Dear Prince William families, friends, and neighbors,
As you know from my prior emails, we have been in Richmond since January 14 for the 2015 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly and adjourn and return to Prince William County on March 1. The last five weeks in Mr. Jefferson’s Virginia State Capitol have been brisk, and I’m emailing to update you on this year’s session.
BUDGET: As a member of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, I and my colleagues have been working on amendments to the 2014-2016 state budget that do the following:
- Is a fiscally-cautious spending plan
- Is balanced (spends no more than we take in)
- Spends $1.1B less than last year’s budget
- Puts $99.5M in the state rainy day fund (for a $400M balance)
- Increases K-12 education by $40M
- Deposits an additional $40M into the teacher retirement fund
- Gives pay raises to teachers, state police, and state employees
- Provides $124.5M for the healthcare safety net; nearly doubles funding for community health centers and free clinics
BILLS: I patroned 10 bills this session. A summary of the most important is below.
- House Bill (HB) 1276 (NoVA Veteran Care Center): I carried this bill with Majority Leader Kirk Cox. It sets aside Virginia’s portion of funding for a NoVA Veterans Care Center that will be joined funded with the federal Veterans Administration. I have been working with PWC officials over the last year to build the Center at Innovation Park in Manassas. This 200+ bed facility will bring 300+ jobs to PWC and provide needed health care to Virginia veterans.
- HB 1673 (License Plate Readers): Creates a statewide rule set for law enforcement collection and retention of license plate imagery collected by LPRs (License Plate Readers) that are mounted on law enforcement vehicles. It limits the collection of large databases of personal information and protects the privacy of private citizens. It restricts retention of personal data to seven days, unless a clear connection is established to a criminal case.
- HB 1926 (Hands-Free Use of Cell Phones While Driving): Requires that motor vehicle operators may only use cell phones with a Bluetooth device while behind the wheel. Updates my texting-while-driving bill of 2013 in response to multiple vehicular deaths caused by texting drivers. The bill failed, but I will reintroduce it next year in response to popular request by PWC family members who have lost loved ones to texting and impaired drivers.
- HB 1929 (Child Care License Threshold) and HB 1931 (Child Care Background Checks): In the face of 60 child deaths over the last decade in home-based child care facilities, the first bill required that facilities with more than five children must be licensed by the state. The second bill required fingerprint background checks on all daycare providers to ensure child safety. The two bills were combined with another daycare bill (HB 1570) patroned by Del. Robert D. Orrock, Sr. (R-54), with me as Chief Co-Patron. I expect the bill to be signed into law by the Governor.
- HJ (House Joint Resolution) 578: This Amendment to the Virginia State Constitution inserted protections against unreasonable searches and seizures (none presently exist). It also protected seizure and monitoring of your private digital communications and also protected information that you share with government and private entities. The bill was not passed by a House subcommittee and I will reintroduce it in a future legislative session.
- HB 2070 (Ethics Reform Bill): I co-patroned Del. Todd Gilbert’s ethics reform bill that lowers to $100 the cap on anything of value given to elected officials, eliminates the distinction between tangible and intangible gifts, strengthens the Independent Conflicts of Interest Advisory Council that we created in 2014, and requires on-line submission of legislator financial disclosure forms for public review. I advocated over the last six months for an aggressive bill that came closer to the standard under which I lived for three decades during a 30-year military career in the United States Air Force.
OTHER STUFF: In addition to the above legislation, I tried out my sea legs as the new chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology (S&T). The committee hears legislation relating to Virginia S&T companies, with a focus on job generation and economic development. This spring and summer, I plan to work hard with NoVA and Hampton Roads S&T companies on a robust agenda in 2016 for the House S&T Committee. Additionally, I continued to chair the General Assembly Military and Veterans Caucus, which crafts and moves legislation on behalf of 840,000 veterans across Virginia. Click here to see my floor tribute to WW II Marine PFC Joseph Leonard Perrin, Jr., on the occasion of his recent passing.
CONTACT US! My legislative assistant, Ryan M. Galloway, and I will remain in Richmond until the 2015 legislative session adjourns on February 28. Until then, you may reach us at our Capitol Square office (804-698-1051). After February 28, we may be reached at your 51st House District legislative office in Woodbridge (571-264-9983). If urgent, you may also reach me at my home (703-730-1380). My direct email is DelRAnderson@house.virginia.,gov, and Ryan is at RGalloway@house.virginia.,gov. Call or email anytime, and if you are in Richmond between now and February 28, we are in Room 406 of the General Assembly Building (GAB). Stop by and the red carpet will be out!
RICHARD L. ANDERSON
Delegate, 51st House District
Virginia General Assembly