The Virginia General Assembly has completed its sixth week of session. Despite the heavy amount of snow that visited the Commonwealth the General Assembly still conducted daily business. The completion of this week leaves us with one last week to complete work that still remains on the calendar.
The House and Senate have been meeting in conference to resolve differences in our budget. Speaker Howell incorporated a rules change for the budget this year so that it will be posted for the public and the press to view at least 48 hours before we vote on it. The Richmond Times-Dispatch praised the new policy earlier this year, saying that “the move will increase public access.”
Once the budget conferees finish their work, you can find their budget online.
The House’s budget eliminated more than $10 million in new fees and $42 million in new government debt, while also putting more money into classrooms and funding core functions of government. We took a conservative approach, opposing Medicaid expansion, but also working to strengthen existing safety net programs for those in the most need. I’m going to be reviewing the conference budget carefully to make sure that we have a responsible budget for the Commonwealth.
This year I put forwarded two budget amendments for the 59th District. The first is for Appomattox County. Currently, the House of Delegates budget bill has appropriated money for the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration of the surrender at Appomattox. This money will help pay for additional safety personnel and for additional logistics support. I also have a budget item for Buckingham County. The House Budget Bill has appropriated money for Buckingham to build a helipad and buildings to support a Pegasus emergency airlift helicopter from the University of Virginia. I look forward to the budget coming out of conference, and I hope that these two items remain appropriated due to the tremendous impact both items will have on our district.
This week I had two final bills pass out of Committee in the Senate. I look forward to their constitutional reading and passage through the senate chamber. The first bill was HB 1686.
HB 1686 passed out of the Senate Committee of Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources with a substitute. It will be read on the Senate floor this upcoming week. I look forward to the enactment of this law, for it allows the production and sale of a wider variety of fish out of the private ponds of Virginia Citizens.
HJ 644 passed from the Senate Committee on Rules this past Friday. I am happy to see this House Resolution agreed to for the resolution encourages localities to extend wifi access to local police. My hopes is that by allowing an officer’s patrol car to piggy back off of a schools wifi can in turn help increase safety personnel at our schools.
Additional information about any legislation in the presented in the commonwealth, can be found at lis.virginia.gov. This website is a great resource to the public, and allows for Citizens to easily track and navigate a legislative session. Please contact my office for any help or tips in using this website.
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.