This past July 1st, hundreds of new laws went into effect across Virginia. While there was lots of coverage about the budget and the proposal to expand Medicaid, many of these less well publicized laws will directly affect our daily lives. Here are just a few examples:
- The number of Standards of Learning tests given between grades three through eight is limited to no more than 17 (a decrease of about 25%). A Standards of Learning Innovation Commission has been formed to make recommendations on future reforms.
- Several mental health bills were passed. Among these are bills that extend the maximum length of an emergency custody order from four to 12 hours and require state hospitals to take patients after eight hours if another bed isn't found.
- The hybrid vehicle tax has been repealed.
- The minimum clearance between a passing vehicle and a bicycle has been increased from two to three feet.
- A military spouse who gives up a job to follow their service member to another location will qualify for unemployment benefits.
- Disseminating nude or compromising pictures of another for the purpose of harassment or intimidation, commonly called "revenge porn," is now a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Electronic cigarettes are added to the list of tobacco products that cannot be sold to a minor.
- Hospitals must now perform a critical congenital heart defect screening test on every newborn in its care. I was pleased to see this pass as the sponsor of a bill to establish Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week in Virginia (culminating, appropriately, on Valentine's Day each year).
In all, over 825 laws were passed during the 2014 session. The Division of Legislative Services publishes a wonderful resource called "In Due Course" that provides an overview of selected new legislation. Click here to download the report.
Summer Commission Meetings
While the regular session of the General Assembly has adjourned, our work continues through various commissions and studies. I am a member of the Housing Commission, Joint Commission on Health Care, and State Water Commission. In addition, I was recently appointed to the Chesapeake Bay Commission. All four have robust work plans that may result in recommendations for the 2015 session. For example, the State Water Commission is investigating the major coal ash spill into the Dan River that threatened the region's water supply and aquatic resources. The Joint Commission on Health Care is studying access to brain injury services, opportunities for improving oral hygiene, the spread of viral hepatitis, and how to address the shortage of physicians in rural areas of Virginia. The Housing Commission is studying one of my bills carried over during the regular session to create a framework for public private partnerships to invest in energy efficiency technology.
Click on the following links for more information and agenda items.
Joint Commission on Health Care
State Water Commission
Chesapeake Bay Commission
Please don't hesitate to let me know if you would like additional information or are interested in a specific topic.
Informal Coffee Hours
I am pleased to continue informal office hours - a traditional started nine years ago! These are opportunities for constituents to stop by without an appointment to ask a question about an issue or to simply find out what is going on in Richmond. All events are from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Coffee is on me! Upcoming dates include:
- September 27th at Main Street Bagel, Fairfax
- October 25th at Jireh Café, Centreville
- November 22nd at Main Street Bagel, Fairfax
It is an honor to represent you in the House of Delegate. Don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance. Enjoy the summer and stay cool!