We are now one week away from the scheduled end of our 46-day legislative session. This week was a productive week for the House of Delegates. We are finishing committee work, reviewing amendments from the Senate, and continuing to work on the budget. As we wind down our General Assembly session, I want to update you on a few important areas of interest.
The House has adopted a conservative and balanced state budget. Our recommendations adhere to our commitment to spend your taxpayer dollars on strategic and targeted investments that fund the core functions of state government. We also took several steps to advance Virginia on a fiscally responsible course to include the elimination of several fees and reduction in borrowing.
Governor McAuliffe included several fee increases in his budget to generate more revenue. The House eliminated a proposed increase in restaurant inspection fees that would have generated $3.2 million in fee revenue. We also eliminated a proposed increase in the shellfish facility inspection fee that would have generated $116,00 in fee revenue. Finally, we eliminated a proposed new fee for behavioral health adult service providers that would have generated $300,000 in fee revenue and required a new full time state employee position.
The House reduces the amount of proposed debt by almost $70 million.
Finally, we continue to cut under-performing or erroneous government programs. This year we cut 4 programs in higher education for a savings of $2.1 million.
Veterans Initiatives Pass With Strong Bi-Partisan Support
In the House we have 21 veterans. 19 of those veterans are members of the House Republican Caucus. The 19 members represent every branch of service – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Service periods date back to the Vietnam War years right up to today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is at least one House Republican veteran on each of the 14 House Committees. Truly, our House Republican veterans represent a strong voice in support of Virginia’s veterans, the military, and their families.
The Commonwealth is home to approximately 800,000 veterans and 150,000 active-duty military members and their families. Republicans in the House of Delegates are leading the effort to provide our veterans with the care they deserve, access to affordable education, and good job opportunities.
The Military and Veterans caucus, led by Delegate Rich Anderson (USA Col., retired), has several bi-partisan bills that are successfully progressing through the legislation process.
I carried HB 2206, the number 1 priority of the Joint Leadership Council. The bill redefines the goals of the Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program, formerly Wounded Warrior, to help veterans and their families navigate the complex web of healthcare services available to them.
HB 1721, carried by Del. Rich Anderson, permits Community Colleges to charge reduce tuition to activity duty members enrolled in training that leads to a Military Occupational Specialty.
HJ 562, carried by Del. Jason Miyares, is a constitutional amendment that would provide a property tax exemption for the principal residence of the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.
HB 1582, carried by Del. Jeff Campbell, allows a person between 18 and 21 years of age to apply for a concealed handgun permit if he is on activity military duty.
Visits to the Capitol
I was pleased to welcome another group of government students from Manchester High School to their State Capitol this week. These students asked great questions of guest speakers and their tour guide. In addition to taking a tour and hearing from speakers, these students observed committee and subcommittee and watched the House of Delegates in session from the gallery.
During session, you can contact me at my Richmond office by phone at 698-1066; by email at email@example.com; or by mail at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.
Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2017 General Assembly session to include my legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.
Please forward this update to your friends and neighbors.