Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2018 Session - Week 3

We’ve just concluded the third week of the 2018 General Assembly Session.  We’re in full swing and legislation is working its way through the process.  Several important bills have already passed in the House, including legislation focusing on several key issues we are working hard to address such as adoption reform.

Adoption Reform

The House of Delegates this week passed three important adoption bills that are aimed at helping more children find loving adoptive parents. House Bills 241, 227, and 291 all passed through the House with bipartisan support.

One of these bills, HB 241, shortens from three to two years the period that a child must live with a close family member before adoption proceedings can begin.  Another bill, House Bill 291, simplifies access to adoption files regarding court orders for adoptees and/or adopters so they can more easily obtain personal vital record.

The third bill, House bill 227, requires courts to consider the results of a national criminal history background check conducted on the prospective adoptive parent. The was proposed in response to a case in Virginia Beach where a young female died as the result of an overdose. The investigation revealed that her adoptive parent had a long felony criminal history.

Our hope is that this adoption reform legislation will help streamline the adoption process and make it easier to navigate for families in Virginia.  This in turn will allow children to be placed in safe and loving homes as quickly as possible.

House and Senate Leaders Announce Formation of Joint Subcommittee to Review Problems from 2017 Elections

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment announced the formation of a Joint Subcommittee on Election Review.

This subcommittee was formed to consider issues related to the conduct of elections that were brought to light following the November 2017 elections.  They will review issues and procedures with absentee ballots, voter assignment, split-precincts, proper procedures for recounts and the protocol for elections that end in a tie.  This subcommittee will broadly review these questions and determine what steps, if any, we should take.

One of the most sacred rights offered to the people of Virginia is the right to vote in a fair and free election.  It is important that the public is confident in our electoral system.  I thank Speaker Cox and Senate Majority Leader Norment for their leadership on this issue, and I will keep you updated with the findings of the joint subcommittee.

Proposed Tax Increases

Some of our colleagues across the aisle have unfortunately introduced three bills this year that would constitute major tax increases.  House Bill 1051 would implement a tax on video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.  House Bill 310 would reinstate the estate tax, perhaps more commonly known as the “death tax”.  Finally, House Bill 1356 would expand the 2% regional transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) in Northern Virginia statewide and use a portion of the money to fund the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and other transportation projects.

Over the past 15 years the House Republicans have defeated more than $30 million in new taxes and our commitment to do so continues.  I know that the residents of the 20th District do not need higher taxes on hotels, Netflix, and the assets of their family members.  What they need is more of their own hard-earned money in their own pockets.  I am committed to standing strong against these and other tax increases and I know that my Republican colleagues are as well.  

Visitors

This week we had many visitors drop in for a visit. Liesel Crosier stopped by with Mary Baldwin students Dianna Tran, Jay Cropper, and Jade Harris and Bridgewater College student Luke Morgan stopped by to thank the Virginia General Assembly for their support of tuition assistance grants for private college students in Virginia.  We were visited by Lori Epik representing the Virginia Governmental Employees Association, and Rachel Smucker representing Secure Futures in Staunton.  We saw Nikki Narduzzi, as well as Louise Whipple, Shelby Owen, and Donna Goble.  We were also visited by Eric Bond and John Ocheltree of Augusta County Public Schools and Jeff Cassell from Waynesboro City Public Schools.  Bruce Thompson from Dr. Pepper of Staunton dropped by, as well as Jay McIntire of the Shenandoah Valley Funeral Directors Association and Chrissy Johnston from Vector Industries.  We also visited with Sheri Laubach, Ginger Staron, Page Hearn, Annie Jacobs, and Gina Carroll who came to the General Assembly for Humane Society Lobby Day.  We also met with Craig and Jean Shrewsbury, Scott Crumpler, and Edward Page. Last but not least we were visited by Blue Ridge Community College President, Dr. John Downey and a group of students.

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 I make every attempt to see my constituents, please understand that my committee schedule can be very hectic and change very quickly.  I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Contact Me

We are operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2018 Session.  To reach us by phone, please call the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020.  We will not be monitoring our District Office phone line.   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 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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