The second week of the 2014 Session has drawn to a close, and we have started to make progress on the nearly 1,200 bills before the General Assembly.
So far, the bulk of the action on bills has taken place in the various committees and subcommittees. As more bills begin to pass out of committees, the action during the daily floor sessions will begin to pick up.
As you know, our new governor, Terry McAuliffe, addressed the Joint Assembly for the first time this past week. He outlined his priorities, including job creation and education, on which House Republicans will work to find common ground.
K-12 education is high on the priority list for House Republicans. Legislation has already been introduced by our members to reduce and improve Standards of Learning (SOL) testing, provide more virtual learning opportunities for our students, and support career ladders for our teachers.
SOL testing is important for providing basic benchmarking and they foster a sense of accountability, but students are currently taking 34 tests from third grade through high school completion. Many House Republicans want to reduce the number of tests to 26. The goal is to ensure students have time to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential to succeeding in the 21st century economy.
Broadening access to virtual education will offer a unique opportunity for each student to learn in a new way that enhances the classroom experience. Virtual education can offer more course options and schedule flexibility for both students and parents.
Legislation filed will also support the development of “Teacher Career Ladders” that will ensure we retain our best teachers in the classroom where they will have the greatest impact on student success. The K-12 education reform proposals provide a solid base for House Republicans to work with the McAuliffe Administration to improve the Commonwealth’s K-12 education system for all our children.
While we work through these major issues in the House, my day-to-day business continues. I have introduced 31 new bills during the 2014 session. Below is the status of a few of them that have been already been visited by subcommittees.
- HB218- Adds vapor tobacco products to the definition of tobacco products that cannot be sold to minors.
- Subcommittee for Criminal Courts of Justice recommends reporting with amendments (11-Y 0-N)
- HB283- Authorizes the ABC Board to suspend or revoke the license of a licensee who is delinquent for a period of 90 days or more in the payment of any taxes.
- Reported from General Laws (22-Y 0-N)
- HB291- Exempts academic letters of recommendation from being placed in the records of educational agencies.
- General Laws Subcommittee #2 recommends for reporting (6-Y 0-N)
To follow any other legislation, or read these bills in full, you can go to http://www.lis.virginia.gov.
This week, we had a lot of visitors in the building including chief residents at MCV Hospital, the Medical Campus at Virginia Commonwealth University, to speak on legislation regarding mental health. It was good to get a few contacts to talk to about the issue, especially in light of the tragedy that struck Senator Creigh Deeds and his family in 2013. Mental health will be a hot topic during Session this year, and I will keep you all informed on legislation regarding this issue as it is presented to the House.
As always, my staff and I are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there’s anything we can do to help you in dealing with a state government agency. My office can be reached at (804) 698-1042 or via email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov. If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to visit me in General Assembly building room 529.
PS. I was also able to start hanging up some of the beautiful artwork that was donated to my office from some of the elementary schools in the district. Here’s a quick preview!