Session Passed Midway Point, Focus on Veteran-Friendly Legislation

The General Assembly closes out week 6 of this year’s Session. This Session has seen over 2,800 bills introduced between the House and Senate, with 3 bills having already been signed into law.

In this Update, I highlight House Republican legislation that successfully passed the House, report on legislative progress for the Military and Veterans Caucus priorities, give a brief update on the State budget, recognize former NFL player Charles Haley for being an outstanding Virginian, and thank constituent groups for visiting my Capital office.
Crossover Priorities Successfully Pass House  
House Republican Press Conference highlighting our successful legislation.
The 2016 General Assembly session officially passed the halfway point this week, known as “Crossover.” The Republican-led House of Delegates is making good progress on the issues that matter most to you and your family: jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, and public safety.
The House of Delegates is also working to craft a conservative and responsible state budget that prudently spends your taxpayer dollars while making strategic and targeted investments in the core functions of state government.
The House continues to defend and advance conservative principles. We brokered a bipartisan agreement to secure the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, advanced legislation to protect religious liberty, are fighting back against federal government overreach, and expanded school choice options.
Our work will continue through the second half of this session. We will consider legislation from the Senate and complete work on the state budget. The General Assembly is set to adjourn on March 13.
Military and Veterans Caucus Highlight Veteran Friendly Legislation

The 17 of 19 House Republican Caucus military veterans led by Del. Rich Anderson, COL USAF (Ret), met with the House Leadership for an update and thanks for the strong House support for key veterans issues.

This week the Military and Veterans Caucus held a press conference highlighting legislation that has passed that will positively impact the military, veterans, and their families. Roughly 40% of the 66th District has a veteran or a serving military family member in the household. As such, I have taken a keen interest in working to improve Virginia’s status as the most Veteran-friendly state in the nation by introducing some 130 pieces of veteran-friendly legislation in my 26 years in the House of Delegates.

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. We have 3 members who have served full careers and retired as colonels; some have served in the ranks in some of our most storied military units – the USN Seals and 82nd Airborne Division; some have provided medical and dental support in a combat zone; and some have been deployed as part of our Guard and Reserves. Service periods date back to the Vietnam War years right up to today’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two of our Veterans are part of the House Leadership team; 5 veterans are committee chairmen; many veterans lead sub-committees, and 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.
Some of the veterans’ legislative package includes the following bills. I have introduced the Joint Leadership Council’s number one priority, HB477 that would establish two new veteran care centers, one in Hampton Roads and one in Northern Virginia, to help provide veterans with quality long-term healthcare. The two new centers will also free up more space for local area veterans close to Virginia’s two existing care centers in Richmond and Roanoke. Delegate Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) introduced HB90, which would allow members of the Virginia National Guard to conceal-carry while they are on duty. Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News), introduced HB405 which will extend the temporary occupational license period for spouses of military service members to help them find meaningful employment.
Delegate Taylor is also carrying HB450 that requires seven community colleges with the highest veterans enrollment in the Commonwealth to employ at least one full-time veterans’ advisor to provide comprehensive and intensive enrollment and advising services to current and prospective students who are veterans. It also requires the establishment of a veterans’ resource center on campus to provide access to federal and state veterans’ resources.
Delegate Chris Stolle’s (R-Virginia Beach) HB825 helps transitioning military personnel. It establishes a pilot program in which military medical personnel may practice and perform certain medical acts under the supervision of a licensed physician or podiatrist. This will help military members use their training from service to apply to civilian jobs.
House Budget to be released Sunday, February 21 
The House budget proposal will be released on Sunday. However, the Appropriations Committee Chairman highlighted a few key investments ahead of the scheduled release. The House will introduce a conservative, responsible budget proposal that carefully uses taxpayer dollars while making responsible investments in the core functions of state government. Our first priority is always to structurally balance our budget without Washington-style gimmicks to mask over spending and to make responsible decisions that keep Virginia on a solid financial footing.

The House budget will build on its longstanding commitment to conservative budgeting. We are placing a high emphasis on the Virginia Retirement System to ensure the program is solvent for our state employees and teachers. Our budget will fully fund the state’s annual contribution to the Virginia Retirement System, two years ahead of schedule. In addition, we are accelerating the $189.5 million repayment to the VRS for the contribution rate deferral in 2010. This is six years ahead of schedule.

Presenting NFL Player Charles Haley in the House Chamber 

This week I had the privilege of welcoming retired NFL player Charles Haley and his family to the Capitol to recognize Charles as an outstanding Virginian. Charles is the first James Madison University (JMU) alumnus to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the only NFL player with five Super Bowl wins.

Charles has had an incredible football career. While at JMU, he

was a four-year starter, set the school’s record for career tackles with 506 from 1982 to 1985, and was named an All-American twice, most valuable defensive player three times.
During his 12-year NFL career, Charles played for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.  He is the only player to earn Super Bowl championship rings, was selected for the Pro Bowl five times, and was named two-time National Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Charles ended his NFL career in 1999. He continues to do a lot of good work in the community. Charles is an active mentor for rookies on the 49ers and Cowboys teams and works with charitable organizations like the Jubilee Family Development Center and Salvation Army.

I presented Charles with HJR268 to celebrate his achievements.

Visitors to the Capitol

This week I had the pleasure of hosting the Southside Association of Realtors.

Colonial Heights resident Bonnie Vencill discussed legislation affecting nurses.

I met with First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to discuss school nutrition. Mrs. McAuliffe also serves on the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children that I chair. Additionally, I met with Secretary of Technology to discuss cyber security initiatives, George Mason University President Angel Cabrera on progress made with online education opportunities, and Chesterfield resident David Wyman on a non-profit that is helping children in the 66th District.