2024 Session Week One

On Wednesday, the General Assembly convened for our 2024 legislative session. My staff and I arrived a few days early, eager to get started. A lot has already happened since.

Congratulating the newly elected Speaker Don Scott.

Several elected officials from around the Commonwealth came to watch history in the making. This included Daun Hester, Norfolk City Treasurer, and Mayor Kenny Alexander, who previously served in the House of Delegates.

From left to right: Delegate Alex Askew (HD-95), Delegate Jackie Glass (HD-93), Mayor Kenny Alexander, myself, and Delegate Bonita Anthony (HD-92).
A selfie with Daun Hester.

Importantly, I also took my own oath of office to faithfully defend the constitution of the United States and Virginia.

Committee Assignments

We now have committee assignments! I was placed on three committees that oversee key legislation that’s important both to Norfolk and the Commonwealth.

First, I was appointed to the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. Lots of environmental legislation runs through this committee and I’m looking forward to protecting the Bay, which is a vital natural resource for Norfolk and the 757.

The Finance Committee is where tax policy is handled and I will be fighting to create a tax code that works better for working class families in Norfolk and Virginia. The policy choices here have broad impacts on priorities like funding for education, child care, transportation, and housing.

Finally, I will be serving on Courts of Justice. As an attorney, I welcomed the opportunity to join this committee, as it touches on criminal justice reforms, judges and the courts, public safety, and civil rights. It’s the committee with the heaviest workload almost every session. 

The first meeting of Courts of Justice.

Our Bills

This session, I’m carrying 14 bills (with a few more to come) touching on a variety of issues that are important to our region. I’ll highlight just a few here: 

House Bill 386 would support the mental and physical health of K-12 students here in the Commonwealth. The bill increases the number of support staff in Virginia’s public schools. Support staff include social workers, school psychologists, and nurses among others. Currently, there are only 3 support staff for every 1,000 students. HB 386 raises this number to 4, which is the number recommended by the Virginia Department of Education.

House Bills 407 and 408 are both a part of my mission to expand access to affordable childcare through the Child Care Subsidy Program. HB 407 streamlines the application process for families to access child care assistance. The context behind my second bill, HB 408, is that VA has a shortage of 140,000+ child care slots. That leads to long wait-lists and families not getting care. The bill aims to create more slots by simplifying how child care providers are reimbursed via the Child Care Subsidy Program, thus encouraging more providers to participate.

House Bill 861 is about keeping health care workers safe. In recent years, healthcare workers have experienced a surge in violence and threats made against them. In partnership with Sentara Hospital, I introduced HB 861 to protect our healthcare workforce. This bill would prohibit knowingly carrying a firearm into emergency rooms and hospitals. No one deserves to face violence at work, least of all those tasked with taking care of our sick and injured.

Finally, if my House Bill 558 passes, voters in Nov. 2024 will decide whether to expand the property tax exemption to surviving spouses of soldiers who died in the line of duty. I’m proud to carry this legislation, as Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base & Hampton Roads has so many who have served this country in uniform.

Our Team is Growing!

I’m thrilled to announce the expansion of our legislative team, and I’m honored to have a team led by a group of incredible women with diverse backgrounds.

You may remember Dyvina, my Field Director from the campaign; she’s now standing beside me, continuing the fight for HD94. 

I would like to introduce Julie O’Brien, who’s been an integral part of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus since 2017. Her extensive legislative experience will benefit our team.

Also, meet Aysha Vaughan, our Old Dominion Intern hailing from Chesapeake, Virginia. A junior studying Sociology and Children’s Rights, Aysha brings a fresh perspective and energy to the table.

From left to right: Aysha Vaughan, Dyvina Beck, and Julie O’Brien.

What’s Happening

A visit with Students Demand Action from Booker T. Washington High School.

Keeping Virginia Moving Forward: a press conference with the Democratic House Caucus.

A Virginia Latino Caucus event at Casa Fiesta in Richmond.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your delegate. Stay tuned for updates from week two of session!


Phil Hernandez