The General Assembly has completed its first week of work in Richmond for the 2015 session. Hundreds of bills have been considered in committee, and a few on the House floor. House floor activities will increase significantly during the next two weeks as bills are reported from various committees. You can follow the legislative activity here, which includes a link to the bills I have introduced and my voting record. Please let me know if you need help navigating this website.
I have received numerous visits by residents of the 67th district who shared their ideas about specific bills and issues important to them. Thank you to those who made the trip to Richmond!
A number of actions were taken this week related to education that I want to share with you. As you may know, I serve on the Education Committee and all three of its subcommittees. I also serve on the Governor’s bipartisan SOL (Standards of Learning) Innovation Committee, which meets when the legislature is not in session. This committee made several recommendations to improve the way student achievement is measured, and some of those recommendations have been drafted into bills.
Education issue highlights from the past week include:
Campus Sexual Assault—A joint hearing was held with the Education Committee and the Courts of Justice Committee (which addresses criminal and civil law) to better understand university policies related to this issue as well as applicable federal and state law. The testimony indicated that better enforcement of existing laws and campus policies is needed, but probably not significant changes in law. An assistant prosecutor in Richmond testified that 99 percent of the campus assault cases she reviews for prosecution involve the abuse of alcohol.
Education Budget—I offered a budget amendment to increase state K-12 education spending by $18 million, with the money moved from another part of the budget so as to not increase overall spending. As you may know, K-12 education spending in Virginia, including federal support, remains below the 2009 level. This is even more significant mindful that student population has grown in the meantime. The amendment will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee.
Testing reforms—Legislation allowing for expedited SOL test retakes (HB 1302) and allowing SOL tests to be designed to cover more than one subject area (HB1615) passed in the Education Reform Subcommittee with my support.
Mental health and education—I introduced HB 1715 to help ensure parental notification when a public university student may be a suicide risk. I am a cosponsor of HB 1581 with Del. Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) that requires information about mental health advance directives be included in high school family life education classes. This bill was approved by the Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee.
In addition to addressing the more than 100 education bills that are before the Education Committee, I will be focused on two significant transportation bills next week that are proposed by Governor McAuliffe. HB 1886 and HB 1887 have implications for state wide transportation funding. Also, the Procurement Subcommittee I chair will consider HB 1835, which proposes to make changes in the ways the state contracts with private companies for certain professional services.
2015 Issues Survey
There is still time to take my 2015 issues survey. Please take the survey, which may be found here, if you haven’t taken the survey already. I hope you will feel free to contact me during the legislative session regarding issues of interest to you. I may be reached at: email@example.com or (703) 264-1432. Your call will forward to Richmond.