Minchew Memo - Week 7
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 Session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die at 9:11 pm on Friday, February 27, 2015. The Latinphrase sine die means “without day”. When a legislature adjourns sine die, it is done with its work. For the first time in 15 years, the General Assembly adjourned sine die before its scheduled (and budgeted) adjournment date of February 28, 2015. Given the per diem cost of running the Virginia General Assembly, the net savings to the taxpayers could fund the salary of a school teacher for an entire year.
While the 2015 Session was notable for its demanding pace, it was also remarkable for the level of transparency and bipartisan cooperation which took place, particularly in the adoption of a balanced budget. Our budget bill created a fiscally responsible path to funding the core functions of our government, and also invested in important areas such as the healthcare safety net and education, and giving a much deserved raise to state police and teachers. On Thursday, Governor McAuliffe signed the budget bill without offering any amendments or line item vetoes. It has been almost twenty years since this last happened.
I am also encouraged by the important legislation we passed - again, in a very bipartisan and transparent manner - to enact stronger, clearer ethics laws. I chaired the House Ethics Subcommittee this year and can report that every bill that cleared my Subcommittee, including the Omnibus Ethics Bill described here, and did so on a unanimous vote with Republican and Democratic co-patrons. Good ethics laws should be bipartisan and we proved that this is an attainable goal. We did have to spend a lot of time reconciling the House and the Senate versions of the Omnibus Ethics Bill and it was the last bill acted upon by the General Assembly at the 2015 Session. We learned this morning that Governor McAuliffe may have a few amendments to the Omnibus Ethics Bill and we look forward to reviewing and acting upon those amendments on April 15th.
This year, I was successful in a number of my legislative initiatives, from securing needed reforms to public procurement, to abolishing “double-taxation” on recordation of deeds of trust, to providing enabling authority for localities to establish child crossing safety zones on roads adjacent to public schools, and winning approval of a new program allowing for PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs described here and here. I also worked hard to secure funding for new judgeships to serve Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties and we have four new judges who will begin service July 1st in our home counties.
As I have done every year since being elected, I will be sending a copy of the 2015 Session Highlights to every household in the 10th District in the coming weeks. Additionally, if you would like to receive a copy of “In Due Course”, which summarizes the laws that will take effect on July 1, 2015, please email me at email@example.com and I will email you a copy of this publication when it is released in early June.
While energized by the experience, and proud of what we achieved this session, I am grateful to have returned home to my family and my other responsibilities until we return to Richmond for the reconvened (Veto) Session on April 15th. Also, as I have done every spring after returning home, I have done a road inspection trip in my Jeep checking out the condition of the roads in our district, both paved and unpaved. I would appreciate your help in identifying potholes and other problem road sections by posting a service request to VDOT here or by calling1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623). If you report a pothole and it is not fixed in a reasonable period of time, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 777-1570.
As always, I am honored to serve you, the constituents of the 10th HOD District, and look forward to seeing you as I travel through Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties this spring. Now that I am back in the 10th District, please feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 703-777-1570, I value your comments, observations and suggestions a great deal, and look forward to seeing you soon.
Lastly, while I rarely engage in political talk in my Minchew Memos, I would like to let you know that I will be seeking reelection this November to continue representing the citizens of the 10th District in the House of Delegates and have been nominated again by my party to run as its nominee. I would be honored to continue my service to you and would ask for your vote.
New Circuit Judgeships Created for
20th and 26th Virginia Judicial Circuits
I am pleased to announce that we were able to secure funding for new Circuit Court Judgeship for both Loudoun (20th Judicial Circuit) and for Frederick and Clarke Counties (26th Judicial Circuit) Both of these circuits have over-burdened court dockets and these new judgeships will allowing for more efficient and timely court systems in our home counties.
Our new Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge will be Douglas L. Fleming, Jr. In Clarke and Frederick Counties, we will have Randy Bryant replacing retiring Circuit Court Judge John E. Wetsel, Jr., and Alex Iden in the new circuit court judgeship along with Ian Williams replacing retiring General District Court Judge David Shaw Whitacre and Kevin C. Black replacing retiring Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge William H. Logan.
Douglas F. Fleming, Jr., our new 20th Judicial Circuit court judge