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33rd District News - the Sprint to the Finish!

Dear friends,
 
It’s week six of the General Assembly’s seven-week legislative session, and I’m pleased to report that several of the bills I have put forward are poised to pass the Senate and go to the Governor to sign into law.
 
My bills to reform Northern Virginia’s transportation rating system and to fix the Lovettsville town charter are both on their way the Governor’s desk. Other bills to protect Virginia from a back-door acceptance of Common Core curriculum standards, re-evaluate our telecommunications fees and taxes, and help clarify testing requirements for homeschoolers are ready to pass the Senate. 
 
HB 2328, my bill to create Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts for special needs children, has exceeded our expectations for success, passing the House Education Committee, the House Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Education Committee. The bill still has to clear the Senate Finance Committee and ultimately the Senate and the Governor, but I’m optimistic that the desire to help vulnerable special needs children will ultimately trump the efforts of special interests opposed to this bill.
 
 
LAST WEEK AT A GLANCE
 
The Budget
The House and Senate have been meeting in conference to resolve differences in our budget. Speaker Howell incorporated a rules change for the budget this year so that it will be posted for the public and the press to view at least 48 hours before we vote on it. The Richmond Times-Dispatch praised the new policy earlier this year, saying that “the move will increase public access.”
 
Once the budget conferees finish their work, you can find their budget online here.
 
The House’s budget eliminated more than $10 million in new fees and $42 million in new government debt, while also putting more money into classrooms and funding core functions of government. We took a conservative approach, opposing Medicaid expansion, but also working to strengthen existing safety net programs for those in the most need. 
 
Major Legislation 
Governor McAuliffe has begun to sign legislation that’s passed both the House and Senate. This week, he signed HB 1662 to let Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies operate in Virginia. The Charlottesville Daily Progress wrote an editorial in support of the legislation: “Bill strikes balance on governance
 
These new companies are an outgrowth of technology and an example of how new technology can quickly generate grassroots entrepreneurship: People with cars and people without cars easily connect via electronic communications to arrange shared transportation to a common destination. People with cars earn a little extra money, people without cars get transportation services, and environmental values are served by promoting ridesharing. It’s a simple, elegant business model.
Squashing such innovation with over-regulation is a real danger.
 
The House legislation takes that into consideration.
 
“Improving transportation for Virginians takes more than just building infrastructure,” said Del. Tim Hugo, bill co-sponsor, in a news release. “It requires us to embrace new technology to better meet citizens’ transportation needs.”
 
Charter Schools
Some of our work doesn’t require the governor’s approval. I have always supported legislation to give parents and students more choices for the education that best fits their needs.
 
Last week, the House and Senate passed identical resolutions to make it easier to establish charter schools in Virginia. If the same resolutions pass again next year and are approved by voters, it will be enshrined in Virginia’s constitution. 
 
The Washington Post wrote earlier this month that the legislation is “Charting the right path on education.
 
Overlooked are the facts that charters can help children not served by one-size-fits-all schools; that while traditional public schools in Maryland and Virginia may look good in the aggregate, there are still places where children don’t have access to quality education; and that parents in jurisdictions where charters have become prevalent say they like having choices in what is among the most important areas affecting their children.
 
High-quality charters are not to be feared but encouraged. That’s why we hope for success in efforts now underway in the two states to reform charter laws.
 
The Daily Press also wrote over the weekend in support of the constitutional amendment on charter schools:
 
Considering the problems in Virginia's most troubled, failing public schools, we should be willing to reasonably consider any idea with the possibility of success. We applaud those local lawmakers who stood up for charter schools and expect area detractors to account for their opposition.
 
“Tebow Bill” Passes Senate!
The first legislation to allow homeschooled students to participate in high school sports in Virginia was introduced twenty years ago. For the first time this year, it was approved by both the House and the Senate and will be going to the governor’s desk. There are more than 32,000 home schooled students in Virginia, and with the passage of the “Tebow Bill,” local school boards will have the option of letting them participate in school sports, clubs and group activities. I co-patroned this legislation because I believe school boards should be answerable to their constituents first, not private organizations. If you support the Tebow Bill, you can let the governor know at 804-786-2211. 
 
Supporting Israel
Serving in Virginia’s House of Delegates means making tough decisions and trying to do the right thing, even when it’s not popular with everyone. I voted in support of resolution because Israel is our ally in the Middle East and its people have the right to live in peace and defend themselves.
House Democrats made national news this month when they twice left the House chamber to avoid voting on a resolution expressing support for the State of Israel. You can watch them here.
 
 
 
Photos from the Week
Legislators walking between the General Assembly offices and the Capitol pass the 10' tall bronze statue of the late Harry F. Byrd at least twice a day.
 
Senator Byrd is depicted carrying the budget in his left hand. Known for his “pay as you go” policies, he was a U.S. Senator and Virginia Governor. His family resides in the district I serve. 
 
 
 
Linda Kivi Porter and others from Leadership Loudoun visit the Capitol
 
 

 

A Look Ahead
 
Monday morning, my bill to protect our 2nd Amendment rights has a Senate Courts of Justice Committee hearing at 8am, then the Education Savings Account bill has its Senate Finance Committee hearing at 10:30am.
 
Monday afternoon, the House and Senate Courts of Justice Committees will hold a joint meeting to interview judge candidates, including a few for areas covering the 33rd District. I'll let you know how these go in next week's email.
 
I am expecting visits from at least three groups of folks from the 33rd district and Northern Virginia this week, weather permitting. They were originally scheduled to visit last week, but were snowed out!
 
Between wrapping up hearings for my bills, a few more committee meetings, the judges, and finishing up the budget and other legislation, there is a lot of work to do this week. The end is in sight though, and I'm looking forward to being back home in the 33rd District soon!

 

 
REMEMBER 
 
 

Please call me or visit! If you have any questions, concerns, opinions, or issues you want to discuss with me, don’t hesitate to get in touch… and as always, please pray for safety and wisdom for my team and me, and for all members of our government.

 
Sincerely, 

 

 

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Website Contact Form:

www.votelarock.us/contact

 

Richmond Office:
General Assembly Building
Room 721
Capitol Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-1033
 
District Office:
P.O. Box 6
Hamilton, Virginia 20159
(540) 751-8364

Phone: 540-751-8364

Web: VoteLaRock.us

Email: info@VoteLaRock.us

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