In the second week of this year’s General Assembly, Governor Youngkin gave his State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the House of Delegates and Senate, and we began serious work on over 2,000 bills.
While I was pleased that Governor Youngkin said he wants all Virginians to get vaccinated for COVID-19, supports a Chesapeake Bay cleanup and ending raw sewage discharges into the James River, he also advocated for many policies that many people of the 36th Senate District do not support, policies like charter schools and funding cuts to schools and our transportation.
Senate committees advanced several of my bills recently.
The Transportation Committee approved my legislation to require police officers to advise drivers why they have stopped the driver’s vehicle before requesting the driver’s license and registration. When police stop a car, drivers can often become anxious and upset and believe they were not violating any law. This happened to one of my constituents recently and her incident escalated into an arrest for driving while intoxicated. She submitted to a breath test which showed she had no alcohol on her breath and the Commonwealth’s Attorney asked for the charges to be dropped. The entire episode would have been avoided if the officer had told her the basis for her stop. The full Senate will debate this bill this week.
Another bill would allow child accident victims to invest proceeds from injury settlements and use the funds for college, trade school or registered apprenticeship programs in what is called Virginia’s 529 Program. Under current law, settlements are either invested in certificates of deposit or restrictive annuities approved by a judge.
Another bill I introduced would create a new Circuit Court judgeship in Prince William County. Prince William is now the second largest jurisdiction in Virginia and it takes 18 months to get a hearing date for civil cases like family law matters, business disputes or personal injury. All other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia address these cases in fewer than 12 months.
The Judiciary Committee approved my legislation that extends the Supreme Court of Virginia’s judicial review program to retired judges who continue to hear cases and allows the legislature to decertify any judges who have problems. Today, retired judges can continue to hear cases and there is no formal program to obtain objective feedback on their performance or initiate their removal.
I also introduced several budget amendments of local interest. I am proposing to repurpose the $2 million that Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Paul Krizek and Del. Mark Sickles secured for River Farm last year to purchase River Farm and use it as a grant program to improve public access to the property. I have requested $5 million to connect Pohick Bay Regional Park to public water and another $5.4 million to fund water and sewer lines for permanent outdoor restrooms at all Fairfax County Public School stadiums. One of the wealthiest counties in America should have permanent restrooms at these community facilities.
I have suggested that we use funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARPA) to eliminate our $250 million state park maintenance backlog at parks like Mason Neck and general funds to complete the Phase II and Phase III buildout at Widewater State Park in Stafford County. I have also requested $200,000 to continue Good Shepherd Housing’s services to families receiving government aid that was started this year.
Over 70 constituents attended our Mount Vernon-Lee Town Hall on Saturday and I have town hall meetings scheduled with other delegates and senators for Lorton, Occoquan/Woodbridge and Dumfries/Montclair. Please see www.scottsurovell.org and my Facebook and Twitter pages for more details. I look forward to discussing your concerns and answering your questions.
Please send me any feedback at email@example.com. It is an honor to serve you in the Virginia Senate.