Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2017 Session - Week 6

It is hard to believe that next week is our last week of the 2017 legislative session!

Next week will also be the last week that members and staff work from what is the current General Assembly Building. The GAB has been used by the General Assembly for over forty years, but that time is coming to an end. Shortly after the reconvened session in April we will be re-located to the Pocahontas Building, which will serve as our temporary home for four legislative sessions. The Pocahontas Building is located right down the hill from the Capitol on Bank Street.

Things are starting to wind down. Committees are busy finishing up their work, we are reviewing Senate amendments to House Bills and putting legislation into conference to help hammer out differences between House and Senate amendments.

House and Senate Budget conferees are also hard at work. They have not reached an agreement yet, but are working hard to insure that we will be able to adjourn as scheduled on February 25.  Per House of Delegates rules, we are required to have 48 hours to review the final budget before we take a final vote.

I’d like to give you a brief update on some of the happenings in Richmond this week.

Veterans Issues

In the House of Delegates we have 21 veterans including myself.  These members represent every branch of service - Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and service periods date from the Vietnam War to today's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is at least one veteran on each of the 14 House Committees.

Virginia is home to approximately 800,000 veterans and 150,000 active-duty military members and their families.  Because of our large military presence, our goal is to be the most veteran and military friendly state in the nation.  In order to meet this goal, it is important that we continue the effort to provide our veterans with the care they deserve, access to affordable education, and good job opportunities.

To help meet the needs of Virginia’s Veterans, the Military and Veterans caucus, led by Delegate Rich Anderson (USA Col., retired), has pushed for several bi-partisan bills that are successfully progressing through the legislative process.

These include:

●     HB 2206, carried by Delegate Kirk Cox, is the number 1 priority of the Joint Leadership Council. The bill redefines the goals of the Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program, formerly Wounded Warrior, to help veterans and their families navigate the complex web of healthcare services available to them.

●     HB 1721, carried by Del. Rich Anderson, permits Community Colleges to charge reduce tuition to activity duty members enrolled in training that leads to a Military Occupational Specialty.

●     HJ 562, carried by Del. Jason Miyares, is a constitutional amendment that would provide a property tax exemption for the principal residence of the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.

●     HB 1582, carried by Del. Jeff Campbell, allows a person between 18 and 21 years of age to apply for a concealed handgun permit if he is on activity military duty. 

My Legislation

My legislation is still working its way through the Senate.

I’ve had 6 bills advance through the Senate that have passed and been sent to the Governor. They are: HB 1440, HB 1483, HB 1484, HB 1512, HB 1604, and HB 1795. 

I have two more (HB 1534 and HB 1536) that are headed for conference, one (HB 1485) that has passed in the Senate and is coming back to the House with Senate amendments, and two (HB 1400 and HB 2394) still working their way through the Senate.

Visitors

As things begin to wind down, we are seeing fewer visitors from home. This week we were visited by: FFA Students from Nelson and Augusta Counties, Logan Adams, a local VMI student, and representatives from MillerCoors in Rockingham County.

We love seeing friendly faces from home during Session. If you haven’t yet made it here, you still have one more week! Appointments are not required, but they are encouraged.

Contact Information

We are 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.

You can also stay updated by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that matter most to you.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate!

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