Update from Speaker Kirk Cox

Dear Friend,

From meeting with constituents to providing legislative updates to civic groups, it’s been a busy few weeks here in the office. It’s my hope that these regular email updates keep you in the loop. I’m here to serve you and your family.

Budget Update

As you may know, the General Assembly adjourned the regular session this year without completing work on the state budget. Governor Ralph Northam convened a special session on April 11th to complete work on the budget.

Six days later, the House of Delegates passed a bipartisan, balanced budget. Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to act on those two bills. The Senate has indicated that they will refer the budget to the Senate Finance Committee on May 14th, but they have not given House leadership any further indication of when they will take a final vote on the budget.

The lack of clarity or urgency on the Senate’s part is extremely concerning as we have less than two months before the end of the fiscal year. Along with my colleagues in House leadership, I sent a letter to Senate leaders asking the Senate to clearly communicate when it intends to finalize work on the budget so we can continue our discussions.

It is imperative that we pass a state budget soon, as the Senate’s delay is impacting teacher contracts for the next academic year and local governments attempting to craft their budget. Without guidance on funding levels from the state, local governments and school boards are left to craft a budget with a blindfold on.

Select Committee Update

In the aftermath of the tragic events that occured at Virginia Tech in 2007, the General Assembly took swift action reforming Virginia’s mental health system and updating our background check system, which is considered one of the most comprehensive in the nation.

But with subsequent shootings in schools, including the recent attack at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Florida, we cannot simply hope that actions taken ten years ago will keep our school safe today. We must be ever vigilant in making sure that our schools are a safe learning environment. To that end, I used by authority as Speaker of the House to establish the House Select Committee on School Safety to review and update school safety protocols here in the Commonwealth.

The first meeting of the House Select Committee on School Safety successfully took place on April 26th in Richmond. At this meeting, I announced the formation of three subcommittees that will delve into the weeds of various proposals aimed at securing our schools. These three subcommittees are the Infrastructure & Security Subcommittee, the Prevention & Response Subcommittee, and the Student Behavior & Response Subcommittee. I believe that these these subcommittees will allow us to consider a wide variety of solutions.

Members of the House Select Committee on School Safety at the April 23rd meeting in Richmond.

The House Select Committee on School Safety, the first select committee in over 150 years, will continue meeting throughout the summer and fall, and will produce a list of legislative recommendations for the full House to consider when it convenes in January 2019. I hope that you will share your thoughts will us on school safety by visiting schoolsafety.virginia.gov. Your input is vital to this process.

Mega Site Update

The Chesterfield Economic Development Authority recently announced that they will withdraw their rezoning application for the Matoaca Mega Site. From the day the Mega Site was announced, I said it was important for projects of this scale to have the appropriate level of community involvement. And as I said last week, it’s clear the project did not have the community support necessary to succeed. Chesterfield’s decision to withdraw the mega site application is the right step for our community and the county. As this moves forward, it’s important that Chesterfield and citizens work together proactively and collaboratively to chart a course that garners a greater consensus from everyone involved.

History Trail App Debut

2019 is an important year in Virginia! It marks 400 years since the founding of the Virginia General Assembly, which holds the distinct title of being the oldest elected lawmaking body in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, 2019 marks 400 years since the first Thanksgiving was celebrated right here in Virginia, 400 years since women began arriving in the English colonies, and the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in the English colonies.

As part of the events recognizing our history, the 2019 Commemoration recently released its “Virginia History Trails” app for both iPhone and Android phones. The app is designed specifically for lovers of our rich history. You can explore over 400 historical figures and sites that have impacted our Commonwealth throughout history.

On the app, you’ll find classic Virginia historical sites like Mount Vernon and Monticello, a plethora of sites telling the story of the Civil Rights movement in Virginia, and nearby historical sites located in Chesterfield, Richmond, and the tri-cities. I hope you’ll take advantage of this app in the coming summer months. To download this free app, simply search “Virginia History Trail” in your phone’s app store.

Around the District

Small Business Week

National Small Business week occurred by proclamation of the President from April 29th to May 5th. I was pleased to meet with small business owners in Chesterfield County to learn more about their business and what makes their endeavors successful.

Jimer’s Frozen Custard, a family owned and run business, is a staple of western Chesterfield. You’ll often find long lines during the summer months waiting to buy some of Mr. Jimer’s famous frozen custard. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and stop by next time you drive by.

Jeweler’s Services recently relocated to Chesterfield after serving Carytown for the past 35 years. As of 2017, Jeweler’s Services is a 100% women owned and run small business. A special thanks to Jill LaPrad and her entire team at Jeweler’s for showing me around and selecting the 66th district as the new home for their business.

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, a time set aside specifically for us to acknowledge and thank the teachers in our lives. My own mother, a teacher herself, was instrumental in both my brother’s and my decisions to become educators.

Speaker Cox delivering cookies to Harrowgate Elementary School in Chester.

This week I’m travelling to schools across the 66th House district thanking teachers and staff for all the incredible work they do for our students. I hope that you will also take time this week to thank a teacher that made an impact on your life.

Outside of session, you can contact me in my district office via phone at 526-5135; by email at kirk@kirk.aodev4.com; or by US mail at PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights, VA 23834. I encourage you to visit my Facebook page, Twitter page, and website to stay up to date with events taking place in the 66th district and your state government.

Sincerely,

Kirk Cox