The 2018 General Assembly session has officially arrived! This year will be a long session (60 days) where we tackle important issues such as healthcare, the opioid crisis, the teacher shortage, and the state budget. The election cycle may have lasted longer than anyone expected, but there is a lot of work to get done, and that work is underway.
This is my first update of the 2018 session. I will be updating you weekly via email on actions taken by the House of Delegates and our friends in the Senate.
Election as Speaker
Earlier this week, I had the distinct honor of becoming the 55th Speaker of House of Delegates. I am proud to be the first Speaker in state history from Colonial Heights, the first Speaker to represent a portion of Chesterfield County since the mid-1800s, and the first public school teacher to become Speaker. I’m grateful for my wife Julie and my entire family for their unwavering support along this journey. I am also grateful to my friend, Speaker Bill Howell, for his friendship, for serving as my mentor, and for showing me what a dedicated public servant looks like. You can watch my full address to members of the House here.
House Republicans Make Government More Transparent
On the opening day of session, the House Republican majority passed a bipartisan rules package that included several items that will make the House more transparent and more efficient. New transparency measures that will take effect in 2018 include:
- Extending proportional representation to all subcommittees
- Requiring recorded votes on subcommittee actions
- Live streaming all committee meetings
These new transparency measures come on the back of other transparency measures that are already part of the House rules. These existing measures include:
- Proportional representation on all committees
- Banning committee meetings at member’s desks on the House floor, a practice that prevented the public from attending
- Requiring a 48 hour waiting period after the proposed state budget was posted online and distributed to members before voting
I am proud to stand with my Republican colleagues to support these bipartisan transparency measures that will make government more accessible.
On Saturday, Ralph Northam will be sworn in as the 73rd Governor of Virginia. The Governor-elect is a former member of the state Senate and has worked with members of both parties. While I am sure we will not agree on everything, I do look forward to finding ways where we can work together to better our Commonwealth.
The inaugural ceremonies will begin promptly at 12 noon on Saturday, January 13th. As the ceremony is technically an action of the Joint Assembly of the legislature (meaning the House and Senate seated as one body), I will preside over the events.
The inauguration and the subsequent parade will be broadcast on several channels in the Richmond media market. Or, you can live stream it from the General Assembly’s website.
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 very first three bills filed this year were apart of this agenda.
- House Bill 1 is focused 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 and we want to help combat that.
- House Bill 3 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 family time and money, by ensuring dual enrollment programs are working as intended.
As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Some of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out online here. Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 66th district to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues will drive my work in Richmond. Please make sure you complete and send in your survey by January 31st.
Upcoming Road Projects
Residents in Colonial Heights will see a number of road projects take place in 2018. Roads included in this year’s resurfacing schedule include Stratford Drive, Mallard Drive, and a large section of the Boulevard. The city’s public works department plans to begin accepting bids to repave both Lakeview Avenue and Dupuy Avenue during 2018. Click here for more information from the Progress-Index.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at email@example.com or call me at (804) 698-1066. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages by liking my Facebook page or following me on Twitter.