News From Congressman Ben Cline
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Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

     Before returning to Washington this week, I enjoyed the opportunity to join community leaders in Strasburg for the presentation of a Historic Marker for a local school, as well as met with the co-founders of RISE in Waynesboro to tour their new facility and learn more about their work. Although continuing to engage with constituents in-person moving forward may be difficult given the Governor's new COVID restrictions, please know that my staff and I will remain available to those I am honored to represent. While in Washington, I recognized two Sixth District businesses who were awarded the 2020 HIRE Vets Medallion by the Department of Labor and voted on numerous pro-Veteran bills. Finally, despite Speaker Pelosi's refusal to address the most pressing issues of the day like coronavirus relief and election integrity, there were a few legislative updates that may be of interest. As the 116th Congress makes its way through the final weeks of the legislative session, I will continue to fight for the good people of Virginia's Sixth District.  

Reimplementing COVID-19 Restrictions:

     Despite initial COVID-19 shutdowns causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs and hundreds of thousands of small businesses to close their doors, Governor Northam has decided to impose additional restrictions on individuals and retail establishments. Please be aware that beginning this past Monday, the below mandates are in place throughout the Commonwealth. For questions, comments, or concerns, please call the Governor's office at (804) 786-2211 or write to him here.  

  • Reduction in public and private gatherings:
    • All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Expansion of mask mandate:
    • All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses:
    • All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor, with the potential for up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
  • On-site alcohol curfew:
    • The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.

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Sunset Hill School:

     It was a pleasure to join local officials in Strasburg this past weekend as the Commonwealth bestowed the once segregated Sunset Hill School with a Virginia Historical Highway Marker – a distinction that is well warranted and long overdue. Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of such a Marker is not to honor, memorialize, or commemorate the person, event, or place that receives it, but rather is intended to educate the public as to the significance such an institution played in the Commonwealth's history. And while our Nation has long struggled with race relations, events over the past few months have made it all the more necessary to highlight places like Sunset Hill School, whose students faced tremendous adversity solely because of the color of their skin. I am thankful for the opportunity to have reflected on the experiences of those who attended Sunset Hill School and thank the Queen Street Sunset Hill Alumni Organization for working diligently to make certain the school received the recognition it deserves.  

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HIRE Vets Medallion:

     The U.S. Department of Labor’s HIRE (Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing) Vets Medallion recognizes the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by job creators to hire and retain veterans. This year, two businesses in the Sixth District were presented with this award for their commitment to serving those who served our Nation. Based on their size, Tactical and Survival Specialties, Incorporated, of Harrisonburg won a Medium Gold award for the second year in a row, while Rubicon Planning of Roanoke earned the distinction of a Small Gold award for the first time. It was an honor to recognize the good work of these two companies on the House Floor this week. To learn more about the HIRE Vets Medallion program and to find other patriotic businesses across the country, click here.  

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RISE:

  It was a pleasure to join Sharon Fitz and Chanda McGuffin, the co-founders of RISE, this week to tour their newly remodeled facility in Waynesboro, including the organization’s rapidly growing library. RISE is a community organization that is committed to empowering and serving as a “voice of hope” for African-Americans in our area. One of their primary services is an after-school reading program for children that promotes traditional learning tools over technology. Their summer camp also focuses on reading, writing, and public speaking to help build confidence among the students participating. Further, the group works to highlight everyday people who may have had an impact on our lives, but may not have garnered notoriety for their actions. This is an important piece of RISE's programming, as it gives kids a sense that they, too, can do important things without being famous. I wish RISE continued success on these endeavors and look forward to seeing more of their exciting work in the coming months.

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The Telemedicine Act:

     As we recognized Rural Health Day this week, we took time to applaud rural communities in their ongoing efforts to address the unique challenges of accessing and delivering health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this crisis, the need for telemedicine and its importance to rural communities has become abundantly more clear. That is why I recently cosponsored H.R. 8723, the Telemedicine Act. This bill seeks to expand access to telemedicine by encouraging states to adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which would allow physicians to work across state lines through telemedicine. This measure would not only increase access to doctors and specialists in rural areas, but the competition created could lower the overall cost of health care in our communities. To read the text of this bipartisan bill, click here

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     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. 

     For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.

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