The past two weeks in Richmond have been very busy as we continue to pass bills through the committee process to the House floor. This week, we achieved a landmark victory in the fight against the discrimination of LGBTQ people. Under current Virginia law, LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, or refused service at a restaurant, shop, or doctor’s office. I introduced HB 1663 to modernize existing laws to protect LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination in employment, housing, access to credit, and public accomodations. The bill passed the General Laws Committee 16-6, and will go to the Appropriations committee this week. I am proud of our Democratic majority for making the protection of LGBTQ rights a priority this session after years of Republican-controlled committees killing similar measures.
Additionally, the full House of Delegates unanimously passed three bills to make it easier for Virginians to exercise their constitutional right to vote. My bills, HB 238, 239, and 240 give Virginians more time to request and return absentee ballots, and give voters the option to fill out one application to receive a year’s worth of absentee ballots. There are multitudes of reasons why Virginians may need to vote early and it is critical we make the ballot box more accessible. These bills now head to the Senate for further consideration.
I am also carrying a bill to make it legal for Virginians to engage in sports betting through apps regulated by the Virginia Lottery. The bill, HB 896, allows betting on college and professional sports, but excludes betting on any competitions involving a Virginia based university. Almost all of the revenue will go to a fund that provides research grants to Virginia universities. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the House General Laws Committee and will continue moving through other committees this week.
With only one full week left until House bills are sent to the Senate (crossover), I am working hard to create meaningful change on important issues such as health care, gun safety, and climate change. I appreciate you taking the time to follow along with my updates from Richmond. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future with any questions, comments or concerns at DelMSickles@house.virginia.gov.