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.
My Door Is Always Open...
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.
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.