House Republican Legislative Priorities Pass with Overwhelming Support

We are approaching the halfway point of the General Assembly Session known as “Crossover.” Crossover is the day when each chamber must finish work on its own legislation and then may only consider legislation from the other body. This year Crossover is on Tuesday, February 16, which means that the House must complete all of its work on House bills before the end of that day while the Senate must do the same for bills that originated in the Senate.

I’m pleased to report several House Republican Caucus priorities have passed out of the House with major bipartisan support. This includes legislation to combat domestic violence, ensure access to quality healthcare, and grow our economy.
In this Update, I highlight House Republican legislation that relates to domestic violence, healthcare, and jobs, and thank constituent groups for visiting my Capital office.

Combating Domestic Violence 

Earlier this session, my colleagues and I announced a strong agenda to help prevent domestic violence. This 10-bill legislative package passed the Courts of Justice Committee unanimously this week and will be considered by the full House in the coming days.
The legislation enacts tougher penalties on repeat criminal offenders who commit domestic violence and empowers women to protect themselves in their most vulnerable moments. Two bills that I believe are particularly important are HB610 introduced by Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and HB768 introduced by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah).
HB610 provides that any person who commits any assault or bodily wounding or stalks any party protected by a protective order is guilty of a Class 6 felony.  HB768 provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and family abuse.
This new legislation builds on our consistent record of leading the effort to prevent domestic violence. The House of Delegates has passed more than 36 pieces of legislation in the last 10 years aimed at combating domestic violence.

Ensuring Access to Quality and Affordable Healthcare

Ensuring that all Virginians have access to quality and affordable healthcare is also one of our top priorities this session. Unfortunately, Obamacare continues to cost Virginians by driving up insurance rates and healthcare costs.
We remain committed to opposing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Instead of expanding an expensive, broken entitlement program, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates are pushing for real health care reforms to increase access and keep health care costs under control.
The House of Delegates has passed HB685, introduced by Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta), to increase access to primary care doctors. Delegate Bobby Orrock’s (R-Caroline) HB310 expands access to mobile health clinics, specifically mobile dental clinics that provide dentistry services to children. Finally, Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico) is successfully carrying HB657 to crack down on prescription drug fraud in Virginia. These are meaningful reforms that will improve healthcare in the Commonwealth.

Creating Jobs and Improving the Economy

The House of Delegates passed, with major bi-partisan support, HB834 and HB846, the legislative centerpieces of the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity or “GO Virginia” act. Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) and I were proud to patron this legislation that takes an innovative approach at creating jobs in all areas of the Commonwealth. GO Virginia is a business-led, bipartisan initiative to provide a new framework for strengthening Virginia’s economy by encouraging collaboration between business leaders, the education community, local government, and state government.

The two bills create an entirely voluntary program that allows localities to identify their workforce needs, apply for grants that must meet an objective scoring criteria to be awarded, and then meet performance criteria to keep the money. The program gets the people who know how to create jobs (business leaders) involved in the decision making process. Our goal is to always find innovative ways to foster private-sector growth, strengthen our workforce, promote local collaboration, and maximize our economic development resources. This concept will help grow and strengthen the economy in all areas of the Commonwealth so our families and businesses can thrive.

Virginia’s business leaders, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and over 80 other organizations support GO Virginia. 

Manchester High School Student Visits 
As many Chesterfield residents will remember, I taught at Manchester High School for 20 of the 30 years I was a public school teacher. One of my favorite rituals from my former teaching days is still being carried out today. I invite all of the school’s government students to visit the Capitol and see the action during Session. This year is no different, and I am expecting 4 days of 30+ students joining me at the Capitol. The students have the opportunity to sit in committee meetings, hear remarks made by Delegates, Senators, and lobbyists, and take a tour of the Capitol. I personally introduce them from the House floor. I thank Mrs. Margo Underwood, Mrs. Kristen Lockhart, and Mr. Mike Ekers for leading these students groups and keeping up this wonderful tradition.
If you are interested in visiting the Capitol to see up close how the General Assembly works, please email me at and we will help you organize a visit.
Visitors to the Capitol

Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard and Chief Deputy Lieutenant Colonel Larry Kriebel spoke to me about public safety measures during their Day on the Hill.

This week I also met with Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture and forestry have a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually.  Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per year, while forestry totals over $17 billion. The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.

Presidents of two private colleges in the Richmond area visited me to talk about the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant, a grant for students attending private college. It was a pleasure talking to Randolph Macon President Robert Lindgren and University of Richmond President Ronald Crutcher about increasing affordability of our colleges.