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Reporting from Richmond: Week 3

January 28, 2017 11:12 pm

Dear Prince William County Friends, Families, and Neighbors,

As I write this, the House of Delegates has just recessed for the weekend, completing our third week of the 2017 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. We’re rapidly closing in on “Crossover,” the halfway point in the session where House bills cross over to the Senate and vice versa. This week, we have also shot a video summary of this week’s legislative session. To view it click here.

OVERVIEW: Over the last week, we’ve had record numbers of visitors to Capitol Square—more than 4,500 people a day. Literally hundreds of our Prince William neighbors were in and out of our office, sent me emails, or spoke with me by phone. It was great to spend time this week with PWC educators, Chamber of Commerce members, School Board, 4-H students, and military veterans. With 45,000 vets in PWC and 800,000 in Virginia, I’m privileged to know and work with thousands of them and to oversee and lead the legislative process for military veterans as chair of the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus.

OUR LEGISLATIVE SURVEY: We’ll close out our annual legislative survey next week, so please click here to take our online legislative survey so that I have your feedback. I’m not a professional survey writer but I sincerely need your input, so if you don’t like the questions or want to send input on other issues, please don’t hesitate to email me at the below address.

KEY GOALS THIS SESSION: My General Assembly colleagues and I are focused on a wide array of issues this session (hundreds, in fact, which means that this brief summary only covers a few).

A solid education is key to the futures of the children and young people entrusted to our safekeeping. If we get education right, most everything else falls into place. First, we’re focused on education by investing in our schools, expanding professional development opportunities for our teachers, and aligning school curriculum to meet the demands of the 21st century job market.

Second, we’re working to include a new state employee compensation package in the state budget. We hope to include a 3% pay raise for all state employees, higher starting salaries for Virginia State Police troopers, and more equitable pay for sheriff’s deputies. These groups have foregone annual pay increases over multiple years, resulting in a talent drain as they have left public service for other opportunities.

I don’t sit on the House Appropriations Compensation and Retirement Subcommittee, but I’m concerned that raises for public school teachers and employees are not part of the conversation. I intend to ask this question when I return to the Capitol next week, because teacher compensation has been a long-held concern of mine. In my view, we should hold to the General Assembly intent of last year to provide the state share of a 2% teacher pay raise (in lieu of the Governor’s proposed 1.5% one-time bonus).

I’ll cover additional goals in future updates every Friday.

THE VIRGINIA STATE BUDGET: I sit on the full House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and three of its subcommittees (Public Safety, Transportation, and Higher Education)—so much of my time is spent on HAC hearings and related state budget work. Our challenge is to close a $1.2B tax revenue shortfall, and we’ll get there with a balanced and cautious spending plan that doesn’t raise taxes. Details are at http://hac.state.va.us.

MY BILLS: This session, I introduced 15 bills, which I’m working to move through the system. To see and track my bills, click here. Here’s how my bills fared this week:
My HB 1834, designed to combat the deadly dangers of distracted driving will be heard by the House Courts of Justice Committee next week. A stakeholder group of attorneys, law enforcement personnel, and DRIVE SMART VIRGINIA professionals has assisted me in crafting a bill that will drive down the number of individuals killed (175 in 2016) and injured (14,700 in 2016) by distracted drivers.

My HB 1913, designed to combat the crime of cigarette trafficking that diverts millions of dollars from your pockets as taxpaying citizens to the pockets of criminals, passed out of the House this week and is on its way to the Senate. The bill was crafted by the Virginia State Crime Commission, on which I sit as a member, and is intended to once and for all close down the crime syndicate that engages in cigarette smuggling—and which is more profitable than drug trafficking.

My HB 1761, characterized by the Virginia Taxi Association as a landmark bill for their industry, left the House this week and is in the Senate. It will modernize the technology employed by commercial taxi firms in PWC and across Virginia, replacing aging electromechanical equipment with 21st century equipment that utilizes GPS technology to compute fare mileage in taxi fleet operations. As chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, I’m especially pleased by this development.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force display some of the Guard’s warfighting and domestic operations capabilities Jan. 19, 2017, outside the Virginia General Assembly building in Richmond, Virginia. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. hosted a reception in the morning, and the Virginia National Guard Association and Virginia Guard Enlisted Association hosted a legislative reception in the evening at the Library of Virginia. Virginia Guard Soldiers, Airmen and VDF troopers were recognized in both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, and throughout the day Governor Terry McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and members of the General Assembly commended the Virginia Guard for the organization’s service to commonwealth and country throughout the year. Read more about the capabilities displayed at http://go.usa.gov/x9y49, and read more about the Virginia National Guard’s accomplishments in 2016 at http://go.usa.gov/x9mGm. (Photo by Sr. Airman Kellyann Novak 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Several of my other bills are targeted to helping Virginians who deserve our support. These include HB 1716 (extending the life of the Alzheimer’s Disease Commission), HB 1722 (extending colorectal cancer coverage to Virginia professional firefighters), and HB 2425 (enhancing employment opportunities for Virginians with disabilities).
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WE’RE HERE! Legislative Assistant Tommy Herbert and I are temporarily living full-time in Richmond until this year’s legislative session adjourns on February 25th. We’ll return to Prince William on that date. Until then, you have a standing invitation to visit our Capitol Square office in Richmond. We’re in Room 406 of the General Assembly Building or GAB (next to the Capitol building), and the red carpet is out!

If you need to connect with us, you can do so as follows:
– You can email me at DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov.
– You can email Tommy at tommy.delegateanderson@gmail.com.
– You can call our Richmond office at 804-698-1051.
– You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
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There is no higher honor than public service, and I thank you and your family for the honor of representing you in Prince William County and in Richmond!
Sincerely,
RLA Sig--Blue Calligraphy scaled
RICHARD L. ANDERSON
Delegate, 51st House District
Virginia General Assembly