"I was humbled at the outpouring of support I received during my candidacy for the 79th district seat of the Virginia House of Delegates. Politicians are often on the wrong side of history; whether it be a failure to protect us against predatory tolls on our tunnels, cuts in state funding for our local schools, blocking working-class families from accessing healthcare, or eroding the voting rights of our elderly and disabled...enough is enough! I am here to stand up and fight for the residents of Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Chesapeake who deserve a voice in Richmond. I'm here to serve YOU."
Independent Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform
Citizens should pick their legislators and not the other way around. I ran for office on a promise to support non-partisan redistricting reform. In 2018, I introduced a constitutional amendment to do just that. I have stood up against both the Republicans and members of my own party who want to keep the corrupt practice of gerrymandering alive. In 2019, I filed HJ582 that would ban this corruption once and for all! We were able to pass one measure that session but we had to vote again in 2020 on the measure. There was a great pressure to reverse course under the new Democratic leadership. I and a few other strong Democrats stood up to all the outside pressure and kept our commitment to the voters who elected us. I am proud to report as a result on our stand YOU will have the opportunity to vote in November to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
Here is Delegate Heretick's floor speech during the 2018 Special Session on Redistricting:
Supporting First Responders
House Bill 438 is among the most important I have ever carried, and one of the most deeply meaningful for me. It ensures that our Virginia first responders, including all law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs, will finally be able to receive care for their job-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) under the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act. It’s been a long time coming and it’s long overdue. We ask these heroes to go out and risk their lives for us every hour of every day. In doing so, they are exposed to unforeseen dangers, both physical and emotional. While this legislation was effectively left for dead in a subcommittee, I would not give up on those men and women who do not give up on us. I am proud to report that as a result of action that the General Assembly took only yesterday, this bill will finally become law on July 1, 2020.
I was also proud to offer House Joint Resolution 42, a resolution establishing the “Honor and Sacrifice” Flag as the state emblem for honoring fallen public safety personnel. Much like the “Honor and Remember” Flag displayed to honor our fallen military personnel, this emblem will officially be authorized for display at state government buildings and other public areas as we remember and honor those who have given their lives in the line of duty here at home. This emblem was designed by one of our local residents, George Lutz of Chesapeake. This Resolution passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate!
I carried three bills related to emerging marijuana policy in Virginia. House Bill 265 decriminalizes marijuana for adults over 21, and makes possession for personal consumption a simple civil penalty. It will no longer be a crime. This bill was combined and passed with other legislation offered by the House Majority Leader, and will become law on July 1, 2020. House Bill 269 was my bill to legalize and regulate the manufacture and use of marijuana for adults over 21. While this effort was defeated, my companion bill, House Joint Resolution 130, seeking a comprehensive study of nationwide policies and best practices for marijuana legalization, was approved for a year-long comprehensive study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC). For the first time in our history, Virginia will be taking an objective look at the science, the law, and the future of marijuana policy. CLICK HERE to read more about our fight!
Meaningful criminal justice reform is a key issue in our urban areas, where community safety must be balanced with fairness in our justice process.
In 2020, I am proud to have carried three bills protecting our rights in reforming our criminal justice system. House Bill 266 would ensure that full restitution is required to be paid to the victims of crime, but would stop the accrual of excessive interest on court fines and costs. House Bill 267 would provide for the expungement of criminal records of those acquitted of a crime, so that innocent citizens can clear their names and protect their futures. House Bill 268 would allow victims of human trafficking to remove certain offenses relating to trafficking from their records. All three of these bills were advanced to the Virginia Crime Commission for further study and future legislation.(Read More)
Spam Telephone Calls
Like you, I’m fed up with unwanted spam calls interrupting my job and my family time at any time of the day or night. Most of these calls try to sell us things we don’t really want, but many more are intended to confuse and steal from our more vulnerable neighbors. To give the Attorney General additional tools to address this growing problem, and to give us all the right to fight back, I introduced House Bill 1244, the Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act, to target unsolicited commercial calls to our cell phones. This legislation alone won’t stop this practice, but it will give us new tools to inflict penalties on these companies who violate the law. This bill passed and will become law July 1, 2020.
Our region knows better than any what impact tolling on our essential tunnels, bridges, and roadways has on our communities. Since becoming a member of the General Assembly in 2016, I have introduced repeated legislative efforts to counteract the damage that tolling has done, focusing especially on the Downtown and Midtown tunnels between Portsmouth and Norfolk. This year I reintroduced House Bill 1243, which would force future projects to identify and inform localities of the potential impact public-private partnership deals may have on us. I also introduced House Joint Resolution 58, which render void as against public policy any state transportation contract allowing tolls to contain any provision limiting the state’s ability to build new tunnels or bridges or expand road capacity. Our localities must be protected in this process. I also introduced House Joint Resolution 101 which sought a study to reduce or eliminate the decades of tolls faced on the Downtown and Midtown Tunnels. Unfortunately, all three of these commonsense measures were defeated by the Assembly. We will continue this fight next year or as long as it takes (Read More)
Over the last three General Assembly sessions, progress has been made on broad-ranging economic development and revitalization efforts.
In 2020, I was promoted to Vice-Chair of the House Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee, and placed as Chairman of the statewide land use subcommittee. I was appointed Chairman of the House Labor and Commerce subcommittee on healthcare and insurance. I was also appointed Chairman of the House Finance subcommittee on state and local tax policy. In these positions, I am responsible for reviewing thousands of proposals and pieces of legislation that come before us. In every step of the way, I work to balance industry and worker protections, making sure we can both have a vibrant and expansive economy but also ensuring that every worker has decent pay, access to quality healthcare coverage, and is protected from injury.(Read More)
As part of our initiative to make Virginia a world leader in renewable energy and to help position our local economy for the opportunities brought by clean energy, I carried three bills to expand our use of solar energy in the Commonwealth of Virginia. House Bill 655 will streamline the process for setting up new solar facilities throughout the Commonwealth. House Bill 656 will establish objective statewide standards for safe solar facility operations to protect our consumers and industry workers. House Bill 657 directs localities to provide for renewal solar energy infrastructure in framing their comprehensive plans for future development. I am happy to report each of these pro-job and pro-environment bills passed and will become law July 1, 2020.