RICHMOND — By the time Charlotte Woodward was 4 years old, she’d already had four open heart surgeries. She was born with Down syndrome, and she had congenital heart issues.

Years later, she would collapse when she physically exerted herself. Doctors told her there was nothing more she could do. She’d need a heart transplant.

At the age of 22, Woodward got her new heart.

Since then, she’s attended Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University. She’s been involved in advocacy work, particularly on an issue close to her heart: making sure that people with disabilities seeking organ transplants aren’t discriminated against.

“The reason I’m able to do this stuff is because I was given the opportunity to have a life-saving heart transplant,” Woodward said.

She spoke Sunday to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee in support of a bill from Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Washington, that would prohibit people with disabilities from being placed lower on organ transplant lists and prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people on the basis of their disability.

The committee voted 15-0 to send Pillion’s bill, SB 846, to the Senate floor for a vote. The House companion bill, HB 1273, from Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington, passed the House last week 99-0.

Pro-union proposals dead

Efforts to repeal or chip away at Virginia’s right-to-work law have all failed this year.

The law — which 26 other states have — allows employees to forgo participating in and paying dues to unions. Labor advocates argue it would strengthen worker rights and working conditions, while critics say it will hurt businesses and strengthen union power.

Republicans have been using right-to-work as a talking point to criticize the new Democratic majority and whether they’d be good stewards of Virginia’s high ranking as a good state for business.

In the House, the proposal from Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, to fully repeal the law got out of the Labor and Commerce Committee. The Appropriations Committee didn’t put the bill, HB 153, on its schedule for a hearing on Friday, so that means it died.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, introduced a measure that doesn’t repeal the law, but “puts a dent in it,” he said. Under SB 426, nonunion members at a unionized workplace would still have to pay a portion of the dues to cover the union’s cost of negotiating contracts with management.

Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, urged the Commerce and Labor Committee to hit the pause button on the matter, saying the legislature was already throwing a lot at the business community that it will have to adjust to, such as the possibility of increasing the minimum wage.

Green New Deal wilts

Del. Sam Rasoul’s Green New Deal has died because the House Appropriations Committee did not schedule to hear it.

The bill is borne out of the mobilization effort across the country for clean energy.

The bill, HB 77, includes a moratorium on approving any new power plants that burn fossil fuels, and a requirement that 80% of electric utilities’ sales be generated from clean fuels from between 2028 and 2035. Sales would have to be entirely from clean sources by 2036.

Instead, House Democrats are advancing another environmental plan, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, to get Virginia to zero carbon by 2050. HB 1526 has numerous pieces, including creating a mandatory, renewable portfolio standard and retirement plan for fossil fuel plants.

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