"General Assembly Update #1
It's been a very busy first full week of the General Assembly session! I'm happy to report on the progress of my key priorities, including: supporting our veterans, making college more affordable, and a budget that funds the core functions of government without raising taxes.
Making College More Affordable
It's becoming increasingly difficult to save and pay for college, with Virginia students now borrowing more than $1 billion every year to pay for school. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama outlined a tax scheme that includes targeting 529 college savings accounts for taxation, which would make it even more difficult to save. At a time when we should be making college more affordable, taxing savings plans that are designed to help families afford college doesn't make any sense. I'm supporting legislation that makes college more affordable by capping expensive athletic fees and making it easier for small schools to cut wasteful spending, both of which I'm happy to report passed unanimously out of committee this week. You can read about some of the bills to hold down college costs at CBS6 at http://wtvr.com/2015/01/19/panel-oks-bills-aimed-at-college-affordability/
As one of the senior members of the Appropriations Committee, I am keenly focused on our budget work. Unlike Washington, we have to have a balanced budget requirement in Virginia; and that means when we are in a tight economy as we are now, we have to make tough choices. We are looking at the budget stem to stern right now to make sure that we are using your money wisely on the core areas of government. That means we need a conservative budget that funds our core priorities, like: education, public safety, and transportation while cutting wasteful spending.
While many think of it as an issue in remote parts of the world, sex trafficking is a growing problem in Virginia. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 100,000 children are trafficked for commercial sex every year and human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry. I'm supporting legislation this year that would give prosecutors additional tools to combat sex trafficking in Virginia. NBC29 reported this week on our efforts.
Virginia is home to more than 780,000 veterans. In Prince William and Fauquier alone, there are over 46,000 veterans. There is a critical need for more veterans care centers in Virginia to support them. As Del. Chris Stolle noted, "Maine has a bed in a veterans care center for every 200 veterans in the state. Virginia has a bed for every 2,000 veterans." I'm pleased to announce that the Appropriations Committee has reported legislation to the full House to fund new care centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads this week. These two new 230-bed centers would not only provide valuable services to veterans in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, but they would also allow the existing centers in Richmond and Salem to better meet the need in those regions.
Status of Your Legislation
I will keep you updated on my legislation as it proceeds. I have a busy week ahead and will update you next week.
By the way, if you haven't yet, please fill out my legislative survey at http://survey.house.virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?s=41e770b2071d43ab99f6fdeda3ac1576 to share your priorities for this General Assembly Session.
Finally, it's an honor to represent the 31st District of Prince William and Fauquier Counties in the General Assembly. I take my job very seriously and I need your input so I can do the best job I can. When you take my survey it helps! But if you have time and plan to be in Richmond, I hope you will pay me a visit.
Stay warm this weekend. I plan to spend some time with my wife Shelley and from what I hear we may also see some ice and snow in northern Virginia. So stay warm and be safe this weekend! http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/woodbridge-va/22193/weather-forecast/9200_pc
All the Best!
WATCH: Press Conference on 2015 House Agenda - http://www.vahousegop.com/2015/01/watch-house-gop-outlines-2015-agenda/
House leaders highlight 2015 agenda - http://www.vahousegop.com/2015/01/house-gop-highlights-2015-agenda/
P.S. from P.K.: I received this e-mail because this web site is read by people in the 31st District. If you're in a different one, please focus e-mails and surveys on your own state senator and delegate.