Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this message finds you safe and warm during some of the coldest days of the season! As we move quickly through the 2019 session, I wanted to provide you with a short update about the second week of our work here in Richmond:
➤ On Monday, I spoke at a press conference to announce my support for the REFUND Act, introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul, which would repeal the “Dominion Tax” and refund surplus Dominion Energy revenue back to the consumers. I am proud to be the Chief Co-Patron of this bill.
➤ I then led a meeting of the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy (VERE) Caucus, where representatives from Clean Virginia gave us a presentation on the REFUND Act and the need to repeal the “Dominion Tax.”
➤ Later that afternoon, I attended a meeting of the Northern Virginia Delegation to the General Assembly, where we received a briefing about critical transportation funding in the region.
➤ Tuesday morning, I was proud to be one of the featured speakers at the Democratic House Caucus’ 2019 Agenda press conference, where I spoke about our priorities for criminal justice reform—including our efforts to address bail reform and halt the school-to-prison pipeline.
I also spoke about my joint effort with the Governor’s office to pass legislation ending driver’s license suspensions for an inability to pay court fines or fees. This practice has evolved into a modern-day debtor's prison. We should not be criminalizing poverty in the Code of Virginia!
➤ On Wednesday, I testified before a Courts of Justice Subcommittee in support of my bill, HB 2392, to eliminate any instance in the Virginia Code that forces state and local law enforcement to assume the responsibility of reporting immigration status to federal authorities. Additionally, the bill would establish a uniform statewide policy against routinely asking victims and cooperating witnesses of crime about their immigration status.
Increasingly, there has been a chilling effect on New Americans reporting crime due to the fear that if they did, they or their loved ones would be caught up in the immigrant detention process. This has steadily eroded community-police relations, which makes everyone less safe. Moreover, bad actors prey on New American communities knowing that they would not be reported to the police.
Several immigration rights organizations sent representatives to testify in support of the bill, including New Virginia Majority, the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, CASA Virginia, Church World Service, and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Though the bill was not reported to the full committee—I was proud to have their support and we will keep fighting until this legislation becomes law!
➤ Thursday, I had the privilege to meet with several groups of constituents and advocates from the 49th District, including a group of friends and neighbors with Indivisible Arlington.
➤ I also met with a group of young Latina students with the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) to discuss my bill, HB 2388, which would expand in-state tuition access to undocumented students throughout the Commonwealth.
➤ Finally, I met with another group of friends and activists from the Arlington chapter of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), who spoke with me about the importance of criminal justice reform.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
➤ I announced my support for Green New Deal VA, a statewide campaign pushing for:
1. A just and equitable 100% renewables plan that leaves no workers or communities behind.
2. Direct large investments & job-training programs in renewables, building an energy efficient smart-grid, residential and commercial energy efficiency, and more.
3. Clean water and air for all Virginians.
4. Investments in local-scale agriculture in communities across Virginia.
➤ As Amazon Looms, Lopez Pushes for More State Money to Fund Affordable Housing Development, ARLnow
I've been very concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the region for many years. My legislation created the Virginia Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2013, which has already invested mmillions of dollars for affordable housing projects across Virginia—including over $1.4 million for projects in the 49th District.
But as the conversation around the incoming Amazon HQ2 project shows—our current investment has not been NEARLY enough to meet the need for affordable housing in the region.
That's why I've been pushing for a $50 million one-time increase in the Housing Trust Fund's budget—in addition to my bill to create a dedicated revenue source for the Fund, in order to provide it with a more stable source of funding moving forward.
Thank you to ARLnow for highlighting my work on this issue. This is a statewide problem with real consequences for our economy and for our quality of life. It's past time to make a serious investment in affordable housing in Virginia!
➤ ‘Raw political power:’ Virginia Republicans force issue of powerful judgeship, Washington Post
On Thursday, the General Assembly took the most important renewable energy vote of the session—the selection of a new State Corporation Commission (SCC) judge to complete the remaining year of the outgoing judge.
The Republicans forced the vote without giving the House sufficient time to look into her positions and writings on SCC issues—including utility regulation, banking, insurance, etc. Her positions on the Affordable Care Act, climate science, and same-sex marriage (to name just a few areas where there are questions) have a direct bearing on how she will rule on the SCC.
For an agency commonly referred to as the “fourth branch of government in Virginia” and the “most powerful state regulatory body in the nation,” this process deserved more deliberation and transparency.
Many of you may have begun to receive my 2019 Constituent Survey in the mail over the last few weeks. I send out this survey annually to get as wide a sample of opinions and perspectives as possible from folks all across my district on the issues that matter most to them. If you have not received a survey in the mail, or would prefer to submit your survey electronically, please visit the link here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
As always, it is an honor to serve as your Delegate to the General Assembly. If there is any way that my office may be helpful to you, please feel free to contact us by email atDelALopez@house.virginia.gov or by phone at (571) 336-2147. Additionally, you can always visit my website at www.alfonsolopez.org.
Member, 49th District
House of Delegates