Commentary: Preparing Bills for New Session in Virginia

Commentary: Preparing Bills for New Session in Virginia

Monday was the first day to prefile legislation for the 2018 General Assembly Session. I have already filed two bills. The first is to repeal 2012 legislation from Barbara Comstock when she was a state delegate that banned the use of Private Labor Agreements (PLAs) on state contracts. My second bill is one I patroned last year from West Potomac student Jonathan Tucker to require all passengers in a vehicle to use their seatbelts.

This is just the first week and there will be thousands of bills drafted and filed in the days leading up to the next General Assembly Session, but let me take a minute to explain why PLAs are so important.

PLAs create career paths for women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented populations. Developing qualified workers in the building trades, and including people who historically were underrepresented in those trades, has a positive long-term economic benefit for the individuals who receive the jobs and for the construction industry as a whole.

Using PLAs — as we did on the 395 Express Lanes and the initial Silver Line Metro expansion — provides uniform wages, benefits, overtime pay, standard hours, working conditions, and work rules for work on major construction projects, and provide contractors with a reliable and uninterrupted supply of qualified workers at predictable costs.

It also ensures that a project will be completed on time and on budget due to the supply of qualified labor and relative ease of project management and makes large projects easier to manage by placing unions under one contract, the PLA, rather than dealing with several unions that may have different wage and benefit structures.

Using PLAs will also reduce the misclassification of workers and the related underpayment of payroll taxes, workers compensation, and other requirements, which lets a larger percentage of construction wages stay in state.

In addition to my legislation, Democrats announced several day-one bills to “return power to the people,” to use the words of Democratic Leader David Toscano, highlighting the important themes of transparency and good government.

Del. Marcus Simon and Delegate-elect Kelly Fowler are introducing a bill to ban the personal use of campaign funds.

Del. Rip Sullivan and Delegate-elect Wendy Gooditis are introducing a bill on nonpartisan redistricting reform.

Del. Mike Mullin and Delegate-elect Dawn Adams are introducing a bill to make the General District Court database a public record (it is currently only searchable by individual case).

Del. Sam Rasoul and Delegate-elect Cheryl Turpin, a Mount Vernon native, are introducing a bill to ban credit agencies from charging people for freezing their credit reports.

Stay tuned for more information and important legislation to follow in the coming weeks from House Democrats, which now have at least 49 members.