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33rd District News: Busy Week - Crossover!

Week 8 General Assembly Session 2014


Dear friends,


This last week was incredibly busy, as I had eight bills to present as they worked their way through various committees. Four bills were up for debate on the floor, including a rare three-in-a-row (see picture).
Several other great pieces of legislation by others are also making their way through the legislative process, so it looks like we will end up with a very productive "short session".
Some highlights are below:
School Choice
The legislature made two big steps forward this week in the direction of school choice for the Commonwealth. 
In the House, the Education and Appropriations Committees acted to pass my bill to create Education Savings Accounts for special education students. As special education costs rise rapidly for public schools, and as students all over our state are struggling in public schools that are unable to accommodate their needs, these accounts could be just the solution Virginia families need. 
Next, Senator Obenshain’s bill to promote easier charter school formation in Virginia was passed by the full Senate. Although Virginia legally allows charter schools, only 7 exist in the Commonwealth, due largely to the difficult legal process of starting them. 
Both of these measures show that our legislature is growing increasingly attuned to the benefits educational choice holds for Virginia’s future – better schools, better educational outcomes, more students graduating high school, less state spending…the list goes on and on!  
Making College More Affordable
We have excellent colleges and universities in Virginia. In fact, this week the Princeton Review ranked the University of Virginia as the best public university value in the country. For too many Virginians though, high costs put higher education out of reach. That’s why we passed two important bills this week that give Virginia families more affordable options. House Bill 1692 gives students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields the option of a more affordable “flat-fee degree.” House Bill 2320 establishes a new cooperative bachelor's degree program in Virginia that lets students earn a bachelor’s degree for just $4,000 per year, through a combination of online, community college, or college or university courses. 
I supported two important transportation accountability bills that will help make sure that money devoted to transportation actually goes to projects that will make a difference and that will make funding decisions more transparent and responsive to local needs. House Bill 1470 - which I introduced - builds on last year’s transportation accountability legislation by requiring transit projects to meet the same rigorous standards that we applied to road projects last year. It passed the House 97-0 this week (picture to right).
House Bill 1887, which also passed this week, simplifies Virginia’s complicated and outdated transportation funding formula into three simple funding streams that increase transparency and give localities a greater say in how their transportation dollars are spent. We also passed legislation this week that allows transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in Virginia
Property Rights
I have been a strong defender of our constitutionally protected property rights. House Bill 1287, which I helped to pass this week, safeguards against abuse of civil asset forfeiture by requiring a criminal conviction before any property used in connection with a crime could be forfeited. This measure will guard against potential abuse of asset forfeiture laws and help protect innocent people from losing their property. 
The best social welfare program is a good-paying job. I’ve been working on legislation that will let more people find or keep good-paying jobs in Virginia. Small businesses account for more than half of new job creation in Virginia, and this week the House passed HB 1360, which makes it easier for small and new businesses to raise money through “crowdfunding.” I’m also happy to report that the House will be eliminating more than $10 million in new fees on Virginia families and small businesses that were included in the Governor’s budget. Our House budget will find the money to fund the core functions of government without looking to taxpayers for more of their hard-earned money.
Right to Life
This year I proposed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation designed to protect the right to life of unborn children age 20 weeks and older. This bill has solid foundations in scientific observation and law. We know unborn children are capable of feeling pain at this stage of development, and Supreme Court precedent has opened the door for us to act according to the demands of decency to protect them.  The bill had a very productive Courts of Justice subcommittee hearing; as a result, we know that there are some technical legal issues to address before it moves forward, and I look forward to helping it eventually pass. 

Visitors and Events this week:


Monday: Constituent Lorraine Hightower and others from Virginia Chapter of Decoding Dyslexia


Tuesday: Presenting HB1753 in subcommittee


Tuesday: Homeschooling advocates at the hearing for HB1753 and HB1754


Wednesday: Common Core bill HB1752 passes the Education Committee


Wednesday and Thursday were aerospace and airport days; aerospace and technology are major providers of jobs and economic activity in the Commonwealth.


Friday: Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) and National Right to Life ladies who helped with our Pain Capable Infant Protection Act.




One of my bills will have it's final vote on the House floor on Monday, then three more on Tuesday. Tuesday is "crossover", meaning all House Bills and Resolutions, except the budget, must be passed by midnight.
Wednesday and Thursday we will finalize the House budget bill, then the rest of the session will be taking action on Senate bills and any House Bills that were amended in the Senate.
We send these email updates weekly, but lots happens during the week, so please follow my Facebook page for the latest updates!

Of my fourteen pieces of legislation for this session, eight have reached the House floor and will hopefully be approved by the Senate. I've also signed on as Co-Patron on some good initiatives from others; you can view the full list here


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.


The pace is fast and days are full, but please stop down and see the Legislature in progress if you can.




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Richmond Office:
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Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-1033
District Office:
P.O. Box 6
Hamilton, Virginia 20159
(540) 751-8364

Phone: 540-751-8364



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