We have entered into February and Crossover is fast approaching! Crossover is the time when all the bills passed by the House move to the Senate for consideration and all of the Senate bills come to the House for consideration. We have already passed several major pieces of legislation in the House and we look forward to building on that work.
Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
House Republicans are leading by example with passage of House Bill 371, sponsored by Delegate Roxann Robinson, which will require sexual harassment prevention training for all General Assembly employees. This is an important topic and has been a priority for us. In light of recent news reports across the country regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, this legislation assures our constituents that we take the issue seriously.
The extensive course will be administered by the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate. Elected Delegates and Senators, as well as staff members of both bodies, will be required to take the training courses upon hiring and every two years thereafter. Republicans unanimously voted for the bill, while 10 Democrats voted against it.
House Republicans Kill Proposed Tax Hike
Republicans in the House once again stood up for Virginia taxpayers last week, killing a bill to raise taxes on hardworking Virginians. House Bill 1051 was introduced by Democrat Delegate Vivian Watts and would have instituted a tax on streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. This bill would have disproportionately affected millennials who enjoy these streaming services, as well as every family who enjoys a movie night together at home. Republicans unanimously voted to defeat the tax increase proposal. Over the past 15 years the Republican-led House has defeated more than $30 billion in tax increases.
Reforming State Board of Elections to Guarantee Non-Partisan Administration of Elections
On Thursday, we passed legislation reforming the State Board of Elections to guarantee the nonpartisan administration of elections in the Commonwealth. House Bill 1405, sponsored by Delegate Margaret Ransone, which passed with unanimous Republican support, increases the number of members on the Board from three to six, requiring three to be from the party that won the most recent gubernatorial election and three from the party receiving the next highest number of votes.
As we saw this past election cycle with Delegate Bob Thomas, the State Board of Elections (SBE), which is controlled by Democrats, delayed Thomas’ election certification on a party line vote. It took a federal judge intervening to force the SBE to declare Thomas the rightful winner. If the SBE is evenly split these decisions will not be partisan.
A number of my bills have been passed in the House of Delegates and will move to the Senate for consideration. Others have been reported out of committee and will receive consideration on the floor of the House. Please find a brief update and votes on some of my bills below and you can view the status of all of my bills here.
Legislation Advancing to the Senate:
House Bill 344, which requires each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth to establish and include in its student handbook, on its website, and in its student orientation programs policies regarding free speech on campus; develop training materials and implement training programs on such policies for any employee who is responsible for the discipline or education of enrolled students; and post conspicuously on its website and annually update a report relating to free speech on campus.
House Bill 347, which requires the data that the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia annually collects and publishes on the percentage of graduates of public institutions of higher education and certain nonprofit private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth who are known to be employed in the Commonwealth and the average salary and the average higher education-related debt for such graduates to be disaggregated by degree program and level. (Passed the House, 99-0)
House Bill 761, which authorizes the issuance of revenue-sharing special license plates for members and supporters of the Virginia Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation bearing the legend BELIEVING IN THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE SINCE 1927 WE ARE THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE FFA. (Passed the House, 99-0)
House Bill 776, which adds Albemarle County to the list of counties that may, by ordinance, regulate parking on secondary highways. (Passed the House, 99-0)
House Bill 1599, which adds members of the investigations unit designated by the State Inspector General to investigate allegations of criminal behavior affecting the operations of a state or non-state agency to the definition of law-enforcement officer. (Passed the House, 98-0)
Legislation Reported From Committee:
House Bill 3,which provides certainty for high school students enrolled in qualifying dual enrollment courses that higher education institutions will accept those credits. This will save students and their families time and money by ensuring dual enrollment programs are working as intended. (Reported from House Committee on Appropriations 22-0)
House Bill 775, which authorizes Albemarle County, which has adopted the county executive form of government, to provide by ordinance reasonable criteria and requirements for the removal of accumulations of snow and ice from public sidewalks by the owner or other person in charge of any occupied property. (Reported from the House Committee on Counties Cities and Towns, 19-3)
House Bill 916, which requires the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to administer Long-Term Employment Support Services and Extended Employment Services to assist individuals with disabilities with maintaining employment. (Reported from House Committee on Appropriations with substitute, 21-0)
House Bill 1540, which extends the sunset provision of the Commission on Civic Education from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020 and expands the number of members on the Commission. (Reported from House Committee of Rules with substitute, 16-0)
I have enjoyed seeing many of you here in Richmond at my Capitol Office and I hope folks will continue to stop by over the course of the 2018 General Assembly Session. Last week I spoke with Brigadier General Teresa Djurik and members of the Cadet Corps from Mary Baldwin University (pictured below) and Annette Medlin, President and CEO, and Megan Hardin, Director of Operations, of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce.
My staff met with Doctors Diane Pappas, Robert Gunther, Rob Trundle and Eliza Holland, all of Albemarle County, Lorne Seay of Grottoes and members of the IBEW, Executive Director Gayl Brunk and other members of the Valley Associates for Independent Living, and Kim Crater, Anne Spanos and Sue Smith, all of Charlottesville.
In Case You Missed It
This week’s staff spotlight is on our intern, Zach Villegas, who joins us for the 2018 General Assembly session. Zach is a full-time student at VCU in his junior year, double majoring in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice. He is fascinated by politics and economics and hopes to pursue a career in either federal or state government.
Zach is an only child to a single mom, who as a child moved around frequently until he and his mother settled in Northern Virginia, where they now reside. Zach’s mother is his idol. She is a very hardworking independent woman who he very much loves and respects. Zach emulates his mother’s work ethic and works three jobs to support himself and have spending money to pursue his interests.
In his sparse free time, he is a big music and sports fan, attending concerts and games when possible. After college, he hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree. Zach’s life motto is the quote by George Bernard Shaw, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.” Zach has been an exceptional addition to our team and we are pleased to have him join us for the 2018 General Assembly session!
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 804.698.1025 or by email at email@example.com. Our address is Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23219. For scheduling requests, please contact my Administrative Assistant Pam Stump in my Richmond office.
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Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.