Fourth Week of 2017 Session

The General Assembly and the Capitol were bustling this week. I enjoyed seeing many constituents. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and said hello!

I had a lot of legislative work to do as all of the bills must be voted on by Friday, February 3. All of the legislation that has passed the House will be read and voted on in the Senate, and all of the legislation that has passed the Senate will be read and voted on in the House – this is called crossover.

Visitors from the 42nd District

I enjoyed a visit from Nick Milroy, WSHS Alum, representing Virginia Tech. Nick and I talked about state funding for Higher Education and the fact that he was on the WSHS Swim Team, class of 2015, and I was on it in 1980!

dave-and-nick-milroy

A couple of visitors stopped by to see the wonderful artwork that we have on the walls! Check out the blog post from the second week of session to see the pictures all over my office in the General Assembly.

Legislative Updates

On Tuesday, HB 1825 passed the House on its third reading. The bill will prohibit ticket sale companies from implementing barriers for resale. You can read more about the bill in this Richmond Times Dispatch article, which includes an anecdote about my own experience with this issue.

On Wednesday, HB 1526 passed the House on its third reading. The bill revises the annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license to allow any person operating any performing arts facility to sell, on the dates of performances and one hour prior to any such performance and one hour after the conclusion of any performance, alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption in areas upon the licensed premises approved by the Board.

On Thursday, HB 1411 and HB 1525 passed the House on their third reading unopposed. You can read the bills as filed, as well as keep up with the rest of my legislation by clicking here.

HB 1410 – My original bill addressed three things:

  1. It makes sure that the Boards of Visitors know they are running the university on behalf of the PEOPLE of VA! When they make their decisions, they need to think about what parents and students want first, not what “academia” wants. The point here is that the Board of Visitors should not be empire building, but instead making sure tuition is affordable, there are slots for in state students, AND that they are to provide a top notch education.
  1. Schools say they need out-of-state students because they pay twice as much, and they need their money for running the school. Instead, we find that many schools take out-of-state tuition money and use it to fund other out-of-state students. Secondly, an infuriating policy that they have is taking in-state student tuition and using it for financial aid to other in-state students. Thus, when I paid $20,000 for a pre-paid tuition for my son, unbeknownst to me, some of the money I saved was NOT going to Ben, but rather going to some other student. It is even more maddening when you think about a student who is paying their own tuition and working to put themselves through school. Think about it, these students are working outside of class hours, not only to pay their own tuition, but to pay someone else’s tuition who is not working!
  1. Finally, it addresses the problem of UVA and W&M who have 69% and 66%, respectively, in-state students. These schools are Virginia schools — not the University of New Jersey at Charlottesville or College of New York at Williamsburg. My bill mandates that all schools must be at least 75% in state.  I have been working for years on this. Virginia Tech and JMU are at 74% now, and they have done a great job. UVA has added about 1000 slots, but are still have too few in-state slots.

What the amended bill does:

In this business, you have to compromise to accomplish things. I want to remind you that even though this is not 100% of what I want, it is the first time a bill on this topic has even gotten out of committee and to the House Floor. Here is what I have agreed to:

  1. Puts in Code that Boards of Visitors owe a duty to the people of Virginia and requires this in training.
  1. Creates a study to figure out a way for schools to limit or eliminate using tuition for financial aid. We had to study this because all schools have programmed tuition transfer into their budgets, and students with financial need would end up being kicked out of school if this passed immediately.
  1. Mandates a 70% in-state limit instead of a 75%. It does so through incentives rather than mandates. It says that for all schools who are above a 30% out-of-state ratio, any such student’s tuition above the cost of educating him MUST go to reducing tuition costs of in-state students. Maybe an example would help; If a school has 10,000 undergrads, they can have 3000 out-of-state students. But if they have 4000 out-of-state students, they must use the tuition from the extra 1,000 students to lower in-state students’ tuition costs. If out-of-state tuition is $24,000 and it costs $10,000 to educate that student, then the $14,000 profit must be used to lower the in-state students’ tuition. Basically, it takes the incentive out of any school going higher than 30% out of state, effectively capping out of state enrollment at 30%. While I wanted the cap at 25%, this is still a major accomplishment.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the rest of session! We have about three weeks left. I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaveAlboVA

Links of Interest:

My Web Site: www.DaveAlbo.org

Legislative information system: http://www.lis.virginia.gov

Live session video and archived session videos: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

Third Week of 2017 Session

It has been a busy week! A lot has happened in the office and during session over the past five days. I have been working hard to represent you well.

Next week is crossover, which is when the bills will switch bodies. All of the legislation that has passed the House will be read and voted on in the Senate, and all of the legislation that has passed the Senate will be read and voted on in the House.

Legislative Updates

Some of my bills are still being discussed in committee, but some of them were read during session and voted on this week. You can follow the status of all of my bills by clicking here.

Several of my bills passed the house this week!

On Wednesday, HB 1486 passed the house on its third reading unopposed. The bill would allow that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

On Thursday, HB 1456 passed the house on its third reading unopposed. The bill changes the use of the word “visitation” to “parenting time” in cases involving custody or visitation of a child. The use of this term helps families going through a divorce and makes sure that no one in the process feels like any less of a parent.

Also this week my bill, HB 1825, was heard on the House floor. The summary of the bill as introduced is as follows:

HB 1825: Rights to resell tickets; civil penalty. Prohibits any person that issues tickets for admission to any sporting event, theatrical production, lecture, motion picture screening, or any other event open to the public for which tickets are ordinarily sold from issuing the ticket solely through a delivery method that substantially prevents the ticket purchaser from lawfully reselling the ticket on the Internet ticketing platform of the ticket purchaser’s choice. The measure also prohibits a person from being penalized, discriminated against, or denied admission to an event solely on the basis that the person resold a ticket, or purchased a resold ticket, on a specific Internet ticketing platform. A person violating these prohibitions is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 nor more than $15,000.

Popes Head Interchange

I was excited to hear this week that VDOT listened to my request to widen the parkway between 29 and 123 (the Popes Head interchange). The design process is underway and a Board action secured funding for the preliminary engineering. VDOT will implement the project.

We are nearly halfway done, as crossover is next week. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the rest of session! I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaveAlboVA

Links of Interest:

My Web Site: www.DaveAlbo.org

Legislative information system: http://www.lis.virginia.gov

Live session video and archived session videos: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

Second Week of 2017 Session

We hung artwork from elementary schools in my district around the office this week. Thank you to the art students that created these beautiful pieces for us! We are excited to have some color on our white walls!

Legislative Updates

All fifteen of my bills have been assigned to a committee and sub-committee, and are being discussed there. You can see the committees that they have been referred to, and follow the status of all of my bills by clicking here.

This week, my bills HB 1456, HB 1486 and HB 1526, passed in their respective subcommittees. The summaries of the bills as introduced are as follows:

HB 1456: Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. Provides that at the request of a parent to such case or proceeding, the court shall use the phrase “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation.” The bill does not apply to any case or proceeding where a court has found a history of family abuse or sexual abuse or has otherwise found that a child subject to the case or proceeding is an abused or neglected child.

HB 1486: Arts and cultural districts. Provides that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

HB 1526: Alcoholic beverage control; mixed beverage performing arts facility license. Revises the annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license to allow any person operating any performing arts facility to sell, on the dates of performances and one hour prior to any such performance and one hour after the conclusion of any performance, alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption in areas upon the licensed premises approved by the Board.

The Richmond Times Dispatch wrote an article about my bill, HB 1825. The bill protects consumers’ rights by making it illegal for companies issuing tickets to inhibit purchasers from reselling tickets. You can read the Richmond Times Dispatch article here, and the full text of the bill here.

Things will get crazy next week, as all the bills have to be voted on by February 4th.

UVA to increase in-state slots

On Tuesday, the University of Virginia announced two of their new efforts to make the school more accessible for Virginia residents.

The first of their efforts was the authorization of the “Cornerstone Grant,” which expands UVA’s financial aid program for qualifying, full time Virginia students from middle income families.

Starting this fall, first and second-year Virginians from families earning less than $125,000 (who do not receive grants or scholarships from other sources) will be eligible to receive a $2,000 Cornerstone Grant. Qualifying third-year students will be eligible to receive a $1,000 grant.

The board also announced that they would be increasing enrollment for Virginians, and that half of the 100 new slots would go to first-year students. The remaining half of the slots will go to a variety of students, including transfers, distance learners and first-year students starting in the spring or summer.

While UVA still has too many out of state students, I am pleased that they have responded to the pressure we have been putting on them and continue to add more in-state slots. The recently added 100 in-state slots will make total of approximately 1,000 new in-state slots over the past 5 years.

The 2016-2017 incoming class at UVA was made up of 66.9 percent of in-state students and 33.1 percent of out-of-state students. This announcement, which will make attendance at UVA more financially attainable and will increase the number of slots for Virginians, is a step in the right direction. You can read the full text of the news release here.

This session, I am the chief patron of HB 1410, which would require that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled must be Virginia residents. The full text of the bill is as follows:

HB 1410: Certain educational institutions; designation of governing boards; financial assistance; enrollment. Renames as boards of trustees the boards of visitors of certain educational institutions in the Commonwealth, including baccalaureate public institutions of higher education. The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from using (i) tuition revenue from any Virginia student to provide financial assistance to any Virginia student or non-Virginia student and (ii) more than five percent of tuition revenue from non-Virginia students to provide financial assistance to non-Virginia students. The bill also requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education, except the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University, and Virginia State University, to ensure that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at the institution have established domicile in the Commonwealth. The bill requires the governing boards of public institutions that do not meet such 75 percent threshold to submit to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia a plan to incrementally increase enrolled undergraduate Virginia students each academic year to ensure compliance no later than the 2020-2021 academic year.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and is currently being discussed in the Higher Education subcommittee. If you would like to track the progress of the bill, just click on the “Track Legislation” link and then type the bill number (HB1410).

Student Debt in Virginia

There’s no question that student debt affects a significant number of Virginians each year. Beyond increasing an individual’s financial burden, student debt negatively impacts the Virginia economy. According to studies conducted in the past three years, people with student debt are less likely to buy a home, start a new business, or save for retirement.

Below are some graphics that depict some of the impact of student debt, as well as information on the tuition increases in recent years. Virginia universities must work to decrease the amount of debt for their graduates. I’m working hard to introduce and sponsor bills that would alleviate student debt by reducing tuition for Virginia students.

student-debt-1student-debt-2student-debt-3student-debt-4

Legislators Tour Improved Roads

On January 5th, a group of legislators had the opportunity to witness the lasting effects of HB 2313 on a bus tour through Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. The bill, which I supported, has funneled more than $1.2 billion into transportation improvement projects in the Northern Virginia region since its passage in 2013. During the tour, members of the General Assembly climbed aboard a bus and did a “rolling” tour of the revamped roads.

Fairfax County alone has received an estimated $274 million in new transportation funds as a direct result of HB 2313. Many of Northern Virginia projects that have benefited from the revenue may be familiar to my constituents. The Fairfax Connector added new bus bays, allowing for quicker bus maintenance and bus storage. The I-66 “Outside the Beltway” project, which expands the highway to three general lanes, and two express lanes, could not have been begun nor completed without the financial support from HB 2313. HB 2313 has assisted in the expanding Route 28 from 2 to 6 lanes, a project expected to be completed in summer of 2017. The increased number of lanes is expected to postiviely affect the experience of nearly 125,000 drivers a day. Now it is widening Rolling Road.

HB 2313, the result of bipartisan cooperation, has also led to transjurisdictional transportation partnerships, encouraging Northern Virginia districts to work together to ease the burden on commuters. More broadly, the bus tour demonstrated how HB 2313 established a cohesive strategy for transportation, which is crucial for Northern Virginia moving forward.

First Week of 2017 Session

The 2017 General Assembly Session has begun!

The 2017 General Assembly session opened on Wednesday, January 12. I’m looking forward to a productive session working for you in Richmond this winter!

On Wednesday, Session began with the Richmond Symphony singing the National Anthem, which was followed by the swearing in of one new member, Rocky Holcomb (R). Delegate Holcomb will be representing District 85.

Later that evening, Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly of the House of Delegates and Senate. You can view a video recording of the evening here. The transcript of the Governor’s address can be read here. Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant delivered the Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth. You can read the text of their remarks here.

Budget

In August of last year, Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion shortfall. The shortfall is a result of a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Virginia’s economy has lost more than 4,000 jobs, weekly wages are down, and part-time employees are up by more than 20,000 since 2015.

However, unlike Washington, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House to develop our budget. Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources. We will invest in key priorities, but we must do so in a fiscally prudent manner.

Pre-Session Survey

As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out on my website http://www.davealbo.org/. Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 42nd District to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues like ways to make college more affordable and suggestions on how to stimulate our economy drive my work in Richmond. Please make sure you complete and send in your survey by January 18th.

Delegate Albo’s 2017 Legislation

I have filed a few bills that you may find interesting. To follow any other legislation or to read these bills in full, please visit http://www.lis.virginia.gov

HB 1410: Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. Renames as boards of trustees the boards of visitors of certain educational institutions in the Commonwealth.

The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from using tuition revenue from any Virginia student to provide financial assistance to any Virginia student or non-Virginia student and more than five percent of tuition revenue from non-Virginia students to provide financial assistance to non-Virginia students.

The bill also requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education (except VMI, Norfolk State, and VSU) to ensure that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at the institution have established domicile in the Commonwealth. The public institutions must be compliant no later than the 2020-2021 academic year.

HB 1423: Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. Directs Department of Environmental Quality to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

HB 1456: Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. Provides that at the request of a parent to such case or proceeding, the court shall use the phrase “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation.” The bill does not apply to any case or proceeding where a court has found a history of family abuse or sexual abuse or has otherwise found that a child subject to the case or proceeding is an abused or neglected child.

HB 1486: Arts and cultural districts. Provides that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the rest of session! I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaveAlboVA

Links of Interest

My Web Site: www.DaveAlbo.org

Legislative information system: http://www.lis.virginia.gov

Live session video and archived session videos: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

New members of the House and Senate: http://www.vpap.org/general-assembly/new-faces/

Speaker Howell announces standing committee assignments: http://www.vpap.org/updates/2439-2017-house-committee-assignments/

Governor McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth address: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=3907

Transcript of the State of the Commonwealth address: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18925

Transcript of Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant’s Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth: http://virginiahouse.gop/2017/01/11/delegate-villanueva-and-senator-dunnavant-deliver-republican-perspective-on-the-state-of-the-commonwealth/

JLARC Report on Virginia’s Medicaid Program

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a report on Monday about the cost-effectiveness of Virginia’s Medicaid program. You can find JLARC’s full report here.

The Virginia Medicaid program provides medical, long-term care, and behavioral health services to over a million individuals in the Commonwealth each year. The General Assembly asked JLARC to look into the program’s cost-effectiveness because Medicaid’s spending increases have outpaced total state budget growth over the past 10 years, and now require more of Virginia’s budget resources.

The report indicates that Medicaid general fund spending has increased by approximately nine percent annually over the last 10 years. In fact, Medicaid spending alone made up 22 percent of the general fund budget in 2016. This makes funding education and other programs more difficult.

JLARC believes a lot of these expenses are preventable and that there are other ways to provide more cost-effective long-term services and care without using so much of Virginia’s budget. JLARC has outlined a series of recommendations, which can be found here.

Please be aware that I am not writing this in opposition to Medicaid. If we can afford it, I want to take care of as many people as possible who are unable to care for themselves. I just think it is important that we implement reforms to save enough money so that Medicaid does not cost us any more than we are currently paying.

2016 Public School Quality Report

Dear friends,

I would like to make you aware of a new tool provided by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) that provides useful information regarding the status of public schools and local school divisions throughout the Commonwealth. You can find the detailed “School Quality Profiles” that VDOE provides here.

These profiles cover many topics, such as:
• Student achievement
• College and career readiness
• Program completion
• School safety
• Teacher quality

A lot of this information can also be found in the Virginia Board of Education’s recently released 2016 annual report. This report is released every year to highlight what our schools are doing well and to outline ways in which public K-12 education can be improved, and I want to share some things from the report that stood out to me.

First, this year’s report reaffirms what many of us already know – that Virginia has some of the best public K-12 schools in the country! Our children are scoring above the national average on tests like the SAT and ACT, and over ninety percent are graduating from high school on time. However, the Board thinks improvements can be made to better prepare students for life after high school. After speaking with higher education institutions, businesses, and the military, the Board believes students will benefit from having more technical skills training and other career exploration opportunities incorporated into the K-12 curriculum.

While it’s clear that our students are performing well on tests and receiving a quality education, the report indicates that there are currently not enough teachers in Virginia, particularly for subjects and areas like special education, math, and social studies. If I recall correctly, in 2015 Fairfax County had over fifty teacher vacancies in special education alone. To address this issue, the Board is looking into reforming Virginia’s licensing process with the hope of recruiting more teachers, and is looking into providing more employee benefits to help keep the teachers we have so they don’t move to other school systems.

These are some of the key points from this year’s report that I thought were important to share with you. You can click here for the full report. As a parent, I also encourage you to visit SchoolQuality.Virginia.Gov if you have children who are attending public schools, or are looking for more information on public schools and school divisions.

Letter to the Editor on Highway Trash Cleanup

On Saturday, the newly combined West Springfield and Burke Rotary Clubs cleaned up trash on the Fairfax County Parkway, and I joined them to help out. (No, it was not court-ordered! We were just doing it because this is one of the Rotary’s local philanthropic projects.)

I have probably done almost 100 volunteer trash pickups, and every time I do it, this question comes to mind: What kind of person throws trash out of a car window? I don’t get it.

Here is a list of the things I had to pick up:

  • Cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes (So, these cigarettes are so wonderful that people suck them into their lungs, but are so smelly and disgusting that the leftover butts can’t stay in the car?)
  • Aluminum soda cans
  • Beer bottles
  • Fast food meal bags
  • An American flag
  • A medical face mask
  • Frozen dinner packages
  • An empty airline bottle of liquor (I guess this person did not know drunk driving was against the law)
  • A “Vote for Meals Tax” road sign (I guess this person did not know that Supervisor Herrity and I made road signs illegal about five years ago)
  • A Pittsburg Steelers flag (A Redskins fan would never litter)
  • Halloween candy wrappers
  • A spit-filled water bottle with leftover chewing tobacco slime
  • Latex gloves
  • A box of fine wine (It probably wasn’t Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or have a Wine Spectator rating of 95)
  • A used adult diaper (I am not kidding)

I’m sorry to vent, but I just don’t get it. Maybe a reminder is in order here. Most people don’t know littering is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and that there are judges in Fairfax County who will literally send people to jail for it.

Thanks to the West Springfield and Burke Rotary members! You all help make Springfield the best place to live. Here’s a photo of me working with Ann Burton and Ed Robertson.

hwy-trash-cleanup

Rolling Road Turn Lane Options

I want to make you aware of an issue that has come up on Rolling Road re-design and ask for your comments.  Residents on Rolling Road want the project to include a mutual turn lane in the middle, and residents who do not live on Rolling seem to want a raised median with cut outs for turn lanes.

Maybe a picture describes this idea better.  Here is a picture of a road with a mutual turn lane:

two-way-lane-4

Here is a picture of a road with raised medians with cut outs for turn lanes:

median-road

To me, the raised medians are much more attractive aesthetically. But safety is most important.  Having oncoming traffic without a barrier, in my opinion, is a safety concern. The raised medians provide the barrier, and the cut outs for the turn lanes get turning cars out of the way so passing traffic can proceed through.

The raised medians will increase the width of the road by 15 feet at its widest point.  The mutual turn lanes increase the width by 12 ft.  But if we make the bike paths go from 10 feet to 8 feet, the impact of the raised medians will only be 1 foot.  While taking an extra foot of our Rolling Road neighbors’ property is not desired, it is my opinion that it is worth it to improve the safety of the roadway.

This is why I am e-mailing you. VDOT has received written requests from the people who want mutual turn lanes, but they have not received requests from people who want raised medians.  It is my impression that the vast majority of those who do not live on Rolling want raised medians with turn lanes, but I could be wrong. That is why I am writing.

Please log onto this site http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/rolling_rd_widening.asp and tell VDOT if you want the raised medians or the mutual turn lanes.  Even if you disagree with me, you should write.  I am not your Delegate to do what I want to do; I am elected to do what you want. Please let VDOT know what your preference is. You can email comments directly to VDOT at meetingcomments@vdot.virginia.gov.