August 20, 2021 Newsletter

August 20, 2021

Dear Friend,

I have some important updates to share with you. I have officially launched my annual VA-04 Photo Competition for 2021. I also want to inform you of important resources and changes to manage your Child Tax Credit payments and your social security benefits. Additionally, as hurricane season approaches, I am sharing some helpful information on how to handle power outages caused by extreme weather. Finally, as the new school year approaches, we must continue taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Annual Fourth Congressional District Photo Contest 

Do you have an interest in photography? Are you a resident of Virginia’s Fourth? If so, I encourage you to participate in my annual VA-04 Photo Contest that launched today and submit photos that capture the beauty of our district.

Our district, which spans from the Chesapeake Bay to the North Carolina border to the urban centers of Richmond and Petersburg, has so many unique vistas and landscapes. I am confident we will receive some outstanding and unique photos of our district, and I look forward to seeing your work!

For more information, including all rules and submission guidelines, please visit my website.

Child Tax Credit Website Update

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for monthly advance CTC payments, update their bank account information, and unenroll from receiving monthly advance payments, so they can receive a lump sum amount when they file their 2021 tax return.

The IRS has just announced they will be updating and supplementing this website, which will allow users to update their mailing address, edit the number of qualifying children, report a change in marital status, and report a change in income.

These added functions are expected to be added this month and will help simplify the process to update your account. 

Creating a My Social Security Account

Create a personal my Social Security account to have a safe, secure, and convenient method to conduct much of your Social Security business – pre- and post-entitlement – online. With a My Social Security account you can check your social security, check your earnings, and estimate your benefits. More information is available here.

Weather-Related Power Outages

As we begin to enter the height of hurricane season here in Virginia, power outages can happen seemingly all too frequently. I want to share some important resources and guidelines in case you lose power.

If your power goes out, you can report it online here or call it in at 866.366.4357. You can also check the status of your outage and expected repair timelines here.

If you see any downed lines, please inform Dominion, as they may be live and can be a truly dangerous hazard. You can report them by calling 866.366.4357. Be exceedingly careful if you see a downed line. Dominion advises to stay at least 30 feet away from downed lines – consider them energized and dangerous.

Additional guidance from Dominion below:

  • If a downed line presents clear and imminent danger to you, your property or to others, call 911 first.
  • Electricity travels; never touch a power line with any part of your body or with objects.
  • Electricity can move through conductive materials like water, metal, wood, aluminum, string, and plastics.
  • Keep away from heavily flooded and debris-laden areas; power lines could be buried underneath.
  • Protect your pets by keeping them as far away from lines as possible.
  • If someone makes contact with a downed power line, don't try to rescue them because you risk becoming a victim yourself. Call 911.

If a power line falls on your vehicle:

  • Stay inside the vehicle until help arrives.
  • Warn others not to touch the vehicle and have them call for help.
  • If you must leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. 
  • Don't touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time.

PAWS Act Passes U.S. Senate

I am happy to see the Senate has passed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veteran Therapy (PAWS) Act and look forward to President Biden signing it into law. I supported this bipartisan legislation to direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to initiate a pilot program on dog training therapy. The bill also authorizes the VA to expand eligibility for veterans and provide service dogs for those suffering from mental health issues. Current law only allows for service dogs to be provided by the VA to veterans struggling with mobility issues. My office, in its work with veterans, understands how important this could be for our veterans.

Schools Opening

Public schools around the Fourth Congressional District are beginning to open. I know this can be a stressful time, as COVID-19 cases rise and parents and school districts grapple with mask mandates and how to best keep their children healthy. Legislation that passed the General Assembly earlier this year requires schools to be open and says they must follow “to the maximum extent possible” the safety guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Governor Northam has said this legislation means that school districts should have universal masking. In addition, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics announced last week that all Virginia children, even those over 12 who have been vaccinated, should wear masks indoors, including at school.

Let’s work together towards a safe and healthy school year where our children can focus on learning and benefit from the other important aspects of being in the classroom, such as social and emotional experiences and growth. You can read more information here.