February 15th, 2012
My focus during this session is to help create jobs, expand education opportunities, keep our communities safe, and make our government more efficient.
Many of the bills that have gone through the house directly impact one of these core functions.
TRANSPORTATION – Finding the greatest reduction in congestion per dollar
Yesterday the house passed HB 599, a bill that I co-patroned with Delegate Jim LeMunyon, requiring that planned transportation projects be rated based on the amount of congestion reduction achieved per dollar spent on each project. The ratings will be available to the public and are intended to help ensure that our limited transportation dollars get the most bang for the buck.
Because our transportation dollars are limited, we should first be funding the projects that help get Northern Virginia moving. I helped shepherd this bill through the Transportation Committee last week and it passed the House on a 64-36 vote.
While it is encouraging that Virginia will be headed towards a more objective means to determine the funding of projects–a measure that will help Northern Virginia–there is still more work to be done to get us moving. One of my bills, HJ 131, asked for a study of a possible Rt. 28 extension North into Maryland connecting to I-270. This legislation failed to pass for the year, but has been noted as one of the most important transportation projects to alleviate congestion and further economic development along the Dulles Corridor. I agree with Governor McDonnell that another Potomac River crossing is needed upstream of the I-495 American Legion Bridge. For the good of our region, we will try again.
JOBS – Securing business investments in the Commonwealth
Virginia was ranked the #1 pro-business state by CNBC and #2 by Forbes in 2011. In order to protect our state’s appeal for businesses to come create jobs in the state, the House passed bills like HB 714 that extends the major facilities job tax credit to companies that invest in Virginia to create fifty or more full-time jobs. This tax credit will continue to help businesses in Virginia secure the capital investments they need in order to expand and create jobs.
EDUCATION—Expanding student opportunity
Providing the opportunity and freedom to schools and families in order for the most learning to take place at every level across the commonwealth is a top priority for me. A variety of measures during this session move us towards that end and I am pleased to support these bills.
School divisions will now have the flexibility to choose a start date, including one that comes before Labor Day. HB 1036 gives schools another tool to more fully prepare students before many of the Spring end of the year tests that can impact student’s competitiveness. Many in the business community supported this change to allow for our local school boards to run their calendars as they see fit.
Funding Virginia universities is essential and HB 54, which passed through the House unanimously, authorizes the Commonwealth to issue bonds to colleges and universities worth more than $130 million to pay for any revenue-producing projects at the institution.
The House and Senate paved the way for homeschool children to participate on high school sports teams in a five-year pilot program. The so-called “Tebow Bill” requires the Virginia High School League, the organization governing high school athletics, to allow homeschool students to try out for public school teams. This will allow tax-paying families to provide their children with the greatest opportunity to compete. I supported this bill and do not believe that participation by home school student-athletes in high school athletics will be harmful to our great 10th district high schools.
I will continue to work for a commonwealth that is more free, prosperous, and full of opportunity for all of our citizens as the House of Delegates moves in to the second half of the 2012 session.
It is an honor to be both a trustee and servant to you in Richmond. Thank you to those who have contacted me; I value your opinions.