I jumped so high I touched the clouds
I'm never gonna look back
Woah, never gonna give it up
No, please don't wake me now
~American Authors, "Best Day of My Life"
We are officially halfway through the 2018 Session.
I knew coming in to the session that it would be different than any of my previous four. After all, we have a new Governor, a new Speaker, and 19 new members, including 16 new members of my caucus, bringing the balance of power from 66-34 to 51-49.
With several races not decided until just before session, we got off to a slow start in early January. We spent more time than usual getting committees organized, causing bills to be heard a little bit later than normal.
That said, the last two weeks more than made up for that slow start.
I presented bills to subcommittees that had as many as 60 bills on their docket for a single meeting. One evening, I had the last 3 bills on the docket and didn't present until 9:30pm. The good news is, one of them even passed.
Early mornings and later nights are not a new thing for session, nor is having multiple bills in different committees at the same time. We also had a few intense floor debates. When I speak on the House floor, I try to get video clips and then post them on my YouTube Channel or Facebook page.
Crossover, the deadline for when all House and Senate bills must be acted on in their house of origin in order to "crossover" to the other house, is this week. It was another long day on the House floor as we reviewed hundreds of bills before voting to send them to the Senate.
Big Issues Update
Rate Freeze | Dominion Bill
This bill passed - I voted yes after the double-dip was successfully removed from the bill. This is a good article discussing what happened on the House floor yesterday.
Felony Larceny Threshold
Bills to raise the felony larceny threshold to $500 passed both houses. While not as big an increase as I would have liked, any increase would have been impossible under the old balance of power.
Very different solutions to providing a dedicated source of funding came out of the House and the Senate. I voted NO on Delegate Tim Hugo’s bill which contained unnecessary anti-union provisions that misplace the blame for Metro’s woes. I expect to be able to vote for a bill that emerges from the Senate or a conference committee before session is over.
Student Loan Debt
For those that have followed my legislative agenda or my social media pages over the years, you know that I've been working on tackling the student loan debt crisis. On Tuesday, I participated in a tele-town hall with Delegate Marcia Price and Anna Scholl of Progress Virginia, discussing student loan debt legislation as well as taking questions from the audience. The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) hosted the town hall.
Personal Use of Campaign Funds
Later in the week, I was pleased to work with my fellow members of the House Courts Committee and Delegate Mark Cole on HB 122, which addresses personal use of campaign finance. This is another issue that I've been working on since my first session and I'm pleased that the legislation is moving forward.
My Legislative Update
At the halfway point of Session (also known as Crossover), I am happy to report that I have 6(!) bills that have passed the House and will move to the Senate for consideration:
HB 287 | This bill will create a specialty license place with the legend "Stop Gun Violence." It took a few years, but we collected the required 450 pre-paid applications and now the bill will be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee later this week.
HB 311 | I carried this bill for the Virginia Realtors Association which handles unlawful detainers in the case of a foreclosure.
HB 339 | This bill requires universities and colleges to work with student loan borrowers to establish a payment schedule once an account is 60 days past due. Previously, higher education institutions would refer the account to a debt collection agency when it became past due.
HB 690 | This bill removes the residency requirements for registrars in localities with a population less than 15,000.
HB 911 | This bill requires companies offering a recurring contract or automatic renewal to clearly state the terms and conditions of the contract while also requiring the company to acquire the consumer's consent before entering this type of contract.
HB 1424 | This bill clarifies the Code of Virginia when it comes to how many recounts a candidate is afforded.
You can view all the bills I introduced this year online.