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Archive for February, 2011

Delegate Bell’s Voting Record as of 2/18/2011

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Please follow this link to see my 2011 Voting Record, current as of February 18, 2011.

Bell Sounds from the 20th – February 18, 2011

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

With only one week remaining, we are heading into the final stretch of the 2011 General Assembly Session. Delegates and Senators are working overtime to ensure the final passage of their bills through both chambers. Sometimes it is as easy as simply accepting changes made by the other chamber, or it can be as hard as having a conference committee meet to work out a compromise version of the bill that suits both chambers.

As of this writing, nearly 400 Senate and House Bills have passed both chambers and have been sent to Governor McDonnell’s desk for his approval. Governor McDonnell has already approved two bills and has reportedly made amendments to several other bills.

Overdue help for people with disabilities

Late last week, the Department of Justice issued a report regarding Virginia’s services for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and developmental disabilities (DD) who are in institutions or at imminent risk of institutionalization. The report essentially requires Virginia to develop a plan to move those who are in institutions to community-based care in order to comply with federal laws.  The report also calls for Virginia to strengthen its commitment to eliminate the waiting lists for community-based services.

You might not be aware, but we have 3,123 people who are on the “urgent” waiting list for community-based care– this is unacceptable. For years, many have fought to increase the number of ID and DD waiver slots to help keep more people in our communities and out of institutions. In this year’s House budget, we have added 375 ID waivers and 270 DD waivers while the State Senate’s budget only added 175 ID waivers and 100 DD waivers.  Even though we have made some progress, we still are a long way away from the goal of eliminating the waiting list.

At the request of Governor McDonnell, Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) introduced House Bill 2533, a bill that sets up a fund to begin the process of increasing the availability of community-based services for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. While the fund will require an initial investment of around $30 million, additional funds will come from the savings captured when we begin to phase out of the state’s training centers. I am proud to report that we have broad bipartisan support for this bill in the House with fifty-eight delegates, myself included, co-patroning this much-needed legislation.

I believe that this report will be the push Virginia needs to start the process of transitioning from institutional care to community-based care.

Visitors

We had a few visitors this week that I would like to thank for stopping by.  Members of James Madison University’s Student Government Association came down to lobby on some matters important to them.  I also got the chance to talk to some members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Dr. John Downey also stopped by with a few Blue Ridge Community College students.

We have one more week left so it’s not too late to visit. If you are in the Richmond area please feel free to stop by.

My Legislation

Last week I asked you to email or call your local Senator and urge passage of House Bill 1435, my bill requiring public schools, colleges, and universities to recognize American Sign Language as a foreign language.  I’m pleased to report that this bill passed on the floor of the Senate with a vote of 34 – 6.  It will now be passed onto the Governor for his approval.

I also had House Bill 1885 pass the Senate unanimously.  This bill cleans up the code by deleting references to educational programs that have not been funded, or do not exist. Additionally it updates language in other sections of the bill to conform to current practice.  This change will clarify the Code by eliminating and updating these obsolete sections to provide clarity to public school divisions.  It will also now go to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

Closing

As always, my staff and I are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there’s anything we can do to help you in dealing with a state government agency. My office can be reached at (804) 698-1020 or via the Internet at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov. If you are planning to visit Richmond during the final week of Session, I encourage you to visit me in Room 517.

Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

American Sign Language Bill Could Open Doors for Students

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Read More: AmericanSign Language Bill Could Open Doors for Students

Delegate Bell’s House Bills 1435 and 1885 Pass in the Senate.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that House Bills 1435 and 1885, bills patroned by Delegate Bell, have passed on the floor of the Senate.

House Bill 1435 provides that local school boards that choose to offer American Sign Language must grant credit for successful completion as a foreign language course.  Additionally, public colleges and universities must allow American Sign Language to satisfy foreign language entrance requirements.

“I am very pleased to see House Bill 1435 pass in the Senate.” said Delegate Bell. “This legislation was very important to me, and will create a wide variety of educational opportunities for both hearing and deaf students.”

The bill was first referred to the Higher Education subcommittee, where it was reported out with a vote of 6-1.  It then passed in the full Education Committee with a vote of 21-1.  It passed on the floor of the House with a vote of 95-3.  It was reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health with a vote of 11-4.  Today it passed in the Senate with a vote of 34-6.

House Bill 1885, a bill that removes references to educational programs that have not been funded and do not exist and updates language in other sections to conform to current practice.  This bill unanimously passed in the House of Delegates this week, and was reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health unanimously.  Today it passed in the Senate with a unanimous vote as well.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Rockingham Counties, and the City of Staunton.

Delegate Bell with the American Family Foundation

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Visiting with a Constituent in Richmond

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Pictured with Constituent, Luis Padilla

Delegate Bell’s House Bills 1435 and 1885 reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that House Bills 1435 and 1885, bills patroned by Delegate Bell, have been reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

House Bill 1435 provides that local school boards that choose to offer American Sign Language must grant credit for successful completion as a foreign language course.  Additionally, public colleges and universities must allow American Sign Language to satisfy foreign language entrance requirements.

“I am very pleased to see House Bill 1435 reported out of the Committee on Education and Health.” said Delegate Bell. “This legislation not only enhances public education, but also creates many new educational opportunities for the hearing and deaf communities.”

The bill was first referred to the Higher Education subcommittee, where it was reported out with a vote of 6-1.  It then passed in the full Education Committee with a vote of 21-1.  It passed on the floor of the House with a vote of 95-3.  Today it was reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health with a vote of 11-4.  It will now advance to the Senate floor.

House Bill 1885, a bill that removes references to educational programs that have not been funded and do not exist and updates language in other sections to conform to current practice.  This bill unanimously passed in the House of Delegates this week, and was reported out of the Senate Committee on Education and Health unanimously this morning.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Rockingham Counties, and the City of Staunton.

Group Photo with Staunton Augusta Association of Realtors

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Pictured with the Staunton Augusta Realtors Association

Bell at Desk in Richmond

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Pictured in Richmond Office.

Group Picture with American Sign Lauguage Students

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Pictured with American Sign Language Students