National Drug Take Back Day – April 29, 2017

Please support our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse by disposing of any unneeded or expired drugs in an environmentally safe manner.  Drugs flushed down the toilet can be released into waterways.

Take part in National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  There are two locations convenient to 83rd House District residents:

Norfolk
Norfolk Police, 3rd Division Front Entrance
901 Asbury Ave., Norfolk, VA  23513

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach Police, 3rd Precinct
926 Independence Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA  23455

What Can You Turn In?

  • All prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Vitamins
  • Veterinary medications
  • Liquid medication in sealed containers
  • Loose pills in sealed bags

 

2017 Virginia General Assembly Highlights

We commenced the 2017 General Assembly facing a $1.2 billion state budget shortfall and over 2,900 bills and resolutions to review.  I am pleased to report that after working tirelessly to strengthen Virginia’s economy to help middle class families, improve our education system so all children can succeed, and chart a responsible fiscal course for the future, we adjourned the 2017 General Assembly on time on Saturday.

In just 46 days we not only closed the budget shortfall, but also provided our valued state police, state employees and teachers with raises, passed major initiatives geared towards stimulating economic growth, improving education, making college more affordable and attacking the opioid crisis.  

I also carried several pieces of legislation and introduced budget amendments aimed at addressing our region’s need to adapt to flooding, provide mental health support for psychiatric patients, protect young children from substance abuse, restore inflation inpatient hospital payments to CHKD, and restore funds for care coordination for our senior citizens.

I continue to focus my efforts on offering a positive governing vision for our Commonwealth.  I have included a short summary of key highlights  by subject  to provide you with a  general session overview.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5th to take action on any budget item or bill amended or vetoed by the Governor.

We are now back in the district office, so please call my district telephone at (757) 633-2080 or email me at delcstolle@house.virginia.gov should you need assistance with a state agency or would like to share your thoughts on an issue.  I also invite you to connect with me on social media or visit my website at https://ChrisStolle.com.

It is an honor and a privilege to represent you in the House of Delegates.

Warm Regards,

 

The most important task of the General Assembly is crafting the two year state budget. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I can tell you that this session was especially challenging to pass a state budget that not closed the $1.2 billion shortfall, but also used your taxpayer dollars wisely by investing in the core functions of state government. I am happy to report that the House of Delegates passed a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced amended budget protects precious taxpayer resources and funds core services. Here are the highlights of the amended 2016-2018 state budget: - The budget does not contain any tax or fee increases on hardworking Virginians. - 3% salary increase for state employees - We are investing over $18 million in new funding for K-12 more than Governor McAuliffe proposed. Our funding also gives local school divisions added flexibility to spend the money as best fits them. - We’ve secured $32 million for a 2% teacher pay raise, with no local match required, effective February 2018. - We are providing over $20 million in new funding for higher education to hold down tuition costs for Virginia families. - We are making strategic investments in economic development, but adding additional oversight to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. - $32.2 million to strengthen the delivery of mental health services through the expansion of the GAP program, same day arrest, and supportive housing.

Improving our public education system is a top priority for the House of Delegates. We remain committed to supporting our world-class public education system. That is why a 2% teacher pay raise was a priority in this year’s budget. There is also room for innovation is the classroom so all students can learn in a way that best fits their needs. The House passed legislation to create Education Savings Accounts for parents and took steps to finalize the establishment of Virginia’s virtual school. This legislation, combined with our investments in public schools, will help make sure all children have the opportunity to succeed. While most Virginia students attend a good school, some are still being left behind. We are committed to maintaining Virginia’s strong K-12 system, and working to give all children the opportunities in education they deserve by enacting reforms in public education, promoting choice and flexibility, and encouraging early childhood education. Some of the education initiatives passed this session include: - Establishing the Virginia Virtual School to allow students to take K-12 coursework online that is not offered locally. - Awarding verified units of credit for a satisfactory score on the PSAT exam. - Allowing any individual who has obtained a valid out-of-state teachers license reciprocity with Virginia. - Awarding students partial credit for correct answers on multipart Standards of Learning assessment questions. - Establishing a policy for granting undergraduate general education course credit to any entering freshman student who has successfully completed a dual enrollment course. - Broadening eligibility for the Two-Year college Transfer Grant Program by including more low-income students. - Establishing the Online Virginia Network for the delivery of each online course, degree program, and credential program offered by a public institution of higher education.

To help strengthen Virginia’s economy, the House of Delegates advanced several major pieces of legislation aimed at fostering private-sector economic growth, promoting a positive, pro-business climate, and protecting small businesses through regulatory reform. We are also leading the effort to review Virginia’s economic development spending to ensure that we are maximizing the effectiveness of your tax dollars. Key jobs, opportunity and economic growth legislations passed includes: - Making changes to the Small Business Investment Grant Fund to make it easier for investor applicants to qualify for grants and provide more benefits for investor applicants. - Reducing the minimum percentage of revenues that a small business must derive from out-of-state services from 50% to 35% in order to be eligible for grants from the Small Business Jobs Grant Fund Program. - Granting localities authority to create economic revitalization zones to provide incentives to entities to purchase properties. - Reforming the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority to ensure the Commonwealth has an efficient economic development organization.

In December 2016, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), a state watchdog agency, issued a report entitled “Managing Spending in Virginia Medicaid Program”. This JLARC report highlighted tens of millions of dollars spent unnecessarily on Medicaid, made 35 recommendations for improvements to Virginia’s Medicaid system, and confirmed that Medicaid is a broken system that needs reform. An overburdened Medicaid system results in lower quality care and access for patients. While we continue to reform our Medicaid system, we also passed legislation this session that creates a new innovative healthcare delivery model between patients and doctors that establishes direct primary care agreements. The House of Delegates also passed legislation to establish a uniform framework for determining the value of charity care and requires health care providers required to provide charity care or to contribute to the charity care fund to report their provider data to the Commonwealth.

Attracting and retaining public safety professionals is paramount to providing public safety to our citizens. Therefore, the budget includes $14.6 million to raise the starting salary of state police officers and provide a $6,793 increase to current state troopers. Sheriff's offices and regional jails are also allocated $7.3 million to provide a compression adjustment for employees. With more than 12 million people impacted by domestic violence each year and recidivism rates as high was 40% in some studies, the House of Delegates continued its commitment to empowering and protecting women. More than 36 pieces of legislation aimed at combatting domestic violence has been passed by the House of Delegates in the past 10 years. This session, legislation is also awaiting the Governor's signature that will give protective order protectees with a provisional concealed carry permit and will provide protective order protectees with firearms safety training courses. The passed budget also includes investments in providing crisis, trauma and advocacy services throughout the Commonwealth.

The Governor's proposed budget presented to the General Assembly in December 2016 omitted allocations that support both the district's and the entire region's citizens. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I introduced and advocated for budget amendments that: - Provide partial funding for the Commonwealth's share of a 3 x 3 x 3 study by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The name stands for 3 years, $3 Million and 3 levels of Corps Review. Our Commonwealth had a number of authorized Corps Projects but now we don’t have any left, these 3x3x3 studies will make new recommendations for that the Commonwealth needs to gain federal funding for flooding projects. - Restores payment of an inflation adjustment in inpatient hospital payments to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in fiscal year 2018. - Restores funding for Care Coordination for the Elderly Virginians Program. The restoration of funds supports the Southeastern Senior Services Center and other programs throughout the Commonwealth. I carried two pieces of legislation aimed at combatting the opioid crisis. My resolution, HJ745, establishes the Substance-Exposed Infant Awareness week as the first week in July of each year to raise awareness of the impact of substance abuse on our youngest citizens. HB1786 provides family support and protection for infants who are believed to have been exposed to a controlled substance in utero. The bill provides that if a local department of social services receives a report or complaint of suspected child abuse or neglect on the basis of one or more of the aforementioned factors, the local department shall (a) conduct a family assessment, unless an investigation is required by law or is necessary to protect the safety of the child, and (b) develop a plan of safe care in accordance with federal law. The bill directs the State Board of Social Services to promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of the bill. I am pleased to report that the Governor sign HB1786 on February 23, 2017. I introduced HB1877 to provide hospital in-patient psychiatric patients with increased support for transitioning outside the emergency room environment. Requires the Board of Health to promulgate regulations that require each hospital that provides inpatient psychiatric services to establish a protocol that (i) requires, for any refusal to admit a medically stable patient referred to its psychiatric unit, direct verbal communication between the on-call physician in the psychiatric unit and the referring physician, if requested by the referring physician, and (ii) prohibits on-call physicians or other hospital staff from refusing a request for such direct verbal communication by a referring physician. To protect confidentiality, I introduced HB1840 at the request of the Department of Health. This bill states that the results of every test to determine infection with human immunodeficiency virus shall be confidential. Such information may only be released only persons or entities permitted or authorized to obtain protected health information under any applicable federal or state law. When a local coin dealer contacted me to ask me to introduce a bill that will allow Virginians Exempts legal tender coins whose total transaction sales price exceeds $1,000 from sales and use tax and extends from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2022, the same exemption for gold, silver, or platinum bullion. This bill creates opportunity for Virginia to host much larger trade shows and helps Virginia's small business coin dealers much more competitive in our global economy. It is always especially meaningful to pass legislation that resolves an issue directly impacting constituents and to have constituents make the effort to come testify before committee hearings in Richmond. HB1796 places an end to an issue that has gone on for a few years that has create an impasse between watermen and homeowners. Certain oyster ground leaseholders in the Lynnhaven River are subject to the conduct of approved municipal dredging projects to restore existing navigation channels. The bill limits such projects to oyster grounds that are condemned, restricted, or otherwise nonproductive, and it requires the locality to compensate the lessee for the use of the ground. As the Chair of the General Assembly's Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding, I assisted other members of the committee with advanced legislation that will assist the region in flooding adaption and will directly impact homeowners who take steps to adapt their property by taking steps to reduce their flood risk. My bill to create a Coastal Protection and Flooding Adaption Office advanced through the committee process but was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee to its limited fiscal impact. While I am disappointed that in this tight budget year, the bill was not advanced, I will continue my commitment and advocacy for a more flood ready Commonwealth.

Virginia Beach City Council to hear veterans care center presentation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — City council members will hear more about a proposed veterans care center Tuesday.

The 141,000-square-foot building is one of two new facilities that the Virginia Department of Veterans Services plans to build in the commonwealth. The other facility will be in Northern Virginia. Similar care centers already are open in Richmond and Fauquier County.

The Hampton Roads Veterans Care Center will feature 120 beds in private rooms and will sit on 26 acres located in the Princess Anne Commons Biomedical Corridor. The property is across West Neck Road from the municipal center.

The care center will have to ability to provide residents with a “home-like” atmosphere, skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation.

It will be divided into twelve 10-bed “homes” and employ approximately 150 people.

Frank Drew, who is a Vietnam veteran, told 13News Now it doesn’t bother him that the facility will be built right by his house. He’s just happy veterans are getting more help.

“Don’t care about the traffic. Don’t care about the noise. I don’t care that it’s on my property line. Let them build it. They can build it all the way down and all the way across. I’d love to see it,” he said.

He also hopes it will help alleviate long wait times at the Hampton VA Medical Center.

“To get a doctor’s appointment, it sometimes took 3 to 6 months. I just heard some nightmares– sitting over there waiting for care for people that are in far, far worse shape than I was ever in,” he said.

In a statement the Hampton VA said the following about the care center:

“For several years Hampton Roads has experienced one of fastest growing veteran populations in the nation. It is exciting to see the expansion of Veteran services in the Hampton Roads area. The approval of the State Veteran Care Center is a major step in assuring that long-term care and special needs of our Veterans are met in years to come.”

City council will vote on March 7 whether to transfer the 26 acres of land from Virginia Beach to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

A public information session will be held on March 13 at Kellam High School from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m.

If things stay on track, a groundbreaking is planned for October with an opening to come in late 2019 after an extension to Nimmo Parkway is complete.

Statement by Speaker William J. Howell

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced Monday that he will not seek re-election. Howell’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.

Since the House has returned to the Morning Hour, I ask the members to indulge me a moment while I take this opportunity to share some news.

Serving in this esteemed body which is the Virginia House of Delegates for the last 30 years has been a distinct privilege. Likewise, serving as the Speaker of the House for 15 years now truly has been the greatest professional honor of my life.

While I obviously will miss all of you and while I will always look back with only fondness at every day I served here, I have decided that I will not be seeking re-election to the House.

Cessie and I are so grateful for the opportunity that we have had to serve. There truly are no words to fully describe the joy and fulfillment we have received from this incredible opportunity for public service. But, we also know there is much more joy and fulfillment to come, albeit differently and beyond Capitol Square and this body. We are blessed to have two good sons and seven energetic grandkids. We have our youth! And, we cannot wait to take some time together to travel, spend more time with our family and, frankly, just to relax together.

The House of Delegates truly is an historic institution. I love it dearly. I believe it represents the hope, enduring strength and resiliency of our exciting and ongoing experiment in representative self-government.

If America is a shining city on a hill, then our Virginia House of Delegates is the brightest light atop the highest tower.

As a Delegate and as Speaker, I always have tried to serve in a manner worthy of that stature.

I believe the Office of Speaker rises above partisan politics. This is an institutional role, with constitutional and other attendant obligations that transcend the fractured moments that often drive our politics.

I also always have tried to be open, accessible and, most of all, fair.

When I became Speaker in 2003, I pledged to lead this historic chamber with the honor and integrity it deserves and to faithfully uphold the dignity of this constitutional office.

Throughout my tenure, when faced with difficult decisions that go along with this Office, I have strived to reflect those enduring values. And, in practice, I always sought to put what’s good for the whole institution, and all that it represents, ahead of any other interest.

I pray you will judge my time as Speaker on that more than anything.

When I accepted the Speaker’s gavel, I reminded myself and others that what kind of people we are, and how we treat one another, is as important as the bills we pass and the laws we make. May we never lose sight of this worthy aspiration.

Like you, I understand that our mission is so much larger than ourselves. Ultimately, our purpose is continuing to fulfill the four-century-old mission of Virginia – preserving human freedom and advancing opportunities for all.

So today, I hope you join me in taking pride in everything that this body – Republicans and Democrats working together more often than not – has accomplished over the last 15 years. The House of Delegates has been a stable and consistent factor in reforming and improving state government for the past decade. Our shared enterprises, through difficult and good times alike, has made our Commonwealth stronger and more prosperous. And together, I believe we have enhanced the lives and livelihoods of our fellow citizens we are so privileged to represent and serve.

Now and always, I am optimistic that this House – the oldest continuous representative law-making body in the New World – will continue to inspire and fulfill the enormous potential of Virginia’s bright future.

So, I will close by saying from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I am so grateful for the trust and faith you placed in me 15 years ago. And, I appreciate that you have continued to maintain that trust in me. The many friendships that have made here over almost 30 years are worth more than any bill I have ever championed or passed. I am proud to know you all and honored to serve with each of you.

All of you are very talented individuals and highly capable leaders. You are valuable parts of something much bigger than any one of us. So, it is easier for me to make this announcement now and to leave next year knowing that this institution will continue to thrive.

Thank you. May God Bless you. May God Bless our great country and wonderful Commonwealth. And, may God continue to Bless this historic House of Delegates.

House of Delegates passes amended 2016-2018 state budget

– The Virginia House of Delegates passed an amended two-year state budget Thursday that includes no tax or fee increases, takes steps to secure the future of state employees, and makes strategic investments in K-12 and higher education. The budget goes beyond Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to include a full pay raise for state employees, additional investments in public education, and ensures oversight and transparency in economic development. The budget bill, HB1500, passed the House 98 to 2.

“The budget passed today is a reflection of the priorities of the House of Delegates,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).  “The investments into public safety, K-12 and higher education, the healthcare safety net, and economic development demonstrates that the House of Delegates is leading on the important issues facing Virginians.  This budget also goes a long way toward securing a better and brighter future for our state employees.  I want to thank Chairman Jones, Vice-Chairman Landes, and the entire Appropriations Committee for their hard work on producing this budget.”

“The House passed a strong conservative budget that invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer dollars,” said Majority Leader M. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).  “Our budget will give state employees a much-needed pay raise, help make college more affordable, give localities flexibility in K-12 education, and help spur private-sector economic growth across the Commonwealth. While Washington drowns in debts and deficits, Virginia is leading the way on budgeting responsibly.”

Commenting on the passage, House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said, “Throughout last year’s revenue shortfall and continuing into this year, our goal has been to produce a structurally balanced budget that responsibly invests in the core functions of government. Our budget meets both of those goals. The budget we passed will secure the future of state employees, provide local education leaders with much-needed flexibility, hold down the cost of higher education and strengthen our healthcare safety net.”

“The House is governing on important issues like education, healthcare, and domestic violence. The budget that passed today makes important investments while remaining balanced and protecting taxpayers.  Our budget rejects Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and instead replaces it with funding to provide critical health care safety net services to the neediest Virginians.  We are building on our previous investment. This is the right approach for the Commonwealth.” said House Appropriations Vice-Chairman Steve Landes (R-Augusta).

Governor McAuliffe Announces First Veteran Hire Facilitated by Virginia’s Military Medics & Corpsmen Program

The first state program of its kind in the nation assists transitioning veterans and transitioning medics and corpsmen to find employment in healthcare fields

RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced the first veteran hire facilitated by Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen Program (MMAC). The Governor proposed the legislation for the program using the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) Program, as a model. MMAC, is a two-year pilot program which allows recently discharged veterans and transitioning medics and corpsmen to perform certain medical procedures under the supervision of a physician or podiatrist at major healthcare systems across the Commonwealth. 

“With the fastest growing veteran population in the Nation, Virginia is full of talent and tremendous skill sets that must be utilized to grow the workforce and economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Healthcare is projected to be the largest employment sector of the U.S. economy, and Virginia wants to ensure that we attract and retain as many of the over 11,000 medics and corpsmen that transition out of the military every year as we can. This innovative program creates an immediate pathway to jobs for veterans and provides a talent pool for our healthcare providers as they work to find the best and brightest in a growing industry.”

The program is authorized by legislation (HB825-Stolle) and passed the Virginia General Assembly with tremendous support. It focuses on a solution that addresses healthcare staffing shortages and boosts veteran hiring. Army medics, Navy and Coast Guard corpsmen, and Air Force medical technicians receive extensive and valuable healthcare training while on active duty. When they transition to civilian life, their military healthcare training often does not translate into comparable certifications or licenses required for civilian healthcare jobs. Many medically trained veterans often struggle to find unemployment and cannot apply their skills in the civilian healthcare sector. 

“MMAC facilitates veteran hiring and helps this pool of uniquely qualified veterans keep their clinical skills current while obtaining their civilian credentials and continuing their medical education,” said John C. Harvey, Jr., Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “MMAC meets the urgent health care needs being faced throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services recruits and screens candidates worldwide and assists with job placement. The hiring decisions, general scope of practice, and potential credentialing and educational opportunities are determined by the MMAC partner healthcare systems. Memoranda of Agreement have already been signed with two partners: Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.  Agreements are pending with Carilion Clinic, Inova Health System, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Sentara.

“Chesapeake Regional Healthcare (CRH) was the first MMAC Partner healthcare system to begin accepting MMAC Program candidates and is proud to be the first to benefit from the program. Our first hire, Jeffrey Filler, served as a Navy Corpsman and will capitalize on the exceptional skill set he earned in the United States Navy by serving as an Anesthesia Technician at CRH while seeking his civilian credentials in this field,” noted Dr. Alton Stocks, Former Interim Chief Executive Officer of CRH and previous U.S. Navy Medical Corps Officer.

To find out more, visit www.dvs.virginia.gov, or click here to learn more details about the MMAC Program.

 

House of Delegates proposes balanced budget that invests in core functions of government

~ Budget proposal contains no tax or fee increases ~

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Appropriations proposed an amended two-year state budget Sunday that includes no tax or fee increases, takes steps to secure the future of state employees, and makes strategic investments in K-12 and higher education. The proposed budget goes beyond Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to include a full pay raise for state employees, additional investments in public education, and ensures oversight and transparency in economic development. Chairman Jones outlined the House’s priorities Sunday afternoon. The House will vote on the proposed budget on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

“The House budget is a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced budget. When it comes to budgeting, the House of Delegates has long practiced fiscal responsibility, charting a prudent and cautious course.  Our budget invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk).  “The steps we proposed will secure the future of state employees, provide local education leaders with much-needed flexibility, hold down the cost of higher education and strengthen our healthcare safety net. This budget is built off of input and feedback from all members of the House and reflects the priorities of the citizens we represent.”

“The House of Delegates is laying out a fiscally responsible future for Virginia.  The budget proposal released today builds on the House’s longstanding commitment to conservative budgeting,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “The investments in education, health care and public safety will improve the lives of our citizens and make Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family. I want to thank Chairman Jones, Vice-Chairman Landes, and the entire Appropriations Committee for their hard work in preparing this budget.”

The House budget addresses the problems with Virginia’s economic development model. The House instead emphasizes transparency, accountability and oversight by directing funds through GO Virginia.

“Growing Virginia’s economy is our number one priority.  This budget maintains that commitment, but increases accountability and oversight in order to protect taxpayer’s dollars,” said Majority Leader M. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “We are restoring the funds that were cut to GO Virginia. Our steps in this budget will yield long-term positive results for the Commonwealth.”

The budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and it restores the Stanley Amendment which requires General Assembly approval before expanding Medicaid. Instead, the House continues to strengthen the health care safety net. The House will invest $28.5 million for substance abuse treatment, to expand eligibility for the GAP program, and create new waiver slots to address the critical waiting list.

“It is now clear that Virginia made the right choice not to expand Medicaid. Instead of expanding a broken and costly government-run system, the House is taking real steps to invest in the healthcare safety net to meet the needs of Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said House Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta).

In addition to the investments in the state retirement system, the House budget also invests in Virginia’s hard working state employees.

“The budget we unveiled today secures the future of state employees,” said Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico).  “We are proposing a three percent pay raise for state employees, and a 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees. We also set aside funding to implement the recommendations of Speaker Howell’s Commission on State Employee Retirement Security and Pension Reform.  Our state employees are dedicated public servants. This investment will make it easier to attract and retain high quality employees.”

The House calls for new funding for K-12 education, exceeding Governor McAuliffe’s proposal by nearly $15 million.  The House budget also provides added flexibility by restoring over $218 million in lottery proceeds.  These funds are sent back to local school divisions with fewer strings attached than other funding. The House budget also includes $20 million to hold tuition increases.

“It is important to invest in education, because that is also an investment into Virginia’s future,” said Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun). “Our budget proposal ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent in the classroom, not in more bureaucracy, and it allows localities the flexibility to meet the unique needs of their school system.”

“Virginia has the best system of public higher education in the country and great private colleges,” said Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico). “The House of Delegates has taken specific steps in recent years to address the rising cost of college, increasing funding for financial aid and prioritizing in-state students.  The $20 million investment we are making this biennium will help offset tuition increases, leaving more money in the pockets of hard working Virginia families.”

2016-2018 Amended House Budget Proposal

Key Takeaways

  • The House budget is a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced budget; general fund spending has decreased by 5% over 10 years when adjusted for population and inflation
  • Exceeds the Governor’s investment in K-12 education by nearly $15 million while increasing flexibility for local schools and reducing tax burden on local government
  • Invests in higher education to limit tuition increases
  • Makes strategic and targeted investments in economic development while emphasizing accountability and oversight
  • Funds a comprehensive package to combat domestic violence, including additional funding for prevention, treatment and counseling services
  • Builds on previous efforts to strengthen the health care safety net, creating new additional waiver slots
  • Invests in Virginia’s hardworking state employees by providing a 3% pay raise and invests in our State Police by providing a salary increase.

Public Safety

  • Provides $14.6 million in funds to raise the starting salary of Virginia State Police to $43,000. All sworn troopers will receive a $6,793 salary increase.
  • Provides funds to raise the starting salary of the Division of Capitol Police to $42,750. All sworn personnel will receive a $4,355 salary increase
  • $7.3 million is given to provide a compression adjustment for employees in sheriffs’ offices and regional jails.

Flexibility in K-12 Education

  • The House budget proposal exceeds the Governor’s investment in K-12 education by nearly $13 million, but gives localities much needed flexibility by re-establishing the lottery proceeds distribution.
  • Invests $15 billion for direct aid to public education.
  • Re-establishes the lottery proceeds distribution, sending $218.7 million back to localities with almost no strings attached.  This sends 40% of lottery proceeds back to local schools, which was the policy prior to 2010.
  • Establishes the 10-10-10 plan to support smaller school divisions with declining enrollment. That sends an additional $9 million to rural schools.

Making College More Affordable

  • The House budget proposal builds on our continued effort to make college more affordable for Virginia families and includes $20 million more than Governor McAuliffe proposed for higher education funding.

Economic Development

  • The House budget funds strategic and targeted investments in economic development, while promoting increased accountability and oversight in coordination with our legislative priorities.
  • Restores $7.5 million in funds to GO Virginia that was cut by Governor McAuliffe

Combatting Domestic Violence

  • The House budget complements the House’s legislative efforts to prevent and combat domestic violence.
  • Includes $1.5 million to expand domestic violence prevention, treatment and counseling programs and services for women and children.
  • Allows drawdown of $6 million in federal funding match

Stronger Healthcare Safety Net

  • The House budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and restores the Stanley amendment that prohibits the Governor from expanding Medicaid without consent of the General Assembly.
  • The House budget invests $28.5 million to build a stronger healthcare safety net, including funding for substance abuse treatment, and increases eligibility for the GAP program to 100% of FPL, which will cover 3,000 individuals.
  • Creates 100 new DD waiver slots.

Investing in Our State Employees

  • Includes $70.2 million for a 3% pay raise for state employees. The Governor’s budget proposal provided a 1.5% bonus.
  • The budget also sets aside funds to implement the findings and recommendations of Speaker Howell’s Commission on State Employee Retirement Security and Pension Reform.
    • $200,000 for JLARC to complete a total compensation study of all state employees
    • $140,000 for state agencies to incorporate succession planning in their agency strategic plans
    • Establishes $1.5 million in administrative funding for VRS to begin the implementation of a new optional defined contribution retirement plan.

Opioids Package Passes the House

If you’ve watched the news over the last 6 months, you’ve no doubt heard about the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across Virginia. No city or county has been untouched. While the Department of Health is still evaluating the numbers, Virginia is on track to meet the Health Department’s projections of over 1,000 fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, the highest in the history of the Commonwealth.

This week Delegate Todd Pillion (R-Washington) spoke on the house floor about that gravity of the situation. He shared the many House bills we are advocating to address the various aspects of this epidemic to include: creating a workgroup to identify resources to help substance-exposed infants, developing core competencies and standards for our health professionals in training, and directing the Board of Medicine and Dentistry to develop regulations on the prescribing of opioids including dosage limits, treatment plans and Prescription Monitoring Program utilization.

I am pleased to report that I introduced two pieces of legislation to  address the substance-abuse crisis have also passed.

 

 

Legislation to create Virginia coastal office gaining ground

Legislation that would create a new Cabinet-level position for coastal flooding and adaptation to better coordinate Virginia’s response to sea-level rise is making some headway during the General Assembly session.

The House version, by Del. Christopher P. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, was reported out of the Committee on General Laws to the Appropriations Committee last week.

The companion Senate version, by Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr., D-Accomack, was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The bills would create the secretary of coastal protection and flooding adaptation, an office designed to “be the lead in providing direction, ensuring accountability, and developing a statewide coastal flooding adaptation strategy,” as well as being responsible for identifying sources of funding for coastal protection projects, the legislation says.

“I think that (Hurricane) Matthew was a wake-up for a lot of us. A lot of the damage was done in areas that were not in flood zones,” Stolle said.

“We are at risk. We need a statewide approach to address this issue.”

As of Jan. 10, the National Flood Insurance Program had paid out $46.8 million to 2,263 claimants in Virginia as a result of the October hurricane, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

A study released in November by the College of William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center warned that sea-level rise driven by climate change eventually could cost the Hampton Roads region more than $100 million extra in damage and costs annually if no measures are taken to mitigate the risks of coastal flooding.

The office is estimated to cost the state $478,117 a year, including a $158,966 salary for the secretary, a $117,000 salary for a deputy secretary, and a $40,800 salary for an administrative assistant as well as $47,102 a year in expenses related to telecommunications, rent, supplies and other operating costs.

Lewis acknowledged the bill might be a “heavy lift” in a tight budget year but called it a necessary approach that other states facing coastal threats, including Louisiana and New Jersey, have adopted.

“We need a one-stop shop,” Lewis said.

Creating a Cabinet-level position is about more than just coordinating state-level response, said Col. Paul Olsen, former Norfolk district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and now director of federal, commonwealth and municipal programs and partnerships at Old Dominion University, home to the Center for Sea Level Rise.

“It’s all about federal funding,” Olsen said, noting that states with just one office to interact with the federal government often are more successful than states that spread coastal concerns over various departments.

“They’re getting more than their fair share. We’re getting less. We’re trying to correct that,” Olsen said.

Hampton Roads pushes for cabinet position to address flooding

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – Cities on Virginia’s coast want the state to create a new cabinet position to address flooding issues.

The Virginian-Pilot reports Republican Del. Chris Stolle plans to introduce legislation to establish a state resiliency officer. He or she would coordinate efforts to curb the impact of flooding. Currently, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran handles such issues.

In October, Hurricane Matthew caused $500 million in damage to Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach. More than 5,000 residents have applied for $8.6 million in federal aid.

Stolle’s legislation would be considered during a tight budget year. The state has to find a way to close a $1.26 billion gap.