The 2018 General Assembly session has officially begun! This year will be a “long session,” (60 days), where we will tackle important issues such as healthcare, growing our economy, and education. The election cycle may have lasted longer than anyone expected, but there is much work to be done, which began last Wednesday. House Republicans have laid out our “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems facing Virginians.
Congratulations to Speaker Cox
The House was officially gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 10th at noon. It started with Republican Delegate Kirk Cox being unanimously elected to be the 55th Speaker of the House. Speaker Cox set a clear tone for the 2018 Session, pledging to focus on governing, work across the aisle, and lead with character and integrity.
House Republicans Make Government More Transparent
The Republican Majority passed a rules package that expands the existing rule on proportional representation, to both committees and subcommittees, and required the House to utilize electronic voting equipment to record votes in committee and subcommittee. The House will also live stream all committee meetings, as announced in 2017. The House unanimously approved these changes.
Last year the house continued making advances in improving transparency. We instituted a two-day waiting period before voting on the budget to provide the public an opportunity to review the proposal and we prohibited committee meetings held at member desks on the chamber floor. My House Republican colleagues and I take public access to the legislative proceedings seriously, as these actions demonstrate.
On Thursday, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) exercised his authority as presiding officer of the 100-member body to name delegates to the 14 standing committees of the House.
My committee assignments remain unchanged. Once again I’ll serve as Chairman of the House Education Committee and as Vice-Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. I’ll also continue to serve on the House Privileges and Elections and House Rules Committees. I am honored to chair the House Education Committee and look forward to implementing education innovations that will ensure every child in Virginia receives access to a high quality education, regardless of his or her ZIP code. As Vice-Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working with Chairman Chris Jones and my colleagues to craft a fiscally responsible budget that invests in core government functions and key priorities, while protecting the Commonwealth's taxpayer funds.
Additionally, on Friday, House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones appointed me to four Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee. I will be serving on the Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Technology Subcommittee, the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee, and the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
Governor Ralph Northam Inaugurated
On Saturday, Ralph Northam was sworn in as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a former Senator and Lieutenant Governor, Governor Northam is someone who has worked well with members of both parties. I enjoyed serving on the Inaugural Committee and look forward to working with Governor Northam to find solutions to the issues Virginians care about most.
Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues
House Republicans have laid out the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home. The first three bills filed this year were a part of this agenda.
- House Bill 1 focuses on protecting student information from being FOIA’d by outside groups. Political activist groups and campaigns were accessing this data, unbeknownst to the students.
- House Bill 2 allows for the spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. Virginia is experiencing a teacher shortage we wish to address.
- House Bill 3, which I patroned, 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.
I remain steadfastly committed to promoting economic development, providing the best education possible for all of Virginia's students, and increasing healthcare access, affordability, and choice. The legislation I'm working on this session will reflect that and I'll be sure to provide you with additional information as various pieces of legislation advance through the General Assembly. For a complete listing of the bills I've introduced thus far, please click here.
Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to complete one of my pre-session legislative surveys. The results of this year's surveys are currently being tabulated. Once this process has been completed, I will share the results and key findings with you!
In Case You Missed It
As always, my Legislative Director, Judy Wyatt, Communications Director, Will Wrobleski, and I are here to serve you. We are pleased to welcome Pam Stump as our new Administrative Assistant and Zach Villegas, who will be interning in our office for the 2018 General Assembly session. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Our address is Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23219.
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.