The 2018 General Assembly session is in full swing! Last week we began meeting with our assigned committees and on Wednesday, I chaired my second meeting of the House Education Committee. I
look forward to working with other members of our House to pass practical solutions to everyday issues.
I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with so many of you who have stopped by my Capitol office over the past two weeks. If you happen to be in the Richmond area during this year’s General Assembly Session please stop in and say hello. I'd especially like to thank Pastor Bill Davis (pictured right) of Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Verona, for delivering our opening invocation on Friday!
Governor Northam’s State of the Commonwealth
Last week when Speaker of the House Kirk Cox was sworn in, he delivered an inspiring speech on bipartisanship. Majority Leader Todd Gilbert followed that up this past Monday with a similar speech calling on both sides to work together to get things done.
However our new Governor Ralph Northam struck a very partisan tone in both his Inaugural Address as well as his first Address to the Joint Assembly on Monday night. Governor Northam mentioned the word bipartisan only once in his remarks and emphasized many partisan issues on which we disagree. He certainly made a point to mention limiting the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens and implementing carbon caps. We don’t think those issues should be top priorities. The governor missed an opportunity to continue on the theme of cooperation that the House is attempting to set as we commence our work this year. It’s harder to be optimistic about the potential for our relationship with Governor Northam after his speech.
I am hopeful we’ll still be able to move forward on the issues where we can find common ground. We are going to stay focused on jobs and education and avoid the controversial partisan issues the Democrats seem insistent on passing. There’s a lot of work to be done over the next 55 days and we are just getting started! Hopefully these first speeches by the Governor were the exception, not the new normal. We’ve identified 18 issues we wish the Governor had spent more time on. If you would like to see what our priorities are, and compare them with the agenda laid out by Northam, you can click here.
The budget is the most important thing we do in the General Assembly. On Wednesday, Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones, spoke to members about the budgeting process. It is not a partisan piece of legislation and represents the best opportunity we have to work across the aisle. We will be consistent with what we have done in the past and work efficiently and in a transparent manner. The budget we pass will be structurally balanced and show a commitment to the core functions of government, while protecting Virginians’ taxpayer dollars. If you would like to watch Chairman Jones’ speech he gave on the House Floor this week, you can watch it by clicking here.
Last week, I outlined a number of bills I have introduced as part of my education agenda for the 2018 General Assembly session. Education remains a top priority for Virginians and I am committed to ensuring every student in Virginia receives the best education possible, regardless of his or her ZIP code. This comprehensive legislative package will help students in K-12, as well as our students of higher education. As Chairman of the House Education Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as Governor Northam, to implement education reforms and innovations that will ensure our children possess the tools necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing economy. You can read more about these bills, including a brief description of each here.
I have also introduced a number of budget amendments, which are now available online. As always, my amendments direct funding towards my priorities of economic development, education, and healthcare. I also offer cost saving amendments to ensure available funding for those priorities. You can view my proposed budget amendments here. Also, if you'd like to watch us live while we are hard at work at the General Assembly, you can do so by clicking here.
Last week I enjoyed meeting with Daniel and Lydia Warren of Bridgewater, Mary Mannix of Augusta Health, Weyers Cave’s Christa Cabe, representing Rockbridge Area Community Services, Secretary of Education Designee Atif Qarni, Secretary of Natural Resources Designee Matt Strickler, and Frank Tamberrino and members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Chamber of Commerce (pictured below).
My staff enjoyed meeting with Virginia Rovnyak, Debby Garth and other members of the Charlottesville Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention and William and Mary College students, including Danny O’Dea of Crozet.
Over the next few weeks, I'd like to take a moment to tell you a little about the members of my staff that keep our operations running smoothly. This week our staff spotlight is on our new Administrative Assistant, Pam Stump. This is Pam's fifth year at the House of Delegates. Previously, she worked for Delegates Joseph Lindsey and Roslyn Tyler.
Pam retired from Sun Trust Bank in 2012, where she worked in Human Resources. Pam was a recruiter for both executive and technical level positions and worked in a variety of HR functions, including employee relations, training, and merger related initiatives. She also worked in real estate for nine years. Her hobbies include tennis, reading, running and spending time with her grandchildren. We are grateful to have Pam on our team!
In Case You Missed It
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.