Shrek at Sangster Elementary

Sangster Elementary put on a great production of Shrek! I give it two thumbs up! Go see it for the rest of the week at 7 PM.Shrek at Sangster

Resolution Honoring Jack Lewis Hiller

Delegate Krizek, Delegate Bulova, and I presented House Resolution 338 honoring the late Jack Lewis Hiller to his wife, daughter, and grandchildren who survive him. After serving in the Army, Hiller taught history in Fairfax County for 30 years, where he helped to integrate the Fairfax Education Association, contributed to the Fairfax County History Commission, and began a summer archeology program for FCPS students. Hiller was also an accomplished photographer, and wrote extensively on the history of Springfield and Fairfax County. I grew up with the Hiller kids, and I recall when Mr. Hiller took me to an archeological dig on an old house at Hidden Pond. Jack Hiller was a beloved teacher, volunteer, father, and husband and will be truly missed by all who knew him.

Jack Hiller Resolution Presentation

Commonwealth Transportation Board Public Information Meeting

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will be hosting a public information meeting regarding the Fiscal Year 2017-2022 Six-Year Improvement Program. This program will include highway, rail, and public transportation initiatives in our area.

This meeting will be a good chance to learn about projects being planned in our area and to voice your support or concerns. The Board will address the proposed projects to be included in the draft of the Six-Year Improvement Plan and how the projects are prioritized.

The public information meeting will be held on May 2nd at 6:00 PM in the Potomac Room at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

For more information on the Six-Year Improvement Plan, click here.

For information on how projects are prioritized, click here.

 

2016 General Assembly: K-12 Education State Funding and Legislation

Over the past 8 years, the Great Recession forced the General Assembly to make tough budgetary decisions in order to pass a balanced budget. One area in particular that has been impacted is funding for K-12 education. Roughly 95% of Virginia schools have had their funding decreased… but not Fairfax County!  My fellow Northern Virginian legislators and I have increased funding for education in Fairfax County.  Over the past five years, we have delivered $648/student/yr. more to our Fairfax County Public School students!  It was not easy.  Since Fairfax was gaining money while others were losing, there were many attempts to divert the money going to Fairfax.  We defeated these attempts every year.

This year, we accomplished two things in particular that really helped Fairfax County Public Schools. Before I get into the details, I need to give you a little context on how the State funding formula effects Fairfax County.  Many years ago, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that every child in Virginia is entitled to an equal education.  To accomplish this, the Court ruled that areas where local governments are unable to raise money for schools (e.g. they have high unemployment or low property values, which limit their ability to raise revenue through taxes) must be given money from areas of the State that have a greater ability to raise revenue (e.g. high property values, low unemployment).  The formula used is called the Local Composite Index or “LCI.”  The LCI is calculated using school age population (a variable that helps us because we have by far the most students), and variables that don’t help us such as true value of real property (50%), adjusted gross income (40%), and taxable retail sales (10%).  In other words, the funding formula is designed to send money from “rich” areas to “poor” areas.  Since we are “rich” in comparison to southern and southwest Virginia, the money flows to them.

So any time you hear a NOVA legislator say, “We need more state funding for schools” make sure you read the fine print. If the state were to put $1 Billion in new K-12 funding and run it through the LCI formula, Fairfax Citizens would pay about $250 Million of it via their state taxes, but would receive only about $80 Million of the funds.   When we can obtain funding increases through a different method besides the LCI, Fairfax County can do well. I am please to report that we did just that in this year’s Virginia State Budget.  This budget not only put new funding through the LCI, where we did not fare well, it also put money through two funding mechanisms outside of the LCI, where we did extraordinarily well.  The first was an increase in funding for “Cost to Compete” (a funding mechanism that sends more money to high cost areas because it is more expensive to hire teachers in Fairfax as opposed to Danville). Second, the State Budget sends the Virginia Lottery proceeds to schools based upon their school population.  This is VERY good for us, given that FCPS is by far the largest school system with nearly 180,000 students. We do very well when the funding is determined on a per pupil basis. (Note:  This is especially good knowing that Fairfax County residents do not play the Lottery as much as other areas of Virginia.)

Below, is the FCPS State per pupil funding breakdown over the past five years. I have also listed notable education bills that were passed during the 2016 legislative session.

State Per Pupil Funding Breakdown: FY 2012-2013 – FY 2016-2017

EDU budget chart

2016 Education Legislation:

HB 47: Mixed-Delivery Preschool Services Fund and Grant Program established. (Greason Chief-Patron) Establishes the Mixed-Delivery Preschool Services Fund and Grant Program for the purpose of awarding grants on a competitive basis to urban, suburban, and rural community applicants to field-test innovative strategies and evidence-based practices that support a robust system of mixed-delivery preschool services in the Commonwealth. The bill requires the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (the Foundation) to administer a request for proposal process to invite community applicants to respond with localized innovations and approaches to a mixed-delivery preschool services system. Grants are awarded by the Foundation and priority is given to applicants who (i) commit to pursuing models of local governance that promote the successful mixed delivery of preschool services, (ii) compare classroom and child outcomes among teachers with different credentials and qualifications, (iii) utilize incentives to encourage participation, and (iv) utilize strategic assessment to discern outcomes. The bill requires the award of six two-year grants during each year of the 2016-2018 biennium. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2019.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 389: Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts. (LaRock Chief-Patron) Permits the parents of certain students with disabilities to apply to their resident school division for a Parental Choice Education Savings Account, to consist of the student’s Standards of Quality per pupil funds and to be used for certain expenses of the student, including (i) tuition, fees, or required textbooks at a private elementary or secondary school or preschool that is located in the Commonwealth and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin; (ii) educational therapies or services for the student from a practitioner or provider, including paraprofessionals or educational aides; (iii) tutoring services; (iv) curriculum; (v) tuition or fees for a private online learning program; (vi) fees for a nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement test, an Advanced Placement examination, or any examination taken to gain admission to an institution of higher education; or (vii) tuition fees or required textbooks at a public two-year or four-year institution of higher education in the Commonwealth or at an accredited private institution of higher education in the Commonwealth. The bill also contains provisions for the audit and revocation of such accounts. This bill contains a reenactment clause.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 516: Board of Education; policy on sexually explicit instructional material. (Landes Chief-Patron) Requires the Board of Education to establish a policy to require each public elementary or secondary school to (i) notify the parent of any student whose teacher reasonably expects to provide instructional material that includes sexually explicit content, (ii) permit the parent of any student to review instructional material that includes sexually explicit content upon request, and (iii) provide, as an alternative to instructional material and related academic activities that include sexually explicit content, nonexplicit instructional material and related academic activities to any student whose parent so requests.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 518: Local school boards; public school choice. (LeMunyon Chief-Patron) Requires, notwithstanding any agreement, waiver from the federal government, or provision of law to the contrary, the Board of Education, effective starting with the 2017-2018 school year, to select 12 schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement and require such schools to provide all enrolled students with the option to transfer to another public school in the school division in accordance with relevant federal law and subject to certain conditions and limitations established by the relevant local school board. The bill will not become effective unless reenacted by the 2017 Session of the General Assembly, except that the Board of Education is directed to report on the costs of implementation of the bill to the relevant General Assembly committees.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 961: Four-year public institutions of higher education; alternative tuition or fee structures. (Rush Chief-Patron) Permits each public institution of higher education to offer alternative tuition or fee structures that result in lower cost of attendance to students. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (the Council) shall offer guidance, upon request, to any public institution of higher education in establishing such alternative tuition or fee structure. The Council is also directed to develop recommendations regarding financial incentives and benefits that might be offered to public institutions of higher education that offer alternative tuition and fee structures, and to report its recommendations to the Joint Subcommittee on the Future Competitiveness of Virginia Higher Education by November 1, 2016.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 1017: Education improvement scholarships tax credit; reporting and other requirements. (Massie Chief-Patron) Modifies the tax credit by (i) making the current required report of donations qualifying for the credit and scholarships awarded from such donations as of June 30, (ii) increasing from 20 to 40 the number of days by which a scholarship foundation is required to return a preauthorization notice to the Department of Education to certify that a donor has completed his donation to the foundation, (iii) increasing from 14 to 21 the number of days by which a scholarship foundation must convert a donation of marketable securities into cash, (iv) lowering the penalty for failure to disburse 90 percent of tax credit-derived donations within the applicable twelve month period from 200 percent to 100 percent of the difference between 90 percent of the donations and the actual amount disbursed, and (v) making clarifying and technical amendments. Under current law, a scholarship foundation must provide a report each year by September 30 to the Department of Education showing the total number and value of donations it received in its most recent fiscal year ended. Under the bill, every scholarship foundation will report on donations received in the 12-month period ending on June 30 of each year. This change will enable the Department of Education to determine whether a scholarship foundation has complied with the statutory requirement to disburse at least 90 percent of its tax-credit-derived funds received during each 12-month period ending on June 30 by the following June 30 for educational scholarships. The bill clarifies that the annual audit, review, or compilation required of a scholarship foundation receiving tax-credit-derived funds is for the foundation’s most recent fiscal year ended. Finally, the bill eliminates (a) redundant reporting requirements relating to the total number and dollar value of donations received by a foundation and the total number and dollar amount of educational scholarships awarded by a foundation and (b) the requirement that a scholarship foundation report the percentage of first-time recipients to whom educational scholarships are awarded.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 568: Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program; grants. (Cox Chief-Patron) Makes several changes to the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program (Program), including adding requirements that (i) each student eligible for the Program receive a grant from the institution’s appropriations for undergraduate student financial assistance before grants are awarded to students with equivalent remaining need, (ii) each eligible student receive a grant in an amount greater than other grants awarded to students with equivalent remaining need, (iii) each eligible student receive a Program grant in an amount greater than the grant of each eligible student with equivalent remaining need in the next-lowest class level, and (iv) each Program grant be determined by a proportionate award schedule adopted by each institution and vary according to each student’s remaining need and the total of tuition, fees, and other necessary charges, including books.

The bill substitute failed to pass the House floor.

HB 8: Virginia Virtual School established. (R.P. Bell Chief-Patron) Establishes the Board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency in the executive branch of state government for the purpose of governing the full-time virtual school programs offered to students enrolled in the Virginia Virtual School. The Secretary of Education is responsible for such agency. The 13-member Board is given operational control of the School and assigned powers and duties. The bill requires the School to be open to any school-age person in the Commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades kindergarten through 12. The bill requires the average state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding for each enrolled student to be transferred to the School.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 46: Secretary of Education; establishment of School Readiness Committee. (Greason Chief-Patron) Directs the Secretary of Education to establish a School Readiness Committee with the first goal of addressing the development and alignment of an effective professional development and credentialing system for the early childhood education workforce in the Commonwealth, including the (i) development of a competency-based professional development pathway for practitioners who teach children birth to age five in both public and private early childhood education programs; (ii) consideration of articulation agreements between associate and baccalaureate degree programs; (iii) refinement of teacher licensure and education programs to address competencies specific to early childhood development; (iv) alignment of existing professional development funding streams; and (v) development of innovative approaches to increasing accessibility, availability, affordability, and accountability of the Commonwealth’s workforce development system for early childhood education teachers and providers.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HB 3: Constitutional amendment (voter referendum); charter schools. (R.B. Bell Chief-Patron) Provides for a referendum at the November 8, 2016, election to approve or reject an amendment to grant the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools within the school divisions of the Commonwealth, subject to any criteria or conditions that the General Assembly may prescribe.

Albo voted “NO.” The bill failed to pass the Senate.

HB 131: Students who receive home instruction; participation in interscholastic programs. (R.B. Bell Chief-Patron) Prohibits public schools from joining an organization governing interscholastic programs that does not deem eligible for participation a student who (i) receives home instruction; (ii) has demonstrated evidence of progress for two consecutive academic years; (iii) is in compliance with immunization requirements; (iv) is entitled to free tuition in a public school; (v) has not reached the age of 19 by August 1 of the current academic year; (vi) is an amateur who receives no compensation but participates solely for the educational, physical, mental, and social benefits of the activity; (vii) complies with all disciplinary rules and is subject to all codes of conduct applicable to all public high school athletes; and (viii) complies with all other rules governing awards, all-star games, maximum consecutive semesters of high school enrollment, parental consents, physical examinations, and transfers applicable to all high school athletes. The bill provides that no local school board is required to establish a policy to permit students who receive home instruction to participate in interscholastic programs. The bill permits reasonable fees to be charged to students who receive home instruction to cover the costs of participation in such interscholastic programs, including the costs of additional insurance, uniforms, and equipment. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2021, and is identical to SB 612.

Albo voted “NO.” The bill passed the House and Senate. Governor’s veto sustained by House (57-Y 42-N)

HB 831: Standards and programs of instruction; computer science and computational thinking. (Greason Chief-Patron; Albo’s HB 228 incorporated) Requires the Standards of Learning established by the Board of Education and the program of instruction for grades kindergarten through 12 developed and implemented by each local school board to include computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

HJ 112: Study; joint committee; the future of public elementary and secondary education in the Commonwealth; report. (Landes Chief-Patron) Establishes a two-year joint committee consisting of seven members of the House Committee on Education and six members of the Senate to study the future of public elementary and secondary education in the Commonwealth. This resolution is identical to SJR 85.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and Senate.

 

 

End of the 2016 Session

The 2016 Session really flew by this year. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was coming up with bill ideas!  So much has been accomplished over the past few months, but the work of representing District 42 is never truly over.

Family Visits and Capital Tours

Even though we were packing things up, we had just enough time to have a few more families visit from District 42. Seeing these families come to learn about Virginia’s legislative process always brightens my day.

 

Legislation

Last week was spent reviewing bills in conference committees. Some people have asked what a conference committee is. When a bill passes through the House and the Senate, our work is still not completely finished. If one of our bills receives an amendment from the Senate, it needs to be sent back to the House in order for us to approve it. This can result in what we like to call conference committees. These committees are made up of members from both the House and Senate, and are created in order to resolve differences between different versions of bills that come from the House and the Senate.

These are some of my bills have been passed and signed into law by the Governor:

HB 170: Distinguishes that possession of and distribution of controlled drug paraphernalia are distinct offenses.

HB 172: Clarifies that when a habitual offender applies for the restoration of their driving privileges or a restricted license, the evaluation from the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program will be considered.

HB 176: Allows courts to order a wiretap either where a criminal lives or where a crime may have occurred.

HB 226: Creates a mixed beverage license for performing arts facilities in the cities of Norfolk and Richmond.

HB 572: Allows an individual to ask for interest on fines from a criminal case to be waived if they were accrued while the individual was incarcerated.

HB 578: Makes negotiations between the Commonwealth of Virginia and contract employees fair by only listing exceptions after all qualified offerors are ranked.

Budget

During Session, we approved a two-year spending plan that does not expand Medicaid, avoids creating any new taxes, and also increases state worker pay by three percent. Your state legislature produced a balanced budget that will work towards eliminating state liabilities and reducing borrowing. It will also invest in K-12 and higher education, which will help alleviate tuition costs for Virginia students. The budget makes economic investment while including oversight to ensure that taxpayer money is being used wisely.

Washington Post Letter to the Editor

Here is what Mrs. Teresa Champion wrote to the editor of the Washington Post regarding my bill, HB 1213. This bill would allow children who are developmentally delayed (e.g. those who have autism) and are prone to outbursts at school to present evidence in Court that proves the child’s behavior is out of their control.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/virginias-appalling-prosecution-of-disabled-children/2016/03/10/c12d9706-e62d-11e5-a9ce-681055c7a05f_story.html

Session Update #4

There is only about a week left in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Session, and things have been winding down here in the Richmond office. Most bills from the House and Senate are either awaiting approval from the Governor, or have been eliminated through the legislative process. I appreciate all of the feedback I have been given so far, and after Session I will continue to respond to your concerns and questions.

Legislative Updates

On March 7 at midnight, the Governor must either sign or reject a group of bills that have passed the House and the Senate. My bills that are up for decision are HB 170, HB 172, and HB 176. HB 170 distinguishes between possession and distribution of paraphernalia, HB 172 gives VASAP evaluations weight when a habitual drunk driver wants to restore driving privileges, and HB 176 would let courts order a wiretap either where a criminal lives or where a crime may have occurred.

In addition to the bills above, HB 118, HB 227, HB 326, HB 572, HB 578, and HB 1213 have passed the House and the Senate, but have not yet been sent to the Governor. Here is a reminder of what each of these bills would do:

  • HB 118: Restores the ability of Animal Control Officers to arrest animal abusers
  • HB 227: Makes certain statements by children under 13 in cases of abuse and neglect admissible in Court
  • HB 326: Gives a Court the ability to order an internet provider to not disclose the existence of a subpoena or warrant for at least 90 days
  • HB 572: Allows an individual to ask for interest on fines from a criminal case to be waived if they were accrued while the individual was incarcerated
  • HB 578: Makes negotiations between the Commonwealth of Virginia and contract employees fair by only listing exceptions after all qualified offerors are ranked
  • HB 1213: Helps children that are prone to outbursts at school by enabling the child or their legal guardian to present evidence in Court that proves the child’s behavior is out of their control

Families Pay a Visit to Richmond

This week was filled with family visits from District 42! Due to schools being closed on Super Tuesday, many children came to see their artwork on display in my office. I always love seeing how excited they are once they find their pictures on the wall.

 

Image

Today is Read America Day!

Dave Seuss

Crossover Session Update

District 42 Families Pay a Visit to Richmond

This week I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful families down at the Capitol. The Nguyen and Jung families came to see their children’s artwork that is hanging in my office, and the entire Bell family came to learn more about Virginia’s government. I appreciate them making the long drive to see what the Virginia legislature is all about!

Dave and Jung Fam

The Jung Family

Missy Bell

Missy Bell and I

Nguyen Fam

The Nguyen Family

 

Speaker Howell Announces House Budget Conferees

On Thursday, Speaker Howell announced the names of the Delegates that will be representing the House in the final budget conference committees with the Senate. The Delegates that he chose were House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones, Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Steven Landes, Majority Leader Kirk Cox, Delegate John O’Bannon, Delegate Tag Greason, and Delegate Luke Torian. Delegate Torian may be the first African American to be selected for this most prestigious of all conference committees to negotiate the final budget. Our goal in the House is to negotiate a final budget conference report that prioritizes savings, eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, and makes key investments. While the Senate’s budget bill is similar to the House’s HB 29 and HB 30, there are still differences that need to be worked out.

Crossover Summary

ENCOURAGING JOB GROWTH

Virginia is still a leading job creator in the United States, and ranks in the top 10 in the country for:

  • “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine
  • “Best States to Make a Living” by Business Insider and Money-Rates.com
  • “The Top States for Higher Education” by SmartAsset.com
  • “The K-12 Achievement Index” by Educational Week and Quality Counts
  • “NAEP Combined Proficiency Rate: 4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math” by Educational Week and Quality Counts

More importantly, we have lowered our unemployment rate by 1.7% between 2012 (6.9%) and 2016 (5.2%) and have the 8th lowest combined state and local tax burden in the country!

However, things are not all roses and puppy dogs. For decades, the economy in Northern Virginia has benefited from Federal Government spending, but with the recent cuts and the sequestration, our once invincible economy is starting to stammer.  Currently, Fairfax County has a 0% growth rate.  This is a big problem.  In order to create more jobs and increase economic growth, we need to reduce our dependency on the Federal Government and diversify our NOVA economy.  For this reason, I have invested a great deal of time in helping Fairfax INOVA start their Translational Medicine Institute right here in Fairfax County.  The institute combines gene mapping, massive computing power, and clinical trials to develop medications based on a person’s individual DNA code.  These procedures can result in medications that are tailored to each person.  For example, by knowing a person’s DNA code, a doctor could recommend medication that has worked for cancer patients with similar genetics and avoid drugs that might not work for that DNA type.  This could save billions of dollars in medical costs and correctly treat diseases to save millions of lives.  Personalized medicine could be an economic game changer.  I even took an online class to further my knowledge on genetics and DNA! By making our County a national leader in the field of genetics, I hope to make Fairfax County the world’s center for personalized medicine, and therefore create an economic engine in NOVA for years to come.

DELEGATE ALBO’S BILLS

Protecting Animals:

HB 118 – Fairfax County; animal protection police officer. (Albo Chief-Patron) I do a great deal of work in the legislature to protect animals. My new bill closes a legal loophole that recently removed Fairfax Animal Control Officers’ ability to make an arrest, despite receiving the same training as standard police officers.  Because of this loophole, if an Animal Control Officer sees a person beating a dog, the officer can remove the dog but not arrest the abuser.  This legislation restores Fairfax Animal Control Officers’ ability to make that arrest.

Albo voted “YES.” This bill passed the House.

Warrants for Electronic Records – Convicting Child Pornographers:

HB 326 – Electronic communication service or remote computing service records; obtaining records. (Albo Chief-Patron) During criminal investigations, subpoenas and warrants are often issued to a suspect’s internet service provider. While this protocol works well for most investigations, it can be problematic during child pornography cases.  When a computer has “pinged” a known picture of child porn, the police will subpoena the suspect’s internet service provider to find out the identity of the computer owner and other internet usage information.  As of right now, many internet service providers believe they are required to inform their customer of the investigation.  This gives the criminal an opportunity to destroy evidence and flee.  My bill stipulates that a Court may order an internet service provider to not disclose the existence of a subpoena or warrant for at least 90 days.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Families Safe from Predators:

HB 177 – Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act. (Albo Chief-Patron) My bill adds certain crimes against children (Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Shooting/Stabbing with the Intent to Maim and certain human trafficking laws) to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. The registry allows you to know which dangerous criminals live in your neighborhood so that you can keep your family safe.  (Note: In Virginia violent child sex offenders never get out of prison.  However, after a few decades in prison for the more serious offenders and a few years for the lower level offenders, these criminals can eventually return to the community). To view the registry, visit http://sexoffender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/ and click the “search” tab located on the top-right portion of the website.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Bringing Wire Taps into the Cell Phone Age:

HB 176 – Court allowed to issue an order for installation of a wiretap. (Albo Chief-Patron) When the wiretap laws were written phones used to be on a wall or desk. Now, most phones are mobile.  The existing law states that the police can only get a search warrant to tap a criminal’s phone where the criminal lives.  My bill changes the law by letting courts order a wiretap either where the criminal lives or where the crime may have occurred.        

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

As Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, it is my responsibility to speak up for victims of domestic violence across Virginia. This year, we made significant strides in our efforts against domestic violence.

Protecting Stalking Victims:

HB 886 – Stalking; penalty. (Albo Chief-Patron) Without the possibility of a felony conviction, many stalkers do not stop pursuing their victim. My bill helps protect victims and their families by making a second offense for stalking within five years of the first offense a Class 6 felony.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protection from Violent Criminals:

HB 1087 – Violation of protective order; firearm or other deadly weapon; penalty. (Gilbert Chief-Patron)  This bill makes the violation of a protective order with a deadly weapon a Class 6 felony. By classifying the offense as a felony, the law automatically bars the felon from possessing a firearm (Note: In addition to losing the right to vote, one of the consequences of being convicted of a felony is that such a person is forever barred from possessing a firearm).

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

VA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

The plan to expand in-state enrollment has been working! Virginia Tech added 480 in-state slots in 2015, and is looking to add 200 additional in-state slots for the upcoming year. The University of Virginia added 865 in-state slots in the last five years alone, and hopes to add an additional 243 spots in the next two years.  James Madison University increased the percentage of in-state students in its freshman classes from 68% in 2012 to 73% this year. Some schools have been lacking though, as William and Mary only had a 1.42% increase (42 new in-state slots) over the last five years. I am glad to see that most of our universities are supporting our Virginia students, but there is more work to be done!

K-12 EDUCATION

Funding for our Schools:

The new budget for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 delivers $15,040,607 MORE to Fairfax County Public Schools. That is an increase of $141 per student. Over the past five years we have delivered $618/student/year more to our Fairfax County Public Schools! My blog post “State Per Pupil Funding” outlines the state funding history from 2012-2017. The article link is below.

https://delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/state-per-pupil-spending-2/

Helping Students with Developmental Disabilities:

HB 1213 – Disorderly conduct at schools; minors; evidence. (Albo Chief-Patron) Many children that are prone to outbursts at school suffer from certain mental disorders that render them incapable of fully controlling their behavior. In certain cases, students do not receive help from the schools and instead are charged with crimes such as Disorderly Conduct.  This bill enables a child or the legal guardian to present documents from a healthcare provider, individual educational plan, or a behavioral assessment test to help prove in Court that the child cannot willfully control their behavior.  With this evidence, a child could avoid prosecution for something that is simply outside their control.  The bill only applies to misdemeanors and crimes on school grounds.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Helping Our Students Grow in the Field of Computer Science:

HB 228 – Board of Education; graduation requirements. (Albo Chief-Patron) While computer proficiency has become a necessary life skill, computer programming is still just an elective at our high schools. Since it is merely an elective, computer programming classes are extraordinarily difficult to take in our local high schools. For example, in order to have a space in his schedule for classes on computer programming, a local high school student had to quit the band.  On top of that, even after quitting the band, he ran out of computer programming classes to take!  To put matters into perspective, in 2015 China graduated two million computer programmers, while the U.S. only graduated 35,000.  Our children need advanced computer skills to compete in a tech-driven global economy.  My bill gives students the option of taking computer programming courses to fulfill their foreign language requirement.  This legislation was incorporated into Delegate Greason’s bill, HB 831.

Albo voted “YES.” HB 831 passed the House.

TRANSPORTATION

After 30 years, funding to widen Rolling Road/Old Keene Mill Road to the Fairfax County Parkway has finally been approved! The project will add two more lanes, for a total of four lanes. Some may oppose the new project because they saw the design proposal from eight years ago which would have wiped out many front and back yards.  The old proposal was designed to meet the Federal funding rules that required extra wide lanes and two bike paths.  This is no longer the case. The funding for this project now only uses State and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority money, so Federal requirements, such as bike paths and decorative medians, do not have to be constructed.  Consequently, a design with much less impact on surrounding homes is possible.  However, as this is a new design, VDOT has to start from scratch.  The new review and redesign process has created a delay, therefore the public hearings originally planned for January 2016 will now be held in 2017.  I am always a fan of “measuring twice and cutting once”, so while this delay is inconvenient, I am happy that VDOT is paying attention to detail and to the concerns of Rolling Road residents.  Further information on the Rolling Road Widening Project can be found on the VDOT website.  You can also find the information by visiting the “Links” section of my website, www.DaveAlbo.org.

Here are the directions to view the content from my homepage:

Click “Links”, then “Transportation”, then “VDOT Transportation Projects”, then “Northern Virginia”, then “Rolling Rd Widening”

Plans for Route 1 Widening and Improvements:

The following links contain VDOT and Fairfax County’s time line and plans for the Route 1.

Banning Tolls on I-395 between Edsall Rd and DC:

HB 225 – Tolls for use of Interstate System components. (Albo Chief-Patron)

Unlike the HOT lanes on the Beltway, where the State built new lanes for drivers, the Governor’s HOT Lanes agenda plans to extend the 95 HOT lanes to the HOV lanes on 395.  His plan actually tolls the existing lanes that are currently free.  To explain a bit more thoroughly, let me give you an example.  On the Beltway HOT lanes, you only have to pay if you want to use the new lanes and are a non-HOV driver.  If you do not wish to pay, you can use the existing lanes that have always been available to you.  On the other hand, the Governor’s 395 HOT Lane Plan requires non-HOV drivers to pay if they want to use the HOV lanes prior to, or after rush hours.  There is no free option to use the existing HOV lanes you have always used.  So now my constituents will be charged for something that used to be free.  In response, I filed this bill, which would have barred tolls on the existing HOV lanes.  Unfortunately, everyone except me was against the idea.  VDOT, Chambers of Commerce, NOVA Transportation Alliance, and others all opposed my bill.

The bill was killed in sub-committee 5-2.

E-mail and Text Notification of HOT Lane / EZ Pass Low Balance and Violations:

HB 169 – HOT lanes enforcement and notification by a HOT lanes operator and the Department of Transportation. (Albo Chief-Patron) My bill creates a notification system to let you know when you have violated the HOT lanes or toll road rules by going through a gantry and not paying. The system will also warn you when a low balance on your EZ Pass account has occurred.  This was actually an idea given to me by my former Legislative Assistant, Cori Inman.  The bill was incorporated into the omnibus tolling bill, HB 1069 (See below).

Setting up Rules on What Roads Can Be Tolled:

HB 1069 – Tolling civil penalties; period of nonpayment; limitations on tolling; notification of toll violations. (Albo Co-Patron) In addition to the text and e-mail notifications from my HB 169, this bill guarantees that in NOVA, only interstates and roads that connect to a bridge over water can be tolled. It protects roads like Braddock, Old Keene Mill Road, Route 7, Route 28, and the Fairfax County Parkway from ever being tolled.  It also sets up rules for the tolling of I-66, which will require that new lanes must be added if tolls are put in place.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

I know this was a lot of information, but we have accomplished a lot so far in Richmond. Please contact me by email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov, or by phone at (703) 451-3555 with any questions or concerns. You can also view updates on my blog, www.delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com. After all, my job is not to do what I want to do, but rather, to do what you want!

State Per Pupil Spending

The Great Recession forced the General Assembly to make tough budgetary decisions in order to pass a balanced budget. One area in particular that has been impacted is funding for K-12 education. Roughly 95% of Virginia schools have had their funding decreased… but not Fairfax County!

My fellow Northern Virginian legislators and I have increased funding for education in Fairfax County. Over the past five years, we have delivered $618/student/yr. more to our Fairfax County Public Schools! We worked tirelessly to have the tax dollars generated in Fairfax County kept here for our schools despite numerous attempts to divert the funds to other parts of the state.  I thought you may be interested in seeing the data yourself:

2012-2017 FCPS State Funding Breakdown