COMSTOCK FOR DELEGATE BLOG
The Comstock Connection 2/1/13
Friday, February 1, 2013
are approaching the halfway point in the session which is referred to as
"crossover" so I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the General
Assembly's 2013 session in Richmond. As always, please don't hesitate to contact
my office on issues of concern to you. During session, I can be reached by email
at email@example.com or by phone at 804-698-1034.
Virginians for the Arts Advocacy Day At The
Founder and Co-Chair of the House Arts Caucus, I enjoyed the opportunity to
speak to members of the Virginians for the Arts on Thursday, January 31st for
their Art's Advocacy Day. Virginians for the Arts advances the arts in Virginia
by increasing public awareness of the important contributions the arts make to
the life, culture and economy of the Commonwealth. VFTA advocates for public
funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which makes grants that are
essential to the arts organizations across the Commonwealth.
welcomed the opportunity to recognize members of Virginians for the Arts, the
Arts Council of Fairfax County as well as representatives from Wolftrap. Thank
you for all your work to bring a vibrant arts community to the Commonwealth.
Another special thanks to Dominion who sponsored the Arts Advocacy breakfast in
Richmond and is a great corporate citizen in supporting the arts and providing
grants for our local arts groups.
House Republicans Propose $31 Million In
New Funding For School Security
In our current budget, we
have proposed $31 million in new funding for school security including $1.7
million for the existing School Resource Officer Grant Initiative and $30
million to create a revolving fund to provide for security infrastructure
projects in schools throughout the Commonwealth. The $1.7 million
appropriation for school resource officers would be the largest single
appropriation in the history of the program.
The budget will also include the creation of a
$30 million revolving grant program consisting of $6 million annually over five
years. This program will provide competitive grants of up to $100,000 per year
to school divisions for security infrastructure improvements.
Additional funding for the School Resource
Officer Initiative was a recommendation of Governor Bob McDonnell's task force
on school safety. The House of Delegates will consider the Governor's additional
recommendations once they have been made.
I wanted to take this opportunity
to update you on a number of bills I've introduced and am sponsoring this
session dealing with jobs and the economy, transportation, education, and
health. I invite you to review these bills on the Virginia's Legislative
Information System website.
And The Economy
- Datacenters (HB 1699): I
introduced this bill working together with the Northern Virginia Technology
Council to help us continue to promote and expand our data center industry in
Virginia by allowing localities to provide tax incentives to data centers. This
will build on my successful legislation last year that provided state tax
incentives to keep this important industry here in the Commonwealth. We have
already had companies relocate or expand here in Virginia as a result of our
legislation last year. The data center industry is projected to grow by
hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. This bill would help
Virginia take the lead in a 21st century marketplace. Data center jobs and
investment are a critical element in diversifying Virginia's technology economy
and attracting private sector jobs as federal spending and procurement
bill has passed out of the Finance Committee and will be voted on early next
week on the House floor.
- Banking (HB 1573): This
bill, which passed the House this week with bipartisan support of 92-7,would
allow banks and financial institutions to provide customers with a one time
waiver of conditions on their contracts without that being used against them in
a court as a waiver of the underlying contract. This allows the banks to be
more flexible in helping their customers and providing more flexibility. Status:
Passed the House on 1/16/13, 92-7.
- Secret Ballot (HB
1385): This bill provides for the use of secret ballots in any
procedure authorizing or selecting a labor organization to represent workers.
This legislation strengthens workers' rights and workers' freedoms and will
ensure individual workers always have a say in their representation. Employees
who want to form a union, still have every right to do so but the process to
establish a union must be open, transparent and fair and the fundamental right
to a secret ballot should always be protected. Status:
Passed the House on 1/29/13, 69-30.
- Employee Privacy Protection (HB
1931): This bill is intended to prevent workers from being
exposed to intimidation and coercion by those seeking private personal
information from employees. This bill says that employers cannot be forced by a
union or third party to provide employee emails, phone or cell information or
work schedules. This bill will protect employee privacy. Status:
Passed the House on 1/29/13, 67-32.
- School start date (HB 1467):
This bill would allow local school boards to make the decisions on
setting the school calendar and determining the opening of the school year and
eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement. Current
law prohibits schools across the Commonwealth from opening
their doors before Labor Day unless they obtain a waiver from the state. While
77 of the 134 school districts in the state of Virginia
have the ability to set their own school calendar through
waivers and exemptions, Fairfax and Loudoun still are not among those
districts. HB 1309 would allow county school boards, who do not have a
waiver, to set their own school calendar. My
bill was rolled into HB 1467 which was passed out of the full Education
Committee on 1/30/13 by 15-6 and will be voted on the House floor early next
- Class size standards of quality (HB
1556): This bill addresses class size by providing equity across
the County in class size. The legislation changes the way the school district
can average their class size from a divisionwide ratio to a schoolwide
Committee committed to send a letter from the Chairman to the State Board of
Education to ask them to look into this issue and address concerns raised by
parents of students in local public schools throughout Fairfax and
Loudoun County. I also am working with a Class Size Working Group that I have
established with parents throughout the district to develop this letter and get
many of our concerns and issues addressed.
- High School To Work Partnership Program
(HB 2101): This bill creates a High School to Work Partnership
program. This would require each local school division's career and technical
education administrator work with the guidance counselor office of each public
high school to partner with local businesses to create apprenticeships,
internships, and job shadow programs in a variety of trades and skilled labor
Passed the House on 1/24/13, 99-0.
- Educator Fairness Act (HB
2151): This bill that would bring the Teach for America program to
Virginia and legislation to encourage the creation of more charter schools. Status:
Passed the House on 1/24/13, 84-14.
- Penalty for solicitation of a minor in prostitution (HB
1606): I am Chief Co-Patron of this bill to make soliciting
a minor a Class 5 Felony in the state of Virginia. This is one of the bills that
our bipartisan human trafficking coalition is working together to provide
stricter penalties for human trafficking. This
bill has passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Public Safety.
- Multijurisdiction Grand Juries for Human Trafficking Cases (HB
1870): This bill would allow a multijurisdiction grand jury to
investigate human trafficking activities in cases where the suspect received
money for procuring another individual to engage in prostitution. Status:
the House on 1/22/13, 98-0.
- Mental Health (HB
1609): I Co-Patroned this legislation which aims to improve mental
health treatment coordination for students enrolled in higher education
institutions. This legislation will improve coordination between public
four-year higher education institutions, mental health facilities, and local
hospitals. It aims to create a safer and more supportive environment for
students in providing needed mental health services. A companion bill, SB 1342,
was introduced by Senator Chapman Petersen. Status:
Passed the House on 1/31/13, 99-0.
- Lyme Disease Information Act (HB
1933): This bill that I worked on with the National Capital Lyme
Association requires physicians to provide each patient for whom a test for the
presence of Lyme disease is ordered with a notice about Lyme disease, about
testing for Lyme disease, and about the high propensity of false negatives in
these tests and the need to contact a physician with questions or concerns if
symptoms of Lyme disease persist. Because of the high false negative rates for
the test, sufferers of this disease often go weeks, months, or even years with
continued Lyme and not proceeding with appropriate treatment. The bill has passed out of the Health, Welfare and
Institutions Committee and will be voted on early next week on the House
A special thank you to all of those who traveled to
Richmond for the hearing on our Lyme Disease bill (shown above). This has truly
been a grassroots effort that we continue to move forward.
Virginia Tech Hokie Day At The State Capitol
This week, I had the pleasure of
meeting with local students who attend Virginia Tech for their annual student
advocacy day at the Capitol. A special thanks to constituents and Virginia Tech
students Sean Stallings, Connor Adams, and Kiersen Commons for visiting my
office. Good luck on your studies!
In The 34th District: McLean Rotary Club's
Chocolate Festival and Chinese New Year Festival
celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday, January 26th with
several hundred neighbors and friends at Luther Jackson Middle School. The day
was complete with dragon and lion dances, delicious food, workshops on Chinese
cooking and language, and health and business booths from great local
McLean Rotary Club's Chocolate Festival was packed on Sunday, January 27th. I'm
here with Angela Lee (photo on the left) - we met up at the Chinese Festival
too. Angela knows all the best places!
I try to be accessible to my constituents in as many
ways as possible. For more information, please visit my website, www.delegatecomstock.com, where you can read my
blog for up-to-date information on Virginia, click to follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You can reach me
during the 2013 Legislative Session by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at
804-698-1034. Please don't hesitate to contact me about issues that concern
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