With the 2016 General Assembly Session one week in the books, I wanted to spend some time in this newsletter detailing some issues that were tackled this session. Legislators completed their work, passing over 800 bills, approving a balanced two-year biennial budget, and electing a new justice to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Budget negotiators reached an agreement several days before session ended, exemplifying efficiency and responsibility by Republican leadership. The plan makes significant investments in our public schools, allocating $73 million more than Governor McAuliffe proposed. Those additional funds are targeted toward a 2% pay raise for our teachers, improving classroom instruction for our students, and increasing the number of slots in the Virginia Preschool Initiative.
The final budget does not include the Governor’s attempt to add Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion scheme. It does, however, make significant investments in Virginia’s healthcare safety net, including $16 million for hospitals to offset inflation and the creation of 355 new Medicaid waiver slots.
In addition to approving the 2016-2018 biennial budget, the General Assembly elected a new justice to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen McCullough from Spotsylvania County will be moving to the highest court. He is widely respected among his peers. He was previously considered for the Supreme Court and at that time was endorsed by all of the major bar associations. With the election of Justice McCullough, the Supreme Court of Virginia will now have seven members who have been properly elected and seated.
The process of reviewing, considering, and debating the 2,168 bills and over 500 resolutions filed by the 140 members of the General Assembly moved at a brisk pace. Of the bills legislators filed this session, just over 800 were ultimately approved. Governor McAuliffe has acted upon a lot of those already. The budget has also been sent to the Governor for his signature. The Governor’s amendments or vetoes will be considered when session reconvenes on April 20th.
Of the 8 bills I started the session with, 4 bills passed both Chambers and have either already been signed into law or are awaiting the Governor’s signature. Some of these bills include HB476, my bill requiring animal control officers, law enforcement officers, and shelters and humane societies to submit a copy of their intake policy to the State Veterinarian; and HB1275, provides that if an officer authorized to issue criminal warrants does not issue an arrest warrant in response to a written complaint, the written statement shall be returned to the complainant.
To see a full listing of my legislation and the actions taken on each individual bill, please visit: www.lis.virginia.gov.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read these updates about my work during session. I’d also like to thank everyone who visited my office in Richmond or who called, wrote letters or emails, or engaged my office on social media to let us know your thoughts on legislation. I look forward to keeping the dialogue open now that we’re back in the district. I hope to see you in the district or around the Commonwealth very soon!
If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help you with, please contact us at (434)821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov