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New delegate says legislative experience was positive one

Del. Holly Seibold gained office in special election just before General Assembly opened
Del. Holly Seibold.

Del. Holly Seibold (D-Oakton-Vienna) accumulated a pretty good batting average in her rookie season, at least when it comes to getting bills enacted into law.

Gov. Youngkin in March signed two bills by Seibold, which the General Assembly unanimously had passed earlier:

• HB 2424, which allows a court to appoint a readily available, qualified interpreter for speech-impaired, deaf or hard-of-hearing people if the Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing cannot procure one.

• HB 2492, which added the health commissioner, or a representative chosen by same, to the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. The legislation also changed existing references to “mentally impairing developmental disabilities” to “cognitive developmental disabilities.”

Both bills take effect July 1.

Seibold submitted only five bills for the session – or one-third the maximum amount – but had far less time than most of her colleagues to prepare her legislation.

Seibold on Jan. 10 defeated Republican Monique Baroudi in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Del. Mark Keam (D), who stepped down last summer to take a job in the Biden administration. Seibold had little time to savor her victory, however, as the General Assembly session opened the next day.

Because of the time crunch, Seibold agreed to carry bills drafted by other legislators, who were limited to just 15 pieces of legislation each.

“There were hundreds of bills that were drafted, so I was able to weed through those bills and find bills that were interesting and personal to me,” she told the GazetteLeader.

The House of Delegates killed Seibold’s other bills pertaining to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, a sales-and-use-tax exemption for child-restraint devices and having the Department of Labor and Industry create a poster describing benefits and services available to veterans.

In addition to those five bills, Seibold also submitted – and the General Assembly passed – multiple resolutions honoring notable local residents both living and dead,

Del. Marcus Simon (D-McLean) continued the General Assembly’s long tradition of peppering newbie members with complicated questions about their first bill to see how well they knew their material.

Simon asked Seibold if she was familiar with Supreme Court Rule 2:507, which her legislation referenced.

Seibold responded that the question was outside the scope of her bill and that Simon, who was one of the legislation’s co-patrons, was a lawyer and “probably should read the fine print before he signs on to a bill.”

After this brought howls from the other delegates present, Seibold followed up by saying Simon served on the committee and subcommittee that approved the bill and could have asked those questions during those deliberations.

The other delegates rose, clapped and cheered.

“Oh, no, don’t hurt him anymore,” one said.

Seibold also said she was proud of getting twice as much money – about $8 million – for children’s behavioral health in the state’s budget.

The delegate since the session has been attending many local events to catch the public’s pulse.

“I want to hear from the community,” she said. “I want to hear things that I may never have thought about that’s directly affecting them.”

As for next year’s session, Seibold may introduce legislation delineating how close vape stores can be to schools.

“These kids are stopping by these stores on their way home,” she said.

Seibold initially was nervous when heading down to Richmond for her first session, following a heated special-election campaign, but said serving in the General Assembly was “way better than I had ever dreamed of.”

“Campaigning brings out the worst in people, but I found Richmond brought out the best,” she said, adding that she had a “nice working relationship” with Republicans.

“It’s not what you see in the media,” she said. “I felt that we were really working together to solve problems on behalf of the people of Virginia. That’s our job.”

Seibold added, “I do believe in the power of government and I do have hope that maybe one day we can get along. That’s the lesson, I guess.”

Seibold will need to seek re-election this fall and said she feels fortunate not have been opposed for her party’s nomination. Her next task: Get to know voters in parts of Tysons and Merrifield who were added to her newly renamed 12th District. The redistricting process took away Oakton from her district, she said.