We are entering the final weeks of the 2018 General Assembly Session. There are only 2 weeks left before what is known as “Sine Die,” the last day of session. Our last day is March 10th, and there is still a lot of work to be done before then. This week we debated and voted on the budget, and there were several other House bills that cleared the Senate. As I have said before, this year I and my House colleagues have been focused on “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues,” prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home.
The most important thing we do in the General Assembly is pass a budget, on Thursday the House of Delegates passed our proposal which will now go to conference to be amended with the Senate’s version.
I wanted to share with you personally why I voted against this budget. The House budget includes a plan to expand Medicaid, albeit with some conservative reform elements. I respect my colleagues who are supporting this plan, there are good conservatives on both sides of this plan, but I respectfully disagree.
I am against the plan because our current Medicaid system still needs reform, because it is hard to trust the Federal Government when they promise “free” federal money, and because of the significant deficits facing other states.
While I applaud the work of our Appropriations Committee on areas such as teacher pay raises and prudent investments in the reserve fund, I cannot support the proposal to expand Medicaid. I hope when the budget arrives in conference, changes are made so that I can support the budget for final passage.
The most important thing we do in the General Assembly is pass a budget, today the House of Delegates passed our proposal which will now go to conference to be amended with the Senate’s version.
The Senate this week passed three adoption bills that will help more children find loving adoptive parents. House Bills 241, 227, and 291 all passed through the House with bipartisan support earlier in the Session, today they are headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
House bill 227, carried by Delegate Christopher Stolle, requires courts to consider the results of a national criminal history background check conducted on the prospective adoptive parent. The legislation is in response to a case where a young female was found dead from an overdose. After an investigation it was learned that her adoptive parent had a long felony criminal history.
HB 241 was carried by Delegate Emily Brewer. This bill shortens the length of time, from three years to two years, that a child must live with a close family member before adoption proceedings can begin. The closest relatives of a child provide that child with the best chance of success during a tumultuous time.
House Bill 291 was carried by Delegate Chris Collins. This piece of legislation simplifies access to adoption files regarding court orders for adoptees and/or adopters so they can more easily obtain personal vital record.
I supported each of these bills and I am happy they have received bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House and I hope the Governor will sign them into law.
The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday honored Michelle Cottrell-Williams, the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year, with a center-aisle presentation on the floor of the House of Delegates. Delegate R. Steven Landes, Chairman of the House Education committee, presented Ms. Cottrell-Williams with House Joint Resolution 188 as part of the presentation.
A center-aisle presentation is reserved only for special honors of those who have had profound impacts on the Commonwealth of Virginia. Teachers are important to the success of our students, and I was honored to greet and congratulate Ms. Cottrell-Williams. She is an inspiration to her students and someone who represents the best that Virginia has to offer.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming weeks. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.
I will be providing you Weekly Updates during the 2018 General Assembly Session and will be meeting with constituent groups after Session to report on the Session and take questions.