This week marks crossover! Generally speaking, if a bill isn’t out of the House by now, it’s not going to move forward for the year (with the exception of the budget).
A relatively small investment with massive potential return, I proposed this year to include in the budget funding to develop a Commonwealth Cybersecurity Strategic Plan (CCSP) related to cybersecurity. This plan will focus on protecting the health, safety, and economic interests of Virginia's citizens, businesses, and government by reducing the impact of potential cyber-related events, and will represent an organized effort to foster the growth of the cybersecurity industry in Northern Virginia. Due to our strategic location and access to loads of specialized talent, the economic growth possibilities arising from this industry are huge! Without this plan Virginia cannot demonstrate a level of preparedness that is a foundational necessity to being a serious competitor for prominence in this field. This amendment is part of the budget now – I will let you know if it remains as we get towards final passage!
This legislation holds tremendous potential for improving our public school system without busting our budget at the same time. The concept is pretty simple – if kids opt to use a PCESA, or just ESA for short, then they will opt to leave the public school system, strike out on their own, and get a portion of the funding that the Commonwealth would have spent on them had they stayed in public school. Since they only get a portion, Virginia saves money, and since their local county-level funding is untouched, their school district actually winds up with a higher per-pupil funding level once they leave. But the most important part is that kids who use ESAs AND kids who stay in public schools benefit academically from this kind of arrangement – we know this by observing states where it’s been tried! Thursday last, Gerard Robinson, Former Secretary of Education of Virginia, walked door to door, visiting senators to discuss the policy side of this program and the wealth of benefits it can bring to the people of the Commonwealth. This bill has passed the House! It’s on to the Senate where we expect a tough fight. Your calls (along with your friends’ calls) will be absolutely crucial in getting this passed!
A decision to adopt Common Core Standards would have significant costs associated with it (to say the least!) and for that reason it is too important a commitment to be made by anyone who does not answer directly to the people of Virginia. This bill would require legislative approval of any decision to adopt Common Core on a state level. It’s already passed the full House and the Senate Education & Health Committee with very strong, bipartisan support; a Senate vote is anticipated early this week.
This constitutional amendment introduced by Del. Dickie Bell would enshrine the right-to-work law in the state constitution, thereby locking in this pro-business policy. As of now, this bill has passed the House AND Senate!
This bill, carried by Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier), establishes reciprocity with any state that has a concealed carry permit program. The legislation also prevents individuals who have had a Virginia permit revoked from having an out-of-state permit recognized in Virginia. The Superintendent of the Virginia State Police has 60 days after the bill becomes effective to enter into reciprocity agreements. HB1163 passed the House 72 to 26.
Medical research has shown conclusively that unborn children 20 weeks old and beyond are capable of feeling pain just like you and I do. Given the extreme pain possible through an abortion procedure, this knowledge gives us a reason AND a constitutional basis to restrict abortion after this point, as this bill would do. After a tough fight, we got this bill passed in subcommittee! Tons of supporters AND opponents showed up with some amazing testimony in support of this bill and some telling testimony in opposition. Unlike the individuals who showed up on their own, the paid abortion advocates were careful to NEVER allude to the baby – instead using medical jargon or ignoring the existence of a baby altogether.
After some complications arose in full committee regarding the bill’s penalties, this bill was deferred to next year. I’m not satisfied with that, but it’s important to note we’re already further along than we were last time around. Next year I’m confident we’ll see some serious progress on this legislation.
This bill would allow localities to pay for the mental health care costs of volunteers (such as EMTs) that serve in their community. Right now, although many volunteers need mental health care and counseling related to their stressful work, they have to pay for it on their own. My original bill was tabled, but I’m co-sponsoring an almost identical bill (HB 233) that has passed the House!
I introduced this bill to define sex as biological because there is a concerted effort on the part of transgender advocates to re-define sex as being purely a personal decision. The practical outcome of this kind of approach will be to eliminate the ability of agencies and local governments to make any distinctions based on sex. Virginia’s efforts to support woman-owned businesses will likely see a dramatic setback as enforcement of actual ownership requirements will flounder when traditional, biological sex considerations become verboten. These contract set-asides are already subject to fraud when unethical contractors attempt to pass as a woman-owned business; this legislation will severely undercut real attempts to help biological women.
Next, requiring agencies to turn a blind eye to actual biological sex could undermine Virginia’s “Employment- at-Will” status by triggering the public policy exemption to Employment- at-Will which applies to discharge in violation of the state’s public policy doctrine. Virginia case law states that if a public policy is in place to protect a specific class, this protection must be applied in the private business world even if the law doesn’t explicitly grant that protection in the private sector. Certain businesses and employers such as daycare centers, or even churches would be hard-hit by this form of regulation.
This bill has been tabled for now, but the idea of a needed definition has been taken up for further study by the Virginia Code Commission.
This would fall under the category of “Small Fixes That Could Save Lives.” Right now the law requires doctors who test patients for Lyme to give information about the possible failures of these tests, yet many doctors aren’t doing this. This bill will provide a possible civil penalty for doctors that fail to provide adequate information as required by law. This was set aside in committee at my request because the leverage created by the bill led to a type of enforcement that should be very effective without legislation. Department of Health Professions Director, David E. Brown will be informing doctors by letter that failure to comply with disclosure as required by law will lead to action against their medical license.
“I wanted to personally thank you for all of your hard work and support regarding the bill that you brought on behalf of the Lyme community. As a result of your endeavors, a protocol has been established in order for patients to file a complaint for violations of Va. H.B. 1933. All complaints will be investigated. Repeated complaints pertaining to any single physician may result in a hearing and reprimand. All reprimands will be made public.” - Susan R. Green
I’ve filed three bills that should make life smoother for kids and school staff alike.
HB 1132 would drop the requirements that principles report every incident to police that could possibly be considered a misdemeanor, a step I believe will make life and work easier for school staff. This bill passed the House Education Committee with overwhelming support, but was tabled in Courts of Justice.
HB 1134 would provide that Virginia’s disorderly conduct misdemeanor would no longer apply to kids at school or school activities. This bill passed out of the House Education Committee, but we couldn’t gain the support of the full House.
Both 1132 and 1134 brought forward an issue that will take lots more work to bring needed reform.
HB 168 would allow counties to summon people to court by mail when they have video evidence that the person passed a stopped school bus on the road illegally. By making it more practically possible for localities to actually charge drivers who ignore stopped buses, this bill should help make our kids safer! HB 168 passed the House with overwhelming support and is on to the Senate!
This bill will primarily help protect armed forces servicemen and women who are located in Virginia but aren’t quickly able to get two valid forms of ID to purchase a gun for self-defense. I am Chief Co-patron of HB206 along with Patron Michael Webert, and I’m proud to say it has passed the House and is on to the Senate!
Basically, there’s a large retirement home facility in Frederick County that long ago received an exemption issued by the General Assembly from their local property taxes. As a result, this facility has been able to receive the same services other businesses or non-profits in the community enjoy while paying far less in property taxes. This facility has avoided more than a million dollars in property taxes over recent years while “regular Joe” families and businesses without the connections to obtain an exemption of their own keep paying their tax bill. I view this as a fairness issue – it isn’t right that regular citizens have to pay up while big, connected players get off the hook. Although this bill didn’t pass this year, I intend to pursue this issue until it is resolved.
I moved to kill my HB260, the bill to ensure that local police officers can’t hold up a legal firearm transfer by refusing to sign off on a transferee’s paperwork. Why did I kill my own bill? Because after we (and other states) pushed this legislation forward, and after McAuliffe vetoed it last year under the ridiculous rationale that it would endanger communities, and after thousands of people contacted their state and national elected officials, the federal government has decided they are just going to quit asking for these sign-offs altogether! That’s a win for gun rights!
This bill directs the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability to study the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's compliance with the Dulles Toll Road Permit and Operating Agreement. Long story short, the agency that runs Dulles Airport and the Dulles Toll Road has very specific obligations to our citizens as conditions of their authority. We want to make sure that their plan for tolling, development, and property rental falls in line with those requirements on a going-forward basis and that local citizens are adequately represented. This bill was tabled, but this issue will be studied by another state agency.
Transportation funds are legally only allowed to be spent on transportation projects – but what protection is that against a legislature that can change the laws at the drop of a hat? My bill to enshrine our transportation lockbox in the Constitution is a sensible step to protect your road money from being raided for an election-year pet project that will buy votes instead of moving cars. We drafted and submitted this bill this year, but I don’t expect it to move until next year when proposed constitutional amendments will be considered.
There is a lot more going on but that’s it for this week’s update. Stay tuned for more updates, and, as always, give me a call, send me an email, or stop by and visit anytime!
My session address is: General Assembly Building, Room 721 Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia 23219 or you can reach me at:
Visitors and Activities this week!
Monday, I presented my Education Savings Accounts bill on the floor. Watch video of the debate by clicking on the picture or here.
Monday was also the day we debated one of my bills to slow down the school-to-prison pipeline by de-criminalizing childish behavior. There was some good debate on this one, which you can watch by clicking on the picture or here.
Tuesday evening after two long days finishing up the pre-crossover work, I was able to get away from the Capitol and enjoy the outdoors some. Here is my view of downtown Richmond at night from my walk.
Each Thursday morning during session, there is a Bible Study coordinated by the Capitol Commission; this week the Governor attended.
Later Thursday morning, I spoke to the visitors from Leadership Loudoun.
Friday, my bill to prohibit adoption of Common Core without General Assembly approval went to the Senate floor- the final vote should be Monday!