August 6, 2021 Newsletter
As Congress begins its August recess, I wanted to inform you of the pivotal legislation I introduced / passed last month and how that will impact our district. This includes the passage of the ALLIES Act and the Afghans partners who have begun arriving at Fort Lee.
I also want to remind my constituents that we are entering hurricane season. For that reason, I’ve listed several important upcoming dates that you should be aware of and safety precautions for you and your loved ones.
Disabled Access Credit Expansion (DACE) Act – Aiding Small Businesses & Americans with Disabilities
I was pleased to introduce the bicameral Disabled Access Credit Expansion (DACE) Act, along with my colleagues Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-02) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to help small businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legislation provides expanded tax credits for small businesses to update their buildings and websites to increase access for people with disabilities.
This legislation is a win-win. It’s a win for small businesses and provides them with important resources to make it easier for them to provide necessary accommodations, which will also increase their customer base. It also ensures all Americans have the opportunity to access small businesses.
We have an absolute obligation to break down barriers and increase access for everyone. No one should be unable to access a business because of a disability. This legislation will help honor our commitment to fairness and justice for all. This expansion is overdue, but I am hopeful we can now make it law and help our small businesses and Americans with disabilities.
As I’m sure you know, we are in the midst of hurricane season and face the threat of severe storms. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure you had access to some helpful information in advance of any potential natural disasters. And please remember, should anything occur where a federal agency is needed or derelict, my office is here to help.
Here is a helpful guide prepared by the Commonwealth of Virginia on hurricane preparedness and evacuation procedures.
Here are some other suggestions from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management:
Prepare Your Home:
- Bring loose, lightweight objects such as patio furniture, garbage cans, and bicycles inside
- Anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside such as gas grills and propane tanks
- Trim or remove damaged tree and limbs that are close enough to fall on structures
- Secure loos rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property
- Purchase a portable generator or install a whole house generator for use during power outages
- Keep alternative power sources, such as a portable generator outside, at least 20 feet away from your house and make sure it is protected from moisture
- Document the condition of your home prior to the storm
Prepare Your Business:
- Document employee responsibilities and roles before a hurricane strikes and review with each employee
- Conduct a drill to ensure employees understand their roles and to test your emergency plans. Follow up with an after-action report and lessons learned session
- Contact your vendors to understand their preparedness plans and how a disaster will impact your supply chain
- Move computers and other information technology (IT) systems away from large windows and doors
- Relocate valuables and IT systems to the upper level of your facility or to a more secure location, if necessary
- Ensure vital records are protected – analyze your off-site back-up storage, place valuable documentation and digital storage media in a waterproof, fireproof box
- Explore purchasing flood insurance for your property
- Review the homes preparedness list to see if any applies to your business
Sales Tax Holiday This Weekend!
I also want to remind you about the sales tax holiday this weekend, August 6th to August 8, where you able to purchase eligible items without paying sales tax.
Hurricane Preparedness Items
There are several emergency items you can buy to prepare for hurricanes that are eligible for the sales tax holiday. These items include portable generators (costing $1000 or less), gas powered chainsaws ($350 or less) and accessories ($60 or less), and other specific hurricane preparedness items ($60 or less).
It’s almost school time again, after yet another summer that seems to fly by. As you begin preparing for another school year, there are many different school supplies that are eligible for purchase without paying sales tax. The tax holiday includes school supplies of under $20 per item and school clothes and shoes for $100 or less.
Update on Afghan Interpreters and Translators at Fort Lee
Afghan translators and interpreters and their families have begun arriving at Fort Lee in our district. These brave allies have aided American troops in Afghanistan throughout the twenty-year war. These people, at great risk to themselves, helped the American effort and are now facing retaliation by the Taliban. Up to 2,500 Afghans will be temporarily housed at Fort Lee while their immigration documentation is processed. I am in regular contact with the Biden administration and the relevant agencies, both federal and local, to ensure this is going smoothly for the residents of Fort Lee and the communities around the base.
As part of my effort to help safeguard these deserving and brave individuals, I cosponsored and voted for the bipartisan Averting Loss of Life and injury by Expediting SIV’s (ALLIES) Act of 2021 to protect our partners in the region. This legislation will aid in the Biden administration’s efforts to evacuate key Afghan partners by streamlining the process and allocating an additional 8,000 visas while maintaining existing security and vetting procedures. The legislation will help ensure that these valuable allies will get the protection and safety they need and deserve.
Climate Crisis Update
As of earlier this week, there were 91 large wildfires burning throughout the United States, and many more around the world, including more than 100 in Turkey (CNN). The 91 large fires in the U.S. have burned almost two million acres. Meteorologists are hopeful that anticipated rain will aid in combatting the destruction, but there are also concerns of high winds and lightning, which could worsen conditions or create new fires.
This is but one example of the adverse impacts of climate change that we are continuing to see. Extreme weather threats, including more dangerous and frequent hurricanes, are also a reality we face. We simply must combat and address climate change for the sake of our lives, our livelihoods, and this planet’s future.