Select Committee on School Safety
Speaker Cox is forming the Select Committee on School Safety to prioritize efforts to strengthen school security. The Committee’s work will be limited to strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students, and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the Commonwealth.
There was plenty of interesting discussion on legislation in the Education Committee this year, and we ended up passing 115 of the 176 bills we heard. Some Education bills of interest are listed here, including three major pieces of the House Republican “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda.
- House Bill 1 will protect sensitive data, such as the email address and telephone number, of students enrolled in Virginia public colleges and universities from being released to the public without their consent. Last fall, some political campaigns targeted students by accessing their personal contact information without their knowledge.
- House Bill 2 will allow a spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia, which will allow them to seamlessly transition into a Virginia classroom if their family is transferred to Virginia.
- House Bill 3 will save students time and money by ensuring dual enrollment programs are working as intended and allowing students to earn college credits while in high school and apply those credits to a 2-year or 4-year degree.
It is a huge challenge keeping up with transportation needs across the 33rd District. Route 81 in the west is way overdue for improvements. Senator Mark Obenshain’s bill directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board to develop and adopt an Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement plan and evaluate financing options for Interstate 81 corridor improvements.
Loudoun County opted into the Washington DC Metro system in 2012, despite repeated warnings that costs would be a huge burden on Loudoun taxpayers. Loudoun County may now be feeling buyer’s remorse. Finding monies to keep the Metro system running is a huge challenge that is being satisfied by shifting precious road monies to the DC Metro. On Saturday, the last day of session, the House passed a bill that few ever read. This bill, which I spoke against on the House floor, will have far reaching negative impact on Loudoun taxpayers who will be asked to either come up with new road monies or go without desperately-needed road improvements. Our Loudoun County government opposed passing this bill for reasons I wrote about in a Loudoun Times Mirror op-ed before session.
Five of my bills made it through the House & Senate and went to the governor to be signed this session:
- HB340: This bill will allow a county treasurer to consolidate property tax billing so that residents of a town can pay both their county taxes and their town taxes at the same time.
- HB842: This bill permits the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to train individuals on the administration of the most cost-efficient form of naloxone for use in opioid overdose reversal.
- HB1167: This bill will help protect the integrity of elections by allowing the clerk of circuit court and voter registrar to exchange info regarding individuals not qualified to vote.
- HB1170: This bill allows fire companies and volunteer medical services to receive motor fuel from the Department of General Services.
- HB1285: This bill requires VDOT, NVTA, and NVTC to have a joint public hearing to report on transportation projects in Northern Virginia and to receive comments from the public about such plans.
Two of my bills were incorporated into the bills of my fellow delegates:
- HJ116 is now a part of HJ90, which is being carried by Delegate Robinson. The bill designates April 7th as National Beer Day starting in 2019.
- HB1274 was incorporated into Delegate Landes’ bill, HB344, which helps to protect and secure First Amendment rights on campuses.
Two of my bills to improve access to Broadband in rural areas will be sent by Committee Chairmen to the Broadband Commission and Department of Historic Resources asking for the ideas in the bills to be studied for possible implementation in future legislation:
- HB656: Requires the state agency that does federal reviews of communications towers to study how to reduce their turn-around time for approvals.
- HB1283: Would make it more cost-effective for broadband providers to use existing utility easements to bring traditional or fiber-optic cable to rural areas.
Overall, we made some good progress on many issues this year. I will be sending session update letters out to constituents once we see how things go with the Governor's actions on legislation, and the special session for the budget takes place. Last Wednesday morning, I sat down for a final interview with Woody at the VCTA studio at the Capitol- you can watch it here.
I'm also grateful for the wonderful staff God blessed us with this year. Joining my full-time Legislative Assistant Daniel Davies were Session Aide David Westcott, Administrative Assistant Allene Cahill, and Intern Sidney Anderson- I couldn't have done it without them!
For now, I'm happy to be home with my family and the good folks of the 33rd District- you may see me at Lowes or Costco soon!
Visits in the House Chamber this week, as we wrapped up:
2018 Session House Pages from Loudoun County: Jackson Painter and Natalie Daniel (House Clerk G. Paul Nardo with the photo-bomb)
Two of my friends and supporters during session- Elisabeth and Peter (children of my LA Daniel and his wife Kara Lee Davies) watch
Sergeant at Arms Jay Pearson remove the mace from the House chamber.
More links of potential interest: