For only the second time in the past 48 years, the General Assembly’s scheduled meetings and session were canceled for Friday in order for legislators and staff to safely travel home to be with their families during the predicted massive snow storm.
Since the storm did materialize, the pending question for me is will I be able to plow my country road with my trusty old John Deere tractor and blade sufficiently to allow me to attempt to travel back to Richmond on Sunday in order to resume state business on Monday morning.
Friday, January 22, also was the last day to file bills, so last week we were all busy finalizing bills for the deadline and receiving a host of briefings on the economy, anticipated revenue, state agency issues, and spending requests.
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox also laid out our Republican agenda for the session. Some major items included in our agenda include our commitment to improve our economy by encouraging private sector job growth; strong support for education in the budget and for reforms including promoting education choice and flexibility for students and their parents; the promotion of free-market alternatives to increase patient access to affordable healthcare; and, initiatives to help prevent domestic violence against women.
As you follow news from the session this year, you should notice many bills and budget components supporting these themes. For example, the domestic violence agenda was rolled out this week with 10 bills filed. These bills provide tougher penalties on abusers, authorizes concealed carry for up to 45 days to those over 21 and protected by court orders, and strengthens stalking laws.
Bills to create a more free-market system for health care also rolled out, including bills to reform the Certificates of Public Need (COPN) process. Today, under an antiquated law, medical providers must go through a lengthy and costly process to obtain state permission to build a clinic, install medical equipment, provide an additional care capability, and even to build a parking lot. Reforms will create a more free-market system, control costs, and improve access for patients around the state.
My HB263 passed in an Education Subcommittee this week. It is a technical bill that eliminates the 10th House District from membership in the Western Virginia Public Education Consortium. The 10th House District was moved to Loudoun County in the 2011 redistricting, and the code intent for the consortium is for the membership to be western regional legislators and educators.
I have received a large number of emails and phone calls supporting another bill I have filed, HB587. In 1998 legislation was passed to protect Virginia’s war-related monuments and memorials from all wars going back to the earliest days of the settling of Virginia. A court ruling last year determined the legislation was unclear as to whether or not the intent of the law was to protect those erected prior to 1998 or only those erected going forward from 1998 since new laws normally go into effect July 1 allowing a bill’s passage.
My bill clarifies that the intent of the law is to protect monuments and memorials erected prior to 1998. History is what it is, the good and bad. I find it ridiculous to tear down memorials or monuments to those who served for the cause of their time due to continually shifting political whims today or in the future.
This week, I had the pleasure of meeting in my office with Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands and I also enjoyed meeting with Dr. Edwin Jones, associate dean and director of Extension staff at Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
I also met with Dr. Kenneth Garren, president of Lynchburg College, and was honored to have a photo taken of us beside my framed Lynchburg College Distinguished Alumni of the Year award. The photo of this special occasion is posted on my Facebook page.
To arrange a tour of our Capitol or schedule a meeting with me, please call or email my legislative assistant, William Pace, at (804) 698-1009, DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov or write to me at P.O. Box 406, Room 802, Richmond VA 23218. I invite you to follow me on Facebook and check my website at www.votepoindexter.com for updates.