SB 893, being proposed by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), was officially filed for consideration Dec. 20. It would make it “unlawful for any licensed manufacturer, licensed importer or licensed dealer to sell, deliver or transfer any handgun to any person… unless the handgun is accompanied by a warning, in conspicuous and legible type in capital letters printed on a label affixed to the gun and on a separate sheet of paper included within the packaging enclosing the handgun, that handguns should be locked and kept away from children…”
The only exception in the bill is for firearms that are “accompanied by a locking mechanism,” though it also allows leeway for law enforcement and governmental agencies.
Howell and Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) co-hosted their annual Town Hall with locals Dec. 19, in an effort to hear citizens’ thoughts on issues they and other Virginia lawmakers are proposing. Among the issues discussed at the forum were rights for same-sex couples and former felons, and punishment for marijuana offenses.
This year’s 30-day session is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Jan. 11.
The Reston resident, who has served in Richmond since 1992, said in her newsletter to constituents that the diagnosis was “totally unexpected” and that she finished a course of radiation treatment last week.
The summer began with a totally unexpected diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer. A screening mammogram revealed an 8mm malignancy.
Biopsies, a lumpectomy and several weeks of radiation followed. The radiation was completed last week.
The treatments have totally discombobulated my schedule and I have missed many events I otherwise would have liked to attend! I am extremely grateful for the wonderful medical care I received from all the caring professionals at Kaiser Permanente. They assure me that my prognosis is excellent.
Howell, 71, has been an advocate for expanding Medicaid in Virginia. The Republican-led Virginia General Assembly has voted against the program that would provide coverage to thousands of low-income citizens, saying Virginia will end up having to pay for it eventually.
“From this experience I have become even more aware of how important it is for everyone to have health insurance,” she said. “Not having to worry about paying for the expensive treatment has been a blessing. I wish everyone were so fortunate. The cruelty of those who would deprive healthcare coverage to nearly 400,000 of their fellow Virginians is unfathomable to me.”
“This is especially true given that failure to expand Medicaid means turning back $5 million dollars of federal aid daily, damaging the viability of our hospitals, and spurning 30,000 well-paying healthcare jobs.”
Howell is running unopposed for re-election in November.
By Ryan Goff
Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) and Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) held their annual meeting with constituents Thursday night, where they discussed issues important to them and those that the public wants to see brought to attention in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session that begins Wednesday in Richmond.
The event drew several dozen residents to the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, where they listened to the legislators’ plans for the session, and were able to give feedback on several topics.
Among the topics discussed:
Gun Control — Plum advocated for “common-sense approaches” to gun safety, including the expansion of background checks to cover the “gun-show loophole,” in which gun buyers are able to bypass a background check by purchasing their firearm from an individual seller at a gun show.
Plum also addressed the challenges of passing bills regarding gun control.
“That whole arena of gun legislation is very controversial.” Plum said, “I will tell you that in the House there is a subcommittee that is made up of persons who have straight-A ratings by the NRA, and get all these bills, so it’s a hard climb to get these bills passed […] we need to bring pressure to say that we can protect people’s constitutional rights, but we can have common sense gun legislation.”
Several speakers from the community also voiced their support for Plum’s proposed gun safety measures.
Medicaid Expansion — Both Plum and Howell voiced their support for the expansion of Medicaid. Plum has drafted a bill allowing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to proceed with the expansion of Medicaid.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Virginians today without medical insurance because of the legislature’s inability to act.” Plum said, before urging the public to contact other legislators across the state about supporting this bill.
Gerrymandering — Plum voiced his concern about the way that legislative districts are drawn by legislators, calling it “a total conflict of interest.”
Plum has once again introduced a bill calling for a non-partisan organization to handle the redrawing of district boundaries.
Howell, the former chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee in the Senate, has introduced a similar bill.
“I have put in, like Ken has, a bill for non-partisan redistricting,” said Howell. “It was my misfortune during last redistricting to be chairing that committee in the Senate. Like Ken said, we have a lot of lawsuits, unfortunately not challenged, with the Senate redistricting. But I will tell you that process was horrible because we had to take all these political factors, and it was almost impossible to keep communities of interest together, and yet that is something we need to do.”