As we enter the final week of the 2018 legislative session, I'm amazed by how quickly time has passed. The General Assembly descended on Richmond during January's bitterly cold winter weather. Now, as we look toward adjournment, the trees are blooming and spring is just around the corner.
I truly appreciate the part-time nature of the Virginia General Assembly (and not just because of the relatively short sessions!). A part-time legislature keeps elected officials accountable to and engaged with constituents. Because General Assembly members are only in Richmond for six or eight weeks each year, we spend the vast majority of time in our districts, where we live, work and raise families.
Virginia's citizen legislators cannot hide in Richmond to avoid the issues facing constituents. Even while the General Assembly is in session, legislators return home each weekend. You can rest assured that we receive PLENTY of feedback every weekend--and throughout the year!
I devoted a great deal of last week's newsletter to the budget, and I have only a brief update to offer at this time. The House and Senate passed their respective budgets and designated the conferees who are tasked with resolving differences between the two versions. The biggest challenge remains Medicaid expansion, which is included in the House budget but not in the Senate budget.
Further complicating the issue of Medicaid expansion are recent reports from the President's Office of Management and Budget indicating that the White House may object to Virginia's expansion plan due to Medicaid's "unsustainable" growth (see links below). The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, March 10. This imminent deadline leaves only a short time to resolve these issues and pass a balanced budget. Although I hope to adjourn on time, I recognize that significant challenges remain.
White House weighs in on Medicaid expansion in Virginia - The Washington Post
Trump administration weighs in on Medicaid expansion in Virginia, stirring confusion - Washington Examiner
Trump Budget Director statement on the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in Virginia
This week, after hours, I dropped by the Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony to say hello to the folks from local wineries who participated. 73 of the 434 medal-winning wines were from the 33rd District, and they certainly earned much to be proud of, claiming 3 of the 12 spots in the "Governor's Cup Case," 15 Gold medals, 44 Silver, and 14 Bronze. It’s always nice to see familiar faces like Jen Breaux from Breaux Vineyards, Lew and Sharon Parker from Willowcroft Vineyards, and Andrew Fialdini from the Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards. Loudoun County Wineries Earn Spots in Prestigious Governor’s Case
Loudoun Community Schools
Since my election in 2013, I have helped Western Loudoun residents fight against efforts to close our community schools. I was pleased to see that earlier this week, the Loudoun County School Board voted against a policy which could have fast-tracked future closures. I received the following thanks from Jenna Alexander, one of the constituents I've been working with on this effort: "We are very grateful for Dave’s support of our rural communities and schools!"
I also appreciate Loudoun School Board members Jill Turgeon and Eric DeKenipp's long-time efforts to preserve our community schools!
Opposing the Dominion Rate Freeze Redo
This week, a multi-million-dollar, pro-Dominion-Power, so-called “Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018” passed the Virginia House of Delegates 65-30. Comments by some of the Republican Delegates opposing the revamped scheme reminded listeners that the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is in charge of, and very capable of, regulating Dominion, and that meddling with SCC oversight in the past has not gone well for rate payers. I applaud the 30 Delegates who stayed true to the people of Virginia when facing the proverbial giant, and made a sincere attempt to unwind the 2015 rate freeze. Read more here...
WMATA Funding and Reform
"Dedicated Funding" for WMATA is one of the hot topics of the 2018 General Assembly session. I voted against HB 1539 and SB 856 because they would divert too much of NoVA road money to a very broken and declining WMATA system. I would prefer for Metrorail riders and station-area businesses to pay more for the benefits they receive from the system. I also would like to see Virginia's labor-related revisions to the WMATA Compact be adopted by Maryland, DC, and the Federal Government so operational costs can be brought under control. Read more here....
Honor Roll Letters
One of my favorite legislative activities is commending students from the 33rd District who work hard to make the Honor Roll. I've sent about 6,600 letters and certificates to students in Frederick and Loudoun Counties. Unfortunately, Clarke County hasn't provided any lists, and several schools in Loudoun County have also refused to allow me to commend their students. If your student made the Honor Roll, but hasn't received a letter or certificate, please know that my staff and I have been trying all session to get these out to them.
Rt. 15 Safety and Operational Study Open Houses
Loudoun County is hosting open houses on the Route 15 Safety and Operational Study. Members of the public are invited to view material and maps associated with the study and provide comments on initial concepts that are being considered for the Route 15 corridor between Whites Ferry Road and the Maryland State line. There are two sessions scheduled for the convenience of the public.
Friday, March 9, 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Drive, Leesburg
- Saturday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Lucketts Community Center, 42361 Lucketts Road, Leesburg
An online survey will be provided for anyone who is unable to attend a session in person. The survey will be posted at www.loudoun.gov/Route15 on Monday, March 12, 2018.
In May 2017, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to conduct a study of the safety and operational issues on Route 15 between Whites Ferry Road and the Maryland state line to identify progressive improvements that could be implemented. Public input has been provided on the key issues of this corridor and an analysis of the existing conditions has been prepared. The open houses will enable the public to further refine preferences for the northern segment of Route 15.
More information about the Route 15 study is online at www.loudoun.gov/Route15
LaRock Legislation Moving Forward
HB 1167 Jury commissioners; lists of unqualified persons provided to general registrars.
My bill which seeks to clean up voter rolls by allowing Clerks of the Court like Gary Clemens from Loudoun to share information with registrars who can use it to purge non-eligible voters has passed through the House and Senate, albeit amazingly on an almost party line vote. Even after seeing several very close House races last November, Democrats don’t like excluding non-citizens and other unqualified voters from the voter rolls. Thanks go to Gary Clemens, who alerted me that he was receiving information that was concerning to him about this issue.
Lawsuit: 100,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Pennsylvania
By Stephen Dinan - Washington Times - February 26, 2018
More than 100,000 noncitizens are registered to vote in Pennsylvania alone, according to testimony submitted Monday in a lawsuit demanding the state come clean about the extent of its problems.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, which has identified similar noncitizen voting problems in studies of Virginia and New Jersey, said Pennsylvania officials have admitted noncitizens have been registering and voting in the state “for decades.”
HB 1170 DGS; aid & cooperation of Division of Purchase and Supply to any fire company, etc.
Thanks to constituent and friend Chris Shipe, a businessman and volunteer firefighter, it looks like we’ll be able to restore the ability of volunteer and EMS companies to save thousands of dollars by reinstating their access to state bulk fuel purchase contract rates. Saving money helps these hard-working folks who help us all without spending a dime of taxpayer dollars; truly a win-win.
On a personal note, I'm looking forward to being back to work in the 33rd District after this week. Recently, my daughter Abby has been putting her skills to use helping with Hurricane relief efforts.
I have heard from a few constituents with concerns regarding when their power will be restored. Thousands of linemen have been working around the clock to restore power, and the latest information I have received regarding outages remaining in the 33rd District localities is:
More emergency resources information is available on my website here.
As always, 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.