The 2018 General Assembly session has officially begun. This year will be a long session (60 days) where we tackle important issues such as healthcare, the opioid crisis, and the teacher shortage across Virginia. The election cycle may have lasted longer than anyone expected, but there is a lot of work to get done, and that work began this week. House Republicans have laid out the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home.
The House was officially gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 10th at 12 noon. It started with Republican Delegate Kirk Cox being unanimously elected to be the 55th Speaker of the House. Speaker Cox set a clear tone for the 2018 Session, pledging to focus on governing, work across the aisle, and lead with character and integrity.
The Republican Majority passed a rules package that expands the existing rule on proportional representation, to both committees and subcommittees, and required the House to utilize electronic voting equipment to record votes in committee and subcommittee. The House will also live stream all committee meetings, as announced in 2017. The House unanimously approved these changes.
Last year the house continued making advances in improving transparency. We instituted a two day waiting period before voting on budget so the public could review the proposal and prohibited committee meetings held at member desks on the chamber floor. I, along with my House Republican colleagues, take public access to the legislative proceedings seriously.
On Saturday, our Governor was sworn into office. Governor Northam is a product of the Senate and someone who has worked well with governors and members of both parties. House Republicans are eager to work with Governor Northam on areas where there is bipartisan support.
House Republicans have laid out the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, prioritizing the real problems people talk about at home. The very first three bills filed this year were apart of this agenda.
House Bill 1 is focused on protecting student information from being FOIA’d by outside groups. Political activist groups and campaigns were accessing this data, unbeknownst to the students.
House Bill 2 allows for the spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. VA is experiencing a teacher shortage and we want to help combat that.
House Bill 3 provides certainty for high school students, enrolled in qualifying dual enrollment courses, that higher education institutions will accept those credits. This will save students and their family time and money, by ensuring dual enrollment programs are working as intended.
As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out online here
Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 59th District to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues will drive my work in Richmond.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. 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 our social media at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.
I will be providing you weekly updates during the 2017 General Assembly Session and will be meeting with constituent groups after Session to report on the Session and take questions.