The 2016 General Assembly session concluded in Richmond on Friday evening. We will reconvene for a single day session on April 20 to consider any vetoes or amendments proposed by Governor McAuliffe.
The next regular session will begin in January 2017.
A total of 907 bills passed the House and Senate. Many have already been approved by the Governor; a few have been amended or vetoed. Of these 907 bills, 21 were introduced by me and five of these have already been signed into law. Most of the bills I introduced pertain to transportation, education, and ensuring government transparency and accountability while reducing government waste and inefficiency. All of the 21 bills that passed did so with bipartisan votes. I’m pleased to report that 21 bills represents the most bills passed by a member of the House or Senate during the 2016 session.
The last action item on Friday was passage of the 2016-2018 state budget. Unlike the way the federal government operates, Virginia has a balanced budget. There are no new taxes or fees. We are not accumulating debt to be paid by future generations of Virginians.
The budget represents a compromise between the House and Senate, and includes bringing more money back to Northern Virginia for transportation and education. Fairfax County and Loudoun County public schools will receive record amounts of state funding during the next two years. Funds are included in the budget to widen I-66 inside the Beltway eastbound from Rt. 7 to Ballston, including fixing the merge with the Dulles Toll Road, as well as widening I-66 outside the Beltway. Even so, the General Fund, which pays for these and other government operations, is five percent smaller than 10 years ago, taking inflation and population growth into account. This is accomplished by continual focus on government efficiency.
The General Assembly also filled two court vacancies. Stephen McCullough was elected to the Virginia Supreme Court and Mary Bennett Malveaux was elected to the Court of Appeals.
Now that the session is finished, I’ll continue with some “off season” responsibilities, including chairing the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council, which is undergoing a review Virginia’s open government laws. I also serve on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee, which focuses on statewide education standards and testing. I serve as vice-chair of the Code Commission, which is responsible for publishing Virginia’s law books, as well as recommending the deletion of obsolete laws and clarifications to laws that are unclear.
I expect to announce a date for a town hall meeting in the near future to provide more details about the 2016 session and answer questions.
It is a privilege for me to sit in your chair, work at your desk, speak on your behalf and do all of the other things required of a state legislator. Nearly 397 years ago the Virginia House of Delegates held its first meeting in Jamestown, known then as the House of Burgesses. We live in a time of rough and tumble politics and acrimony, particularly in presidential campaigns. It is my objective, shared by many other Virginia legislators of both parties that the legislative body in which democracy in America was first formed in the 17th century be an example of democracy in America at its best in the 21st century. I hope you will let me know how we are doing in this regard, in addition to sharing your views on specific public policy matters.
As always, please feel free to contact me by phone at 703-264-1432 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.