The 2017 General Assembly Session has officially begun! Last Wednesday at noon, the Speaker gaveled the House to order signifying the start of the 2017 General Assembly session. This year will be a short session (46 days) as our primary responsibility is to make adjustments to our biennial budget. However, we are still putting forth a host of legislative proposals aimed at creating jobs, lowering healthcare costs, and increasing educational opportunities. We have much to accomplish this year, but we are focused on doing the work of the people and completing the session on time!
State of the Commonwealth
Last Wednesday, Governor McAuliffe delivered the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. As this is his final year in office, a great deal of his speech was a review of his time as Governor. Republican Delegate Ron Villanueva (Virginia Beach) and Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (Henrico) delivered the Republican response to the State of the Commonwealth. They reminded us that with last November’s elections, there are big changes coming to our nation’s Capitol. Some of these changes, like rebuilding our national defense and including coal in a comprehensive approach to energy independence, will greatly benefit Virginia. But our state Capitol is where a lot of work is being done that will directly benefit all Virginians. We know Virginian’s have had enough of partisan squabbles and those of us in the legislature are committed to passing commonsense priorities that are both conservative and contain broad appeal.
The House is committed to building on our previous advances in improved transparency, such as the two-day waiting period before voting on the budget and prohibiting committee meetings held at member desks on the chamber floor. We take public access to the legislative proceedings seriously. A new transparency measure was announced on the first day: the video archiving of each day’s session. The new archive, available from the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 session on demand. The House also has created a search feature that will allow viewers to search by bill or by member.
Friday Legislative Survey Deadline
I want to hear from you! If you have not yet completed a survey for the 2017 legislative session, I hope you will take a moment to do so prior to this Friday's deadline. You can complete this year's survey by clicking the link here. Please feel free to share this link with other residents of the 25th District as well. I always look forward to receiving your input and appreciate our feedback.
In August of last year, Governor McAuliffe announced a budget shortfall of over $1 billion. The shortfall resulted from a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Unfortunately, the “New Virginia” economy Governor McAuliffe is always championing has been steadily replacing high paying full time jobs with lower paying part time jobs. Virginia’s economy has lost more than 4,000 jobs, weekly wages are down, and part-time employees are up by more than 20,000 since 2015.
Unlike Washington, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House to develop our budget solutions. Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources. We will continue to invest in key priorities, but in a fiscally prudent manner.
My Legislative Priorities
I have introduced a number of bills for the 2017 General Assembly session. My focus remains on the issues you care about most: economic development, education, and healthcare, and once again I have introduced legislation to address those concerns. House Bills 1968, 1969, and 2220 relate to economic development; House Bills 1401, 1402 and 2191 relate to education; House Bill 2053 and House Joint Resolution 675 relate to healthcare; and finally House Bills 1396, 1970 and 2192 relate to assisting local governments. You can read more about these bills here.
It's always nice to visit with folks from back home! Last week I had the pleasure of speaker with Sheriff Donald Smith and other members of the Augusta County Sheriff's Department. James Madison University Student Body President Matthew Mueller and fellow Dukes, Jewel Hurt and Samantha Cantrell spoke with my staff to discuss higher education funding, and Pastor Heath Spivey from the Crossroads Baptist Church visited with my staff as well.
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 also pleased to welcome back my Administrative Assistant Carolyn Musika and we welcome Rima Chavda, who will be interning in our office for the 2017 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 email@example.com. 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.