Last week, after a month of legislating remotely, the House was back on the Floor! Or, rather, back on several Floors. To allow for social distancing, we spread out on the Floor of the House Chamber, the Gallery, and in the Annex. We have a video feed between the State House and the Annex to allow Delegates to speak and vote. While there are some technical glitches and parts of the work become more challenging, these changes are crucial to allow us to keep everyone healthy and continue the important work of the General Assembly.
This relief package is just the first part of our efforts. Next week, we hope to pass a bill giving access to this same earned income tax credit to individuals who file with an Individual Tax Identification Number. These are tax-paying community members without social security numbers. Many of these people are immigrants, who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, and have been ineligible for other federal direct payments. The bill we expect to pass next week will get an immediate payment to people filing with an ITIN, make them eligible for similar tax rebates in the next two tax years, and lay the groundwork to make this change permanent.
UPDATES ON OTHER PENDING BILLS:
The House passed the Gas Regulator Safety/Flower Branch Act, which I wrote in response to the August 10, 2016, natural gas explosion at the Flower Branch Apartments that killed 7 people, injured 65, displaced over 100 people, and traumatized the community. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the explosion and made several safety recommendations. This bill will require new regulators to be installed outside and requires gas companies to relocate regulators to an outside location in multi-family buildings. The bill will have a hearing in the Senate next week.
We still have eight weeks left in our legislative session. I will continue to update you on legislative activities. If you missed previous updates, you can find them on my website. As always, if you or someone you know, needs assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.