SESSION UPDATE: CROSSOVER EDITION
Important Protective Order Legislation Moves Forward, 10 Bills Still in Play
Tuesday was Crossover and I still have ten bills in play that will, if enacted, improve our public K-12 educational system, provide a safety net for foster youth ages 18-21, and make our healthcare system more patient-focused. I am very proud to report that my bill prohibiting firearm possession for violators of protective orders reported from its House subcommittee. This was a bipartisan effort and will make a big difference in keeping survivors of domestic violence safe.
Political partisanship continues in Richmond regarding the permanent appointment of Judge Roush. Governor McAuliffe can again reappoint Judge Roush temporarily after the General Assembly adjourns.
My budget amendments would create substantial improvements in the area of K-12 education, workforce training and safety net programs- we’ll see if these improvements are adopted in the budget published on Sunday.
BILLS MOVING THROUGH THE HOUSE
Two bills would help local governments keep communities informed on important issues. SB 136 would require the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to hold a hearing in an area affected by an electrical transmission line if requested by the locality’s governing body. SB 361 allows local governments to post notices on properties where infill lot grading plans are pending for a new single family home.
My bill SB 328 seeks to improve healthcare in the Commonwealth by including observation and reporting techniques as necessary requirements in nurse aide education training programs. NVAN and local committees concerned about aging issues advocated for this bill, which the House will hear next week.
CHARTER SCHOOL AMENDMENT DEFEATED IN SENATE
On Monday I spoke in opposition to Senator Obenshain’s proposed amendment to the Virginia constitution that would allow the state Board of Education to authorize charter schools. Localities bear most of the cost, so they should retain control over the decision making process. Loudoun, which has two of the six charter schools in Virginia, provides a good example. Loudoun funds its Middleburg Community Charter School at the same level as its pubic schools, applies the same rigorous academic standards and requires that Middleburg Community Charter School teachers meet the professional criteria established by the Loudoun Superintendent.
The state should provide more funding to traditional schools instead of dictating when and how localities must fund charter schools. Senator Obenshain’s bill was narrowly defeated.
I worked very hard to provide funding to workforce development initiatives, public K-12 education and social services programs through budget amendments that may be included in the Senate budget to be published on Sunday. My budget amendments included funding for: foster youth going to college, TANF recipients receiving workforce training, mental health services in schools, and educational programs about the dangers of recreational drug use on college campuses.
I also provided a budget amendment for a pilot dual degree program, which would allow students to obtain college credit while working towards a high school diploma. This measure works in tandem with Governor McAuliffe’s effort to modernize high schools by allowing youth greater flexibility to pursue college level classes or workforce training in high school. Senator Miller is carrying the legislation to improve high school requirements, which will now be heard in the House.
Thank you for your continued interest in my work in the General Assembly. I am committed to improving our quality of life in the Commonwealth and appreciate your support.