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Answers needed about vaccine rollout

The first full week of the General Assembly has come to an end, and I wanted to take just a moment to update you on what occurred last week in the House of Delegates.

I’ve heard from many of you that you’re frustrated with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Rest assured, you’re not alone. My colleagues have heard the same thing. We’re working to get more information as quickly as we can, and we’re putting pressure on the governor to come up with a plan that works.

Many of you have asked what’s gone wrong. As best we can tell at this time, the governor’s team decided to use the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and local health districts to administer the vaccine in many cases. That’s just not a workable solution — local health departments don’t have the manpower or expertise to vaccinate that many people quickly.

That’s why we’re calling on the governor to do two things: First, ship more vaccines to hospitals and other large health providers. They have the manpower and know-how to run large vaccination clinics. Second, we’re asking the governor to engage private sector expertise to help the process go faster.

The private sector understands complicated logistical challenges and solves them every day. The private sector knows how to do this. Governor Northam should ask them to help.

Our caucus met with the governor’s vaccine leadership team on Thursday to try to get more information about what’s slowing down the process. Unfortunately, what we received were excuses. Governor Northam can’t explain why other states are doing a better job getting shots out of freezers and into arms.

My office and I are keeping a close eye on the vaccination rollout and will keep you up to speed on new developments.  You can also checkout resources regarding the vaccine at the following website: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

On another front, I know many of you were frustrated with the way the 2020 Election was handled in Virginia, and in other states. A raft of changes made to election laws by Democrats in 2020 eroded the transparency in our system and left too many Virginians with less faith that our elections are free and fair.

Restoring confidence in our elections has been one of my biggest priorities this session. Working with my Republican colleagues, we have introduced legislation to require signature matching for those who cast absentee ballots. We’ve also put in bills that would bring back photo ID requirements for voting, and others that would make last minute instructions to registrars and other officials readily available to the public.

Other legislation we’ve put forward would put an end to late night absentee ballot “dumps” by counting those ballots ahead of time and reporting them in the precincts where they would have otherwise been cast. We’ve also put in legislation to require those ballots to be counted on video.

Democrats, unfortunately, have decided that there’s no room to improve our election laws, and are on track to kill all of these bills before they even make it to the floor for a vote. If they succeed, we will try again next year, hopefully with at least 51 Republican votes behind it.

The news on the public safety front isn’t much better. Democrats have filed their bill to remove mandatory minimum sentences for crimes ranging from drunken driving to the rape of a child. These sentences were put in place by the General Assembly for a reason — in some crimes, there must be a safeguard to ensure that these serious felonies receive adequate punishment.

Worse, this legislation would give many of these dangerous felons a chance to be re-sentenced. That would drag victims back before the courts for a second time, forcing them to relive the trauma they lived through, or to recount the loss of the loved one. I will oppose this bill.

We say it often, but it remains true: this is an unprecedented session of the General Assembly, and it presents unprecedented challenges. Nonetheless I remain committed to being your voice in Richmond

We appreciate all the calls and emails we have received and hope you will continue to reach out when we can be of assistance.  The best way to contact me is via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or by calling 804.698.1061.  You can also send mail to PO Box 1323, Victoria, Virginia 23974.

If you would like to view House Committee Meetings or House Floor Sessions you can do so at the this web address:  https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php