This week is crunch time for all legislators here in the General Assembly. Next Tuesday is Crossover, where all of the bills from the House of Delegates move over to the Senate, and all of the Senate Bills come over to the House of Delegates. We are all working as quickly as possible to make sure all of the bills reported out of House committees are carried to the floor for a vote. Here are some issues I’d like to highlight:
My fellow House Republicans and I are focused on issues that all Virginian’s care about. As you know, one of our big successes this week came in Transportation Reform. These bills, HB 1090 and HB 1095, will make travelling in Virginia safer and more efficient, which is something everyone can agree needs to happen.
Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Prevention:
We had a big success this week in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention. Virginia is on the right track towards reducing violent crimes. Between 2006 and 2010, overall homicides in Virginia declined by 8%. However there is a troubling trend of increased sexual and domestic violence across the Commonwealth with intimate partner homicides increasing by 65%. At any given time, there are approximately 14,000 active protective orders on file in Virginia. These numbers highlight the adamant need for reform to improve access to critical intervention and prevention services.
Our approach is two-fold with both a legislative and budgetary component. HB 1, carried by Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-Fairfax), will streamline existing and new funding for intervention, prevention, and counseling services. This legislation dedicates a funding stream for Sexual & Domestic Violence Agencies to increase access to the important treatment and crisis services they provide. The House Budget Proposal will include $10.6 million in new funding in 2015 for Virginia’s domestic and sexual violence treatment and crisis prevention centers.
We are still pushing for Medicaid Reform. Like the House Republicans, I believe Virginia is simply not ready for Obamacare’s implementation of Medicaid expansion. As I’ve said before, I am not opposed to expanding Medicaid if the following criteria is met:
- Virginia get written assurance in the form of a federal statute that says Virginia can walk away from Medicaid expansion if the federal government fails to pay its promised 90 percent.
- Virginia be allowed to implement reforms to save enough money so that Medicaid expansion does not cost us anymore than we are paying now.
- Virginia be allowed to aggressively seek and prosecute fraud. There are numerous federals laws denying our inspectors access to Medicaid payment and authorization information.
In the wake of former Governor’s McDonnell’s recent legal turmoil, my Ethics Subcommittee of the Courts of Justice is working diligently to get rid of the grey area involved with gift-giving and receiving. We are currently reviewing House Bill 1211 which expands on travel limitations, puts a ban on receiving items of lasting value (like gold, stock, or any wealth that expands over time), and mandates that a law maker must report any gift received of $50 or more, including something as simple as a dinner.
My office had many visitors stop by this week, including a number of members of the academic community. Two students who went to secondary school in the district, stopped by from the UVA student council as well as the Executive Assistant to the President for State Governmental Relations from UVA, Rob Lockeridge. There were also number of students from Virginia Tech and Radford University who came by to talk about issues that were important to them. It was a pleasure to have them all.
I also had quite a few constituents and familiar faces drop in. Dan Rinzel stopped by with the Mt. Vernon Lee Chamber, and Todd Stottlemeyer, an old friend of mine, paid a visit to my office. Linda Bryant, who is now the Deputy AG for Public Safety and Enforcement Division, came by. She grew up in my neighborhood and went to my rival high school (Lee High Schoool) a few years after me. She’s been living in the Norfolk/ Chesapeake area for the past 20 years. In addition, the Gleghorn family came down to visit. Mr. Gleghorn has three adorable, homeschooled daughters from the district. They admired the artwork I have on the walls and agreed to contribute some next year.
The General Assembly hosted some members of NASA this week, and I managed to get a real astronaut to autograph a picture for my son, Ben. He’s absolutely going to love it!
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.