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