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The 2017 General Assembly Session adjourned sine die Saturday, February 25th after completing work on thousands of bills and resolutions and closing a $1.26 billion shortfall in the budget. The $107 million budget adopted by the General Assembly avoids cuts to K-12 education, restores pay raises to state employees, provides the state share of a raise to teachers, and invests in mental health reform, while creating a $35 million cash reserve to be used to close future shortfalls.
Three of my bills passed the General Assembly and now await action by the Governor.

We’re in the final days of the 2017 Session, and are scheduled to adjourn Saturday, if not sooner. A number of controversial bills have already been vetoed by the Governor this week.  First, HB 1582 (Campbell) would have expanded eligibility for concealed handgun permits for individuals 18 years or older an on active military duty or have been honorably discharged from service. The Governor vetoed this bill because weapons training provided as a component of an individual’s military basic training does not qualify that individual to carry weapons after service.  Under the bill, an individual who completed basic training but was subsequently disqualified from having access to weapons could apply for a concealed handgun permit.

We are now in the final week of the 2017 Session. We still have quite a bit of work to do, as a number of bills, including the budget, are in conference committees to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. Last week the Senate passed a number of controversial bills.

Last week the House and Senate adopted amendments to the 2016-2018 budget to address a projected $279.3 million revenue shortfall. The Senate budget reflects its top priorities of supporting mental health programs, avoiding spending cuts for public education and safety net programs, and providing an overdue pay raise for all state employees and teachers.  Specifically, the Senate budget proposes a 3 percent raise for state classified employees, a 2 percent raise for college and university faculty, the state share of a 2 percent raise for public school teachers, and a 2 percent raise for state-supported local employees.  Instead of providing a raise for teachers, the House budget increases funding for school divisions, which may use the money for raises or for other priorities. 

 

Last week, the General Assembly reached "Crossover," the mid-point of Session when the House and Senate must complete work on their own bills. Many of the bills my constituents have written or called me about were addressed prior to crossover and summarized in prior updates. Here is an overview of other bills acted upon last week.

Tomorrow marks the half-way point of the 2017 General Assembly Session, known as "Crossover," when the House and Senate must complete work on their own bills.  Over the next two days we will debate and vote on hundreds of bills on the Senate floor covering a wide variety of topics such as immigration, voting rights, school discipline, student loans, Airbnb, the regulation of property carriers, and public procurement.  My Op-Ed in yesterday's Richmond Times Dispatch discussed some of the school discipline bills we will address.
 
You can watch the Senate floor sessions live or find archived video from earlier floor sessions here
 

The 2017 General Assembly Session is now halfway over as the House and Senate considered hundreds of bills on Monday and Tuesday covering a wide variety of topics such as immigration, voting rights, school discipline, student loans, Airbnb, the regulation of property carriers, charter and virtual schools, and public procurement. 

Next Wednesday marks the halfway point in the 2017 General Assembly Session. Over the past week, the Senate passed several bills to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities, align Virginia with the rest of the nation in punishment for theft, assist former felons who reintegrate into society after completing their sentences, expand Virginia’s anti-discrimination laws, and curb predatory lending.

We're nearly one-third of the way through the 2017 Session.  This week is the last week Senate and House committees will act on bills before crossover, so we are in for long days.  
 
On Monday, the Senate considered SB 1055 increasing the penalties for failure to leave the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after being lawfully warned to disperse. I highlighted my opposition to this bill  in last week's newsletteron the radio, in my most recent Richmond Free Press update, and spoke against the bill on the Senate floor.  I'm pleased to report the bill was defeated  14-26.  You can watch my floor remarks opposing the bill  here.
 
 

 We are now two weeks into the 2017 Session, and the pace has picked up dramatically.  As we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and ushered in the Trump Administration, the Senate considered several bills introduced by Republican Senator Richard Stuart that increase penalties for civil disobedience. These bills are part of a troubling trend by Republican legislators in several states to quash civil disobedience and curb First Amendment rights in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Trump Presidency protests, and the recent Women’s March on Washington.  In addition to Virginia, similar bills have been introduced in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington. 

 
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