Session Update 2

February 12, 2014

With less than two weeks until crossover, the General Assembly is deep in deliberation over numerous issues that are of importance to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The daily floor session has gotten progressively longer, and committee meetings are often running even longer yet.

In this update, I wanted to go ahead and outline several other bills that I’m patroning that are still moving forward. Additionally, I wanted to provide a brief update on two bills that I had mentioned previously.

HB 776

This legislation actually passed the House today. The bill would allow surviving spouses of military members killed in action to receive in-state tuition at Virginia institutions of higher learning without having to live in Virginia for a certain period of time. Under current Virginia law, veterans that have recently moved to the Commonwealth can receive in-state tuition without having to meet domicile requirements, but this same courtesy is not extended to the surviving spouse of a soldier that has been killed while serving their country.

This legislation will continue our commitment to ensure that the Commonwealth is the best state for veterans and military families to call home. Helping these individuals obtain a college education is one small thing we can do to honor their sacrifice.

The idea for the legislation derived from a constituent who moved to the area following the death of her husband, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Following his death, she wanted to start over somewhere fresh and had heard that Virginia had a reputation for being one of the most veteran and military friendly states in the country.

With passage in the House, it will now move to the Senate for consideration.

HB 786

This is a bill that provides some protection for teachers and other school employees that possess a weapon or ammunition in their locked vehicle or conceal carry while in their vehicle on school grounds. Right now, many school systems across the Commonwealth have adopted the policy that personnel can face administrative repercussions, up to and including dismissal, for having an otherwise lawfully obtained weapon in their vehicle. This should not be the case.

Currently, the law allows parents and the general public to conceal carry or possess a weapon in their vehicle while on school property without facing any repercussions. Why should the folks that we trust with our children on a daily basis be denied this same right?

Let me be clear, this bill does not permit or require teachers or administrators to possess a weapon in the school building. It simply addresses weapons in their vehicle. This bill is still awaiting a hearing by the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

HB 960: Back to School Sales Tax Holiday Update

As you may recall, this bill limits the clothing and footwear that can be purchased during the annual Back to School Tax Holiday. It also adds computers to the list of tax exempt items. The intent of this legislation is to tailor the tax exempt items to better suit the needs of families sending their children back to school (or college).

While the bill was reported from subcommittee with some amendments, I still feel that the bill achieves that goal. It will be heard in the full House Finance Committee on Monday.

HB 780: TANF Purchase Restrictions Update

While we were unable to accomplish all that I set out to do with this legislation, I still feel that it contains some reasonable provisions that will help to ensure the proper use of tax dollars in the TANF program.

The bill passed out of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee this morning and will be heard on the House floor Monday. It still includes a provision to expand the purchase restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc., to all TANF payment methods. Additionally, the bill contains a provision to eliminate mailed checks as a payment method. This action will conserve resources as there will be cost savings by eliminating the need to print and mail checks every month.


I had the privilege to meet with numerous constituents over the course of the past few weeks.

I would have to say that the largest contingent of visitors came from our local schools and colleges. I visited with President Alger of JMU, President Swartzentruber representing EMU, and Dr. Downey and students on behalf of Blue Ridge Community College. Additionally, I had a meeting with local school board members (including Kerri Wilson, the current Virginia School Board Association President and City School Board member) and Dr. Fenn and Dr. Kizner, Superintendents for Rockingham and Harrisonburg, respectively.

I also had the privilege to meet with representatives of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Rockingham County Fair, Athletic Trainers Association, Shenandoah Valley Climate Action Alliance, Industrial Hemp Coalition, and Tom Rosengarth representing the interests of CPA’s.

While unfortunately sometimes my session schedule simply doesn’t allow me to meet with everyone, Chad was able to speak with folks representing VAIL (Valley Associates for Independent Living), the School Nutrition Association, and several EMU student groups.

If your in Richmond during the General Assembly Session, I would encourage you to stop by my office. I am on the 5th floor of the General Assembly Building, room 526.

Session Contact Information

As a reminder, we are currently working out of our Richmond office during the 2014 General Assembly Session. In Richmond, we can be reached by phone at (804) 698-1026. You can send mail to P.O. Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. Please continue to send email to [email protected].

As you might imagine, we are receiving a substantial amount of email right now. While we do our best to respond in a reasonable time frame, I apologize in advance for any delayed response. However, I can assure you that we are making note of your emails regarding specific legislation that is being considered this session, and I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind when given the opportunity to vote on these matters.

Thank you for continuing to allow me to serve as your representative in Richmond!