2024 Session Week Four

It was a whirlwind week in Richmond. All told, I advanced six of my bills in committee (not too shabby for a freshman!), met with several visitors from the 94th district as well as from around the Commonwealth, and had the honor to speak at the 2024 Resilience Reception. Let’s get into the updates!

Phil’s Bills

Our team had a banner week, moving a half dozen bills forward in committee:

On Monday, HB 896 passed out of the Courts of Justice Civil Subcommittee with bipartisan support! This bill states that if a person’s sole source of income is Social Security, then they are not required to pay court fees because that income is supposed to be used for the necessities of life, including housing, food, etc. This bill was designed to make Virginia’s law conform to federal law. 

On Tuesday, I presented HB 558 to the Privileges and Elections Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. Current law says that surviving spouses of veterans who were killed in action are exempt from paying property taxes. However, “ killed in action” is a very narrow definition. The constitutional amendment would expand this exemption and include spouses of all veterans who died in the line of duty. And my bill, if ultimately signed into law, will put this issue on the November ballot for voters to decide. 

Check out my bill presentation here!

HB 855 is legislation designed to help more families receive assistance with their heating and cooling bills. Specifically, the bill would allow families to apply to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) all year round. Under current law, application windows can be heartbreakingly brief. I am very excited to have widespread support stakeholders on all sides of this issue – Virginia Poverty Law Center and several utility companies all testified in support on Thursday. The bill passed out of Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Social Services unanimously!

Next, HB 862 passed out of full Labor & Commerce Committee with bipartisan support. This is a bill designed to help maximize the efficiency, capacity, and reliability of our electrical grid. It calls on utilities to consider grid-enhancing technologies when they are submitting their integrated resource plans (IRPs) to the State Corporation Commission. This will also help us incorporate more clean energy in the future.

My flood risk disclosure bill, HB 863, was carried into 2025. I plan to send a letter to the Housing Commission to request that they collaborate with all stakeholders involved to make recommendations on how we can move forward with this legislation next session.

Presenting HB 863 to the General Laws Subcommittee on Housing & Consumer Protection.

HB 861, my bill to protect healthcare workers by banning firearms and other dangerous weapons in hospitals, passed out of the Public Safety Firearms Subcommittee. We had incredible testimony from Dr. Jessica Burgess, who explained why the General Assembly needs to step up and protect front line healthcare workers from the threat of gun violence.  

Finally, on Friday, I presented HB 857, which is meant to keep people from falling into a cycle of poverty because of court debt. Under current law, the statutes of limitations for such debt,  like fines and fees, can last up to 60 years. This is especially challenging for low-income families already struggling to make ends meet. My bill reduces the time period for collection to 10 years, which is better aligned with the approach taken in other states.

Resilience Reception

I was honored to be invited to speak at this year’s Resilience Reception hosted by a broad network of environmental groups. Jay Ford of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation introduced me to the stage and I spoke on the importance of environmental resilience, especially in connection with the Hamptons Roads area. 

A photo taken following remarks from me and Matt Wells, Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation

Visitors from the 757

As is true every week, I was joined by visitors from the 757.

I met with the Virginia Association for Parks and the 94th districts very own Dr. Bob Baxter. 

More Meetings

I met with my good friend Thomas Calhoun and AFL

Virginia Community Healthcare Association

Me and Delegate Askew speaking with Old Dominion students for ODU Advocacy Day

I met with Autism Virginia Affiliates

It was great seeing Nick Jones and the Teamsters

I met with Equality Virginia

On Water Lobby Day I met with these bright students

I also met with some amazing EVMS students

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your delegate. Stay tuned for more updates!


Phil Hernandez