On Wednesday, January 13, the 2016 Session of the General Assembly convened in Richmond. The session has already gotten off to a great start. This year is a longer, 60-day legislative session because it is a biennial budget year. This means that, on top of crafting legislation, the House and Senate must also balance and approve a new state budget for the coming two years. The House Republican Majority will strive to balance the budget with transparency while remaining responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.
On Wednesday evening, Governor McAuliffe delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address to a joint assembly of the House and Senate. He emphasized on issues that we can all agree on like strengthening the economy, educational reform, and veteran homelessness.
Other priorities of the House Republican Majority are strengthening our schools and reforming the economy through protecting small business, workforce training, regional cooperation, and responsible use of taxes. Today, the house passed a very exciting bill that will help to protect small businesses.
HB 58, patroned by my Republican colleague Delegate Kathy Byron, protects small businesses from an insurance change originally mandated by Obamacare. By passing this legislation we are able to protect small businesses from significant premium increases and help ensure that employees across Virginia can keep their healthcare plans.
In addition, we are committed to finding healthcare solutions without Medicaid expansion which is one of the budgets biggest expenditures. My priorities are as always to represent you in the best possible manner and do thorough and thoughtful policy making that will benefit you and your family. One of my personal priorities is protecting our coastal communities while being good stewards of our natural resources and working for economic diversification. I have patroned the following bill:
HB 351: Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act. This bill establishes The Commonwealth Resilience Fund, a revolving fund that is to serve as a revenue source to assist localities with the implementation of adaptation efforts to combat sea level rise and recurrent flooding. The fund also provides for energy efficiency and conservation programs; economic assistance for families and businesses in Southwest Virginia; renewable energy generation programs, and costs of administering the program.
I was selected by Speaker Bill Howell to serve as the new Chairman of Transportation. This is quite an honor to chair one of the oldest and powerful General Assembly Committees. Issues that are covered in the Transportation Committee include: Roads, Transit, Rail, Airports, Space, Vehicle, Technology, and Transportation Funding. Further, as a Hampton Roads leader, I will work to protect Hampton Roads transportation funding and helping to move Virginia forward.
I am also a member of the Commerce and Labor Committee where small business, economic development, insurance, banking, energy, and workforce issues are prevalent. I have a new committee coming off the Courts of Justice Committee and I am now a member of the Science and Technology Committee where we will hear about emerging technology and innovation.
I have enjoyed meeting with a number of constituent groups, including the Virginia Beach Hospitality Association, the Virginia Fine Arts and Humanities Commission, Virginia Alliance for Small Business, the Virginia Bankers Association, and the Norfolk Environmental Council. . A big thank you to all who have taken the time to call, write, and come by my office to share their needs and opinions with me.
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time for your insight and feedback on proposed legislation. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and enable me to better represent you. For the duration of legislative session, I can be found in Room 503 of the General Assembly Building. As always, I can be reached at (804) 698-1021 or email@example.com.