Minchew Memo

Sine Die Edition

At 11:47 am on Saturday, February 25, 2017, Speaker Howell officially gaveled the close of the House of Delegates, adjourning sine die, signaling the conclusion of our legislative work for the 2017 session.  We will return for the Reconvened Session on April 5th to consider the Governor’s recommendations to bills and address any appropriations vetoed or amended by the Governor.  Other than these few items, no other legislative business may be considered during the Reconvened Session.

As I discussed in a previous update, the House version of the Budget (HB1500) provided funding for the vacant Loudoun County 20th Judicial Circuit judgeship, formerly held by retired Judge McCahill, but the Senate version (SB900) did not.  During the budget reconciliation negotiations, the Senate Budget conference committee members held firm to their desire to defund this Loudoun-based judgeship.  This budget decision reduced our Loudoun County Circuit Court judicial workforce from four to three resident judges.  As a result, the third most-populous county in Virginia has lost 25% of its judicial workforce and will now have only three resident circuit court judges to handle a complex and growing docket.  I fear this reduction in the Loudoun judicial force will most certainly lead to a postponement of the proposed establishment of a remedial drug court in Loudoun County given the judicial time commitments required to run such a program.  Nevertheless, our Loudoun delegation will continue the fight for funding of this critically needed judgeship. If we are not able to secure funding for this judgeship at the Reconvened Session, it will be a top priority for us as we work on the 2018-2020 Biennial Budget next year.

The end of the 2017 Session also marked the conclusion of a distinguished statesman’s service in the House of Delegates.  After representing the 28th District for the past 30 years and serving the Commonwealth as Speaker of the House of Delegates for the past 15 years, William J. Howell announced his decision to not seek re-election in November 2017.  His vision, humor, and faith were cornerstones of his leadership style as he successfully established a tone of respect and civility within the House of Delegates, encouraging its members to “transcend the fractured moments that often drive our politics.” He will be missed greatly but I hope his legacy will continue to influence legislative conduct in the House of Delegates. 

As I have done in every year since being elected, I will be sending a copy of the "2017 Session Highlights" prepared by the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services (DLS) to every household in the 10th District in a few weeks.  Also, in May, DLS will publish a more-detailed report called "In Due Course", which provides a summary of all legislation from the 2017 Session that will go into effect on July 1, 2017 and may impact the daily life of the citizens of Virginia.  If you would like to receive an electronic copy of In Due Course, please email me at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov and we will forward a copy to you as soon as it is released.

As a citizen-legislator, I always look forward to returning home and to my family and it has been great to see many of you in these past few weeks since I have been home.  Although though this year’s General Assembly session has ended, my responsibilities to the citizens to the 10th District continues. I will continue to serve on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), and the I-81 Task Force working to address our region’s transportation needs.  We pride ourselves on constituent service and look forward to helping you when my staff and I are back home.  Should you need assistance with a state agency or would like to discuss an issue of public policy, please email me directly or call my office at 703-777-1570.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the citizens of the 10th District.

Best regards,

download.png
Randy Minchew
http://www.delegaterandyminchew.com/

My Door Is Always Open...

Governors_Cup_Gold_Medal_Barnes_at_Hamilton_(3).jpg

Congratulations to Andrew and Maryann Fialdini, owners of The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, for winning the Governor’s Cup at the 2017 Virginia Wineries Association Governor’s Cup competition.
 BIBLE_STUDY.jpg
Another attribute of Speaker Howell's leadership that few know about is that he has, for over 20 years, led an early Wednesday morning Bible study that was attended by Democrats, Republicans, our pages, Supreme Court justices, administration cabinet secretaries, and many others.  I saw a lot of bipartisanship arise from the members who attended these weekly sessions that allowed for the reflection of scripture in our legislative lives.

 IMG_1500_(5).jpg

Lastly, we were fortunate to have Bobby McCurdy, a senior at University of Richmond, join our staff as a legislative assistant for the 2017 Session.  I have known Bobby since he earned the rank of Eagle Scout and for the past two years has been a valuable part of our legislative and constituent service team. I am confident his experience, skill and passion for government and politics will continue to serve him well in his future endeavors.
Share

Minchew Memo Feb 17th

Last week on Tuesday, February 7th, the General Assembly reached the midway mark of the 45-day session or “Crossover”.  In the four weeks leading up to Crossover, the House of Delegates considered over 1,000 pieces of legislation.  After a nine-hour session on Tuesday, we concluded our work on all bills that originated on the House side of our bicameral legislature, passing along 562 bills to the Senate.  We will now spend the remaining time considering legislation from the Senate. 

Thank you to all who completed my 2017 Constituent Survey, participated in my two Town Halls in Berryville and Leesburg, or contacted my office about your legislative priorities.  I value your feedback and believe the House of Delegates is working to make progress on many of the issues you identified as priorities. We are focusing on legislation that supports job creation and economic development, healthcare, education, and public safety while continuing our work on transportation improvements.  

On Sunday, February 5th, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled the amended House Budget for the 2016-2018 biennium.  The House Budget bill (HB 1500) is a structurally-balanced and responsible spending plan that protects taxpayer dollars while carefully investing in the core functions of state government with no new taxes or fees. We want to invest in our priorities but believe Virginia should be cautious and prudent with taxpayer resources and I am pleased to report HB1500 passed the House with strong support, reflected in the 98-Y 2-N vote.

As many of you know, our senior Loudoun County Circuit Court judge, the Honorable Burke McCahill, retired in December and one of our more important duties for the 2017 Session is to elect a replacement judge for this now-vacant judgeship.  But last Friday evening, 36 hours before the House Budget was released by the House Appropriations Committee, I learned that vacant judgeships would not be funded in an effort to close the deficit in our biennial budget adopted last year.  I immediately contacted the Loudoun House and Senate Delegation members and, in particular Loudoun’s own Budget Conferee Appropriations Committee member, Delegate Tag Greason.  Within 36 hours, Delegate Greason was able to get funding for our Loudoun judgeship restored in the House Budget.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that the Senate Budget does not have this funding included.  We will all work hard to ensure the final, reconciled version of the budget has this funding included so that our Loudoun judiciary can remain fully staffed.

A top budget priority of mine through this year’s budget process was to approve a 3% salary increase for our Virginia State Troopers.  This bill also includes funding to address the issue of “salary compression” among employees in the local sheriffs’ offices and regional jails.  This salary compression adjustment will address the current pay schedule that has a minimal pay increase for seniority and job experience.  This salary compression adjustment will promote retention of experienced employees in these important positions.  With regards to public safety, we also included a comprehensive funding to combat domestic violence, including additional funding for prevention, treatment and counseling services.

Education continues to be a top priority for the House of Delegates as we continue to make strategic investments in education.  The 2017 House Budget Bill (HB1500) calls for new funding for K-12 education. We look to invest $15 billion for direct aid to public education and build on our lottery investment by sending $218.7 million directly back to local school divisions with fewer strings attached than other funding.  We have designated an additional $20 million investment in funding for financial aid to address rising college tuition costs and to increase prioritization for in-state students.

Below is a brief update on my legislation that has passed the House and is now going through the Senate for consideration.

HB2350- Trespassing by drone-This bill was recommended to me by the Town of Leesburg and grew out of problems with drone trespassing on private property.  I proposed this legislation to help the existing law keep pace with the rapidly developing technology of unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones.  While existing code states it is unlawful for a person to “peep or spy into a dwelling or occupied building”, it does not allow for prosecution of those who may choose to do this by drone.  This bill expands protection by prohibiting the use of an electronic device to knowingly and intentionally enter onto another person’s property or dwelling to secretly peep or spy.  This bill passed the House (97-0), reported out of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, and will be voted upon by the full Senate early next week.

HB2303- "Energy Liberty"- Production of electric power by agricultural landowners- This bill was the result of months of intensive meetings and the hard work and compromise of landowners, investor-owned utility companies, electric cooperatives, solar developers, and solar advocates.  Specifically, this bill creates an option for farmers to use their land to “harvest” solar energy or generate power by other means (wind, bio-gas, or geothermal) and put that renewable energy back into the power grid, offsetting their operational costs and reducing their level of energy consumption by selling the excess energy back to the power companies.  While it does not give all stakeholders everything they were seeking, I think it will serve as important step in advancing the expansion of renewable energy in the Commonwealth, while providing increased opportunities for economic development. This bill also augments the ability of farmers and rural economy landowners to exercise two great American virtues:  self-reliance and individual determination. This passed the House (82- Y, 13- N, 2-A) and passed the Senate (36 - Y, 2- N, 2- A) and will now go to the Governor's desk.

HB 2435- Handheld personal communication devices; use while driving, penalty- I filed this bill to address the growing problem associated with the use of handheld personal communication devices by drivers that can result in distracted driving behavior.  This past August, our region experienced a tragic loss of five-month old Tristan Schulz of Lansdowne, apparently due to a driver using his cell phone while operating his vehicle crossing the pedestrian crosswalk where Tristan's mother was pushing his stroller.  The issue of distracted driving needs to be addressed by proper amendments to our criminal and traffic offense laws.  Drafting this bill was a laborious process as it is hard to balance (as all criminal statutes do) public safety with personal liberty.  My bill was combined with an identical bill (HB1834) but regrettably, did not clear the rigorous review of the House Courts of Justice Committee Criminal Law Subcommittee and failed on a tied 10 - 10 vote.  I remain committed to working on this issue going forward. 

HB 1712- Energy performance-based contract; cooperative procurement-  Energy performance-based contracts (EPC) is a form of financing that permits State agencies and local government facilities to make energy efficiency upgrades without increasing their budgets.  This bill makes a minor adjustment to the Energy and Operational Efficiency Performance Based Contracting Act that would allow a greater level of cooperation between governmental entities when in implementing these energy performance contracts, which will lead to cost savings and energy savings.  This bill passed the House (98-0) and was passed by the Senate (40-0).  It will now proceed to the Governor's desk.

HB1713- Electronic access to non-confidential court records; background checks- This bill streamlines the background screening process for the Clerks of Court and companies providing background screening services to employees.  It will also help speed up the background screening process for job applicants who must await the results of the background checks before they can be hired, and will assist employers in getting jobs filled with qualified applicants more efficiently.  This bill passed the House (99-0) and Senate (40-0) and will move to the Governor’s desk for a signature. 

HB 1740- Sanitary districts; creation by board of supervisors- This bill was recommended to me by Clarke County and amends a long-existing but rarely used law that gives Circuit Court judges the ability to create and alter special taxing districts to address a variety of needs of a community, including elements such as water supply and sewerage.  The existing law dates back to the days when local judges often did what we could consider today to be local government public policy-making.  This bill moves this public-making authority to the elected County Board of Supervisors, who are directly accountable to the voters, and who are required to hold advertised public hearings when they legislate.  This bill passed the House (95-2) and the Senate (40-0), and now moves to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

HB1816- Demurrers; amended pleadings-I filed this bill at the request of the Virginia Bar Association (VBA) that provides a resolution to what many lawyers have called the “Demurrer trap” and provides a technical solution for the legal pleading process and the preservation of appeal rights.  It was a recommendation that came out of the VBA’s Boyd-Graves Conference.  This bill passed the House (99-0) and the Senate (39-0), and now moves to the Governor's desk.

My office staff is available to provide constituents with a range of assistance in state and local matters. We can be reached at (804) 698-1010 during session or (703) 777-1570 during the rest of the year.  Please do not hesitate to contact me through email at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov.  

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Best regards,

download.png

{{ broadcaster.name }}
{{ settings.site.full_url }}

"My Door is Always Open..."

Berryville_Town_Hall_(2).jpg
Berryville Town Hall Meeting on February 4th

Leadership_Loudoun_(2).jpg
Speaking to Leadership Loudoun Class of 2017 with Senator Wexton and Delegate LaRock


DAAR_(2).jpg
Dulles Area Association of Realtors visit the Capital on Realtors' Day

Pres._Reveley_Longwood_(2).jpg
Longwood University President W. Tayor Reveley IV and Bob Wertz, Rector of Longwood's Board of Visitors

UVa__Batten_School_of_Public_Policy_(2).jpg
Students from the University of Virginia Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy met with Delegate Minchew and Delegate Austin

Share

Minchew Memo 2017 Week 1

At noon on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017, the House of Delegates was officially gaveled into session by Speaker Howell, marking the 398th year of this legislative body that is the oldest legislative body in the New World.  I look forward to serving the citizens of the 10th District and the Commonwealth of Virginia in my third term and sixth year in the General Assembly.

First-Day-ChamberSM.png
As a part of the opening traditions, the Governor was invited to deliver the annual State of the Commonwealth Address to a joint session of the House and Senate.  If you are interested in viewing this address, you may click here.  In his remarks, the Governor announced a major economic development project for Frederick County, namely the Navy Federal Credit Union Regional Operations Center, in our 10th District that will bring 1,400 jobs and add over $100 million in tax base to our region.  Click here for more information. 

Navy_Federal_Credit_Union.jpg

Frederick County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Gene Fisher and Navy Federal President and CEO Admiral Cutler Dawson, (USN Ret.) joined by Frederick County Delegates David LaRock, Chris Collins, and Randy Minchew

As a part of the General Assembly’s commitment to transparency and accessibility, a new measure of video archiving of each day's session has been implemented.  This new archive, available on the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 Session on demand. The House also has created a search feature that will allow viewers to search by bill or by member.

The pace has been brisk in the start of our 45-day “short session” with the critical job of making adjustments to our biennial budget to address a nearly $1.5 billion budget shortfall.  Unlike what we see with our federal government, Virginia’s constitution mandates a balanced budget and this past year’s sluggish economy generated less revenue than expected.  Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources.  We will invest in key priorities, but we must do so in a fiscally prudent manner. 

In this "short session”, House of Delegates members are limited to filing 15 bills.  At this point in time, I have filed 11 of my permitted 15 bills, along with 4 budget amendments and plan to submit another 4 bills by the January 20th deadline. If you are interested in learning more about my proposed legislation, you can visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System  to read the bills and chart their progress through the legislative process. I will discuss my legislation in greater detail in my forthcoming newsletters.  My committee assignments remain the same as last year and I will serve on the Courts of Justice, Transportation, General Laws, and Privileges and Elections Committees this Session.  In addition, I will be chairing the Ethics and Constitutional Amendments Subcommittees this year.

Your views are important to me and your input is useful as I serve you in Richmond.  I have an electronic constituent survey that covers many of the legislative issues we may consider during the 2017 Session. I hope you will take a moment to complete my brief 2017 Constituent Survey  where there is an optional opportunity to offer comments at the end.  Additionally, I will be holding a series of Town Hall Meetings on February 4th throughout our district and I will welcome the opportunity to speak with you directly.  Please look for the final details on the times and locations in next week’s newsletter. 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov or call my Capital Office at (804) 698-1010. My staff this year includes Sr. Legislative Assistant, Tami Davis, and returning Legislative Assistant, Bobby McCurdy.  You may visit my website at DelegateRandyMinchew.com or follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. 


My Door is Always Open...

This week, we received visits from our Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick County Sheriffs Departments and I very much appreciate the work of Sheriffs Chapman, Roper, and Millholland and their deputies in protecting our citizens.

WK_1_Loudoun_and_Frederick_Counties_Sheriffs_Depts._(2).jpg

WK_1_Clarke_County_Sheriffs_Department.jpg


Virginia Bankers' Day brought representatives from many of our 10th District banks, including Middleburg Bank, Bank of Clarke County, and Wells Fargo.

WK1_Bankers_Day_at_the_Capital.jpg


Discussing Budget Amendments items with Lord Fairfax Soil & Water Conservation District officers

WK_1_Lord_Fairfax_Soil_and_Water_Conservation_District_(2).jpg

Lastly, it was a pleasure to join with Delegates Chris Collins and Dave LaRock and current Frederick County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chuck DeHaven in presenting former Chairman Dick Shickles the framed original of House Joint Resolution 511 for his many years of service to Frederick County.

Resolution_for_Shickle_(2).jpg


It is an honor to serve you.

Best regards,

download.png

Share

Minchew Memo March 12th - Sine Die Edition

The 2016 General Assembly Session is officially over. Speaker Howell gaveled the close of the session at 8:31 pm last evening, March 11th, one day ahead of schedule. We will return to Richmond for the Reconvened Session on April 20th where we will consider the Governor’s recommendations to bills, as well as appropriations vetoed or amended by the Governor. No other business may be considered during the Reconvened Session.

Gavel_Comes_Down_Sine_Die_2016.jpgSpeaker Howell gavels the end of the 2016 Session.

The 2016-2018 Biennial Budget - HB 30

One of the most important duties of the General Assembly during the "Long Session" held in the even years is the adoption of the Biennial Budget that will fund our Commonwealth for two years commencing on July 1st, 2016.  As happens with every Biennial Budget, a conference committee is established to reconcile the House and Senate approved versions.  Afters hours of negotiations, the conference committee publishes a conference report that is presented to the House of Delegates and the Senate.  At approximately 8:15 pm last night, both houses of the General Assembly passed the House Biennial Budget bill (HB 30).  That approved bill now moves on the Governor's desk.  In mid-April, we will return to Richmond to consider the Governor's proposed amendments to the biennial budget.

The budget negotiations were completed ahead of schedule this year. The bipartisan and bicameral agreement produced a fiscally conservative balanced budget focusing on Virginia’s priorities. The final vote of approval was 91-8 in the House and 39-1 in the Senate.

Investments in K-12 and higher education were made while eliminating state liabilities and reducing borrowing. There are no new tax or fee increases in this budget. I am pleased to report that the Cost to Compete supplemental appropriation critical for our region was included, as well as pay raises for teachers, state employees and state police. We also accelerated repayment of contributions to the state employee retirement system six years ahead of schedule.

Here are a few important aspects on the approved Budget:

  • Provides more than $900 million in new funding for K-12 education
  • Includes a 2% teacher pay raise in the first year of the budget
  • Provides $114 million to colleges and universities to mitigate tuition increases
  • Includes $48 million for undergraduate financial aid
  • Includes a 3% pay raise in the first year of the budget for state employees and a 3% pay raise for state police
  • Deposits $605 million in the state’s rainy day fund, restoring the fund to 90% of its previous balance
  • Funds strategic and targeted investments in economic development to ensure Virginia remains competitive in attracting businesses and job opportunities
  • Eliminates the Accelerated Sales Tax on more than 90% of businesses by the end of FY 2018

 For more information on the budget, click on the image below. 

Budget_Image.jpgApproved 2016-2018 Virginia Biennial Budget Conference Report


Supreme Court of Virginia – Election of Justice

Unlike in the federal system, where the President nominates and Senate confirms judges, the Virginia Constitution (Article VI, Section 7) obligates the General Assembly to elect judges. On Tuesday, March 2nd, the House of Delegates and Senate failed to agree on the election of Justice Jane Roush to the Supreme Court of Virginia, who had been given a recess appointment by the Governor last summer. In my job as a lawyer, I have appeared before her and have always found her to be a bright and hard working judge.  In the House Courts of Justice Committee, I participated in the hearing on her application and voted to find her qualified to serve.  When her nomination came to the House floor, I voted to confirm her as a Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.  After Justice Roush's nomination failed, we considered another highly-qualified jurist, Judge Rossie D. Alston of the Virginia Court of Appeals.  On Tuesday, March 8th, the House of Delegates and Senate again failed to agree on a resolution electing him to the Virginia Supreme Court.  

Given our obligation to elect a justice to our highest court, we went back to work and interviewed a judge that both houses could confirm, namely, Judge Stephen R. McCollough of our Court of Appeals.  Judge McCollough has served the Commonwealth with distinction for 19 years and was previously endorsed by all the major bar associations when he sought a Court of Appeals seat a few years ago.  His nomination was confirmed in both houses on Thursday, March 10, 2016.  I had the opportunity to question Judge McCollough in the House Courts of Justice Committee and was very impressed by the depth of his intellect.  Whenever I interview prospective judges, I seek to find out about their commitment to the Rule of Law and belief in the primacy of our Virginia and United States Constitutions.  Judge McCollough passed these tests with flying colors.  If you would like to see some evidence of his brilliance, click here to review a superb law review article he wrote.


Legislative Report

Part of the legislative process is the necessity of conference committees when the House of Delegates and Senate cannot agree on the text of a piece of legislation. These conference committees harmonize House and Senate versions of approved legislation. I served on four conference committees, duly appointed by the Speaker as one of three House conferees to serve with three Senate conferees appointed by their Committee on Rules. These conference committees convened meetings this week to resolve issues related to our ethics and eminent domain laws. 

Of the 749 bills that have been communicated to the Governor for his action, I am pleased to report that six of my bills have already been signed by Governor McAuliffe with six more awaiting his action. Two bills have been carried over to 2017 for further review. Finally, three bills are awaiting review by a special subcommittee of the House Commerce and Labor Committee that will be meeting over the summer to work on specific energy bills, including bills pertaining to the advancement of solar energy and protection of historic resources threatened by new transmission lines.

My legislation is always accessible through the Virginia General Assembly website and by clicking here.

Capitol_in_Spring.jpg


Reflections from Our Legislative Intern  

I was tremendously thankful that I was given the opportunity to work for Delegate Minchew this session, both as a Leesburg resident and as a college student studying public policy. As a student, the ability to walk the halls of the General Assembly Building and absorb the workings of our Commonwealth government has been invaluable, and has afforded me with an inside look at what it takes to accomplish legislative action in Virginia’s General Assembly. While I am stilling learning the intricacies of the legislative process in the House of Delegates, the University of Richmond program that fosters General Assembly internships, as well as Delegate Minchew’s mentorship, ensured that I had a most enriching experience over the course of the last two months.  

~ Written by Bobby McCurdy, University of Richmond Legislative Intern

Bobby_with_JRM.jpg

Legislative Intern Bobby McCurdy with Delegate Minchew

As a citizen legislator, I will drive back home to Northern Virginia today. If you ever need me, I am available by appointment in the district and, although the General Assembly session has ended, my responsibilities to the citizens of the 10th District continues.  Please call my district office at 703-777-1570 or email me directly at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov if you wish to discuss an issue of public policy or a problem with a state agency, schedule an appointment, or request my presence at an event. We pride ourselves on constituent service and look forward to helping you when my staff and I are back home.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the citizens of the 10th District.

Best regards,

download.png

Share

Minchew Memo for Feb. 29 - Mar. 4

     Legislative activities at the 2016 General Assembly session are winding down and we hope to adjourn on Saturday, March 12th. The House and Senate have completed action on almost all legislation for the year and many bills are enroute to Governor McAuliffe to be signed. We have one more week of session to complete work on the 2016-2018 Biennial Budget bill and finalize conference reports.

      Unless designated as “emergency” legislation, all signed legislation will take effect on July 1, 2016.   My approved bills are already off the Governor's desk and five of my bills, including my two solar energy bills and my bill protecting historic resources against electrical transmission line placement, have been carried over to the 2017 session and referred to working subcommittees that will meet later this year to draft consensus legislation. For more details on my legislation, click here.

HB 912 – Rural Broadband Bill 

     Allow me to take this opportunity to discuss my rural broadband bill HB 912.  This is an important bill for not only citizens who reside in rural and other low population density areas in our 10th District, but also throughout much of the Commonwealth. I have had a passion for finding a way to extend broadband to our rural areas for years, and have been advised by a number of broadband providers that this bill will facilitate these extensions. With the technological progress we have seen in recent years, it is critical for our families – adults and youth – to be able to have affordable, high speed broadband for important quality of life issues, such as education, economic development, tele-commuting and medical support. My bill passed the House 97-0 and the Senate 37-3 and has been strongly supported by the McAuliffe Administration.


Rural_Roads.jpg

Rural Virginia deserves affordable high speed broadband.

Morning Hour – February 29, 2016 – Black History Month

      I was asked to provide a floor speech reflection to the House of Delegates this past Monday, February 29th, the last day of Black History Month. Over the course of the past month, many delegates have spoken and provided similar reflections.  Your can view my floor speech here

      Last summer, I had the opportunity to worship with the congregation of Charleston's Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church just two weeks after its Senior Pastor, South Carolina State Senator Dr. Clementa Pinckney, and eight of his fellow pastors and congregants were murdered while attending a Wednesday night Bible study open to all. The grace and Christianity demonstrated by this church and its members were incredibly moving.  Just days after these heinous acts were committed, the church erected a huge sign at the entrance of the church reading: "We forgive as we have been forgiven". Upon reflection, I thought that this act of courageous forgiveness by Mother Emanuel AME Church boldly demonstrates the faith that constitutes one of the primary threads in the rich tapestry that is Black History in our Nation.

Mother_Emanuel_AME.jpg
On to Transportation...

Notice for I-66 Inside the Beltway Design Public Hearings - next Tuesday, March 8th at Eagle Ridge Middle School Cafeteria in Ashburn, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with a brief presentation beginning at 6:30 pm. 
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in partnership with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), will host Design Public Hearings for the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Project. Information on how dynamically-priced toll lanes will operate on I-66 inside the Beltway. Proposed locations of toll gantries and pricing signs will also be provided. There will be a public comment period as well. For more information, please visit Transform66.org.

Notice for VDOT Information Meeting on Route 15 Interchange- Thursday, March 10th at Leesburg Elementary School in Leesburg, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold its first public information meeting on Thursday, March 10th on proposals to relieve congestion, increase traffic capacity, and enhance safety along the U.S. Route 15 at Edwards Ferry and Fort Evans Roads.  The public can stop by Leesburg Elementary School between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.  This meeting will be an open-house format with VDOT staff on hand to  discuss project information and answer questions. I was able to secure funding for this much-needed interchange design as a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.  I look forward to this project moving into the design phase. For additional details on the project, click here.

“My Door is Always Open”

     I had a visit this week from Les Baron, Council Executive of the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.  Mr. Baron oversees the operations of Boy Scouting in our region, serving 48,000 youth and assisted by 21,000 volunteer adult leaders.  As an Eagle Scout and a former Scoutmaster, I have a strong kinship with the Scouting movement. It was a pleasure to hear about Scouting's plan to continue serving youth in our region and provide its outstanding leadership training.  We also met with my House of Delegates colleague Tony Wilt of Rockingham County who filed HB 942, a bill strongly supported by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  His bill passed the House and Senate and should be signed by the Governor next week.

     

Les___Claiborne_2.jpg

Delegate Wilt, Claiborne Gayden, Les Baron and Delegate Minchew
 

      Speaking of Scouting, if you would be interested in having a Scouting license plate on your car, truck, or trailer that will actually raise money for Scouting, please click on this license plate for more information.  Once we have 450 prepaid license plate applications, we will go into production on this new Virginia DMV license plate.

BSA_Plate.jpg

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the citizens of Virginia's 10th District.


Best regards,

download.png

Share

Minchew Memo for Feb. 22 - 26 Budget Edition

    Some of the most important work of the session was accomplished this week as we voted on the 2016-2018 Biennial Budget and many budget amendments yesterday in order to advance the process of placing the House budget proposal into conference with the Senate. Under the Virginia Constitution, no expenditures of any nature by the Commonwealth can occur unless pursuant to a balanced and approved budget.  Unlike in Washington, you will never see our Virginia state government operating under a "continuing resolution" or other similar devices.

The Budget Bill

    The House of Delegates passed its budget proposal yesterday on a highly bipartisan vote of 98-2, with one Republican and one Democrat voting “No.” The House-approved budget is fiscally conservative and structurally balanced with no new fees or tax increases. We have once again prioritized the core functions of government with our focus and increased funding for education (both K-12 and higher education), and emphasis on economic development, while providing funding to combat domestic violence and strengthen the healthcare safety net. You can access HB 30, our House-approved 2016-2018 Biennial Budget and its amendments here.

      K-12 education funding from the state will increase from $7.1 to $7.7 billion between 2016 and 2018. Higher education funding includes funding for increased access for in-state undergraduate students and affordability. General fund spending for higher education in the House-passed budget is $1.77 billion in 2017 and $1.82 billion in 2018. This compares to $1.59 billion in the current year. These increases are aimed at holding tuition increases at in-state universities to no more than 3 percent per year, although each university board and not the General Assembly, makes this decision.

      Funding for mental health treatment centers throughout the state is $746 million for the 2016-18 period, an increase of 10 per cent from 2014-2016.

      Transportation funding statewide for 2016-2018 is $13.4 billion, a 12 per cent increase in funding from 2014-16. Part of the transportation funding includes $140 million for widening I-66 eastbound inside the Beltway, with additional money available for I-66 improvements outside the Beltway. These two related projects are expected to reduce congestion in Northern Virginia in a way that adds approximately 100,000 hours of time back into the lives of Northern Virginians each business day. These I-66 projects are expected to be completed by 2020 or 2021.

Voting_on_2016_Budget.jpgVoting in the House of Delegates

      Another area of the budget that is important to our 10thDistrict is the proposed $2.43 Billion bond package funding for Virginia’s state parks, as well as appropriations for the Virginia Battlefield Preservation and Virginia Land Conservation Funds. I am still hopeful that some of these bond funds will be allocated to capital improvements and to purchase additional lands for a new state park in far northwestern Loudoun County.

      As we adopted our House Budget, the Senate adopted its budget. There are a number of differences between these two budget proposals that the twelve House and Senate budget conferees (six from each legislative body) will reconcile. Hopefully, these budget conferees will complete their work so that both houses of the General Assembly can approve the Budget well before our March 12, 2016 scheduled adjournment date. It is important that we complete our work and send the Budget Bill to the Governor soon, so that all who depend on the Commonwealth Budget for support, such as our teachers, state employees, law enforcement officers, and local governments may be able to plan accordingly.

     In other legislative matters this week, we in the House have been considering Senate bills and amendments and the Senate has been doing the same with our legislation. Eight of my bills have passed the Senate unanimously since Crossover last week, and one has already gone to the Governor. You can access the status of my legislation here


The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is Seeking Qualified Youth

Deadline: Monday, March 7

      The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia is accepting applications for its 2016 College Leaders Program and High School Leaders Program. I am a Sorensen alumnus and strongly support the Sorensen Institute's goals of promoting trust, civility, and respect in public service. The practical skills and political knowledge gained in this program allow participants to become effective advocates in government and business. If you know of any high school or college students in your community who might be interested, please encourage them to consider applying for the program. The deadline is Monday, March 7, at midnight. You can access the Sorensen Institute’s applications here.


  “My Door is Always Open”

      It was great to have the Clarke County 4-H students visit us this week. 4-H is a remarkable program that teaches leadership skills to our youth as they engage in hands-on activities that foster good communication skills, the ability to work together, and manage their time and resources. 

4-_H_Clarke_Co..jpg
     I had a good discussion with nursing professionals from the Inova Loudoun Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from Leesburg. This skilled nursing facility provides short and long term care with a range of rehabilitation programs which provide a continuum of care to meet the varied and changing needs of its residents.  It is staffed with excellent, dedicated medical professionals who care about their patients and their community. 
2016_Inova_Loudoun_Nursing_and_Rehabilitation_Center_representatives.jpg

     I welcomed my neighbors Ron Rogos and Tracy Coffing of Leesburg's Historic District to the General Assembly Building this morning and arranged for them to tour the Capitol. The tour guides at the Capitol are excellent. My staff is able to assist you if you plan a trip to our Commonwealth’s Capitol Square.

R_T_Paint_U.jpg

      We have two weeks left in our 60-day “long” session. There is still much to do, especially in regard to finalizing the budget; however, the end is in sight.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Best regards,

 download.png

Share

Minchew Memo Feb. 15-19 Crossover Edition

As I reported last week, “Crossover,” the day the House of Delegates and the Senate were required to complete work on their own bills, was this past Tuesday, February 16th. Since then, we in the House of Delegates have been considering Senate bills and are presenting our bills on the Senate side of the Capitol. As I write this memo, four of my bills have already passed their assigned Senate committees. Our work the next three weeks will center on consideration of legislation from the Senate and consideration of the Biennial Budget. I will discuss the budget process below.

Of the thirty bills I filed as Chief Patron, fifteen have crossed over to the Senate. Five bills were carried over to 2017 so that I could continue to work on them in their assigned committees in the “off season” and bring back improved versions in 2017. Two bills were stricken at my request and the remaining eight bills were left in Committee. In addition to my Chief Patron bills, there are many other bills that I have spent time supporting as co-patron. As always, you can look at my legislation online at the Virginia Legislative Information System


The 2016-2018 Biennial Budget – HB 30

I will share more information on the contents of the House budget next week, after I have had an opportunity to review the Appropriations Committee’s work product that will be unveiled this Sunday. I am confident that this proposed Biennial Budget will be a conservative, structurally balanced, and responsible state budget that carefully spends your taxpayer dollars while making strategic and targeted investments in the core functions of state government.

Our Virginia Constitution mandates a balanced budget, and that requires us to use conservative revenue projections. It is dangerous and inappropriate for the General Assembly to make optimistic and liberal projections of our state revenues, particularly when our economic growth numbers are not robust. While I have not seen this final work product of the Appropriations Committee, I am advised that it will also contribute to the state’s rainy day fund, fully fund the state’s annual contribution to the Virginia Retirement System two years ahead of schedule, and will protect our Triple-A bond rating.

The 2016-2018 Biennial Budget bill will be released at 1:00 pm on Sunday, February 21, in House Room D of the General Assembly Building, and will also be available online at that time at http://hac.virginia.gov. We are required to complete our work on the House budget bills by next Thursday, February 25th, and will vote that day on passage of the bill. Please feel free to e-mail or call me if you have any thoughts on this Budget Bill after it is posted online this Sunday.


House Legislative Priorities

The House of Delegates has had a productive and successful session thus far on bills relating to our top legislative priorities. Before Crossover, the House of Delegates considered nearly 1,400 bills. The majority of the bills represent the General Assembly’s work on areas relating to our top 2016 priorities; namely, jobs and economic development initiatives, transportation, and K-12 education. Below I will highlight key legislation in the areas of jobs and economic growth and education.

Jobs and economic growth

Along with the bipartisan GOVirginia initiatives, which promote a pro-business climate and foster job creation, as well as incentivize long-term economic growth and protect small businesses by reforming regulatory processes (as discussed in our Week Three Memo), several other bills have passed the House to stimulate the economy and create jobs. 

  • HB 451 (passed 99-0) establishes a commission to study economic opportunities for aspiring and diverse communities in Virginia.
  • HB 515 (passed 97-1) requires colleges and universities to report on their contributions to economic development in Virginia in order to foster better collaboration with other colleges, state agencies and local governments.
  • HB 185 (passed 98-0) expands the duties of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to include encouraging the import of products and services from international markets to the Commonwealth.

Education

Education is always a top priority for the House of Delegates. It is a gateway to jobs and opportunity for our citizenry. Legislation which I supported to strengthen financial aid, SOL’s and public school choice made its way through the House.

  • HB 568 (passed 97-1) strengthens financial aid grant requirements to low income families.
  • HB 894 (passed 98-0) builds on our past efforts to reform the Standards of Learning (SOL’s) increasing the membership of the SOL Innovation Committee to include a member of the higher education community.
  • HB 961 (passed 98-0) allows colleges and universities to offer flat-fee degrees to students in high demand fields.
  • HB 66 (passed 96-3) incentivizes community colleges to offer workforce training credentials in high-demand fields by offering grants to pay for tuition, books and supplies and training.

It is also appropriate here to give you a briefing on charter school legislation. As I write this memo, it does not appear that the Senate will approve the proposed amendment to the Constitution of Virginia giving concurrent jurisdiction to the State Board of Education to approve charter schools. Along with local school boards, I support charter schools as determined by our local school boards and cannot support unfunded mandates upon our localities by our state government.


“My Door is Always Open”

I was pleased to participate in a Virginia General Assembly public policy seminar with this year’s class from Leadership Loudoun who were in the General Assembly Building yesterday. The 2016 class of Leadership Loudoun marks the 25th year of a great 9-month program that identifies and supports rising community leaders.

2016_Loudoun_Leadership.jpgDelegate Minchew speaking with the 2016 class of Loudoun Leadership 
 2016_JRM___DAAR.jpgDelegate Minchew welcomes the members of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors

Also, I was happy to welcome our Realtors from the 10thDistrict. The Blue Ridge Association of Realtors (BRAR) and the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR) came to Richmond for “Realtor Day” on Wednesday. I also had the opportunity to congratulate Jeanette Newton on her retirement after 25 years as Executive Director of DAAR. Virginia’s Realtors play an important role in the economy of our region and are steadfast advocates for the American Dream of home ownership by our families.

 JNPAINT.jpg
Delegate Minchew presents Jeanette Newton a certificate for 25 years of service to DAAR

Lastly, I was honored to introduce Reverend Jim Wishmyer, Pastor of the Leesburg United Methodist Church, who gave the Invocation for the House of Delegates on Wednesday. The roots of the Leesburg United Methodist Church go back to 1766 when the founder of Leesburg, Nicholas Minor, conveyed original Leesburg Lot 50 to the Methodist Society. I have seen firsthand Reverend Wishmyer’s leadership in the Loudoun County faith community along with his stewardship of the church and a number of key community service organizations. On a personal note, I cannot thank the Leesburg United Methodist Church enough for serving as the charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 998 where I served as Scoutmaster for many years.

 Reverend Jim Wishmyer and Delegate Minchew in the House Chamber
2016_Rev._Wishmyer.jpg


Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Best regards,

download.png
Randy Minchew

Share

Minchew Memo for Feb.8 - Feb. 12

Next Tuesday, February 16th, is "Crossover", the deadline for the House of Delegates and Senate to complete their work in this bicameral legislature.  As such, the pace of committee meetings reviewing proposed legislation increases dramatically as Crossover beckons and the most difficult legislation, that has been "passed by" on numerous occasions, finally comes to votes in both houses.


I serve on four committees, including the General Assembly’s busiest committee, the Courts of Justice Committee, which is assigned more bills than any other committee. Within that committee, I serve on the Civil Subcommittee, chair the Ethics Subcommittee, and serve on the Judicial Panel that interviews and recommends judges for appointment. Along with Courts of Justice, I serve on the Transportation Committee and the Privileges and Elections Committee. Also, this year, I was appointed to a fourth committee, namely the General Laws Committee, that, true to its name, hears an incredibly wide array of bills dealing with many areas of the law.  As a result, my meeting schedule runs from early morning to late in the evening as my four committees work to process the last of the nearly 1,400 bills filed in the House of Delegates this session.   

Randy_Chairing_Sub_Committee.jpg

 Delegate Minchew chairing the Constitutional Subcommittee
on Privileges & Elections.

Before I discuss my legislative efforts of the week, allow me to introduce our 10th District page, Suzannah Bozarth. Ms. Bozarth is an 8th grade student who was selected as one of 40 pages (of 142 applications) for the 2016 General Assembly session. If you have a child who will be 13-14 years-old and has an interest in Virginia history and government, you may wish to consider this program in future sessions. There is more information on the page program here.


Page_Suzannah_Bozarth.jpg

Delegate Minchew and House Page Suzannah Bozarth on the House Floor.

Legislative Report

HB 248 - This is a bill I prepared addressing a vexatious problem of financial exploitation of senior citizens, often done by persons who have earned a position of trust with the senior citizen.   It provides that upon the filing of an initial report of suspected financial exploitation of an adult OR during an adult protective services investigation of suspected financial exploitation, a referral of the matter shall be made to the local law enforcement agency. This bill, supported by the Northern Virginia Aging Network and many other advocacy groups, passed the House unopposed today 99-0.

3_hb907.jpg

As pictured above, I appeared before the General Laws Committee to explain HB 907, a bill to help the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) reduce costs in its procurement processes.  As a member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which oversees the VRE, I have been impressed by this commuter railroad that will soon be serving Loudoun County via its forthcoming Haymarket Station.  This bill passed the Committee 22-0 and had its second reading in the House today on the uncontested calendar. It should pass the House on Monday.

HB 910 – This legislation clarifies and improves the process by which Virginia taxpayers and businesses can obtain circuit court remedies on assessments they feel are calculated incorrectly.  HB 910 levels the playing field in terms of access to data and other information used by assessors in making their calculations. This bill was reported from the Courts of Justice Committee with a unanimous vote of 21-0 and is headed to the House floor this coming Monday.


"My Door is Always Open”

I was honored to accept the 2015 Solar Champion Award presented by the Maryland DC Virginia Solar Energies Industry Association (MDV-SEIA) for my commitment to advancing solar policy in Virginia. This year, I filed two bills to expand opportunities for landowners to generate solar energy on their lands and I look forward to seeing increased cooperation between these renewable power-producing landowners and their serving utilities.  
02-09-16_Solar_Award.jpg
I visited with the Loudoun County and Frederick County School Boards this week, as well as students from the Governor’s Schools of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) and Mountain Vista in Middletown, VA. Students from Radford also stopped by to discuss issues facing education. 

TJ_Students.jpg

Delegate Minchew with students from Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology. 

Frederick_Co_School_Board.jpg
Delegate Minchew visits with members of the Frederick County Public School Board Members.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.  Now, on to Crossover.

Best regards,
download.png
Randy Minchew

Share

Minchew Memo Jan. 30- Feb. 5

The fast pace here at the General Assembly continued unabated this week. The Speaker gavels the start of session every day at noon and our time on the House floor is getting longer each day as bills that have survived their respective subcommittees and committees are reaching the House floor for their readings and votes. Did you know that you can watch the House of Delegates session each day at noon? You can access the live stream here.

My 2016 Constituent Survey will remain active for five more days until February 10th. Thank you very much to all who have completed the survey. Your responses are important to me and assist me in representing your issues and concerns in the House of Delegates. With my gratitude for your efforts one last time, you can access my survey here.

Before I discuss this week’s legislative work, I would like to say a few words about last weekend’s special 26th Joint Commemorative Session. Every four years since 1934, the General Assembly has had the honor of being hosted by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for a Joint Commemorative Session of the Virginia General Assembly in the Hall of the House of Burgesses in the restored Capitol in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Randy_Chatting_with_TJ.jpg
One of the highlights of the session was the Address by The College of William and Mary’s President W. Taylor Reveley, III. He spoke eloquently to the members about the need for our leaders to move Virginia forward economically, which will require creative problem solving, and most importantly leadership, which, Reveley said, is the “bone marrow of a functioning democracy,” He ended with this: “In the beginning there was Virginia, friends, and Virginia led. So inspired, we must lead in our time.”  You can review President Reveley’s remarks here.

GOVirginia

One reason why I sought to serve in the House of Delegates was to work on economic development and job-creation public policies. I chaired the Loudoun County Economic Development Commission in the mid 1990’s when Loudoun became a regional leader in attracting technology industry jobs. In the General Assembly, my work in economic development remains active.

By this time, you may have heard in the press about a new bipartisan initiative called GOVirginia. Eighteen bills have been introduced this session to promote a pro-business climate and foster job creation, as well as incentivize long-term economic growth and protect small businesses by reforming regulatory processes. Our Commonwealth is lagging behind the national economic recovery and in 2014 was 48th in the nation with zero economic growth. That is just unacceptable in a state so rich in resources, educational opportunities and citizens who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of their families and communities.

I am a chief co-patron of one of the two GOVirginia initiatives, HB 846, a bill creating the Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Performance Grant Fund, that would give two or more collaborating localities eligibility for grants to aid in the expansion or relocation of Virginia companies desiring to expand within the Commonwealth. I am also a co-patron of HB 834, the GOVirginia appropriations component, that also creates regional councils consisting of representatives of government, business and education communities to work on economic development initiatives across the Commonwealth.  GOVirginia encourages regional cooperation in economic development, nurturing of prospects and informational sharing and provides a better vehicle for collaboration between state and local economic development authorities.  I am excited to be a part of these efforts.

GoVirginia2.jpg

Legislative Actions

The bills I filed this session are progressing rapidly through the legislative process. Seven have now passed the House and are being routed to the appropriate Senate committees for their consideration. I have highlighted three bills this week, and again, you may access my legislative agenda here.

HB 912 – I am very pleased to report that my bill to direct the Department of Transportation to permit broadband service providers to install and extend underground broadband conduit within the so-called “Byrd Act” roads that we have in our rural areas of Loudoun and Clarke Counties. The billpassed a Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday with unanimous consent. I have had a passion for finding ways to encourage broadband services to our rural areas for years. Citizens in our rural communities must be able to access inexpensive and high quality broadband in an efficient manner. This in legislation helps remove impediments to progress and I will work to usher it through to the House floor for a vote.

HB 230 – This is a Virginia Bar Association recommended bill from its Elder Law and Special Needs section. This bill allows for a circuit court judge, upon petition from an interested party, to create a special needs trust to serve the interests of the disabled or special needs beneficiary. 
Passed the House 98-0.

HB 537 – This bill clarifies and streamlines the process by which local ordinance fines collected by our general district courts make their way back to our counties, cities and towns. Under current practices, our localities often wait months for collected fines to come back to them. This bill should remedy that situation. Passed the House 98-0.

  “My Door is Always Open”

Visitors to my office this week included NASA and Aerospace representatives, the NOVA Chamber, the Frederick and Loudoun County Education Associations, ARC of Northern Virginia, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, and many stakeholders on legislation pending before the House of Delegates.

My staff was so pleased to welcome our friends from Decoding Dyslexia. They have been tireless advocates for raising awareness for dyslexia, supporting and empowering parents, and educating policy-makers on best practices to support Virginia students with dyslexia.

02-02-16_Decoding_Dyslexia.jpgNoah Kane, second from the left, spoke at The White House last November at the 40 year celebration of the IDEA Conference on the challenges of being a student with dyslexia and learning to advocate, not just for himself, but for others with similar challenges. 

Finally, we welcomed many groups here for Conservation Day, such as representatives from the Virginia Conservation Network, which partners with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Garden Club of Virginia, the Piedmont Environmental Council, and other key groups working in many areas of environmental advocacy.

02-03-16_Celie_Harris_Garden_Club_of_Virginia.jpgMrs. Celie Harris discusses conservation and preservation issues facing the Commonwealth and Clarke County with Delegate Minchew.

I encourage you one last time complete my 2016 Constituent Survey and feel free to forward this message along to other citizens of the 10th District. I look forward to sharing more information with you about the 2016 General Assembly session in the weeks ahead.

I will sign off with a photo showing a one-sided conversation I had with Thomas Jefferson in Williamsburg last weekend while attending the Joint Commemorative Special Session at our Colonial Capitol.  Jefferson's brilliance was so profound that many pedestrians walking down Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg will sit on this bench with the author of the Declaration of Independence and ask their questions.

01-29-16_GA_in_Williamsburg.jpg
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Best regards,

download.png

Randy Minchew
Share

Minchew Memo January 25-29, 2016

It has been an extremely busy and productive week at the General Assembly. Besides making up time lost from last week’s snowstorm, we only have two more weeks before Crossover, which falls on February 16, 2016, this year. “Crossover” is the halfway point of the General Assembly Session, when more than 1300 bills will have traveled through the committee process, and if passed out of committee, head to the floor of the House of Delegates for passage or defeat.

IMG_6092.JPG

We have “hit the ground running” here in Richmond. Of the thirty bills I filed, 15 have already been considered in various subcommittees and full committee levels. Two of my bills have already passed the House of Delegates with unanimous consent and will head to the Senate for consideration. In addition to all my legislation in the pipeline, I sit on four standing committees and hear bills presented by other delegates at the Courts of Justice, Transportation, Privileges and Elections, and new this year, the General Laws Committees. Finally, I presented two of my three Budget Amendments to the Appropriations Committee. I will highlight many of these legislative accomplishments below.

Before I share with you my thoughts from this week’s session, please be aware that my online 2016 Legislative Survey is still active. Before we process the results, please take a few minutes to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey I greatly appreciate your input and look forward to sharing the results with you once the report has been prepared.

First, I would like discuss the 2016-2018 biennial budget process and the amendments to the Budget Bill (HB 30) that I have filed this year. The budget bill is a unique bill. It is the only bill that is open to amendments by any delegate, and it consumes 90% of the time of the Appropriations Committee. Crafting a budget for the Commonwealth is the most important work that the General Assembly does every two years.This year I filed three budget amendments:

  • Budget Amendment: C-47 #10h: Department of Conservation & Recreation. This amendment sub-allocates funds from Governor McAuliffe’s $140,000,000 request for state parks for the acquisition of additional lands for the new 600-acre state park located in northwestern Loudoun County. The beautiful site is the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and the creation of this new state park was one of the final acts of the McDonnell Administration back in 2013.  I foresee this new park as being similar to the Sky Meadow State Park in Fauquier County with a wonderful array of active and passive recreation opportunities.
  • Budget Amendment 196 #2h: Department of Education, University of Virginia. This amendment will secure stable funding for two full time Environmental Educator positions at Blandy Experimental Farms in southern Clarke County in order to sustain and expand the pre-K-12 educational programs offered at this wonderful facility.
  • Budget Amendment 376 #1h: Department of Historic Resources. This amendment asks for $1,000,000 over two years that will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis for the preservation, interpretation and development of Civil War Battlefields in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. This amendment is not for land acquisition.

FullSizeRender_(8).jpg

Keven Walker of Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation testifies before the Appropriations Committee.

Two of my bills have already passed the House of Delegates unanimously. HB 386 (passed 91-0) adds a module for observational and reporting techniques in Nurse Aide training programs. Because they are now required to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect to authorities, they are the first to see problems in early stages of development. We want them to have training to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.  This bill was suggested to me by the Northern Virginia Aging Network (NVAN) and a number of senior citizen advocacy groups in our region.

HB 181 passed the House today on a 97-0 vote. It does one thing and one thing only. It allows the third most populous county in our Commonwealth, Loudoun, with more than 350,000 residents, to have two voting members – instead of one - on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC). This change is warranted in light of the fact that the NVTC has the duty to oversee the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and in light of the fact that Loudoun County has chosen to join the WMATA Compact and have Silver Line Metro service in its future, we need more Loudoun voting power on the NVTC.

Several of my bills have also reported from subcommittees and committees this week.

  • HB 233 – This bill allows any locality to fund the cost of participation in mental health treatment and counseling programs by members of volunteer fire or rescue companies. Our volunteer fire fighters and rescue squad men and women put themselves into harm's way and sometimes need mental health and counseling services after their heroic acts.  This bill passed Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns without opposition. (22-0)
  • HB 906 - This bill strengthens the priest-penitent privilege and the confidentiality of communications between religious ministers and those citizens who consult with them.  It is supported by many religious groups and the Family Foundation and, in my opinion, will strengthen Virginia's free exercise of religion constitutional right first written by George Mason in 1776 and now enshrined in Article I of the Virginia Constitution.  This bill is also a recommendation of the Virginia Bar Association's Boyd-Graves Conference and the bill reported out of the Courts of Justice Committee on a 22-0 vote.
  • HB 707-  This bill addresses a growing problem of "meth labs" that are often set up in residential homes.  Methamphetamine and other clandestine drugs are highly toxic and can permeate the drywall, flooring, and other areas of these residential structures.  My bill will lead to certified and licensed remediation professionals who can clean up these homes and allows them to to be resold.  Currently, these "meth lab" homes can create a blight in their neighborhoods and negatively affect property values.  This bill had its second reading on the House floor today and was reported from the General Laws Committee on a unanimous vote.

FullSizeRender_(5).jpg

You can always look at my legislation online at the Virginia Legislative Information System. The legislation is updated nightly with all the bill’s legislative history to date. The Virginia General Assembly website is an invaluable tool for advocacy, education and general information about the Commonwealth’s legislative process and history.

“My Door is Always Open”

Visitors to my office and the General Assembly this week included Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County public officials, medical professionals, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia Horse Council, and the Homebuilders from across the state as well as from our 10th district.

IMG_6099.JPG

Physician Assistant students from Shenandoah University

Virginians for the Arts and Virginia Tourism Corporation were in the General Assembly Building yesterday making a great case for promoting the great historic resources and cultural activities in our Commonwealth. “Virginia is for Lovers” is still the great tagline for tourism in our state.

photo.tourism.JPG

And now, I end with a one last reminder to complete my online legislative survey here. As your delegate, I rely on your comments and views to better serve you in the General Assembly.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the upcoming weeks. If you wish to visit the Capitol and my office, please call my staff at 804-698-1010 to arrange a visit.

Hopefully, the snow has abated enough in our great 10thDistrict that you are able to resume your normal activities. Have a great weekend~

Share


Paid for and authorized by Minchew for Delegate

Created with NationBuilder

Privacy Policy