(This post originally appeared as an online edition of our newsletter on February 2nd, 2018.)
It's the fourth week of session!
This week, many constituents and advocacy groups took the initiative to speak with me about my legislative agenda for the 2018 Legislative Session and the House of Delegates' progress on addressing the many pieces of legislation submitted to the General Assembly this year. I am always very pleased to hear from my constituents advocating for their beliefs -- I look forward to seeing YOU at the General Assembly in the near future, too!
"The Kings Dominion Law," which forbids school divisions from starting the school year before Labor Day, still stands despite my efforts (and the efforts of other legislators in both Houses) over the past eight years. I have seen the number of House of Delegate members supporting local autonomy in school calendar issues grow each year. In fact, the House of Delegates has passed such a bill during at least two sessions, only to have the bill killed in the Senate. Unfortunately, my bill, HB36, granting local school boards the authority to set their own calendars died in an Education Subcommittee; and yes, there was a recorded vote. The hearing was very interesting. The Committee discussed that over 60% of school districts have currently been granted a waiver from the Kings Dominion Law. They discussed my argument that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate nationally-normed tests are administered based on a national schedule, thus students attending school before Labor Day have much more time to prepare and to recover from the 'summer slump'. Subcommittee members had already decided how they were going to vote before the bill was presented. They had decided to vote along partisan lines to kill all school calendar bills except that of Delegate Roxann Robinson (R). Incumbent Delegate Robinson had a tough re-election race in 2017, winning by only 136 votes. The majority party is looking for ways to broaden her appeal to her increasingly liberal constituency in preparation for 2019. It is a shame that such non-ideological issues are decided with partisanship uppermost in the minds of legislators. The good news is that it is very likely that the House of Delegates will pass a bill allowing school divisions to decide the calendar most appropriate for the students affected.
Immediate update: school calendar bills were killed in the Senate! Senator George Barker (D-39) was a key NO vote.
SOME OF THIS WEEK'S
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). We discussed expanding Medicaid, expanding hate crimes protections (HB10 my bill doing just that), and increasing gun safety.
I had the chance to meet Doris Ray and a volunteer from the Endpendence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) to discuss Medicaid expansion earlier this week on Wednesday.
Members of the Virginia Pharmacists Association also came by my office on Wednesday and offered to take my blood pressure... Fortunately, the Legislative Session has yet to raise my blood pressure too high!
I spoke with the House Subcommittee on Militia, Police, and Public Safety on Thursday in regards to my bill, HB 83, which would provide feminine hygiene products to female prisoners at no cost. HB83 passed unanimously out of Subcommittee and was referred to the Appropriations Committee.
NEXT WEEK #5
The following bills of mine are scheduled to be heard in subcommittee next week:
HB349- Allowing parents the choice to opt-out of their student's contact information being shared with military recruiters
HB1577- Specifying that a teacher may be placed on probation for incompetency, immorality, noncompliance with school laws and regulations, disability as shown by competent medical evidence when in compliance with federal law, conviction of a felony or crime, or other good and just cause. This is more lenient than the current code and is supported by Virginia teachers.
HB1579- Providing that a student should not be charged tuition or fees for enrolling in an online course or virtual program that is required or is offered by the school division in which the student resides.
HB631- Requiring an employer to report to the Bureau of Insurance if it does not provide contraceptive coverage to its employees due to the employer's religious beliefs or moral convictions.
HB33- Allowing the State Corporation Commission to consider environmental effects not governed by a permit or considered by a permitting authority including carbon emissions and overall impacts of new and existing facilities on the public health and welfare of Virginians.
On Saturday, February 10th from 10:30am - 12pm, I will hold Community Hours, a time for constituents to drop in to discuss issues pertinent to the 2018 legislative agenda. I will be in the Thomas Jefferson Public Library Conference Room, 7415 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church, VA 22042.
Annual "Special Art by Special Artists" Art Show
On Wednesday, February 21st, from 9:00am - 12pm, I will be hosting my Annual Special Art by Special Artists Art Show reception. The Art Show will be held in a new location this year: the main lobby of the SunTrust Building located at 919 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219, across the street from the Pocahontas Building. The artwork will remain on display in the SunTrust Art Gallery until the end of February.
I am honored to represent you in the 2018 General Assembly session. Thank you for your trust.
As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, and concerns. Please email me at DelKKory@house.virginia.gov.
Delegate, 38th District