It was a blue-sky day last Wednesday when I was given my oath of office as the 10th District delegate to the 2016 General Assembly Session along with my other 99 House of Delegates colleagues. This begins my third term as your delegate, and my fifth General Assembly session. Speaker Howell gaveled the House to order at noon on January 13, and since that historic moment, I have been very busy with all the duties of serving my constituents and our Commonwealth as a citizen-legislator.
Before I share my activities and legislation priorities, I would appreciate your input by completing my 2016 Session Survey. I will take special note of your answers and comments to the questions in the survey. This will only take a few moments to complete, and I hope you can weigh in and give me your thoughts on items of legislation we will probably see this session.
My staff and I are in Richmond to serve you during this “long session” or 60-day session. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-698-1010. My Senior Legislative Assistant, Tami Davis, has been joined for session by former aide Cindy Bridgman and Legislative Intern Bobby McCurdy. Bobby is a junior at the University of Richmond studying public policy and leadership, whom I have known since he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Tami and I welcome Cindy and Bobby to the session team.
Intern Bobby McCurdy joins Delegate Minchew at his chair on the House Floor after the State of the Commonwealth.
In addition to my work on the Courts of Justice, Transportation and Privileges and Elections Committees, I have been assigned a fourth committee – General Laws – by Speaker Howell, as well as the Chairmanship of the Constitutional Subcommittee of the Privileges and Elections Committee. Important legislative work takes place at the committee level and these four committees receive hundreds of bills to review.
This is also a budget year. The 2016-2018 budget will be the most important task facing the General Assembly this year. It is our duty to use taxpayer dollars in a fiscally responsible way as we weigh the services provided by the Commonwealth with the needs of its citizenry. Governor McAuliffe sent the General Assembly his proposed biennial budget and we will take his initiatives very seriously as we progress through this budget process. I attended the Governor’s annual State of the Commonwealth Address last Wednesday, January 13. You can read his remarks here.
I am pleased to report that the House of Delegates passed critically important emergency legislation last week (HB 58) to protect small business owners from a health insurance change originally mandated by the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"). Under the ACA, small businesses between 51-100 employees were due to be moved into the small group insurance market starting in 2016. This shift would have resulted in significant premium increases. By passing this legislation, we have ensured that employees of small businesses across the Commonwealth will continue to have access to their healthcare plans, and that small businesses can continue to thrive in Virginia.
I have filed 30 bills covering many areas of concern to our constituents and the citizens of the Commonwealth, many of which relate to transportation issues facing our region, local jurisdiction concerns, and legal issues. Interestingly, the topic of drones will be discussed at length this session in this new relatively new arena of advanced technology amid security concerns. I will discuss my bills in detail in upcoming memos. Meanwhile, you can view all of my legislation here.
“My door is always open”
Since session began, I have met with many citizens and stakeholders. It is always interesting to hear from constituents, local and state government representatives, and professional organizations about their legislative priorities and responsibilities. I have an "open door" policy and often meet with stakeholder groups who disagree with my stances on matters of public policy. I have found over the years that one can learn a lot from people who hold differing views. Whether I host bankers, accountants, doctors, vets, attorneys, teachers or students, to name only a few groups that came to my office this past week, I am honored to share many quality moments each day with constituents who care about their quality of life in the Commonwealth. If you cannot make the trip to Richmond, and I realize that many cannot, please retain my contact information and let me know your thoughts. Again, my legislative survey, which will assist me in representing you, can be accessed here.
Lord Fairfax Water & Soil Conservation District representatives visit Delegate Minchew in his office.
Virginia Math & Science Coalition recognizes Loudoun County Public Schools for their Science Research Institute Teacher Program.
With all the snow and blizzard conditions forecasted for this weekend, please use the many resources in your local area that are available to you, including your local governments, your utility companies and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). I was also just informed that the Town of Leesburg has a new snow-related hotline. During snow emergencies, Town of Leesburg residents can call 703-777-SNOW to get up-to-date snow removal operations information and to report problems. Residents of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties can visit visit the county home pages for winter weather resources.
BREAKING NEWS: Please note that due to the impending weather, Friday’s session (January 22, 2016) will be PRO FORMA. No business will be conducted. All House Committee meetings are cancelled.