With storms likely on Friday and Saturday, I first want to make sure you have access to this helpful information from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on severe weather. Be sure to stay tuned to local media for the latest on the changing weather.
With that being said, I’m continuing my weekly series highlighting 51 unique accomplishments by the Republican-led House of Delegates. I’ll be sending weekly emails about our successful efforts, as well as daily posts on my Facebook and Twitter pages. If you missed last week’s email, you can read it here.
Our tax reform package was the highlight of this year’s legislative session. It provides nearly $1 billion in tax relief for Virginia families. In addition to tax reform, here are some more of our legislative accomplishments:
#35 – Stopping School Bus Scofflaws
We’ve all seen it. As we patiently wait for the neighborhood kids to get on the school bus in front of us, someone else decides they don’t have time to wait.
With blatant disregard for the law and the safety of the small children on their way to school, someone pulls out of line and drives past the extended stop arm. They might be late for work, but that’s not more important than the lives of children on their way to Kindergarten.
Local officials knew it was a problem, and they reached out to our caucus in the General Assembly for help.
That’s why I was proud to stand with Delegate Rob Bell this session and back legislation that gives school districts more tools to deal with scofflaws who pass stopped busses illegally.
Delegate Bell’s House Bill 2344 allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to share selected car owner information with contractors responsible for managing cameras mounted on bus stop signs. Thanks to this law, a well deserved ticket will follow scofflaws who put children in danger almost every time.
HB 2344 is just common sense, and one more accomplishment from a Republican caucus committed to making the lives of every Virginian better.
#36 – Bringing Bookkeeping into the 21st Century
Not every common sense piece of legislation winds up on the front page, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
Delegate Emily Brewer’s House Bill 1731 is one of the simplest and most common-sense bills that Republicans embraced this session. Under the law as it existed, the treasurers who keep the books for cities and counties are literally required to keep the books — all expenditures drawn on the public treasury were to be recorded in a “well-bound book.”
Treasurers do critical work for our local governments, ensuring that public funds are collected, invested, and distributed in accordance with the law. But with county budgets that in some instances run into the billions, keeping an actual physical, bound ledger of the public funds the old fashioned way doesn’t make sense.
Delegate Brewer’s bill allows treasurers to keep records in the way that works best for their localities — allowing these crucial constitutional officers the freedom to use the best tools for the job whether is be a digital record or a hard-copy record. This law leaves an outdated but well-intentioned part of the Code of Virginia in the past.
#37 – Saving Lives from Overdoses
Opioid addictions and overdoses claim the lives of far too many Virginians’ each year.
In 2017, the latest year for which comprehensive statistics are available, more Virginians died from drug overdose than from all firearms-related causes — both homicide and suicide — combined.
Republicans have been at the forefront of the fight against this horrifying trend. Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, is the one sure-fire antidote that can save a life in case of an overdose. But every second is precious. That’s why Republicans were proud to support legislation from Del. Scott Garrett that adds employees of Virginia’s regional jails to the list of those who may carry the life-saving drug after training.
Putting naloxone into the hands of jail employees means that for those who enter our justice system, an overdose is far less likely to be a death sentence and instead the first step on the road to recovery from addiction and getting their lives back on track.
Addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. Making it easier to save lives is the purest form of common sense.
#38 – Cutting Red Tape To Put More Teachers In Classrooms
Our Virginia Constitution requires that all children be given a “high-quality” education, and our local school board take that to heart.
Unfortunately, our need for qualified teachers has outstripped supply by a significant amount. According to the Virginia Department of Education, the Commonwealth has a critical shortage of special education teachers, as well as elementary and middle school educators.
Kids can’t learn if they don’t have someone to teach them. That’s one reason Republicans were proud to support Del. Roxann Robinson’s House Bill 2486. The bill tasks the State Board of Education with finding ways to cut red tape to put qualified teachers in our classrooms.
Under Delegate Robinson’s bill, the board will find ways to recognize the fact that not every highly-qualified educator goes through the traditional steps to becoming a teacher. Virginia can’t afford to turn away great educators just because they didn’t follow a cookie-cutter formula. It’s just common sense.
#39 – Protecting The Most Vulnerable From Fraud
Identity theft can make daily life a nightmare for even the most financially savvy Virginians.
Whether it’s arguing with credit reporting agencies, dealing with collection calls for fraudulent accounts, or being denied a mortgage or auto loan because of someone else’s bad behavior, the consequences of identity theft are always disruptive at best.
Imagine then being a teenager who has just left foster care and learning that someone has opened dozens of accounts using your information. No one should start their adult life with a disastrous credit report not of their own making.
That’s why I was proud to support legislation from Del. Emily Brewer that requires the local departments of social services to put a “freeze” on the credit reports of any child in foster care for more than six months until that child either leaves foster care or reaches age 16 and asks to have the freeze removed.
With this law on the books, foster children will have one less worry as they strike out into the world on their own as adults.