Press Club

Legislative Lookback: What Arlington’s State Senators Accomplished This Year

Arlington’s representatives in the Virginia State Senate worked on legislation addressing issues like healthcare, green energy, and teacher’s pay this year.

Three Democrats represent the county in the state Senate — Janet Howell, Barbara Favola, and Adam Ebbin. All of the senators are running for re-election this year.

Virginia’s 2019 legislative session lasted from January 9 to February 24. Here’s what each state Senator said were their biggest legislative accomplishments during that time. (We asked the same of Arlington’s House of Delegates delegation earlier this week.)

Sen. Adam Ebbin

Ebbin has served in the state senate for seven years, following eight years in the House of Delegates. He currently faces no Democratic challengers to his campaign for re-election.

The senator told ARLnow through a spokesman Wednesday he was “pleased to make progress” on legislation about “renewable energy, criminal justice reform, as well as career and technical education” during this year’s session:

SB1779 will permit localities to establish renewable energy net-metering programs. Net-metering can help counties, cities, and towns grow their local economy. Municipalities will save taxpayers’ money through developing and using green energy, generating savings that can be invested in local priorities such as schools, public safety, and infrastructure. […]

SB1612, which I have worked on for several years with Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) would have ended the suspension of driver’s licenses for court costs and fees. Though this bill died in the House, Governor Northam introduced a budget amendment to reinstate 627,000 Virginians licenses during our one-day veto session on April 3rd. Unwarranted license suspension disproportionately impacts economically-disadvantaged Virginians without making our communities safer.[…]

I was also able to pass SB1575, which allows college professors to teach dual-enrollment career and technical education courses without additional licensure. This will make it easier for school divisions to offer para-professional career preparation in cybersecurity, EMT and pharmaceutical technician certification. High school students will no longer have to travel to off-campus sites to earn credit towards education in specialized fields.

Sen. Barbara Favola

Favola was elected to the senate in 2011 after serving on the Arlington County Board for 14 years. This year, she faces a primary challenger in her campaign for reelection.

Local policy director and former Civic Federation leader Nicole Merlene announced a campaign for the senator’s seat in January, and promises “bold action” to tackle the region’s transportation and affordable housing challenges. Favola has countered by reminding voters of her “strong record of accomplishment.”

The senator told ARLnow that within her 2019 legislative record she’s most proud of the following bills signed into law:

Extending Child Care Subsidies. This bill and an accompanying appropriation extends child care subsidies for low-income women seeking to continue their education at a community college or institution of higher learning. It is critical that we fund initiatives to give individuals the tools to become self-sufficient and support their families.

Post Adoption Communication Agreements. This bill encourages JDR judges to make available post adoption communication agreements, if viewed to be in the best interests of the child. Studies show that some continued connection to birth parents can provide a positive impact on a youth’s development.

Human Trafficking Prevention Strategies in the Family Life Program. This bill directs the Department of Education to create a curriculum that addresses human trafficking prevention strategies in an age-appropriate way.  Peer support is an important element in assisting youth to come forward and alert adults about unusual or unhealthy behaviors.

Sen. Janet Howell

Howell has served in the senate since 1992 and is currently unopposed by Democrats in her bid for re-election this year.

Howell was the first woman to join the Senate Finance Committee, where she remains today. “As a result my greatest influence is on the budget,” Howell told ARLnow, adding:

This year I was able to get a 5% teacher pay raise starting in September. Also, I was able to raise funding available for permanent supportive housing to $17 million a year. My efforts led to a significant increase in funding for foster care services so we can reform the system.

At the request of Virginia Hospital Center, I was able to pass a bill to protect hospital employees from threats and verbal abuse.

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