The 2012 General Assembly Session is fully underway. Between subcommittee and committee meetings to House floor sessions, we are working hard considering bills filed by our colleagues and advancing legislation we have introduced. While it sometimes makes for a breakneck pace, it is still so important to hear from you on matters you consider important. Please contact my office by phone, email or through our social media outlets. It is an honor to serve as your representative.
Improving Care for the Intellectually Disabled
This week, Virginia took a big step forward to improve the care for some of our most vulnerable citizens, those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
On Thursday, Governor McDonnell announced that Virginia will move forward with the transition to community-based care by adding 4,710 new Intellectual Disability (ID) waiver slots and closing four of the five training centers around the state. This is long-overdue news for many families across the Commonwealth who are waiting for an ID waiver. An ID waiver funds services to help individuals with an intellectual disability remain in the community and avoid institutional care. Since 2002, the General Assembly has increased the number of ID waiver slots by about 58 percent, from about 5,386 slots to 8,467 slots currently. Last year, Virginia invested $30 million into a trust fund to begin the process of transitioning those with intellectual disabilities from institutional care to community-based care. (Note: many Delegates co-patroned that legislation, HB 2533, last year, and you could mention that here).
The Governor's announcement came as Virginia reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice regarding Virginia's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1999 Supreme Court decision in the Olmstead case.
Delegate Peace joins House Colleagues as they Unveil the K-12 Public Education Agenda for 2012 Session
The weekly Republican Caucus press conference held this morning featured various proposals from members of the House Republican Caucus, including Delegate Christopher K. Peace, the host of the weekly House Republican Caucus press conference. Peace discussed House Bill 765, a measure which would allow any institution of higher education in Virginia to operate a college partnership laboratory school
The House Republican Caucus was joined by Bill Thomas, Associate Vice President of Hampton University, for their weekly Policy Work Group press conference, this week discussing various K-12 initiatives the Caucus has introduced this session.
A College Partnership Laboratory School is a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious school established by a public institution of higher education operating in the Commonwealth which maintains and operates a teacher education program approved by the Board of Education. Virginia currently has 14 approved sites including but not limited to James Madison University, University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, and George Mason University.
Lab partnerships offer options and innovation for all Virginia school children, but especially those who are disadvantaged or at-risk. College lab schools give students more opportunities and parents more options for their child's public education. These schools have worked in the past and there is currently interest within the higher education community to open College Partnership Laboratory Schools. Each lab school would have a governing board that is party to the contract with the Board of Education. This board would be under the control of the college or university establishing the lab school and its members are selected by the higher education institute.
"In 2010, the General Assembly passed legislation enabling public colleges and universities in Virginia to team with approved teacher-preparation programs in an effort to establish college partnership laboratory schools throughout the Commonwealth. This legislation would permit more partnerships between Virginia's higher educational institutions and K-12 public divisions, in turn increasing choices for K-12 students statewide," said Peace. "Laboratory schools allow local divisions to offer greater opportunities for innovative instruction and assessment methods - customizing and improving the educational experience for all of our students. Providing educational options through utilizing the strengths and talents at the Commonwealth's colleges and universities are necessary steps toward assuring academic success for our youngest citizens."
The House Republican Caucus Policy Work Group will hold a press conference each Monday at 11:00 am.
I am pleased to announce my bill House Bill 266 passed the House this week with unanimous support. HB 266 is a measure to define "surgery" so that no person other than a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, or dentistry, a licensed nurse practitioner, or a person who is acting pursuant to the orders and under the appropriate supervision of a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, or dentistry shall perform surgery.
With the changing landscape of health care nationally it is important that Virginia join with 20 other states to assure patients in Virginia that only medically trained surgeons are permitted to operate on them. We do not want the federal government telling Virginia what surgery is or isn't. Surgery performed by under-trained or inappropriately trained health practitioners can result in irreversible consequences. As federal and state policies promote team care approaches to health care delivery, there is a need to clearly define the roles and standards for surgical and other invasive treatments.
"Protecting the health, safety and well being of residents of the Commonwealth is important to me. I will continue to work to pass health care legislation such as this that further protects patients and assures continued access to quality health services," stated Peace.
HB 266 passed by a vote of 98-0 and will now be heard by the Senate committee on Education and Health.
We had many visitors this week to the Capitol office. Harry Whitt, Commissioner of the Revenue for King William County stopped by as did Bill O'Keefe of New Kent. We were glad to see new 97th District residents, Tom and Barb Miller stop in and introduce themselves. Others visiting our office were, Eugene Rivera of Aylett, Joyce Washington of King William, George Rice of Mechanicsville and Charles Piersa of King William with the Farm Bureau, Mary Howell of New Kent with the VA Propane Gas Association, Steve Lam of Mechanicsville with Coca-Cola, Anne Mitchell of King William DSS, Julius Anongas of Mechanicsville, with Hanover ARC, Sandy Bralley of Mechanicsville, Ms. Madison Schmidt and Diane Hamilton of Mechanicsville, for Catholic Advocacy Day, Melanie Cale of Mechanicsville on behalf of the Humane Society, Cathy McCallister of Mechanicsville, with Voices for VA's Children.
Pictured above: Hunter Robertson and his family stopped by to visit and see where Hunter's artwork is in the General Assembly Building.
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) 698-1097or via the Internet at Delcpeace@house.virginia.gov. If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to visit me in Room 527.
Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.