Opinion — We work for you

Published 10:02 am Friday, February 4, 2022

We’ve been hard at work for nearly three weeks now in the Virginia General Assembly, and we’ve already made huge strides for Virginia’s families. With the partnership of Governor Glenn Youngkin and his administration, and with hard work from people all over the Commonwealth, we’re putting decision-making power back in the hands of the people, where it belongs.

After a year of on-screen meetings and votes, the process is once again working as it should. We’re having robust, in-person debate in committee meetings and on the House floor, we’re taking into consideration input from stakeholders, we’re approaching each piece of legislation with careful and thorough deliberation, and we’re advancing policies that work for Virginia.

Meanwhile, we’re looking toward the Senate to make sure legislation that moves the Commonwealth forward is making its way to the Governor’s desk. With a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, that means putting politics aside, and putting voters first. We work for you.

We’re working to send the Senate legislation that restores public safety. For instance, H.B. 4, passed this week through the House Committee on Education, keeps students safe by restoring required reporting for violent, sexual, and other serious crimes in schools. Further, H.B. 833, which keeps communities safe by creating a mechanism to tackle gang violence in Virginia, has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

We’re also working with Governor Youngkin to bring a new round of education innovation to Virginia. Just yesterday the Governor announced his plan to create ‘lab schools’ in conjunction with our colleges and universities to develop new and better ways of teaching the next generation.

My Pre-Session Survey is still available for constituents. You can complete the survey online at vahouse.checkbox.com/fariss2022-legislative-survey. If you would like a copy mailed to you, please contact my District office at (434)821-5929 and my staff will assist. Please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey and forward to friends and family, as this helps me know what my constituents’ concerns are going into this years’ session.

If you’d like to view a complete list of legislation introduced or sponsored by me, feel free to follow this https://lis.virginia.gov/. You can also track other legislation in the General Assembly here.

Attorney General Jason Miyares has just released an opinion holding that colleges and universities do not have the power to require vaccinations as a prerequisite for attendance.

The new Attorney General’s opinion is surprising in its simplicity. The General Assembly has already laid out a set of vaccinations that are required for college students, and COVID-19 is not among them. Those vaccinations include diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles (rubeola), German measles (rubella), and mumps.

Said simply, short of action by the General Assembly, Virginia’s public colleges and universities may no longer require students to show proof of COVID vaccination as a condition of attending classes. We expect all of Virginia’s colleges and universities to comply with the new AG’s opinion immediately.

We concur with Governor Youngkin that the best way to avoid serious illness from COVID is vaccination, and we strongly encourage every Virginian to be vaccinated and boosted as appropriate as soon as possible.

The Governor of Virginia has broad emergency authority, and that’s how Governor Northam was able to issue an Executive Order to institute lock downs and school face mask mandates two years ago. Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order Two uses that same authority and reverses Northam’s school mask mandate, and specifically allows parents to opt-out of their child wearing a mask.

The Governor’s Office has established a line for individuals to reach out to with any questions or concerns regarding the new guidelines and other constituent issues to ensure that parents have clear resources and open lines of communication are available. The Governor’s Office established helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov as a resource for parents, teachers, and students to relay their concerns and ask questions.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.