As this week is Crossover, the midpoint of our Legislative session, I wanted to share with you some good news. Our bipartisan efforts to address the opioid epidemic have led to some movement on the issue. In 2015, 880 Virginians died from opioid-induced overdoses. Preliminary figures for 2016 indicate deaths have increased to 1,100. At more than three deaths per day, this is more than the total number of Virginians killed in auto accidents each year. The tragedy in this is that many people become addicted without even knowing it, and that addiction can lead to death. The House passed 17 bills, all of which are designed to address this problem without criminalizing people, in the absence of criminal activity, who become addicts.
I also worked closely with member of the Appropriations Committee to secure a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. While I asked initially for a 10 percent increase, I am glad the General Assembly realizes the need to do what it can despite a critical $1.25 billion budget shortfall.
I continue to fight for increasing teacher salaries and providing more monies for K-12 in the budget. We will have a full floor debate on those issues later this week.
I am sorry to report that my bill to encourage recycling options for Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) failed to report out of committee. Despite having bipartisan support, my legislation fell victim to the reality of hectic scheduling, as 4 yes votes were absent from the hearing. While there was a motion to report the bill, the votes were 10-10 and it failed to progress. I will bring this legislation back next year.
I welcome your feedback as the session progresses. Please send me an email at email@example.com or come visit me in Richmond. It is an honor to serve you in Richmond and I look forward to visiting with you at one of my two town meetings on Feb. 11.