The House of Delegates has wrapped up the third week of the 2015 session, and there is a lot of news to report. This week Delegate Chris Jones, Chairman of Appropriations, gave an update on the fiscal health of the commonwealth and an update of the house’s proposed budget. His speech can be found on the Virginia House GOP website and on their youtube channel. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJdD6Iscy_Y)
He highlighted the fact that we had stronger filings with employee w2’s and that a drop in gas prices has also benefited the consumer. Therefore, revenues are up approximately 6.8% year-to-date against the 3.1% revenue forecast, leaving appropriations with a better budget projection for 2016. With this in mind the General Assembly is looking at protecting our AAA bond rating by paying cash for capital projects. The House also proposed doing away with some of the fees proposed by the Governor. This includes a proposed fee that would affect the licensing of restaurants. The House has made it a priority to make no cuts to k-12 education and no additional cuts to higher education. I will continue to follow the progress of the Appropriations committee, and I will continue to keep you posted on the budget.
This week action was taken on multiple pieces of legislation that I have submitted to the General Assembly. HB 1551, HB 1707, and HB 1724 all passed through the House of Delegates, and has been referred to the Senate. I would like to point out that HB 1707 is a memorial resolution that will name a portion of Highway in Campbell County after Hugh Pendleton. Also HB 1724 establishes that when it comes to taxes paid on wood chippings from here forward the power plants will pay the taxes instead of the loggers who mill and chipped the wood on site.
HB 1545 updates language that refers to a section of the code that pertains to the officers of the United States Postal Service. I am glad to announce that it has reported from Courts of Justice with no opposing votes, and will be headed to the House Floor.
The House has also passed a number of other good bills. Including House Bill 1750, which expands access to investigational drugs for terminally ill patients. I have signed on as a Co-Paton to this bill with Delegate Ransone and a number of other Delegates. Right to try legislation offers the opportunity for terminally ill patients, under the supervision of their physician, to receive experimental drugs. This bill provides that access only if the drug has successfully completed phase one of a clinical trial process. The patient must be defined terminally ill by his or her treating physician and confirmed by a second physician not previously involved with the patient’s treatment. I applaud Delegate Ransone for bringing forward legislation that already has a real world example of having a positive impact. Delegate Ransone puts it best when she stated.
“That final opportunity to save a life for families like Josh’s is fundamental and should trump regulations.”
If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Eric, can help you with, please contact us at 804-698-1059 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov.