Final Week of 2024 Session

My first session has officially come to a close. It’s been a wild ride, but I’m grateful for my time here and for all of my constituents sending me here to represent you. Our final week focused on commending resolutions, conference reports, and the budget. Several of my bills passed the Senate and now await the Governor’s signature. We also had many extracurricular events, including the Speaker’s birthday and the annual House v. Senate basketball game. Let’s dive in!

To the Governor’s Desk!

All eight of my surviving bills passed the Senate! They will now go onto the Governor’s desk to be signed. Here is a quick review of what passed:

  • HB 407 makes it so that any family receiving assistance through Medicaid or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is automatically eligible for the Child Care Subsidy Program.

  • HB 558 creates a referendum measure that would make it so that spouses of deceased soldiers who died in the line of duty, rather than solely those who died in action, are eligible for real property tax exemption.

  • HB 855 expands applications to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to be open year-round, rather than just during one month.

  • HB 857 changes the period of limitations for the collection of court fines and costs from 30 years in general district courts and 60 years in circuit courts to 10 years in both.

  • HB 861 prohibits a person from knowingly bringing a gun into an emergency room.

  • HB 862 requires electric utilities to include in their Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) an assessment of grid-enhancing technologies and advanced conductors and, if applicable, why said technologies and conductors are not being implemented.

  • HB 896 makes it so that if a defendant’s sole source of income is social security, then they are not required to pay court fees.

  • HB 1458 creates the Office of Commonwealth Resilience to support the Chief Resilience Officer and address issues of environmental resilience within the Commonwealth.

A few  of my bills were featured in the news including this Virginia Mercury article about my LIHEAP bill, HB 855. If you’re interested in learning more about how this bill will have practical, tangible impacts on low-income Virginians, I highly recommend you check it out!

World Hearing Day

Much of my early activism was inspired by what I saw my sister experience as she navigated this world as deaf women. In honor of World Hearing Day, I gave speech on the House floor calling for legislators to do more for our hard of hearing community. The speech is in both English and American Sign Language. You can watch the full speech below!

Click this link to watch my speech in ASL!

More Legislative Successes

Besides the bills that I introduced, I co-patroned several bills that passed both chambers as well! Here are some of the highlights:

  • HB 48 (Del. Helmer) ends legacy admissions in Virginia. That means that college admissions will be based on merit, rather than where your family went. This bill passed both chambers unanimously.

  • HB 157 (Del. McClure), which incorporated my bill HB 866 and I chief co-patroned, finally ends the exemption that allows farm workers to be paid below minimum wage. Exempting farm workers from receiving minimum wage is a relic of the Jim Crow era and a long-standing violation of workers’ rights. I hope that Governor Youngkin will recognize the dire need to end this racist, outdated policy, and sign HB 157 into law.

  • HB 281 (Del. Reaser) allows localities to adopt ordinances to waive zoning requirements for child care day programs in office buildings. Essentially, this would allow office buildings to open up child care programs so that parents can get back to work without having to go through all the red tape. This is just one piece of a larger puzzle to help working parents.

  • HB 609 (Del. Price) establishes the right to obtain contraceptives. This is an important right to enshrine in our code as we navigate a post Roe v. Wade world and face attacks on reproductive freedom.

The Speaker’s Birthday

Tuesday was Speaker Don Scott’s birthday. We celebrated with a delicious breakfast and celebratory speeches on the House floor. I am grateful to serve under his leadership.

Commending Resolutions

Members of the General Assembly are given the opportunity to introduce commending and memorial resolutions, which honor the lives and accomplishments of outstanding community members, businesses, and organizations. This year, I chose fifteen to highlight the great work being done in Norfolk. 

  • HR 268 commends Kim Keene, a local artist and founder of Pink Paint, Inc.

  • HR 269 commends Jessica Burgess, M.D., a surgeon at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital who helped in aftermath of the tragic Virginia Beach Walmart shooting in 2022.

  • HR 274 commends Siren Skate Shop, a local skate shop opened by retired United States Navy veteran Michael C. Merritt in 2017.

  • HR 275 commends the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation, a group committed “to create an inclusive and resilient urban riverfront trail that connects and inspires people and businesses in the region.”

  • HR 279 commends the Bold Mariner Brewing Company, a veteran-owned taproom and restaurant that has been located in Ocean View for five years. 

  • HR 298 commends the Ocean View Advocates for Reproductive Rights, and non-partisan organization formed following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

  • HR 312 commends Xenia Clare, Mary Whitworth Calcott Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024.

  • HR 313  commends Melissa Marie Hales, a special education teacher at Crossroads School who was named Norfolk City Public Schools citywide Teacher of the Year in 2024.

  • HR 314  commends CarolAnn Curran, a teacher at Ocean View Elementary School who spearheaded a micro wind turbine initiative at her school.

  • HR 317  commends Titustown Civic League, a group dedicated to preserving the heritage and history of Titustown.

  • HR 318 commends Our Voices, an organization led by and comprised of people with developmental disabilities who live independently.

  • HR 362 commends the Elizabeth River Project, an organization incorporated in 1993 with a mission to restore the environmental health of the Elizabeth River

  • HR 379 commends Mudita Cafe and Bar, the first coffeehouse in Ocean View.

  • HR 380 commends the Ocean View Business Association, which supports and empowers local businesses.

  • HR 443 commends the Norfolk Botanical Garden, which celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2023.

House v. Senate Basketball Game

Every year, the House and Senate play basketball against one another to raise money for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. This year, we raised over $100,000! It was a nailbiter but ultimately, the House won our 10th consecutive trophy with a score of 14 to 12. I was happy attend a fun event for a great cause and support my team. Go House!

Meetings with the Community

Meetings have slowed down this week as most legislation has already been voted on. Still, I was happy to receive visits from a few different organizations, including Equality Virginia. In our meeting, they shared with me their legislative priorities and what we can do to show up for the LGBTQ+ community.

I also received a visit from local artist and legend Kim Keene. She brought me a painting that I commissioned for my office, and I’m so excited to have a piece of Norfolk with me in Richmond.

Keeping in touch

With session coming to an end, my updates will slow down, but I will always be available to my constituents. If you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance with an issue, please feel free to reach out to me by phone at (804) 698 – 1094 or via email at 

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your delegate. This has been an amazing first session and I am so grateful to be able to serve the people of the 94th District in Richmond. I look forward to coming back next year and, in the meantime, I’ll see you all in Norfolk!


Phil Hernandez