The Budget Process Continues…
At the beginning of this week, the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee presented their respective amendments to the Governor’s budget and both these amendment packages have passed. Now, since differences remain, the budget conference will begin to reconcile the differences and reach an agreement. That budget conference will take place over the coming days.
There are a lot of great things in the budget! This newsletter would be way too long if I listed everything in the budget, so I’m only including a couple of the House budget highlights below. To learn more about the House and Senate budget packages, you can check them out here
- The House budget makes a huge investment in school counselors, with this funding we will add 650 school counselor positions across the Commonwealth by 2022.
- This budget makes an enormous investment in higher education. Subcommittee Chair Del. Betsy Carr’s proposal provides raises for university faculty AND staff and FREEZES tuition at the current rate.
- The House budget expands funding to the Virginia Boys and Girls Club to allow them to serve more youth throughout the Commonwealth.
Where is My Legislation?
Several of my bills have now passed the Senate and are headed to the Governor’s desk! Here are a couple of my bills that have now passed both the House and Senate:
HB 475: This bill creates a sexual assault forensic examiner coordination program in the Department of Criminal Justice Services. The Coordinator will work to address the massive shortage of SANE nurses in the Commonwealth (only 16 out of 122 hospitals have one on staff) and ensure that the Commonwealth is doing more to support survivors of sexual violence.
HB 781: This bill deals with language in the Code that governs what legal action can be taken in cases when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness that resulted from exposure to asbestos. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously!
Legislative Highlights from this Week
There were a number of important bills that continued to make progress this week, including:
- SB 2, Senator Adam Ebbin’s bill to decriminalize minor possession of marijuana, passed out of the House Courts of Justice Committee. This is another important step in the right direction for the Commonwealth.
- HB 292, which aims to improve the process through which schools and their local law enforcement develop memorandums of understanding, passed the Senate unanimously! On to the Governor it now goes.
- SB 171, passed the House! Senator Locke’s bill will update school resource officer training standards to include instruction on de-escalation techniques, working with students with disabilities, and implicit bias.
There are hundreds of other bills working their way through the system, and you can check them out by visiting the Legislative Information System
Remembering Alan Diamonstein
On Tuesday, I was honored to present HJ 4, celebrating the life of Alan Diamostein, to his wife Beverly and the rest of his family and friends. Alan Diamonstein was a legendary legislator, an extraordinary public servant, and a brilliant lawyer who is missed by family, friends, and colleagues alike. His is dearly missed, but his work lives on.
On Monday, I had the best visitors ever, my three boys! President’s Day in the General Assembly is traditionally a day when legislators’ children come to visit since they have the day off from school. That meant that William, Henry, and Daniel got to spend some time with me on the floor and learn about the legislative process. It was the best day.
We continued to have some awesome visitors in the Capital on Tuesday when students from Christopher Newport University (my alma mater!) visited as part of the Captains in the Capital program. This is a fantastic program and I was delighted to introduce the students in the House Gallery.
This coming week we will continue to consider Senate bills in the House while advocating for our bills over on the Senate side. I’m looking forward to getting the bills that I introduced through the Senate and on their way to the Governor’s desk. Additionally, conference committees will begin to be announced. Conference committees are used to iron out the differences when the version of a bill that passed the House is different from the version of the same bill that passed the Senate. To read another explanation of what a conference committee is, and to find definitions of other legislative terms, check out this link! As always, thank you for following along.
Delegate Michael P. Mullin