Home  |  About Barbara  |  Issues  |  Blog  |  On The Trail  |  Contact Us  | 
COMSTOCK FOR DELEGATE BLOG

The Comstock Connection 2/11/13
Monday, February 11, 2013

Delegate Banner




In This Issue
George Mason University and James Madison University Day At The Capitol
Sterling Middle School Students Visit The General Assembly
Key Legislation
Virginia Council on Women Annouces 2nd Annual STEM Essay Contest
Contact Me

Richmond Office:
General Assembly Building
Room 407
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 698-1034

District Office:
PO Box 6156
McLean, VA 22106
(703) 772-7168
February 11, 2013

Dear Friends,

Last week was "crossover" here at the Virginia General Assembly, which was the last day that bills can pass the House and be sent over to the Senate. During these last few weeks of session, I wanted to provide you with an update on legislation that I thought might be of interest to you
and highlight other events that have passed.

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 delbcomstock@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1034.

George Mason University and James Madison University Day At The Capitol

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with local students who attend George Mason University and James Madison University for their annual student advocacy day at the Capitol. A special thanks to constituents and George Mason students Sean Stallings, Connor Adams, and Kiersen Commons for visiting my office. Good luck on your studies!

Sterling Middle School Students Visit The General Assembly

Another special thanks to the students from Sterling Middle School who came to visit at the State Capitol on Monday, February 11th. Keep up the great work and all the involvement in your community!

Key Legislation

I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a number of bills I've introduced and am sponsoring this session. I also invite you to review these bills on the Virginia's Legislative Information System website.

Jobs 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 decreases. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 95-5, and currently is in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • 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 and the Senate on 2/7/13, 37-3.
  • 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 and currently is in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
  • 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 and currently is in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
  • Tax exemption for first-time home buyer (HB 1868): This bill would create, beginning in 2013, first-time home buyer savings accounts that accrue tax-free income. These savings accounts would be used for saving funds for the purchase of homes by first-time home buyers. I am chief co-patron of this legislation that was introduced by my colleague, Delegate Greason. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 100-0, and currently is in the Senate Finance Committee.

Education

  • 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 passed the House on 2/4/13 by 72-28, and currently is in the Senate Committee on Education and Health.
  • 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 ratio. The 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 positions. Status: Passed the House on 1/24/13, 99-0, and passed the Senate on 2/11/13, 40-0.
  • 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, and passed the Senate, 32-8.

Human Trafficking

  • 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. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 100-0, and currently is in the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice.
  • 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: Passed the House on 1/22/13, 98-0, and passed the Senate on 2/11/13, 40-0.

Mental Health

  • 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. Status: Passed the House on 1/31/13, 99-0, and passed the Senate on 2/11/13, 40-0.

Lyme Disease

  • 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. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 93-5, and currently is in the Senate Commitee on Education and Health.

Texting While Driving

  • Prohibit Texting While Driving (HB 1907): I am a co-patron of House Bill 1907 which would shift the penalty for texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. This is an important bill that will have a real impact on the health and safety of our children and citizens. I'm grateful for the wide bipartisan support the texting while driving measure received in the House of Delegates and I look forward to the Senate passing House Bill 1907. We need to continue to publicize this issue through public service announcements and education efforts as well as community efforts. We all know of dangerous and even deadly situations that have occurred from this increasing problem. Under this legislation, officers would now be empowered to stop a driver and immediately issue a citation to an individual who is texting while driving. The penalty issued for texting while driving would include $250 for the first offense and $500 for each offense thereafter. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 92-4, and currently is in the Senate Committee on Transportation. A Senate version of this bill has already passed separately also.

Telework Tax Credit

  • Telework Tax Credit (HB 1336): House Bill 1336 was introduced by Delegate David Ramadan (R-87) and I was a chief co-patron of the measure. The bill is both a family-friendly work policy as well as a transportation congestion solution and would establish a tax credit of $250 per teleworker for those employees who telework for a minimum of 20 hours per week during at least 45 weeks of the taxable year. Over the past two years I have passed Telework legislation that provided a tax credit to businesses to promote telework. This legislation is a compliment to those efforts and now the employees will also be able to receive a modest tax credit to help them set up a situation to work from home. Telework is a win win solution for Northern Virginia workers and drivers. I look forward to continuing to promote the growth of Telework as an option for small businesses, corporations and government alike. Status: Passed the House on 2/5/13, 59-38, and currently is in the Senate Finance Committee.
Virginia Council on Women Announces 2nd Annual STEM Essay Contest "Kickoff" for 2013

The Virginia Council on Women, in collaboration with the Science Museum of Virginia recently announced the 2nd annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for high school junior and senior girls. The Council will award one $5,000 scholarship to a female junior or senior who will be pursuing a STEM career at an institution of higher education. Other smaller scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the Council.

To be eligible, one must be a female who resides in Virginia, be enrolled as a junior or senior in high school and hold at least a 2.5 GPA. Entrants should follow guidelines available online at: http://www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/Women/index.cfm. Entries must be submitted to women@governor.virginia.gov by 5:00pm on March 1, 2013 to be considered. The winning essays will be selected by a panel of judges who hold a degree in or work in STEM fields.

Winners will be notified by April 15, 2013. The purpose of the Virginia Council on Women is to help women reach their potential and maximize their contributions to society and the Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens. The Council has initiated several projects to meet this goal. One is the annual STEM essay contest for young women in high school. The Council is committed to growing this initiative in the coming years. For more information on the Council or on available sponsorship opportunities, please visit: http://www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/Women/index.cfm.

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 delbcomstock@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1034. Please don't hesitate to contact me about issues that concern you.

Sincerely,

Signature
Delegate Barbara Comstock

Paid for and authorized by Friends of Barbara Comstock.








Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.