With the end of the 2016 General Assembly session rapidly approaching, the House of Delegates is working diligently to complete our legislative agendas. During this eighth week of session here in Richmond, we have made strides towards fulfilling our goals. The Governor has begun signing off on legislation that has passed both the House and the Senate, and Committees are submitting final reports on their extensive work. This week, the Speaker of the House announced his appointments for the upcoming year. I am pleased to announce my new appointment to the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability for the year of 2016. The Commission reviews the performance of state agencies to ensure the most effective transit systems possible in the Commonwealth. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on this body and look forward to the work we will undertake. In addition, I serve on the Virginia Disability Commission and the Commission on Electric Utility Regulation.
The Transportation Committee has completed its work on House and Senate Bills, having considered all transportation related legislation from both bodies. Of hundreds of presented bills, the Committee has carefully reported just fewer than one hundred bills to the House. A majority of these bills have been passed by both the Senate and the House, and several have been signed into law by Governor McAuliffe. Two of my transportation bills have passed into law. HB329, a bill to allow the use of flashing amber lights on transit buses, passed both bodies unanimously and was approved by the Governor. HB507, a bill to make motor vehicle inspections more efficient, has also been signed into law.
To wrap up the work of the Transportation Committee, we heard presentations from the Virginia Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The Superintendent of Police, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, gave a presentation on transportation related police work and how the Virginia state police strive to keep our roadways safe. Kevin Gregg and Suzanne Ellison from VDOT presented on VDOT’s initiatives to monitor traffic and beautify Virginia’s highways. The Committee greatly appreciates input from those who work with transit every day, as such information is integral to our mission.
Keeping Families Safe
The safety of Virginia’s families is a top priority for the House of Delegates. The House has passed a number of bills aimed at safeguarding families in the Commonwealth. My bill, HB1101, gives automatic notification of resident sex offenders to common interest communities. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, and Governor McAuliffe has signed it into law. The bill gives common interest communities access to information on sex offenders that is important for safety and peace of mind. I am also the co-patron of HB681, Leftwich. This bill creates a civil cause of action against persons who have engaged in human trafficking. Such legislation creates avenues to keep dangerous criminals away from our families.
The House has also passed HB1391, Murphy, which prohibits those subject to a permanent protective order for domestic violence from possessing a firearm. The House has taken a strong stand against domestic abuse. This bill creates a more severe punishment for domestic violence and demonstrates the House’s intolerance of violence against Virginia’s women and families.
The House has seen several efforts at improving tourism during this session. As the co-chair of the Tourism Caucus, I have considered a number of ideas to improve and expand tourism. Hampton Roads has a strong interest in tourism as it is a major factor in our economy and job market. SB282, Lewis, establishes the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund, creating a low-interest loan program to help residents and businesses subject to recurrent flooding to mitigate future flood damage. Such a program will help small and tourism based businesses to handle the challenges of flooding along the coast. HB327, Bloxom, directs the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to create an expedited process for beach restoration due to inclimate weather. This legislation will allow tourism to recover quickly from natural disasters that may degrade our beaches, which are a major tourist attraction and revenue source.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I also encourage you to take a moment to share your thoughts by completing the 2016 Session Survey.
Delegate Ron Villanueva was elected as a Virginia Delegate for the 21st House District in 2010. He was appointed by the Speaker of the House, Bill Howell, to be the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee in 2014, becoming one of the youngest Chairmen at age 45. Ron is also a member of the Commerce and Labor and Science and Technology Committees. Prior to serving in the House, Ron served on the Virginia Beach City Council from 2002 to 2009. He is a veteran, small business entrepreneur, and community leader.