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Column: Legislature Enters Final Week

Working for and with my constituents in Richmond is always exciting, and this year is no different. As we enter the final week of the session, conference committees are meeting to iron out the differences in House and Senate versions of several key bills.

I am eager to see the conferees working on the transportation bill come to a common-sense solution. We need a solid transportation plan for the Commonwealth and for my district. The roads and public transportation in Northern Virginia must be able to keep up with, and expand with, our vibrant and growing communities.

Another bill I know everyone is watching is the budget. Currently, the Senate version includes Medicaid expansion, while the House version does not. This is one of the top three issues I have heard about from my constituents, and the message is overwhelmingly pro-expansion. Medicaid expansion should be allowed to go through and be in the final budget this year. With 400,000 Virginians covered by Medicaid, all of us will benefit in lower health care costs because these people will have access to proper medical care and will not be forced to use the emergency room as their doctor’s office. Expansion will also bring 30,000 jobs to the Commonwealth.

Several of my budget amendments are currently being considered by the conference committee on the budget. These budget amendments, from providing funds for more judges to funding critical health care services, were included in the Senate Budget and will help provide real solutions to several issues in the 36th district.

My amendments now part of the Senate budget are:

  • $250,000 to eliminate waiting lists for personal assistance services to individuals with disabilities.

  • $100,000 restored funding for participation in the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.

  • $300,000 to fund the “Virginia Values Veterans” program, which encourages employers to hire veterans.

  • Funding to unfreeze two circuit court judgeships in the 19th Judicial Circuit in Fairfax County.

  • Funding for one general district judgeship in the 19th Judicial Circuit in Fairfax County.