of our community, such as Union and the Foundation, the opportunity to participate in the drafting of legislation that impacts socially and economically disadvantaged students who are a strong and vibrant voting segment our community. As such we strongly oppose this legislation as currently drafted.

Last Name: Goin Locality: MIDLOTHIAN, VA

Bill SB1127 will kill hundreds of jobs directly in Charities all over the commonwealth, by making it impossible for charities to be able to raise any amount of funds using the charitable gaming system. Food banks will not get the resources they need, in a time when they need it most, Students will no longer be able to get scholarships, and thats just the tip of the iceberg if this thing passes. Mr Reeves, kept moving the target in his amendments, and what for may I ask ? There is no need to for this Bill, and it is purely being forced through the assembly to hurt charities for nefarious reasons in a time they need more support and help, not less. During the committee session of 1-27-2021 Mr Reeves time and again argued "facts" that had no basis in reality. He time and again misrepresented charitable gaming and the electric pull tab machines, or was completely ignorant of exactly what his bill was for and how it would work. This from a Senator is supposedly understands the system.. So what he says in committee were either bold faced obfuscation of the truth, or he is ignorant of the laws and the facts in which he is basing his Bills merits. Case in point he kept insisting the machines "paid no taxes" and "have no oversight". When the truth of the matter is the Charities get taxed based on TOTAL GROSS INCOME as a WHOLE of ALL Games. GAME MACHINES INCLUDED. Virginia Charities pay MORE Taxes per dollar than Rosies, or the Skilled Gaming machines. As for oversight. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services does have oversight and he is reworking the laws that oversees them. That is fundamentally part of SB1127. So that right there is pure obfuscation of the truth. He also should be fully aware that DAGCS gets quarterly and annual reports from the Charities and pays the audit fees ( additional taxes ) on the GROSS Sales not the NET. As he even mentioned in his comments that he talked to DAGCS when formulating this bill. Consider that Mr Reeves received the most donations from Queen of Virginia Skills & Entertainment LLC and POM of VA LLC ( Manufacturer of QoVA MACHINES ) of any assembly member, Senate or House, during the period of 2019 to 2020. $5,000 1/4/2019 $5,000 5/20/2019 $5,000 1/2/2020 $5,000 9/15/2020 Thats $20,000 from the maker and operators of the skilled gaming machines that are in convenience stores across the commonwealth, whose direct competition is of course, Charitable gaming. So why this bill ? Lets look at who benefits from killing all the mom and pop bingo halls, VFWs, FOPs, and all the small local charities that rely on this income ? Queen of Virginia LLC So lets not kill the one income stream many of these charities have. It would kill the charities and destroy the jobs of Virginians across the Commonwealth that are employed by these non-profits. This Bill should die here as it serves no purpose, other than to benefit Mr Reeves' patrons.

Last Name: Guevara Locality: Louisa County and Wise County

As both an environmental science student and a concerned citizen, I ask that you consider stopping or at least rewording SB1127 to exclude conservation organizations. As proposed, it would severely impact nonprofit organizations such as the Cave Conservancy of Virginia (CCV), whose efforts and donations go to far more than just supporting, researching, and protecting the fragile and unique karst systems in our state that provide sources of drinking water and are home to several unique and endangered species. The CCV also supports other worthy causes that the local communities depend on, including local schools, landowner support, and even recreation. Please, for the sake of all those who live, learn, and rely on these incredibly environmentally important areas, reconsider this bill and its wording.

Last Name: Ahn Organization: Holston High School Karst Club Locality: Damascus

I am a teacher and sponsor of the Karst Club - a club that exposes young people to the wonders beneath our feet in the caves and karst areas of our area. I am very concerned about SB1127 because of the funding loss to organizations like the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias who have supported people like me. CCV members have helped me on numerous educational trips underground with students and have provided the guidance and safety needed to open up whole worlds to my students. Please seek a way to allow conservation organizations like the CCV to continue their very good work in Virginia.

Last Name: Lachniet Locality: Washington County

Senate Bill 1127 would eliminate the ability of nonprofit conservation groups to raise funds through charitable bingo operations, something that has been legal and well-regulated in Virginia for many years. I am on the board of one such organization, the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, but I am writing today not on their behalf, but as private citizen and longtime Virginia caver deeply concerned about cave and karst conservation in the Commonwealth. Please consider defeating this bill, or amending it to allow conservation organizations continued access to this vital funding source (perhaps using language similar to the provisions that reference volunteer fire departments and sports organizations). Organizations like CCV have provided critical support for local karst research and conservation efforts throughout the state. In particular, CCV has awarded over $1 million in grants since 1980, and has worked closely with state agencies including the Virginia Cave Board and Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Last Name: Britton Organization: Conservation Locality: Hanover

I have had the rare privilege of working with several charitable non- profit 501-C3 conservation organizations over the last 40 years. I have had first hand knowledge of all the incredible work that these organization do for our State.. It is absolutely inconceivable to me that anyone would even consider sponsoring a bill that has eliminated the ability for conservation groups to participate in charitable gaming to raise funds. The state of Virginia does not have enough funds in their current budget to even come close to filling the void that would be created by such a drastic measure.. Most of our conservation groups here in Virginia have worked closely with local and State government to help protect some of our most important resources. Virginia is one of the most diverse and beautiful places on this planet earth and it takes a lot to keep it that way. Let’s not do anything that will mess it up by passing a bill like this. I hope it was just an oversight by someone who just forgot to include conservation organizations when they wrote this bill.

Last Name: Brown Organization: Concerned citizen Locality: Wise

As worded, Senate Bill 1127 would eliminate the ability for not-for-profit conservation organizations to raise funds through charitable gaming (Bingo). In my experience, Bingo games are already highly-regulated and tightly-run. Charitable gaming raises irreplaceable funding to support rural and low-income communities in the form of grants to restore and conserve natural resources, such as rivers, vistas, wildlife habitat, and caves, as well as public awareness, education, and engagement of our youth. Without charitable gaming, most of these grass-roots level 501(c)3 organizations will suddenly be unable to fulfill their missions. Please table or defeat this bill to ensure that conservation charities can continue to generate funds to support community-based projects that improve the natural wealth of our Commons!

Last Name: Maus Locality: Montgomery

SB1127 - excludes many 501(c) organizations that depend or could depend on charitable gaming as a funding means. I am specifically concern about conservation groups but on the reading one can imagine many omitted categories and then I am sure there are more. Leave the current program alone. It has been worked through for years and seems to be working well. thank you for your service, Charles Maus

Last Name: Riley Organization: Bedford Moose 1897, WOTM 1005 Locality: Bedford

Virginia charities are counting on you and your colleagues to say no. This bill has been submitted as a way to regulate charitable gaming, but there are major flaws with it. First, VDACS already regulates charitable gaming. Secondly, it requires nonprofit fraternals to obtain a license from VDACS. This in itself is not a problem, the problem is that under the license, the charity is required to show 10% charitable use of proceeds. Also, not a problem unless one understands what this really means. The 10% charitable use of proceeds is calculated from gross ticket sales, which exceeds cash purchases 100% of the time. With electronic pull tabs, the player wins free games and plays their winnings back in the game. This creates a large difference between the actual cash generated and gross ticket sales. I know it’s confusing, so here is a real life example: cash in (actual money feed into the machine) is $4800. The cash out (winnings collected by the players) is $3900. The difference in those two numbers is the profit, or “net amount” which is then shared 50/50 between the nonprofit fraternal and the game company. This amount is $900, or $450 each. Now, the actual gross ticket sales is $13,100. This is again due to free games and winnings played instead of cashed out. The problem is that 10% of this number is $1,310! The charity only made $450, but now has to outlay $1,310 in charitable donations. The end result is that this bill in its current form, kills charitable gaming. One example is at the Bedford Moose Lodge. The funds they raise are used to support the annual Wounded Warriors softball games held at the lodge, the Bedford Fire Department, Goode/Bedford/New London rescue squads, Bedford Humane Society and many other local organizations that count on our existence for donations. Without the money created through charitable gaming, not only would these important community events have to stop, but the lodge would likely have to close altogether. Please, please don’t allow this bill to become law.

Last Name: Conway Organization: Virginia Elks Association Locality: Front Royal

SB1127 will harm the Charity dollars given to local communities. Last year the VEA gave $5.6 million to multiple charities in local communities. The VEA strongly opposes SB1127. Please vote it down in committee ThankYou Bob Conway Government Relations Chair Virginia Elks Association

SB1150 - Military Spouse Liaison; position created in Department of Veterans Services, report.
Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

SB1171 - Conflict of Interests Act, State and Local Government; disclosure requirements.
No Comments Available
SB1183 - Property Owners' Association Act/Condominium Act; use of electronic means for meetings and voting.
No Comments Available
SB1215 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; tenant remedies for exclusion from dwelling unit.
No Comments Available
SB1254 - Sports betting; clarifies certain procedures.
No Comments Available
SB1271 - Virginia Freedom of Information Act; meetings held through electronic communication means.
Last Name: Rhyne Organization: Virginia Coalition for Open Government Locality: James City County

VCOG supports this bill and the clarity it will give to public bodies for meeting electronically during an emergency.

SB1278 - Charitable gaming; regulations of operators of Texas Hold'em poker games.
Last Name: Berman Organization: Virginians for Integrity in Horse Racing and Casno Gambling Locality: Richmond

February - General Assembly passes SB936 allowing charities to have Texas Holdem Tournaments. July 8th - First meeting of Charitable Gaming Board discussing Texas Holdem. It was at this first meeting that the chairman introduced, Rich Lehman, whom he described as a friend of his that played Texas Hold’em and had asked him to attend to help explain the New Hampshire tournament regs the chairman had decided to use as a template for ours. July 22nd - Matt Benka sends letter to CGB on behalf of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Council complaining about illegal poker games, one of which is being operated by a board member. Chairman Lessin promises to hand deliver a letter to the Attorney General’s office asking him to intervene but never follows through. July 25th,26th,27th - Three day workgroup to work on regs. It was during these three days that it became clear that Mr. Lehman was trying to manipulate and change the New Hampshire regs to create a gray area so they could also have cash games. August 11th - Marty Williams, chair of the VCGC asks chairman Lessin when he is going to do something about the illegal poker games being run by one of the board members. September 3rd - I write to Senator Peterson in an attempt to alert him of all the malfeasance going on in regard to SB936. September 16th - After my letter to the Senator, Chairman Lessin starts off the September 16th CGB meeting by offering a disclosure that he stands to gain, maybe more so than anyone else, from the regs he has been writing. October/November - VDAC continues to reject CGB’s proposed regs. They warn the board that cash games are not allowed in SB936. December 18th - One of the last things VDAC finally agrees to allow CGB to submit the regs they have written for approval. December 22nd - During a random search of “Richmond poker” I stumble on the “smoking gun” lol, a video interview with Rich Lehman in which he states that he had been hired by Chairman Lessin back in May 2020 as “Poker Operations Director” while all along having identified himself as a member of the public and all the while pushing the chairman’s agenda. It was never disclosed that Mr. Lehmanh had been on the Chairman’s payroll as “Poker Operations Manager” since May of 2020, a full 3 months before beginning to write the rules and regulations, all the while identifying himself and speaking as a member of the public while promoting the chairman’s agenda. It is during this video interview that Chairman Lessin’s true plans come to light. He plans to turn his “Pop’s Bingo Hall” into a commercial gaming center, running cash poker games 7 days a week 16 hours a day, with hopes of expanding to up to 30 tables. I am including a link to that video and am providing the time of these admissions so you can easily locate them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmMro3YzvpA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3Hbij_hWgEHfsup2JCzFyPV6597eBtau4Uc36JpionLFP5PA4L-WbRa5c 27:40 was hired by chairman Lessin in May as “poker operations manager” 36:25 want to start with 10 tables and be open 7 days a week, 16 hours a day 37:55 wants to expand to thirty tables

SB1279 - Veterans Services, Department of; initiatives to reduce unemployment among veterans.
Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

SB1287 - Charitable Gaming Board; regulations, electronic pull tabs.
No Comments Available
SB1299 - Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine.
Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce urges your support for SB 1299, identical to the House-passed HB 1879, continuing for another year the sale of mixed beverages for takeaway service. Restaurants are now approaching a year of severely limited, if any, in-person service on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Takeaway beverage service has cut into some of the losses sustained during this time. Continuing this service for another year will support restaurants as they work to return to full service. Moreover, customers have come to enjoy takeaway beverage service safely and our neighbors in the District of Columbia have made it permanent. As such, we believe that continuing this service will serve Virginia restaurants and patrons well and encourage support of this bill.

SB1305 - Virginia Public Procurement Act; construction contracts, subcontractor workforce requirements.
Last Name: Benka Organization: Virginia Contractor Procurment Alliance Locality: Henrico

We are opposed to both SB 1305 and HB 5002.

Last Name: Garrison Organization: HCCA Locality: Charlottesville

The Heavy Construction Contractors Association (HCCA) represents 170 firms in Northern Virginia made up of 39,000 employees in road building and site development whom accumulate $1.65 billon pay roll. We are following SB1305 and HB5002 and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the bills with you prior to tomorrow’s 7AM subcommittee meeting. Oppose SB1305 • Creates unnecessary complexity in the procurement process • Seeks to remedy a wage theft issues that is not present in the transportation construction industry (see attached for empirical data to this point) Oppose HB5002 • Goal is unattainable due to lack of small businesses in the transportation construction industry o Failure to meet compliance goals would result in debarment of essential general contractors • Artificially inflate the cost of transportation infrastructure projects

Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

Last Name: Codding Organization: IWEA - ACE Locality: Fairfax

Members of the Committee. I am Fred Codding of 10382 Main Street, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. I am here on behalf of the Iron Workers Employers Association as well as the organizations which are part of the Alliance for Construction Excellence (ACE). Those organizations include Chapters of the National Electrical Contractors, Mechanical Contractors, Sheetmetal Contractors, the American Subcontractors Association and the Iron Workers Employers Association. Those organizations and their members have offices and projects throughout the Commonwealth. Members of the Iron Workers Employers Association itself supply and install reinforcing steel, structural steel, window wall, curtainwall and related products on projects throughout the Commonwealth. We support Senate Bill 1305 which provides that subcontractors may not outsource more than 10% of the work subcontracted for except in specified circumstances. We request your approval of Senate Bill 1305.

Last Name: Jason Ascher Organization: Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades Association/United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Locality: Baltimore City

On behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Pipe Trades and our member locals of the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters across Virginia, I ask you to support SB 1305. The blight of the construction industry and its workers are labor brokers. These sub-subcontractors are used to provide an immorally low waged workforce by cheating workers on construction projects so the subcontractor who hires them can increase their profits. These labor brokers misclassify their workers as independent contractors, paying in cash or personal check without paying workers comp or taxes, and provide no benefits, like health insurance or retirement savings, to the workers. They take advantage of typically immigrant workers, minority workers, and workers who do not understand they have rights—their actions sometimes border on labor trafficking. The result is a race to the bottom on wages, which hurts legitimate contractors and the community. This legislation will limit the number of independent contractors a subcontractor can hire on a public construction project, essentially keeping these labor brokers from operating on a public project. It leaves leeway for a subcontractor to hire a sub-subcontractor for specific specialized tasks, such as a mechanical contractor hiring someone to fabricate HVAC ductwork or install insulation. This is not about union contractors vs. non-union contractors. This is about legitimate businesses vs. illegitimate businesses, good actors vs. bad actors. This is why I ask you to support this legislation.

SB1314 - Education and Labor Market Alignment, Office of; established.
Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

Last Name: Easter Organization: ChamberRVA Locality: Chesterfield

ChamberRVA supports this bill. Coordination of workforce needs and educational efforts is essential to providing the future workforce with the skills that will be needed.

SB1318 - Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group; established, report.
Last Name: Williams Organization: Green New Deal Virginia Locality: Richmond

Mr Chairman and members of the committee, Green New Deal Virginia hopes you will support Senator Hashmi's SB1318, The Bill strengthens the Virginia Environmental Justice Act of 2020 which established the promotion of environmental justice as the official policy of the Commonwealth. Although Virginia now has a basic EJ policy, DEQ still needs the guidance, regulations, trainings, and tools necessary to ensure EJ is carried out and to close historic structural gaps in their public engagement, program administration, permitting, regulation development, and regulatory enforcement. This Bill authorizes agencies when making environmental-related decisions to adopt policies designed to mitigate disproportionately adverse and cumulative environmental impacts on environmental justice communities at the state and local level over the next two years. HB 2074’s local government requirements support DEQ Director David Paylor's commitment, after the completion of VDEQ’s 18-month study in October, “to coordinate with local and state government agencies to ensure alignment with environmental justice policies”. On behalf of our diverse coalition’s 80 grassroots partner organizations, and their members from across the commonwealth, we hope you will support this Bill and vote to give the Department of Environmental Quality the tools necessary and clear authority to deny permits, based on environmental justice impacts and cumulative impacts. This authority is critical to any effort to improve DEQ's consideration of environmental justice in their environmental permitting processes. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Piontek Organization: Appalachian Voices Locality: Blacksburg

Appalachian Voices supports SB 1318, which amends the Virginia Environmental Justice Act of 2020. This bill includes two of the same provisions from HB 2074 that was introduced by Del. Simonds, and that passed the House, although SB 1318 is smaller in scope than HB 2074. However, SB 1318 does take important steps towards ensuring environmental justice by adding a definition to the 2020 EJ Act, and by codifying the Interagency Work Group on EJ (which was modeled after the Federal Interagency Work Group and included in the previous state budget). Members of Appalachian Voices have consistently raised concerns to me about the process by which state agencies make permitting decisions for polluting facilities like power plants, landfills and wastewater management sites, particularly when these types of facilities are destined to be situated within Environmental Justice communities. SB 1318 begins to address those concerns by adding "cumulative impacts" to the 2020 EJ Act, meaning that the state should consider the cumulative and long-term health impacts that its agencies may have on communities, particularly when they are exposed to toxins and other environmental burdens. The Interagency Work Group defined in the bill can help guide the state through the process of ensuring that EJ is ensured. Thank you for considering this bill, and I do hope you vote YES on SB 1318.

Last Name: Griffin Organization: New Virginia Majority Locality: Richmond

New Virginia Majority (NVM) Public Comment SUPPORT: SB1318, Senator Ghazala Hashmi At New Virginia Majority, we support SB1318. We support this Bill, brought forth by the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, which we are a member, because it builds upon the Virginia Environmental Justice Act (VEJA) by directly defining cumulative impacts in the Code of Virginia and by improving upon the the EJ Interagency Working Group previously included in the budget (Item 372 SNR), modeled after the EPA’s Federal Interagency Working Group, and designed to create agency collaboration to carry out the purposes of VEJA. We do prefer the Delegate Simonds HB2074 language that passed the House, which goes further by requiring state secretariats, including the Secretary of Natural Resources. to create environmental justice plans to be followed by agencies VEJA’s EJ policy declaration and agencies current public participation requirements should be strengthened via SB1318 to provide for adequate fair treatment and meaningful involvement of Virginians in agencies' environmental decisions and actions. This is evidenced by the expansive recommendations from DEQ’s 18-month EJ Study in October and by continued public complaints related to the public engagement process for siting, construction, and operation of fossil fuel infrastructure, landfills, and other environmentally hazardous activities across the state in the past few years. SB1318 also adds two citizen members from the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and the state Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to this Working Group, which is critical to help and hold agencies accountable for implementing best practices for furthering environmental justice in the Commonwealth. For these reasons, we recommend the committee to support SB1318. Thank you. Tyneshia Griffin, the Environmental Policy Research Analyst at New Virginia Majority

Last Name: Killius Organization: James River Association Locality: Richmond

The James River Association appreciates the opportunity to register our support for SB1318. We thank the patron for her commitment to environmental justice, and we hope it will be the pleasure of the committee to support the bill.

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Earth Justice Team Locality: Leesburg

Environmental Justice has been a problem in Virginia throughout our history. This bill is essential to address this problem effectively. It requires each of the Governor's Secretaries to designate at least one environmental justice coordinator to represent the secretariat as a member of the Working Group. The bill provides that the Working Group shall expire on July 1, 2031, preventing dissolution by the political whim of the governor.

SB1327 - Homeowners and tenants of manufactured home parks; housing protections, foreclosures, etc.
Last Name: Cruz Locality: Richmond

I support the Preserving the American Dream Act (SB1327 Homeowners and tenants of manufactured home parks; housing protections, foreclosures, etc.) because this bill would provide new protections and support for homeowners and tenants that might face foreclosure. The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase of people who were laid off or lost their jobs. Statistics show that this pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. Furthermore, a significant wealth gap already exists in the state of Virginia, and a lower percentage of families of color own their homes compacted to white households. The mortgage relief that this bill would provide these hard-working families would mean that they can remain in their homes. This bill plans to change the 14-day notice and increase it to a 60-day notice that would be required prior to beginning the foreclosure process. The details on legal assistance, information on how much money the homeowner owes, and how much money they are behind will be very beneficial because it can protect them from losing their home.

Last Name: Jung Locality: North Chesterfield

As you may know, the city of Richmond has one of the highest eviction rates in U.S. This is due to a diverse set of reasons, however, some of these can be changed. This bill encourages various protections to mobile home homeowners and tenants. By requiring an explanation, in plain language, of the rights and responsibilities of tenants under the Virginia Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act, tenants are able to help themselves. It gives them the tools needed to encourage self-advocacy. It's helping them help themselves. Usually, individuals bury their face when facing foreclosure. Through an extended notice for foreclosure sale and requiring the landlord to provide tenants with information about housing assistance and legal aid organizations, it encourages utilizing services there for us to use, while also giving a greater amount of time to process what is happening. All of this combines to giving a fair chance to comprehend and take action.

Last Name: Barrientos-Collins Locality: Richmond

SB 1327 strikes the appropriate balance between providing access to resources borrowers without putting unnecessary strain on the foreclosure process. This bill prioritizes the needs of VA’s homeowners and tenants, who are forging through the challenges the pandemic continues to bring. Homeowners should be adequately notified in advance of a foreclosure auction sale and understand what options are available for assistance.

Last Name: Carter Locality: Richmond

I am writing in support of this bill, SB1327, for the following reasons. I believe that this bill should protect tenants' rights. Providing information concerning their rights as a tenant is crucial to the successful relationship between a tenant and a landlord. In many cases, tenants won't know their rights and can be exploited or taken advantage of because they don't have the resources or the information concerning their rights. For these reasons, I support the addition of a statement of tenants' rights and responsibilities in plain language to the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development's responsibilities. I also support the extension of the notice time of foreclosure sale from 14 to 60 days. Given that many homeowners may not be aware of their rights or resources, giving them 60 days can provide them with enough time to become educated or sort out their next steps. For many people, the future is uncertain, especially during a pandemic, so having more time could help secure financial assistance or a new place of residence.

Last Name: Bruning Organization: Virginia Bankers Association Locality: Glen Allen

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, the VBA appreciates the work of the patron and the Virginia Poverty Law Center and their collective willingness to work with lenders in constructing this bill. Virginia banks understand the importance of encouraging stable housing, no more so than during this ongoing public health crisis. Lenders don’t make home loans with the expectation that the borrower will not be able to repay their debt. Unfortunately, there are times when that occurs and foreclosure is the lenders’ last means of collecting on the debt. It is important that when those circumstances arise, the process is efficient to enable borrowers to move forward with securing other housing options and the overall housing market remains stable and accessible for all borrowers. This proposal adds clarity to the foreclosure process, ensures transparency and access to information, and protects homeowners from having their homes being forced to sale for small amounts of unsecured debt. We believe it strikes the appropriate balance of strengthening consumer’s ability and time to fully understand the process and their options prior to a foreclosure sale without significantly complicating or unnecessarily extending the process to the determinant of the secured lender. We are pleased that much of the input the VBA provided throughout the process is incorporated in the bill. In acknowledgement of the productive negotiations with the stakeholders resulting in the bill before you, we are pleased to support the bill as presented and encourage its passage.

SB1343 - Virginia Freedom of Information Act; proprietary records and trade secrets.
No Comments Available
SB1369 - Small Business and Supplier Diversity, Department of; redefines "small business."
No Comments Available
SB1384 - Virginia Public Procurement Act; local arbitration agreements.
Last Name: loveawake.ru Organization: loveawake.ru Locality: Auckland

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Last Name: Johnson Organization: National Women's Law Center Locality: Silver Spring, MD

The National Women’s Law Center writes in support of SB 1384. This is an important issue for us because forced arbitration is too often used as a tool to cover up sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and prevent survivors from seeking justice and being made whole for their injury. In arbitration, survivors stories remain secret and they are often forbidden by nondisclosure clauses from sharing their experiences. The Virginia legislature has already recognized the importance of not silencing survivors by passing legislation in 2019 to prohibit employers from using NDAs in employment contracts to silence survivors of sexual assault. SB 1384 too, is an important measure to ensure survivors have a voice and can get justice. This legislation doesn’t prohibit the use of forced arbitration, but we think it takes a really important step towards ending the abusive use of forced arbitration by increasing transparency around businesses’ use of forced arbitration.

Last Name: Szalai, Prof. Imre Locality: New Orleans, LA

I am a law professor and commercial arbitrator who has written extensively about the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). I have written numerous articles and two comprehensive books about the history and development of the FAA, and state and federal courts have cited my scholarship about arbitration. In appropriate circumstances, where there is meaningful consent and fair procedures, I firmly believe that arbitration can be superior to litigation, but at the same time, parties can sometimes abuse arbitration. I am submitting this comment to state my opinion that the FAA would not preempt SB1384. It is critical to note that SB1384 does not impact the analysis of whether an arbitration agreement is fully enforceable; if parties agree to arbitrate, a court will fully enforce the agreement under the FAA. FAA preemption of state law typically exists where a state law makes arbitration agreements unenforceable, or where application of a state law would undermine a fundamental attribute of arbitration. SB1384 does not dictate what the terms of an arbitration agreement must be, what an arbitration proceeding must look like, or whether an arbitration agreement is enforceable. If one closely examines the text of the FAA, there is nothing in the FAA which would conflict with SB1384. Looking solely at FAA preemption doctrine, the FAA would not preempt SB1384. Moreover, assuming there was some conflict between the FAA and SB1384 (but there is absolutely no conflict), the localities would be operating as participants in the market. As a result, the FAA would not preempt SB1384 under the market participant exception for preemption. Overall, it seems that SB1384 would increase awareness and transparency and debate regarding the use of arbitration, all of which would be valuable in mind. By increasing awareness of the use of arbitration, SB1384 can help advance party autonomy, the central value of the FAA. Thank you for your consideration. Professor Imre Stephen Szalai Judge John D. Wessel Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Last Name: Hodges Locality: Henrico

S.B. 1384 - The Federal Arbitration Act and Preemption Submitted by: Ann C. Hodges, Professor of Law Emerita, University of Richmond and Visiting Professor of Law, University of Virginia. As a law faculty member who has taught and written about arbitration for many years and served as an advocate in arbitration prior to joining the academy, it is my opinion that SB 1384, addressing procurement by localities, would not likely be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act. While the Supreme Court has held some state arbitration laws preempted by the FAA, S.B. 1384 differs significantly from those laws. The law does not disfavor arbitration agreements in either their enforcement or their formation as compared to other contracts, the concern recently articulated by the Supreme Court Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, 137 S.Ct. 1421 (2017), which concluded that the FAA preempted a Kentucky law. The FAA was enacted by Congress to make arbitration agreements enforceable on the same grounds as other contracts. 9 U.S.C. §2. In Kindred Nursing Center, the Court concluded that the FAA preempted state law requiring a power of attorney to specifically authorize the representative to agree to arbitration in order for an arbitration agreement to be valid. The Court decided that the FAA preempts state laws interfering with formation of arbitration agreements, as well as those restricting enforcement. In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011), the Court invalidated a California law that prohibited enforcement of agreements banning class actions, holding that the law interfered with the FAA’s goal of ensuring enforcement of arbitration agreements according to their terms. These two cases, among others, make clear that states cannot target arbitration with laws that obstruct the formation or enforcement of arbitration agreements. S.B. 1384 does neither. The law does not affect any locality’s ability to enter into an arbitration agreement nor does it limit any employer that desires to mandate that its employees arbitrate their legal claims against the employer. The law simply permits localities to require disclosure of pre-dispute arbitration provisions, and certain information about the use of those provisions, as part of the procurement process. This disclosure in no way impairs arbitration requirements, which remain enforceable unless they are invalidated on other grounds as provided in the FAA. The locality is free to use the information disclosed about arbitration in any way it chooses. While some localities may be reluctant to enter into contracts with businesses using mandatory arbitration for reasons articulated by critics of the practice, this legislation would also allow a locality to prefer businesses that use mandatory arbitration if the locality believes it would be beneficial to do so. In addition, localities are completely free not to ask about arbitration at all. As a result, S.B. 1384 is simply not the sort of law disfavoring arbitration that the Supreme Court has invalidated. A further reason that the law is not preempted is that localities employing the disclosure requirements would be acting as market participants rather than regulators. Accordingly the “market participant exception” to preemption would apply. As others have addressed this issue, I will only add that I agree with the analysis.

Last Name: Gilbride Organization: Public Justice Locality: Washington DC

I am a senior staff attorney with Public Justice and have litigated dozens of cases involving forced arbitration provisions, many of those focusing on the issue of Federal Arbitration Act preemption. I have also spoken on the topic of whether particular proposed state legislation is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act before the legislatures of New York, California and Maryland. Public Justice supports SB1384, which will empower localities throughout Virginia by allowing them to gather the same information about companies that use forced arbitration that is already in the public domain with respect to companies whose employment and civil rights disputes are litigated in open court. When localities enter into contracts, they should have full information about the business records of their potential contracting partners, and this legislation will provide that much-needed transparency. Because the localities will be operating as market participants, not as regulators imposing restrictions on arbitration, the bill does not raise concerns about preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act. A more extensive discussion of the market participant doctrine and how it interacts with FAA preemption can be found in our full testimony here: http://bit.ly/Gilbride_PublicJustice_SB1384

Last Name: Johnson Organization: National Women's Law Center Locality: Silver Spring, MD

Andrea Johnson, Director of State Policy, National Women’s Law Center writing in support of SB 1384. This is an important issue for us because forced arbitration is too often used as a tool to cover up sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and to prevent survivors from seeking justice and being made whole for their injury. In arbitration, survivors stories remain secret and they are often forbidden by nondisclosure clauses from sharing their experiences. The Virginia legislature has already recognized the importance of not silencing survivors by passing legislation in 2019 to prohibit employers from using NDAs in employment contracts to silence survivors of sexual assault. This too, is an important measure to ensure survivors have a voice and get can justice. This legislation doesn’t prohibit the use of forced arbitration, but we think it takes a really important step towards ending the abusive use of forced arbitration by increasing transparency around businesses’ use of forced arbitration

Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

Last Name: Gilbride Organization: Public Justice Locality: WASHINGTON, DC

Public Justice is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that brings high-impact litigation to protect the Earth's sustainability and combat corporate and governmental abuses. Public Justice attorneys, including me, have litigated hundreds of cases involving forced arbitration provisions and are very familiar with this area of law. Public Justice supports SB1384, which will empower localities in Virginia by allowing them to gather the same information about companies that use forced arbitration that is already in the public domain with respect to companies whose employment and civil rights disputes are litigated in open court. When localities enter into contracts, they should have full information about the business records of their potential contracting partners, and this legislation will provide that much-needed transparency. Because participating localities will be operating as market participants, not as regulators imposing restrictions on arbitration, the bill does not raise concerns about federal preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act. A more extensive discussion of the market participant doctrine and how it interacts with FAA preemption can be found in our full testimony here: http://bit.ly/Gilbride_PublicJustice_SB1384 I urge a yes vote on SB1384. It doesn’t interfere with existing arbitration agreements or prevent new ones from being formed. It just allows localities who want to know more to ask some basic questions about how arbitration works. And if forced arbitration is as fair as its proponents claim, there shouldn’t be anything to hide.

Last Name: Baran Organization: National Employment Law Project Locality: Long Island City, NY

My name is Hugh Baran, and I am a Senior Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow at the National Employment Law Project (NELP)—a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy organization specializing in a range of employment policy issues. NELP submits this testimony in support of S.B. 1384, which would empower localities in Virginia to seek disclosure about bidders’ use of forced arbitration requirements. A more detailed version of NELP’s testimony supporting S.B. 1384, as previously submitted to the Virginia State Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee, is available here: https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/NELP-Testimony-Hugh-Baran-Senate-Laws-Committee-2021.pdf Forced arbitration requirements deny workers the right to go before a judge and jury when their employer breaks the law. Making matters even worse, class/collective action waivers incorporated into these requirements prevent employees from banding together to challenge employer lawbreaking. A recent NELP report showed that in 2019, forced arbitration enabled employers to steal $12.6 billion in wages from over 6 million low-paid private-sector workers in the U.S.. Relying on the same methodology, we find that forced arbitration enabled employers to steal $296 million in wages from low-paid private-sector workers in Virginia. In addition to facilitating wage theft, forced arbitration is also used to cover up cases of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other employment law violations. S.B. 1384 would give localities the ability to require bidders to disclose information regarding the use of forced arbitration in employment, civil rights, and consumer disputes, for procurement solicitations or contracts. S.B. 1384 does not require any locality to seek such information, but simply enables them to do so. S.B. 1384 advances localities’ interests in the efficient procurement of needed goods and services, insofar as these disclosures will allow the locality to determine bidder responsibility. A business’s record of compliance with workplace laws is an important, and indeed appropriate, criteria for determining a bidder’s responsibility. But forced arbitration obscures evidence of noncompliance, as arbitral proceedings are generally conducted in secret and behind closed doors. With the disclosures required by S.B. 1384, the locality will have a more complete and accurate picture of the bidder’s compliance with workplace laws. This will empower the locality to make responsible contracting decisions, including by avoiding bidders who may be covering up cases of wage theft, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and more. A more detailed version of NELP’s testimony supporting S.B. 1384, as previously submitted to the Virginia State Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee, is available here: https://www.nelp.org/wp-content/uploads/NELP-Testimony-Hugh-Baran-Senate-Laws-Committee-2021.pdf Thank you for the opportunity to submit these written comments.

Last Name: Strandlie Organization: Impact Project Locality: Fairfax County

Dear Chairman Carr and Subcommittee Members, I am writing to endorse SB 1384, the Local Procurement Transparency Act. As a representative for the Impact Project, we join a group of organizations, the Virginia Fair Arbitration Coalition, that supports the bill. Our Coalition includes Virginia organizations and national organizations with Virginia members: the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the Reserve Officers Association, Virginia Employment Lawyers Association, National Women’s Law Center, Legal Aid Justice Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Employment Law Project, and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. In addition to the Coalition, the Fairfax County School Board has this policy in its legislative agenda. Recently, certain FCPS vendors began imposing forced arbitration against families as a condition to pay online for school lunches, prom tickets, yearbooks, PE lockers, and more. SB 1384 will allow participating localities to ask bidders or offerors if they use forced arbitration in employment and civil rights disputes and certain online payment systems. Forced arbitration is when companies require employees or customers to “agree” to secretive, pre-dispute arbitration as a condition of using a product or keeping a job—before a dispute arises. Companies using forced arbitration might appear to be good candidates for a contract on paper but may be rife with unknown problems—like sexual harassment, discrimination, labor abuses, and service failures—that would undermine their contract performance. As more and more companies adopt forced arbitration clauses that require disputes to be resolved by a secret tribunal, public bodies in Virginia receive less and less information about potential contractors. SB 1384 will provide transparency for making the best contracting decisions using taxpayer dollars. Not only are sexual harassment, discrimination, wage theft, and other illegal practices harmful to Virginians, but there also is a wealth of evidence that businesses that violate the law also provide substandard work—often at higher cost. According to NELP’s 2020 ground-breaking study, forced arbitration has enabled Virginia employers to steal $296 million in wages from workers in low-wage jobs. In recent years, and even in recent months, companies have recognized that forced arbitration, while legal, is not good for business. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Wells Fargo have dropped provisions in employment disputes. Wells Fargo stopped using forced arbitration in sexual harassment and discrimination cases. “Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration” was formed after more than 20,000 Google employees staged a walk-out over such practices that were hiding sexual harassment. Regarding Virginia-based businesses, after studying the issue, Cong. Don Beyer in 2014 ensured that Beyer Automotive no longer used forced arbitration and he has since become a champion in banning the practice. Finally, I want to emphasize that SB 1384 is (1) optional and (2) does not ban forced arbitration. This bill provides transparency in contracting through disclosure and falls fully within the market participant exception to any federal preemption of state law by the Federal Arbitration Act. For more information, talking points and a bill summary are posted here: https://bit.ly/SB1384TalkingPoints https://bit.ly/SB1384_Summary Thank you for your consideration.

SB1389 - Real property; required disclosures for buyer to exercise due diligence, flood risk report.
Last Name: loveawake.ru Organization: loveawake.ru Locality: Auckland

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SB1406 - Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, penalties.
Last Name: Shell Locality: North Dinwiddie

Legalize Cannabis for the Common Good of the Commonwealth I know this wont get read, but I am going to give this a shot. This legislation is life and death for me. I’m writing to urge you to reach a speedy compromise and present the conference report for SB1406 and HB2312. I greatly appreciate your many, many hours of work dedicated to equitable cannabis legalization this session. However, it should be PROHIBITED FOR YOU to criminalize what can be for some, a means of life and death. I am a medical marijuana patient and without cannabis, I could not function. At all. In 2015, I was diagnosed with severe chronic hemiplegic migraine, a debilitating neurological disorder that effects every part of my body, every day for the rest of my life. Constant pain, seeing spots, muscle twitches, paralysis, aphasia, extreme light sensitivity, seizures, unconsciousness, headache, vomiting, you name it. I was bed ridden, unable to work or do the simplest things. After contemplating suicide, and before acting on those thoughts, I found cannabis. Cannabis did not cure my disability, however, it makes life with my disability possible. My neurologist cannot explain it and is the one that sent me to get the medical card after trying so many medicines that didn't work. I know without cannabis I would be dead, if not by my own hand, by this disability that steals my quality of life. The scary thing is... I know I am not the only one who this plant is the only thing that works for them. Because of this, and really so much more, WE MUST END CANNABIS PROHIBITION. Not only are you prohibiting medicine from your constituents, you are withholding a sustainable future from them. I don't need to inform you of Virginia's history with hemp, you have done your research. You KNOW this, but I will remind you that you are withholding sustainable and affordable food, fiber, building materials, beauty products, animal feed/bedding, fuel, clothing, PLASTIC REPLACEMENT & PAPER REPLACEMENT. Why?? Getting high is NOT a good enough reason for prohibition. Especially when you have legalized atrocious alcohols and opiates which effect a person so much worse than cannabis ever has. LEGALIZE CANNABIS. LEGALIZE HOME GROW. NO CORPORATE CANNABIS. We don't want the government growing for us, they have failed in enough areas. Virginians should be allowed to cultivate at their home, as much cannabis as they want, however they want, whenever they want, without fear of persecution or inspection. If they want 1% THC or 40% THC is up to them and is their business. HANDS OFF OUR HEMP! Do Not Put Your Unwarranted Restrictions Upon It. This Plant Is Just As Harmful As a Tomato Plant. Please use state resources and time for real crime, with real victims. Your Prohibition on Cannabis created the crime. Sick and Tired of your BS, CShell

Last Name: Max Siegel Locality: Chesapeake

Free the non violent prisoners and end the cruel prohibition.

Last Name: Stiell Locality: Richmond, Virginia

This bill is following a great trend set by other states to legalize and decriminalize marijuana. The harm to several communities as a result of a minor drug conviction is irreparable. This bill allows the mending of communities and livelihoods for people of color, through the expungement of these misdemeanors. This, although it does not solve all problems, begins to address the issue of black and brown communities being over-policed for drug-related crimes. With this said, I believe there is still the need to address what will be done once marijuana is legalized? How will we work to ensure that black and brown communities are not disproportionately targeted and fined? How can we ensure that the cycle will not continue?

Last Name: Cook Locality: Fairfax

Firstly, I would like to comment that this bill is a monumental step in the right direction. For so long, communities in the commonwealth have long been affected by unjust marijuana laws. The actions from this bill will expunge a huge weight off the shoulders of every community in the commonwealth. However, one community still is in a tremendous amount of pain from these laws - this community is the inmates held in captivity. The bill explains the implications for those who have been imprisoned by marijuana laws. However, many inmates have been charged with marijuana-related charges in addition to other violent crimes. Would the years of imprisonment be altered to ensure that the years that are intended to be served for the marijuana charges that are expunged are not counted with the years already served? For example, if someone has been sentenced to 13 years in prison - three of which are for marijuana charges and the other ten for something else. And this prisoner has served seven years, meaning they would have six years remaining. Would the three years be removed to lower the number of years needed to be served to 3 or would it be counted to the years already served?

Last Name: Rockswold Organization: General medical community Locality: SUFFOLK

I have been a physician for 33 years. I am a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and board certified in both Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine. I am working full-time addressing the public health impacts of COVID-19. During my day off, I have come to understand that legalization of marijuana is being considered by the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is a serious knowledge gap between popular belief and scientific reality. While the public view of marijuana has become more benign over the last 10 years, the medical and scientific literature tell a much different story, especially when it comes to teens and young people, with addiction, dependence, gateway drug to opioids, mental disease, respiratory condition, motor vehicle accidents and risky behaviors being just a few of the negative effects. There is NO time is right to legalize marijuana. The cost of weed is TOO HIGH. According to Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, setting up the infrastructure to facilitate the legal sale of marijuana would cost Virginia from $8 million to $20 million upfront.[1] With nearly 800,000 Virginians filing unemployment in just four months during the pandemic in 2020, this kind of tax spending is irresponsible.[2] Virginia has already cut mental healthcare funding since the beginning of the pandemic, though mental health issues are expected to rise as the pandemic continues.[3] Marijuana is known to make users more susceptible to increased schizophrenia, psychosis, depression and suicide.[4] Marijuana use can contribute to respiratory complications such as bronchitis, which would make COVID-19 more dangerous for those who smoke marijuana.[5] Marijuana legalization is known to cause increases in motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities, which would extract emergency medical resources away from COVID-19 victims.[6] The socioeconomically disadvantaged were already at an increased risk for psychiatric disorders before the pandemic, and they have been the most affected by it.[7] Just like with alcohol and gambling, it is the poor who will suffer disproportionately. [1] Key Considerations for Marijuana Legalization (p. 5, Rep.). (2020). VA: Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. doi:http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/presentations/Rpt542Pres.pdf [2] COVID-19 IN VIRGINIA: ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT (p. 13, Rep.). (2020). VA: Virginia Economic Development Partnership. doi:https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.goveda.org/resource/resmgr/covid-190/C19_Impact_Briefing_-06-08_V.pdf [3] Magoon, C., MD, Lieberman, J. A., MD, & Rosenberg, L., MSW. (2020, November 16). Preparing for the Mental Health Repercussions of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/preparing-mental-health-repercussions-covid19-pandemic [4] Avery, J. A. (2020). Marijuana: An honest look at the world's most misunderstood weed. Bristol, Tennessee: Christian Medical & Dental Associations. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid. [7] Magoon, C., MD, Lieberman, J. A., MD, & Rosenberg, L., MSW. (2020, November 16). Preparing for the Mental Health Repercussions of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/preparing-mental-health-repercussions-covid19-pandemic

Last Name: Doran Locality: Richmond, Virginia

This bill provides a much needed step in the right direction for the decriminalization of marijuana, but there does seem to be an issue with the charing of 18-21 year olds with an ounce or less of cannabis. Previously, there was a $25 civil fine but there has been discussion of increasing that to a criminal charge, including rehab. What is the logic or need to increase the penalty from a fine to a criminal charge? Also, seeing how previous cannabis laws disproportionately harm communities of color, the possibility of youth who live in marginalized communities before over-policed will not be out of the question. This could lead to an increase of criminal cases against people of color, circling right back to the issue we have at hand where laws are being unequally enforced. Will this bill hold law enforcement accountable so that similar trends do not repeat themselves? Are there other options for penalties that wouldn't include criminal charges?

Last Name: Crozier Organization: Community Coalitions of Virginia (CCoVA) & VA Allies Evaluating Drug Legislation Locality: Virginia Beach

I’m concerned that the General Assembly is moving too quickly to pass legislation to legalize the commercial marijuana industry. SB1406, if passed, will have a huge negative impact on Virginia Beach tourism and quality of life. Some negative consequences for property owners, rental agents and the hotel/motel industry are: impact on property values, guest misbehavior because of mind altering effects of cannabis may endanger others and create a negative atmosphere for other guests/tourists, marijuana smoking in units may generate noxious odors causing complaints, hash oil explosions/fires may cause property damage and risks to guest safety, odor permeates drywall requiring expensive renovation/remediation between long term renters/guests, the need for policy/protocol changes and staff training, and illegal marijuana growers may rent housing causing numerous problems for owners such as property damage, neighbor trafficking, and stealing electricity from the power company by bypassing meters all of which may leave owners liable. The big marijuana corporations’ profit by increasing use of the drug, driving up THC (the main psychoactive ingredient) potency and marketing its products in kid-friendly ways on billboards and social media advertisements and in stores (like those in hash-derived CBD stores that are prolific in Virginia Beach). Although marijuana may seem like a low risk, accepted drug, it’s actually risky with many unintended consequences. Here’s a quick list of issues regarding marijuana: • Smoking & vaping marijuana increases risk for negative outcomes from Covid-19. • If adult use is legalized, marijuana availability and access will expand, increasing youth & adult use. • Only 15 states plus Washington, DC have legalized adult use and “medical” marijuana; not the majority of states. • The most abused legal drugs by youth and adults, alcohol & tobacco, are state controlled. • Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug by youth; the pandemic has led to even greater use of marijuana. • Research based federal guidelines list marijuana as a DEA, Schedule 1 drug. • Marijuana’s THC potency has drastically increased over the decades. • Negative risks include: cognitive & motor impairment, poor decision making, academic underachievement, heart & lung problems, exposure to contaminants when vaped, pediatric poisonings & deaths, car crashes, workplace accidents, gateway behavior, continued illicit trafficking, dependence, & addiction. • Any state revenue from legalized marijuana sales will be outweighed by the cost from its negative impact on public and highway safety, the workplace, law enforcement, the health care system, and natural resources. The result of this will be increased youth and young adult use, increased exposure to minors and subsequent hospitalizations, more issues with substance abuse and mental illness, and more impaired drivers on our roads causing fatal car crashes. We need to prevent the marijuana industry and Altria lobbyists from steamrolling Virginia; vote no on SB1406. Thank you.

Last Name: Childress Locality: Salisbury

This bill highlights the fact that the actions mentioned will go into effect as soon as the bill has passed, including working towards freeing those incarcerated for marijuana charges. This is very impactful and has great potential. However, the longer this bill takes to pass, the more low income communities are targeted, resulting in more disproportionate arrests and prison sentences. What time line can the committee provide in terms of how quickly those imprisoned will be freed? In theory it sounds great to free everyone once this bill is passed, but what does this process really look like? Who will be freed first, how quickly does the committee truly expect these pardons to happen, and is there any expected resistance towards these people being freed?

Last Name: Moore Locality: Richmond

MARIJUANA PSYCHOSIS Coming to Virginia. At 21 years old my son smoked pot with a friend. Immediately following this he was found running in the middle Chippenham Parkway. Not understanding what had happened to him, two days later he tried marijuana again. This time he was hit by a car going 45 miles an hour. After being in the ICU, on a ventilator and having a tear in his aorta, he recovered and came home. The psychosis continued. Eventually he was arrested in GA going 140 mph and eluding police under a state of delayed psychosis from smoking pot. After NUMEROUS failed attempts to find him help, we found a rehab over 1000 miles away that would treat him for marijuana addiction and psychosis. He was diagnosed with pot psychosis, the pot had affected his brain. . A wise pediatrician once told us the brain develops into our twenties. You may be saying to yourself you’ve never heard of pot psychosis, I understand. Most people I talk to in Virginia say the same thing. BUT DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU CAN GET HELP FOR MARIJUANA ADDICTION, Colorado California and Oregon. That’s where you’ll find addiction support and Maranon meetings to help those affected by a love ones marijuana use. Marijuana use that often results in suicide and traffic fatalities. Please don’t let it be your child, your grandchildren or your niece and nephew that becomes a statistic of the commercial marijuana industry. Statistics that are growing exponentially in states that have legalized marijuana. KEEP YOUR LOVED ONES SAFE. Read the real outcomes coming out of places like Colorado. Listen to the doctors. Get the facts before it’s too late and your loved one is sitting in a rehab over 1000 miles away. At the least build the rehabs that treat marijuana addiction before you build the addicts. They’re going to need help. SCIENCE and FACTS ... FOLLOW THEM FYI currently my Son is off marijuana, Off all medication and doing well.

Last Name: O'Neill Locality: Henrico

As a person who served an eight year sentence for felony possession of marijuana, equity in legalization is at the forefront of my priorities. Directly impacted people should be given preferential access to the legal market and given access to assistance through tax revenue, as no reparations can truly heal or remove the trauma and suffering I like so many others have endured due to unjust laws, thousands of days spent in misery and isolation with limited opportunity for growth. We must use this opportunity to not just prevent future harm but to repair some harm caused in the past. Prohibition should end immediately before legal markets are set up, so that no more people suffer the trauma of being caged for possession of a plant.

Last Name: Flood Locality: Virginia Beach

Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts on the subject of cannabis legalization in our wonderful state. I applaud the progressive thought and attention that went into this bill especially considering the emphasis on restorative justice for those long affected by the discriminatory war on drugs. I write to you today to ask your consideration when moving forward with rules and laws on the personal home cultivation of cannabis. Firstly a consideration of the wonderful climate we have in VA that would allow I think for world quality cannabis to be grown here and put VA on the top of the east coast in terms of quality and esteem. Notably the house bill on this subject would restrict growing to indoors only which not only is incredibly capital intensive but cannot create the same quality of full term cannabis grown outdoors. Virginia was once the greatest producer of quality tobacco in the world and can, based on your influence, do the same for cannabis. Secondly I wish to address the issue of counting plants as a means of restricting the home grower as ineffectual and manipulates what could otherwise be as simple as planting tomatoes. The allowance of two mature and two immature cannabis plants does not acknowledge that cannabis is an annual crop when grown naturally. When these restrictions are placed on cannabis it forces those that choose to grow it to pursue other methods like indoor growing with energy inefficient lights in order to comply with the law while still producing cannabis for personal use. I ask today that you adjust the scope of the bill to allow up to four plants regardless of maturity and to reject the idea that cannabis would only be allowed legally to grow indoors. Thank you for your help in bringing the wonderful "terrior" of this wonderful state to the cannabis world and bring the state fully into the green revolution.

Last Name: Williams Locality: Richmond

On the subject of Home Cultivation, as a horticulturist I find some issues with the definition of "immature plant" when it comes to cannabis. Cannabis grows mainly as a male plant or a female plant, with the former being mostly useless when it comes CBD and THC production. The issue here is that while a cannabis plant is "immature," it is impossible to determine the sex of the plant. For that reason, I believe that the number of immature plants should be increased, or have it's definition modified to remove the under eight inches in height requirement, while adding a requirement that the plant doesn't yet show any signs of it's sex.

Last Name: Gilliam Locality: Virginia Beach

In favor of SB1406. This is long overdue. Respectfully. 25 Year retired Virginia Law Enforcement Officer.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: UFCW Local 400 Locality: Washington

I am here today on behalf of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Local 400. We represent over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million hard-working men and women who work in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our cannabis members work in multiple states in growing and cultivating facilities, manufacturing, and processing facilities, and in laboratories and dispensaries, including in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wherever cannabis is legalized, the UFCW is committed to building family sustaining jobs and a strong, diverse, and skilled workforce. We support the legalization of cannabis for adult use in Virginia with the addition of labor peace agreements as a condition of licensure and renewal along with language adopted in the House version of the bill by your ABC/Gaming Subcommittee. We hope that you will work with us to make sure the language your subcommittee added to the House bill to protect the voice of workers in this industry will stay in the final version that goes to the Governor. The change we recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B a new 18 between line 6489 and 6490: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. Add to 4.1-900 under 1 a new p between line 7287 and 7288: p. Has refused to (i) remain neutral regarding any union organizing efforts by employees, including card check recognition and union access to employees; (ii) ay employees prevailing wages as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor; (iii) classify no more than 10 percent of its workers as independent contractors; or (iv) failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.

Last Name: Patel Organization: PathogenDx Locality: Scottsdale, Arizona

Comments on S.B. 1406 Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, penalties. Submitted by: Milan Patel, Founder & CEO PathogenDx Thank you for the opportunity to comment on S.B. 1406, concerning the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult use. We appreciate the House General Laws Committee holding a public hearing on this important issue. While we strongly support the legalization of cannabis for adults, we believe there are some improvements that could be made to the mandatory testing requirements in § 4.1-1401. Recommendation: Add aspergillus to the list of harmful microbes that marijuana products must be tested for. Suggested language: B. Mandatory testing of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products under this section shall include testing for: 1. Residual solvents, poisons, and toxins; 2. Harmful chemicals; 3. Dangerous molds and mildew; 4. Harmful microbes, including but not limited to Escherichia coli, ASPERGILLUS, and Salmonella; 5. Pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides; and 6. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency, homogeneity, and cannabinoid profiles to ensure correct labeling. Reasoning: Aspergillus is a genus of mold that can be incredibly harmful for some consumers. Inhaling aspergillus can be fatal in immunocompromised people, and is the leading cause of infection-related death among people who receive a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, aspergillus is commonly found on marijuana flower sold on both the illicit market and in dispensaries. This has led regulators in many states to require testing for aspergillus. Most of those states forbid selling any product where aspergillus can be detected in a 1 gram sample, while some states allow a maximum of 1 CFU per gram. However, some states with marijuana programs do not include aspergillus on the list of required tests, exposing patients and consumers to greater risk. We hope that Virginia does not follow their example, but worry that regulators may not implement aspergillus testing if not required to by statute. Conclusion: To ensure that Virginia residents are protected from the harms of aspergillus, we respectfully request that aspergillus be added to the statutory list of mandatory tests. Thank you again for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like additional information. Milan Patel Founder & CEO PathogenDx https://pathogendx.com/ PathogenDx’s mission: To become the industry standard for DNA-based microbial testing technology in the cannabis, agriculture, food and beverage industries, promoting growing businesses, safer products and healthier lives.

SB1410 - Active military or a military spouse; prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, etc.
No Comments Available
SB1418 - Commonwealth's Development Opportunity Fund; grants, waiver or reduction of capital investment.
Last Name: Peoples Organization: Peoples Pharmacy Locality: Norfolk

HB 5002 Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs; Why is the bill only limited to all new capital outlay construction solicitations that are issued. How many Black women own construction companies? Why is it capped at 200K. I have an independent pharmacy in Norfolk Virginia and I have been waiting for this bill to come to committee. The bill has no bite. The state wasted money doing a diversity study , only to come up with this as a resolution. I have been consistently discriminated against in the state procurement process and I do not see where this bill is going to change anything. Dr. Anna Peoples

Last Name: Lamar Organization: Virginia's Technology Councils Locality: Chesterfield

Virginia's Technology Councils support SB1418. This initiative was included in the 2021 Policy Agenda endorsed by all of the regional technology councils including Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Innovation Collaborative Hampton Roads, NVTC, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, and RVATECH. Additional flexibility is needed for businesses seeking existing economic development grants and assistance, but whose capital investment is limited due to significant remote work. Allowing more flexibility in a rapidly changing office environment would increase our ability to grow businesses and create jobs in changing business models across Virginia.

SB1428 - Alcoholic beverage control; operation of government stores, sale of low alcohol beverage coolers.
Last Name: DiFranco Organization: Virginia Spirits Association Locality: Virginia Beach

Principle Advantage representing the Virginia Spirits Association submits the following comments on their behalf. Virginia Sprits Association understands that shelf space is a valued commodity in stores – especially during a time when ABC revenue is growing while other state revenue streams are on the decline. As the patron stated during the Senate Finance hearing, removing low-alcohol beverages (LABs) from the shelves of ABC stores would free up more space for the sale of spirits which are taxed at a much higher rate than LABs which are taxed at the much lower wine rate. If the intent of the SB1428 is to clear up a marketplace issue between the ABC authority and the wholesalers and retailers it regulates, then the bill MUST be amended. The current language of the bill only removes some LABs creating an inequitable carve out for others. As written, the bill removes 91% of the LABs sold in 2020 and its associated revenue to the Commonwealth and leaves behind a carve-out market for a small, select group of licensed distillers. We respectfully request that you OPPOSE SB1428 as written, and instead amend the language of the bill to remove and low alcohol beverage coolers produced by licensed distillers on lines 16-17, 112-113, and 208-209. Removing ALL LABs from ABC store shelves would establish a fair and consistent policy for all in the LAB marketplace. VSA thanks you for your consideration, and appreciates your past support of “cocktails-to-go”.

SB1429 - Southwestern Va. Mental Health Institute; Governor to lease a portion of property to Smyth County.
No Comments Available
SB1469 - Opioid Abatement Authority; established, Fund created, report, membership.
No Comments Available
SB1471 - Alcoholic beverage control; local special events license, taxes and fees.
No Comments Available
End of Comments