By Kaye Kory
Published by the Falls Church News-Press on March 9, 2016
On Wednesday, March 2, the Virginia House Republicans voted to reject the confirmation of Justice Jane Roush to the Virginia Supreme Court, despite the fact that she has served in that position for seven months, and was unanimously qualified by the House Courts of Justice Committee as well. She was nominated on a 22 yea, 0 nay vote by the Virginia Senate, but the Virginia House of Delegates voted against her confirmation on a 55 nay, 38 yea, largely party-line vote.
Justice Roush’s background includes 22 years of trial court experience, over 250 written opinions, an attention to detail that is unrivaled by her peers, handling complex and high-profile cases such as the mining case in Buckingham County as well as the Lee Boyd Malvo murder trial, and an endorsement from the Past Presidents of the Virginia Bar Association on Thursday, February 11, urging the General Assembly to confirm Justice Roush’s appointment.
I was extremely disappointed to see the majority party engage in this display of “the arrogance of power” as my colleague, Delegate Plum, stated on the House floor. The rejection of a Governor-appointed State Supreme Court justice has not been seen in Virginia for over 100 years. I had hoped that our General Assembly had outgrown such pointed partisan behaviors and could place good governance above politics.
Today the House voted to consider a resolution appointing Rossie D. Alston to the State Supreme Court. Following the vote to consider, we voted to reject the resolution. At this time, our State Supreme Court has an open seat. The Senate and House have adjourned for the day. It is likely that the Senate will consider the recommendation made by the Senate Courts Committee to appoint former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to that open seat tomorrow. If the Senate approves the recommendation, that resolution will come to the House. I will not support Ken Cuccinelli’s nomination to the State Supreme Court.
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My bill HB 252 Assistant Speech Pathologist Duties, which requires the Board of Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology to adopt regulations licensing SLP Assistants, a heretofore unregulated and undefined profession, has passed both houses of the General Assembly and is on the Governor’s desk to be signed. This career path, once it is regulated and licensed, can become an important CTE component. Hampton University is eager to establish this program. Several school systems are interested in offering it as well. I am proud to have been able to add a new, viable Career & Technical Education certification.
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This past Tuesday marked the annual House Page debate on the floor of the House of Delegates. Each year, the House Pages draft and submit legislation to debate in a similar manner to that of the House of Delegates.
I worked with Caroline Leibowitz, a Page from Arlington, on drafting a workplace nondiscrimination bill, which she successfully presented during the debate. I am pleased to report that Caroline’s bill passed House Pages’ assembly, and very frustrated to also report that my workplace nondiscrimination bill, HB179, was defeated in the House General Laws Subcommittee. Perhaps we should learn from the upcoming generation of leaders.
Ending upon a positive note, HB961, which incorporated my bill 1367, has passed both the House and the Senate and will be sent to the Governor’s Desk.
This bill calls for our public institutions of higher education to work with SCHEV, the State Council of Higher Education, to develop an alternative tuition plan for four-year degrees in fields which are in high demand. This approved degree program would be offered to students willing to commit to that program for a locked-in “flat fee”. This bill had bipartisan patrons (Kory-Rush) and the unanimous support of the HOD.
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Only one week to go in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Session, scheduled to adjourn on March 13. Most House and Senate bills are either awaiting the Governor’s signature, his veto or amendment, or have been eliminated through the joint chambers’ legislative processes. I appreciate all of the feedback and comments constituents have sent to me, and keep them in mind when voting in these final days.