The Landes Letter
By Delegate R. Steven Landes
June 1, 2018
It's been a while since our last newsletter and a lot has been happening. The Select Committee on School Safety held its first meeting in April, I had the opportunity to visit a number of schools in Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham Counties in May, and this week the General Assembly completed its work on the budget! I hope you'll take a moment to learn about these items and more, including tips to prepare for hurricane season, in this week's Landes Letter.
2018-2020 Biennial Budget
On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted to accept the Senate amendments to the House budget bills, passing the biennial budget and sending it to Governor Ralph Northam for his signature. While I am pleased we passed a budget before the June 30th deadline, Medicaid expansion, a program that currently takes up 23% of General Funds, and the inclusion of a $600 million provider tax paid by hospitals prevented me from voting in favor of the budget. Sadly, the General Assembly abandoned its longstanding tradition of passing fiscally responsible and structurally sound budgets. Additionally, the budget failed to provide any relief for Virginians with private insurance who continue to see their premiums skyrocket.
We have seen Medicaid enrollment numbers in states with expansion balloon by over 100% of projected enrollments. Expansion has wreaked havoc on the budgets of the states that have already expanded, and even without expansion, Medicaid has been growing at an unsustainable rate and consuming more and more of our General Funds. As Medicaid costs continue to grow, we will have fewer dollars to pay for K-12 education, law enforcement, and infrastructure, to name just a few of the services that will suffer as we work to balance future budgets.
While I voted against the biennial budget due to its inclusion of Medicaid expansion and the long-term consequences expansion would have on the fiscal health of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our citizens, there were a number of worthy provisions included, which are listed below:
- A three percent pay raise for teachers.
- Over $1 billion in new funding for K-12 education, and more money sent back to local school districts to use with no state strings attached.
- $1.3 million in additional funding for the School Resource Officer Grant Program to help local schools hire additional school resource officers.
- A two percent pay raise for our hardworking state employees.
- A minimum salary increase for Sheriff’s Deputies and Correctional Officers to $32,500.
- Over $100 million in targeted economic development funding.
- $15 million for GO Virginia, and $4 million for broadband development in rural Virginia
Select Committee on School Safety & 25th District School Visits
On April 26th, we held the inaugural meeting of the House Select Committee on School Safety. The Select Committee met to organize and receive presentations on the current law in Virginia as it relates to school safety. During this meeting, I was appointed Chairman of the Subcommittee on Student Behavior and Intervention. The meeting was a great first step in our work to enhance school security and keep our teachers and students safe. I am confident we will have concrete recommendations for the General Assembly to consider in the 2019 Session as a result of the Committee's work.
Early in May, I began visiting schools in the 25th District to review state and local policies on school safety and learn about best practices we can share with the General Assembly. Delegates Dickie Bell, R-Staunton and Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, and Senator Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, joined me for some of these visits. We are all grateful to the staff, education, and law enforcement officials that participated in these visits. We learned a great deal about the steps being taken to ensure student and teacher safety and appreciated the knowledge gained from these visits.
Weyers Cave and Crozet Parades
I invite you to join us for two upcoming parades. The first will be the Weyers Cave Volunteer Firemen’s Parade next Friday in Weyers Cave, where my House colleague and 6th Congressional District nominee Ben Cline will be joining us. The second will be the Crozet Independence Day Parade, Saturday, June 30th in Crozet. If you are able to join us for one or both of these parades, please contact Will Wrobleski by email here or call him at (603) 660-8811. Details are listed below and we’ll provide the candy!
Weyers Cave Volunteer Firemen’s Company Parade
Friday, June 8th, 7:00 P.M. (6:30 P.M. Line-up)
Weyers Cave Ruritan Grounds
682 Weyers Cave Road, Weyers Cave, VA 24486
Crozet Independence Day Parade
Saturday, June 30th, 5:00 P.M. (4:00 P.M. Line-up)
Crozet Elementary School
1407 Crozet Avenue, Crozet, VA 22932
(Parade ends at Claudius Crozet Park/Park Road)
Flooding & Hurricane Information
Today marks the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season. Now is a good time to begin preparations for any adverse weather we may experience in the upcoming months, including heavy rains and possible flooding. In 2017, the Atlantic basin had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes. This year, 12-16 named storms, including 5-8 hurricanes, and 2-3 major hurricanes (Category 3+), are expected. Taking steps today, such as acquiring flood insurance, having family and business emergency plans in place, assembling emergency kits, and staying informed as storms approach are a few ways to minimize the negative effects of severe weather.
Below are useful links to prepare for this year’s hurricane season:
Below are additional tips to prepare for flooding provided by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management:
- Know the weather terms and what you should do:
o Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: There is an increased possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.
o Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will likely occur very soon. If emergency officials advise you to evacuate, do so immediately.
o Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately – don’t wait for official instructions.
- Be prepared to evacuate. Don’t return to your home until local officials say it is safe. After floodwaters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse. Buildings might be unstable, and drinking water might be contaminated.
- Use common sense and look for information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
- Do not walk through moving water. Look for areas where the water is not moving. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
- For more information, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/floods/
Virginia History Trails App
The 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ is proud to present the Virginia History Trails app, which is a Legacy Project of the 2019 Commemoration funded by the General Assembly. The Virginia History Trails app features over 400 stories of the dynamic places and people, including those here in the 25th District, that highlight the first 400 years of Virginia History. This is a great way to engage new generations to pursue a deeper understanding of our rich history using 21st Century technology. I encourage you to download the app, which you can learn more about here.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
At the May meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), I was elected Vice Chairman of JLARC, which I have served as a member since 2014. I am grateful to the members of JLARC for the confidence expressed in me with my election as Vice Chairman. JLARC’s goals to maintain an informed legislature, ensure compliance with legislative intent, and maximize effectiveness, efficiency, and cost savings in state agencies are critical to the governance of the Commonwealth. Members of the General Assembly rely on the rigor, objectivity, and nonpartisanship that guide JLARC’s crucial oversight. I look forward to serving in this new role and to continue the important work conducted by JLARC. It is truly an honor to serve on this body and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve in this new role.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) conducts program evaluation, policy analysis, and oversight of state agencies on behalf of the Virginia General Assembly. The Code of Virginia authorizes the duties of the Commission. The Commission comprises nine members of the House of Delegates, of whom at least five also serve on the House Appropriations Committee, and five members of the Senate, of whom two also serve on the Senate Finance Committee. Delegates are appointed by the Speaker of the House, and Senators by the Senate Rules Committee. The Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected by a majority of Commission members and traditionally have rotated every two years between the House and Senate. The Auditor of Public Accounts is an ex officio, non-voting member of the Commission.
Commission on Youth and Commission on Civic Education Meetings
On Wednesday, I'll once again be in Richmond to attend meetings for the Commission on Youth and the Commission on Civic Education. The Commission on Youth meeting will focus on school resource officers. You can view more on these meetings, including agendas, here. Both meetings will be held in the Pocahontas Building in Richmond and are open to the public.
In Case You Missed It
As always, my Legislative Director, Judy Wyatt, Communications Director, Will Wrobleski, and I are here to serve you. If you need help with a state government agency or issue, we can be reached by phone at 540.255.5335 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our address is Post Office Box 12, Verona, Virginia 24482.
Please visit my website at www.stevelandes.com for my latest press releases and newsletters. Also, be sure to “like” my Facebook Fan Page or you can now follow me on Twitter @steve_landes by clicking the buttons below:
Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.