The 2017 General Assembly Session has officially begun! This year will be a short session (46 days) as our primary responsibility is to make adjustments to our biennial budget. However, we are still putting forth legislative proposals aimed at creating jobs, improving healthcare costs, creating more educational opportunities, and protecting the rights of the people of Virginia. There is a lot before us this year, but we will be focused on doing the work of the people and completing the 2017 Session on time!
First Day (Wednesday)
The House was officially gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 11th, at 12 noon. Later that evening, Governor McAuliffe delivered the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. As this is McAuliffe’s final year in office, a great deal of his speech was a review of his time as governor.
It’s no secret that the Governor claims credit for everything that occurs under his watch, but in the case of the big economic development announcement made during his address, the real credit goes to the Frederick County Economic Development staff. Well done Patrick Barker and Frederick County EDA staff for bringing this deal home.
I am very proud of the great work of Frederick County bringing in a tremendous economic development deal that will generate 1,400 new jobs and over $100 million in tax base to the County. Frederick County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Gene Fisher and Navy Federal President and CEO Admiral Cutler Dawson, (USN Ret.) joined Frederick County Delegates Randy Minchew, Chris Collins, and me at the Governor's State of the Commonwealth Address where this new economic development deal was announced. The official news release is available here.
A new transparency measure was announced on the first day: the video archiving of each day’s session. The new archive, available from the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 session on demand. The House also has created a search feature that will allow viewers to search by bill or by member.
Delegate Chris Collins and I met with Mike Elwell, CEO of Northwestern Community Services, Judge Kellas, and representatives of the Northern Shenandoah Substance Abuse Coalition to plan how to make our best presentation for asking for funding for the spectacular work they are doing in our community dealing with opioid abuse and mental health. More on this below....
Our friends from Bank of Clarke County, Cardinal Bank, and Fulton Bank dropped in to share an update on their optimistic outlook for the banking industry. They play a crucial role in the economic development of our area.
I was also visited by the Directors of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Among other things, they work to help farmers protect the Shenandoah River and other waterways in the region from pollution.
Finally, I spent the evening with some great folks who travelled down from Frederick County. While we discussed the upcoming session and Frederick County's impressive record of economic development, another highlight was presenting a Resolution commending former County Chairman "Dickie" Shickle for his 20+ years of public service.
Friday was the deadline for submitting budget amendment requests. Some of the amendments I submitted are specifically targetting issues of interest to our district.
- Funding to purchase land and facilites for the new State Park in Loudoun County
- A comprehensive study on Virginia cybersecurity
- Funding for a substance abuse and mental health treatment center
- Insisting on critical reforms to WMATA to prevent huge tax incrases in Loudoun County.
The Week Ahead
This Sunday is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. I encourage you to read and share my recent op-ed, which appeared in several papers. There is also a video supporting my pro-life bill here.
I will begin presenting my legislation next week- in fact, my first one on the docket at 8am Monday is a "Transportation Lockbox" to protect our transportation money from being diverted to other things. I'm sure the next couple of weeks will be extremely busy, since I have a fairly full slate of legislation. You can look at all my bills here.
Please keep my staff and me in your prayers as we work to serve you!