The House of Delegates convened at noon of April 11th to organize with the Senate of Virginia to start the special session and continue our work on a new two-year state budget. On Wednesday, the General Assembly held its Reconvened Session to address Governor Ralph Northam's vetoes and recommendations. We continue our work on the biennium budget and I am hopeful we will complete that work soon. A lot has been happening in the General Assembly and I encourage you to learn about our recent activities by continuing reading below.
The Governor vetoed 10 bills and recommended amendments to 60 bills passed by the 2018 Session of the General Assembly. This included 8 vetoes and 32 amendments for House bills. On Wednesday, we met to address those vetoes and recommendations. The House accepted most of the Governor's recommendations with the exception of redistricting, the coal tax credit, and Metro tax increases. We failed to override his veto of Delegate Ben Cline's, R-Amherst, sanctuary cities bill.
The Division of Legislative Services (DLS) staff prepared summaries to assist General Assembly members during their deliberations at the Reconvened Session on April 18th. This informative piece from the DLS may be viewed here.
The House of Delegates adjourned sine die on March 10th without completing the work on the biennium budget. On March 13th, Governor Northam called for a Special Session. The House convened for Special Session on April 11th. This is the 6th Special Session to complete work on the budget in the last 20 years. On April 13th, the House Appropriations Committee met and recommended amendments to House Bills 5001 and 5002. On April 17th, the House convened, adopted budget bills, and adjourned to the call of the Speaker.
A roughly $400 million dollar gap exists between the House and Senate over the budget. The biggest difference remains the respective bodies approach to healthcare. The House budget includes Medicaid expansion. While the Senate approach does not specifically prohibit expansion, it seeks to provide other healthcare services through an “aspirational” approach.
Where does that leave us? The Senate Finance Committee is expected to meet soon to take up the budget. We do not know when the Senate will return, but it is likely the House will return on the same day to put the budget in Conference.
2018 General Assembly Session Update on My Legislation
House Bills 3, 344, 347, 760, 761, 775, 776, 897, 916, 1125, 1148, 1551, and 1599 have passed in both the House and Senate and were signed into law by Governor Northam. Many of these bills were the results of input I received from folks back home, for which I am grateful. These bills reflect my commitment to economic development and education. While Governor Northam vetoed 1568, which was introduced out of concern with how the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity was utilizing grant funds, I did not contest the veto as I believe we can address these concerns with the Department over the next year. The Virginia Public Access Project created an interesting visualization of Legislators' "Batting Averages," which reflects the number of bills passed out the number of bills introduced by individual legislators. You can view the full listing here. The average for individual legislators' success was 34%, while mine was 56%.
Speaker Appointments and Reappointments
Yesterday, I was appointed to the Commission on Civic Education, the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences, and the Standards of Learning Innovation Reform Committee by House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights. In addition to those appointments, I will continue to serve on the Education Commission of the States, the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia Board of Trustees, the Governor's Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, and the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board.
I am grateful to Speaker Cox for the confidence expressed in me with these appointments to serve on a wide variety of Boards and Commissions for the betterment of the Commonwealth. I look forward to serving on these groups to further my work promoting economic development and educational excellence. It is truly on honor to serve on these bodies and I am thankful for the opportunity to do so. I also appreciate the Speaker’s kind words regarding my appointments, which you can read below.
“Throughout his time in the General Assembly, Delegate Landes has championed the House's efforts to strengthen Virginia's economy and educational opportunities” said Speaker Cox. “He understands the challenges facing us on these key issues and provides the Boards and Commissions he serves on with a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge and profound understanding of the policies affecting them. Delegate Landes will be a great asset to these bodies on which he serves.”
Select Committee on School Safety
The House Select Committee on School Safety will soon be launching a website to provide information and seek recommendations for the Committee. I will let you know when that website becomes active and include a link on SteveLandes.com, so please stay tuned. We will be having our first meeting of the Committee on next Thursday. You can learn more about that meeting here. Additionally, I will be visiting schools in Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham Counties over the coming weeks and I look forward to seeing the security measures currently in place our schools and receiving input from our school officials and educators to share with the Committee.
The Commonwealth's 2019 Commemoration Schools Campaign
AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ commemorates the 400th anniversary of several key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today. Featured events, programs, and legacy projects inspire local, national, and international engagement in the themes of democracy, diversity, and opportunity.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has launched the 2019 Commemoration Schools Campaign, Virginia's banner program during the commemorative school year. It encourages participation from all districts and subject areas. In Fall 2018, the 2019 Commemoration will invite schools to integrate "2019 Spirit" into their curriculum, projects, and programs. Schools can choose from project ideas listed online, which can be found here, or create their own projects and activities. Engaged schools will receive an official designation from American Evolution, 2019 Commemoration (pictured below).
Participation is open to every public or private school community in the Commonwealth (K-12, all grades). The campaign officially launches in the fall, but interested teachers can sign up now. Please see the American Evolution website for more details and ways to participate.
The 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education, is commemorating key historical events that marked the beginning of our ongoing journey to democracy, diversity, and opportunity, including:
- First Representative Legislative Assembly in the New World
- First Recorded Africans to English North America
- Recruitment of English Women to the Virginia Colony in Significant Numbers
- First Official English Thanksgiving in North America
- The Entrepreneurial Beginnings and Innovative Spirit of the Virginia Colony
Should you have any questions or would like additional information on this exciting program, please contact Kristin Ritchey at email@example.com with any questions or suggestions.
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.