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February 23, 2015

WEEK 6 – Weekly Session Update

Dear Friends,

We are starting to wrap up the 2015 legislative session here in Richmond. As we prepare to adjourn next Friday, there is still plenty of work to be done, but much good news to report.

Jobs and Economic Growth
Jobs and economic growth continue to be a top priority in our budgeting process. To support our efforts of growing the economy, Governor McAuliffe has signed my legislation that allows transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to be licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. House Bill 1662 passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support.

As Vice Chair of Transportation and Co-Patron of HB 1662, I am pleased that TNC’s like Uber and Lyft worked together with the Taxi Cab Industry to find a solution on how to regulate these Transportation Network Companies. This is just another step forward to help meet the transportation needs of many Virginians, while also creating a new marketplace for our Commonwealth.

Health Care
This session we have made changes to the House budget rejecting Governor McAuliffe’s attempt to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. The House budget instead includes funding to provide targeted health care safety net services to the neediest Virginian patients. Also, this budget includes $6 million dollars in operational funding for free clinics, funding for behavioral health community services and increased funding for childrens psychiatry and crisis services.

Schools and Education
I have always supported legislation to
give parents and students more choices for the education that best fits their needs. Last week, the House and Senate passed identical resolutions to make it easier to establish charter schools in Virginia. If the same resolutions pass again next year and are approved by voters, it will be enshrined in Virginia’s constitution.

The first legislation to allow home schooled students to participate in high school sports in Virginia was introduced twenty years ago. For the first time this year, it was approved by both the House and the Senate and will be going to the Governor’s desk. There are more than 32,000 home schooled students in Virginia, and with the passage of the “Tebow Bill”, local school boards will have the option of letting them participate in school sports, clubs and group activities.

In addition to this outstanding bill, we have worked to provide a $60 million increase for K-12 education. In this budget, teachers will receive a 1.5% teacher pay raise and deposited an additional $40 million into the teacher retirement fund.

Virginia Tourism Caucus
I am honored to represent Virginia as Co-Chair of the Tourism Caucus and look forward to the opportunity to expand and strengthen Virginia tourism. Virginia has an abundance of opportunities to attract visitors and I, coming from Virginia Beach, am very familiar with the ways that tourism can strengthen a city and I look forward to using these strategies to make Virginia even more tourist friendly. I am also pleased to announce that lodging sales increased in Virginia Beach 5.1% this past year in 2014. This is a record number for our city and I am excited for the future of the tourism industry for our state.

In Other News
I would like to congratulate the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships who was awarded a $50,000 grant to support marketing projects. I have been a lifetime supporter of tourism, which is good for business, jobs and our Commonwealth. This particular grant will not only assist ECSC in improving this already great yearly surfing championship, but also provide local tourism businesses with the extra boost needed to help them succeed.

Session Shout Out
Thanks to all the visitors that stopped in this past week – Republican Professionals Network, ECSC, VB Jaycees, George Mason University, JMU School of Social Work, Virginia State Police, ITSV, World Research Institute, Moms Clean Air Force, Virginia Beach Public Schools, and many more.

As always, we are here to serve you! Please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions about what we are working on in Richmond. You can call my office at (804) 698-1021 or email us at delrvillanueva@house.virginia.gov.

With Pride in Our Commonwealth,

Ron Villanueva,
Your Delegate, 21st District