- This first full week of the 2014 session of the General Assembly has been fairly calm compared to other years. Governor Terry McAuliffe addressed the Joint Assembly and presented his priorities for his administration including job creation, modernizing our K-12 education system, and improving workforce development programs. I have been supportive of all of these issues since I was elected.
- I am pleased to report that I have been appointed as chairman of the Natural Resources sub-committee of Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. This is a great honor for me and will allow me to have more direct impact on rural issues that are of most importance to our district. Please contact me if you have concerns over anything that may fall within that category.
- In a press conference on Tuesday, House Republicans outlined our agenda for the session. Included is legislation that would revamp the K-12 educational system in Virginia. Included in that legislation are proposals to reduce the number of SOL tests from 34 to 26. The aim is to reduce over testing to empower teachers with more flexibility and improve the tests by re-emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving skills. This will ensure younger students have more time to focus on reading and math, the foundations for the skills they need to succeed in life.
- Another initiative is to broaden access to virtual education. Learning opportunities that combine classroom and virtual learning is a great way to provide students wider access to course offerings and increase flexibility for students and parents.
- Legislation has also been filed that will support the development of "Teacher Career Ladders" that will ensure we retain our best teachers in the classroom.
- Some other topics that will be debated in depth this session will be ethics reform, Medicaid expansion and mental health. I will try to keep you informed on individual highlights as we address these critical issues.
- I have introduced bills relating to warning lights on volunteer emergency vehicles, soil and water conservation highway signs and Longwood University Board of Visitors. In addition, I have resolutions honoring the lives of former delegate and Judge Frank Slayton and Regional Forester David Snyder. Also, I have resolutions recognizing the 175th anniversary of Longwood University and commending the Beaches to Bluegrass Trail initiative.
- Any legislation can be read in full on the Virginia General Assembly website, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/. A multitude of additional information on the legislative process can also be found on this site.
ODDS AND ENDS:
- Verizon is offering a free app for your cell phone for those of you who like to follow what is happening in Richmond. It can be downloaded at www.verizononthego.com.
- This week brought our first visitors from home. The American Legion had their lobby day and was represented by Rev. Frank Carr, John Woody and Xavier Johnson Carr. Lita Truitt and Treva Hunt were here on healthcare issues, and Bryan Young and Jamie Slaughter, Conservation Police Officers with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) also visited. I encourage everyone to come and see how the government really works. It is truly an enlightening experience (in more ways than one!)