The pace of work in the General Assembly has accelerated this week. The House of Delegates has passed 184 bills since the start of the session on Jan. 11. Many more have been approved in committees and are headed to the House floor. While it’s common for the news to report partisan differences and acrimony in politics, especially in Washington, the vast majority of the bills passed by the House so far passed unanimously or nearly so. You can review my votes on the House floor and in committee at http://services.dlas.virginia.gov/webservices/frmLISVotIng1.aspx. Be sure to select my name from the drop down menu.
As you may remember from my message last week, I introduced 15 bills for the 2017 session. Several are advancing in different committees.
HB 2136, introduced at the request of Governor McAuliffe, would establish a federally-mandated interstate compact with Washington, D.C. and Maryland, which would provide for safety oversight of the Washington Metrorail system. This bill was approved in a transportation subcommittee and will be considered by the full Transportation Committee next week. HJ 617 was also approved by a subcommittee and will go to the full committee. It calls for significant revisions to the legal arrangement that governs Metro, to provide for needed financial stability, better safety and other operational improvements.
HB 2139 was referred to the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability. I am a member of this commission. The bill would require VDOT to discuss information regarding how well variable price tolling is reducing congestion on the Beltway and I-95. It became clear from testimony on the bill that VDOT might not have much to report. This revelation was rather surprising, and the commission will take a more detailed look into the issue. Variable toll pricing has been promoted as a way to add capacity and reduce congestion on interstate highways. It’s important that data be available to verify how well (or not so well) variable price tolling is working.
HB 1498 reduces the maximum allowable class size for students in elementary schools to 29 or fewer students anywhere in Virginia. It was approved by the Education Committee, and is now pending in the Appropriations Committee to determine how the related requirement for additional teachers can be funded. I’d like to thank the many parents in our area who are lobbying in favor of this bill.
Another education bill, HB 2140, was approved in subcommittee. This bill would establish a pilot program in five school divisions to provide an exit questionnaire for teachers who leave their school division. There is a concern by many in the General Assembly about the rate of teacher turnover, but little quantitative evidence to aid in understanding the reasons. This pilot program would be a first step in providing needed information.
Five bills I introduced related to expanding public access to government records and meetings through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act were approved in a subcommittee. These are HB 1539, HB 1540, HB 2143, HB 2144, and HB 2146.
Please feel free to call my attention to bills of interest to you. I may be reached at 703-264-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Calls will be forwarded to my Richmond office.