As we head into the final ten days of the 2016 legislative session, the pace is slowing. The committees on which I serve have completed their work, and all of my legislation has now been heard. Budget conferees have been appointed and are working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget. Meanwhile on the House floor, we continue hearing Senate bills as well as House bills that were amended in the Senate. We are also considering legislation vetoed by the Governor (more on that to follow).
Education reform update
In my week 3 and week 5 newsletters, I shared updates about legislation authorizing a constitutional amendment giving the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools in Virginia. This legislation would have allowed Virginians to vote in November on whether charter schools should be expanded in Virginia. Although this legislation passed the House, the bill unfortunately failed to pass in the Senate of Virginia. For this reason, no further action can be taken this year.
Likewise, although the House and Senate passed the "Tebow Bill" this year, Governor McAuliffe again vetoed the legislation. This bill would have enabled home educated students to participate in public school sports, a policy favored by 67% of Virginians. Unfortunately, the House failed to override the gubernatorial veto.
I am deeply disappointed by the failure of both initiatives. Education reform measures, especially charter school expansion, enjoy strong advocacy. Notably, 67% of my survey respondents expressed support for this option. Although we were not successful this year, I am confident that legislation will again be pursued during the 2017 General Assembly session.
2016 legislative survey results
Thank you to all who completed my legislative survey. This year's survey, which was mailed and posted online, garnered appoximately 1200 responses. Following are some highlights:
With six categories from which to choose, 38% of respondents ranked "fostering jobs & economic development" as their highest priority.
Virginia's right-to-work laws garner strong support; 86% of respondents believed this policy should be enshrined in the Virginia Constitution.
69% believe that Virginia invests "about the right amount" in K-12 education. Only 17% think "not enough" is spent.
Opposition to Medicaid expansion remains high at 81%.
Interest in healthcare reform is high; 76% believe patients and doctors should have the right to sign "direct primary care" contracts allowing for specific services at pre-negotiated prices.
77% of respondents believe Virginia must reform asset forfeiture laws so that law enforcement may not seize private property until AFTER conviction of a crime.
During these final days of session, I ask that you continue making me aware of any legislative or budget related concerns. I may be reached by email at DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1096. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance with any state-related matter or agency.
Enjoy your weekend!
Delegate Brenda Pogge
Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate
Brenda Pogge for Delegate, P.O. Box 196, Norge, VA 23127