What a week! Monday began with driving rain and gusty winds. By Wednesday, the sun was shining as temperatures reached the mid-60's. Rain or shine, though, one factor remained constant: record-breaking crowds at the Capitol. Daily public attendance has consistently topped 4,500. The halls and elevators are continually full of Virginians who are making their voices heard.
As a legislator, I truly appreciate seeing so many citizens visiting the seat of government here in the Commonwealth. A consistent theme heard from visitors is education. From early childhood to K-12 to higher education, Virginians expect a strong system of education. Here are just a few ways we are working to address this priority.
Early childhood: Delegate Jimmie Massie is carrying House Bill 1963, legislation making families with at-risk four year olds (who are not served by Head Start) eligible for tax credits to enroll in a pre-k program.
K-12: Did you know that in 2016 the House budget sent 31% of lottery funds--$272 million--back to local school divisions? This mechanism gives local schools more flexibility by not requiring matching funds or mandating how the funds must be spent. In regard to innovation, Delegate Dickie Bell is carrying House Bill 1400 establishing Virginia Virtual Schools so students are not bound to brick-and-mortar buildings for their education. Instead, they can take classes offered all over Virginia.
Higher education: College costs are soaring, and students are graduating with staggering debt. Delegate Kirk Cox is carrying House Bill 2427, legislation to incentivize students to complete their degrees on time. The bill increases financial aid funds as students progress through their academic career.
How much are you paying for healthcare?
With the cost of healthcare continuing to rise, consumers need tools allowing them to compare costs. I am pleased to share a resource for finding the average price of healthcare services. The Virginia Health Information Healthcare Pricing Transparency Report allows consumers to compare average prices of commonly performed procedures. Lear more by visiting www.vhi.org/HealthcarePricing.
Still time to visit!
Based on the number of visitors this week, I can only conclude that Virginians are accepting legislators' invitations to visit Richmond. As a longtime political acitvist, I'm excited to see so many voters engaged in the legislative process. A few of the visiting groups include:
Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance
Home Educators Association of Virginia
Historic Virginia Land Conservancy
LEAD Historic Triangle
Military Officers Association of America
Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association
Virginia Education Association
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Williamsburg Area Transit Authority
As always, please remain in touch with me by email at DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1096. If you find yourself in Richmond, my office is located in Room 403 of the General Assembly Building at the corner of 9th and Broad Streets.
Have a great weekend!
Delegate Brenda Pogge
Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate
Brenda Pogge for Delegate, P.O. Box 196, Norge, VA 23127