Known as “crossover,” next Tuesday marks the official halfway point of the General Assembly and is the deadline for the House of Delegates to consider action on its legislation. After Tuesday, the House will only be allowed to consider Senate legislation and vice-versa.
As we approach the midpoint of session, the House of Delegates continues to advance a conservative governing agenda, this week passing measures to make college more affordable, improve our schools and promote greater accountability in transportation. The House also passed two bills important to our region locally – legislation inspired by Josh Hardy and a bill requested by Anne Jacobsen in Stafford.
Strengthening our schools
At the start of session, the House of Delegates outlined what we called a “Classroom Success” agenda. This agenda builds on our efforts in recent years to reward good teachers, increase accountability in our schools, and to give students more pathways to success. The House has passed legislation to:
- Simplify the process for students to retake the SOL test,
- Protect our students’ privacy,
- Establish innovative virtual schools as an option for students
- Standardize the system for giving college credit for advanced high school courses
We also announced recently that the House budget will include a pay raise for our hard-working teachers to help ensure that Virginia can continue to attract and retain the best and brightest.
The House of Delegates also passed two important transportation accountability bills. I co-patroned House Bill 1470 with Delegate Dave LaRock, which requires transit projects in Northern Virginia to meet the same rigorous standards that we applied to road projects last year.
I also supported House Bill 1887, which simplifies Virginia’s complicated and outdated transportation funding formula into three simple funding streams that increase transparency and give localities a greater say in how their transportation dollars are spent.
Under this bill, Fredericksburg will receive almost $22 million more funding for local transportation projects, compared to the old model.
#SaveJosh Legislation Passes House
Last week I wrote to you about legislation I supported that would give terminally-ill patients greater access to potentially life-saving drugs. The “Right to Try” legislation was inspired by Josh Hardy’s fight to live. I am proud to say this measure passed the House of Delegates this week.
Protecting school fundraisers
Every now and then, you just have to shake your head. Federal regulations adopted by First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch program effectively prohibit food fundraisers in schools if they don’t sell products also offered by the school lunch program. State governments, however, are allowed to grant exemptions.
A citizen of Stafford, Anne Jacobsen, asked me to introduce legislation to allow for students continue to conduct food fundraisers, like the JROTC pizza sale at Stafford High School.
On Thursday, the House of Delegates passed a bill requiring the Board of Education give exemptions to this egregious federal overreach – allowing schools to hold up to 12 fundraisers per year. This is a commonsense bill that will help our local students support their sports teams, clubs and other activities.
Visitors & Events
While it was a busy week in Richmond, I always appreciate people taking the time to stop by. This week I met with students from Germanna Community College, the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and students from Virginia Commonwealth University.
If you’re in Richmond, please feel free to visit my office on the sixth floor of the General Assembly building. I look forward to seeing you.
House vs. Senate basketball game
The annual House vs. Senate charity basketball game was held this week. The Senate won the game, but only because they recruited former NBA all-star Ben Wallace (6’10, 240lbs) to play with them. More importantly though, the House and Senate raised over $20,000 for Massey Cancer Center.
The House pages also came through in a big way – winning the first ever annual spirit contest. We’ve got a great group of exciting young pages this year and they did the House proud. Great work!