This week marked the first week of the 2017 General Assembly Session.
The House was officially gaveled into session on Wednesday, January 11th at 12 noon.
This year will be a short session, as our primary responsibility is to make adjustments to our biennial budget. There is a lot before us this year, but we will be focused on doing the work of the people and completing the Session on time!
The House Republican Caucus will also lay out a bold agenda that offers solutions to the challenges like rising healthcare costs, increased educational opportunities and a still stagnant economy. I remain committed to helping all Virginians get ahead by:
- strengthening Virginia’s economy,
- being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,
- improving our schools so our children can succeed
- improving access to healthcare without expanding broken entitlement programs
- fighting back against federal government and Washington overreach
The single most important legislation we will deal with this year is the biennial budget.
In August of 2016, Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion budget shortfall. The shortfall is a result of a still lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected.
As you are likely aware, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. His proposal is the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House and Senate to develop our respective budgets.
Unfortunately, tough decisions will have to be made. The House will work to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources.
In an effort to build on our previous improvements in transparency, a new measure was announced on the first day: the video archiving of each day’s session. The new archive, available from the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 session on demand.
While you have always been able to stream the Session live, this will allow you to replay Session anytime, or search the video for specific legislation or General Assembly member.
Each year I conduct a legislative survey featuring a few important public policy issues that may be considered by the General Assembly. Your opinion is very important to me, so please take a few moments to let me know where you stand on the issues.
You can take the survey online here.
Feel free to share this survey with your friends and family who live in the 20th District!
While we make every attempt to include as many topics as possible on the survey, we simply can’t cover everything. If you have an opinion on an issue not covered by the survey, please let us hear from you.
We are now operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2017 Session. While we still monitor the voicemail on our District Office phone line, the quickest way to reach us by phone will be by calling the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020. We will still receive email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.
If you prefer to send us written correspondence, you can send mail to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.
Any political or campaign inquiries should still be sent to Dickie@BellforDelegate.com.
I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that matter most to you.
Even though this was a short week we were still fortunate to see a number of visitors from home this week. Sheriff Donald Smith dropped by with a group from the Augusta County Sheriff’s department. Steve and Jane Paulus visited with the Family Foundation and Anne Fitzgerald, Ken Adams, and others were here representing the Day of Tears. We also had the opportunity to see Greg Godsey, Joshua Hale, and a number of bankers who came by for Virginia Banker’s Day.
We love seeing friendly faces from home during Session. If you are going to be in the Richmond area, consider dropping by for a visit. While appointments are not required, we do recommend that you call or email us ahead of time to schedule a time for a visit.
While we make every attempt to see all of our constituents, please understand that our committee schedules can be very hectic and our schedule can change very quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
As in previous Sessions, I will provide weekly updates throughout our time in Richmond. If you know someone who would like to receive these updates, they can sign up online at bellfordelegate.com or email Savanna at Savanna@BellforDelegate.com.
I look forward to seeing you in Richmond!
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.