The 2018 General Assembly session has been officially gaveled in! We will tackle important issues such as healthcare, the opioid crisis, funding Metro, and the teacher shortage across Virginia. The election cycle lasted longer than anyone expected, but now there is a lot of work to get done, and that work began this week. House Republicans have laid out the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home.
We have a Republican Speaker!
The House was
officially gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 10th, at 12 noon. It started with Republican Delegate Kirk Cox being unanimously elected as the 55th Speaker of the House. Speaker Cox set a clear tone for the 2018 Session, pledging to focus on governing, work across the aisle, and lead with integrity.
House Republicans made Government more transparent.
The Republican Majority passed a rules package that expands the existing rule on proportional representation to both committees and subcommittees, and required the House to utilize electronic voting equipment to record votes in committee and subcommittee. The House will also live stream all committee meetings, as announced in 2017. The House unanimously approved these changes.
This morning, the new Governor was sworn in.
House Republicans are eager to work with Governor Northam on areas where there is bipartisan support.
Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues
House Republicans have laid out the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home.
Being the only remaining Republican House member from Loudoun County, and serving on the Education and Transportation committees, I have ample opportunity to engage on issues that affect the people I represent. I have an intense focus on providing relief from the outrageous tolls people are forced to pay as they travel to and from Washington and on keeping the quality of education high while controlling the cost.
You may know that in Governor McAuliffe’s recent budget he proposed several new taxes for Northern Virginia and a huge shift of local road money to Metro. He even neglected to propose money to fund expansion of I-66 inside the beltway. Former Delegates Randy Minchew and Jim LeMunyon have been helping to spot these things and many more, enabling us to get out ahead and fix them with budget amendments.
Over and over I hear people presenting the need for affordable access to broadband in rural areas. The bill I have introduced to take a giant step forward is causing a stir, and that may be good. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s been a busy week with substantial progress to show for it, due largely to a great team led by my full-time coworker/Legislative Assistant Daniel Davies, Session Aide David Westcott and Intern Sidney Anderson. Here we're joined by Olivia from VSHL.
You can see my bills here. They will bring improvement in education, integrity of voter rolls, the new laws will help local governments manage services efficiently, avoiding fraud and abuse of public assistance programs, disseminating information to parents who encounter problems in pregnancy and are seeking perinatal hospice care. We have a bill to protect the rights of parents with disabilities, and another to help avoid harm coming to foster children.
We are helping Loudoun County schools initiate a ‘Schools of Innovation Program’, proposing Education Savings Accounts, and seeking funding for workforce development programs.
With the help of our ally, Lisa Wilkins, we are improving access to the anti-opioid naloxone and with help from Andy Anderson, program director at the Winchester corrections facility, helping incarcerated adults acquire marketable skills.
Last but not least I have learned that my Democrat counterparts in the House are seeking to undo an Attorney General’s Opinion which rightly asserted that weapons are allowed in places of worship for the purpose of self-defense. Undoing the Opinion would leave pastors unsure of what the law allows. The Democrats apparently are willing to ignore recent tragedies such as the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, On November 5, 2017, where the gunman killed 26 and injured 20 others and the Charleston church massacre in which white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. I have filed a bill which would repeal an outdated law that impedes the ability of individual privately-owned churches to form their own security policies.
Some of my friends from the campaign trail came to Richmond to see our great Capitol and witness my swearing in.
I am grateful beyond words to them and all the others who helped during the campaign with financial support, man hours, and their votes. Thank you for granting me the privilege of representing you.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov or call me at
804-698-1033. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.
I will be providing you with weekly updates during the 2018 General Assembly Session, and will be meeting with constituent groups after Session to report on the Session and take questions. I hope some of you will visit Richmond during session as well; it's always great to see friendly faces from home!
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