As we finish out our fifth week here in Richmond, we are approaching the halfway point of the General Assembly Session known as “Crossover.” Crossover is the day when each chamber must finish work on its own legislation and begin considering legislation from the other body. This year, Crossover is on Tuesday, February 16, which means that the House must complete all of its work on House bills before the end of that day while the Senate must do the same for bills that originate in the Senate.
As part of my commitment to empowering our veterans, I am the Chief co-patron of House Bill 825 with Delegate Chris Stolle. The bill creates a pilot program for veterans with applicable experience to practice medicine under supervision. This bill will help our veterans to translate the skills learned in the service to employment in the civilian sector. The Bill passed through the House of Delegates and is currently under review on the Senate side.
Protecting Our Families
I am also proud to say that the House of Delegates unanimously passed my legislation, House Bill 1101, concerning automatic notification of resident sex offenders. The bill provides that common interest communities will have access to information concerning the addresses of local registered sex offenders. This legislation will help to safeguard our communities by promoting awareness and making sex offender information more available to the public.
There are several pieces of legislation moving through the House in the coming days aimed at preventing and combating domestic violence. The legislation enacts tougher penalties on repeat criminal offenders who commit domestic violence and empowers women to protect themselves in their most vulnerable moments. This legislation is the result of a major House initiative against domestic violence.
Jobs and Economic Opportunity
GO Virginia, or the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity act, also passed through the House this week with major bi-partisan support. House Bill 834 and House Bill 846 create an entirely voluntary program that allows localities to identify their workforce needs and apply for grants based on objective scoring criteria. The program gets the people who know how to create jobs (business leaders) involved in the decision making process. Our goal is to always find innovative ways to foster private-sector growth, strengthen our workforce, promote local collaboration, and maximize our economic development resources. This concept will help grow and strengthen the economy in all areas of the Commonwealth so our families and businesses can thrive. The deal moves up plans to expand the interstate by at least five years, and is aimed at improving the quality of life for Virginians affected by chronic traffic congestion.
I joined Governor McAuliffe, Chairman Chris Jones, and Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne to announce a major bi-partisan agreement to address the problem of traffic congestion on Northern Virginia’s Interstate 66. The interstate is known to be one of the most congested in the nation, and many plans were considered over many years to combat the problem. As Chairman to the Committee on Transportation, I was honored to play a major role in the development of this deal. The deal, which represents a major bi-partisan victory, is a plan to reduce congestion on I-66 inside the beltway by widening a four-mile stretch from the Dulles Connector Road to Balston, improving transit, and adding new options for single drivers.
I also joined Senate Transportation Chair Charles Carrico on a test drive of the Audi A7, the latest prototype of automated vehicle piloting. The vehicle independently changes lanes, steers, maintains a safe following distance, and can even pull itself over if there is a problem. While fully autonomous vehicles will not be available for a decade or so, Audi is helping build the social foundation, ensuring that the future of automated driving meets the strictest safety standards. It was an honor to be a part of this technological advancement in the Commonwealth.
Special thanks to all who visited my office in Richmond this week, especially the Service Employees International Union, the Children’s Health Investment Program, Volkswagen of America, the Virginia Maritime Association, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Providers.
As session continues to progress, please feel free to contact me about upcoming 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2016 Session Survey is also still available as a way to share your thoughts with me.